In the third trimester of my pregnancy I was being applauded at the doctor's office because I was one of the few women pregnant with twins who did not show signs of pre-term labor. They seemed confident I would go full term and I was not limited to bed rest at any point. However, I had suffered from 24-hour-a-day morning sickness from the minute I conceived and I was swollen like a balloon. I was so miserably large and ill, I was looking forward to getting through the pregnancy. At 30 weeks pregnant I started to show signs of preeclampsia. The doctors knew it wouldn't be long before I would be forced to deliver prematurely. Although I had wished to deliver to end the constant sickness, I did not want my babies to suffer. We just waited until my blood pressure and protein levels reached dangerous levels as my poor swollen body continued to grow.
It was the Sunday after my husband's birthday and we were celebrating with family at our house when I knew it was time. I was 33 weeks pregnant and my father had a blood pressure gage and decided to play doctor and see where my blood pressure was. I don't remember the exact numbers, but he nearly fell off his chair and said I should call my doctor. The doctor's office said that if my father took the pressure correctly, it was time and we should pack our bags and go to the hospital.
On the drive to the hospital I had very mixed emotions. My husband was annoyed because he didn't believe it was time and that we were going to be sent home because my father did the pressure test wrong. He was in major denial too. I knew it was happening in my gut and started to get nervous about the babies well-being, but I really had no idea what to expect. I figured they would be small and for some reason I thought I pictured them being in the room with me and us taking them home when I recovered. I didn't even think about the NICU. I even made sure to pack their going home outfits in a size 0-3 months. It is funny how your mind works.
When we arrived at the hospital they confirmed my father's diagnosis and started inducing my labor. They also hooked me up to a magnesium drip which made me delirious and lethargic. The next evening my labor had progressed and I was being wheeled into the delivery room. It didn't feel natural being forced to deliver babies that were not ready to come out. When my first born arrived, she was beautiful, but tiny, lethargic from the magnesium and did not make a peep. They let me hold her for a second and the team of Neonatologists swept her off for testing. Thirteen minutes later my second daughter arrived and it was the same thing. I just kept screaming, "Are they okay?" Nobody could confirm their status and the next thing I knew my body went into further complications and I was knocked out. Severe blood loss forced the doctor to put me under and a few hours later I woke up in my room without my babies.
My husband and family were standing around and had been up to the NICU to see the girls. They said they looked good, small with tubes everywhere, but good. I could not stop crying and just felt so much guilt and concern for their well being. The nurses felt so sad for me they transferred me to a rolling cot and brought me up to see the babies. It was so amazing to see my children and at the same time so scary to see them in a plastic box with tubes, beeps and even a tiny IV. I reached in and held their hands and just cried and cried until they took me back to my room. Although everyone told me they were doing well, I was just sad. Sophia Lynn, my first born, was 3 pounds, 12 ounces. Lillian Rose, my second born, was 3 pounds, 13 ounces.
I continued to visit them as much as I physically could. I shared in their feedings, diaper changes and anything else I could do with the NICU staff. I would just sit there some days and cry and other days I would laugh as I watched them grow and take on my husband's and my characteristics. When I was released from the hospital one week after their birth, I was devastated to go home without them. The drive home from the hospital was painful and it was so weird to come home like nothing had changed. I spent my time going to the NICU every day to deliver breast milk and to see them and attempt to breastfeed. At home I filled my time putting toys together, organizing clothing, diapers, formula, bottles and everything else I didn't have time to do before their birth. In retrospect, I wish I had slept!
After about a week and a half, I came in and they said to bring their car seats in. I was so excited and knew that meant they might be coming home soon. I nearly fell over when they were moved from their isolette to a crib and I was so proud of their progress. Each little step of progress helped me make it through and after exactly 2 weeks from their birth, they were both released on the same day. Although I wanted to jump for joy, I was scared to take them from the NICU where their care was amazing, to our home.
Those first few weeks home were a real blur and they just continued to thrive, grow and change. They just turned 5 months old on my 31st birthday. Although it hasn't been easy, it has been the most rewarding and beautiful time in my life. Although they were 7 weeks early, they are now in line with other babies their age and I sometimes forget they were preemies except when all the books make you reflect on gestational age. I always remember what my doctor said to me when I was devastated about delivering preemies. He said "just think, you get to see a part of your children's development that most people do not get to see." I know we will have a lot more bumps in the road ahead of us, but I have learned to appreciate and cherish each bump.