Motherhood….again

Differences and blessings

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written and honestly I have so many things I could share with you all.

First of all, those of you that were praying for us and checking on us during hurricane Harvey… Thank you. I was pretty overwhelmed and stressed during that time as Madison could have made an earlier entrance to the world. But she didn’t. In fact, she was cozy until we got her out on our revised birthday August 31st! She was 7lbs 14oz –  not even close to the 9lbs I thought she was going to be! Haha! We were all surprised, including the doctor.

Secondly, still pray for us. It’s been a world of transition for everyone. The boys love their “issy” but they are just going through some tough toddler stuff right now. With the combination of a newborn and that, Nick and I are wiped out!

Now to the point of this post. I keep thinking about how motherhood is SO DIFFERENT this time around. I don’t mean a comparison between the two but I literally mean it’s a completely different experience. And I know, some of you are thinking (especially the ones with children), “Yep, every kid is different.” Well, while I’m sure that is so true. HOWEVER, this is the FIRST time I’m experiencing motherhood how it “should be.” Or, at least, what I envisioned it would have been with my boys the first time around. Madison was in my arms as fast as possible, she never left our sides the entire time we were in the hospital (except when she had to get help pooping), and she came home with us the moment I was discharged. Those 3 things alone made my experience in the first three days of her life magical for me. In the hospital, Nick looked at me and said “Rachel, why are you smiling?” I was looking at our beautiful baby girl and was just smiling but I didn’t realize it. That’s when I knew things were different. Really different. I was different. If you remember, I never had that with my boys and I carried that resentment with me the past (almost) 2 years.

Side note: I didn’t realize that I had carried it that long until Madison was here and all of a sudden I felt…. FREE. Happy. Joyful. Completely and totally in love. Not just with her, but with my calling to be a mother to her, my boys and our two other children in waiting. She made that happen for me and I am awestruck by her.

Frankly, before her birth, I was so scared to be back at Hermann after what I had been through with the twins. And even though she was full term and most likely, not going to be in the NICU – I’ve learned, you just never know. It was until she was in my arms almost 24:7 in that hospital that I believed she would stay with me. No one would take her from me and we would get to go home with her. That, my friends, is some kind of feeling I can’t even describe.

Madison is 2 weeks old and she’s still with me. We are connected so tightly I’m not sure I ever want her out of my sight anytime soon. That’s just the honest truth.

When the boys were 2 weeks old, we were preparing to MOST LIKELY take them home the next day (if everything went to plan and they past their tests). When I say I was traumatized by my delivery and NICU experience, I was. The nurses were absolutely wonderful but it didn’t take away the pain. I was depressed, angry, frustrated, sad, and every emotion in between. I refused to get back on medication until I was about 6 weeks postpartum. I rarely slept in my bed when the boys were in the NICU. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I didn’t understand how I could be so angry when I was given the blessing of two thriving beautiful children despite their early delivery. Honestly, I can’t even begin to go into the depths of that anger. Some of it is very private and has nothing to do with my twin pregnancy but it affected my twin pregnancy. Hope that makes sense. And honestly that’s the beast of postpartum depression/anxiety, you just don’t know why some things are happening and why you are feeling the way you are feeling. It’s horrible. But can be managed with help. So if it’s happening to you, please get help. You’re worth it.

Fast forward to Madison, I made a huge effort to get CONSISTENT HELP by staying in therapy. In the last month of the pregnancy I resumed medication (Zoloft this time around) as I felt the “torture” of the end of pregnancy was screwing with me big time. And wow. It helped take the edge off during those last few weeks – not enough to make me smile all the time – but enough so I could sleep and cope. But the effects after pregnancy is where I’m really seeing the benefit. And I’m a better mother because of it.

I’ve been feeling great. Yes, I’ve had my moments because of being tired and my body healing from the surgery. But overall, I feel better. Now, I haven’t had a huge amount of time alone with all three kids yet, but when I have and even those things weren’t too bad. I definitely have to roll with things a bit more when I’m alone  with them while she’s so little and needing more of my attention but that’s okay. I’ve had to roll with a lot since having the twins in the first place so we continue on living the chaotic life. 😂

So sweet baby Madison, thank you for being here. You are such a blessing to our family.

Love,

Rachel

Dear Madison

Happy Birthday – August 31st

To my dearest daughter:

Well, the day is finally here! I don’t think I will believe it until I actually get to see your face but it’s here. We just got the call at 8pm yesterday that we were going to meet you on Thursday. I instantly got excited and nervous and then wished I hadn’t walked so much to try to get you out on my terms. Haha!

