This story was hard for me to write. It is not a typical birth story, and it is long and emotional. It is an experience that has rocked me, changed me to the core in ways I never imagined. It is bittersweet, the very best day of my life and the worst all rolled into one. I firmly believe though, that this story is just the first chapter in our version of a fairy tale, where Chris and I grow old together watching our miracle babies grow up, happily-ever-after.
I was admitted to the hospital on Monday, March 14 at only 22 weeks and 5 days pregnant. A routine prenatal exam took a turn for the worse whe my midwife peeked over the sheet with a concerned look and said the words that sent my world spinning in the opposite direction: "I think you might be dialating. I'm sending you to Labor and Delivery to be checked". Chris went home to change out of his uniform and I cried the whole drive over to the hospital. Four belly monitors and one ultrasound later, the official diagnosis was a funneling cervix and contractions 8 minutes apart. I was put on hopital bedrest, given 72 hours of Indocin and a continuous IV of magnesium sulfate and things seemed to calm down. We settled into a new routine, me finding ways to waste the hours in a hospital bed and Chris adjusting to a life that revolved around that hospital bed.
Friday, March 18 and we had just found out that I was leaking fluid. It was scary, but it wasn't that bad... we had suspected there was maybe a leak but no one wanted to do any more checks on me than what was absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of me getting an infection. We found out I was leaking when I got up to use the bedside potty and before I could do anything I felt the fluid. I thought it was my catheter leaking at first so I called the nurse back in and she checked it with an AmnioSure strip test "just to be sure" and it came back positive. Everything else seemed pretty stable though, and an ultrasound showed that Audrey's fuid levels were a little lower but nothing alarming, so we just stepped up the bedrest, they told me to stay as flat as possible and we'd just keep on.
After another couple uneventful days, I woke up early Sunday morning when I felt a gush of fluid. I paged my nurse and asked her to check, and when she flipped my sheet back her response was "oh, no"... NOT what you want to hear. Apparently what I felt was my bloody show, and there was a LOT of blood. Suddenly there were two other nurses right there, my mom had been pulled out of bed and was calling Chris (who had gone home to sleep since mom had just gotten there on Saturday), and they were wheeling me down the hall back to the Labor & Delivery side. That's when I noticed the contractions, they had been giving me Ambien to help me sleep at night and I had been sleeping right through some pretty regular contractions. The got me into a room, the doctor showed up and checked me, and declared me 10 cm dialted and fully effaced. I was in LABOR, and I was only 23w3d which is NOT where I wanted to be. I was still groggy from the Ambien and I was TERRIFIED.
Luckily, Dr. C was AMAZING and did a Hail Mary attempt at stopping my contractions with a huge push of the mag and another round of Indocin (the 72 hour drug) which, combined with lots and lots of prayers, worked! Unfortunately I was still fully dialated and now had a baby with a ruptured bag, so they put me on total, flat-on-my-back-for-always bedrest in the Trendelenburg position and kept me pretty well drugged. Those are a hazy few days for me, I spent a lot of time sleeping and even more time praying. Chris has a video of me though that is SO embarassing but really funny, maybe one day I'll get brave and post it lol. Dr. C would come back every day to check on me and would say "Ya know, I've never seen anything like this before." I got two rounds of steroid shots and we all crossed our fingers that I could make it to the "viability mark" of 24 weeks.
I was able to hold off for 6 more days like that, putting me at 24w1d, when my contractions (which had been steadily getting more regular and stronger once I finished the Indocin again) picked back up full-force. Another of my doctors came by (there's 3 in the practice I go to, Dr. R was one I had never been seen by) and checked me, read my contraction monitor (I was having good stong contractions every 3 minutes), and decided that it was go-time. He said there was nothing more they could do to keep the contractions at bay, plus the fact that my bleeding was still pretty heavy (and had been since Sunday) which could signal an infection or something else wrong going on, all pointed to the babies needed to come out. Once the call was made everything went in fast-forward, they were pretty sure that Audrey had flipped head down so they were going to let me try for vaginal but Dr. R wanted to do it in an operating room just in case. Mom and Chris got into scrubs and off we went. I was still on my back and all I remember is watching ceiling tiles rush by and thinking "holy crap, today is my babies' birthday!" I was too stunned to be scared.
When we got back to the operating room there was already a whole slew of people in there. I had mom and Chris, my doctor, a nurse, a student nurse, an anasthesiologist (just in case) plus a nurse with him, and two NICU teams that included a doctor and a nurse for each baby plus a respitory specialist... it was a PACKED room. They sat the bed up which made me SO lightheaded, pulled my knees back, and Dr. R said "Ok, when yur next contraction comes I want to you push as hard as you can." And my response to that was "I never got to take a childbirth class, I don't know what to do!" I mean, really? My nurse was fantastic though and she coached me through the whole thing.
I was able to deliver both babies vaginally and naturally (I declined the epidural), which was SO aweseome even though it was kind of stressful because both babies came out butt-first breech. There was lots of pushing and tugging but thankfully I didn't tear. Audrey was delivered still in her sac and (although I didn't know it at the time because Dr. R was so wonderful and level-headed and calm) there was a little moment of panic because the ultrasound tech had made a note in my chart that the babies shared a placenta, but once Audrey was delivered hers came out right after her... apparently if they HAD actually shared, having it delivered before Grayson could have caused really bad complications for him so there was a HUGE rush to get him out. Thankfully though, the ultrasound tech was wrong and he had his own.
Audrey Kateri was born at 12:02pm, weighing in at 1lb5oz and 12.25 inches, and her brother Grayson Robert followed 2 minutes later, born at 12:04pm weighing 1lb8oz and measuring 12.5 inches. Both babies came out crying and kicking and were the teeniest, most beautiful things I have ever seen. They were swept away by the NICU team right away but once they were stable they wheeled the isolettes over to my bedside so I could see them and touch them before they took them to the NICU. There are NO words in the English language that can come close to describing that feeling.
And there it is, the beginning of my fairy tale. We have a long road ahead of us, but happy endings nver come easy.