On Tuesday, November 20, we went in for the weekly non-stress test and doctor appointment. I was 36 weeks pregnant. The previous Friday/Saturday, I had developed what I was pretty sure was PUPPS, and it had spread and worsened rapidly. The monitoring went well, but my blood pressure was still elevated. And when the doctor saw the rash and how bad it was, she was like, “Ohhh.” She said that she had scheduled the c-section for Friday so we could wait til after Thanksgiving, but now she didn’t want to wait that long. She went away for a few minutes and came back: “Okay, tomorrow at noon.”
Andy and I looked at each other wide-eyed. Holy shit. Go time.
She went over the risks and consent form with us, and then we left, reeling from the knowledge that the babies would be out in less than 24 hours.
We went out to dinner, to a popular pizza place on Hawthorne, as our ‘last night out’ as just us. We came home and did some last minute arranging and setting up of baby things, now that we were on such a tight deadline. I had been working on a blanket for them, and I’d wanted to do more on it, but I wanted to have it done when they arrived. So I spent some time weaving in a bunch of ends, while watching tv.
I continued to be somewhat in panicked denial about babies arriving so soon already. We called our families and told them the news. They were all very surprised, obviously.
In the morning, I finished getting my things together, and we left for the hospital. I took one last photo of my belly and of the two of us as just us.
We drove to the hospital. Andy dropped me off at the front door so he could go park the car. I (very slowly) walked the longest hallway of all time to the bank of elevators and went to the second floor.
(at the far end looking back. seriously it probably took me three minutes to walk this.)
Andy caught up to me on Floor 2 and we were greeted with another long hallway to the entrance to L&D. Turned the corner and saw yet another hallway! A nurse saw us and steered us to our room close by.
In the room they hooked me up to an IV and some monitors. We hung out for awhile and they got me all ready and soon enough it was time to go. I opted for a wheelchair to the OR, then they loaded me onto the table. Getting the shot before the spinal hurt like a bitch! I was draped and prepped. A few minutes went by and my doctor and everyone else assembled, and they got started. Andy was seated at my left shoulder.
The front drape was up high, so neither of us could see anything. They didn’t narrate the procedure, but I did hear the doctor ask several times, with maybe a measured, tiny note of uh-oh, for a clamp. Apparently a placenta came out first, instead of one of the babies, and a lot of blood with it. (This could have been really dangerous had we been attempting a vaginal birth.) I felt a lot of tugging and rustling around my insides. I don’t think–or at least I don’t remember if–they announced when each baby was out. They were a mere minute apart. I think I heard some crying, and Andy says they both cried when they came out. I looked in their direction and said, “It’s a baby!” He took a picture or two, and then one of the nurses took the camera and snapped a bunch of photos. Someone handed Baby B to Andy, and he showed him to me. I couldn’t believe it. That they were real and that they were really here.
Baby A was still on the warming table being watched, because he wasn’t breathing exactly right. Both of their Apgars were great though–B was 9,9 and A was 8,9.
When A was a little more ready, Andy and B went over to see him. The drape was in the way of my view, so I couldn’t see anything. When he was gone, I let the tears come.
I think it was five or ten minutes before I saw Baby A. They put both of them at my shoulders and covered us with a heated blanket. Baby A looked me directly in the eyes. Again, I was in complete disbelief.
The doctors stitched me up. Parts of it felt like someone was roughly rummaging through my insides like a junk drawer. Very strange.
Soon enough we were all done and were wheeled back to the L&D room for two hours. The babies were placed on me and a baby nurse immediately started buzzing around me, (wo)manhandling me, my boobs, and the babies, trying to get them to latch. It wasn’t working and she was clearly frazzled. She actually called in a second nurse because she couldn’t handle twins. Meanwhile, I was just sitting there, itching all over my face. [Apparently that’s a normal reaction to some of the surgery stuff, which made me unhappy to hear, since I’d been scratching up a storm for days already. Thankfully the face itching didn’t last too long. (Unlike the PUPPS, which continued for days.)] This part really annoyed me. I wanted to be left alone and I didn’t want to be prodded at.
