Week 25

Our scars make us know that our past was for real. – Pride and Prejudice.

One year ago, today – February 13th, my water broke. I was 28 weeks pregnant with my boys. Which, in the world of pProm and high-risk pregnancy, is actually a pretty good number…

Today is a day I will never forget – one that plays on repeat in my head.

If you’d like to relive this day with me – reread about it here: pProm with Twins.

Thinking back, there’s so much more I’m wishing I would have taken note of, in the fog that was trying to stay pregnant with my babies…

I wish I could remember names.

The name of my favourite nurse who would sit with me and tell me her stories about non-stress tests gone wrong, and her theories about chinooks and ruptured membranes…

The name of the nurse who was working non-stop to get me home to Calgary from Regina as soon as she could… And sought me out in labour and delivery just so she could put a face to my name…

The names of the 3 other ladies flown out of province on Feb. 14th, out of which I was the only one who stayed pregnant and returned to Calgary pregnant… We could have totally started a support group for ourselves – I picture us getting together once a year for coffee to reminisce on our experience – something that will never really happen… But I will dream about every year.

The names of my roommates – I had two during my stay… And both for less than 24 hours each:

The first, when I was admitted on Feb. 13, a mom from 2 hours south of Calgary, flown out of her home with preeclampsia… She had two little girls at home missing her. I was lucky enough to reunite with her in the NICU. She delivered her boy 4 days after I flew to Regina. She was 24 weeks pregnant.

The second, when I had returned to Calgary from Regina, a first-time mom from 2 hours north of Calgary. I know so much less about her… She had our room full of family for a few hours that day. It seemed only moments after they left that she was buzzing the nurse… practically delivering her baby boy as they tried to transport her to labour and delivery… She was only 22 weeks. They had admitted her this time after sending her home a week earlier… What I wouldn’t give to know her baby was ok… I held my belly for a long time after she left. What I wouldn’t give to hold my belly one more time…

I wish I could let all of these women know what they meant to me, how they’ve unknowingly changed me, shaped me as a mother and a woman.

Instead, I’ll settle for carrying them with me as scars on my heart.

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Life in the NICU – Part 1

Want to read about the little boys arrival? Head to – Graduated: Labour and Delivery

Everyone in that labour and delivery room made me feel like the hard part was supposed to be over. They were here and they were going to be ok. But the keyword was “going”. I still wasn’t quite sure what was in store for me as one part of our journey had ended and another began. I just knew we had a long way to go.

All I had read preparing for this moment  had told me that these babies were meant to be here in May and not to anticipate them coming home sooner than that. They were no longer protected in the comfort of my womb, and so they were going to need to be protected in the comfort of the NICU until they were essentially full-term.

As I lay in bed awaiting the moment where I could be taken up to see them, I found myself asking, was I prepared for how fragile and small they would seem? An hour and a half later, I could answer that question. No one would ever be prepared.

Caleb met my mom and I and we all went up to the NICU together, buzzing with excitement. This was soon met with disappointment as they informed us that because of a terrible flu season, visitors were restricted to parents only. Not a happy start…

I could do my best to describe what it was like to meet my two perfect (albeit-too small) babies for the first time, but I could never do that justice. So here are a couple of videos that I hope will portray it a little better…

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Graduated: Labour and Delivery

If you are reading this and have not yet indulged in my article entitled, “the World of Antepartum and pProm”  it is a precursor to this.

I was slowly starting to get into a routine at the hospital. The food was actually quite tasty, and I looked forward to receiving my menu every morning (or maybe I was just pregnant with twins and hungry). My nurses would come in twice a day to perform a non-stress test – which sometimes proved stressful. They needed to monitor each baby for 20 minutes simultaneously, and most of the time the babies didn’t want to cooperate, so 20 minutes usually turned into an hour or more. They start doing this kind of monitoring at 28 weeks, but because of their small size, the babies are able to move around and away. I think every time the babies didn’t cooperate, my nurses would tell me their stories about the hardest NST’s they’d ever had to perform, and most were stories about women carrying triplets or quadruplets – my heart went out to those women. Two babies in my tummy had given them enough trouble.

Through these NST’s they did discover that Ethan had a little heart arrhythmia – I have convinced myself that Ethan developed this as a way for us to tell the two babies apart on the monitor. It was always comforting to hear their little hearts beating, but Ethan didn’t like all of the attention and spent most of his time hiding.

