My husband, Paul, and I were not planning to start a family yet when I found out I was pregnant. He was 31, I was 27, and we were (and still are!) up to our eyeballs in student loan debt. Babies were not yet a priority (although, if I am to be completely honest, we had started talking about talking about starting a family).
When I went in for my doctor’s appointment to confirm my pregnancy they put me at about five weeks along. When I went back in for my first ultrasound a few weeks later I was adjusted back to five weeks again. Apparently, when you’re pregnant with twins your hormone levels are higher, as if you were further along with just one baby. It was at this ultrasound that my husband and I got dealt the shock of our lives. There were two babies in there!
My pregnancy was awesome! I LOVED being pregnant. I was a little pukey for the first trimester, but I only missed one day of work because of it. I gained a total of 45 pounds throughout the entire pregnancy. I think I was a good sport throughout, too! I even went to a bachelorette weekend and was the coolest pregnant chick ever to solicit drinks for the bride-to-be! I think so, anyway…
And then I hit 29 weeks over the Christmas weekend. In the week before Christmas, I was admitted to Labor and Delivery at the request of my doctor for monitoring. I’d been contracting almost my whole second trimester and the first time I got hooked up for a non-stress test, they started to fret that my contractions were more real than I’d let on. Labor and Delivery did not agree, though. They gave me fluids and sent me home!
A day later I went in to L&D again, this time with excruciating back pain. They kept me overnight this time and upon release I was told I'd maybe passed kidney stones, had a UTI, some preterm labor cramping, or I needed to go to the bathroom, or anything else inconclusive and not helpful. I was already tired of being poked and prodded at this point.
Then, just one day later, I had some bloody show, which freaked me out and sent me right back in to labor and delivery, but bored the crap out of my on-call physician and she sent me back home again. Note: I LOVE my doctor. Not so thrilled with this other one from the practice...
Beginning Wednesday before Christmas, the 23rd, I had bloody show every time I went to the bathroom. According to everything I read, it means nothing by itself. It can mean that labor is approaching, that I have hours, days, or weeks left. So I made the decision to get through my holiday without another dead-end hospital trip. By now I was 30 weeks pregnant with my twins.
My mom, dad, and sister came on the 24th and we had a FABULOUS Christmas. I had diarrhea three days in a row while they were visiting, and on Christmas day I began the first day of endless swelling in my feet and ankles. They left early on Sunday morning and I set an appointment for first thing Monday morning to go over all my symptoms at the doctor's office with my doctor.
Before all of this had transpired, I had been assigned to a high risk doctor (all twin pregnancies are handled this way by my doctor’s office). We found out in my second trimester that one of my babies has a condition known as . Basically, her bowel (part of the lower intestines) was herniated outside of the belly and was kind of floating in the sac. It’s really not a huge deal, many babies are born with their tummies on the outside, but it does require a pediatric surgeon (which my teaching hospital doesn’t currently have on staff) and a NICU stay during recovery. My twins were also mono-di, which means they have separate sacs, but share one placenta. This sort of complicates an already closely-monitored pregnancy, but it never presented any problem for us. In any case, we were told we’d need to travel two hours away to UNC Hospital for delivery, when the time came.
My husband teaches and was on break, so he went with me to my appointment that Monday. We did a quick ultrasound and saw my cervical length had shortened. For those of you who have no reason to know, the cervix is long and thin during pregnancy and it gets shorter and wider as you approach delivery. The fun part about the bloody show, the swelling, the cervical length, etc. is that it all means NOTHING. I could carry to 40 weeks with just those symptoms. The problem was that we were already high-risk and needed to get to my delivery hospital. After chatting with my UNC doctors, my Greenville doctor asked that Paul and I head up to UNC for awhile for some bed rest and monitoring. Bleh, right? Bed rest? I’d made it SO FAR without hearing those dreaded words!
Paul and I went home, packed our clothes, laptops (thank goodness!), and other items. Then, we went by the office and picked up some work to get me through a few days, and stopped at Bear Rock Cafe to get a sandwich for the ride. As I shifted my weight to get out of the car, WOOSH!!! All of a sudden there is warm liquid running down my legs and ALL OVER my new car upholstery. Sorry to have to note that, but DANG IT, that’s a pain to clean! Anyhow, Paul was immediately in motion trying to get me buckled back in to drive us over to labor and delivery at our own hospital. By now I'm crying and telling him that maybe I'd just peed myself. A lot. And wasn't stopping. By the way, it was not a little water when the "water breaks." It was TONS of water. Ew.
We got admitted to the hospital where my doctor came in to see me and found I was slightly dilated, and having super-mild contractions. I was thinking that maybe we'd get an ambulance ride up to UNC for delivery, since it looked like we were going to start the labor process. My doctor agreed in moving us, but felt that an ambulance was just too slow. I was going to take a Helicopter. For real.
How INSANE is that?? Paul and his folks went ahead and got on the road to UNC and I got loaded up into a BK something-something chopper and away I went from Pitt County to Orange County. While in the air, my contractions picked up, but not terribly. I was admitted to UNC without a hiccup, started on more meds, and met with a doctor.
At this point my parents and sister began driving down from VA to meet us. The doctor starts talking about holding off delivery for a minimum of 48 hours (can they DO that?!), how I'm not really "laboring" yet... Mom and Dad want to turn around and go home to Va. You see, my sister was moving into Clemson (in SC) that weekend and they'd not begun getting her loaded and ready for that. They thought maybe they should head back, take care of her, and return closer to delivery. Can you imagine this road trip? They had just left NC for northern Virginia, needed to load my sister, drive to SC, and then return to NC for my delivery. I’m sure this was all very logical, except that I wanted my mommy. They weren't turning around if I had anything to say about it! I didn't really say anything, though. I just blubbered about being scared and wanting my mommy. They asked to speak to my doctor many times during our conversation and I just bawled and bawled that they needed to HURRY!
I'm so mature during times of stress.
As soon as they’d agreed to come on, and my in-laws had gone to get a hotel, I start contracting. HARD. I probably had four contractions that lasted several minutes each and they hurt SO BAD. Now, my mother did natural birth and I hear that there are supposed benefits to being able to feel when you're laboring, but forget that. My babies were breached, I knew I was going to be a c-section, I wanted SOMETHING for the pain! Turns out there was no time for that, they prepped an OR and it was go time!
My mom and dad arrived and the in-laws returned just as I was wheeled in to the operating room. Within an hour, both of my children were born! They ended up putting me all the way under because the epidural would not numb me (go figure, I don't even take Advil and a SPINAL SHOT won't numb me).
My beautiful Alexis was born first and Samantha immediately followed. The pediatric surgeon looked at Sam's bowels and determined that she had little enough exposed to try immediate surgery. She only had one surgery, at the bedside of her delivery, and was quickly on her way to recovery.
We spent four weeks in the NICU at UNC (I lived in the Ronald McDonald House during this time, God bless them!). We were then transferred back to our own hospital’s step-down nursery before finally being discharged. When it was all said and done, my girls did 35 (Alexis) and 50 (Samantha) days in the NICU.
(This is a picture of my girls at just a few weeks old.)