Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Birth Story: Part 3

Here is the third installment of the birth story.  If you'd like to catch up, here's Part 1 and Part 2.  

While I didn't plan on a c-section and was pretty terrified about the thought of being sliced open, I was very ready to meet my babies.  Once the decision was made to move forward with a c-section, everything seemed to move very quickly.  Two anesthesiologists started explaining what would happen once we were in the operating room.  I didn't really listen to what they were saying.  I just started to get very, very scared.  I started shaking because I was so scared.  I remember trying to calm myself down and just focus on the fact that I would get to meet my babies soon.  

I was wheeled into the operating room.  Adam couldn't come with me.  He had to go get suited up and would later rejoin me when things were set up in the operating room.  When I got to the operating room, I was baffled by all of the people in there!  There were two anesthesiologists, two doctors, nurses for me, neonatologists and nurses for the babies.  I heard all kinds of conversations and I remember thinking that everyone seemed a little too calm.  They were talking about their weekend plans and what their kids were up to.  I was moved onto the operating table and they set up a drape so I wouldn't have to see anything.  I was just shaking violently and trying not to burst into tears.  Eventually one of the anesthesiologists realized how terrified I was and told me that everything was going to be okay.  He told me they would make sure I couldn't feel anything before they got started.

Adam joined me at this point and I was so happy to see him.  Having him by my side made things better.  

I assumed they would let me know before they got started, but I started feeling tugging going on in my belly.  It was the strangest feeling!  It didn't hurt but I totally felt pulling and tugging.  I heard on of the doctors say that Baby A was caught in my hip, which explained why I never dilated past 8 cm.  Archer (aka Baby A) was stuck and couldn't move down the birth canal and was also blocking the path for Lyla.  

They told Adam to stand up and watch his baby being born.  I think I would have passed out if I had had to watch them yank a baby out of my stomach, but Adam managed to stay standing.  I heard lots of commotion as they pulled out Archer.  I heard him cry and they held him up for a moment.  Then he was whisked away by the neonatologist and nurses to another part of the operating room to get checked out.  

A minute later they pulled out Lyla.  I heard her cry too and saw a glimpse of her.  I remember Adam asking me if I wanted him to stay with me or go to the babies and I told him to go with the babies.  

I was so incredibly happy to hear them crying!  I started crying and remember my glasses getting all steamed up and stuck to my eyelashes and I couldn't push them down my nose because my arms were out to my side.  Adam came back to check on me and tell me the babies were doing well.   

Eventually Archer and Lyla were brought over so I could see them and kiss them.  They were beautiful!  The most prominent feeling I had was shock.  I was just plain shocked that these babies I had imagined and grown in my belly all these months were actually here!  And they seemed so big and healthy!  Archer weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces and Lyla weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces.  I felt so incredibly relieved that they were so big and were crying and didn't have any major health issues.  

I was being closed up while all this was going on and eventually I was taken to another room for recovery.  Adam and I had talked about how I wanted to do skin to skin with the babies as long as everything went well with the delivery.  Adam had to advocate for us and really fight to have the babies do skin to skin with me.  I am so happy he did so!  Both Archer and Lyla were able to latch on and nurse with me before they were taken to the NICU.

It was such a wonderful moment, but I was so tired I had a hard time keeping my eyes open!  A combination of being awake for so long, a long labor and all the medications made me really sleepy.  But I was so relieved that they were here and healthy!

Our babies were born at 35 weeks, 6 days and 21 hours.  They ended up being taken to the NICU and spent 15 days in the NICU as grower-feeders.  I had successfully given birth to two healthy babies!  My health, however, was in question.  I'll share more about that in the fourth and final installment of the birth story.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Birth Story: Part 2

So when we left off, I had just gotten my epidural.  If you want to catch up on the birth story, here's Part 1

I forgot to mention a few things in Part 1.  Before I got my epidural, I was also catheterized.  I didn't expect that to hurt as much as it did.  It was pretty terrible!  I'm not sure if the nurse who put it in didn't do a good job or if that's just how it goes, but it was incredibly uncomfortable.  It continued to be uncomfortable after it was in.  That was another reason I was all on board to get an epidural.  

I also had an oxygen monitor put on my toe.  And since my legs were so swollen, there were some pressure things that were wrapped around my calves.  They would get tight every few minutes and help stimulate my blood flow to prevent blood clots.  Oh, and a blood pressure cuff that would go off every 30 minutes.  So I had an iv in my arm, a blood pressure cuff on the other arm, leads stuck on my chest to monitor my heart rate, two heart rate monitors on my belly to monitor the babies' heart rates, a catheter, leg pressure things on both of my legs, and an oxygen monitor on my toe.  I couldn't move at all, which was incredibly uncomfortable.  I was used to switching up my position every ten minutes or so, but now I was stuck on my back for hours.  

