What a difference a month makes

A month is a long time. A month can also pass in the blink of an eye.

Time is so odd right now. When the babies were born, the thought of having to wait until their due date for them to come home seemed unbearably far away. But then I blinked and a month had gone by. And in another blink, two months have passed. Maybe it’s because all of my days are the same: pump every 3 hours, once morning arrives head to the hospital and spend time with the babies, go home, rinse and repeat. Lately I’ve added moving/unpacking to the mix and now there’s never enough time in the day. But, if nothing else, it helps the time pass.

So many things have happened with the babies in the last month. Both babies are big enough to wear clothes, and have been for quite some time. Little Feisty went from being the smaller baby to being the bigger baby, his food intake has increased, he’s out of his isolate (incubator), and he’s almost completely off additional oxygen. The little Mini Mellow has been dealing with reflux, but has been off oxygen for quite awhile. His only issue is that he’s having trouble regulating his temperature, so he’s still in the isolate.

I’ve also spent a lot of time getting more involved in their care. Taking temperatures, cleaning faces, changing diapers, giving bottles, etc. Getting into involved conversations regarding their nutrition. Debating with the doctors, getting exhausted with doing so, and deciding to pick my battles. Talking with the nurses more about caring for babies in general, and things to do once I get them home.

Our days in the NICU feel so different than they did a month ago. Hopefully the next month passes in another blink of an eye.

 

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26 weeks, 6 days

After three weeks in the hospital, three close calls of going into preterm labor, three rounds of magnesium sulfate for 12-24 hours each, and one more steroid shot for the babies’ lungs, I went into preterm labor officially at 26 weeks and 6 days. The contractions had come back and I could feel finally feel them, and feel them pretty consistently. My water had broken a couple days prior, so it was only a matter of time.

The whole thing was surreal. I’d had a feeling that the time was coming. That as much as I wanted to make it to 40 weeks, or even 34, something in me knew they were coming before that. But when the moment came I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t ready. This wasn’t supposed to be the time.

I’d wanted to have a vaginal delivery, but Baby B was breech and, because they were younger than 32 weeks, they would not deliver the baby breech, due to hospital policy. The risk is too great to attempt at that age. Part of me wondered if, after delivering Baby A (who was head down) Baby B would turn around, but the uncertainty was too much for me, especially knowing that if he didn’t turn I’d have to be whisked away for an emergency c-section. After lots of consideration I just opted for a c-section for both of them. That was a hard decision to make, but I felt it was the right decision, and every time I think about it, I’d still make the same decision, given all the variables at the time.

An entire cascade of events happened the morning of the delivery, from me reporting my increased contractions, to finding out I was 7cm dilated, to the actual c-section delivery. It was overwhelming. I was so nervous and anxious I was making myself ill. Luckily I had my midwife, my doula, and one of my friends who had just happened to stay with me that night at the hospital. The three of them helped me come to terms with what was happening, and I found the strength give the go ahead for the c-section.

Given their age, just shy of 27 weeks, we didn’t expect the babies to cry or move much when they were delivered. But when Baby A came out, he came out screaming. Everyone rejoiced and all I could do was cry out of happiness. He sounded so alive. When Baby B was delivered, he screamed as well. Their screaming brought me so much joy and relief. My midwife was crying as well, and reporting to me what was happening with the babies as they were being taken care of and prepped for the NICU. They were moving and kicking and just so full of energy. They were both around 2 lbs (Baby A a little less, Baby B a little more).

They were ok.

In the weeks since, I have thought a lot about 26 weeks and 6 days. Some days I lament the fact that I couldn’t make it farther than 26 weeks and 6 days. That my body wasn’t able to do the one thing I had dreamed about for so long. That I couldn’t carry the babies as long as they needed. Some days I feel like my body failed me and that I failed the babies. Some days I miss being pregnant, especially because I should still be pregnant. I’m supposed to be pregnant right now. My babies should be with me, in utero, not away from me in the NICU…Some days are very hard for these reasons.

