I am posting this today, November 17th, to support raising the awareness of premature births. Today has a special place in my heart and so I figured I would share the simplified version of my girls birth story.
At 8 weeks I was having some heavy spotting that made us think we were losing our new baby to be. So outta fear I squeezed my way into our OB to make sure we were still preggers. It took her what seemed like days to say anything after she started moving that little magic wand around my already bulging belly (seriously I was in stretchy jeans at 8 weeks). I thought for sure we had lost our sweet baby we hadn't even had the chance to meet yet BUT to our surprise she pointed out two tiny little heart flutters on the screen. As I watched Tony's face go completely pale I sat in amazement. I am not gonna pretend I was excited at first, I was terrified. Twins!! Holy moly. But if you are reading this girls (in 10 years or so) it only took me a day to get completely excited about being able to have twins join our family.
3 weeks later she did another Ultra Sound to make sure everything was going as it should be and that's when we were given the news of what type of twins we were having. At first she thought our girls were conjoined. They were so close together and seemed to moved as one. We were so scared in those few moments until one baby began to hiccup and the other remained still. Whew. However it still seemed as though they shared everything. Our twins were Monoamniotic & Monochronic (MoMo) twins. MoMo - means that our girls were in the same sac, sharing one placenta and there was no membrane dividing the two of them. At that time she referred us to a Perinatologist, she was not familiar with the severity of this type of pregnancy.
When we got home that night our family started doing research and began finding statistics on the outcome of carrying MoMo twins. We found a 50/50 survival rate before 24 weeks, early scheduled C-Section and the possibility of many problems due to cord entanglement and prematurity. The Perinatologist only confirmed this information. His first question he said he had to ask was whether or not we wanted to continue on with the pregnancy. He informed us of all the risks and chances we were taking carrying our girls. That was never an option for us. No matter what we were going to do whatever we had to get these two little girls into our world, into our family. He gave us options of what type of monitoring we could do to raise our chances of bringing two healthy babies into this world. I remember asking him what would he have his wife do if she were in my condition. He said he would have her admitted into the hospital at 24 weeks on 24 hour monitoring with a scheduled delivery at 32 weeks. So that's what I did. The 4 weeks between that appointment and when I was admitted were the toughest days of my life to that point. I was terrified everyday that I would go to my next appointment and they would tell us one of both of our babies were gone. We tried to go on as any new first time parents would. I had one shower the weekend before I went inpatient and at that point I think I really let myself get attached to my sweet baby girls. It was really happening. Just a few more days was all I had to make it till I was in the 24 week 'safe' zone.
I went inpatient on February 9th, 2006.
It's funny now when people ask me how I survived those 7 weeks. Wasn't I incredibly bored? It was no picnic that's for sure but it's just what I did. In a strange way I was happy to be where I could watch my girls little heart beats on those monitors. I am sure that it helped I had at least one visitor everyday. The support from our friends and family was over the top. I left my room twice in 7 weeks for Dr. appointments. It was definitely a long journey. We were scheduled to deliver at 32 weeks on April 3rd at 10am. But our girls had other plans. On March 27th around noon baby B, started having accelerations in her heart rate up to 220 bpm (normal is 120). They started watching us really close that afternoon. Around 3:15 she dropped down to 40 bpm. They called both my Dr.s who were there within minutes and they decided the girls needed to be taken out. Miraculously Tony had decided to make a surprise visit on his way home from work that day. When I called him in a panic to let him know the babies were coming he was in the elevator on his way up to my room. I am pretty sure I would not have been able to do it had he not been there. I was so scared. Addison was born at 3:59 weighing 3 lbs. 6 oz. and Charlotte was born at 4:00 weighing in at a whopping 3 lbs. 3 oz (30 weeks and 6 days). Their cords were a nightmare. I think every L&D nurse and Dr. in the tri state area came in the room to get a peek at my cords as I laid filleted open on the operating table. There were 8 knots, completely twisted around in the size of two softballs and wrapped around both girls. Addison had one cord wrapped around her neck, body and leg. Every time she moved she was tightening Charlotte's cord cutting off more of the blood flow. Had I not been inpatient when I was, my girls would not be here today.
The NICU was by far the worst 5 weeks of my life. The day I came home from the hospital was bitter sweet. I hadn't been outside the hospital in 8 weeks but I had to leave empty handed. I could not even look in the direction of their room without feeling as though my heart was literally breaking in two pieces. It literally hurt so badly. I wanted to be with them every second of everyday but I couldn't. I didn't even get to hold them for over a week. As soon as I was able to, and sooner than my Dr would have liked, I spent every waking minute in the NICU by their side. From 9 am to 10 pm I sat. The early days offered many tears but as I watched them grow stronger fewer tears fell. I cherished the diaper changes and feedings that I was able to assist with. I felt like a visitor in my own life at times but the staff was amazing and I knew they were doing what was best for my girls. Both girls had minor set backs but we were very fortunate to make it through the NICU experience with few problems. Charlotte did have to have a blood transfusion which is very common for premature babies but I think it was much harder on me than anyone else. We celebrated each milestone with so much joy in our hearts. Maintaining their body temp, learning to feed from a bottle and making the big leap into the 4 pound category were like birthdays for us. Every day was one day closer to bringing them home with us.Charlotte on the ventilator.
Our girls came home 2 days part on April 28th and 30th. It was heaven. They were perfect in every way. I didn't even mind the lack of sleep. Or the pumping every three hours and the feedings right after. Ok maybe there is a wee bit of sarcasm in there. But it was pure bliss for at least the first month or so. Even though we were home we still had to handle our babies with extra care. Addison came home on an apnea monitoring because she would forget to breathe every so often, which is an obvious problem. And we had to administer a drug to both girls that stimulates the part of their brain that reminds them to breathe. I am pretty sure that waking up out of a dead sleep at 2 am by the apnea alarm took a few years off our life span. We also had to keep them away from the public for weeks and we should have bought stock in Purel. I ended up having to stop breast feeding because my both girls had premature digestive tracks and had to be put on pre-digested formula that cost an arm and a leg...per baby. And we had to have a nurse come and administer RSV shots every month. This year is the first year we aren't worried about colds turning into pneumonia or RSV.
I am so thankful for my Perinatologist who fought for me to go inpatient and for all the Dr.'s and nurses that took care of my girls and I during our hospital stay. I am thankful for the March of Dimes that makes all the research possible to help make my girls first days of life easier with the new technology and medicine available to us. We have extremely healthy, happy little girls. They are the light of so many lives. I cannot imagine how different our life would be had we not been blessed with them.
Thank you Missy@Two Little Monkeys for telling me about Prematurity Awareness Day!
Today is the day to raise awareness of premature births. Quoting The March of Dimes, "Every year, 20 million babies are born too soon, too small and very sick ― half a million of them in the United States. November 17 is when we fight."
I am not sure where all that came from. I meant for it to be a simplified version of our story but somehow the words and emotions just kept flowing. Sorry for taking up the better part of your day :)