Next thing I know, minutes later, my doctor was there in my room, standing at the foot of my bed and said, "So how about we have some babies today? They need to come out. Now. We cannot wait until tomorrow." My heart started racing, which the monitor picked up and started dinging! A million thoughts raced through my head. I had always known, every time I went on the monitor this could and probably eventually would happen but on this day, one day before we were scheduled, it didn't even cross my mind. Were my babies ok? How bad was this? Would they survive until they got them out and them getting them out? Would James be able to make it here in time? My mom? It was just ONE DAY before the scheduled section, was this for real?? And so many more racing thoughts and questions. With two nurses, a resident, and the dr. all looking at me, I of course said, "Ok?!" followed by multiple questions I rattled off to the nurses as the doctor left to get ready. He had told me to call my husband and mom right away, but he wasn't sure if the anesthesiologist was going to put me completely to sleep due to the urgency and the fact that I had eaten, and if he did then nobody would be allowed in the C Section. Of course I wanted to just get my babies out healthy, but I felt crushed that one day early and I would be put to sleep and not experience any of it with my loved ones by my side. As the nurses scurried around, getting an IV in my arm etc, I was asking some of the less important million questions in my mind: "Can I pee quick? (I had been laying on the monitor for over an hour and was about dying!) Can I brush my teeth? Can I drink some water quick? (That soup made me parched!) When will we know if I have to be put to sleep?" And I was shaking trying to call James and my mom and quick post on facebook to ask for prayer from all the wonderful people who I knew were praying for us!
The answers to my questions were, No, I couldn't get out of bed to pee, drink, brush my teeth, or anything else. They whisked me, in my bed, down to labor and delivery where I was quickly prepped and met James. He was thankfully at work, which is 20 minutes closer to the hospital than if he were at home, plus he didn't have the kids so that aspect was far less complicated. My dad couldn't find my mom though, she was at the mall with my big girls and had no phone reception and was not answering. I told James if my mom didn't make it that my mother in law could come in if she wanted, since she was on her way already. The doctor told me that they would just do a spinal so I could stay awake and have James in with me. Whew!
I went in alone to get the spinal, rolled over, and they wasted NO time. All of a sudden I just felt all this tugging, and within a minute or two heard the tiniest gargly cry and "Baby A! Girl!" then just seconds later "Baby B! Nuchal Cord! Girl!" and another weak little cry. They were out already?! Happiness and relief and wonder and sheer amazement. Followed by wondering where was my husband??? Where was my mom??? Why aren't they in here? Why didn't anyone get them? All of a sudden they came barging in and James looked over the curtain waiting for the babies to come out...I told him they had already been born and to go look in the bassinets surrounded by the NICU team each baby was assigned to. He took pictures of each baby girl to show me and watched the NICU work on the babies' breathing. They let him cut one of the cords.
Speaking of cords, the reason half of momo's die is due to the inevitable knots and twists that cause compression in the cords of the babies since there is no separation by membrane in a mono mono pregnancy. Our cords tell the story of the MIRACLE of life these babies are. The GRACE of GOD and the blessing of my inpatient stay and the monitoring session that caught the decels in Ava that morning. Decels from the knots that were cutting off her oxygen and nutrient supply. Just ONE morning before I was scheduled. Furthermore, Aubrey's cord was around her neck (nuchal cord). Had I not been inpatient in the hospital, my precious babies would have died. Looking at the giant knot of knots that their umbilical cords were, it is beyond amazing that they made it, and that they made it as far as they did. This is not even just one little knot...it is knots within knots - although all it takes to kill a baby is one little knot.
At 31 weeks and 6 days old, our Ava Mae was born at 2:37pm and weighed 3 lbs. 9 oz and was 16 and a half inches long. Aubrey Elle was born second, also at 2:37pm and weighed 3 lbs. 8 oz and was 16 inches long. They are so so so beautiful and perfect in every way. Mae is after my grandmother, and Elle is after my husband's father, Elmer, who passed away 5 years ago. My first impression was that they look so much like my oldest daughter Emma, and my husband. The babies weights were exactly what maternal fetal medicine estimated at my last ultrasound just a few days before the delivery! Crazy!
Before each babies' team rushed them up to NICU, I got to see each baby girl face to face. I waited and waited and there they were, so tiny and quiet and precious - and MINE, and ALIVE - just inches from my face. I was almost afraid to breathe on them or to touch them! Through that whole 2 months in the hospital I wondered if I would be able to hear them cry or see them before they were taken to NICU. The fact that I experienced both was so awesome and exceeded my expectations! I was grateful James was at least there while I got stitched back together, and I chatted to Emma a bit too! I wished my mom could have been there, and that James and her would have been sitting there watching each baby come out into the world, but the bottom line is that this was an emergent C Section - my babies were born in the SAME MINUTE, and they are survivors - beautiful and healthy. That is what truly matters.