I guess we are going to be two peas in a pod. Your stubbornness is something I am not looking forward to dealing with during your toddler and teenage years (maybe even your next few days) but it’s something that will push you to the greatest heights. Whatever you dream over your lifetime, I am confident you will achieve because of these personality traits you have.

How do I know this already? Because it is your stubbornness that has kept you safely in my womb throughout our “interesting” pregnancy journey.

I have to admit. I am so happy I will have my right ribs back and my heartburn will subside. I cannot wait to see who you look like!

Daddy is hoping for a red-haired, light eyed, darker skin beauty! We will see! But either way, I know you are chunky! 🙂

I’m guessing you’ll be almost 9lbs!

Can’t wait to show you off to the world!

 

Until then Happy Birthday,

Mommy

Grace

What I know now….

It was a little over 5 years ago I entered into the classroom for the first time. It’s crazy to think it was that long ago, yet, it seems like yesterday. Nick and I had just moved to Sugar Land, I was coaching a 10U select team with a seasoned and wise softball coach, and I had decided I would also help with the high school softball team when it came time.

At this point, Nick and I had barely been married a year; he transferred to a new city he had never lived in before and honestly he didn’t like it. I had already dealt with 3 deaths of people close in my life in the first 6 months of our marriage. We had bought our first house so we were also navigating new home ownership for the first time in the midst of all these changes. It was fun and hard. I was working over 70 hours a week trying to be the best teacher I could be and gone for the weekends with a traveling select softball team. Needless to say, I was busy. Nick decided to look for a new job 6 weeks after his transfer down with Chase Bank. Nothing really seemed ideal at this point. Our marriage was strained but at least we had each other.

Then, in the midst of it all, the following January,  Nick and I made the decision to take in his mother who needed our help. She was in really poor health, at the time, and we knew it was the right thing to do – no matter the timing. She has Parkinson’s and, at the time, she had this diagnosis for 10+ years but the condition of her health 5 years ago made it apparent that we needed to help, get her to see the best doctors we could in Houston and try to keep her alive. It was a really scary situation for everyone and not a very easy transition. Overall, we made it work and now she is in much better overall health. For the last year or so, she has lived on her own outside of Dallas. We couldn’t be more happy about her progress.

But this isn’t what my blog is about, really.

During all of this, at my job at a Christian school, I kept hearing this word: GRACE. I heard it a lot. I heard it a lot in terms of my teaching. You see, I am a tough teacher (or I was). But what I had a hard time understanding back then was how to get the kids to be motivated. What I really mean…. is I didn’t know how any student couldn’t love school as much as I did. BIG WAKE UP CALL.

My first year was R-O-U-G-H. I learned I’m the 10% of students that actually did what the teacher said as far as homework, studying, reading, etc. Now, I wasn’t the brightest student but I worked my ass off in school. I had a hard time motivating those students who weren’t like me as a student. I was young and so that presented another issue of authority – I was rigid and unwavering. The principal at the time was hard on me – really hard on me. I think he knew I was good but also knew I had a LOT to learn. So GRACE kept popping up in our conversations. I think by the end of that year I would have vomited if I had heard that word one. more. time. GRACE.

A few days ago I was driving the boys home from “Donut Friday” and I thought about all this. I laughed because ironically our daughter’s middle name is GRACE and I laughed at how fitting it feels to us to name her that. Because guys, 3 kids under 3! We will need the GRACE we can get. I realized in the car how I really didn’t understand the word, GRACE, at all until I had the boys. I was virtually screamed at until blue in the face my first couple of years of teaching about giving GRACE and it fell on deaf ears, again and again and again. To me, it was an excuse. A scapegoat. Instead of holding students accountable for their actions…. we needed to give them GRACE. I’m not going to lie, there were times where actions and consequences didn’t match up in certain situations and I vehemently disagreed with some decisions regarding GRACE being given but nonetheless I still didn’t fully “get it”.

I don’t know why it took until having my own children but somehow something clicked. I realized in that moment in the car that the reason I couldn’t understand GRACE back then is because I was trying to protect myself from feeling vulnerable. Seriously. I mean if you look at the snip-it of our lives the first year and a half of our marriage, it was insane. Nick and I went through a TON and honestly, we felt alone as a couple. Not many people our age were dealing with as many elements of life at once and so it was hard to relate to anyone. So, I really don’t blame myself for guarding myself like that but it was a HUGE factor in how my life has shaken out in the last few years.

