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Lesson 86: Your birth plan may not go the way you intended

Dear S & B,

It’s taken me nearly 6 months to write your birth story. I know I should have documented it sooner. I want to be able to remember the day, and I want to be able to share it with you. But the day of your birth just isn’t ranked right up there with my best days. I loved you immediately with all of my heart, that’s true; but I loved you both well before that day.

The thing is, the day of your birth was hard. It was exhausting and frustrating and a little disappointing in that it wasn’t what I wanted for you guys. It was scary—it was absolutely the most frightening moment of my life up to this point. And it was joyous and exhilarating and full of thanksgiving. It’s been really hard to process all of the emotions. So while I know I should have written this months ago while it was fresh on my mind, I don’t think I could have because it’s taken me this long to process it this far.

Also? There are two of you, and I’m doing the best I can, dammit.

Your birth story doesn’t begin on the day of your birth, my little April Fools’ babies. It begins long before you were conceived. Your beginnings are a long story full of dark days, and I’ll tell you about them one day. I’m getting more and more ready to put your prequel in writing, but I’m not there yet. For now, just know how very wanted you were and still are.

When I found out your due date, April 22, I was elated that you’d be born in April—that’s 2 diamonds for my Mother’s Bracelet, you guys. Two. But I also knew that, given the fact that twins tend to arrive early, there was a good chance you’d be born on or near your older brother’s birthday. I was so worried about missing his 4th birthday. It was his last birthday as an Only, and I wanted it to be a good one. There would be no big party this year because I was afraid of planning it, inviting all of his friends, and then having to cancel it. Instead we celebrated his birthday 1 week early with our immediate family. It was easy, relaxed, and fun…just exactly what we all needed.

But since you guys still didn’t arrive, he ended up having multiple birthday celebrations! Since his birthday would fall during Spring Break, I brought cupcakes to his 3K class on the Friday before.

As the day of his actual birthday came closer and you guys stayed put, I began to plan a special day for him. It was about so much more than his birthday. It was about one last time for him to soak up all of my and your dad’s attention, and for us to spend time for the last time as a family of 3. And it was a little bit about the guilt I had, knowing how much his life was soon to change beyond his comprehension.

So on the day of his 4th birthday, we did all the things he loves. We started the day with breakfast at Waffle House

…went to Party City to buy a huge Thomas balloon…

…and then to Toys ‘R Us to buy all the things.

We took a break from The Day of J to go to a routine doctor’s appointment to check on you guys. We ended up there for quite some time because you, Mr. S. (at the time known as Baby A), decided you didn’t want to cooperate. I wondered at this point if you guys might arrive on J’s birthday. So we hung out at the hospital on the monitors, watching you guys. I have to say I was surprised when the doctor came in and sent us home! You wouldn’t be arriving on March 28 after all.

So we continued on our way, celebrating the Day of J. We went out to Chuy’s where he got to eat his favorite meal: chips. Finally, he blew out his candle and his 4th birthday was complete. We did it and I didn’t miss it!

I can’t help but wonder what he wished for.

I know, I know. So far, the story of your birth is mostly about your big brother. But what you need to know is that J has been your biggest fan from the beginning. When we told him he was going to be a big brother, I asked him if he wanted a brother or a sister and he said, “Both. One of each.” I told him he could only have one and he said to me, “No, there are two babies in your tummy. A boy and a girl.” This was before we knew we were having twins!

His attitude about you guys continued all the way up until your birth, and it continues even now: He is fascinated by you. He loves you so much and he calls you his babies. Your big brother will always be your protector and your cheerleader. Your story will be forever a part of his because you changed his world. You made it better.

