At long LONG last, I am happy to finally announce the birth of M and M!
I meant to post this weeks ago, but one thing or another kept coming up and needing my attention. I also wanted to give C and Y some privacy to enjoy their new state of fatherhood
Here is our Birth Story:
Just after 3am on Tuesday October 22nd, I woke up in a bit of a coughing fit from the cold I had been fighting and felt a tiny gush. Anyone that has been pregnant before knows how easily a cough or sneeze can effect bladder control when you are further along, and that despite all a persons best efforts, the occasional slight leak can occur, so naturally I assumed that was what happened.
I cleaned myself up and went back to bed…until it happened again around 5am, but this time it was all pink and had a bit of mucous. I was not having contractions, but I knew better than to sit around for to long having seen that, so I cleaned myself up for the second time, threw a few things in my small duffel bag, threw together lunches for my kids to take to school, told my Mom I was leaving, and drove the 7 minutes to my local hospital.
Because I had called on my way there, I was checked out right away. My doctor was away on holiday, so Dr G took care of me instead. She confirmed the leaking was amniotic fluid, and did a brief pelvic check to discover I was 3cm dilated, and we were too late to do anything to stop labour.
They arranged for me to be transferred to McMaster Childrens Hospital in Hamilton (1/2 an hour away) because the Babies would definitely be coming, and would be needing the NICU there. I was transported by ambulance and arrived around 9:30am. Not long afterward, my friend Lori came to be with me until we knew which way things were going to go, and stayed with me until late afternoon.
My Mom also decided to come in case I needed anything. I was grateful to her for that, but she looked so worried all day, and I was glad that Lori was there to break up that tension and help me distract her.
I went straight to Labour and Delivery and into their own triage area to be assessed and see just where things stood. I was now under the care of Dr B and her resident. Their exam said I was now 4cm dilated, a quick ultrasound showed babies were still in a good position for a vaginal birth.
The fact I was not feeling any contractions was a good thing, since it meant there was time to administer some more antibiotics, as well as Magnesium through my IV. Magnesium is supposed to help to protect the babies neural pathways and sometimes has a bonus side effect of slowing down the labour.
It was too late to stop the labour, but as long as all the monitoring showed that neither the babies or I were in distress, they would not speed it up or intervene either.
At this point, I had spent a lot of time on my cell phone trying to make sure all my responsibilities were covered. My Ex was really great and took over immediately making arrangements for our kids to be looked after for the next few days, I told my office that I would be missing my last day of work, and started going crazy trying to reach C and Y who were on holidays in Germany!!
The guys had designated C’s sister J to act on behalf of the babies in case something like this happened when they were away, but I had a bit of trouble reaching her at first. Luckily that sorted itself out quickly.
C and Y immediately started making arrangements to get back home ASAP, but J was on her way to be with me, and to be there for the babies when they came.
At this point we knew the chances of the guys making it home in time for the birth were not good, and I was very grateful to her for coming. We hadn’t actually met yet, but she was about to get to know me VERY intimately over the next few hours.
The rest of that day continued slowly. The magnesium seemed to be stalling the labour. By 4 pm I was 7cm and stayed that way for the next 15 hours. I managed to doze on and off and the monitors started to register some contractions, I would feel them off and on, but in no pattern, or consistency, and thankfully no true pain.
J slept in my room with me, and we took turns texting C and Y throughout the night with any updates.
The next morning, I was very grateful to our nurse Sue, when she offered me a cup of tea and some toast with jam. It was ambrosia after not having eaten in almost 36 hours.
Around 11am they checked our progress again with the thought that if there was no change, then I would be moved to the ward until things picked up. But the extra cm we had achieved meant I could stay put in the really nice labour area.
Not to long after this I started to really feel the contractions. They were still manageable but were definitely coming at regular intervals. At this point, I called my sister-in-law, Nikki who was my designated labour coach, telling her it was time to come because the last couple of cm usually go pretty quickly for me. I also told them to start seeing about the epidural.
I had hoped I could manage without one, but with all the factors we had to consider (twins, possible need to switch to a last-minute c-section, possible intervention to position Baby B properly, etc…) I was happy to have it as a preventative measure. The contractions had also developed a pretty sharp peak, and I had a secret hope it might slow things down just a bit as well giving as much time as possible for C and Y to get there.
