We wanted one healthy baby. That’s what we told the doctor. As he started the ultrasound it took him less than 10 seconds to say, “We’ve got twins!”
I know some people wish for twins, I was not one of them. As soon as the doctor uttered those words all that could go through my mind was: How are we going to pay for two? How high risk is this? Will they both make it? What if I have to go on bedrest? What are we going to tell our families?
These thoughts quickly turned to morning sickness and for the 10 weeks that followed, my main priority was trying to consume enough food and water to keep myself and them alive. I wasn’t doing a very good job. I was so sick and so dehydrated that I found myself pulled out of work and on bedrest for several weeks. I was in and out of the hospital for fluids and trying to figure out if this was something more serious than just severe morning sickness. FINALLY, at 16 weeks, after I lost more than 15% of my body weight, I turned a corner. I almost overnight went from barely being able to get myself to the bathroom to feeling up to go back to work.
I had begged God for weeks to keep these babies healthy and He granted me my prayer. Every ultrasound confirmed they were growing on track and gaining weight. We had 16 weeks of preparations (including building a house and moving!) and then, on a Saturday night at 2am when I was just 32 weeks, my water broke.
We will skip part of the story here, but Cranky and Happy were born 10 hours later on Feb 13, 2011 at about 3.5# each. Cranky was Baby A and Happy was Baby B. We lovingly referred to Baby B as our “bonus” baby. Her middle name is Grace because it’s by the grace of God that we were blessed with her (no, we don’t know which baby implanted first and which was second, but we feel like being ‘baby B’ she got the bonus status).
|What she looked like when I first saw her.|
We had normal concerns over their health, but for 3 days everything was as blissful as it could be with babies in the NICU.
|on CPAP, but peaceful|
|This is what 3lb 9oz looks like.|
On day 4, my faith was tested. I was scheduled to be discharged and going through the normal emotions of having to leave my babies in the hospital. We had gone down to see the girls one last time. I remember thinking how this would be the last time for awhile we would all be living under the same roof. They were sharing a little NICU room and a nurse. We were able to see them both at the same time and go from bed to bed easily. We were commenting on the fact that Happy had a little outfit on and how cute it was. We said we needed to go buy some preemie clothes. The Nurse Practitioner came and said that Happy had had some residuals after her recent feeding. This means that they fed her 10ml (1/3 of an ounce) but an hour later, she had some left in her stomach. She actually had a concerning residual. They had only put 10ml in, but there was 15ml in her stomach. The NP said this was cause for concern and they’d be performing more tests.
We said goodbye and I went back to my room. I cried the whole way. This was our first unknown, our first setback. When we got to the room, my nurse was waiting for me. I don’t know her name, but I’ll never forget her. She said the attending physician is on his way to talk to you. This is like the head doctor. We had yet to speak to him at all. And no doctors from the NICU had come to see me before. When he got there, he told us that Happy was being tranferred immediately to Brenners Children’s Hospital. He said the surgeons were waiting for her and she would need emergency surgery that night. Apparently the additional tests they ran indicated that Happy had a major blockage of her intestines. This is a life threatening thing and if not fixed immediately the baby will die. We rushed back to the NICU and the transport team was already there going over her records. We watched as they packed my little 3lb 9oz baby girl up and placed her into an travelling incubator and wheeled her away. They told us that it would take over an hour to get her moved and settled (the children’s hospital was less than 5 miles away) and to go there in a couple of hours or so and they would talk to you about what was happening and about if she needed surgery that night.
We gave Cranky kisses and went back to our room. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, I thought I’d just said goodbye to my baby. I was a mess and then my sweet nurse asked if I wanted to leave. I thought yes I want to leave. I want to leave this time and go back 2 hours where my babies were tiny but healthy and the only thing that I had to worry about was leaving them. I signed the discharge papers. She said it’s hospital policy for an attendant to wheel the new mom down to the exit. I said no way. I’m a mess and I’m perfectly capable of walking to the car myself. She went and got special permission, let Him borrow a cart to push all our stuff and off we went. We got back to the house and looked around. This was a temporary house. We were 2 weeks from closing on our new house that was being built. We had nothing set up, nothing prepared.
I sat down and had just started to breathe when I got a call. It was the doctor at the children’s hospital. He stated that they thought Happy had a malrotation of her intestines in addition to the blockage and could he get consent over the phone to take her into surgery immediately. I said of course, but that we were 5 minutes away, if we left now could we make it? He said to hurry.
We left immediately and were at Happy’s bedside in the NICU within 15 minutes. They were unplugging everything and piling all of it on to the cart. She had been on CPAP so they switched her to one that ran on a battery. I remember thinking about what would happen if that malfunctioned. Then I saw a nurse throw a “bag” onto the cart and I remember being relieved that they were thinking of everything. We followed along as they took her down the elevator into a pre-op area. There were painted kids murals on the wall. It was not cheery. We stayed here for about 20 minutes while we talked to the anesthesiologist. The surgeon was just wrapping up another surgery and was on his way. We were told this was emergency surgery, but we found out that being in surgery within an hour of arriving at the hospital was extra fast. We were told that they couldn’t guarantee she’d make it. We were told about the risks of performing surgery on a baby that weighed less than 4 pounds. We kissed her sweet head, told her we loved her and off she went. We went and tried to eat. Walked around the hospital and waited. And prayed. And waited. And prayed. And waited. We didn’t let our family know too much about what was going on. We were too overwhelmed to deal with anyone but ourselves.
Finally, we got the call 4 hours later that the doctor was coming to talk to us. I remember searching his face for any signs of emotion. The first thing he said was that she was stable. She made it. She did have a malrotation, but it wasn’t as severe as they thought. She did however have a duodenal web which caused her blockage. The duodenum is where the stomach and small intestine meet. She had a web, or constricture here that prevented anything from passing through. She would have died from this. This was the first time I thanked God that he gave me preemies. If she would have been full term and we just took her home, it could have been too late before we knew anything was wrong. Oh, and he said he took out her appendix. He said there was no reason to get all the way into her belly, inspect it, and then just leave it there. At least we might have saved her surgery when she’s older! They let us see her. It wasn’t super shocking, but it was hard that just 4 hours ago my sweet baby was looking around and had fewer wires. She was being sedated so she wouldn’t fight the ventilator so she could no longer grab our fingers either.
Happy was on a ventilator for 7 days and then slowly weened off of that. She fought it every step of the way.
She’s the happiest, most joyful little girl and we are so blessed to be her parents.