Jane on the left and Elizabeth on the right. Did you guess right?


Can you?

Can you tell who is who?


Jane and Elizabeths Birth Story

For Premature Birth Awareness Day, I thought I would post Jane and Elizabeth's birth story in full. It's really long. Good luck.

(Taken the day before Jane and Elizabeth were born)

At 4:30 a.m. on August 2, 2010 my water broke. I had just reached 33 weeks with the twins that day. I put on a skirt (the only thing left that still fit me) and woke up Trevor with a sharp “My water broke. We need to go to the hospital.” I woke up D. Ann, who had been staying with us since I was put on bed rest, to tell her what had happened, and would she please take care of Atticus, our 14 month old son. Trevor grabbed his keys, I grabbed nothing since I had somehow failed to pack a hospital bag, and we were off.

We went to the E.R. entrance and told the nurse at the desk that I needed to go to Labor and Delivery. He called up and we waited for the wheelchair as I filled my shoes with amniotic fluid. When we arrived upstairs, our nurse asked the billion or so questions that are required to be checked in. I was checked into a room just as the day shift took over. I was the only mother on L&D, which was shocking since the last time there had been 12 or 13 women laboring with me.

The contractions weren’t horrible, but I requested an epidural anyway because I knew I would be getting one eventually. I knew I wanted an epidural because of the possibility of an internal version. An internal version happens when Baby A is born head first, but then Baby B turns breech. The doctor reaches all the way up and manually flips the baby down head first. This was not a memory I wanted to have. The anesthesiologist promptly arrived and inserted my epidural, and I lay back down not thinking anything of it since I had such an easy time with it last time. Then I started to feel nauseous... I told my nurse, who reached for a puke pan… but the room wasn’t stocked. At this point I knew something would be making an appearance soon, so I tried to tell Trevor to grab a trashcan, but it was too late. One sheet change and some Zofran later, my blood pressure came up, righting what was wrong, and I settled in to wait for the babies.

(A picture of Elizabeth from one of the billions of ultrasounds we had)

If you’re wondering why I wasn’t having a panic attack or freaking out the way most women would be in this situation, it’s because I was as well prepared for it as I could be. 3 days prior to my water breaking, I had found out I was 3.5 centimeters dilated, so it would have been a miracle to make it full term. We had also already had a baby in the NICU, so we were prepared for the awfulness of having our babies in the hospital. This was the time to grit our teeth and deal with it.

A few minutes later, I realized we didn’t have a camera. I called our beautiful friend Leigh-Ann and woke her up to ask her to go to our house and pick up our camera for us. She obliged and even brought us muffins and juice too. We chatted for a while and I was very grateful for the distraction from the two impending premature births. After a while though, she needed to leave. Shortly after she left, Dr. Meredith and Dr. Harling came in to talk with us, noting that my contractions had nearly stopped. I should have remembered that this is what happened when I was fully dilated with Atticus, but I didn’t. I just thought “Great! Maybe I can keep the girls in a little longer!” Dr. Meredith brought in an ultrasound machine in to check if Jane was still head down. He stuck the Doppler about halfway up on my belly, looking for a head, but he couldn’t find one… he moved it down farther and farther looking for a head before Dr. Harling finally said “It might be quicker to look the other way.” Sure enough, I was very nearly fully dilated with hardly any contractions. Not that it really takes 10 centimeters to give birth to a 33 week baby anyway.

The nurses rolled me out of the room and into the operating room, where all twins and preemies need to be delivered "just in case". Everything was gotten ready (except the temperature of the room; it was freezing in there) and 2 pushes later, Jane was born. She cried, so they briefly allowed me to see her and touch her before she was handed through a window to the NICU. 2 more pushes later, Elizabeth was born. She didn’t really cry, but she gurgled a little bit. I also got to see and touch her very briefly before she was whisked out of the OR. The NICU called out to us “four eight and four eleven!” Four pounds, 8 ounces and four pounds, eleven ounces.

Trevor left me to wait outside the NICU until he could go see them. I got cleaned up and wheeled back into L&D to recover. After a while, I’m not sure how long (it always seems like forever when you don’t know what’s happening to your baby) I asked the nurses if I could try standing and clean up. They were doubtful that I would be recovered enough, but I guess they just didn’t understand the motivation. I stood up and got into the shower, quickly cleaning off. Trevor returned, and we were given permission to go to the NICU to see Jane and Elizabeth. That's where, through 2 half inch thick sheets of plastic, I met my daughters.


