25 Apr 2011

Hopes & Dreams / Adapting to Change

A pregnancy is the beginning of many hopes and dreams.  With my first son, it was nothing but hopes and dreams.  My husband and I were filled with excitement and anticipation of starting a new family.

When our first son decided to arrive eight and a half weeks early, many of those hopes and dreams were immediately shattered. 

Upon his early arrival, something new emerged to direct our hopes and dreams toward...the hospital and the neonatal intensive care unit.  I was no longer pregnant, yet felt like I was and I felt like my hopes and dreams had been snatched right out from under me...literally I guess...

Our first son was about an hour west of us, where he was transported almost 12 hours after his arrival, due to the difficulty in finding him a bed.  I was discharged 3 hours after he arrived.  He had arrived in such a hurry, I did  not have time for an epidural (not that I wanted one) or any painkillers for that matter and therefore due to an uncomplicated delivery, I was able to walk free and clear within 3 hours.  Of course I stayed at the hospital until the transport ambulance took him away at 10 AM the next morning and my husband and I went back to our house to pack some things and make a few quick phone calls to let family and friends know of the sudden change of events.

We then drove the hour up to the hospital our son would call home for the next five days.  I remember arriving.  The weather was damp and chilly, but it was Spring, which to me is a symbol of hope and change.  I remember feeling pretty calm, perhaps kind of numb about how things had just transpired and upon our arrival to the hospital I felt a new sense of hopes and dreams.

My hopes and dreams of having a baby at full term, greeting family with our new baby in my arms in the hospital room ,were gone.  Now, at the site of the grey exterior of the building, with bright lights on inside, I felt like this place would be the place to develop new hopes and expectations.  Our greatest hope at that very moment was that our son would make it through this uncertain time with ease.

Our son was able to be transferred out of this hospital, closer to home, only five days later.  This was a relief, as we could at least sleep in our own beds and be close to our support network.  We had a very strong 31 weeker and only 3 and a half weeks later, our firstborn was home!  To have a preemie home so quick and without complication was like a dream!

Our second experience with pregnancy and childbirth again dashed many of my hopes and dreams.  Knowing I was already high risk prior to finding out I was actually pregnant with two babies, meant that I knew I would have many hopes and dreams and they would most likely change along the way. 

My main hope was that I could carry my twins to at least 36 or 37 weeks.  I know these were high hopes, but we have to think positive, right?

By the time I was 27 weeks and 4 days along, I knew in my heart and mind that my babies were coming early.  I focused my mind on the hope that we could make it to at least 31 weeks and 3 days, like the twins' big brother did.

Again, all these hopes in my mind were altered.  With my twins arriving at 27 weeks and 5 days, my greatest hope was that they would survive.

I came to the understanding that hopes and dreams are constantly changing.  To focus too specifically on any one hope or dream, especially when it comes to child bearing and child rearing, can be very disappointing when things don't pan out.

In a matter of 3 or 4 days it went from hoping my babies could go "twins full term" to hoping they would survive, especially Twin B.

I remember arriving at the hospital the second time around.  It was a different hospital, known to be home of one of the best NICUs in Canada and great for multiples.  We had hoped to deliver here if going pre-term...but that was not to be!  Anyway, upon arriving at this hospital it was such a sense of deja vu.  Different hospital, yet same Spring weather.  Damp ground, sun trying to peak out and another grey exterior to a monstrosity of a building.  Yet, there was that pang of hope pounding in my heart and mind.  This building held promise and I held hope that those in this hospital would nurse my premature sons to health and give us the happy ending (or "beginning," would be the better word) we really wanted.

I think the moral of my story is not to give up on your hopes and dreams.  Although they may change or you have to adapt them to your ever-changing reality, they are what keep us going, keep us strong and looking forward to the future. 

