After years of infertility and IVF, we've finally seen light from the other side. I knew it could happen, but certainly didn't think it would be us ... our new life with twins. Gulp.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Baby Handcock?

The arrival of the babies' Social Security cards leaves me with an odd question.

Instructions on the card tell the designee to sign immediatly and put away in a safe place. The safe place is no problem, but the signature part is a quandry.

Do I wrap their miniature fingers around a pen and shakily assist them in signing, so that upon entry into school I can assure them that they did sign them with their own authentic signature? or do I sign their names now to make the cards "secure"? or leave them blank for the kids to sign when they're older?

If I have a Social Security card, I don't have a clue where it is so who knows if it's signed. Hmmmm??

How it All Went Down (PART 2)

We’re sitting in an exam room at the pediatric ophthalmologist a few weeks back. A nurse is filling out information on a computerized form, asking us questions with her back to us. I feel a tinge, then a dampness, then look to the front of my, thankfully black, tee shirt, to see that I’m just leaking away. Still answering questions, I reach into my bag and extricate two tissues. I stuff them surreptitiously into my bra, praying that the nurse doesn’t turn around. At which point J asks me, quite loudly, “Kind of takes you back to your high school days, doesn’t it?”

Thank goodness the nurse doesn’t turn around, and I give him a big old wallop across the chest.

My sense of humor has returned in some capacity, so I guess I’m ready to finish up the Very Important Birth Story, Part Deux.


… I remember asking the doctor to tell me what she was doing as she went along (something I’d read in a childbirth book). She laughed a bit, and said she’d try. That was the last lighthearted moment I remember. Apparently, she began the incision, because I did feel a twinge. I spoke up, slightly alarmed, recalling the recent tale of a good friend (also an L&D nurse) whose C-section “wore off” and she was left with sensation on half of her body. The anesthesiologist jumped right on it, and upped my meds, and the pain went away.

So they’re working away, planning to pull My Boy out. All seems to be going as it would, and things get tense. I’m really in LaLa land, feeling good, kind of floaty. There are two distinct moments I recall about My Boy’s birth. First (and in no particular order):

All of a sudden, J is no longer to my right. I realize that they nurses have instructed him to sit down on the floor and take deep breaths. He has gone pale and begun to look ill, and the nurses are concerned he is going to pass out. And given what is going on, I realize later, there is no one to take care of him should he fall over. He later tells me that this was the most scared he has ever been. He was overwhelmed by the amount of blood, the urgency of the situation, and feared that I would die, that our son would die. His concerns were probably slightly more than necessary, but I’ve never seen such a display of vulnerability as I did when he later told me about this. In the OR, he told me that “it’s so much different than the Discovery Channel.” He sat on the floor for a bit, and got himself together before I knew what was going on.

Before they can pull My Boy out, his left arm pops up and out. It is grossly bruised, a solid purple mass. They don’t know that this affects just his arm, and fears that his whole body is purple.

I hear my doctor’s strong, confident voice in a tone unfamiliar to me. I hear panic, and I hear fear. She says, “Get another surgeon. Now.” She repeats it. “There are no other surgeons on right now,” one of the nurses or neonatologists replies. She needs another set of hands.

I come to find out later, My Boy was at +2 station, meaning he was way far down in the birth canal, quite eager to head out. His head had formed such suction, that my doctor couldn’t break it to pull him out. Her hands are quite small, which was good in this situation, as they could fit around his head, were getting cramped and tired and unable to move. She told me the next day, that her arms and wrists were quite sore.

We don’t know the cause of the bruised (and I mean from fingertip to shoulder) arm – perhaps it was stuck inside at a funny angle. He had some additional bruising on his head and around his ankles, which we did figure out later were from the actual delivery.

No additional surgeon is necessary, as he finally gives way and they are able to yank him out. I realize later that my incision extends and good three inches on the right side, in a kind of jagged pattern. This is from an additional cut they had to make in order to get him out. My doctor commented on it, in an “oops” sort of way at my 6-week appointment, but I realize it was necessary to get him out with speed.

