Allie's Birth Story
I remember the moment we found out we were having twins like it was yesterday. I went in for my 9 week ultrasound at a new OB. I told my husband, Danny, he could sit out this appointment because he had a busy day at work. “We will only get confirmation on our due date and meet the new doctor. There will be lots of appointments,” I told him. Man was I wrong!
The ultrasound tech had a look of “oh no!” on her face, and I reassured her that we had experienced miscarriage before, and I would be okay. She immediately turned the screen and said, “No, no! There are TWO!” (She later told me that she isn’t ever sure how to deliver that news because it’s BIG!) I FaceTimed Danny and told him to sit down. He also assumed the worst, but when I told him all I could see was the ceiling in his office as he paced the floor saying, “you’re kidding me” over and over. We spent the next 3 days (who am I kidding, 7 months) trying to come to grips with this HUGE news!
Over the course of my pregnancy, things seemed to be going better or at least equal to my singleton pregnancy until about 30 weeks. Aside from having very swollen feet (which I attribute to a twin, summer pregnancy while chasing around a toddler) this time, I was larger but, unlike my first pregnancy, didn’t get gestational diabetes and felt like things were going well!
At 30 weeks, during a normal appointment with my OB, I had a significantly elevated blood pressure reading. That day, they took my BP multiple different times and concluded that in addition to my every day baby aspirin, I would need to buy an at-home blood pressure cuff and start doing twice-daily BP readings to report to the clinic. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and scheduled for weekly BP checks and twice-weekly non-stress tests.
At 34 weeks, I was doing an at-home (actually, at-work) BP check when things skyrocketed. I was told to drive immediately to the hospital to be monitored. Upon arrival, I was admitted into antepartum and my diagnosis was upgraded to pre-eclampsia with severe features. I was told I would not leave the hospital without delivering my babies. I received the first of two steroid shots to help the twins’ lungs develop. During a NORMAL, non-COVID year, this news might not have been *as* devastating. However, this now meant that up to 4 weeks would be spent in a hospital bed with only one visitor and no one under 18, meaning I wouldn’t see my 2-year-old daughter until the babies came. I was distraught and alone. My husband arrived as quickly as he could and tried his best to plan for this new reality. He would need to work, be at the hospital, and single parent. He left to go get our daughter from daycare, and I settled in for my first of [what I thought would be] many nights alone in my hospital bed.
I called home around 9pm to verify that bedtime had gone well. My doctor came in as I was talking to Danny, and she asked him, “when can you get here?” Our jaws dropped. Apparently, my BP readings were continuing to increase at an alarming rate. Not only were we not going to have to wait weeks to be together as a family, we weren’t even going to have to wait hours. They asked Danny to get a sitter and head to the hospital ASAP.
By the time Danny arrived, I was in the birthing suite and medications were just being administered. I had to be on magnesium as an anti-seizure drug in addition to the induction meds. Luckily, induction was short. I got my first round of meds at 11pm (nothing like starting your mother-of-infant-twins journey at 11pm and skipping a night of sleep from the start), and I was ready to push by 6am. I was brought into the operating room (standard procedure with twins) and delivered two girls naturally at 6:08am and 6:16am. It was surreal and perfect – a textbook twin delivery, I was told. Baby A was head down, and Baby B turned head down once she had all the space in the luxury suite to herself.
After their delivery at 34 weeks and 1 day, they were immediately carted off to the NICU – a requirement at our hospital for babies born before 35 weeks. They never received help breathing but were struggling to maintain their body temperatures. Because I was on magnesium, I wasn’t allowed to leave my hospital bed for 24 hours. I was going to have to spend the first 24 hours of their lives being separated from them. I was once again completely devastated.
Once the 24 hours had passed, I attempted standing up and fainted twice from all of the changes in blood pressure and was then told to get back in bed and ordered to receive a multitude of additional tests – more time away from my girls. It was quite possibly the hardest 2 days of my life. The guilt I felt being away my brand new, tiny girls while someone else took care of them was intense and overwhelming. Would they think the nurses were their mom?
Again, thanks to COVID, I wasn’t able to have any visitors, and Danny was the only one allowed to see the girls. He was forced to jump between single parenting our daughter at home (with the help of grandma after the first night), being by my side for tests and tears over feeling like I was failing the twins, and being the only family member allowed to snuggle, bathe, and feed the girls.
After only 5 days in the NICU, we were able to take the girls home (only one day after I left the hospital, thank goodness)! We continued to monitor their temperatures from home for about a month with no issues. Today, they are almost 10 months old. You would NEVER know they were preemie babies and have graduated completely from the preemie charts. Best of all, they know I’m their mama!
Birth stories have always been amazing to me. Ours was full of ups and downs, and a lot earlier than imagined, but the number one thing I always tell moms-to-be is to try and not set high expectations for your labor and delivery. Whether it takes 2 hours or 2 days is completely out of your control. Whether you can be with your child from the first second or have to heal yourself before you can care for them, it will all turn into the story of their beginning. Expect the unexpected, mama, because this is just that - the beginning!