I woke up about 11:30PM on March 19th... I had gone to bed abnormally early, around 9:30PM, because I was really tired. Michael was in Colorado, and the kids had an art show at school that evening, so we had been busy. I had been dreaming about having contractions. Now that I was awake, like most pregnant ladies, I had to use the bathroom. Once I stood up, it happened... a BIG contraction. I wasn't alarmed initially. I had been dealing with Braxton Hicks contractions for a while, but this one came with some pain. I waited... another one came. I decided to see if there was any consistency to the contractions. Another came, only seven minutes later, and another, seven minutes after that.
I called Michael. He told me to call the doctor and call him back after I got their recommendation. I hung up the phone and started crying. I knew I was in labor. The doctor on call thought I might just have a uterine infection, but, understanding I was higher risk due to twins, and the urgency in my voice, she told me to come in to be checked out. I called my parents next, crying hysterically, to let them know so someone could stay with the kids, and the other drive me to the hospital. I called Michael. He was very concerned and confused, as was I. All I could think about was how 12 weeks early is too early, and the fear of what could be was overwhelming.
My Dad picked me up and my Mom stayed with the three sleeping. My contractions were coming every five minutes at this point. Once at the hospital, and in triage, my nurses and the on call doctor were confused as to why I thought I was in labor. The monitor was not picking up my contractions, and my stomach was not tightening to their liking, leading them to believe I was just having uterine spasms. For a split second, I felt relief. Another contraction began, and that relief was quickly extinguished. I KNEW I was in labor. The doctor said she'd check me about 1:45AMish (March 20)... this is about an hour after we had arrived at the hospital.
Immediately, her eyes met mine, and she knew what I already did. I was in trouble. She softly said... "You are seven centimeters, and I'm holding onto a foot". I remember it like it happened a second ago. As much as I want to say I thought everything would be OK, I didn't. Everything was wrong. Michael was not there... I was only 28 weeks... Baby A was breech forcing me to have a cesarean section for the first time in four pregnancies... They weren't ready... I wasn't ready.
It was only about 10 minutes later that I was in the operating room. They has some trouble getting me numb, but once they did, my Dad came in. My poor Dad... He has never seen a human baby born. He looked as scared as I felt.
Baby A came out quickly, and loudly at 2:52AM weighing 3lbs, 2oz. He was screaming so loud, it made me burst into tears. His voice reassured me that he was alive and his lungs were working. They showed him to be briefly, and then snuffed out his cry with a tube down his throat. There were so many people in the room, and several people around Baby A that I could only catch glimpses of him. It was so quiet.
Two minutes later, at 2:54AM, another screaming cry. Baby B arrived also at 3lbs, 2oz, and looked just as good as Baby A. But again, his cry was silenced by a tube. I was completely naïve. In that moment, both babies looked perfect to me. They were crying, they were small, but they were perfect. The babies' doctor informed me that they had to get the boys stable before they could be transported by ambulance to Shands. I delivered at North Florida Regional and Shands was across town, with a superior NICU. I was dumbfounded, and didn't understand. I really thought they were OK.
I was given permission to call my husband immediately as they worked to close me up. I told him we had two sons. I told him that they were OK from what I could tell. I told him that they cried when they came out. He asked me why I had to have a C-section, and why they had to transport the babies to Shands. My Dad talked to him for a bit and I could tell by my Dad's voice that Michael was upset... crying. I hurt for him. I knew he wanted to be there with me.
They got the boys ready to move from the OR to the NICU down the hall. I told my Dad to stay with them... not to let them out of his sight. He followed them out of the room and there I was. All alone. I tried to make jokes with the doctor and nurses working to finish my surgery... a nervous habit to keep from completely losing it. As they wheeled me out of the OR... I began to cry. I had just delivered two beautiful boys whom I have yet to touch and my husband was gone and I was about to be alone in my hospital room. No magical moment of holding my newborns and nursing them. No joyful staring at their faces. Nothing waiting for me in that room but worry.
We turned the corner into my room and there stood Krissy. A great friend of mine and member of my family group (Bible study). Michael had sent a mass text to our group begging for their prayers. I had never been so happy to see someone! She cried with me, prayed with me, and comforted me. Shortly after, Carol, another group member arrived, and then Brian... Each offering their prayers and support.
