Sunday, June 14, 2009

So What Happened?

I should be getting my final nap of the day, but I also feel the real need to get this out. So writing wins over napping, at least in this instance.

So why on earth did we have the babies last week? I had been in the hospital for 5 days for the pre-eclampsia. It wasn't getting better, but it wasn't getting worse. I was still hitting blood pressure highs of greater than 160/100. But the numbers stayed in the 160's and in the low 100's, so even though those numbers were bad, the doctors were willing to wait awhile as long as they could watch me closely in the hospital. In fact, Friday's doctor went ahead and scheduled my c-section in two more weeks: June 19th. I would have been term for twins and it was only 14 more days. I was honestly so excited to have a concrete goal to work towards. And I figured that, really, once I had 7 more days under my (enormous) belt, the next 7 days would be gravy.


At exactly 2:00 am, I suddenly awoke and heard and felt a pop. And immediately afterwards, I was soaked. I hit the nurse call button and told them my water had broke. I called up Dave and told him my water had broken and he came to the hospital immediately. (Honestly, it wasn't 10 minutes until he was there). The nurses arrived and it was absolutely clear to everyone that not only had my water broken, it had completely broken. This was no leak that we could watch and wait. I started having real contractions and there was more and more water until there wasn't.

At 4:05, Bridget was born and they rushed her literally straight into the neonatologist's and NICU nursing staff's arms. I don't think I got to see her before they took her to NICU. Dave said that he saw them break Christopher's water which "gushed like a fountain." Then Dave saw Christopher stick a hand out of my belly, check out what was going on and then scurry back inside the warm part of my belly. He was also so jammed up in my ute that they had to fish around for him and stand on top of my stomach to force him out. It was such an ordeal to get him out of me that Dave got a little lightheaded and had to sit down. He arrived at 4:08 and I did get to see him before he was rushed down to NICU.

Then they started closing me up which took FOREVER. The doctor said something about the "layers" he had to sew through and I asked him if he just called me fat and we decided, No, it was more like I was Shrek, an ogre with lots of layers.

They took me down to recovey to stabilize. And they kindly refrained from giving me the incapacitating magnesium sulfate for about 5 hours. During that time, they wheeled me down to NICU so I could at least see my babies for the first and only time for the next 24 hours. They were obviously adorable, but they were also covered in tubes and wires and big space alien hats to help them breathe. And that just about killed me. I felt like such a failure that I had not been able to keep them inside me to term. Everyone kept congratulating me and telling me how big they were, and all I kept thinking was just that one more week would have made a tremendous difference and I couldn't do it.

I went back to recovery and got the mag. They waited to see if I had any reactions. I had none out of the ordinary and I went back to my room.

After the required 24 hours, I got off the mag and the first thing I did was go to see the babies. Actually, no. The first thing I tried to do was to get out of my bed to go see the babies. Oh. My. God. For those of you who have only had c-sections, bless your little hearts. Vaginal births are so much easier and less painful. Yes, they are messier because the doc doesn't vacuum out your ute after you give birth, but they are far, far less painful than c-sections. Even now, more than a week later, I'm in far more pain with the c-section than I was with Conor's birth.

So I finally got to see Bridget and Christopher again. Not much had changed. They were still looking like alien babies with all their tubes and wiring and I was still crying and feeling like a shit that they weren't still inside me.

I also noted the new sound track in my head. I always have background music playing in my head that often lets me know what is going on for me emotionally. I have no doubt that is some sign of weirdness, but I like it, especially when it's a new song and it's tells me something about myself. In this case, I heard two songs: "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back. I want my baby back, baby back, baby back, baby back, baby back." That one is no surprise. It's a little too literal to be that insightful.

The other song was more of a surprise and much more moving. I'm not sure why my psyche chose this song and I can see that Jesus Jones originally sang it in the past tense, but I hear it in the present tense, but here is what keeps playing in my head:
In my head, the babies are singing the first part and I answer to them that there is no place I'd rather be than right beside them as they wake up to be in this world.

Yes, well, it feels emotional to me and makes me want to be by their side pretty much every waking moment. Something I was hoping to be doing with them at home and not in NICU.

