I meant to write out the boys’ birth story a long time ago, I really did. I love reading birth stories. Those who know me well know that pregnancy/childbirth/baby fascinates me–I was the girl who watched every episode of A Baby Story, read every book, & still enjoy following pregnancy/baby blogs. I think the reason mine never got written was because it was just not at ALL what I had hoped for or dreamed about my whole life, and emotionally I detached myself with regrets & “if only’s.” Jeff & I recently came across a birth story fairly similar to mine (I read it crying the whole time) and he encouraged me to go ahead and write this out, so I am–just in time for their second birthday. Because I am realizing that though it’s not at all what I imagined, it IS their story. They were born and survived, and are now healthy, thriving, amazing little boys… and that’s all that should matter.
On Friday, July 24th, 2009, I called my doctor’s office after 4 straight days with a headache that wouldn’t go away. Jeff had been trying to get me to call for a while but finally my mom insisted and I actually listened (I may be just a bit stubborn). They urged me to come in that afternoon to check things out as my blood pressure had risen slightly the last time I’d been in and they wanted to be safe. I also had horrible swelling in my feet & legs. That afternoon I was supposed to help drive our missions team to the airport. Our church was about to send a group to Peru for a week–a group that included my dad, sister, and our best friends. Jeff & I originally were going to go on this trip before I got pregnant, and then Jeff had to back out as well once we found out it was twins and I wouldn’t let him go since I would be 32 weeks with (unpredictable) multiples. Thankfully my mom decided to stay home as well (little did we know how glad we’d be about that decision!). When we dropped them off at the airport, I barely scratched a little scab from a bug bite and my arm started bleeding like I have never seen–just spurting blood. A friend of ours is a nurse and the look on her face said it all–something wasn’t right. I promised my family & friends I’d do my best to keep the babies in until they returned (we had been praying specifically the entire pregnancy that they wouldn’t be born until at least the Saturday they got back from Peru!), and headed to my appointment. I really wasn’t that concerned at this point–I’d had a relatively issue-free pregnancy, especially for twins, besides the fact I’d been nauseous the whole time. In my head I thought I might just get put on some bedrest or something–I’d been lucky enough to avoid that completely up to this point & it was probably inevitable, right?
When I arrived at the doctor’s office it took them basically no time to send me right over to the hospital – my blood pressure had taken quite a jump, I had protein in my urine sample, & my face was quite puffy (my doctor later told me that he saw me walk in from all the way down the hall and already knew I’d get sent to the hospital). That was when I burst into tears–one of my closest friends was getting engaged that night (though she didn’t yet know it!) & I was supposed to go to her surprise engagement party afterwards. I just sent 4 very important people off to another country for a week. This can’t be happening! Just yesterday things were totally fine!
We were quickly triaged at the hospital and they told me I was having contractions 4 minutes apart–somehow I hadn’t really realized. I’d had bad Braxton-Hicks contractions since about 20 weeks, so I guess I had just gotten used to the pain. They got me into a room and began medications to stop my labor. I had to begin a 24 hour urine sample to see how bad the preeclampsia was. The neonatologists came in to talk to us about the boys’ prognosis at this point and their goals for us (at this point I was 31 weeks, 5 days). I received the first steroid shot to help quickly develop the boys’ lungs in case they needed to be delivered (ideally these steroids take 2 shots and 48 hours, but every little bit of time helps). I called a friend to tell her I wouldn’t make it to the engagement party & cried again. My dad, Ash, & Jenn called from Miami about to board a plane to Lima–which meant more crying and convincing them that they had to go on this trip & not turn around & come back here. I was trying to stay optimistic that these babies could stay in till they got back, but my heart was breaking at the thought that they might miss it all.
The IV medications weren’t working–the contractions were getting stronger–so they made the call to put me on magnesium sulfate. Anyone who’s had this drug understands, and if you haven’t had it–I wouldn’t wish it upon ANYONE. It’s hardcore and it’s miserable. While I waited for it to kick in, my sweet friends came by after the engagement party was over to show me pictures & check on me. After they left, we decided to try to get some sleep. My mom went home and Jeff fell asleep–with his heavy coat on in the middle of July, because I was already so insanely hot from the magnesium that the room temp resembled the Arctic, I guess. So began the longest night of my life – burning hot, sick, vomiting, bedridden (I had even lost “bathroom privileges” at that point & had a catheter which was AWFUL) and so miserable that I remember just staring at the clock, begging for it to be morning. BUT – the medicine was working and my contractions were calming down, so no matter how awful it was, it was worth it to me to keep those babies cooking!
The next day (Saturday) was much more promising–I was able to go off the mag, my contractions had pretty much quit, and the boys and I were looking pretty good. My urine test confirmed that I was preeclamptic and had pregnancy-induced hypertension, but my blood pressure wasn’t getting any worse at the moment so I could just stay put for a bit. We watched a lot of movies, had a few visitors, and tried to lay low. By Saturday night my doctor said the boys & I were stable (not improving but not getting any worse) and if things were perfect the next day & I was “smelling like roses” I might even be able to go home & be on strict bedrest – or at least stay there on hospital bedrest. I felt so much better – hopeful that I might be able to keep these little guys in till the end of the week when the Peru team returned!