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams.  Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.  Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do."
~ Pope John XXIII

11 Apr 2011

Meet Preemies 2 & 3 or Twin A & B

The following Monday, I was not at work.  Instead, I was two days into what would become a very long stay in a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The previous Friday, I got my second corticosteroid injection and went home to put my feet up and relax as much as possible.  My saviours, mom and mother-in-law, came to my house and cleaned it top to bottom to help me feel like something was in my control.  The house was becoming more and more untidy as the weeks of my pregnancy went by, during which I was working full time, as was my husband.  A spic and span house always seems to take the backburner during pregnancy and for a while after the birth of babies.

The next day, Saturday, my hubby looked after our almost two year old son, while I went out and did a few things and met up with a friend at a cafe.  Seeing as I was told to take it easy, I did.  I took some time to browse childrens' stores and wander the mall.  I didn't have an agenda or a schedule to rush to achieve, I was just simply taking some "me time." 

I carried a litre bottle of water with me and some snacks in order to ensure I stayed hydrated and took small breaks off my feet throughout the morning and early afternoon.  I called to let my husband know I was fine and I was taking things easy.

I met my friend at 3:00 and after that I went home.  As I was driving along I noticed something unusual.  When I would come to a stop light or slow down and then accelerate, my stomach would get a mild tightness to it.  It seemed like the babies were slipping and sliding around in there, which is the best way I can describe it.  I picture it as they were moving forward with the momentum of my car as I accelerated.

The feeling happened a few times as I was driving, but I wasn't in pain.  When I would begin coasting and no longer accelerating the sensation would stop.  Weird. 

I got home around 4:30 and went about the usual getting ready for dinner and hanging around the house on a Saturday.  Around 6:00 or so, I got on the couch to have a power nap, which I think is pretty common for pregnant women, let alone one carrying twins.

I couldn't settle down and get comfortable and I watched my husband working in the backyard through the window.  He was cutting the grass.  It was a beautiful, sunny, Spring day.  It was May 1, 2010.

By about 7:45 PM, the "accelerating" sensation had started again, but I wasn't in the car anymore!  Something else apparently was accelerating and that was the speed at which my twin babies wanted to show their lovely faces!

I called my midwife and OB, who "shared care" of me and my babies.  I told them of my funny sensation and the doctor suggested I come in for an assessment.  Talk about deja vu.

I very, very quickly packed a bag for myself, which was pretty much organized and just had to be thrown in a bag.  Our neighbour came running over to watch our son, while my in-laws came from across town.  My hubby went to park the car after dropping me off at the back exit to go in.  By this point I knew the hospital pretty well and avoided the busy areas and went directly to the labour and delivery ward.

I wheeled in my overnight bag and told one nurse I found after a short search, that I was there to see my doctor.  She asked, "What for?"  Apparently, I don't give off the impression that I am in labour or that there should be any sense of urgency when dealing with me.  This is another drawback to not having labour pain.  You aren't taken very seriously.

My doctor knew I was heading in, but guess where he was off to...dinner!  This man had bad timing.  Again, I didn't seem to be in labour, so I guess to him, my situation seemed like it could wait.

My midwife was front and centre, asking me questions and helping me out as she could.  The nurses that were getting me into a room for assessment took their time, asked me questions about what brought me there, etc.  All the while, I continued to hear my doctor's name being paged over and over.

By 8:15 PM my doctor arrived and explained he would do an assessment to be sent to the lab to see if it indicated I may be having my babies in the next week or so.  I suppose hormone levels change, which can be identified.  The goal was to do this, then see what needed to happen next.  The doctor started to get ready to do the assessment and said he didn't need to do the test, as I was already 2cm dilated!

Upon this announcement, staff snapped to it and began running around to get a transport setup for me to send me to the nearest, best-equipped hospital to deliver high-risk twin births.  They wanted me sent there for observation and bedrest to start.

Suddenly, my husband and I were alone in the labour and delivery room and I asked him to go out and remind the staff how quickly our first son came after arriving at the hospital.  Eighteen minutes! 

My husband ran to bring his car closer to the amublance dock, as he would have to follow me down.  He also called my mother and his mother to update and tell my mother to meet us at the hospital we would head to.