The epidural was in at 2pm, and Nikki showed up a few minutes later. I’m very grateful to her for being there, and she really made it in perfect time. The contractions quickly went from 6 minutes to 3 minutes. Not long after she got into her scrubs, things took a drastic turn, and we went from contractions every 3 minutes to…”I feel the head, get the nurse!”
J was up and out of the room like a shot, and in what felt like 20 seconds we had half a dozen people there. I was being wheeled down the hallway to the OR where I was to deliver as per the hospital policy on twin births, and just trying to breathe and REALLY trying not to push.
This is how it went with my son. Easy manageable contractions one minute, and then BAM! Time to push. So I really knew what was about to happen.
Nikki was amazing, and pulled me back, made me focus and keep breathing through it. She was the only person who could have pulled me back at that point, and help me to keep my focus, and I was so grateful to her for that.
We got into the OR, and just when they were trying to get me to scoot over to the surgical table, I remember saying something to the effect of “Its coming now, I can’t hold it.”
And that is how Baby Boy M entered the world, on a hospital gurney, caught just in time with no pushing at all on my part … I swear! It took a few seconds, but when I heard that loud angry cry of his, the relief was amazing. I caught a quick glimpse as he was whisked off to the room next door where the NICU staff was waiting to take care of him, and do his Apgar tests.
They finally had me scoot over to the table, and immediately started working to get Baby B into a safe position to deliver. Dr B worked her magic to move B down, break the amniotic sac, and after 2 or 3 brief pushes Baby Girl Y made her way into the world only 3 minutes behind her brother.
Again I heard that amazing sound of an angry newborn crying before she was taken to join him in the other room.
Baby Boy M – Oct 23rd, 2013 at 3:11pm weighing 4 lbs 7oz
Baby Girl Y – Oct 23rd, 2013 at 3:14pm weighing 3 lbs 15oz
The babies now safely in the care of the NICU team, it was now time for Dr B to start in on all the Post Birth fun with my uterus.
It seems that although the babies were determined to come out, the placentas were stubborn little buggers. Baby A’s came away after a little manipulation, but B’s required a manual retrieval.
I debated whether or not to say much about that part of things here, because to someone who has not gone through that, the mental images will not be pretty. But then my desire for an honest blog entry seems to be winning out, so here we go.
A manual placenta extraction involves the doctor using their hands to manually enter the uterus through the cervical opening, and to extract the placenta as best as they can. Not only is this a bit embarrassing with so many witnesses in the room including family members, but it was painful. Not “scream your head off” painful, but that is probably due to two factors…
1) Nikki never once let up on keeping me focused and guiding my breathing
2) The epidural hadn’t completely worn off yet. It had worn off about 3/4 of the way, but the remaining amount definitely took the edge off. Without it,..I can’t even think what that would have felt like.
Dr B did her best to work quickly, and managed to get most of the placenta. There seemed to be a small piece left behind, so they gave me meds to help my body to take care of it on its own, and I was kept under close watch for the next few hours to make sure the bleeding got itself under control.
By the time this was done, and I was wrapped in a warm blankets, the NICU staff was ready to move the babies to the NICU nursery. They came and asked if we’d like them to stop so we could see the babies before they went, and I almost cried from gratitude.
I was amazed to see how big they were for 32 weeks. When you hear of babies born that young, many of us picture babies who can fit in the palm of your hand, or who haven’t had the chance to build up body fat, and you can clearly see all their bones.
M and Y were beautiful! Small of course, but they did not look sick. They weren’t as chubby as a full term baby, but they looked healthy, just …smaller. I didn’t find out until a few days later that their Apgar scores were quite high. M scored a 9-9, and I believe Y scored high as well, but I can’t recall the numbers right now.
I encouraged J to follow them and be with her new Niece and Nephew. I didn’t want them to be alone now. Nikki stayed with me the whole time putting up with my giddy laughing and random chatter.
When you deliver a baby (or in this case two) as a surrogate, you can go into this state of Euphoria afterwards. It’s this amazing state where your thoughts centre around a few easy phrases. In my case this meant I couldn’t think much past “Wow!”, “I did it!”, and “they are amazing!”.
The only bad part was that C and Y missed it by about 5 hours.
