I certainly was not ever one of those glowing happy pregnant people. For good reason. I was hospitalized no fewer than 5 times since June. There were two other times I was sent to the triage area of Labor and Delivery to be monitored. Then of course there was that emergency surgery to remove my ovary at the beginning of December that I am still recovering from. I heard warnings from the beginning of the pregnancy that due to my screwed up anatomy, there were lots of risks involved for the babies. Turns out that the babies did everything that they were supposed to do but my body was just not cooperating.
The goal from the beginning of the pregnancy was to make it to 34 weeks gestation. At that point the babies should be just fine, just small. I set my own goal to make it through Christmas. I even said that these babies would be born on December 29th. Seemed like a great date. I would be 34 weeks and 1 day pregnant. It would be past Christmas. It would be the anniversary of a surgery I had last year. And it would mean that we would have two extra tax credits for this year.
I made it through Christmas. Then come December 26th. I got sick - nausea, vomiting, all over feeling awful. By the evening I got horrendous pain in my legs. I turned to Google. First on my mind was drug withdrawal. Sounds crazy? I had been on a steady does of Percoset since my surgery on December 3rd and had just run out the day before. Whatever it was, I knew things were not as they should be. I called my doctor office that evening. The doctor on call said to come in and expect to stay awhile since I was unable to keep down even water. Off to the hospital I went, with a bag packed just in case.
A lot of the next couple days is a blur, mixed up with all my other visits to the hospital over the past month and more. I got some pain meds for the leg pain and spent several hours just complaining about my legs. There was lots of fiddling around with fetal heart rate monitors because no one can ever seem to get those things on my babies and keep it there. I think there was an ultrasound at some point. At 5:30 on the morning of the 27th I was moved to my own room. They were going to monitor my urine for 24 hours to check for kidney issues and pre-eclampsia
. I was still sick.
At some point it was determined that I was going through drug withdrawal from the percoset. There was talk of methadone clinics and other alternatives since going through drug withdrawal while pregnant could be really bad for the babies. It was all really crazy. Then I met with an addiction specialist who determined that I couldn't really be classified as an addict and would not be eligible for methadone treatment. In order to be a real addict I needed to have done something illegal to try to obtain drugs and that was not my case. By the time all of this went down I was feeling somewhat better and if I had been experiencing withdrawal I was probably through the worst of it and the babies seemed to be doing just fine. Follow all that?
At some point in there it turned into December 28th. My urine had been analyzed. My protein level in my urine was 12 times what it should have been. That was not good. It was determined that I did indeed have pre-eclampsia and was in risk for kidney failure, seizures, and a whole lot of bad stuff. The only way to get rid of it was to deliver the babies. Since I am still recovering from that last abdominal surgery, it was highly recommended that I attempt to avoid a c-section. I was told that I would be moved to Labor and Delivery to be induced within the next 1-2 hours, which in hospital time usually means 5-24 hours. Greg decided to go home to get a few things that we would need, a round trip that would take him about 2 hours. For the first time ever, things actually went how they were supposed to and I was moved swiftly into Labor and Delivery within an hour all by my lonesome.
By this point, I had had so much fluids and my kidneys weren't working all that great so I was puffed up and swollen like nothing you have ever seen. The IV that I had was no longer working and several nurses went on a quest to find a new vein. They gave up and called "the IV team" who's entire job is finding good veins. I am not exaggerating when I tell you they tried every single vein in both my arms but each vein was all hiding behind all my massive fluid retention. Eight days later and it looks like someone beat my forearms with baseball bats because they have huge, dark purple bruises on them. Alas, a vein was finally located and Greg showed up just in time for labor to be induced.
I was hooked up to three different IV lines. One was for saline. A second was for pitocin, the drug that induces labor. The third was for magnesium sulfate, a drug that is generally given slowly over a long period of time to help with pre-eclampsia. Just for fun, they decided to give me huge amounts of the magnesium sulfate over a 15 minute period which caused me to get really hot and uncomfortable and loopy. When all this labor induction started, I was already 2 cm dilated.
Labor, as it turns out, is not like they show on TV. Or at least labor induced by pitocin isn't. There is no walking around like normal and then suddenly finding yourself doubled over in pain when a contraction comes on. For quite some time, I wasn't really even having contractions... I think. I was just really uncomfortable. It sucked. In between being uncomfortable, there were periods when I was even more uncomfortable which I am thinking were contractions.
