On June 19th, 2012, 10 days after checking into the hospital, I woke early after a long night of contractions, interruptions from the nurses and treatments to stop my labor. I was in pain. My doctor came in to do his routine morning check and I welcomed him, eagerly anticipating some kind of answers. I’m still not really sure what I wanted him to say, but whatever it was – he didn’t say it. “Well, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing” he responded casually as he patted me and turned to go. I knew he couldn’t give me answers because there were no definitive questions even, but it was still hard to see him come and go with no new news.
Soon after, around 8am when the nurse came in for her morning rounds, I told her that I was having contraction pains. She checked the computer to see what the contraction monitor was picking up, but didn’t see much action going on. This made me feel like maybe my pains weren’t really contractions.
As soon as she left my room, the husband came over and sat with me, letting me squeeze his hand through the pain and trying to soothe me. I recalled something I had heard once about submitting to the pain, and so I tried to embrace it. Feeling the wave come over me…slowly tightening over my midsection. Within minutes I was hurting badly enough that he insisted I call the nurse back in. After trying to convey to her again that I was really hurting pretty badly, she said she was going to call the doctor and see what he wanted her to do. Around 9:30 am, after what felt like hours but was really only minutes, she came back saying that he wanted to have my cervix checked to see if I had progressed at all. I vividly remember looking her in the eye and telling her that I thought I might die if she checked my cervix. I was already in so much pain I honestly couldn’t imagine adding another check. But there was no option. She brought in another nurse and after checking me she declared that my cervix was basically gone and all she could feel was the baby. I started to freak out..I think it was just the overwhelming emotion of thinking our babies were about to be here, the fear of whether they would be okay or not. It was just so much, and it felt strangely unexpected. Fortunately…and unfortunately the nurse quickly explained that she wanted to have someone check me again to make sure…so in came nurse #2 who the husband and I often refer to as Cookie but whose real name was actually Pepper. Pepper didn’t hold anything back, and the pain was almost unbearable. But she also came up with a much different result…I was still only dilated to a 5 and hadn’t actually changed much since 10 days before.
But after delivering this new piece of information to my doctor, he announced that he wanted to schedule a c-section for 11 a.m. After much agonizing over the last couple of months, I had finally accepted that despite my desire for a natural birth, a c-section was most likely in my future. Both of my babies were breech and with the new factor of being premature, a natural delivery just wasn’t in the cards if I wanted my babies to be safe and healthy.
Upon the nurses leaving the room to go get the anesthesiologist to give me an epidural, the husband and I were alone. And full of both joy and fear. He rushed to the head of my bed, grabbed my hand and with tears in our eyes he began to pray. I don’t even remember exactly what he said, but I know our hearts were both asking God for protection and safety for our babies.
He prayed for maybe a minute or two, and the moment he said amen, I felt something burst and water gushed all over me. Shocked, I looked at my husband and exclaimed “my water just broke!” In a panic, he raced out of the room into the hall, shouting “my wife’s water just broke!”
I’ve honestly never seen nurses move so fast. Suddenly everyone was in overdrive. The nurse wanted to check me one more time to make sure my water really did break…which at the time seemed completely silly. What else might it have been?? Of course it was my water! As several others rushed in around me and began unhooking my monitors and cords, I shouted random orders at the husband. “Get the paper for the footprints!” “Don’t forget the camera!” “Make sure the battery is charged!” He was completely freaked out. And suddenly time froze. And I said to him “honey, I need you to be sane right now.” And he was. He was so good.
After confirming that my water did indeed break (shocker!) they began wheeling me out the door and down the hall. Around a corner, through another door and into the operating room. I was alone now. They had to get me prepped before Jon could come in. I was still in so much pain, and when they asked me to roll over onto my side and curl into a ball so they could stick the needle in my back, I truly didn’t know if I could do it. With lots of help from the nurses, the anesthesiologist began poking around in my back asking me where I was feeling pain from the needle. On the left side. On the right. In the middle. What did this guy want to hear?? I wondered. Finally it was in, and I began to go numb. Jon was at my side now. Dr. K came in. I felt tugging in my stomach. Jon and I squeezed each other’s hands.
Crying. The absolute most unreal moment of my life. My baby boy’s first cries. I could only catch a glimpse of him, craning my neck to the side as they took him past me to the incubator. And then another cry. A different cry. My baby girl. Both of them born in the same minute. 10:06 a.m. My heart exploded with joy.
My babies were crying, and I’d never felt so much all consuming happiness. Through the blur of my tears and swollen eyes I strained to see them. I ached to touch them. They were only feet away from me, but I couldn’t get to them. I was seeing them and feeling them through Jon’s eyes and hands. I was on my back, still being stiched up, and their incubators were behind me. I twisted my neck as much as I could, desperate for a glimpse of them, as I tried to breathe. And then suddenly, there was Linc. Wrapped in a blue striped blanket, Jon held him close to my face, and I touched him. I felt his face with my fingertips, and I tried to hug him to me as close as I could. He was finally here, and he was safe.
And then sweet Viv. She was lowered down to me in the same way, and I traced her tiny face with my eyes and hands, trying to memorize her delicate features before she was taken away to the NICU.
Lincoln was absolutely perfect. Vivian was beyond extravagant. If he seemed small, then she seemed microscopic. But they were both crying and pink and so beautiful and healthy. The most surreal moments of my life were when I laid my eyes on them. And then they were gone.
It was ten minutes from the time my water broke to the moment they were born. And then within another half hour I was back in my bedrest room. Quite literally alone. I felt my belly to see if they were really gone. Everything had happened so fast. Finally my mom came in, and then the lactation consultant. Something about how to pump was said, and as I tried to take in those details all I could think about was getting to my babies. While the doctor said I could see them in a few hours if I felt up to it, I died a little at the thought of waiting that long. Thank goodness for kind nurses, who offered to wheel my hospital bed through the NICU so that I could see them before I was taken to my new room.
While every detail of their birth is etched into my mind, the first moments I spent with them in the NICU are kind of fuzzy. I remember reaching through the porthole to feel their tiny bodies and let their fingers wrap tightly around my mine. And I remember the weight of my baby girl’s perfect little body as she was laid in my arms. Her fuzzy hair against my lips as I kissed her sweet head.
holding Vivian for the 1st time
Back in my room the hours seemed endless as we waited for the numbness to subside from my body. Again my doctor said if I felt up to it I could be wheeled down to see them, and I honestly thought he was crazy. Literally nothing could have kept me from being with them the first moment possible. Nothing.
And so began life with our miracle babies, Linc and Viv. I’ve never felt so thankful and blessed. They are tough little babies, and though our journey through the NICU was the hardest 17 days of my entire life, they were so strong and inspired me so much.
to be continued…