J’s birthday was on a Monday. On Tuesday, I noticed briefly that you were being awfully quiet. On Wednesday, I started getting a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I told myself that you were just running out of room, but still I felt unsettled. On Thursday, I called my doctor’s nurse and told her I was worried. I told her you guys were being awfully quiet, that I could still feel you move, but that I didn’t like how small and infrequent your movements were. My next appointment was in just a few days, but I needed to know you were okay. She gave me an appointment to ease my mind, but I suspected I wouldn’t be returning home until you guys were born. I called your dad to come home from work to go with me, and we brought our bags because I just knew it was time. J was also with us because he was out of school for Spring Break, so we had a crowd in the ultrasound room. Sure enough, the doctor looked at the ultrasound screen for just seconds before he sent us straight to labor and delivery–it was time for you guys to come out. Your amniotic fluid was low and had I waited a few days until my next appointment, you likely wouldn’t have survived.

I hugged J tight and cried when your dad left to take him home to stay with your Nana. I had no idea how emotional those last moments with him as the Only would be! They had already started my induction by the time your dad returned to the hospital around 6pm. We spent the time talking to J on FaceTime and trying to rest. My labor nurse was named Jessica and she was incredible. She never left my side; she diligently watched you guys on the monitor to make sure you were handling labor well. Your dad hoped you’d arrive before midnight, giving you a birthday of March 31….and thereby releasing him of the obligation to purchase 2 diamonds for my bracelet. I hoped you would be born after midnight, giving you a birthday of April 1. As you know, I won, and you arrived at exactly 37 weeks.

Around 4:00am, I noticed that Jessica was getting a littly uneasy. She focused harder on the monitors than she had been, checked a few times to make sure the monitors were hooked up correctly, and then she called the doctor. Baby A’s (that’s you, S, my sweet little trouble maker) heart rate had been dipping quite a bit–but this last time, it had dipped and not come back up. The doctor told me that we were going to the OR. By the time I got there, if I was 10 cm dilated, we’d try to deliver. If not, we’d have to have a c-section. Before I knew it, there were more people in my room than I could count. They took your dad out of the room and got him gowned up in case of surgery and they ran my gurney to the OR, which was crowded with even more people. I was a 10 by the time we arrived, and so thankful to avoid a c-section! Within 30 minutes, you were born Baby S. Because we had opted to be surprised by your genders, your daddy announced happily that you were a boy.

And then we waited. The room was quiet as we waited on you to cry, but you didn’t. You made no noise and no movements. They rushed you to the back of the room at that point and all I could do was listen. The room was noisy with people, it seemed like everybody was talking and nobody would just shut up so I could hear you when you made your first cry. I asked for you, I wanted to know how you were, I was terrified that you were dead.

The doctors were telling me I had to focus, that I still had another baby to deliver, but I couldn’t. All I could do was listen to find your cry in all the noise. I’ll never forget how it felt to have to turn my attention away from you to focus on delivering your brother.

It seemed to take forever, but you, B, were born breech just 5 minutes later. Your dad took a look and said, “Well, it looks like we make boys!” As I set my eyes on my 3rd son, I froze, waiting for your cry and again, nothing. They kept telling me you were both okay, but I needed to hear you and touch you.

Finally, a doctor brought you out to me. I held you first, S, and I was so relieved to hear and see your sweet little breaths. You were fine, perfect, as if nothing had ever happened! When in fact your initial Apgar was a 1 and you had to have bag and mask ventilation for 4 minutes and then blow-by oxygen for 6 minutes. The longest 10 minutes of my life.

Then I held you, B. Your initial Apgar was a 3, as you also made no respiratory effort in the beginning. You responded quickly, though, and were breathing on your own with less than 1 minute of bagging. However, you had increased retractions, so you had to be admitted to the NICU. So they took S off to my room to wait for me and they took B to the NICU. I was so sad that you guys were being separated so soon, but so relieved that you were both okay.

After I finally knew you guys were okay, I began to focus on what was going on in the delivery room. It was then that I noticed I had several doctors working on me. I asked if they were having a hard time delivering the placentas and they told me they were having a hard time controlling my bleeding. It was only then that I noticed the rushing about again as they gave me injections to slow down the bleeding and called in another doctor. A new kind of fear took over then as the fragility of life gripped me yet again. It’s not that I thought I was going to die, but I realized I now had 3 children who depended on me to be healthy. And the pain it would cause J if something did happen to me at that moment was unbearable for me to think about.

