In May 2001, I took my daughter with me to a routine twenty-week check up. At this time, the excitement of having spontaneously become pregnant with twins changed into fear. I was immediately checked into the hospital and had to call a friend to pick up my daughter whose life took an instant turn. At that time, I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix and needed to have a surgery to seal me closed, called a cerclage.
After four days, I was sent home to be on absolute bed rest. I followed these rules, including missing my daughters second birthday. I was still unable, however, to keep pressure off my cervix and had to be rushed to the hospital at week 24 of my pregnancy. My bed was tilted backward, my husband was shown the NICU and my OB teared with excitement to tell us that we were lucky to be having two girls, because we would have a better chance. After a perfect first pregnancy, none of this seemed reassuring. We all tried to remain positive. We were fortunate enough to find wonderful help to take care of my daughter and the hospital staff prepared me to stay for the next three months. Unfortunately, I only made it fourteen more days. At ten o'clock on Friday evening, my water broke and all hope to get to 38 weeks was put aside. We prayed for the babies' survival. After an emergency C-section, my babies were raced to the NICU.
Morgan Allen, the bigger of the two at 1 3/4 pounds, was taken to Columbia Hospital in an ambulance because they did not have enough staff available to give her the attention she would need in the first 24 hours. After five days, she was brought back to Connecticut at our request to be placed in an incubator next to her sister. At this point, I saw my baby for the first time. Morgan started to put on weight, but discussions about a PDA became nerve racking. Each day we waited to hear whether she would have to go back to Columbia to close this open valve, but finally it closed on its own. Now we just had to get weight on and start her feeding from a bottle. At 34 weeks gestation, Morgan was finally breathing off the nasal cannula, and her eyes looked like they were going to be fine. She made it to three pounds.
Mackenzie West who was 1 1/2 pounds stayed in the hospital with me, because they felt she would not make the trip. She was tiny, but she was strong. She broke two pounds and got her IV off in 3 1/2 weeks or 30 weeks gestation. It was smooth sailing — as far as life in the NICU could be — until her eyes were checked at 34 weeks gestation. They feared the worst. They even mentioned blindness. We would just have to be patient and wait. I took her to be checked over the next few months, and finally we heard great news. She would not even need glasses.
During these 9 weeks in the NICU, we bathed, changed and kangaroo-held our girls as often as possible. I brought my oldest daughter and husband at night for good-night kisses. I tried to breastfeed, but was only able to pump. The pumping kept me busy and made me feel like I was doing something helpful. I talked to the nurses and let my husband work with the doctors. He kept me in the dark a bit so that I was not scared and didn't worry about more than I had to. I also got my home and my older daughter's life back in order.
The girls came home four days apart at a little over 4 pounds at 36 weeks gestation. We could not help but laugh and at the same time feel scared when looking at these tiny babies sitting in their car seats waiting to come home. We were very lucky. Other than, a strange case of Strep B that put Mackenzie back in the hospital for 10 days and monthly trips for two winters for Synagis® shots, our girls seemed as if they had entered the world at full term. Morgan actually weighed more at two years old than her older sister Parker had when she was two.
Even though I worried so much about the effects of all this on our oldest daughter Parker, she barely remembers all the trips to the hospital and has no idea that I missed her second birthday. She is just is glad to have two great sisters.