Because of the placenta issue, We stayed in the OR a bit longer then we would have otherwise. The doctor wanted the nurse to keep some pressure on my belly, and really monitor the bleeding and check for that last piece of placenta. Finally, once things were under control, I was taken back to the labour room that had been my home for the previous 26 hours, and a couple of hours later at 7:15pm I was wheeled down the hall to my ward room for the rest of my stay, and I said goodbye to my labour nurse Sue who had taken such good care of me for two days.
At some point I must have drifted off to sleep because the next thing I knew it was 2:30 in the morning, and the ward nurse had come to get me up and to the bathroom. She filled me in on C and Y arriving and J and Nikki filling them in on things. No one wanted to wake me up, so I didn’t see them until later that morning. This was when I learned the babies names, and was finally filled in on how the twins were doing.
For babies born at 32 weeks, they were amazing everyone with how strong they were. Of course they still needed a little help, and pretty constant monitoring, but all things considered, the situation looked promising.
Those first couple of days are a bit of a blur to me. Because of my low hemoglobin, I was extremely tired, and did little more than sleep, eat, and enjoy my visitors. I was lucky enough to have one of my surro-sisters, Karen come to visit me, and bring me an amazing basket full of yummy treats 🙂
C and Y were back and forth from the NICU, to my room, and to their room at the Ronald McDonald House next door to the hospital. I can’t even begin to imagine half of the thoughts that must have been going through their heads.
C and Y drove me home on Friday after I was discharged, and after I was finally able to go to the NICU and meet the babies. I could have gone earlier, but with the low hemoglobin, I just didn’t think it was a good idea to walk around off my ward too much just yet.
Seeing those two beautiful babies was an amazing moment. Even though they were on their UV light beds, and wearing protective eye gear that covered half of their little faces, I felt a wave of relief that I was finally standing there with them, and seeing for myself their little kicks, and how well their were breathing. Hearing the reports, and seeing for yourself are two completely different things.
And with that burst of relief to carry me through, I went home. I only had a couple of hours to wait until my own kids were home from school. After not seeing them for 3 and a half days, I just hugged them as much as I could. We cuddled up together under a blanket on the couch, and I told them all about what had happened over the last few days, and showed them the pictures that I had taken before coming home.
The next two days I had little to do other than sleep, eat, and pump colostrum for the little ones. C and Y drove over each day to pick it up for the babies. I wasn’t getting much yet, but I wanted to do what I could for the twins.
After the first 10 days, I managed to get a good supply going and was up to 20oz / day. Baby girl hasn’t been doing well with the formula, so they have designated the Breastmilk for her use first, since the Little Man is responding quite well to the formula and supplements.
On Sunday, C and Y came to pick me up to bring me back to the hospital. They wanted me to come and meet more of their family that was going down to meet the babies. I still wasn’t feeling strong enough to chance driving myself, so I was grateful to them for coming out of their way to make sure I was there.
I was supposed to be meeting the family in November at a talked about Baby Shower, but since the babies couldn’t wait…we were doing things a little more backwards then planned.
I met C’s parents, as well as their niece. J was there too, and I was glad to see her again…this time in much less of a “compromising” position! LOL
It is such a special thing for a surrogate when they get to meet the extended family like that. It’s not something that all of us are lucky enough to have the chance to do. I’m so grateful to have had this chance, and hope for many more in the future!
From there, the twins were transferred at 4 days old, to a hospital closer to home, to make it easier for C and Y to care for them, and to prepare for them to come home. Compared to many others born that early, their stay was relatively short, and at exactly 3 weeks old, they were released and were finally home…where they belonged.
For the first 7 weeks, I was able to pump milk for them, and we had frequent meetings for them to pick up what I had for them. I’m proud that I was able to do that, and glad that there was still something I could do to help them grow.
From those meetings, and from other pictures they sent me, I could see the happiness…and the tiredness that comes from becoming a parent. It was truly amazing 🙂 And just what I had wanted for them.
So there you have it. The whole CRAZY odyssey that saw two amazing tiny people enter into the world, a few weeks early, but strong and determined to have their own way from the very start.
These last 3 years have been such an amazing time in my life. When I started this blog, I know that none of us involved ever thought how long a road it would all be.
But honestly, as hard as it has been at times, every moment has been completely worth it. Seeing the pictures of C and Y holding those two precious babies, seeing the love that is already there and will just keep growing…
…That’s my happy ending.