Remember how I talked about how I was given magnesium because of my preeclampsia?  Well, one of the charming side effects is making you feel incredibly hot.  The nurses had warned me of this side effect and I didn't think too much about it.  But it was terrible!  It made me feel like my insides were boiling!  I have never felt so hot in all my life.  I was also on restricted fluid intake, so I was only able to have a measly half cup of ice chips every few hours.  It was miserable to be so hot and not able to have water or ice.  My throat would get so dry!  I would try to ration my ice chips, but I was so darn thirsty when I finally got my new batch that I would gobble it all down at once!  

Finally a nurse asked me if I wanted some washcloths soaked in ice water to put on my head.  Adam and my mom had been putting washcloths with cold water from the sink on me, but it felt like the washcloths had been soaked in hot water instead.  The ice water-soaked washcloths did help, but they only felt cold for the first few minutes they were on me.  I also figured out that I could suck some water out of the washcloths.  I'm sure I was jeopardizing my health by sucking up more water than I was supposed to, but I was so incredibly thirsty and my throat was so dry I could barely breathe or swallow.  I kept asking people to get the washcloths wet again so I could suck out more water until they caught on.  I looked really pretty at this point.  See below for proof.    

Around 6:15 in the morning on August 3, I was put on Pitocin.  Pitocin helps your contractions get stronger and closer together.  At this point I was dilated to 2.5 centimeters.  

My contractions were definitely getting closer together and they looked stronger on the monitor, but thanks to the epidural I couldn't really feel them.  Even though my contractions were improving, they still weren't really consistent.  The reason was because of the magnesium.  Basically, the Pitocin and the magnesium were working against each other.  While Pitocin works to move labor along, magnesium works to slow or stop contractions.  So the nurses kept cranking up the Pitocin, but the magnesium prevented it from working as well as it would have on its own.

Right around this time, my blood work showed that my blood sugar level was high.  Because of this, I was put on an insulin drip.  What's some more medicine being pumped into my body?  

I was checked several more times and at 10am was dilated to 8cm and was 85%-95% effaced.  The OB on call was pretty excited by this and said that I would probably have my babies by late morning or early afternoon!  I was very excited by this news!

However, late morning turned into early afternoon.  And then early afternoon turned into late afternoon.  Then late afternoon turned into early evening and still no babies.  I never dilated past 8cm.  And my contractions started petering out.  I honestly don't remember a lot about this day.  I had so many drugs running through my body and just remember being super tired and very uncomfortable because I couldn't move around.  I was still super thirsty and hot.  I was so ready to be done!  

Eventually, the OB on call decided to stop the Pitocin for an hour and give me a break.  The thinking behind it was that my body could rest and then give it another try.  My OB had told the on call OB how much I wanted a vaginal delivery.  So the on call OB gave me every opportunity to make that happen.  I definitely appreciated how patient the on call OB was with me.  

During my break, a nurse named Julie asked me if I wanted a popsicle.  I hadn't had anything to eat since the previous evening and just a measly amount of ice chips every few hours, so a popsicle sounded like a four course meal!  I will remember Julie and that popsicle for the rest of my life!  It was the most delicious thing I've ever eaten in all my life!  Even though I was still exhausted and kinda fuzzy from all the medications being pumped through my body, I remember thinking it was quite the coincidence that I was having twins while eating a twin pop.  My mom later told me I had asked Julie if I got to have both sides of the twin pop and that I was beside myself when she said yes.  

After my break, they restarted the Pitocin.  They cranked it up and my contractions did get closer together.  Unfortunately, I still hadn't dilated past 8 cm.  At this point, the on call OB told me I needed to start considering a c-section.  By this point I was so incredibly tired and just plain ready to be done with the whole labor and delivery.  So I agreed it was the best thing to do at this point.  

I'll save the c-section for the next part!   

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Birth Story: Part 1

Archer and Lyla came into this world pretty differently than how I imagined they would.  I pictured an uneventful vaginal birth with Adam sitting by my side the whole time feeding me ice chips and mopping sweat off my forehead.  That's not exactly how it happened.  My labor, delivery and recovery ended up lasting quite a few days.  It's a bit of a blur looking back on it, but I'll try my best to remember it how it happened.  It's far too long to talk about in one blog post, so I'll break it up into parts.  Here's the first part:    

It all started on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, when I had some pains in my left side.  I figured that I had eaten something that didn't agree with me or I overdid it that day, so I took some Tums and ignored it at first.  My mom was in town and we had been out and about earlier in the day.  We had gone to the car wash and I helped vacuum out the car despite my mom telling me not to.  The pain went away for a bit, but came back later on and was worse.  I knew that if I had pains on my right side or the top of my rib cage that it might indicate preeclampsia.  But since the pain was on my left side, I didn't think preeclampsia was the case.  The pain got worse instead of better, so I decided to call my OB's office.  It was about 7pm at this time, so I talked with the after-hours nurse first who passed along the message to my OB.  She called me back right away and I described what was going on.  She decided I should come get checked out just to be safe.  

