Friday, 24 October 2014

How we got to 4.....When our babies arrived


From 23 weeks, we had weekly scans to monitor the situation with Baby J’s umbilical cord, which was apparently very unusual. Someone told me that our case would probably be used as a case study for university students one day! Both babies continued to grow at decent rate, though Baby J was always 200-300gms smaller than Baby A. But the blood flow issue remained, sometimes showing normal, healthy flow, but most of the time it showed resistance, shunting the blood flow backwards instead of forwards. It was strange that this didn’t seem to effect Baby J’s well-being at any time.
We still worried a lot, but by this time, the babies were moving regularly and with strength, so as long as I kept feeling movement I was happy that they were ok during the week between the scans. Thankfully, things progressed really well. It was great seeing the babies every week and as an added bonus, our new sonographer got a kick out of creating 3D/4D pictures of the babies, so we got a few to take home now and then:

Baby A snuggles up to Baby J
 
Once I made it to 28 weeks, I breathed a sigh of relief. This was my ‘safe zone’. By this time I was as big as I would have been with a full-term pregnancy! I was struggling to eat large meals but I wanted the babies to keep gaining weight as we knew they’d be arriving early. Our obstetrician told us he’d like the babies to come out at 32 weeks to finish their growing outside. Apparently, for us, the risks of staying in the womb at this time outweighed the risks of coming out. Although I wanted to keep my babies inside for as long as possible, it was a no-brainer for us. We wanted our babies alive. So I started eating caramel slices every day to help them pile on the fat!

 At this stage I was beginning to get the spooks again. I worried about whether Baby J had been affected at all by the blood flow issue - would he be disabled or injured in some way? No one could know for sure and I didn’t want to dig around too much, frightened about what I might discover. So I tried to keep the faith.

 Over my last week of pregnancy I traipsed to and from the hospital for more frequent scans, heart-rate monitoring and the all-important steroid shots to help the babies lungs develop, ready for their early arrival into the world. Remember when I said I was happy to be having so many scans as it meant being around the maternity part of the hospital a lot? Well, be careful what you wish for! By this time I was on very familiar terms with a lot of the staff there!

At last, the big day arrived. While we waited at the hospital to be taken in for our C-section, I stroked and stroked my huge belly, willing the babies to be ok and cherishing my last few moments of pregnancy. For all the stress of this one, I loved being pregnant and having a huge belly full of baby to cart around.
 
When it was time to go in, I shook violently as the anaesthetist dosed me up. The operating room was packed to the brim, as we needed two of everyone since we were bringing twins into the world - so there were two little resuscitation tables, two lots of baby doctors, the whole room was prepared for two early babies.

 
By the way, I haven’t even said at this point that we didn't know the genders of our babies, so we were about to get a fantastic surprise, which is one of the best things EVER! Sure enough, after a bit of tugging and pulling, someone presented Baby A to us and announced 'Congratulations, it's a  boy!' Despite being small, Baby A let out a wonderful roar and stretched one fist into the air and I began crying. He was exquisite. Being identical, I knew the other baby would be a boy.

The two surgeons were still working on freeing Baby J, who by all accounts, was wedged firmly up near my ribs. There was a lot of pressure and pulling as they worked to get him out. And then I saw him, my little Baby J, who’d had the dodgy cord, being carried over to his resuscitation table. He was limp, totally different to his brother. The baby doctors grouped around him and busily worked on getting oxygen to him and whatever else they did and I watched intently, waiting for him to start writhing around like his brother.

 Despite how scary it all sounds now, there was no panic in the air. One of the surgeons explained that Baby J was being a bit lazy with his breathing but she didn’t seem concerned. He would just need some assistance to get him started. I took my cue from her, and remained calm. Still, I watched.

 Then, both babies were whisked off to the NICU. I hadn't been able to have a first cuddle with either of them, but then I didn't really expect to. They needed help from other people, not me just yet. My god, I have never been so in awe of doctors who work exclusively with newborn babies, what fantastic human beings to devote themselves to saving babies’ lives!! I mean, imagine the type of person with super academic powers and the choice to be any type of doctor they wanted, who thinks, ‘I just want to help babies.’ Just imagine! 

(Cue hormonal tears, I well up just thinking about it.)

And so began our relationship with the NICU, which is where our babies finished their growing. They needed help with their breathing for a few days but soon enough they were managing on their own. Both babies appeared to be doing brilliantly, and slowly gained the weight they needed. The nurses and doctors in this place were beyond amazing. It was hard leaving our new babies and going home to our other (bigger) babies each day but we hung in there, knowing that the end was in sight. I expressed milk and made twice daily visits into the hospital to feed and care for them. And I got to hold them for hours on end, skin-to-skin….just magic.



Me and my babies, at around 33 weeks old.
 
I wish I could have been there around the clock, it was so hard splitting myself between the big kids and the babies. I just did the best I could. The nurses were bewildered about how I'd cope when I got the babies home, but I said, 'If we could get the chaos under one roof, I might just be able to manage.'

On top of all this it was Christmas time and day care had closed for the year, which made the parenting-across-two-locations thing all the more challenging. But in a way, the festive season made it a bit special too, knowing that we had these two precious gems waiting for us in hospital, getting stronger by the day.




Baby J, the day he was born. I had my hand cupping the back of his head, and his little hand crept round and found my thumb to cling on to!

Baby A, at 33 weeks. He lifted his head with such strength, to just gaze and gaze at me. I don't even know what he could see at that point, but I know he knew who I was.
 
And hey, we did it. We became proud-as-punch, grateful-as-anything and busy-as-hell parents of four fabulous, healthy children. On the day we got to bring our babies home, we had a vague idea of the hard work that lay ahead of us. But, considering our journey to get there, walking out of the hospital with these two tiny yet perfect little creatures….well, we felt like we could conquer the world.


Amazing photo taken the day after we got them home, at 36+6 weeks
(Rebecca Connolly Photography)








 



6 comments:

  1. What an extraordinary story! Wow. I can't imagine how scary that experience must have been and yet you seemed to cope with such courage and grace. Your babies are too cute for words. So happy they are thriving :-)

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  2. Thanks Michaela! It definitely helps to remind myself of the story when I feel like pulling my hair out!

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  3. Wow! Amazing. Your boys are beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us. I've loved reading about it!

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  4. Thanks for reading, Alice! I think every mother probably has an amazing story when it comes to the arrival of their children!

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  5. I think for us all hearing the cry of our baby is the best sound in the world. I cried as soon as Lotti came out crying I was so happy she was out and soon to be in my arms :-)

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  6. Your twins are precious! I'm glad everything turned out okay :)

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