After 2 hours in recovery they wheeled my bed into the NICU to see the babies. James got to hold one and I held the other. I really don't remember this I was so drugged from the morphine!! Thank goodness there are pictures if it. I could barely keep my eyes open I remember that! The NICU was actually full, but since I was a patient for 2 months they promised to keep my babies instead of shipping them off to St. Christopher's in Philly and I was SO grateful for that! So the babies ended up in a small room off of the NICU which was actually kind of private and more quiet.
It all happened so quickly and suddenly, out of nowhere, and suprised us all! I had no time to lose sleep, agonize, worry, dream, or anything. In this sense it was good! It was also nice for me that I got to have that bowl of soup and still stay awake for the C Section. Most of all, I am so grateful for the fact that the babies and God decided on their own - 32 weeks and 34 weeks aside - and I will never ever have to carry the burden or worry that the doctors or I may have made the "wrong" decision in choosing 32 weeks. It happened on it's own, and just ONE day early so it didn't compromise on the babies gestational development. I had 3 rounds of steriods in me and it really couldn't have happened any better. I wish there were more time for my husband to have gotten in there and see the babies be born, but other than that it was pretty sweet!
Pulling up to MY HOUSE, the colorful mums James had planted while I was gone, and pumpkins on the porch put a smile in my heart. The door opened and Emma and Abby yelled, "MOM!" with huge smiles plastered on their precious little faces, I walked in to hugs and kisses galore. Abby said, "Mom! You home from hops-it-awl! Yayy!" and she kept saying it over and over (and she still keeps saying it over and over). Emma kept staring at me and hugging and kissing me and saying she was so glad I was home. My mom had my house cleaned up a bit and my fall decorations out, pumpkin candles burning. It felt SO good to sit on my sofa after sitting in a hospital bed for so long. My kitchen, my bed, my shower, my yard. Oh my goodness I cannot express to you how good coming home to THIS LIFE, my life, felt! We had picked up a pizza from Pizza Hut, and sat down at the dining room table. Looking around it at the faces I love looking back at me with big smiles was just the most incredible feeling. Knowing there will soon be 2 more spots filled at that table, and dreaming of all the family dinners and memories that will happen there with our complete family is just the best feeling. Snuggling with my older daughters in some way helped ease the sadness of missing my babies I left behind. And then naptime, in MY BED with my soft cozy covers and my wonderful husband by my side. I am SO GLAD TO BE HOME!!!! And yet so very grateful for the experience God gave to me, lessons learned, and the fact that my babies lives were saved by that long hospital stay.
Ava and Aubrey are now 10 days old, and are doing well. They breathe the same air you and I do, they got taken off of their CPap breathing machines about a week after birth. I was so thankful a few days ago when they were able to lose their IV's. That was the hardest part for me because their tiny veins kept blowing day after day and each time we would visit, the IV would be in a new spot and most recently in their tiny little heads. The nurse said it took up to an hour to try to get the IV's into a vein. As an adult I know how that feels and to think of such tiny frail beings having to go through that, without me to hold or comfort them just crushed me daily. That on top of bloodwork, x-rays, and the other things they go through. But you know what? All these things save their sweet little lives! And it was just a week and my little fighters were able to come off of all of that! They pulled the cpap out of their noses so often that they had to keep getting it retaped to their faces and their skin was red and peeling off. I am so thankful for medical technology and yet so glad they didn't need much of it for that long!
They now just have their monitors on to measure their oxygenation and heartrates, and a tube that goes down their nose into their stomach for their feeds. In a week or so they can begin to be bottle fed but with preemies, the suck/swallow/breathe thing takes quite a bit of time and practice. Once they get that down pat and come out of their incubators and can keep their own temperatures, then they can come home. We still have a few weeks ahead of us but they are doing great. Our only setback has been some jaundice and Ava had some stomach problems but they held a feed and her x-rays and bloodwork came back fine. Their brainscans showed no brain bleeds. Also, during my stay in the hospital, a crew was working on the brand new NICU extension that is super modern, cozy, and holds 8 babies. A week after Ava and Aubrey were born they cut the ribbon and opened this new NICU. Ava and Aubrey got to be two of the eight lucky babies to go into this modern and comfortable space. It is great for us, and what are the odds it would open the week my babies are born? Thanks God :)
Praise God for these miracles, and for the hands that delivered them and take care of them. I miss them every minute I am not with them. Holding them is absolute heaven, and holding them both together for the first time was absolutely one of life's greatest moments ever! It is well known that with preemies it's not over till it's over and two steps forward, one step back. Until they are home in my arms I will not rest easy 100%. But they have not ceased to amaze me, and neither has my God. I look at my husband and smile, knowing that I get to share and live this life with him and our 4 amazing, beautiful, miraculous daughters. We are blessed and my heart is so happy!