What I thought was a "normal for being pregnant at 32 weeks with twins" thing, ended up being me leaking amniotic fluid for over a 12 hour period. Lesson learned: call the nurse even when you think you're just peeing your pants. I totally expected for the staff to giggle with me and confirm it was a leak in my bladder - but things got serious pretty quickly. They told me I was leaking amniotic fluid and wouldn't be leaving the hospital until after I gave birth. A nurse held my hand and told me the plan was bed rest for at least two weeks, but wouldn't be surprised if the twins were here in 48 hours.
Instantly, I had a million regrets: I couldn't remember the last time we took a picture as a family of 3 with AB Grace. I didn't get my maternity photos done because I hated the way clothes looked on me. I wouldn't be able to celebrate with my friends and family at my upcoming baby shower. I didn't finish nesting and preparing our home for them. I hadn't packed my hospital bag or prepped their going home outfits. I didn't get to hold AB Grace one last time as our only baby. I just wasn't ready. So in typical me fashion - I had a really good cry and then said "ok, what's next?"
Labor & Delivery
I had never been in a labor and delivery room. My first pregnancy was a planned c-section because AB Grace was frank breech, so this was a new space. Things were calm - we had a plan forward - I was good, the babies were good so I sent Josh home to collect "a few things" including my mascara because that was VITAL. We live about 45 minutes from the hospital and he was back with all the things, including a large fry, at 10:30p. At 12a, everything changed, the girls were ready. Our care teams tried to stop my preterm labor with magnesium - which provided relief for 10 minutes - and then we all knew the girls' would be making their arrival in the coming hours.
Remember, this wasn't my first c-section... but it was so different. This time, there were double the amount of people in the operating room. After the care teams had me settled and prepped, Josh came in, his phone still playing the yacht rock playlist we'd been listening to for the last 5 hours. Higher Love by Steve Windwood was playing when my doctor said, "here comes baby a!" At 4:08a, Caroline Leigh entered the world weighing 4 pounds and 8 ounces and right behind her at 4:10a, along came Adeline Kate weighing 3 pounds 3 ounces. A nurse held up Adeline and said "congratulations, mama, they are beautiful!" Josh went over and took pictures of them and quickly returned to me. He said "they need to go to the NICU, but I don't want to leave you." Without hesitation I replied, "they need you more than me - go be with them." And in an instant the music was gone, the crowded room emptied, and I laid there on the table. I didn't get to hold my babies after birth or even see their faces up close.
When I woke up in recovery, I had no clue what time or day it was. I was still questioning the events that had unfolded over the last 12 hours. Josh was asleep in the metal chair beside me. We were both overwhelmed and exhausted and our journey was just beginning. The first time I met the girls' it was on the way up to the postpartum floor. We didn't stay long, I was still experiencing side effects from anesthesia and we decided to visit later in the day. So after a few hours of sleep and a few popsicles later, I met the girls! Y'all - I was so happy and excited to see them! Their NICU doctor stated he expected for Caroline to be in the NICU for 4 weeks and Adeline to be there for 5 week because she needed extra care. The nurses talked us through their care plans and told us how to plan our visits with them, to be hands on with changing diapers and taking temperatures. It was really hard to see them covered in tapes, tubes and wires, the consistent beating from the monitors and splitting our time between two babies in different pods - I did my best to be strong, IV pole and catheter bag in tow I stood next to them, held their hands and prayed we would all be okay.
Everything hit me the day after they were born, it was St. Patrick's Day. I was standing over one of their giraffe bassinets and I felt like I couldn't breathe. I walked over to my wheelchair and I started sobbing uncontrollably. We excused ourselves from the NICU and made the 10 minute walk to be secluded in our room, I was so embarrassed I couldn't hold it together for them. Our girls were healthy and we were all okay, but it didn't take away that this wasn't normal. This is not what I envisioned for their birth or how I wanted to meet them. I didn't want them to be NICU babies. I hadn't slept in days, I had major surgery, and trying to produce milk to give my babies what they needed to grow. We felt helpless and alone, yet grateful and thankful. We hadn't held our babies, our arms yearned to hold them, although we were terrified with how small and delicate they were. We cried together and we prayed a lot. It was a low point - truly heart wrenching, but we decided to have a REALLY good cry together and then say "ok, what's next?" From that moment on until we were discharged home, we were there for every day time feed, diaper change and temperature check! And when we weren't in the NICU, we were in the room resting and I was learning all things pumping. I felt like it was the one thing I could do best for them to help them grow - so I put every effort into doing my very best for them (my schedule: 8a, 10a, 1p, 4p, 7p, 10p, 12a, 4a.)
On the 18th, we were finally able to hold our girls. It was the best feeling - relief from desperately longing to wrap up our sweetest gifts was finally happening! They were covered in wires, tubes and tape - none of that mattered! We took turns soaking in the cuddles and coos from our girls. We reclined back in a cushy blue chair, skin to skin with our baby, and sat in silence smiling at each other through masks, trying to hold back happy tears. It was A HUGE milestone for them and us!
The following day, they were moved to a single shared room which meant we could see them together rather than going from one pod to another. Caroline was in a bassinet and Adeline was in an incubator since she was still so small. The nurses decorated their rooms with their names and little signs with their footprints. They changed so much in this room, we did too. This is the room where they stayed when we were discharged home on the 20th. Oh this day - I sobbed in NICU. Wrapped our nurses up in my arms and thanked them for watching over our girlies while we couldn't be there to care for them. We knew they were in the very best care, but not being home in our arms was a hard reality to swallow. When I walked out to our van empty handed to go home, I felt like collapsing. We sat in the parking garage for what felt like an hour talking through our feelings and every emotion. We knew we were headed home to see AB Grace - we were so excited to see her and didn't want our emotions to take away from celebrating being back home with her. So we talked through promises to each other how we navigate this next chapter, set a schedule on when we expected to be with the twins there every day and how we would function in our new "normal."
The best way I can describe the transition of having babies in the NICU was like living in two worlds, our hospital life and home life. We poured all of our energy into our children when we were with them, especially AB Grace at home. We celebrated every win the twins made and tried to not get discouraged if they had a set back. We laughed during the diaper blows out these preemies made, we cheered them on through bottle feeds and celebrated when they graduated to PJs out of swaddled blankets. We cried happy tears when we saw their faces for the first time without tubes and tape. We grew close to our care teams, they became our family and we entrusted everything in them to care for our girls - our relationship with their nurses made leaving the hospital each day a bit easier.
On Sunday the 27th, their NICU doctor called to let us know he was planning to discharge them on the 29th - together! Our girls were discharged one day shy of 2 weeks in the NICU, which is completely unheard of for 32 weekers. We didn't feel prepared, but we knew we were. We didn't know what to expect, but knew we would be okay. Everything we knew as our normal was changing again and a new chapter was starting for us. Nonetheless, driving home with two 4 pound babies is terrifying as hell.