When we found out that we were expecting twins, the word shock comes to mind. Nothing, however, could be more shocking than the way they entered the world.
After a most miserable pregnancy, I was completely on board at 38 weeks when my doctor suggested that we induce. The twins were large, as far as twins go, and running out of space. It was a busy Tuesday in labor and delivery but they managed to find us a room at 11:00 am. I was feeling a strange mixture of relief and anxiety. We started the pitocin and off we went. Because I was having twins we were delivering in the operating room. There is a much higher risk of complication with multiples. My babies were in the perfect position to be delivered vaginally I did opt for an epidural because if a complication did occur, I wanted to be awake for the birth of my sons.
My firstborn’s delivery was pretty uneventful. Except for the fact that my epidural was only numbing half of my belly. It was still better than the full on labor though so I only complained a little bit. I was having some trouble pushing hard enough to get him all the way out. The doctor explained that if I couldn’t get him out, he’d have to use forceps. I guess that was all it took. He was out in three more pushes. We all oohed and awed over how adorable he was with his full head of black hair and cute little smushface. My husband and I got to share that magical moment when you become a parent for the first time. The look on his face was priceless.
The doctor then reached in to break the water and check the position of the second twin. I have never experienced a faster and more dramatic change in a situation. My husband watched in horror as my water broke and the umbilical cord came out before the baby. This is a very rare birth accident called a prolapsed umbilical cord. It is extremely dangerous because the baby follows the cord and settles on top of it cutting off blood supply. My doctor looked up immediately and stated that we were going to need a c-section. The room sprang to life.There were already 7 people there between the doctors and nurses and anesthesiologists. Instantly that number at least doubled. They pulled my husband out of the room and proceeded to lift me from the delivery table to the operating table and prep me for surgery. All the while a nurse was under the drape with her hand inside literally trying to hold him off of the cord. Since the epidural had failed, I was placed under general anesthesia. There is something unsettling about being prepped for surgery while you’re still awake and not numb. At one point I even heard someone ask for a scalpel as my tummy was being draped and disinfected. My oldest son was passed by my face and the nurse told me to kiss him. Kissing him and looking up at the drape is the last thing I remember for two hours. When I awoke, it wasn’t the typical loopy anesthesia experience. I knew exactly where I was and became very frustrated because the nurse was unable to tell me anything about my babies. I didn’t know where they were, I didn’t know where my husband was. At that point, I really didn’t even have a good grip on what had happened. I just knew that an emergency situation had made a c-section necessary. My doctor finally walked over and explained what had happened while I listened in horror. My second son was born 18 minutes after his brother. When he was born, he showed no vital signs. He wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. It took the NICU team 1 and 1/2 minutes to get his heart beating and another 10 minutes to get his lungs functioning. Because he was without oxygen for so long we feared brain damage, heart damage, impaired bowel function, etc.. My doctor informed me that my husband was with him in the NICU and my oldest was with our family in my labor room.
My younger son was given a treatment called body cooling. Essentially he was kept hypothermic for three days to minimize the potential for brain and heart damage. Little by little over the last 8 days, he’s shown such amazing improvements. Once he was taken off the body cooling and warmed back up to normal body temperature introducing the world to him was the next order of business. He had to prove he could breathe on his own. Which he did, no problem. I was so happy when they extubated him. Watching a machine breathe for my baby was gut wrenching. Little by little the wires and tubes have been coming off and he seems to pass every test with flying colors. His MRI showed no brain swelling and no evidence of brain damage. His heart was a little bit stressed but is rebounding beautifully. In the last few days, he has learned to eat. First through a tube so they could measure his stomach contents. When one loses oxygen for so long, our bodies send all of the blood to the lungs, heart and brain. This leaves all of the other systems to fend for themselves. One of the worries was that trying to feed him would cause necrosis in the intestines, Then there would be further surgery. He did well on the feeding tube so they have allowed me to begin breast feeding him. He has done so well on breast milk that they are now preparing to remove the feeding tube and give him all of his nutrition by mouth. I just received a phone call from his doctor letting me know that he has been moved from an incubator to an open crib, finally. She even hinted that I should rest up because his days at the hospital are few.
It is amazing to me, more now than ever, what medical science can accomplish. My baby who would have had little to no chance a few years back, appears to be a normal, fully functional human being. I can’t wait to bring him home, reunite him with his brother and snuggle them both until it embarrasses them in front of their friends and they tell me to stop.