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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Whole New World

After an ok pregnancy, I was never expecting that the birth story of my twins would be so dramatic, but it was. It included my first hospitalization for more than a night, my first ambulance ride, and the birth of my first babies.

So to start at the beginning, or the end of my pregnancy story, I was in Pennsylvania with  my family. My husband was in California setting up our new house, and I was going to join him on Monday. Everything was going as planned.

On Wednesday, June 1st, I was 26 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I spent the day laying outside getting some sun and swimming in my parent's "pond" (it's more of a pool but not have to see it). I was relaxed, excited to get to California, and feeling great from being in the water. When I went back in the house, I noticed there was some brown discharge. I waited a little while to see if it stopped. When it didn't, I thought better safe than sorry and went to the ER. At the ER they told me everything looked fine, the babies were good, my cervix was good, I wasn't contracting and sometimes, discharge just happens. They sent me home around 9pm, I ate some dinner and went to bed.

At 1am I woke up and suddenly I felt a gush of fluid. I went to the bathroom and noticed it was a watery pink tinged liquid (aka not urine). My mom and I were the only ones at home so I woke her up and had her drive me to the ER...again.At the ER, the nurses were slow and almost didn't believe me. They kept asking how far along I was and if I was SURE it was my water and I hadn't peed myself. Well...I'd never had my water break, so no, I wasn't sure, but it sure didn't look normal and I don't think I've peed such a gush and not realized what I was doing. But heck, I'm pregnant, things are strange, what do I know right? All the while, I'm sobbing hysterically, thinking something is wrong with my babies. When they had my stand up, they noticed I was still leaking a pink tinged fluid. This got everyone moving a little faster.

They sent me to labor and delivery and hooked me up to monitor the babies heart beats and contractions. I'm not sure if I was having contractions there or if they didn't start until later. They tested the fluid I was leaking and of course, it came back positive that it was amniotic fluid. The hospital I was at didn't have a NICU, so everyone worked to get things set up for a transfer to a hospital an hour away and a possible C-section (both twins were breech). They gave me a shot of betamethasone for the babies' lungs and started me on magnesium sulfate to stop any contractions. Then I was off on my very first ambulance ride. As exciting as that was, when I got to the next hospital, everything was still a rush. I was having some contractions at that point, but nothing was really going on. I was only 1cm dilated. So they gave me some antibiotics, and watched me for the rest of the night. The contractions stopped eventually and I avoided having the babies that night.

The doctor came in the next morning and explained things to me, the first that someone had really given me the details. Essentially, my water was broken and baby A was leaking fluid. He would continue to replenish his fluid but since he's butt down, it's all just going to leak out of me. They weren't sure why it had happened, but infections are the most common reason for a PROM (premature rupture of membranes). Infections were also the biggest risk at the time for baby A. He was exposed to the outside world and all it would take is a little something that wasn't supposed to be in my uterus to get there and we'd have to get the babies out. For now, baby A had enough fluid, baby B was completely fine, so they would leave the babies in until I went into labor on my own or I had an infection.

I continued to leak fluid and spent the next few days in and out of labor and delivery for some slight contractions, some slight cramping, or some other random issue.

Things were uncomfortable. I had monitors tightly attached to my belly most of the time. I couldn't move because then a baby would move and we'd lose a heart beat. And we could never seem to keep both on for a long period of time so I had to lay in bed, holding the monitors to make sure we didn't lose a heart beat. It was so much That's a lie. But the babies were healthy and I would have done it for 8 more weeks to get the babies to 35 weeks if I could. That was the finish line. If I could get to 35 weeks, they would deliver the babies. At that point, the risks of keeping them in outweigh the risks they'd face as newborns. So I sat there, waiting and hoping nothing happened.

A few things about that week: The first 48 hours I was monitored constantly (which meant no moving 24/7...ask me how much I slept. ha), got my blood pressure checked every 15 minutes and my other vitals every hour. I was on IV antibiotics and IV magnesium to stop labor. After that, they moved me to a postpartum where I was monitored twice a day for at least an hour, usually more. I was getting antibiotics by mouth and my vitals were checked every 4 hours. I also had daily blood work to make sure there wasn't an infection so they could catch things early. Things were SLIGHTLY more comfortable over there. There were a few times when they picked up contractions but I never felt anything so I wasn't too worried and thought these kids are staying in there for the long haul.

And here's where things get exciting...

Thursday, June 9. I woke up that morning around 7 feeling a little nauseous and crampy. I thought the cramps were from the nausea and the nausea was far from a new feeling for me. I told the nurses to be on the safe side, and I was hooked up to the monitors for my morning session. I wasn't registering any contractions but at some point I vomited. The nurses encouraged me to drink some water (dehydration can cause contractions and put you in to labor) and relax and hopefully I'd feel better soon but they didn't want to give me anything for nausea. As you'll soon read, I bet they regretted that decision.

They took me off the monitors around 9 and I relaxed and dozed off watching Regis and Kelly.

Regis and Kelly was just about over so I'm guessing it was around 10ish when things started to pick up. I woke up feeling crampier than before. I went to the bathroom thinking that was the issue and came back and relaxed again. I had told my mom and the hubby (who was in DC for a work trip at this point, he hadn't been with me the whole time, we were waiting for the babies to come so he could spend his time off of work with them, as much fun as sitting in the hospital watching me get monitored, poked, and trying so hard to sleep would have been for him) earlier that I was feeling nauseous but that was all that they knew.