Then, we had the boys and we are 8 days away from having this little girl and it clicks. I haven’t taught a full year of school in 2 school years (though I have started the last 2) and I finally get it. I get WHY I had a hard time giving GRACE when I walked through those doors over 5 years ago. LIGHT BULB MOMENT. 

I couldn’t give GRACE to them because I couldn’t give it to myself. 

Wow. What a heart stopping moment at 38 weeks pregnant with your 3rd child and your beautiful boys behind you. If you know me, you probably aren’t surprised. I am my biggest critic – TO A FAULT.

But how could I have given something to someone else that I didn’t experience to myself for myself? I couldn’t. There was no way.

How did having kids do change this for me? They show me it every day. Every day they give me GRACE. Every. Single. Day. Every day I feel it. I see it. I live it. I’m not perfect and pregnant me is FAR from perfect. But my boys (including my husband) love me through it anyway. They show me every day through their actions, their kisses and hugs at bedtime, when they help clean up their toys and even when they just want to snuggle.

They forgive me daily from my faults. They show me GRACE. And I will forever be grateful for that gift. Because when I step back into that classroom one day, I won’t be the same. I will still be tough but I can give something else (and probably more) to them that I have finally experienced from being a mother.

 

It’s the toughest job I’ll always love.

 

Rachel

A letter to my boys

Before your sister arrives….

Dear Andrew and David:

I have been thinking about this letter for a while now. I get choked up even thinking about it. I’m not really sure what to even say, exactly, but THANK YOU.

**Thank you for sticking in my womb when I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen. It was beyond scary and exciting to know you both were in there.

**Thank you for growing in my womb amazingly the entire 34 weeks we spent intimately together. We didn’t have one major complication besides an early birth.

**Thank you for trusting me (and your daddy) to take care of you in the most scariest days of our life after you were born.

**Thank you for forgiving me when I was suffering from postpartum depression/anxiety and didn’t know if I could do this. Sometimes I still don’t.

**Thank you for teaching me how to overcome some of the hardest and darkest days of my life. I am stronger now because of you.

**Thank you for smiling at me even when I don’t feel like I deserved it.

**Thank you for loving me after I painfully have to discipline you.

**Thank you for your strength and relentless spirits because I know one day those will drive you to reach whatever dreams you have in your life.

**Thank you for being my first babies, my hearts. I will always treasure this time we’ve had together before your sister.

**Thank you for being born together. Watching you together is something magical. A privilege. You will make amazing older brothers.

Thank you for it all. The good, bad, and ugly that has come because of our new adventure as a family. I want you to know that no matter what happens in the next few weeks, you are my boys, my hearts, and the loves of my life. I have learned so much from you in the past 3 years that I ever could have imagined (and we are only beginning).

Just please continue to be patient with me (and your daddy). We have absolutely no idea what we are doing but we know we love you.

 

With all of my heart,

Mommy

The Fear Inside

Although I already have two children, the fear of what life will be like with the next one is very real. When I think about it, it seems silly. I mean, we did start this whole parenthood thing off with a bang by having twins but THEY ARE MY FIRST BORN. Nothing changes that feeling with your first born child(ren). Just like any mother of one child (I’m speculating here because quite honestly, it’s very hard for me to relate to singleton mothers), I do have fears of my own of how we will handle this situation or that situation with a new human in the house.

Many people have told us going from 2 to 3 children is not that bad because we had twins first and in the same breath we have had many others tell us going from 2 to 3 children is the hardest transition. You’re OFFICIALLY OUTNUMBERED – 3 kids and 2 adults. Oh and more recently someone with triplets told us we are having triplets the “hard way” because they (our soon-to-be 3 kids) are so close in age. GREAT!

LONG side note: The only reason I would say that last comment might be legit is because it came out of the mouth of a seasoned triplet mom (hers are 24 years old); however, most of the time, if you don’t ACTUALLY have twins, triplets and beyond, saying that or anything else you deem as helpful to another parent of multiples usually just makes you look ignorant. My favorite comment from when the boys were younger was “Oh, we sort of know what it’s like to have twins. Our kids are 18 months apart.”

NEWSFLASH and PSA: THAT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE SAME. So, if you have been saying that to parents of multiples, please stop. Most likely you’ve irritated the hell out of them and we proceeded to make fun of you at our club meetings over wine. Okay, so the last part MAY not be true but just STOP. Please.