The exhaustion, fear, joy, and relief were all very heavy as they finally took me to recovery, where you waited for me, S. I held you skin-to-skin and nursed you. Then I inspected every little part of your perfect body, and kissed you all over.

This is you and me, S. You were born at 4:26am weighing 5 lb, 11 ounces and you were 19.5″ long.

Your dad went straight to the NICU to be with you, B. He was able to hold you skin-to-skin and he sent me precious pictures of you.

This is you, B. You were born at 4:31am and weighed 6 lbs, 3 ounces. You were 19.25″ long.

After a couple of hours, the doctors were finally satisfied that I was well on my way to a good recovery, so they sent me to my room. A nurse took S along to the room to wait for me, and my delivery nurse pushed me to the NICU to see B. I was able to nurse you then B, and you had the best immediate latch of all my babies! I was so worried that we’d have a hard time nursing because of your immediate separation, but you didn’t struggle one bit. I had been collecting colostrum in syringes for a couple of weeks, so I was able to provide you with food right away, even in my absence. I was really thankful to have that!

Hours after you guys were born, I was finally able to be unhooked from the IVs so I could take a shower and begin to feel human again. I was aching to see your big brother, so I called Nana to bring him to me. His very important job was to announce your genders to the rest of the family–they still didn’t know!


He met you first S, and then we took him to the NICU to meet you, B.

S, because of your initial Apgar score, they made me let them know every time I nursed you so they could monitor your blood sugar. It kept dipping too low and they wanted to give you formula, but I was adamant that you weren’t going to have it. We ended up splitting the colostrum I had frozen while pregnant between you and B. I nursed you, fed you frozen colostrum, went to the NICU to nurse B, then fed him frozen colostrum. And when that ran out, I pumped for more. I was determined to give you both enough. The frustrating part was, I knew that if I could just have you both in the same place, I could nurse you enough to get your blood sugar up. But after very little sleep during 12 hours of overnight labor, a traumatic birth, and then losing a lot of blood, running between floors was exhausting me and I was really struggling to feed you both enough. When it got to the point where they were going to send you to the NICU soon if they couldn’t get your sugar up, I admitted defeat and allowed them to give you formula. I cried, not because I’m anti-formula, but because I felt like a failure. And then I cried because your sugar came right up and I wished I would have just allowed them to give it to you in the beginning.

B, that evening, they came close to bringing you to our room to join us. I was disappointed when they were unable to do so because of some air pockets they found in your lungs. The next day, they were satisfied that the pockets weren’t going to grow, so they started once again to release you from the NICU. It was at that time that your blood sugar dipped. After they called me to say they wouldn’t be releasing you because of your low sugar numbers, I was so disappointed. But then, a few minutes after I hung up the phone, I had an idea. It had worked for your brother to keep him out of the NICU, so why not do the same to get you released? I called back and told the nurse to give you formula. She did and your blood sugar immediately jumped up. They had you in my room with your family in less than 2 hours!

This is the first picture of you guys together after birth (S is on the left, B is on the right).

Your big brother was there when they brought you in, so I finally had all 3 of my boys with me!

And here is our first family photo! I couldn’t have been happier in that moment! How lucky we are to have 3 beautiful, healthy boys to love!

On the 3rd day, they released us and we brought you guys home.

B on the left, S on the right.

J was so thrilled to have all of his family home, and he was anxious to be a great big brother! You guys weren’t always so anxious to allow it, but he grew on you very quickly.

You may not be identical, but you both frequently strike the same pose and it makes us laugh a lot!

And now, as for the matter of your baby books, which I have tried so hard to keep up with. They’re quite a bit emptier than your brother’s book and I apologize for that. Sort of. Not really. You see, this time around, I know how fast it goes by and I’m torn between documenting it so that I can remember every moment and share it with you one day, and being fully present in and soaking up every moment.

Also? There are two of you and I’m doing the best I can, dammit.

I love you BIG,

Mommy

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2 comments on “Lesson 86: Your birth plan may not go the way you intended

  1. Oh, wow. I’m pregnant right now (due December 29th!), and this story–and those pics–made me cry tears of joy. Thank you.

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