As it happened, if the NST didn’t cause enough drama, distinguishing between who was Baby A and who was Baby B sure made up for it. Saskatchewan Health and Alberta Health have different ways of classifying twins in the womb, which ended up a confusing mess. In ultrasound, the presenting twin (the one that would ultimately be born first) is labeled Baby A, and the other baby is labeled Baby B. Our monkey Henry was originally our Baby B, but as he ruptured his membranes he also took Ethan’s place as the presenting twin. In Alberta, because they had already labeled them – they didn’t switch labels at subsequent ultrasounds – Henry stayed Baby B and Ethan stayed Baby A. For my brief week in Regina, however, they felt this was ridiculous and switched their labels – giving Henry Baby A status and Ethan Baby B. I spent the bulk of my days explaining to my nurses who Calgary A was, and that yes – I was aware that my Calgary A (Ethan) had a slight arrhythmia.

Everyday that passed uneventfully was a good day. I was having ultrasounds regularly to check Henry’s growth and ensure he was thriving without his protective bubble of fluid. There was a weight discrepancy between the two babies but they were both in the normal range for their gestation. If that discrepancy were to change, however, they would have to deliver me. The bleeding had subsided for the most part, it would still come and go – in nowhere near the amounts it had been. I found no interest in reading or watching TV (although it was during the winter olympics so I almost always had some kind of event playing on in the background)- I passed my time looking out the window – and was lucky to have had an incredible view of downtown. The sunrises were to die for, I purposely slept with the blinds open so I could enjoy them day after day. I had a pretty good view of the Calgary tower, which they would light a flame on every time Canada won an Olympic medal (there was only one medal-less day during my stay).

Here is a similar view of downtown that I had – with the Calgary Tower flame lit. Unfortunately, none of my photos turned out like this one:
(credit to Calgary Tower website)

Calgary Tower

 

Caleb, my mom and the kids would visit me on the daily (my highlight), the kids would bring a snack and a board game, and we’d end our visits with a  cuddle and some treehouse tv. On a really good day – Caleb would come back in the evening just to keep me company.

The night before my labour began was just like any other night had been. The kids had spent some time with me – we played Disney Yahtzee and they sang “Hush Little Babies” to my belly before they left for the day. My favourite nurse happened to have been on shift  – she came to say goodbye and to let me know that she would be off for the next few days – and for me to “stay pregnant”. A bad omen? Perhaps.

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The World of Antepartum and pPROM

February 13th, 2014 – My water broke while I was in the staff room at work. I was casually “pinning” some Valentine’s Day activities to do with my kindergarteners the next day and – well, there was a gush. I maintained this unusual sense of calm as I explained to my boss what was happening and my coworkers started frantically running around me collecting my things. This sense of calm lasted me several hours – until my husband arrived at the hospital, my rock, and I could stop being strong, and cry. I was 28 weeks along. I didn’t know what this meant at the time – the only numbers I had really given any thought to were 37 and 40. 40 being the number of weeks I carried my two singletons, and 37 being the number of weeks I had expected to carry these twin boys. 28 seemed very far away from the 37 I had been expecting.

My doctor came and spoke to me – I had just seen her a few days earlier as I had had a routine ultrasound. She looked at me and said, “you’re not supposed to be here”. My pregnancy had been textbook. Although I was ultimately considered high-risk because I was carrying multiples, I was the lowest risk of all the high-risk. My babies were nestled in the safety of their own sac and had access to their own placenta. That was huge. Both were beautifully positioned with their heads down and, along with the fact that I had delivered my two singletons naturally, the doctor was favourable to a natural delivery for these twins. My biggest issue up until this point had been the waddle I had developed and the pressure that came along with having two heads lodged in my pelvis. I had just struggled with putting my notice in for my maternity leave as I was nowhere near ready to say goodbye to my kindergarteners.

Now – things were different. They diagnosed me with pPROM – which is a fancy short form for “preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes“. They did figure out that only one baby had ruptured (our Henry), meaning the other baby was perfectly content in his safety net of fluid. The doctor explained to me that they could ultimately let me go on like this until I reached 32 weeks gestation, or until my body went into labour on its own (which – could have been days, weeks or hours… they didn’t know). I had to face the reality that no matter what, I was going to have two premature babies.

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