They weren’t here. And then they were.
In celebration of my little lovies turning two I’m posting their birth story which I originally wrote the Winter/Spring after they were born. Here’s the end of the story that was really only the beginning. Originally posted on March 3, 2011.
a.k.a The Birth Story Finale
I left off at the moment that Baby B was born and we both breathed a sigh of relief that we had our children. [You can read the full story of Miss M’s arrival and the moments afterward in the post I wrote about it and will repost some time in the future].
It was so cool to me that everyone seemed so calm in the OR. The doctors and nurses talked throughout the surgery, the anesthesiologist joked around with us – even telling them to turn down the music so we wouldn’t have the song as part of our special memory. I remember thinking, everything must be going well if they are all chatting as they work. And the nurse who brought us the babies was very relaxed and clearly felt that the babies were safe and in good health because she encouraged us to hold them for awhile and take pictures.
I remember feeling very proud and relieved that they didn’t need oxygen, they were just bundled up like normal babies!
Finally they had to take them to the NICU so it was time to say goodbye. That was really hard for me. I was emotional as it was and I hated having to let them go so far away so soon. My husband went with them so I had some comfort in knowing that he was there when they were weighed, measured and settled into their isolets.
It felt strange to be on my own in the OR again. My legs were still completely numb and when they moved them I looked down and laughed because they were like mannequin legs, I could see them moving but it was like they weren’t mine.
I still hoped I would be able to be with the babies that night but in the recovery room outside surgery my blood pressure was not going down. The nice male nurse tried to chat and keep me company but each time he checked my blood pressure and it would be too high and he’d give me more meds and we would wait again. I can’t remember anymore how long I was there but it was at least 2 hours.Finally the surgeon gave permission over the phone to let me go but not down to maternity, instead back to labor and delivery! Ya. They felt I would not be able to be closely monitored in the group environment of the mat ward so I was put back in an empty room in labor and delivery and assigned a nurse. Although this was terribly disappointing, it turned out to be for the best. I would have been in a ward room with up to two other people and their loved ones and babies, this way I got my own room (for free) and John could stay with me. Not that we got any sleep because I was dying of thirst and had only been allowed one small cup of ice and nurses came in and out all night long. And of course we had babies downstairs and I had just had surgery so who could sleep!
I tried to sleep but only drifted in and out until finally I could tell by the action outside the room that it was morning. Soon we were being moved to maternity and the minute we got into the ward room I insisted I was going down the hall to the NICU to see the babies. The nurse tried to ask me if I wanted to rest first and I completely ignored her and kept saying I want to see my babies. I was wheeled down to the NICU, just a few doors away, and got to hold my babies who were in their own isolets at the time but were put back together in a crib later that day.
It was emotional to be with them. But holding them was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Just couldn’t believe they were ours.
I would spend the next couple days making that trip down the hall to the NICU all day and all night. Then I moved to a private room next door to the NICU for the next few nights while I waited for my blood pressure to normalize on medication. I developed a little hospital life of food on a tray, living in pajamas, walking VERY slowly around the maternity ward (I was still healing) and doing the NICU routine.
There were some very hard things about being there.The ward room was very crowded and noisy and more than once I was in tears in my bed because I could not sleep from all the noise, visitors and crying babies. When John went home a couple nights I had a hard time being alone.
But there were also some good things. I had healthy, balanced meals served to me (not delicious but I had such an appetite I ate it all and loved all the juices, milks, teas and fruit that always came with it), I was able to rest knowing the babies were being cared for, I could go in and see them anytime day or night, and both my husband and I were able to ease into learning how to care for preemie twins without taking it all on at once.
I still remember the smell of the NICU. How warm it was. The routine of washing hands, unwrapping them, taking off the little wires on their feet and chests that monitored their vitals, changing their diaper, checking their temperature, weighing them, and then sitting down to nurse or put milk in their feeding tubes. Every three hours the same thing, and we were there for as many as we could be.
I have been asked if the NICU was depressing but it wasn’t. It was quiet and warm and clean. There is almost no crying as the nurses say once a baby is old enough/strong enough to cry loudly it’s time to send them home! The nurses were supportive and encouraging and once we got the hang of what we were doing they would say hello and then leave us to do it all ourselves. It was reassuring to learn in such an environment but to be empowered to feel like their parents and not just visitors.
In a weird way I missed that time when it was over. Don’t get me wrong, I was so glad to go home and sleep in my own bed and shower in my own shower (BEST SHOWER OF MY LIFE) that when they told me I had been released we packed and left in like 20 minutes. And taking them home was amazing and surreal. But being there in our little world with no other focus was a special experience I’ll never forget. Even as I write this there are thousands of little details I want to remember, even if they mean nothing to you they will trigger feelings – good and bad – for me.
The little milks and juices in my meals. The nurses always looking for me to give me meds and never finding me because I would go to the NICU or downstairs to Tim Hortons with family (apparently I moved around more than the average patient or something!). The little pajamas our babies wore all the time. The horrible hospital bathrooms and showers. The first time I proudly brought pumped milk to the NICU for the nurses to put in their feeding tubes. My swollen feet. Watching their beautiful faces sleeping all bundled up and not wanting to leave.
There is so much more to say. So much happened. My blood pressure spiked, my mom came up from Texas, we stayed overnight in the family room with the babies the night before they came home (a standard practice for parents with NICU babies)… not to mention all the yucky medical stuff I could tell! But since no one wants me to go on and on, and definitely not about the gross details, I’ll end with this:
My husband. I would not have survived without him. I am dead serious when I say from the time I was scheduled for a c-section to the time I was discharged he did not say or do one thing wrong. He was supportive, sensitive, stood up for me, stayed with me, made decisions when I couldn’t think clearly, learned how to do everything in the NICU and kept me supplied with everything I needed. I was so emotionally fragile and needy, not to mention physically weak, and most of the time I didn’t know how to make decisions. He was endlessly patient and gently took over when he knew I needed him to. He handled family and visitors, pushy nurses and frustratingly loud patients. I could call him anytime day or night and he was there. Because of my surgery I needed a lot of help but had a hard time accepting it. He gently insisted on helping me take it easy and even helped me shower and dress when I could barely walk. He had to deal with blood and scars and pain and things most men wouldn’t take on and he never made me feel badly about it. Ever. Not a day went by that I did not find myself thinking I could never repay him for all that he did and all that he was for me. It is because of him that even the most horrible elements of that time will be sweeter in my memory.
So instead of writing any more I am going to walk over to his desk and tell him. Good night everyone.