Their birth story. I’m going to touch on it! I think with twins there is a natural curiosity about a lot of aspects, including the birth, and I absolutely do not mind sharing. I never understood the swapping of birth stories. Now having experienced it, I think it is because not one is the same, and they are each very beautiful. Which is unique and cool and neat. Walking through infertility, I really didn’t care to hear about birth stories. So here is your pass if you do not want to read, I get it sister. I’m going to leave out some specific, not so pretty, details but I will include certain medical terms, so if that makes you uncomfortable, again I get it, do not pass go. This is such a good way for me to be able remember what I haven’t already forgotten. Here is your out!
They decided to come early. 35 weeks. I went in for my very last scheduled ultrasound on Wednesday, December 23rd. I had an appointment with my OB shortly after the ultrasound to set an induction date for two weeks. I went ahead and put my hospital bag and the bag I packed for the babies in the car, just in case they admitted me that day. Will called as I was walking out the door to say that he would be paying attention to his phone, in case I called. So I guess we both had a feeling that this may be the day. I had worked my last day of Gymboree the day before and started feeling contractions at the end of my shift and throughout the night- real deal contractions, not the practice kind. During the ultrasound, the tech could not find much amniotic fluid for either baby. Baby A (Eliza) was also not doing her practice breathing exercises. The maternal fetal doctor (high risk pregnancy doctor) felt like because of these factors, and that we were at 35 weeks, the babies were safer out than in. He called my OB to let her know, and she one hundred percent agreed. “So we are going to send you up to get hooked up on the monitors.” I really needed him to spell it out for me “I’m having my babies today? Do I need to call my husband?” He explained that yes, absolutely they were coming today, he just had no idea how soon. And yes, call my husband right now.
“Guess what, you’re induction date is today!” my OB said. I was already 3 cm dilated so if I hadn’t had an appointment that morning, she was pretty confident I would have gone into labor later that day, or the next, and she would’ve been seeing me anyway. Both babies hearts looked fantastic on the monitors. My blood pressure, however, was through the roof and it took a lot of reassurance from the nurses and my doctor that they were both going to be okay. If it was an emergency, they would have immediately sectioned me. Every time she came in to check on me I said, “I’m just really worried about my babies.”
Not only did they decide to come early, but they also wanted their own birthdays! Both babies stayed head down my entire pregnancy and my OB was very encouraging of going for a vaginal delivery. One appointment she said, “twin vaginal deliveries are so much fun!” So I went with it too. With twin deliveries, even if a person delivers vaginally, you are automatically in the OR just in case you have to have a c-section. Eliza was the first, and she did not make it easy. I’m not sure what I would have done if these babies were bigger because it was a challenge! I pushed for almost two hours with her. She was born at 10:43 pm on December 23rd weighing 5 lbs, 5 ounces. She looked exactly like the Eliza I always imagined. Next up Baby B’s turn! And…my cervix closed. During my last appointment with my OB, I asked “so how does it work? If I’m going to do this vaginally do they just come out back-to-back?” She said typically, yes, that is what happens, but there are cases where a person’s cervix closes. She said if Baby B still stayed head down, she was cool with me laboring until it was time to push again. I remember telling her I would like for them to come back-to-back. I think God really had a good time laughing at this. While we were waiting for my cervix to dilate again, two nurses pressed on my belly holding Baby B in place so he would not change positions. I was also given Eliza to nurse because this could help stimulate contractions. The entire thing was a circus. In the OR, there is huge clock posted on the wall. Someone in the room pointed out that we were getting close to the next day. And it was time to push. I had 45 minutes to get this baby out, or they would have different birthdays. Everyone kept watching the clock and calling out the time. I tried so hard, but he was not budging until 11:59. Bennett was born at 12:01 am on December 24th weighing 4 lbs, 7 ounces. He entered this world with eyes wide open.
We were all four put in the Mother-Baby room, but Bennett was sent to the NICU a few hours later where he stayed for a week. “Wimpy white boy,” issues landed him there- initially his sugar levels, and then his temperature, and jaundice. Eliza had jaundice as well, but she was able to hang out in the room with us under the photo-therapy lights. This part is a blur to me and I have no idea what happened when, and on what day. Recovery was harder than I anticipated. I had a difficult time getting to the NICU to visit baby boy as much as I wanted to, or as much as I felt other mother’s were there with their babies. I carried so much guilt for a very long time because of this. I took such comfort knowing that other people were helping me out by going to say hi to him when I could not. Will stopped in and out the entire time we were in the hospital, my mom spent the majority of Christmas Day with him, other family members popped in to tell him hi, a friend of mine who works in the NICU visited him and even my friend’s mother-in-law that works there left a nice little note in his crib. Even still, if there was a way for me to be in two places at once, I would have made that happen. I pictured him as that little bird from the book, Are You My Mother? looking at every person who came into his room and wondering, are you my mother? Once he was home I asked the question, “do you think he knows I’m his mom?” multiple times a day. I felt very bonded with Eliza already that I worked extremely hard on bonding with him when he was home. We spent Christmas in the hospital and went home the next day with Eliza, only to be re-admitted the following Monday because of her jaundice. I stayed with her by myself that night and had Will stay with the dogs and get some sleep. Tuesday, I went back home with baby girl and then we brought baby boy home Wednesday, finally home as a family of four! Yay! Just in time to ring in the New Year.