I had to have an epidural because of the twin pregnancy. If suddenly things had to switch from a vaginal birth to a c-section, they needed a way to quickly make that happen. I was all about the epidural so this wasn't an issue for me at all. They gave me the epidural early to make sure that everything was taken care of and I didn't get too exhausted and it all somehow lined up with blood work so they didn't have to stab me with so many needles. The anesthesiologist said that getting the epidural could take 5 minutes or it could take 30 minutes. It took longer than 30 minutes. Apparently I have a really bony back and there were lots of pokes and no success. Finally a second anesthesiologist got called in to try to stab me in my spine and things were finally numb. I was told I had to lie on my side. Yes! I haven't been able to lie on my side since November. Ever since I had surgery, the pressure from the weight of the babies on my abdominal incision resulted in me sleeping in a recliner since lying on my side or back was impossibly uncomfortable. But I had an epidural and couldn't feel a thing! I had the most amazing night's rest, waking only to be examined (actually, I think I might have slept through that) and to roll from my right side over to my left.
By the morning of the 29th, I was 6 cm dilated. I called my mom around 7:15 to let her know that it would probably still be a bit. At 7:30 I got examined and I was 8 cm. The doctor told me to let her know right away if I felt any changes because she had to assemble the entire team of doctors and nurses - three teams to be exact. There was the group of people that were going to be helping me give birth and then a team a piece for each baby. Most deliveries at the hospital take place in the Labor/Delivery/Recovery rooms. I would have to deliver in the Operating Room mostly because of the sheer number of people that had to be present but also in case I suddenly needed operated on. At 8:30 I was telling the nurse to get the doctor because things had changed and I needed to push. The doctor came in, examined me, and announced, "You're ready to have these babies!" I cried. The last thing in the world I was ready for was to have these babies!
There was some pushing in the Labor/Delivery/Recovery room just to see how much pushing I would have to do. Greg got all dressed up in his protective coverings. The nurses and doctors got their special masks and head caps on. Off I was wheeled to the OR. At some point I located a clock in there and saw it was 9:23. The real pushing began. And kept going. And then there was more pushing. I was tired. Everyone was encouraging me but it still felt like nothing was happening. Somewhere towards the end I shouted out a few times, "Get him out of there!" Apparently everyone was sick of me freeloading on them for the past several months and making them do everything for me because no one got anyone out of there for me. They made me do all the work.
At 10:45 am, Baby A was born. I heard the crying and that was it. He was gone. I never heard anyone announce that it was a boy, although Greg assured me that it was. No one held him up for me to see. They just whisked him off to be checked out. I wanted to see him. At some point the doctor told me that if I felt another contraction I could push. I was too distracted from the fact that I just gave birth to some screaming baby to realize I was still contracting. I thought that they were just having me deliver the placenta of Baby A, but what I was feeling was more head shaped. Baby B was on his way. It only took a few pushes and I was the mother of twins, with Baby B born at 10:53 am. They whisked him away as well and I just remember wondering why I didn't get to see my babies yet.
Eventually they brought Baby A over all wrapped up in a blanket with a little blue hat on. Greg held him for about 30 seconds up near my face while the anesthesiologist took a photo. Then over came Baby B whose head was the tiniest I have ever seen, almost lost in the blanket and hat. Another 30 seconds and he was gone too.
But they were here! Baby A weighed a whopping 4 lbs 11 oz and Baby B checked in at 3 lbs 8 oz. Both babies scored 9/9 on their apgars which was amazing.
In a normal birth the babies are placed on the chest of the mother right afterward, put there while they are cleaned up. The mom gets to hold the baby right away and breastfeeding is encouraged within the first hour. Mom and baby (and whoever) spend about 1-2 hours in the recovery room before heading off to a regular hospital room for the remainder of their stay. My birth was not normal.
I was kept in the recovery room for almost 20 hours. I was so sick that they felt it was the best way to make sure I was constantly being monitored. My temperature started dropping right after delivery and they wrapped me up in heated blankets just like my babies had been. Then I got a fever. I was given more of that magnesium sulfate. I was almost given an antibiotic that I am allergic to. I begged to see my babies only to be told that I was too much at risk of having a seizure to do so. I begged to see a lactation consultant only to be told that they don't come to recovery rooms and I would have to wait. (I didn't see one until about 30 hours after I had given birth. Thankfully my breast pump was in our car so I was able to pump a little bit to give to the babies at their first feeding. I had a fight with a nurse about this. She told me that I shouldn't be doing that, that all I really needed to worry about was taking care of myself. I told her too bad because pumping some colostrum for my babies was apparently the only thing I could do for them at that point and I was going to do it.) Greg could go see the babies but he wanted to wait for me. The waiting got to be too long and I sent him off to witness and take short videos of the babies' first feeding. New nurses came on duty and I had a sobbing, weeping fit to them about how upset I was that I still hadn't seen my babies and the doctors that were supposed to come see me never showed up. Somewhere around 10 that night - escorted by two nurses just in case I started having a seizure - I was wheeled down in my gurney to get to see my two newest sons.
They are little. They are beautiful. They are healthy. It is still amazing that through all of this, they turned out just perfect.