Saturday, September 28, 2013

Our Twins' Birth Story

Birth stories are inherently chalk full of way too much personal information, so if you'd rather not know the 411 on my body, you best skip this blog post. I didn't want to forget the details of the day, so I apologize for the never-ending birth story!

After being admitted to the hospital for pre-term labor and placed on bedrest at 33 weeks, I was shocked to make it to 37 weeks and 4 days before finally delivering. It was a bittersweet month. By that last week I was bigger than a small house and slower than a maimed turtle! I've decided it's all part of the plan. All women become so miserable by the end of their pregnancy that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get that baby here, be it pushing a watermelon sized head through a garden hose sized opening or allowing a doctor to slice through layers of tissue and muscle, take out all your innards, rearrange them, and stuff them back in your body. Only an extremely pregnant, miserable woman would welcome such experiences with open arms.

The last ultrasound we received in Little Rock showed both babies head down so we were given the green light for a vaginal delivery. Wahoo! However, our growth scan on Thursday, showed Baby B had performed some amazing feat of acrobatics and had turned yet again so unless she managed to flip head down again soon, we would most likely be having a c-section.

Friday morning, we had our weekly appointment with our doctor. Throughout the pregnancy, his plan was always to deliver me at 38 weeks in the unlikely event that I made it that far. We went in to this appointment, hoping he would be willing to move up that date a few days due to some concerns. Of course, I was impossibly huge and my body felt like it could not take one more day of being pregnant but we were more concerned with other issues. Our growth scan had shown Baby A to be significantly smaller than the other one and we were worried she wasn't growing very well. Then at the doctor appointment Baby B was not reactive on the non stress test.The nurse had to "buzz" me several times to try to get the heart accelerations they were looking for. They left me lying flat on my back on that stupid table for so long, I thought I was going to pass out! Besides our concerns about the babies, there were a few worrisome things for me as well. My blood pressure had gone up, there was protein in my urine, my swelling had increased, and I had gained several pounds seemingly overnight- all signs of pre-eclampsia. I was also having regular, painful contractions every night for hours on end that appeared to be doing nothing as I was not any further dilated than before. We talked about all of these concerns with our doctor and he said we were really in that gray area: my blood pressure wasn't that high, there was only a small amount of protein in my urine, Baby B eventually was reactive on the monitor, Baby A was small but appeared to be on the same growth curve from the last scan, etc. All of our concerns had merit but then again they could all be nothing. We didn't want to deliver early if the babies weren't ready and have them end up in the NICU but we didn't want to leave them in if something was wrong. Our doctor said if we "twisted his arm" he would deliver that day but he recommended waiting until the full 38 weeks. We decided to schedule the c-section for next week and wait to hit 38 weeks. We left the office with a mixture of emotions. On the one hand worried we'd made the wrong choice and frustrated that we had to wait five more days, and on the other hand at peace. I felt like if something was really wrong than either I would be inspired to know we needed to act or my body would naturally go into labor before our scheduled date. Lucky for me, that turned out to be true.

That night (Friday) my contractions started up again. I kept track of them for several hours. They didn't appear to be getting any closer or stronger. I know the rule is 5-1-1 (five minutes apart, lasting more than 1 minute, for more than 1 hour) before going into the hospital. Mine were pretty variable from 4-10 minutes apart, so I figured I wasn't in "true labor." But then I decided why wait to be in true labor? If I was going to have a c-section anyway, there was no reason to wait for more pain, right? We decided to head up to the hospital just so the doctor could monitor the contractions and more importantly make sure the babies were reacting ok to them. I knew we'd be sent home but it's not like I was sleeping much anymore with being so miserable, so why not go hang out at the hospital for a few hours in the middle of the night?

Chilling in the waiting room. Check out that giant belly!
We loaded up and headed to the hospital around 11:30 PM. I almost told my mom to stay home and go to bed because she wasn't going to miss anything, but changed my mind just in case. We waited in the ER for 30 minutes before being taken up to labor and delivery. Luckily, my contractions weren't really painful as no one seemed to be in any rush. They hooked me up to the monitors and then we just waited. I was delighted that my nurse was the same one who was there the night I went into pre-term labor last month. She was awesome and I felt blessed to have her there! Turns out my doctor was the one on call. After being hooked up to an IV, my contractions slowed way down, and I was afraid my doctor would think I made it all up and just wanted to trick him into delivering early :) Fortunately, he did not think that. In fact, I think it was another blessing that he was the one on call. Because he had seen me that morning, he knew of our concerns already and he could tell my swelling had increased even more. He was worried because my blood pressure had also increased from that morning. I was also further dilated. I feel like if another doctor had been on call, they probably would have indeed sent us home as my contractions had pretty much stopped by that point. Instead, he came in the room and declared I had pre-eclampsia and with all things considered, felt immediate delivery was the best option. Now is where I started to have a mini panic attack. What, we're not going home? I didn't seriously think I was delivering today! I just found out we'd have to have a c-section recently; I hadn't had time to properly prepare myself! Ready or not, these babies were coming and coming soon, as in within the next hour!