It was at this point, finally all four home together, that the events of the past week hit me and I was a mess. A huge, exhausted, unshowered, hot, mess. From the minute they told me they were taking the babies I had been telling myself over & over “girl, hold it together.” There was absolutely no time to think about anything other than just getting through it. I didn’t get the two weeks I thought I had left. There was a very short, but important, list of things that did not get done. I had planned on putting together a call/text list of loved ones for my sister to get in touch with when I was in labor. That list never got made. Some of my really good friends didn’t even know I was in the hospital. I am so sorry about that. I beat myself up over what I could have done differently to make it one more week, where they would have been considered full term, and maybe Bennett wouldn’t have been in the NICU. There were babies there who needed more care and attention, that were born much earlier than he was that I felt like I wasn’t allowed to say how it was hard having him there. But friends, this week was really hard. And one thing we talk about in support group is not comparing your pain to others. So I won’t do that and I’ll just say it, it was hard to see him hooked up to all of the monitors. To see his little temperature not be where it needed to be and he was put in an incubator. To hear he may need to be put on a feeding tube if he didn’t do well with his next feeding. It was hard to see their heels continued to get pricked for blood work. It was hard to have to take my tiny babies, one at a time, Bennett not even weighing 5 lbs, back to the hospital after being released, in the December cold to sit in a waiting room with people who had no telling what kind of germs to get blood work done for jaundice. And coming out of it, I felt slightly traumatized. Most of these repressed feelings came to surface, and it was not pretty. At all.
Two newborn babies at once is overwhelming. I’m not going to lie. Thankfully there are five girls from Sarah’s Laughter who all had twins the year before me. I had their wisdom on my side. And I did know from talking to many of them that the, “baby blues,” is a real thing and just because you walked through infertility and wanted these babies so bad it hurt, you are not exempt from these feelings. And I had them. Friends, do you know how guilty and sad and disappointed with myself I was about this. I am so thankful to have these ladies in my corner to be aware that this could happen and was normal. And if the feelings did not go away, that was also okay too, but to be aware of it and seek help. I am so thankful that they each took me under their wing during my pregnancy to talk to me, to welcome me into the twin club. I’m also thankful for the loved ones that told me, “you’re doing a good job.” That simple sentence lifted my spirits and carried me through those weeks. Because that’s all I wanted to be doing and had no idea if I was doing it. I’m pretty sure I cried out all of the hormones left in my body, and after about six weeks I started to feel like I was coming out of a mushy, foggy, brain cloud and started to feel more like myself. I’m just keeping it real friends. That’s how it was for me. When people asked do you just love them? Do you just stare at them? That isn’t how I immediately felt. I was overwhelmed with every aspect of keeping these two tiny precious babies alive. But also, of course I loved them in a very fiercely and protective way, that was a given. Why did people keep asking me that. I got a little paranoid that maybe it didn’t look like I loved them. I was just ultra, ultra sensitive- these comments implied nothing, I understand that. What is it about becoming a mother that you all of a sudden carry so much guilt?? Most of it completely unnecessary and self induced. I’m still figuring it out. I even feel so guilty about typing this paragraph and have thought about erasing it several times. But I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I made it all sound pretty.
One of the biggest life savers during these first few weeks was people dropping dinner off. Friends, we did not even have to think the thought, “what are going to eat” for an entire month! People really love us and our babies and I have no idea what we did to deserve it. But we accepted it and we ate it all : ) Melissa put together a little sign up sheet through the website Take Them A Meal for the Sarah’s Laughter girls to sign up to bring us food. Some of these girls are still waiting on their miracles, and for them to stop by our house to bring us dinner and love on our babies really touched my heart. I understand what a big thing this is, how strong they are to be able to do that. Family and friends brought us food, our neighbors had an entire catered meal waiting for us the day we came home from the hospital with Eliza, my sister did our grocery shopping I’m not sure how many times (praise Jesus for Venmo!) I was inhaling as many sandwiches as possible since I didn’t eat deli meat while pregnant, which made me want nothing but sandwiches and I was never even a big sandwich person to begin with. If you asked me what could you bring, there’s a really good chance I told you deli meat. My friend Emily, a B/G twin mom, dropped off preemie clothes and it was what they wore for the first few weeks! Our house was a revolving door for (at least, maybe even more) four weeks, and people are still stopping by wanting to get their hands on Bennett and Eliza. People just can’t stay away from the babies. These babies are so very loved. And I want to share them with everyone who loves them, even though that can be a little hard for me. I don’t know how to be relaxed with no makeup on (which is often these days) or a house that’s not exactly picked up (which is also often these days) so visitors can be work (and I love each of you!) so I’m a work in progress with it all! They have been showered with the most sweet, thoughtful, beautiful gifts. I am still churning out thank you notes!
I realized during this time that it was all momentary. This time would not last forever. And never once did I forget how bad I, we, wanted these babies. How bad I wanted to be this tired. Never once did I not feel thankful, did I not thank God for my Eliza and for my Bennett. And now, three months into it, it has gotten easier. We are out of survival mode and are soaking it all in. Now I have moments to sit there and just stare at them. Now I can say I just love them so so so much. I send Will pictures throughout his work day, most of the time he beats me to it and asks for them, but we often text to each other “how did we get so lucky?”
I did want to share just a few of my favorite pictures from the delivery. The rest I want to hold close to my heart and keep private. Also, who looks good during labor? I’m not sure where my personal lip stick applier or mascara wiper was that day.