So when another doctor asked me wasn't I relieved to not be pregnant any more? Wasn't I relieved to have everything resolved? I could only answer incredulously that No, I was not relieved. I wanted them to still be in my belly and I didn't want them to be in NICU. Wow. He was shocked. When I told one of my nurses, she said yes, I was unlike 90 to 95% of the other women in the special maternity ward at the hospital. Every other one of them, except me, wanted their baby or babies out of them as soon as possible. Maybe their children wouldn't end up in NICU like mine, but why take that risk? My discomfort for two more weeks felt like very little in comparison to keeping them healthy.

Of course, Bridget had other ideas and that's why we're here. The choices were made and we had our babies.

So an update on the twins: Briget is a fiesty little firecracker. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't. And she doesn't like the CPAP breathing assistance on her head. She came off for a while and then went back on. I actually saw her levitate in anger about having to be back on it and she has an open prescription to have "kiddie valium" should she need it. However, now that they've kept her off of it, she has calmed down. She was diagnosed with PDA, a not uncommon problem in preemies in which their heart doesn't completely switch over from being in utero to the outside world. She's been on special medicine (essentially, ibuprofen) for the last three days and we find out today whether it has cured her. So far, the signs are good: the murmur that let them know it was there has not been heard since the first treatment. Should the echo cardiogram show it's gone, she gets to start eating again and I think she'll start on a quick recovery, just like her brother.

As the doctor said it, Christopher is taking the easy way out. He's cruising his way out of NICU, while his sister plays the drama queen. He's up to full feeding and last night lustily ate all of his first bottles. I am thrilled because I have been breastfeeding him and using kangaroo care for the last two days. He has a wonderful latch and is doing quite well getting his nummies. Of course, yesterday we had a bit of a setback with Nurse Control A Lot not wanting me to either breastfeed him nor hold him. So Dave informed the Charge Nurse of our problems with Nurse CAL and we had her moved off of our case. Hopefully, this morning's nurse and I will not yell at each other. Their primary nurse comes back tomorrow and not a moment too soon to be quite honest.

I'm hoping that by tomorrow, we can let Bridget try a little breastfeeding. Even if she's just playing around, I want her to know her mommy is here. Actually, I don't think she's going to play around. I think she's going to come at me like a tribble and we're going to be off and running with breastfeeding.

It's two steps forward, one step back with babies in NICU. But the ultimate movement is always forward. And that's what counts.

And here is a picture of me holding them in Kangaroo for the first time. Bridget is on the left and Chrisopher is on the left. They definitley recognized each other. And it felt like a reunion for the three of us.


nancy said...

OK, I am not an emotional person. I read your post out loud to my daughter (to avoid playing the evil Polly Pockets) and when I scrolled down to the picture of the three of you I just about started to cry.

I am so happy for you all. Congratulations again.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Congrats!

FWIW, everyone's healing is different. My first c-section was after 26 hours of labor and the recovery was arduous. My second was planned and an absolute breeze. My third was also scheduled but my boy was up really high like yours and they had to sit on me to get him out. I was so bruised that it was painful for a few days.

e in ny

Carroll said...

They recognized each other. That is *so* awesome!!! Geez, Anita - if you had folks standing on you during the delivery process, either literally or figuratively, you must feel like you got run over by a truck about now. Here's to speedy healing, and many more snuggly family reunions :-)

Karen said...

Anita, What a gritty, tender, heroic story of what it means to give birth. If I had to choose which maternal force of nature I wouldn't want to mess with, you or the lioness, I'm sure it would be you. Nurse Control Alot's beware! I also liked hearing about Bridget's spunk! She'll be just fine! Looking forward to meeting these little miracles and to seeing you, Dave, and Connor sometime soon.
All love, Karen

Kim said...

I was so glad to hear the babies' birth story. The decision for the timing was made for you. The picture of you and those babies is so so sweet. What a wonderful reunion!

Evelin said...

Love the photo, it looks wonderful and serene ... so ... did you win the Ginormous Belly contest???