Life as a Preemie

5:31 PM

On Monday, May 6, I was feeling pretty shitty. I had elephantits of the ankles (2 weeks after my shower, where everyone had exclaimed, "Wow! You're not swollen at all!"), I was the size of a house and finding it hard to maneuver around, and I wasn't sleeping because no matter which way I turned and no matter which pillow I hunted down and bought to sleep with I was inevitably laying on a kid. I called out of work and called my (unbelievably patient) OBGYN to schedule an appointment. I was supposed to work for 2 more weeks, so I figured she could just give me something to get me through. I was just 31 weeks pregnant.

Hershey and me at my baby shower, 2 weeks before I delivered Jane and Emma.

My cankles.

My enormous, misshapen belly.
The next day, the good doctor informed me that there was nothing to be done and that I was "just going to be uncomfortable". She also told me that she was putting me on bed rest effective immediately. Luckily, my maternity leave sub was in place and I was able to return to school on Wednesday, pick up a few belongings, say goodbye to my students, and go home to put my feet up and begin to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy. 

Thursday morning I woke up feeling uncomfortable. I had slept about 2 hours because Emma was busy moving back and forth across my ribs all night, and I just didn't feel right. I can't explain it other than that. I had a cramp in my side that felt like I had just sprinted a mile, and I couldn't shake it. I called my doc (again!) and she asked me to meet her at the ER, just in case. My husband was at work, so I called my mom and dad to come get me. I took a quick shower (I know, you're probably thinking that I'm crazy, but I have this fear of arriving at the hospital in dirty underwear), and by 11:15 I was waiting on the front doorstep of our apartment, in the rain (of course). 

By the time I got into the car, I had worked myself all into a tizzy. The babies were too small. They couldn't come this early. They weren't done cooking yet! I cried the whole way to the hospital, as the realization set in that I was IN LABOR. 

When Hershey got to the hospital, my contractions were 5 minutes apart. The nurses tried to get an IV in my hand, but just as they stuck the needle in I had a huge contraction and my vein exploded. The anesthesiologist came in and was able to get my IV going, and our awesome neonatologist met with us to let us know that no matter what happened, they were ready for us.

First round in the hospital.

High on morphine with my swollen IV hand.

Hooked up to contraptions.
My OB started me on a magnesium drip, and got me some pain meds. I spent the next 4 days not sleeping, tossing and turning as 3 belts around my (ginormous) belly measured my contractions and Jane and Emma's heartbeats. After a harrowing 4 days, on Sunday, the doctors determined that I had pre-preeclampsia, and that the contractions had been reduced to no more than "disturbances", and at 1:00 that afternoon I was discharged. 

During my hospital stay it had been determined that I was scary-anemic. When I had my glucose test a couple of weeks prior, the doctor had told me that I needed to get my iron up. So although I hadn't eaten red meat in 6(!) years, I had started eating cheeseburgers like it was my job. The night I was discharged I went home and ate a juicy steak and some creamed spinach. 

By 11:00 I was in pain again. My mother came over with a blood pressure machine and measured my blood pressure. It was good. I started thinking it was the spinach. Hershey told me to go back to the hospital. I started crying. I wanted just ONE night of sleep -- for me AND him!!

I tossed and turned on the couch for hours. I couldn't get comfortable. I had to pee every 45 minutes. A couple of times I didn't make it to the bathroom. By 3:00 am, I knew we had to go back to the hospital. I called Hershey to the bathroom and said, "It's time to go!"  He threw my (half-unpacked) hospital bag in the car, and I barely made it down the stairs in my wife-beater tank, Hershey's boxer shorts, jean jacket and flip flops. This was not how I pictured my birth story! 

As we pulled up to the ER doors, I was in full blown labor. My contractions were one minute apart. These babies were coming!!!! The nurses got me hooked back up onto an IV and started my fluids. After 2 hours of begging for my epidural, they finally wheeled me into an OR, where a stern nurse told me to hang my arms and legs down over the side of the bed, and an angel of mercy (aka an anesthesiologist) administered my epidural. Sweet lord! It was the best feeling in the world. 

Hershey came into the OR and sat by my head. I didn't hear much talking, until at 6:19 am I heard my doctor's voice say, "We have Jane!" And then I heard the sweetest sound: my baby crying. 

One minute later, I felt a massive pressure and the relief as my ribs cracked back into place. "Oooohhhhhhh yea!" I yelled out. 

"Here's Emma!" my doctor yelled over the sound of Baby B's robust cries. The babies were swept away to the NICU and Hershey went with them, as the team in the OR worked to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. 

I will not lie to you. Being in labor was awful. The contractions hurt like hell. But once I got that epidural, I felt no pain, and got to experience the euphoria of my children being pulled into the world on a sunny May Monday morning. And after an hour in recovery, the nurses wheeled my bed into the NICU, where that amazing neonatologist waited to give me the good news -- Jane and Emma were small, but they were healthy! I had given them 4 extra days, 2 rounds of steroids to help their little lungs develop faster, and a fighting will. 

And when I held little 3lb 9 ounce Emma for the first time that morning, and looked over to see Hershey holding little 3lb 10 ounce Jane, I felt no pain. Looking into their tiny faces, seeing them look back at me, knowing how hard they had fought to get here, I would do it all again for them! 



Oh yeah, and my ankles went back to normal. 



Hope you have a great holiday weekend! Happy twinning! 



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