Okay back on track now.

I honestly have no idea what life will be like adding a little one to this crazy bunch already. But I do know stretching myself that. much. more. scares the sh*t out of me. Will I be adequate enough to meet the boys needs and hers? Will the boys learn to adapt and eventually, welcome their sister? How much longer will I need to live in toddler hell over this? Mentally, I know things will work itself out. Emotionally, that’s hard for me to see and understand. The battle between the heart and the head is so tough right now.

Oddly enough, when I take a step back, I realize that I had the exact same fears (or pretty close) when I was pregnant with the twins. You just don’t really know what exactly will happen and that is scary (especially for someone with OCD tendencies, according to my therapist). However, even though I had these similar fears with the twins, these fears seem so much bigger. When the twins were in utero, it was Nick, me and Dakota. So while I was obsessively reading up on how to transition your dog to new children in the house, this time it effects these little humans we love so dearly. I don’t want to rock their world but I know this little lady will and I think, while I know it will get better, that will hurt my heart in the beginning.

Meanwhile, while we wait for the little miss to make her presence, this week has been especially tough. Since my rendezvous at the hospital on Sunday, I haven’t been feeling very good AT ALL. I feel like an 18 wheeler ran over my body, several times. It’s like having the flu-like symptoms without the fever part. It sucks. I’m literally unable to move for a good chunk of the day. Luckily, the boys are in “summer school” 3 days a week from 9-1:30 and nap when they get home. Luckily my mom can take them and bring them home. Yesterday (Tuesday), my mom picked them up at 11 and they stayed at her house until Nick and I got there for dinner. {INSERT MOM GUILT} I really haven’t seen or interacted much with the boys this week because of their schedule and my total lack of energy. That sucks! My time with only them is dwindling and I feel like POOP. {INSERT THE TERRIBLE MOM COMPARISON} I am not like all these moms I see on social media working out and looking fabulous. I get more “you look tired” read “you look like sh*t then “you look great”. Or my favorite this time around had been “Do the doctors think she’ll come early?” Really?! REALLY! Read instead “you look huge”.

image

Honestly, people don’t hardly ever say the right things to pregnant women. And those people should really revisit the whole GOLDEN RULE thing. Seriously.

Back to the mom comparison, I know I shouldn’t compare but it’s just life. I truly wish I could do what some of these moms do like WORKOUT. #fitmomma or #pregnantfitness makes me want to barf these days. It’s only my jealousy and envy about my situation. (Don’t get your panties in a knot about it if it applies to you. I’m genuinely happy you can do what you do. I’m just spewing here.) I wish my body didn’t blow the hell up when I’m pregnant but that’s just not in the cards for me. I’m pregnant EVERYWHERE. It’s just how my body responds. I wish I didn’t have every (small but potentially scary) complication in the book this time. I wish I didn’t deal with pre-partum depression and anxiety but I do. I wish I wasn’t scared shitless of being a complete basket case (read: PPD) after this baby comes (again). And honestly, I wish I enjoyed pregnancy but I don’t. I wish things could be different but they aren’t. That’s not my journey.

Instead my journey seems rough but I know I’m not alone. I know women suffer like me but they suffer in silence. Maybe not about anxiety and depression but maybe so. All I can say to you, the you that understands this but scared to speak up, is to get help. Talk to your spouse or significant other. Talk to your family. And seek out a professional.

I’ve made deliberate steps during this pregnancy to take care of my mental health. It’s not perfect, not even close. Just today, I asked my doctor to be placed back on medication. I haven’t been on anything since we started fertility treatments with this pregnancy and these past weeks have shown me I needed something else. This past week alone, something shifted in me, chemically, and I can’t shake it. I’m WORN OUT. Again, my body is changing rapidly and chemically it’s effecting me. And while I’m more on the anxiety side then the depressed side of things, it’s depressing to literally not be able to move. It’s physically taxing for me to take care of my boys. It’s so terrible. I absolutely 100% hate it! But I know it’s temporary. I know the instant she is born, my body will feel such a sense of relief in some ways – it did the last time. Praise Jesus.

And while I feel all sorts of overwhelming emotions during this tail end of the pregnancy I feel secure that I have put tools in place to help me do this better this time around. Tools I didn’t make time for the first time around. And I should have. Because I needed them. I’ve spent the last 14 months working through junk I needed to while I was pregnant the first time. It’s exhausting but necessary. It’s amazing how my children have reprioritized my life. And even more amazing how much more confidence I have in bouncing back from a fall, whenever it happens. Because it will. Yes, good mental health is good for me but it’s even better for my husband and babies.

