Sunday, January 2, 2011

2 years later here is the birth story.

It's taken me this long to commit to writing it all down. I didn't forget a tiny detail of it and parts of it still bring me to tears like it was hours ago. Every part of it reminds me that God takes care of us and that it's true, miracles are VERY real.

Before we get there I have to give you a little background:
I had spent all of Christmas Eve and Christmas on bed rest and had been in preterm labor for a little more than a week. By preterm labor I mean I was dilated and effaced and was having horrible contractions every 5-10 minutes several times a day. My Doctors were trying to get me to 34 weeks because twins typically do ok if they are born after that. I hit 34 weeks right after Christmas and they let me off bed rest but I had to go to my high risk clinic for ultrasounds every other day to have biophysical profiles done on the babies. They check for things like practice breathing in each baby. amniotic fluid levels and heart rates for stress. They would also check my urine protein levels and blood pressure trying to look for signs of pre eclampsia, a condition in pregnancy that leads to preterm labor and presents several risks for the mother. My urine tests had been showing me leaking protein for a month at least. I had severe heartburn and would see light bugs out of the corners of my eyes - all symptoms of pre-eclampsia however my blood pressure wasn't outside of the average person's normal range.

Two years ago New Years Day my Mom called and asked if I wanted to run with her to Babies R Us and pick up anything else I might possibly need for the babies. Getting ready for your first baby is daunting, getting ready for your first two babies at the same time is scary!!! You've talked to other twin parents and been giving a tiny little peak into what you're life is going to be like in the beginning but you cannot fathom even in your wild imagination what it's going to be like brining two home and what you're really going to need to survive. I was very organized and actually very prepared. I was happy to go with my Mom to get out of the house after bed rest and wanted to pick up the last few things off of my registry. We went, and I lasted about 15 minutes and we left. I was complaining about feeling sick like I had the flu. I felt out of it and in a lot of pain all of the time.

January 2nd, 2009. I drove into work at 7 am like every other day. I had a doctors appointment at noon for my ultrasound but this time had to drive to Edina because my Abbott clinic didn't have openings. I felt so sick driving into work I almost pulled over a few times. I was dizzy and spacy. I didn't feel right and my sternum hurt so badly I had to wiggle around just to control the pain as I drove. My commute from Blaine to St. Paul was about 30 minutes in rush hour. Royce worked in the same building and he started at 9 so like every other morning he came in with breakfast for me; fruit and cheese and a smoothie :). He knew how bad I was feeling.

After I got settled in my office I sent my Mom an email saying how sick I was feeling and that I didn't even remember driving into work. I remember crying as I was typing the email because this new pain in my sternum and the feeling of nausea, heartburn and a pounding headache was so bad. She emailed me back at 11 am and asked me if she could please drive in and pick me up and bring me to my appointment in Edina. I was feeling a little better by then so I told her I would manage. She emailed again pleading for me to let her drive me. I refused and left the office, stopping to fill up my gas tank down the street.

I drove from St. Paul to Edina and my ultrasound started on time. They checked my urine and again the protein levels were very high. I told my nurse I was feeling like I had the flu and my nurse who I had seen before told me I didn't look very good. We proceed with the ultrasound and baby A (Rasa) was stressed. Baby B (Adia) was just fine. Rasa wasn't practicing breathing and wasn't moving a lot. Twins stop moving a whole lot near the end because there is no room at all for them to really stretch out but there is still supposed to be some movement. I was worried. My normally ten minute ultrasound took one and a half hours as we sat waiting for Rasa. The nurse told me I failed and would need to come back - maybe even to the Abbott that night for a recheck. She did my blood pressure and I asked what it was. She said it was 130/90. I asked her who looks at my chart at each visit to compare my blood pressure levels and she said no one as long as it falls in the "normal range". I got very worried. My blood pressure normally sits extremely low like 102/70, low. I remember telling her "that's WAY too high, WAY too high for me". She went and got the Maternal Fetal Specialist and he literally came running in the room. He said "You have pre-eclampsia, get to Abbot so they can deal with you there! You can't drive! Do you have a boyfriend, a husband, who do you have?!" I said, "my Husband is at work but I can call him". He said "call him NOW! You have to get over there. I'm letting them know you're coming". I felt a little alarmed but not nearly as panicked as the Dr. I called Royce and told him he had to pick me up, everything was ok but I needed to go to Abbott. I called my Mom and started sobbing. I was SO worried about Rasa not moving and doing what she needed to. The nurse heard me through the wall and came in. She was so sweet and comforting.

I gained my composure so when Royce came to pick me up he wasn't worried. I was feeling like everything was okay. He made if from St. Paul to Edina, through construction, in 10 minutes flat! As we were driving to Abbott I asked him if he thought we should pick up a camera because my hospital overnight bag that was packed and ready to go sat on my kitchen table at home! He said no and that they'll just check and send us home like the other few times we were ordered to go there. I was still worried about Rasa but feeling like things were ok and that everyone was probably over reacting.