My nurse came in and I asked her what would happen if I suddenly had to deliver, while on route to the hospital.  She calmly told me the EMTs would have to pull over and deliver the babies!!  I said something along the lines of, "Yeah, okay, that's not happening!!"  She explained it happens sometimes and that the EMTs are trained to deal with that type of situation.  No matter what anyone said to me at a time like that, I was not open to the idea of having premature babies born on the side of a highway, without any real medical interventions or support available, except what was in the ambulance (and that's not much.)

Meanwhile, I was now beginning to feel more than the "acceleration feeling" and I told my nurse that I was pretty sure I was dilating, and dilating fast.  She said, "There, there, dear."  I assume she was thinking I was just beginning to become upset at the idea of having babies in the back of an ambulance.  I explained to her that I know my body and it was beginning to feel the exact same way things unfolded with my first preemie.  I know she thought I was nuts.  My midwife, who was with me with my first son, knew I was very aware of my body.

This all evolved over about 15 minutes.  I told my nurse to get the doctor in to check on me, because I was extremely confident I had dilated even more.  Keep in mind, I was not raising my voice, I was not screaming or crying in pain.  I was holding a calm, rational conversation with my nurse.  The doctor came in and confirmed (again) my suspicions.  I was fully dilated!!  It took me approximately 15 minutes to dilate from 2 cm to 10cm!  My doctor and the staff were astonished and all hell broke lose.

I was told I was being wheeled to a high risk delivery room on the same floor, as I was now beginning to feel the need to push.  I was so far along that the staff would not be able to get me down to an OR in time.  I was wheeled through the door of my room, out into the corridor, down toward the high risk room.  It was like a bumper car ride, yelling voices and so on.  My bed/stretcher was being wheeled so fast and we were bumping into door jams along the way.  Once we were in the delivery room, I was then forced to climb off the bed, upwards towards a higher up table.  I almost sat on what was a broken stirrup metal pole and my husband was not amused. 

From what I recall, the room was drab and very stark and cold.  Lots of metal finishes around, but definitely what I would consider a sterile and well-prepped room.  I was told it was reserved only for high risk deliveries.  I guess I was up on an operating table, which wasn't explained to me.  I always knew there was the great likelihood that I would have to have a c-section to deliver the babies.  Up until this point the only moment I cried a bit, was when it occurred to me I would have to be knocked out by the anesthetist.  I didn't want to be asleep when my babies were born!  It took a lot of will power to give in to the idea of having to have an epidural and the very likely c-section.  Now I was fully aware I may not even be awake or have any control when my babies arrived.

By then I knew I was past the point of return to be able to get an epidural to complete a c-section.  A c-section, however, was not an option because my body was working too fast.  I delivered my two babies without drugs and without a c-section. 

No sooner did my water break, then Baby A came out.  It was completely insane in the delivery room and I was absolutely unaware that the first baby had arrived.  My midwife, who was to my left, suddenly disappeared and came back to say he is "okay."  I looked up at my husband, to my right, and thought, no he's not alright by the looks of his face and tears.  My husband clarified, Baby A, is okay.  I lost it! 

The staff assumed I knew he had been born and didn't joyfully announce, "It's a boy!" as you might usually hear, or I've only ever seen in movies.  My husband said Baby A is born and I snapped at the entire staff in the room, "You have to talk to me! I'm the one having the babies!!"  I was so mad.  The pressure of my water breaking completely disguised the fact that the baby was on the way out at the exact same time, which I could not feel.  Now I became worried that the doctor hadn't actually been ready for the baby and that the baby had hit the table or something disasterous.  I was assured the doctor was there the whole time guiding the baby out.

Four minutes later Baby B arrived.  He had to be externally turned a little bit, as at the last ultrasound 2 days prior, he had been laying a bit sideways, head downwards. 

At 9:50 and 9:54 PM, May 1, 2010, our twin boys were born.

The next steps were to stabilize and arrange for transport to the nearest available Level III NICU.  The one we wanted had already been notified and we were told there would be two beds waiting, thankfully!  We didn't want to go through the drama of finding a bed like we did with our first son.