Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Birth Story

It is difficult to glide over the years of fertility treatments and difficult pregnancy, but I will do my best to get to the point. I will say we tried for six years to get pregnant, finally conceiving our twins through IVF. My pregnancy had some difficulties, but I has a cerclage placed and had experienced no symptoms for several weeks. My doctors and I felt my problems were behind me. I had reached my 26th week, the gestational age to which Google attributed a 90% survival rate. I had experienced no cervical shortening, and the specialist even laughed that it looked like we didn't even need the cerclage. My days of bedrest and fear were behind me. The worst days of my life - waiting in bed, checking off the weeks of my babies' development, feeling the kicks and wondering if we would make it - were over. I would need to take it easy, but I could enjoy the rest of the pregnancy we had worked so hard to achieve.

The relief was short lived. I barely had time to get back into reading the pregnancy and baby name books I had set aside during my darkest days. On the last day of my 26th week, I felt odd. I was not in pain, except for the loose joints and lower back soreness that was par for the course at this point. Instead, I was having waves of exhaustion that forced me to sit down. Every so often, I also felt some tightening. I recalled the doctors' words about false labor. My cramping was not coming at regular intervals or with increasing frequency. I was not in any pain or experiencing any bleeding, both of which were supposed to happen if cervical changes put pressure on the cerclage. Certain nothing worrisome was happening, I replenished my jug of water and sat with a book.

After all, I would know if I was in labor, right?  How could you not know?

I soon realized the strange sensation wasn't going away. Instead of timing the irregular tight feelings, I decided to time the waves of exhaustion. Nine minutes apart. On the nose. We headed to the hospital.

Even at this point, we were just going to be safe. We thought it was false. We expected to repeat what happened the past couple of times we went to the hospital. Usually, they strap me into a device that measures contractions. I tell them when I'm feeling crampy, they say it's not showing up on the machine, they watch me for an hour, then we attribute my symptoms to the chili dog I had for supper and I go home. I feel sheepish but relieved and sleep well.

On this trip, the usual nurse greeted us and strapped me in. We joked about chili dogs  A wave hit me, and before I could say anything, the nurse said she could see the contraction in the monitor.

This I when I started to get nervous. My symptoms had NEVER shown up on their monitors before this. Hubby called my folks to let them know we were at the hospital and it looked like I was having Some kind of contractions. At this point we knew something was up, but we still thought it was spmething minor and that we'd be sent home soon.

After seeing my contractions on the monitor, the nurse set me in stirrups and examined me. She was only "down there" for a moment before she stood up, looked at me wide eyed, and told me I was at 8 centimeters. She said they would give me something to try to stop the labor, but, "sweetie, these babies are coming tonight."

Panic set in. The world went flat. Obviously this was a nightmare. I would wake up. I would wake up. My perfectly healthy 26 week babies would not be forced out of my body for reasons unknown. It wouldn't happen. It was not happening.

I hadn't taken any childbirth classes. What if I had to deliver before the doctor arrived to do the c-section?  Why hadn't we gotten the steroid shot that would develop their lungs?  Where were we even going?  Who were all these people suddenly in the room?  Nurses and technicians surrounded me, their conversation buzzed around me, but none of their words made contact with me.

My husband said his parents were coming. From miles away, I heard my tiny voice ask about my own parents. He dialed and handed me the phone. My dad told me they had already gotten dressed and would be on their way.  

The rest of the night I remember as kind of a strange montage of events, isolated scenes with no context.

I heard the nurse say she could see the head. Hubby said, "she just means she can tell where the head is.". Nope. She could actually see H's head.

The ultrasound guy came and was told we has no time and he'd have to meet us in the delivery room.

My thumbprints were taken.

I asked if I could use the restroom, and was told I could not stand or even sit up for any reason. The nurse said she would give me a catheter. I asked about painkillers. She said the catheter would hurt much less than my labor. I did not tell her that I didn't have any labor pain.

At some point, I was rushed to a maternity/birthing room. There the ultrasound guy confirmed the position of the babies while Hubby signed paperwork. They told us, "dad needs to sign these.". We both said, "my dad's not here yet."

I was wheeled into the operating room. They put the hairnet thing on me as we rushed down the hall.

I kept thinking they would give me something to relax me, but no. I was immersed  in the hard cold reality of my fear. The operating room was bright and felt huge. A small army of people rushed around. They seemed flustered, which scared me more.

I was so very cold.

I was afraid of the spinal, but it did nor hurt like the one I'd had before. It was quick, and then I was numb.

The anesthesiologist was annoyed at being called in the middle of the night.

My husband appeared, clad in paper gown. I'm sure he was wearing a mask, but in my memory I can see his face. I was so relieved to see him again.

My doctor appeared. His finger was braced from a golf injury. I flooded with relief. It was time. Everything was ready. Everyone was here.

I concentrated on keeping my breathing steady. I asked if it was normal for my face to feel flushed. When I asked this, I saw fear in my husband's eyes. I had never seen that before in al of our years together. I suddenly realized I was being cut open, that all three of us were in danger. My husband . . . I cannot imagine what he was going through.

The doctor and anesthesiologist discussed golf.

The doctor asked what the first Baby's name was, then announced, "he has been born, and is peeing on me." a moment later, I felt an odd deflating sensation as my second son was delivered.

Hubby left me to go to the guys' bedsides. The nurses were a flurry of activity over there.

As my surgery finished, the neonatologist came to speak with me. Both boys were alive, and were taking breaths. They would need to be placed on ventilators and were on their way to the NICU. I asked if I could see them. H had already been taken away, but the doc hollered for the nurse to let me glimpse K. As the nurse rushed him from the room, she held him up so I could see him. From across the impossibly large operating room, I saw a small bundle of blankets with a tiny face. Then he was gone. Hubby went with them. I was alone.

As I was wheeled back to my room, I passed by our families who had arrived and were waiting. My dad stood as I went by. The relief on his face as he saw me just about killed me. I called out, "did you see them?  How do they look?" We went by too quickly for me to hear the answer. I was taken back to my room, where family joined me in waiting for my husband to get back with news of the boys. I had never felt so alone and empty.

Less than three hours after our arrival at the hospital, my boys were born and taken to intensive care. It was early morning of exactly 27 weeks gestation - the first day of our third trimester.   I would meet my sons later in the day, and together the four of is would embark on the unimaginable experience of a long term NICU stay.

1 comment:

  1. You must have been so terrified! We were very blessed to make it to 36 weeks, but even then I still vividly recall my babies being rushed out of the delivery room to the NICU, being alone, being wheeled back to the recovery room and seeing all our family anxiously awaiting news, and me not knowing what was going on. It's scary. Sigh!
    So glad everything is greatwith your kiddos now!