Everything happened very quickly at that point. I filled out all the paper work- twice, one for each baby. The anesthesiologist came in and explained what was going to happen with the spinal block. My nurse came in for final preparations that included shaving me and inserting a catheter. Fun! I had heard it's pretty standard to be shaved before a c-section and had planned on doing it myself before my scheduled date. Although, logistically, I'm not sure how that would have worked as my big, fat belly prevented me seeing anything! They brought Nate a jump suit to wear in the operating room and then it was time.

I walked myself down the corridor, kissed Nate goodbye, and headed into the OR. He had to wait outside until they were ready to begin surgery. I was extremely nervous for the spinal block, but I had an excellent anesthesiologist who was very reassuring and explained what he was doing and what I would feel as he was doing it. My nurse also did a great job keeping me calm. I think she must have been an angel. The spinal took forever and I began to worry it wouldn't work and I would feel everything! The anesthesiologist was having trouble getting in between my vertebrae because they were so tight. After several attempts he ended up having to go higher up on my back. Almost instantly I began to lose feeling and started shaking uncontrollably. Apparently, the shakes are a normal side effect. It was the strangest thing when the doctor asked me if I could move my legs and I couldn't budge an inch. They put up the screen, let Nate in the room, and started slicing away. Of course, I couldn't feel the slicing, but as they started rearranging my insides to get to the babies, I definitely felt a lot of tugging and pulling. I pictured them, literally pulling all my organs out and then putting them back in, but Nate watched the whole thing and assures me that didn't happen. The anesthesiologists sat right by my head and continued to give me a play by play. He told me it was going to feel like someone heavy was sitting on my stomach because they were going to push the baby out, and then, out of no where I heard the most pathetic squak and was shocked to realize that was a baby crying! 3:28 AM Baby A was here! They whisked her to other side of the room to check on her and get her cleaned up. I couldn't see her, but Nate got to cut her cord and make sure she was alright. It seemed to take a long time before I heard the next cry. Later, Nate told me the doctor was doing all sorts of maneuvers to get Baby B out. She was lying transverse up in my rib cage and had gotten herself stuck! But four minutes after the first one was born, at 3:32 AM, the second one joined her in the world. She was having a hard time breathing, so they immediately hooked her up to oxygen. As they took care of her, I heard someone singing to her her first lullaby, Happy Birthday. It was kind of funny and I wasn't sure if it was the drugs or if I was really hearing it. By the time they brought the babies over for me to see, I was throwing up and totally missed it. And then suddenly Nate, the babies and 2/3 of the army in the OR were gone and everything was very quite. The longest part of the whole surgery is really just getting stitched up, which was probably 45 minutes. As they worked on me, one of the nurses told me Baby B was having problems with her blood sugar and they needed to supplement her immediately with formula. I, of course, gave my permission. After they finished stitching and stapling me, one of the nurses realized they were missing a needle. Great! One of my biggest fears of surgery was about to come true. Is it possible they left it inside of me?!?!?! They searched and searched and finally called someone in from x-ray to see if it was inside of me. Fortunately, by the time they got there, one of the nurses found the needle not inside of me!

So much for looking fabulous after birth! At least my babies look cute.
They wheeled me back to my room to recover and shortly there after brought the babies in. MY babies. Finally, I could see and I could hold MY babies. It was a very surreal moment but also a very foggy one. Those drugs were killer! I basically was unconscious the rest of the day and remember very little. I was shocked when I saw a picture of myself holding both the babies. Who in their right mind entrusted me, all drugged up, weak, and completely out of it, to hold two babies at once?!?! As the day went on, I started to come out of my haze. I tried to drink some juice with my pain killers. Threw it all up, so they decide to administer pain meds through the IV. They gave me some morphine which put me right back in my haze. Eventually, I awoke from my stupor and decided I needed to get up and walk around. I had heard the sooner you get up and move after a c-section the better the recovery. I tried to walk around the room with the help of the nurse and Nate. Threw up, again. But by the end of the night, I managed to walk 20 feet down the hallway and back. What an accomplishment!