I still didn't really think I would wind up having my babies anytime soon, but decided to bring along my hospital bag.  I thought maybe bringing it along would ensure I wouldn't need it just yet.  My mom drove me to the hospital and Adam ended up meeting us there on his way home.  I started in triage where they took my vitals, had me give a urine sample and took some blood.  I was feeling pretty good at this point and still was convinced I would be sent back home.  But it turned out that I had protein in my urine and my blood work showed signs of preeclampsia.  I was also pretty swollen at this point.  My feet and legs had been slowly swelling, along with my face and hands.  It was so gradual, that I hadn't really noticed just how swollen I had become.  

With a diagnosis of preeclampsia, I was admitted around 10pm.  My OB was just finishing up a shift, so she checked in with me before she left.  I was scheduled to have my pessary removed two days from then on Friday, but she went ahead and removed it then.  Let me tell you, it was no picnic!  That sucker was clamped on my cervix pretty tightly.  After a bit of tugging, my doctor got it removed.  There were a few nurses in the room at the time and none of them had seen a pessary like the one I had.  They were all standing around, watching the whole ordeal go down.  I really feel like that pessary was the whole reason my babies stayed put as long as they did.  My doctor also cleared out a bunch of progesterone that had collected in my nether regions.  It was quite a lot!  After all that, she was able to tell that I was 2 cm dilated.  She also checked to see the position of the babies via ultrasound.  Both babies were head down, which was a good sign.  That meant I could try for a vaginal delivery.    

Since I had started to dilate and I had preeclampsia, my doctor decided to induce me that evening.  The first step was to get some IV's started.  I was Strep B positive, so I was given IV antibiotics.  I was also given saline to help keep fluids in me.  Finally, I was given magnesium to help prevent any seizures. Apparently women with preeclampsia have a risk of seizures.

Even though I was dilated, my cervix still needed to be softened.  So my doctor inserted some cytotec to help get things moving.  That didn't seem to do too much for me, so the next thing she tried was something called Cervidil.  It's some sort of medication attached to a string that sits near your cervix.  It releases medication that helps your cervix soften.  After this was inserted, the nurse told Adam and I to get some rest.  So Adam popped in some earplugs and went to sleep on the couch in the room.  There was no way I was going to go to sleep at this point.  Not only was I excited and scared and nervous about the idea of having my babies so soon, but I was starting to get mighty uncomfortable.  

I started having more consistent contractions.  They weren't super painful, but I could definitely start to feel them.  Around 4:30 in the morning, my water broke.  I swear Archer decided that he was going to get things moving and I felt a pop as my water broke.  I'm pretty sure Archer punched through his bag of water.  Then I felt water seeping out of me.  I called Adam's name several times, but he couldn't hear me since he had put in his earplugs.  I was kinda mad at him at this point.  So I pushed the call button for the nurse.  She came in and confirmed that my water had indeed broken.  

She left and Adam was still asleep on the couch.  After my water broke, I really felt the contractions. They were so incredibly painful!  I couldn't believe the difference!  I had two contractions and then decided to call the nurse again and ask for an epidural.  I remember thinking about how I had wanted to have a natural birth.  HA!  My OB had recommended that I get an epidural when we had discussed my options earlier in my pregnancy.  I remember thinking, "Well, we'll just see how things go."  I thought I would be able to handle the pain.  I was wrong.  I couldn't push that call button fast enough!  

The nurse came back in and said that contractions are typically stronger after your water breaks.  I told her to wake up Adam at this point.  I figured if I had to be in pain, he could at least be awake!  The epidural fairy came to my room pretty quickly, thankfully.  I had been nervous about getting an epidural prior to feeling any contractions.  I wasn't the least bit nervous after I felt those contractions.  I sat up in bed and leaned against Adam as the epidural was put in.  All I felt was a tiny, little prick as the initial numbing shot was given.  All I felt afterwards was relief.  Sweet, beautiful relief. 

That relief was you'll find out in the next part.  

On a side note, who knows how long it will take for me to write the next part!  It's taken me a month to write this first part.  Apparently two babies require almost all of my attention almost all of the time.  Who knew!? :)

Here's a cute picture of Archer and Lyla to hold you over until part 2: