Thursday, December 3rd, 2015
I have spent the day feeling stressed out and itchy. The itching I’ve had for a couple of months has gotten much worse over the last 24 hours or so, prompting me to call my doctor’s office due to worry that I might have cholestasis of pregnancy. The doctor thought I should come in for fasting bloodwork first thing in the morning, so I am preparing for that and sitting around worrying about the outcome when bedtime rolls around. Spoiler: none of this will turn out to matter.
I have made it to 36 weeks 4 days pregnant.
My husband is in bed reading and I’m on my way there when I go to use the bathroom in the front of the house. When I think I am done and go to stand up, I…seem to keep peeing. Or leaking. Or something. That’s odd. And then I just keep on leaking and leaking.
I make it back to our bedroom and then go immediately into our master bathroom and sit back down to discover I’m still leaking. Okay then. It seems like this is it: my water has broken. It’s about 8:45 PM.
I call out to my husband and alert him to what is going on and then phone Labor and Delivery to tell them — they say to find out if I could soak a maxi pad in 30-60 minutes and then call them back. I call them back in just ten minutes to report successful pad saturation and they tell me to get to the hospital.
We’re a pretty efficient machine getting out of the house — our hospital bags were already packed, so we grab a couple of last-minute items and put the dog in his travel crate so we can drop him off at the boarder on the way. We’re out the door by about 9:20.
By 9:50 we have checked in at Labor and Delivery and I’ve gotten a room. CW and I are delighted to find out that our L&D nurse just coming on shift was L, who had taught our childbirth classes back in September. So good to see a familiar and trusted face in an intense situation!
The on-call doctor is also someone we’ve met before at some random OB appointment when my regular doctor hadn’t been available — Dr. A. He hadn’t made the greatest impression on us at the time. Let’s just say if you are a medical professional in a women’s health field, maybe consider NOT using sexist idiomatic expressions in an effort to be folksy. So, anyway, I am not thrilled to see him, but I know he would be unlikely to be the doctor catching my babies because we expect to be there long past the end of his shift.
Oh yeah — I’m not having contractions. Braxton Hicks, random and painless? Story of my life. But real contractions? No. We are probably in it for the long haul.
Friday, December 4, 2015
By 12:30 AM I’m hooked up to an antibiotic IV, having tested positive for Group B Strep earlier in my pregnancy. The monitors are showing that my contractions are starting to get more regular, but there isn’t a great pattern yet. I can’t actually feel them myself.
And here, in my notes, where I wrote down the babies’ full names, I clarified to myself, “Writing these down in case I forget how to spell them later, in some kind of pain/drug/love haze.” Of course there was no way I could forget the names we had chosen for the babies, but I will say that going over the spelling on their birth certificate/SSN paperwork was a little anxiety producing!
And I won’t be sharing their names here on the blog, which is open to the whole ding-dang internet. I don’t mind sharing their names privately or on more locked-down social media, but they’ll stay off this site.
I get started on a pitocin drip in a very small amout at about 1:30 AM with plans to increase the dosage every thirty minutes. At this point, my cervix was still only 3cm dilated and 90% effaced — no change since my last OB appointment earlier in the week. My weak, painless contractions have done nothing so far to help dilation. Thanks for nothing, contractions.
At 2:30, after having the pitocin increased a couple of times, I can now feel contractions in my belly, but nothing lower down. They still don’t hurt.
From my notes: “3:15 doop de doooo nothing to see here.”
For the past several hours, CW and I have just been sitting up in the dark L&D room, waiting for things to happen. For the pitocin to start doing something, for the contractions to get real, for things to move along. But nothing is really changing. We’re excited and ready to go, and… we’re waiting.
At 4:00 AM, contractions start to be painful in my back and lower down. I decide I will request my epidural the next time Nurse L comes in. She told us it takes an hour from the request to actually receive the epidural, so I should plan ahead and not wait until I’m desperate. Dr. A has also told me I can call for it “any time.” I figure, why wait? But I also think that probably I am being a wimp about this — I could wait longer — but there are no medals, so let’s do it.
At 4:20 AM I have requested the epidural. Also, my back is killing me, so I guess it’s in good time. I’m squirming around in bed trying to find a comfortable position and I think my restlessness may have dropped one of the babies off the heart monitor. We’ll see.
I have never farted this much that I can remember.
The IV is giving me more fluids in preparation for the epidural, and it’s making a loud whirring noise and also feels cold.
CW is trying to doze on the couch.
4:29 AM OMG HORRIBLE LOUD ALARM — which turns out to be the sound the IV makes when it has eptied a bag of fluids. We finally figure out we need to use the nurse call button and get her to come shut the alarm off. So that’s pleasant.
By 4:40 AM, I’m taking my last trip to the bathroom as a free-standing, mobile person before being given the epidural. I will not walk to the bathroom on my own again for maybe two days. I take a break from the monitors and sit up for a while (a position that doesn’t work on the monitors because every time I sit up Baby A’s moves away from the belt and her heartbeat disappears). Even just a few minutes in a different position feels so good. Nurse L gives me a warm blanket for my lap and I’m feeling so much better. In this position, contractions are more like really bad period cramps than horrible side stitches.
Soon, the anesthesiologist comes in to administer the epidural. It’s really not that bad. I have to sit up, bend forward, and lean on my husband’s shoulders and chest while the doctor places the needle and catheter. It’s not terribly painful at all, and I just try not to think nervous thoughts about needles being poked into my spine. Meanwhile, CW starts to feel faint and announces he has to sit down. I’m busy laughing at him but trying not to move while Nurse L takes over as my person-to-lean-on. CW does not technically pass out, for the record. The epidural at first makes my lower body feel tingly and pain free, but not 100% numb.
Shift change. Our nurse L is sad to go before seeing the babies be born, but our new nurse M is very nice. The new OB on call is Dr. L, whom we haven’t met before but whom we immediately like. He seems smart and willing to explain everything to us. The sun is up outside our window.
By 8:40 AM my cervix is still only at 4 cm. It seems like I didn’t mark down when I went from 3 to 4, but it’s been at 4 for quite some time by now. Not much progress. At this point, the epidural has fully kicked in and my legs are like dead logs attached to my body. I do not like the feeling one bit.
Is it wrong that this photo makes me think of Frank Booth?
An hour later, the nurse comes in to tell us that Baby B’s heart rate has dropped and he isn’t responding well to the contractions. I’ve been repositioned in bed for better circulation and been given more fluids and an oxygen mask. My BP was a bit low. The baby’s heart rate perks right back up. Whew.
It’s 12:20 PM. At this point, we’ve had a few more incidents with Baby B’s heart rate dipping too much during/after contractions and I’m starting to get nervous about it. Instead of increasing the pitocin every thirty minutes, as before, we are keeping the dose the same so as not to increase the strength of contractions and distress Baby B any further. I’m still only at 4 cm. We are “being patient” to see if I progress without increasing the dose. I have a feeling about this already. My body has shown no signs of wanting to go into real labor or to dilate further, and I certainly don’t think it’s going to start now, without increasing the meds at all. I feel like we are looking at a C-section.
From my notes: “I just farted super loud and couldn’t even feel it. Smelled horrific. Yikes. My body is not my own.”
At some point here there’s another dip in Baby B’s heart rate and after the nurse comes in to give me more oxygen, we notice she has turned the pitocin drip completely off. We know where this is headed.
It’s 1:40 PM. Dr L has come in to talk to us about how things are progressing (i.e. how things are not progressing) and the need for a C-section. Fine by me. I don’t want to worry about my Baby B’s heart rate for one more second.
Things get in motion fast. The OR had been booked for a scheduled C-section at 2:00, but Dr. L says we are bumping this woman and taking her time. “She won’t mind.” Nurses come in to get me prepped (shaved) and give CW his scrubs and hair net.
My OB, the awesome Dr. H, surprises us by popping into the room in her street clothes to say hello and tell us she’ll be scrubbing in to assist Dr. L on the surgery. I am so glad to see her! How did she get there so fast?
By 2:00, we are in the OR. There are both Drs. L and H, a handful of nurses, two pediatric teams (one for each baby), and I think two (?) anesthesiologists. One adds some additional things to my epidural catheter to numb me more for the surgery, and the other jokes around with CW and takes his phone so he can snap photos for us. I’m sure he had other stuff to do in the OR but I’m not sure what.
I’m sort of giddy and nervous and during the prep for surgery I can’t stop making chit-chat with everyone around me. I have no idea what kind of idiotic things I am saying, but I can’t shut up. At one point we are talking about the three other sets of twins born at the hospital this weekend, and I launch into how to determine the probability of same-sex vs boy-girl twins using a coin-flip problem as an example. I’m sure the surgical team was impressed and riveted by my mathematical know-how. (It’s 25% girl-girl, 25% boy-boy, and 50% boy-girl, FYI.)
The oddest things I remember from the surgery are:
1) being moved from my bed to the operating table, which, with my completely dead lower body, feels weird and scary and like I am going to fall on the floor, and
2) being able to see the entire surgery in the reflection on the surface of a light above me. YES. I can actually SEE THE WHOLE THING. And I do watch a lot of it. I’m very curious about medical stuff, and when else will I ever get a chance like this?!
The doctors have to prep me and everything else before CW can come in, but then they start cutting a minute or two before he gets in the room, and I’m a little worried because where is he and why did they already start? In retrospect, the way things happened so fast, I think the situation was probably a bit more emergent than I realized. The doctors and nurses all seemed so calm, but hot damn they got us into that OR fast and didn’t waste a second. At any rate, CW gets in there soon enough and sits right by my head the whole time.
At 2:37 PM, our baby girl, to be known on the blog as E, is born. I see them lifting her out of my abdominal cavity in the reflection on the light above my face. What I don’t realize is how big she is — the doctors and nurses all comment on it and when they show her to CW and me quickly over the curtain, he says something, too. They hand her off to the pediatric team and from across the room I hear her cries bleating out nice and loud. Good crying, baby girl!
We’re shocked to hear her weight: 6 lbs 12 oz. We’d just been hoping to get them both over 5 lbs.
At 2:39 PM, our baby boy, whom I’ll call L, is born. He had flipped around to breech position when he finally had the space, so he was removed by his feet and the first thing I see in the reflection above me is his little butt.
CW tells me later that he came out blue.
The pediatric team is giving him oxygen and CW is over there with them, talking back across the room to me to tell me what’s going on. I keep hearing E’s cries and hoping it’s L. When he finally cries for himself, CW tells me it’s him, our boy, crying, and that’s when I finally tear up. They’re both here. We made it.
The pediatric teams get the babies all swaddled up and give them to CW to hold right next to me while I’m crying and being stitched back together. I remember lying there looking at him holding them and the first words out of my mouth are “CW, he looks JUST LIKE YOU,” which our son absolutely does. (Doctors and nurses all vocally agreed.) The second thing: “How on earth were they both INSIDE MY BODY?!”
Another surprise: baby boy L weighs in at only 5 lbs 3 oz. Throughout the pregnancy up to our most recent ultrasound at 33 weeks, they’ve been estimated to weigh within a few ouces of each other, but now there’s a size difference of over a pound and a half! How did that happen?! Still, that’s about 12 pounds of baby all together. I reiterate: how on earth were they both inside my body?
L in the background, E screaming in the foreground
After my incision is closed up, all four of us go to recovery together and I’m able to immediately do skin-to-skin with both babies, who decide at that point that they’re ready to breast feed. So there we are, all four of us, me tandem breastfeeding two healthy babies, just moments after the birth. I’ll never forget it. C-section or not, I’d say this went pretty damned well.
They’re here. We did it.
I have many, many other thoughts on my postpartum experience in the hospital, but I’ll save those for another time.