We weren't able to decide on names until that night, as anytime Nate tried to talk to me, I just fell asleep. We eventually decided on Eden Leslie for Baby A. Just as we had seen on the growth scan, she was indeed our little munchkin at 5 pounds 1 ounce. We chose Lydia Eliza for Baby B. As the pediatrician put it, she had been taking more than her fair share of the groceries and weighed in at 7 pounds 6 ounces. She continued to have problems with her blood sugars and had to be put on an IV for a couple days, but was perfectly healthy by the time we took them home four days later. They were actually ready to come home before I was! I had some lingering effects from the pre-eclampsia most notably my blood pressure would not come down. They finally started me on blood pressure medication and are continuing to monitor me.
Getting ready to leave the hospital.
First family photo leaving the hospital
So tiny in their big carseats
Did I have the kind of birthing experiences I always pictured? Not exactly. There were things that were better and things that were worse than I imagined and some things that were just plain unexpected. But honestly, I'm just so thankful to have two beautiful, healthy, baby girls and I wouldn't change a thing.

My beautiful baby girls!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 1 of the Rest of my Life

Today was our first day at home with the babies. It was quite the day. I certainly miss being able to send them to the nursery so I can rest or shower. Four full days in the hospital gives you a false sense of I can do this and then you go home and surprise, it's a little different. I have so much to learn about being a mom but I love these little ones so much already!

I've started to write my birth story for those of you interested in knowing way too much personal information about me, but it's been next to impossible to find the time to finish it. Hopefully, by the end of the week. In the meantime here are some pictures from our day.

Swing time!

My setup for tandem nursing. I wrote this post while feeding them. Quite the feat of multitasking!

Lounging in their Boppy pillows
First family walk around the block. I thought I was going to die! I may have outdone myself physically.
Eden hanging out with Daddy.

Lydia's bath.

To bed at last!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Still Pregnant Update

Have you ever dreamed it was Christmas? You wake up full of excitement and head to the living room to see what Santa brought you, only to realize it's only December 1st and you still have weeks until Christmas! That's how I feel about our babies' birth, or rather lack of birth. Don't get me wrong; I'm so grateful they weren't born at 33 weeks when we were sent down to Little Rock. I know they will be much healthier and stronger now. But we got all psyched to meet them, and here we are three weeks later with no indication that they will be making their arrival anytime soon afterall.

We were released (again) from the hospital in Little Rock on Thursday the 29th and finally allowed to come back home to Bentonville. Since then, I have been on "modified" bed rest, meaning I thankfully, don't have to be in bed all day but I am restricted in my activity level. No housework, no walking or standing for extended periods of time, basically no unnecessary strain on my body. Even if I didn't have those restrictions, I think I'd still be in the same boat. I've reached that point of hugeness where my every movement requires so much effort and is incredibly uncomfortable. Come to think of it, the uncomfortableness requires no movement at all; that's just a constant :) So the majority of my day is spent alternating between my couch, my bed, and my recliner with a short walk to my mailbox or someplace equally exciting. I've been blessed to have great friends and have at least one visitor a day, so I get a little social interaction. I also hit up family members back home on skype when I start to get bored or lonely. I try to take a short outing every once in a while. You're likely to find me at Walmart around 10:00 PM in a wheelchair with Nate pushing me around the store. I always hope we don't run into anyone we know, but I've convinced myself it's less embarrasing to be pushed in the wheelchair than ride the motorized scooter! Nate's also become an excellent "house husband" keeping up with all the housework in addition to going to work and trying to finish all his yard projects at the same time. What a man!

At my last doctor's appointment, both babies looked great! My contractions are few and far between now and the doctor really had no concerns. We're just playing the waiting game now. I'll be 36 weeks on Tuesday and will be induced at 38 weeks if the babies haven't come by then. So at least I know we're down to 2 weeks! In the meantime, I have way too much time to stare at their swings and cribs and everything else we set up in anticipation of their arrival. But I can't complain: I'm glad they've had this extra time to bake and I'm finding ways to enjoy all this downtime as I will never have it again in the next couple of decades!

Almost 36 weeks
Swings and carseats just waiting for babies!