Other days I feel like it was a feat that I made it to 26 weeks and 6 days. The fact that after being told at 16 weeks that my cervix was extremely short and that I should be prepared for delivering at any moment…the fact that I made it almost 11 more weeks seems amazing. My body carried those babies almost 11 weeks more than the doctors thought I could. My body carried them to the threshold of viability and beyond. Four doctors, at separate times, told me that what happened was a miracle. That, being honest, they didn’t think I would even make it to viability, which was 24 weeks. That the fact that I was dilated to 4 cm, and stayed that way for almost 2 weeks was completely unexpected. Every time they came to check in on me during rounds they were always so excited and happy that I was still pregnant. They genuinely couldn’t believe it. My midwife, who is honestly one of the most positive people I have ever met, told me that while she hoped I’d make it past when I first entered the hospital at 23 weeks 5 days, she genuinely wasn’t sure how long I would go, that sometimes she was unsure I’d make it much past that. She tells me often that this was my doing – the babies being born at 26 weeks 6 days and not before was all my doing. The babies being born at 26 weeks 6 days and doing well in the NICU was all my doing. Some of the doctors have also told me this. On these days I don’t feel so bad, and actually feel good about things.

So now I am a NICU mom. Transitioning into the role of NICU mom has been challenging, and there is a long road ahead for the babies and me, but I am glad that we made it as far as we did in the pregnancy. For how things could have been, I am glad we made it to 26 weeks 6 days.

One day at a time

As of today I am 25 weeks. As of this past Thursday I was placed on hospital rest.

A little over a week ago I went in for a routine ultrasound. I was 23 weeks 5 days. Apparently my cervix seem to be dialated internally; the external portion was still closed, so effectively I was funneling more than I had previously.

While talking to the doctor, who was quite concerned, I was asked one of the first difficult questions I’ve been presented with along this journey. I was asked if I were to deliver within the next few days would I want to resuscitate the babies. My first thought was what kind of question was that? Of course I would want to resuscitate them! But, thinking about it logically I understood what she was getting at with the question. Given the number of issues a child born at barely 24 weeks could face some folks might be inclined to let the baby pass. Thinking about the mortality of these babies was so hard, given that I have been hoping to make it to 24 weeks, that this was the point where they would definitely have a chance, and realizing just that – that it is a chance, not a certainty.

Upon confirming that I would want them resuscitated, the doctor said I then needed to receive the steroid shot to help the babies lungs develop so they’d have a better chance of surviving if I delivered. So, I got sent to another wing to have the shot administered. I was told that I’d be hooked up to the monitor for 20 minutes to check heartbeats and for contractions after being given the shots, and that this was routine. However, when I got on the monitor everyone’s routine demeanor changed when they saw that I was contracting regularly, five within the span of ten minutes. The interesting thing was that I couldn’t feel anything, no contractions, none of the tightening, which surprised everyone.

The next day was a whirlwind. Everyone thought I was going to deliver. I was given magnesium sulfate for 24 hours to protect the babies’ brains and hopefully slow the contractions. After a miserable 24 hours, because that stuff makes you feel terrible and woozy, things seemed to have settled down. Fewer contractions, and I still couldn’t feel them.

The doctor in charge of the NICU came to talk to me, just to give me an idea of what it would mean to have babies at 24 weeks, and what happens in the NICU for babies younger than 28 weeks. While the conversation was informative, it was also terrifying. I do think it helped me, having that knowledge of what to expect, it was just overwhelming and heavy. So heavy.

When I made it officially to 24 weeks all the doctors were so happy. They were saying it was a legit miracle that I’d made it this far. I found out that the doctors hadn’t thought I’d make it that far after seeing what they saw at 16 weeks.

I thought I was in the clear, as well as some of the doctors, and was ready to go home. But one of the doctors, the one in charge wasn’t comfortable letting me go home, and was going to have me stay in the hospital a few more days, just to make absolutely sure.

And it’s good that she made that decision.

This past Tuesday, after describing some odd pain and pressure near my bowels I had a cervix check and it turns out I was 100% effaced and 4cm dilated. Also, after being put back on the monitors it was discovered that I was contracting regularly again, but again, I could not feel them. Once again, everyone thought I was going to deliver. The NICU was called, I was moved back to labor and delivery (as I’d been moved to the less urgent ante-partum wing). I went back on the magnesium, their thinking that this might get me at least another 12 hours before I delivered. I called my support people, thinking I was going to deliver soon. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more nervous and scared. The docs asked questions about how I wanted to deliver and what their recommendations were (c-section, but vertical given the early stage of the of the pregnancy, meaning the likelihood of ever delivering vaginally in the future would pretty much be impossible, or heavily discouraged).