We get to Abbott about 4:30 and get seen at the Maternal Assessment Center right away. They hook me up and all three of our heartbeats are looking ok and like most other times the girls heartbeats are beating at the exact same time. I tell them I feel like I have the flu and that my contractions are SO bad. They all know I'm in labor but no one knows how long it's going to take because I wasn't in hard labor yet. My Dr. comes in and says he's worried about sending me home because there is a snowstorm forecasted for later that night and he's afraid if he sends me home I'll go into hard labor that night and have to drive from Blaine to South Minneapolis where Abbott is in a snowstorm. He wants to do a blood check and then have my walk the halls to see if I'll go into hard labor. He leaves my room and it's already 6:30 pm. I'm STARVING. The only thing I had eaten was my breakfast. I sent Royce to the McDonalds they have downstairs to grab me a bun with cheese. I eat and and minutes later hear my Doc on the hospital intercom calling for an emergency Anesthesiologist, and for a list of other people one after another. I look at Royce and say "whoa, someones in trouble". My Doc walks back into MY room. The first thing he asks is "When is the last time you've eaten". Gulp. Um, just now. He says "It's time to have babies". I'm completely confused. I was packed up and ready to go home. He tells me a normal person has 250k blood platelets per something and that I have 80k. If I got down to 50k I would need a blood transfusion immediately, something about bleeding to death. My brain can't process the info as fast as he's giving it to me. He tells me I have two choices; c-section under full anesthesia, but that he doesn't think any Anesthesiologist in town would give it to me since I just ate and apparently you can asphyxiate on food under anesthesia and die (who knew!). Then he tells me my other option is a c-section with a spinal block meaning i'm awake but I'm numb from the chest down. The risk of that is the spinal has a 20% chance of hitting some huge vein and for whatever reason under my condition (which is called HELLP by the way) it would probably kill me. Royce and I are looking at each other completely perplexed. I, like any other pregnant woman would do, began to cry uncontrollably. I knew one thing - I needed to see my babies the second they were born and being under full anesthesia was absolutely NOT an option for me. Royce hugged me and in the calmest voice said "Hun, you are getting what you want, we're having the babies!" I called my Mom and told her we're having an emergency c-section and to please go to my house and let my dogs out (still worried about the dang dogs!). She begs me to let her come up and I tell her I need her to take care of the dogs so I don't worry. She's worried.

The Anesthesiologist walks in and gives us some figures about the risks with my condition and then has me sign a waiver saying I wouldn't sue anyone if I die (I'm completely serious). At least eight people flood into my room and they literally RUN me from the room into the operating room stopping only for a second to point to a room Royce needs to go and change in. I get in the operating room which is huge and silver and bright and hot. I've never seen one awake before. Attached to the operating room is a small heated room where a Pediatrician from Children's Hospital and three or four Pediatric Nurses are standing behind a glass window (Children's is attached to Abbott). I still have the image of them all in scrubs staring at me from the window, ready and waiting for my babies. I'm having small talk with the nurses as they help me onto the table. I get a spinal block in the back and we're good - the vein was not nicked in anyway. It was a weird feeling getting that block put in. They lay me on my back and the pain from the weight of my huge twin pregnancy belly makes it almost impossible to breath. I'm wiggling my toes worrying about the fact that I can still feel everything. Suddenly the pain of my belly on me doesn't hurt and I remember what it was like pre-pregnancy to be able to lay on my back and not feel anything. They put up a small curtain across my chest that keeps me from seeing my belly. My Doctor comes in and calls the time 8:00 pm, says my name, what surgery he's performing and begins. I remember hollering "Wait! Royce isn't in here. Where is my Husband?" They assure me before the babies are pulled out he will be here. Then in walks Royce all in scrubs with a mask on his face. The first thing I ask is if he's ok and he said "I'm smiling". I tell him I'm shaking really bad (more like flopping on the table like a fish) but that I'm ok. I see his eyes look over the curtain as he sits down and I know he looked. He later tells me when he glanced over it was alarming to see my belly cut wide open, stretched out with my intestines laying on the side. Hmm I can understand that!

With the pressure that feels like a thousand pounds and a suction like nothing I've ever seen or heard seconds later I hear crying. He holds up a perfect, magical, BEAUTIFUL bright blue baby girl with a dimple on her chin so big everyone in the room comments on it. Only a second later she's tossed into the arms of the Pediatrician who rushes her into the heating room. One minute later and after a lot of work I hear cries again. He holds up my second daughter but only high enough for me to see blond curls and then she's gone. I cry that I didn't see her! I tell Royce I didn't get to see her face and he tells me they will show her again but I'm already heartbroken I didn't get to see my second baby girl! Royce goes into the heated room with the babies and holds them (no camera!!!) and trims the cords. They wrap them up like little burritos and bring out Adia. She looks at me with ths biggest dark blue eyes I've ever seen and just starred at me not making one peep. Her face was round and her cheeks were so chubby. She looked to me like a painting of a cherub angel. She was beautiful almost too beautiful to be mine! We were strangers who knew everything about each other but hadn't met. It was the most unexplainable thing I've ever felt. She didn't look like anyone I knew but she had her Mommy's nose and was tiny at 5 lbs 10 oz. I wanted to hold her so badly but I could only give her a kiss. It was still all so surreal.

