Today my twins turn 4 months old. It’s a major milestone for any baby but even more so for a preemie. Today my girls should be turning two and a half months old. Their birth is something I barely remember but, at the same time, is something I will never forget
I have a much longer version of this story but I don’t want to scare any potential moms with all the details so I’ll give you a Campbell’s soup version (condensed).
My pregnancy wasn’t bad. In fact, most of it was enjoyable and easy. I found out I was having twins when I was 7 weeks and 6 days along. Early. But that was good. I was able to begin appointments with a specialist early because identical twins require more monitoring than a singleton and even more monitoring than fraternal twins.
I took care of myself. I ate tons of veggies and lean meats. I drank, literally, 30 glasses of water a day. I didn’t eat any sweets and I gave up caffeine. Everything my doctor said to do, I did. And everything he told me not to do, I didn’t. When I was told to stop exercising, I quit. When I was told to eat more calories, I did. I was going to do everything within my power to make it to October 26, which was my goal date set by my ob and me. 36 weeks. It was all we thought I could hope for because I was small to begin with and short waisted. My body would only be able to stretch so much.
A little over a week before their birth, I told my husband something was wrong. I didn’t know what was wrong but something. I had a doctors appointment that day and all my tests came back fine. Everything was normal. My doctor told me that day he would be out of town the following Tuesday and Wednesday.
The following Tuesday was when it all went south. I started swelling. Actually that’s not completely true. I had been swelling in my legs. This time my entire body was swelling. My mom took me to the hospital where they began monitoring. My blood pressure was high. Not quite dangerously high, but high. The doctor on call ran some tests and sent me home on strict bed rest. I was to return to the hospital two days later for an NST.
On Thursday my blood pressure was even higher. The nurse called my ob and he came to the hospital immediately, leaving patients waiting at his office. I was admitted for observation.
The next morning I thought I was going home. My blood pressure was normal! But then my blood work came back and the next thing I knew, I was getting an epidural and preparing to be induced. To say I was scared would be an understatement. I didn’t want to know everything though. I’m glad I didn’t because I would’ve been more scared.
The simple version is in addition to developing preeclampsia and toxemia, I had also developed HELLP syndrome. It happened so quickly that had it not been for that last blood draw at 6 am, I would have been released.
I was hooked up to multiple IVs. Saline, magnesium, an antibiotic, pitocin, and some others I’m not even sure of. Blood was put on hold for me because a transfusion was likely imminent. The epidural was in and giving me a small dose. And then I slept. In my sleep, I would randomly wake up and request someone give me a boost of the epidural. I had a lot of visitors. I know my mom, dad and mother in law were with my husband and I almost all day. My sister left her last day at her work at noon to join us.
At 7 pm I knew I had to push. Had to. There was no waiting so they took me to the surgical delivery room, just in case. One hour later, at 8:01, my Gabrielle was born. 17 minutes later, Charlize came into the world. At 34 weeks and 2 days my babies were less than 4 pounds each. But they were crying!
I was preparing my husband to follow the girls to a NICU. I told him to get his keys and be ready. But then the pediatrician came into our room and told me “they’re breathing on their own. I have them on O2 but I don’t think they’ll need it for long. Unless something dramatically changes, they can stay here.” relief. That’s the only word to describe what I felt.
I didn’t see the girls until noon the next day. I wasn’t allowed to move because I wasn’t stable. I found out later when I started telling everyone it was time, it was because the placenta had begun to detach. I also found out later that after giving birth, my potassium levels bottomed out to dangerously low levels. There was no reason or indication either of these things were going to happen.
All of this happened 12 days before my goal date. 12 days. My girls spent 2 weeks in the nursery, but that is another post. I’m not sharing any pictures of the twins right after birth or while they were in the hospital because they are hard to look at because they were so small. But you’ll get a 4 month picture tonight.