A bit later they took the babies off of me and they hung out on a warming table in the room. The baby nurses stayed in the room, along with another nurse. For a few minutes everyone stepped out and we were able to chat about names and confirm which baby would have which name. But it was almost two hours until we were actually left alone for good.
After it had been the set amount of time, they wheeled me to the maternity ward room. I don’t remember how Andy or the babies got there, but finally we were alone. Just the four of us, a new family.
I kept saying to myself that day, “Holy shitballs, we have babies.” I could not get the idea to sound real and attached to us. (Heck, it’s been four weeks and I still can’t!) I thought the babies were really cute though, and right away I loved holding them. We had worried that our babies wouldn’t be cute but we might not know, being biased, and that no one would be honest with us about their cuteness or lack thereof. But when we finally saw them, we were pretty well convinced of their objective cuteness, and we got confirmation from lots of the nurses too. 🙂 And you know, if for some reason they’re not objectively cute after all, who cares, I think they are. 🙂
I think I was pretty out of it for the rest of the evening; I dropped in and out of sleep. Andy emailed family with the news and the names. Later we made some phone calls, and I probably sounded drunk with fatigue and painkillers.
The nurses had me attempt to get out of bed that evening. They were super impressed because not only did I get up, but I was able to stand up straight. It actually wasn’t that painful. Later though, the pain started. Lying still wasn’t a problem, but getting in and out of bed was really difficult and painful.
They took my blood the morning after delivery, and my platelets were at 70,000. The low end of normal is 140,000. No wonder I was so out of it! (My platelets had been around 100,000 for the last few weeks, which was another thing the doctor was watching and one of the contributing factors to the early delivery.)
PUPPS is one of those pregnancy afflictions where the only cure is to have the baby. However, because my body is just so awesome like that, my case actually kept spreading and getting worse for a few days after the babies came out. Everyone who came in said mine was the worst they’d ever seen and they clucked over my poor itchy self. At one point my doctor went to find out if there was such a thing as an on-call dermatologist. (There isn’t.) She prescribed steroids early in my stay and then had to double the dosage!
For the next couple days, I was in and out of sleep and stupor. Half the time I felt like I was awake and asleep at the same time. I literally couldn’t tell. It was pretty disturbing and no one could really tell me why, other than pain drugs and sleep deprivation. I would get exhausted and barely be able to keep my eyes open when people were talking to me.
Andy did a lot of the work, since I was either asleep, out of it, or couldn’t get out of bed. He was a rock star and wasn’t getting much rest. I sent him home on Friday afternoon so he could take a nap in our silent house. (My mom had arrived at the hospital to keep me company, so I wasn’t alone.)
As I probably said elsewhere, the nurses were amazing. Several of them did feedings with/for us overnight, which helped us feel a little less overwhelmed and tired. Some of them spent an hour or more with us in our room during the day. They were so helpful and kind.
We were in the hospital for four nights, which is one more than standard for a c-section. I was really glad to get the extra day, because I so did not feel ready to go home after only three. Partly because I was so tired and in pain, but also partly because I was still having trouble accepting the fact that we now were parents and had two babies. Unreal. I also felt like we needed a lot more information, which never really came. (Someone really needs to write a baby instruction manual!)
Finally it was time to go. I took my third shower of my stay and put on actual clothes as we tidied up all of our stuff. (I had brought a suitcase and used just about none of the stuff in it.) It was important to me to get a photo of all of us before we left–not just a going home photo, but the first photo of our newly expanded family.
I don’t have any wise or thoughtful words about the birth experience. It was an extremely surreal yet emotional day–I still can’t quite grasp that it happened, as weird as that sounds. It’s kind of miraculous when babies arrive, isn’t it?