Rasa came out and she looked so familiar with her Daddy's same face and my chin. She was perfect, beautiful, asleep and tiny at 5 lbs 8 oz. Seeing her a second time I said "She's so beautiful. I can't believe how beautiful she is."

I had some problems with the pain medications and some side effects from the anesthesia so I got really sick for a while but I insisted Royce follow the babies to Children's. I didn't want them out of his sight for a second. He went with and they transferred them to Children's Special Care Nursery and got them hooked up and in isolates. With premature babies the importance obviously lies with keeping them healthy and alive and not with bonding with the Mother initially. I was very fortunate that my babies were able to breath and didn't need oxygen. Rasa stopped breathing for a few moments right at first but they were able to get her going again right away. In Special Care they hooked the girls up to a vitamin iv, blood pressure monitor and breathing monitor.

I called my Mom as soon as they had me stitched and stapled up. I told her Adia and Rasa were born and they both had curly hair and that they were gorgeous! She was on her way with my Sister In Law, Suzanne and she had a camera for me! I sent a text message to everyone in my contacts telling them of Rasa and Adia's arrival. That was the first time anyone (other than my Mom) had seen or heard their names. I had to sit in recovery until I could feel my toes and then they would bring me up to hold my babies.

My Mom and Suzanne arrive just as Royce runs down to check on me. I'm still not ready to see the girls but he takes my Mom and Suzanne up. They see them and my Mom is allowed to hold Adia. Rasa's nurse won't let anyone hold her until after I have the chance. FINALLY I'm able to go and I get to see Adia first. The second I touch her I cry. I can't believe we did it. I can't believe we made it all the way to the this point and that she's ok, she's healthy, she's beautiful and she's really mine. I'm only allowed a few minutes because they are not able to regulate body temperature at their premature age. The isolates keep them regulated. Having to try to maintain body temperate burns calories and they need everything they can get to continue to develop as if they were still in utero. I get over to Rasa and hold her and again I'm all tears. I can't believe she's mine. She's perfect and so tiny. I am completely overwhelmed with love for both of them.

It was hard to put them back and to see them with cords and wires coming out of them. I later saw a picture of Rasa crying in the isolate and it still fills me with horrible guilt that I wasn't there to hold her at that moment or both of them at every moment. It's painful to write about it now and I can't do it without crying. I feel sad and angry and devastated all at the same time. They needed me. They were poked and iv'ed and had blood drawn and were alone in their isolate, without her sister, without her Mother. The only thing that gives me some comfort was after spending a week around the clock there with the nurses we really got to know them and they LOVED our babies. They didn't just like babies and like their jobs. They loved them like they were their own babies. They were their little baby girls too.

I've sent them a Christmas card and picture with a thank you note two years now and will do that until they girls go off to college. They are the most dedicated and wonderful team of nurses you could ever meet.

January 9th, seven days after admission the girls were released from Children's. We left the hospital with them at the same weight they were when they were born. Both were breastfeeding like pros and thriving without any problems whatsoever.

Royce took a month off of work to get everyone settled in. For three weeks we took turns sleeping 2 hours rotations each at night. After that we got to 4 hour rotations but I had to get up after 2 to pump and then go back to sleep. For four months Royce worked full time outside the home with four hours of sleep a night.

Oh and that pain in my sternum was my liver failing. The spaciness and flu like symptoms were because my body was starting to shut down. HELLP comes after full blown eclampsia has already progressed. The only resolve for HELLP is termination of pregnancy ie emergency c-section or induction of labor depending on the stage of pregnancy. Left untreated the mother and unborn baby will die. I forgot to add that when my Doc came racing back into my room before surgery they had to hook me up to a magnesium drip to keep my body from having a full blown stroke which is what it was starting to do. Magnesium also makes it impossible for some mothers to produce milk. Not me, I breastfeed twins exclusively until they were 9 months old and even now occasionally.

So when I say that I believe in miracles it's because I look at them at 8 am when they run out of their bedroom giggling each morning and I'm reminded again every night after they fall asleep on my lap and I carry them into their rooms and lay their heads on their pillows. I am their Momma and they were made for me.

Adia and Rasa:
When you read this I hope it helps you understand that there has always been a special place for you in the world that was held open and reserved just for you. You were born into a big group of loving family and friends that waited patiently for you, prayed for you and were overjoyed! the minute you took your first breath. They were in love with you before they even met you for the first time. You are so special that my words cant describe in ways that will make you understand but you can feel it, you always will, the love that there is for you.

I never in my wildest dreams knew that my heart could be as full as it was when I looked at each of your faces for the first time. Everything about who I was changed in those two minutes you were born together, one after the other, as only the way the most special sisters are.

Happiest 2nd birthday to you my most precious and wondrous gifts.


Anonymous said...

sniff, sniff, sob, sniff. My heart is too full for words.

Anonymous said...

And, I'm making sure Dad reads this!! The bum - ha! up at the cabin when all of this was going on.