I called the nurses to let them know I felt crampier and naturally, back on the monitor I went. They took my vitals, everything seemed fine and they just waited to see. I wasn't registering any contractions so they weren't too worried. The crampiness started to turn to pain and was on and off. My back was hurting and I felt a lot of pressure. I'd never felt contractions before, but what I was feeling seemed pretty similar to everything I'd read about in pregnancy books, even though the monitor was saying I wasn't having contractions. So when I feel nothing I'm having contractions but when I feel pain, I'm not having contractions? I don't trust those monitors anymore.

About 30-40 minutes of this pain, things were getting steadily and quickly worse. I was in legit pain and my time of relief was getting briefer and briefer so they decided to take me from my postpartum room to labor and delivery. On my bed ride over there, I vomited again, this time in the hallway, all over a nurse or 2. I told you they'd regret not giving me anything for nausea. In the L&D room I was in so much pain I was practically screaming at the nurses who poked at me trying to get vitals. The nurse who I had become best friends with when I threw up all over her was trying to give me a quick lesson on labor since I hadn't had time to take a birthing class. She was sweet trying to coach me through the contractions and tell me to breathe but honestly, I wanted to punch her. She was even nice enough to call my mom and hubby so my mom could come over and my hubby knew what was going I guess it's a good thing I didn't punch her. Finally she checked my cervix, I was 3cm dialated, and rushed out of the room to call the Dr.

Once again, they wanted to wait and see where things went, figuring I had time and the labor might stop, and took my vitals again. This is where things went into panic mode because my fever, which was fine less than an hour ago, was now over 100. A sure sign of an infection, which was a huge threat to the babies. The nurse told me they were going to prep me for the c-section (both babies, still breech).

So my first thought should have been "Oh no it's too early, the babies are too small"...that was my 2nd thought. The first was least they'll give me something for pain now. Just a brief thought though, then I broke down into hysterical tears, even though I'd been crying on and off for the past hour because I had a feeling the babies were coming that day. In about 5 minute the nurses had me prepped and were wheeling me to the OR. In the OR there were about 20 people from anethesia to the NICU team to the maternity team. The Dr strolled in with his merry band of residents right after they had given me the epidural. Pain was gone, some annoying nurse was squawking in my ear about how I was doing so good...what was I doing good? Seriously? I was laying on a table, numb from my chest down. The dr went straight in for the babies and the nurse gave me a play by play with lovely phrases like "You're wide open now" and "They have to suction out the blood". I was still crying, freaking out, but luckily I was drugged enough that as far as I could tell, there was just a steady stream of tears rolling down my eyes, but no real hysterical cryfests.

Finally, at 1158 baby A, my baby boy, was born. The only reason I knew this was from a nurse saying here's baby A. I couldn't see him. He wasn't breathing. They rushed him right to the incubator and put him on the vent. I hardly had any idea he was even born and couldn't see a thing.

My baby girl came out just a minute later. She started breathing and crying right away, so they held her up in her bloody messy glory over the curtain for me to see her. There was a lot more crying and a nurse holding my arm down. I'm assuming she realized all I wanted to do was reach up and grab my little girl and hold her. But in a second, she was gone, rushed over to the incubator with her brother.

For the next 10 minutes or so the dr stitched me up, the nurses worked on the babies. Baby boy needed surfactant in his lungs right away. He started breathing better though and finally they wheeled them over for me to see them.

My mom was there to take pictures. This was my first look at my little boy.  He looked so sick compared to her and I was so worried about him.

I finally got to recovery, and back to my room, and waited very anxiously for everyone to give me the ok to go over to the NICU to see my little ones. The nurses were a little worried about me getting up after the c-section but no pain was stopping me from getting up into a wheel chair. About 4 hours after they were born I finally got to go over to the NICU and see my babies. It was a terrible wait. I couldn't touch them or do anything but sit there and look at them but it was nice to be close to them and know that they were ok.

It turned out, baby boy Jack and I were both very sick. A normal strand of e coli had worked it's way from my stomach to my uterus, which of course, is not where it should have been. With the ruptured membrane, everything was wide open and an easy path for bacteria to get in. It infected him and me. Luckily, it made me sick. Jack's heart rate was fine the whole time and they expected it to be elevated if he was infected. If I hadn't been sick, he would have stayed in there longer with the infection and probably wouldn't have made it (insert hysterical tears when the NICU Dr told me that). We both had fevers and were very sick for a few days. I had to stay in the hospital a little longer to get IV antibiotics. Jack took a little longer to recover, but eventually we both were feeling much better.

So that is the story of the birth of Miss Amelia and Mr. Jackson. I hope I look back on this and think, wow that was rough, but so worth it. Only time will tell. I want to remember how I felt though through every up and down of the event. And luckily, things have gone ok from there. They should be 30 weeks today, but instead, they're 19 days old.


  1. Your strength is amazing! They are so lucky to have you as their Mom! Hang in there.

  2. Wow, Em. The fact that you glossed over the Magnesium, which I have heard is the WORST experience in the entire world, illustrates even more just how tough you are... as if everything else didn't ;)

    Can't wait to meet the little guys. Thoughts and prayers as always ;)

    Also, as a nurse who has been puked on in the hall, I can tell you it is ALWAYS the last thing I am worried about (usually I'm pretty worried about the patient at that point). Kind of glad they didn't give you zofran because you needed a big show to get those babies out!! If I were that nurse I would have been glad to have been there helping!

  3. As a nurse, I second the "don't care about being puked on" thing. Wow, Emily, I'm so glad that things are starting to look up for you and your little ones! You all are in my thoughts and prayers!!