I never saw him, as they whisked him away to the team of neonatologist, respiratory therapist and NICU nurses. Honestly, I was so unaware of the situation, I don’t remember being very concerned. Perhaps concerned in an “it’ll all work out” kind of way.

My Girl had a less traumatic, but interesting birth. Apparently the uterus clamps down quickly after the first child is taken out, not realizing that there is another to be born. In the current mode of tension, they want to take no chances. So they pull her out, full in her amniotic sac. They just plop it right on top of me and splice it open. She emerges beautifully pink and clean. No mess, no fuss. J got a picture, albeit quite fuzzy, of her sac sitting on top of me, and he said that it was kind of transparent, that you could see her inside before they broke it.

I don’t know any of this has happened, the circumstances of her birth, but she is quickly wrapped up, and brought up to my right side. The nurse holds her right at my face, as I gaze at her in amazement. I kiss her and I stare at her for what seems like hours. But then I think, “Okay, enough is enough. I can’t touch or hold her, take her away and let’s get this show on the road.” I cringe as I look back, realizing that I wasn’t particularly concerned about My Boy. I was so out of it, and I hate that.

At this point, J has headed to the back of the OR to go watch over the babies. My Boy is having breathing problems, and is put on the ventilator. My Girl is a-okay, just a little pink mass of love. I smelled burning. I tell no one in particular that it smells like the dentists office. The doctor replies “You really don’t want to know what that smell is … don’t ask.” It was cauterizing. Ugg. As she finishes up, my doctor comes to the right side of the table. I remember that she was covered in blood. She tries to talk to me, and I can’t concentration, because I am fixated on the blood that covers her hands and gown. I tell her as much, and I think she is put off. I ask if my babies are going to die, and I remember so clearly that no one answered me. Did I even ask the question?

I’m taken back to my labor & delivery room to recover. J goes with the babies to the NICU, and takes lots and lots of pictures … I’m so grateful that he did that, because it helped me piece the whole morning together. He returns and we make a list of names – we’d pretty much decided on the first names, but chose the names of our two oldest siblings as the babies middle names.

Soon it’s time to transfer me to my postpartum room, and on the way, they pull my stretcher into the NICU. I am a mess, all tears and worries. I see my gorgeous son, so bruised and traumatized. He has a huge ventilator coming out of his mouth, his head askew to one side under the weight of it. The number of tubes and wires overwhelms me, although I realize later that there aren’t that many. My girl is pert and pink in her isolette, also with a requisite number of tubes and wires, but no ventilator.


The children, my children, are fine. As far as premature babies go, they are quite healthy. And I realize this as I look at many of the other NICU babies. All of their medical problems can pretty much be attributed to their 9-week prematurity. Over the course of their five weeks in the NICU, they spent almost two weeks under the biliruben lights to treat jaundice. My Boy’s jaundice was much worse that hers, and required more time and more lights. It was so frustrating, as their faces were covered with masks, and we couldn’t remove them from the isolettes more than once a day, in order to ensure that they received enough light treatment.

He was on the ventilator for a few days, and then on supplemental oxygen for a few days more, but his breathing was quickly under control. Eventually, his purple arm faded and he was able to move it around, and there is no lasting damage as we can tell. They dealt with some gastrointestinal issues, apnea, bradycardia, temperature control and weight gain issues.

Those five weeks were alternately the longest, and the shortest, of my life. I spent every single day there, usually from 9 until mid afternoon, and back in the evening. For weeks, I couldn’t hold them more than once or twice a day, but I sat by their isolettes, just because I had to be there. I crocheted some hats, I read them stories, I sat and stared. And every two to three hours, I trudged down the hall to the lactation room to pump milk that would eventually be fed through nasogastro tubes, and later through doll-sized bottles.


My babies are home, and life goes on. I hope to catch up, retroactively, on this blog, and fill in some of the gaps and memories from the past eight weeks while recording the activities and thoughts that now make up our very different life. This has been my only journal of the struggle to conceive, of my interrupted pregnancy, and I hope to continue with the stories of the lives of My Boy and My Girl.