Keep on Keeping On

When I was pregnant with Gillian, I read the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I think a good subtitle for that piece of work would be “A Complete List of Scary Pregnancy Complications and Birth Defects for You to Obsess About over the Next Year.” Given the inherent risks of carrying multiples over the age of 35 (well over), I decided to forego a reread this time around. I should mention that, I’m technically not considered an “AMA” or Advanced Maternal Age patient with this pregnancy because  these twins were conceived from 23 year old eggs. Theoretically, the cornucopia of complications that I’m currently experiencing all stem from the multiples factor. I’m inclined to believe that. The primary issue we are dealing with is placenta previa, which is far more common with twins than singletons- based upon space constraints. If we didn’t have the placenta previa issue, I wouldn’t be having contractions. If I wasn’t experiencing those complications, I wouldn’t be on bed rest and I might not bare such a strong resemblance to this guy.

I’m not sure how Michael and I have managed to remain calm through out the last few weeks. I can only attribute the peace to grace and prayer. The first day of each hospital admission was the most unnerving. Our first visit here, at 27 weeks, the admitting nurse was preparing for the worst case scenario.  She had seen things get really bad with placenta previa, and freely shared that information with us. She literally asked me, “Would you accept a blood transfusion to save your life?” three times during admission. I’m calmly thinking, “yes- but I’m hoping that doesn’t come up today.” We signed a lot of forms including one with the heading, “Congratulations on the birth of your baby.” That was a bit much. The nurse did push me to tears when she made the statement, “We just need to buy you another 24 hours, do you understand?” She was referring to how long it would take to give me a course of steroids to mature the babies lungs. She left the room and I fell apart a little bit. When she came back in the room, I asked her to clarify whether she was being conservative just in case we had to deliver early as opposed to assuming that we absolutely were going to deliver early. She assured me that she was being extremely conservative and I was able to regain my composure.  About a week later I was sent home and confined to bed rest.

At 32 weeks, the second hospital admission was quite different. I knew the admitting nurse. She and the charge nurse were both involved in the initial examination. They were quite calm but my symptoms were severe. All of us were concerned about whether we’d be delivering that day but Michael and I managed to keep calm and dealt with it through a lot of humor. We told the nurse about the blood transfusion questions from before, so she was sure to ask us a few times – just to tease. She was more discreet with the paperwork. While I’m sure that we signed a form congratulating us on the birth of our baby (Michael Edit: we did.) – I never saw the header this time around. At shift change, I met my second nurse for the day. Soon into her shift, she made sure that my room was well equipped with everything necessary for an emergency C-section. However, she was very careful to assure me that she was being conservative and she just wanted to make preparations so that none of would have to worry about it, if it came to pass.

Michael and I were outwardly calm. I think we were both also pretty charged with adrenaline. Thankfully, the nurses monitored the babies right away and we also had an ultrasound. We were reassured on both fronts and that went a long way to truly calm us.

(Michael Edit: My schedule is normally a bit off. I like to work (or play) well in to the night and sleep well in to the day. This time I had been awake all night and was just about to go to bed when Shannon called my cell at 5am and said “we have to go to the hospital”.  We had things packed and G in the car, including me running back in one more time to grab a tea, and were driving away in under 5 minutes.  But then that adrenaline did kick in and there was stuff to do: drive to the emergency entrance, find a wheelchair, get shannon and G in the door, run and park the car real fast, roll Shannon up to labor and delivery admissions, what to do with G?, have G give mommy a kiss, hand off G to my mom and dad, run back up just in time to see things I didn’t need to see, sign papers, make sure we don’t have another high strung nurse this time, transfer Shannon to a room, and more once we were in there.. all while I was far past my “bed time” and dizzy-tired.  I was tired at 5am when the whole thing started.  And I wasn’t able to finally pass out until after 10am.)

We’re now on day 8 in the hospital. I haven’t had any new or recurring complications for about 3 days. We’ve finally learned that it would take a pretty significant incident to push my doctor to deliver. If you had witnessed my admission exam, that last statement would be more meaningful. I’ll just stress that it really takes a lot to spook a Perinatal Specialist. They’ve seen it all and know how to remain calm, weigh all the factors and let things ride for a bit.

My doctor comes to visit us daily. We’re now at the point where we’ve stopped asking questions. (Having firmly established that we can not tap my legs like a maple tree to deal with the swelling) (Michael: My idea by the way.) We just sort of nod at each other- agree that the babies look good and that I’m not any worse today and he’s on his way.

Earlier this week we each toured the NICU to prepare us mentally for treatments our babies might need, if born too early. This could include a ventilator or C-PAP to aid in breathing, IV and/or umbilical cord IV, a tube going down the throat to draw out oxygen or to use as a feeding tube, isolette chamber for warmth and to keep them in a sterile environment, various lights for jaundice, etc. In contrast, some babies at 33 weeks need no NICU assistance and can breath, feed, and grow completely on their own. Statistically, the longer we keep them in, the better their chances of avoiding those discomforts. If you’ve ever nursed a sick kid and prayed that you could take their pain and suffer instead – then you can appreciate our current circumstances. I’m uncomfortable. Michael is as sleep deprived as I am. He’s currently asleep on the couch in my room. My daughter is homesick and my inlaws have got to be exhausted from caring for her day in and day out. But is it all worth it? Absolutely.  Minor inconveniences on all our parts that someday we’ll look back on with some amount of fondness.