Before I knew it the room was quiet again, the twins had been rushed to the NICU, leaving the staff in the OR with me. As my OB sewed me up he told me that when he got the phone call that morning he knew it was me before they even gave him any details. I’m the only patient of his that would show up in labor at shift change on Friday the 13th. We laughed, and a few more jokes were cracked.
I suddenly felt so empty, both of my babies were in the NICU and we had no idea how they were doing. I was taken to my new room where Charleigh June was watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Crista and her girls. I attempted to settle in, still in shock of what happened that morning.
It wasn’t long before my OB came into my room, bearing hugs for Chad, Crista (another patient of his), Charleigh June and I. I had been lucky, he said, had it been a day later I would have had a different OB. He was leaving that afternoon for the weekend. He told me I was doing as well as he could expect, but to plan on staying in the hospital for more than just a few days. He also said the neonatologist would be in whenever possible to update me on the twins.
With nothing to do but wait, I unsuccessfully attempted to get some rest. My mind was racing and all the medicine in my system had me anxious. I made some phone calls and sent some text messages. Posted news of their birth on Facebook, and pleaded with the nurses to chew some gum to help relieve the pent-up energy in my body. Finally, the neonatologist came in to see me. I can honestly say I don’t remember a single word he said. Later on, the nurse came to speak with me, gathering information and letting me know if they were stable and feeling up to it I could see them that evening. I took that as good news and again attempted to rest, while Chad took Charleigh June down to get some breakfast.
Approximately twelve hours after their hasty arrival, I was wheeled back to the NICU to see my babies for the first time. They were bigger than I had expected, though still small. I was almost afraid to hold them because of all the tubes and wires everywhere, but I knew that was exactly what they needed. I held them both, individually, for about twenty minutes each, before being wheeled back to my room for the night.
The next morning I was anxious to see them both, and since I was finally allowed to walk without assistance I slowly made my way down to the NICU. They were both on bi-pap machines and TPN, and the neonatologist was hopeful we would get to try their first bottle feed sometime that day. Things were looking up, but I knew we had a long road ahead of us.
I spent almost a week in the hospital after their birth, and while I was grateful to be so close to them I knew I desperately needed to rest as well. The majority of the nurses were supportive and understood I needed to get my strength back after a difficult pregnancy and traumatic birth. I wasn’t a stranger to NICU life, and I knew once I got home I wasn’t going to get much rest – things were about to get incredibly hectic at home, especially with a 17 month old and a move. Looking back, I think part of the reason I didn’t spend all of my time there was because of my anxiety, and what was later diagnosed as PTSD from their birth.
It wasn’t long before I started having nightmares, and eventually panic attacks. Every dream started out the same – I was in labor, and my husband was nowhere to be found. But every time, the setting was different. I’d wake up startled, on the verge of a panic attack. Some times I’d recuperate quickly from these dreams, but other times I’d lay in bed staring at the ceiling for hours.
The twins grew stronger, and had fewer heart decelerations. They no longer needed TPN, and took all of their feeds from the bottle. It took awhile for them to finish their feeds in the allotted time frame, but before I knew it they were healthy enough to come home. Campbelle was discharged the day before Coleson, and before I knew it I had three car seats across the second row of my Expedition.
What I didn’t know for quite awhile was how incredibly sick and fragile they were. Campbelle’s APGAR score was only a 2 at birth, and the NICU team had placed the call to have her sent via LifeFlight to the Medical Center. Miraculously, not long after placing that call, they were able to cancel it as she was suddenly stable enough to remain at that facility. Coleson was in better shape with an APGAR of 5, and was essentially stable from the time of birth. We were lucky to have good outcomes, and looking back I’m thankful that I was blissfully unaware of just how sick Campbelle was.
I’ve since become friends with a few of the nurses that took care of me that crazy morning, and I’ve gradually learned more about their birth. I still have PTSD surrounding their birth, and wish that we could have just one more to have another wonderful birthing experience. But since that’s not possible, I thank God every day for their health. It may not have been the birth I had dreamed of, but the outcome was all I ever wanted – two healthy babies that are now THREE years old.
I am so grateful for my preemies and the wonderful team that brought them into the world. Not only do we celebrate their 3rd birthday this week, but also World Prematurity Day on November 17th.