Prematurity Awareness Month

Mom goes into labor, Dad drives her to the hospital. Anywhere from minutes to hours to days later, with anything from needles to birthing balls to scalpels in between, a baby is born. The baby cries, the baby lays on mom's chest. The mom gives the baby to the nurses to be cleaned and measured and weighed and given an APGAR score. The nurses hand the baby back to mom. Mom and Dad smile at their child, kiss their child, cuddle their child, feed their child. Mom and Dad and Baby move to the recovery floor. For two or three days, Mom and Dad and Baby figure out feeding, change lots of diapers, receive visitors and try to sleep. Then they all check out of the hospital, Dad brings the car around, Mom puts the baby in the carseat and they all drive home to start life as a newly minted threesome, foursome, fivesome, or more.

Mom goes into labor, Dad drives her to the hospital. It's too soon. Usually minutes rather than hours later, with anything from tears to terror to stoic acceptance in between, a baby is born. Sometimes the baby cries, but usually not. The baby is taken immediately from Mom to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the NICU. The baby, rather than being cuddled and kissed and fed, will be given oxygen through a CPAP and have needles poked into her veins. Instead of being fed, she'll get an I.V. Her first sounds won't be coos or "I love you" or songs. They'll be the rushing sounds of medical professionals trying to preserve life and the loud alarms from monitors that signal whether or not the medical professionals are succeeding. Dad will wait outside the door of the NICU until the baby is stable enough for a doctor or nurse to leave and tell him it's okay to look at his baby now. A discussion will be had on whether or not the baby will be staying at this hospital, or if the baby is too small, too sick, too premature and must be moved to a bigger hospital that is likely hours away from her parents. Mom, who has been doing all the recovery things that must be done after a birth, has been moved into a postpartum room. Right next door to the moms who have their chubby, healthy babies in their arms. Mom is finally able to go visit her baby, hours after she's been born. If she's lucky, Mom will be able to gently touch her baby. Not hold, not even stroke her skin. But Mom and Dad can gently press fingers to their child through holes in a plastic box that is their child's home. In two or three days, Mom will check out of the hospital. Dad will bring the car around, and she will get in by herself. Mom and Dad will drop off their belongings, turn around and go straight back to the hospital, where Mom and Dad and Baby will spend the next weeks or months. And this is all only if Mom and Dad and Baby are one of the lucky premature birth families.

I don't want to be shocking, or just attention grabbing here. I want to give you a comparison of births. I want you to understand why I think that premature birth is something worth talking about, because talking about it helps prevent it.

How does talking about it help prevent it? The last time we were in the NICU, a teenage girl came in 26 weeks pregnant and 9 centimeters dilated. She hadn't told her family she was pregnant. Now, I know that there were hundreds of bad decisions that brought that girl and her baby to that place, but maybe if she had heard what premature birth was like, she would have made different decisions. Or maybe the thousands of women who go to the hospital for premature labor due to dehydration every year would just drink more water if they saw it on TV.

Here is a list of symptoms of preterm labor, and here is a list of possible causes and this is how to prevent and treat it. Please feel free to link to this blog to pass the word around, especially to your pregnant friends. November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and it seems as good a time as any to reduce the amount of premature births.


It's the Great Pumpkinhead!

I'm listening to Christmas music and eating leftover Halloween candy, so it must be November 1st. Here are some Halloween pictures!

I actually took these a few days ago, but I had to show you:

The girls do this all the time when they're playing next to each other. It cracks me up!!

Jane being all adorable and whatnot.

The cute pumpkin hats that Nana sent to her granddaughters. They actually wore these trick-or-treating since (as you will see) they didn't really like their costumes...

Sea otters are pretty dang cute. Particularly baby sea otters. They are probably my second favorite mammal, my first being humans. So what do you get when you cross the two?

The cutest mammal known to man. And a mother who wants her son to wear his Halloween costume everyday.

His very first trick-or-treat! And yes he DID say "trick-or-treat!"... two weeks ago. He got plenty of candy anyway.

Jane did not like being a shark.

And Elizabeth was underwhelmed by the lobster costume.

Hopefully next year they'll be happier with the costume choices, because that's what they'll be wearing again!