Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Scary Start to an Amazing Journey

My husband and I found out on September 1st, 2007 that we were expecting and got quite the surprise a few weeks later when we saw not one, but TWO heartbeats on the ultrasound. Identical twins, they told us. After adjusting to the thought of double everything, we realized how blessed we were and couldn't imagine having just one baby. A few days after Christmas we found out they are boys and the excitement and reality started sinking in. Everyone said they would be here before we knew it... we just didn't realize it would be quite so soon!

On Tuesday, January 15th, I noticed a slight increase in cervical fluid and thought I should call the doctor just in case. After debating whether it was stupid to call since it seemed like nothing big - I had no cramping or spotting or pain - I finally left a message for my doctor. Dr. Macey called back and said it could be normal, but they should probably check it out just in case-- Thursday (2 days later) should be fine for an appointment. The next day, I just wasn't quite feeling the best. Again, nothing specific and absolutely no cramping or spotting, but I just didn't feel "right." So I called the doctor and they squeezed me in on Wednesday morning instead of Thursday. Of all the decisions I have made in my life, this could very well be the most important one of all.

Dr. Macey was in surgery all day, so I saw Dr. Thornburg instead. She didn't seem too alarmed by my symptoms, but wanted to check my cervix. After checking twice, she told me that I was in preterm labor and already dilated. I needed to get dressed carefully and my nurse Lori would take me to Labor and Delivery by wheelchair. I immediately began sobbing and knew it was way too early for our babies to arrive. Luckily the doctor's office is connected to the hospital so we were there in less than 5 minutes. I was immediately hooked up to an IV and started receiving Magneseum to stop my labor. I was 3 centimeters dilated and contracting every 6-7 minutes-- all of which I never felt. Not a single contraction. I was 23 weeks and 3 days along in my pregnancy and in labor-- with no significant symptoms.What if I had waited until Thursday to see the doctor? At the rate I was contracting and dilated, every minute made a difference. At 23 weeks and 3 days, the boys would not have survived if they were delivered. Talk about the importance of following your instincts.

Luckily the doctors were able to stop my contractions and I made it through the weekend without dilating further. I hit 24 weeks on Sunday, January 20th and was then able to receive two steroid shots to help the babies' lungs develop. This was a big milestone, but the neonatologists were still telling us that their chance of survival at this point was not great. If they were born before 25 weeks, we would have to decide whether to try and save them or not. Not a decision we wanted to think about.Besides a few episodes of contractions after I was given the steroids, the next two weeks were pretty calm. A handful of contractions throughout the day, but overall I was stable. I settled into my room in the Antepartum wing and made friends with all of my nurses. We received flowers, gift baskets, food, cards and packages galore... not to mention visitors too. We have never felt so much love and support from our family, friends and co-workers. We are forever grateful!

On Saturday, February 2nd, I had some big and painful contractions. They started occurring every 10-12 minutes, then every 8 minutes, and then every 5-6 minutes. We were pretty scared and thought this might be it. The doctor gave me a shot of Indomethacin, which finally stopped the contractions. They also gave me an extra shot of steroids for the boys' lungs-- as "icing on the cake" (since they already had two doses at 24 weeks) in case they were born soon. Sunday was pretty calm and we enjoyed the Superbowl without too much action. We both knew the day was close and prepared ourselves for the boys' arrival. I had made it 18 days in the hospital, which allowed me to receive 3 steroid shots and hit 26 weeks, which was great according to the doctors. Ideally I would make it to at least 28 weeks, but there were many babies born at 26 weeks who grow up healthy. My husband and I said a prayer of thanksgiving that night for making it so far, and we put our trust in God to carry us the rest of the way.

My husband went to the office on Monday morning, February 4th, with his cell phone in hand waiting for an update from me. Dr. Macey came by and said we'd be doing our weekly ultrasound on the boys and to check my cervix to see if it had dilated any further. Around 10am, the ultrasound tech came to my room and checked the boys first, who were doing great. She couldn't see my cervix very well so Dr. Kang, a specialist from Maternal Fetal Medicine, did a manual exam. Her face went completely blank and she said "You are complete (meaning fully dilated) and are having these babies right now." I said a few curse words, for which I apologized, and was wheeled immediately to the operating room. I called my husband at 10:15am and told him to get here now because the babies were coming. I told Dr. Kang he was 10-15 minutes away and asked if he would make it, to which she replied "I'm not sure."

There were about 10 people in the operating room when I got there, including several anesthesiologists, a NICU doctor, two NICU nurses per baby, and some other nurses. Dr. Macey was literally running from his office to the OR and made it a few minutes later. They gave me drugs through a spinal because we had no time for an epidural, and before I knew it they started on the emergency c-section. My husband made it about 5 minutes into the surgery and held my hand and distracted me the entire time. At 10:44am and 10:45am, Tyler Francis and Maximilian "Max" Andrew were born at 26 weeks 1 day gestation. We got to see each of them for a few seconds before they were immediately rushed to the NICU. After staying in recovery for a couple hours, we headed down to the NICU to meet our sons. They were hooked up to all kinds of machines, but the doctors told us they were doing well considering how early they had been born.

After 67 long days in the NICU, Max and Tyler came home and are doing great. They are almost 7 months old and weigh more than 12 pounds. They are rolling over and smiling and "talk" to each other all day long. Looking at them now it is hard to remember the terrifying days in the NICU when we weren't sure what each day would hold. Although being a mother of multiples can have its challenges, it is the most amazing experience in the world. We have already been blessed a million times over by these little boys and can't wait to see what our future holds.

Max weighing 1 lb 13 1/4 oz on his birthday at 26 weeks 1 day gestation

Tyler weighing 2 lbs 1/4 oz on his birthday

Max and Tyler at 6 months old - doing great!


Harris Boys said...

what an amazing story...I had tears streaming down my face. what little fighters you have :)

Katie said...

Hey - I know those peanuts! :) Hey girl, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. The boys are true miracles. And you are an amazing, wonderful mom!

Jenny said...

Oh my goodness. I feel like I already knew the story and journey so well - but this entry put me in tears again. We are ALL so grateful for Max and Tyler and their success! You and Andy are amazing. MUAH!