However, on Sunday morning, July 26th, I woke up early, around 5:30, in a pool of blood. As soon as I realized it, I was absolutely terrified. I immediately woke Jeff up, paged the nurse, and things were quite frantic for a bit until they could stabilize me and get my doctor in to do an ultrasound. I had a placental abruption (where the placenta tears away from the uterus–a pretty serious condition). Thankfully, both boys were okay and I was once again stable but they told us these boys would have to be born sometime today. Our doctor was hoping to get us to Sunday night so the steroid shots for the boys’ lungs had the full 48 hours to take effect. During the ultrasound we discovered that both boys were head down so he was going to let me try to deliver without a c-section, which I was so hoping to avoid. At that point I was all cried out about my dad, sister, & dear friends missing the birth–sadly, it was inevitable at this point, so I just tried to relax & be thankful that my sons were still okay after such a scary morning.
My contractions were also starting up again so they put me back on some medication to attempt to stop them once more. My mom & I sent Jeff to go get a couple redbox movies because we thought we’d just be sitting around all morning/afternoon until a probable delivery that night. Well, as soon as he left, things went downhill. Alarms were going off left & right, and my doctor came in and let us know that it was “time.” The boys’ vitals, as well as mine, were dropping with every contraction. He told me that they wouldn’t be able to survive labor and that he needed to go ahead & get them out now while I was stable enough to be awake during the procedure. He was worried that if we waited any longer he’d end up having a severe emergency situation where he needed to put me out and we’d all miss the birth. At that point, Jeff walked in with two movies to hear the words “Dad, it’s time.”
We were of course shocked and quite scared, but I remember a supernatural peace coming over both of us. Jeff got his scrubs on and we had a few seconds to pray with my mom, as Jeff quickly sent off a short text to friends & family to pray and that our boys would be here very soon (quite a shock for everyone as I’d been doing so well at the last update!). I was taken back into the OR, given a spinal, and the c-section began – everything happened so quickly I barely had time to realize what was going on. Thankfully I also barely had time to be scared – God truly wrapped his arms around us during this time & I felt so much peace at a time when I otherwise would have been absolutely terrified.
Everything happened so fast – it was such a blur. I got sick on the table, but thankfully Jeff walked in right after that–I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy to see him. Cullen was pulled out almost immediately after Jeff entered the OR, and I told Jeff to go be with him. The neonatologists quickly stabilized him, weighed him, and then rushed him off to the NICU (they gave me a very quick peek at him next to my head but I couldn’t see them very well). Lane came out just one minute later and Jeff was actually able to hold him for a few short seconds before they quickly took him back as well since the boys couldn’t really breathe on their own yet.
Then they took their time sewing me back up as various nurses came back to give reports from the NICU. I remember sitting in the recovery room with a suddenly empty belly and 2 NICU wristbands to replace it, wondering if all of that really just happened. The boys were stable but little did I know that I wouldn’t even be able to hold my newborn sons for a few days or that we had a 5 1/2 week stay in the NICU ahead of us.
I was sad that we had no babies in the room to show off when people came to visit. I hated waking up every 3 hours to attach myself to a machine and pump instead of feeding my baby. I felt terrible because the doctors weren’t able to get my blood pressure under control until the following Friday, which was also scary. I felt like I hadn’t “done” anything to deliver the babies and was disappointed that Jeff couldn’t be “proud” of me for working so hard and pushing them out (in my opinion, not his). I was scared. I LOVED my sons. I got up and walked to the NICU the next day regardless of my c-section incision because they were worth all of it. However, this wasn’t what I hoped for and if I’m being honest I’m still pretty sad about the way things turned out–but I’m working on it. I’m working on just being thankful that we all survived and that I have two healthy, wonderful sons now. That should be enough.
Perhaps someday I’ll get to experience a “normal” delivery, or perhaps I won’t. And that’s okay (now). I know that God is in control regardless, and I know that this is our special birth story for a reason. I know some people don’t get to have a birth story at all–I’m so blessed that I got to experience pregnancy (I miss those sweet babes moving inside me!) and a birth of any kind, and I realize that. I am incredibly thankful to the Lord for modern medicine (and amazing nurses and doctors)–without it there’s no doubt that the 3 of us wouldn’t have made it, and that is humbling. I’m glad I can now sympathize and understand others who go through the NICU emotional roller coaster, and am able to support & encourage them. I KNOW God has been so good to us, and that he graciously protected us during all of this. I am so very grateful for my husband who was my rock through it all–he was AMAZING and my love for him grew leaps and bounds because of this. And of course, we are so blessed by the precious gift of not one but two babies (something that should never be taken for granted!). So, I am choosing to start praising the Lord for this story and its joyous outcome instead of harboring so many regrets and disappointments. I’ve got to. These two little miracles are worth all of this and more, after all.