Amazingly, the magnesium, which they decided to keep me on for almost 24 hours instead of 12, worked. Contractions slowed to a stop, and no more weird sensations in the lower abdomen.

After this event, the doctors all agreed that I could not go home, that at this point, I would need to stay in the hospital until I delivered the babies. The next goal was to make it to 25 weeks.

Today, at 25 weeks exactly, I am a mix of emotions. I made it another week. I am happy but anxious. Every day I stay pregnant is a victory. But everyday I wake up wondering if this is it, if this is the day. I’m focusing on the future, focusing on full term, but it is hard. Every new or random sensation makes me anxious and paranoid. Being in the hospital indefinitely, which I know is the best for all of us, is hard. I’m obviously willing to do whatever it takes for these babies to make it into the world safely, whatever it takes to give these babies a fighting chance. But I also have to acknowledge that this is hard.

I will say that I’m happy I’ve made it to 25 weeks, and I hope for many more weeks. I’m happy the babies consistently seem to be doing well. That they are both a good weight, above average even. I try to focus on these things when I can’t get sleep because of all the monitoring and vitals checks, all the poking, all the food issues (accommodating a vegan is apparently quite challenging). I try to focus on the the babies when things are hard.

Coincidentally, this past week I got random messages from a number of people I haven’t talked to in awhile. Folks just checking in to see how I was doing, or to say they were thinking of me. It’s as if the universe alerted them to the difficult week. I also learned that many folks in my family have been praying for me. They say this is why I have made it this far and will continue to make it. We may differ in our modes of faith, but I was/am so touched by all the support from them, their collective effort. I still can’t quite put it into words, but I was/am grateful.

I have come to accept that the future is unknown, that anything can happen with the start of every new day. I think I’ve made peace with that. Again, this doesn’t make it easy, but accepting this uncertainty does help. At this point I just have to take things one day at a time.

So here’s to another day.

Uncertainty

So another gap in posts. This one was a bit intentional, largely because I was concerned about miscarriage, and more than just my general (elevated) concern.

A few days after I got to 8 weeks and graduated from my fertility clinic, I experienced a weird gush of vaginal fluid. While I was at work of all times. There was a little blood in it, but barely…and then that was it. Nothing. I freaked out initially, but then, after quickly looking things up online, saw that it may not be a major issue, but only a doctor could tell. So, somehow, I went about the rest of my day. But the following morning I decided to call the midwives group I was going to be seeing and spoke to a nurse. Based on what I told her, she thought I was having, or had, a miscarriage and told me to go straight to the ER.

Many hours later it turned out everything was fine, that maybe it was a blood clot. Both babies and sacs looked good. Heartbeats good. I was sent home and was to follow up with my doctor in a week or two.

After that, I had some bleeding, and passed what I assumed were clots/old blood. So, it just became a waiting game. Everyday was filled with a little worry due to uncertainty at what was happening. As such, I couldn’t bring myself to post.

I had a 10 week sonogram at my first midwives appointment and everything was ok! Not only that, but they were really moving around, which was amazing to see. I was a bit awestruck. That appointment (and the persistent nausea) really made me feel better and felt like a little weight (of worry) off my shoulders.

So, here I am now, a day shy of 12 weeks, and I just had my NT scan. The results of that were worrisome for one baby, so they’re doing a more descriptive blood test (NIPT). I have somewhat mixed feelings about this, but I’m honestly just glad they’re looking alright and moving around. I also don’t want to do any invasive testing because, at this point, what is, is, so I’ll just see what happens when they’re born…When written like that it seems really blasé, but I’ve actually thought a lot about this and, short of a lethal condition, I will deal with whatever comes as it comes when they’re born.

I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of my first trimester. While I know it’s still early and we’ll have to see how things go, I also know that, statistically, my risk of miscarriage is fairly low. I’ve been able to focus less on that and more on other things, which is nice. Every time I see them, I feel a little better. Since they’re twins, I’ll be seeing them often, even with being in midwife care.

All of this has seemed to go by really fast. It’s amazing to me, that I’m here at ~12 weeks.

Wow.