A text came from Meredith, another member of our group who also happened to be a neonatologist fellow. She worked at Shands and had woken up early to get to the hospital to meet the boys when they arrived. I felt such a peace knowing that if I couldn't be there, that someone who loved them would be there to meet them.
My Dad came in about 4:45AM to let me know the boys were stable and the Shands folks had arrived to get the boys ready for transport. He checked on me and hustled back to make sure he was keeping a watchful eye on the process. About 5:30AM, they brought my sons to see me. They were both in a single incubator. Several tubes and wires camouflaging their beautiful faces. Baby B's head was next to Baby A's feet and they were holding the other's toes. Precious. I opened the little incubator door, scared to hurt them, and gently touched their tiny hands.
They took them out the door. I sat back quietly... almost in shock. My Dad asked if I was OK. I told him yes and to hurry off with the babies. He took his job very seriously and I am forever in his debt, for many reasons, but this reason was a big one.
Over then next few hours I received several texts from Meredith, my Dad, and Michael. Meredith letting me know the twins' status, my Dad giving me all the details, and Michael, just trying to get to us.
Michael walked through my hospital door at 3:30PM. I cried with him, and immediately urged him to get to the babies. He headed out and I worked on trying to pump some milk for my sons.
The next 36ish hours sucked. No sugar coating. I didn't want to be where I was... I wanted to be with my boys. I was stressed and not producing milk. My husband called and said they may need to use donor milk. I pleaded with him to let me try again. I felt like the only thing I could do for them across town was at least make their dinner. It felt like the only motherly thing I could do.
I prayed. I prayed to the same God that I was angry with. I prayed He'd give me some milk so I could feed my boys. I told Him I was sorry I was so mad. I told Him I didn't understand why He would let them come early, or why Michael wasn't there, or why I had to have surgery and had to stay hospitalized longer before I could see my babies. Looking back now, I am encouraged by this. I am proud that I have a real relationship with Christ. Real relationships have ebbs and flows. Real relationships have moments of joy, pain, anger and happiness. God knew I was frustrated. I still don't have all the answers I was searching for from Him that night, but the next morning, I knew He had been listening. I had enough milk to feed those babies for about three days in one pumping. I also could hear Him say that He answered my prayers. I had two babies who were alive.
Michael called me and said we had to pick out their name. That the nurses were calling them all kinds of funky things! We laughed a bit and tried hard to think of their names. We finally decided Baby A would be Carter Dean and Baby B would be Hudson Drew. I remained a few miles away, but it felt like I was on the other side of the planet. Good friends like Christy and Holly came to keep me company, or bring me tastier food than what was on my hospital tray.
March 22nd, I was finally released from the hospital, and headed straight to my boys! I was not at all prepared to see them. I wasn't ready to see them that way. Tubes instead of pacifiers. Wires instead of swaddles. No cute coming home outfits. I burst into tears. It's another moment so fresh in my memory.
I quickly learned they would respond to my voice, my touch, my presence. To their Daddy's voice. It was not how I had envisioned spending the first few days of their lives, but oh... there was joy there. There was hope and a whole lot of love.
There are so many moments that occurred over Carter's 60-day stay and Hudson's 65-days that renewed my faith in not just my Savior, but in people, and miracles. I got to experience holding two babies together... a total of 6 pounds at the time (each had lost a little weight from birth). I got to experience the kindness of many people who cared for our boys. I got to experience watching my three older children meet their twin brothers and not for a second question their health, but always anxiously waiting for when they could come home. I got to experience growth in my marriage. I got to become a mother to five children!
It is never lost on me how miraculous Carter and Hudson's road to recovery was. It's not lost on me that MANY of you reading this blog prayed for my boys, and for me and Michael. Whether you came to visit, brought meals, watched my other kids, held our hands, hugged our necks, thought of us, hoped for us, prayed for us... thank you. Thank you for loving us through it all. I'm filled with gratitude as Carter and Hudson turn a year old. Thankful mostly for a God who loves me and who has trusted me and Michael with these five miracles.
Happy Birthday Carter Dean and Hudson Drew! All my love... all my life!