So, while I have no idea what the future brings for us, I’ll be okay. I’m as ready as I’m going to be so bring it on.

 

Kicking the fear inside one day at a time,

Rachel

The NICU

Part 2

***Side note: This one is a long one. It’s taken me awhile to write this post because of its vulnerable content. Reliving these moments are bittersweet. But it’s the bitter I hate to be reminded of. I’m reliving it because I need to for myself, for my daughter, for my boys and especially for my husband. I need to get this out because if we have to go through this again, I need to remind myself that we survived. That we are strong. And that we will be okay. We will all be okay.***

The next 12 hours after the boys were born were some of my worst (so I thought at the time). When you have a c-section, they insert a catheter to make sure your bladder empties appropriately. Well, mine wasn’t. All I kept asking for was this thing to be removed so I could see the boys. Now yes, I could have been wheeled down while the catheter was in but it was SO UNCOMFORTABLE! I wanted it out and I wanted to see the boys. And these nurses don’t waste any time teaching you how to pump for your milk. I got no sleep that night. I was up every 2-3 hours pumping away. Nick was checking on the babies. It was crazy. I literally felt like I was in a twilight zone just moving and doing but not really processing what was happening.

My block was wearing off by the early morning so it was getting pretty annoying. My night nurse was really less than helpful. It wasn’t until the morning shift of nurses that they discovered I didn’t have the proper locking on my leg so the catheter was pinched and therefore I couldn’t go. By the time the nurses had discovered this, I had already had 2 bags of IV fluids in me and had drunk a ton of water. My stomach was hurting so bad. I thought it was from my incision but nope – it was my bladder on the verge of bursting. Once they figured this out, I was fine! I could PEE! Praise the Lord!

**Side note: I loved my hospital minus the catheter experience. Who would like that anyway?**

I was so anxious to see the boys. Nick had been going to the NICU all night long, bringing me back pictures, but I needed to see them. I needed to know they were okay with my own eyes. Leaving my hospital room for the first time, headed to the NICU, was when I realized a little more how my birth experience was going to change me. I was surrounded by a bunch of new moms who had their babies in their rooms. I could hear them. The babies. Crying. Being with their mothers and fathers. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, I guess. It’s not like they have a wing dedicated to freshly cut open NICU parents who have no idea what’s going on or what will happen. I envied them and I didn’t know it. I actually hated them if I’m going to be honest. Why did they get to have that experience and I had mine? How was that fair? I may still hate them.

Although the boys were breathing on their own, they were temporarily placed in a level 3 NICU pod. This meant that they were with much sicker babies then they were. Talk about a humbling experience. And slightly scary. Have you ever seen a baby with spina bifida? We did. At the time, that mom looked so strong to me. And I’m sure she was. You have to be in the NICU – there’s not really another choice. But her strength came from a long time of being there. It’s not exactly a strength I wanted if that was the price I paid for it.

 

I was terrified. We were terrified.  We just had two babies that now needed hospital care for, God knows, how long and now we had to make decisions for them, medical decisions for them. The boys were born late Friday evening and the hospital had them on a feeding tube essentially giving them nutrients until my milk came in. By Sunday or Monday (this is a tad hazy) I could tell the boys were HUNGRY. Their calm demeanor shifted and I could tell. I wanted my babies fed and it didn’t matter to me HOW. It never really did matter to me but I was going with the flow (haha no pun intended) and trusting the nurses and doctors knew what they were talking about. There was one thing I knew for sure by Sunday (or Monday) – they were hungry and they had to gain weight to leave the NICU and waiting for my milk to come in wasn’t going to help.

image

Something inside of me shifted when the boys became hungry. I could tell something was different with them and with me. That MOM instinct was kicking in. We waited for the doctor team to come to the NICU. Umm wow. Another crazy experience. Here a lead doctor comes in and assesses each baby MEDICALLY. I capitalize this because it was so STERILE and NOT PERSONAL. They don’t come alone either – like 10 other people, doctors in training, join in. It’s a big teaching hospital in the Med Center so I understand but it was nuts. I don’t blame them for their sterility (is that what I mean to say here?) but as a first time parent, fresh into the NICU, it was overwhelming, to say the least. Now, my hospital is great – BREAST IS BEST – BLAH BLAH BLAH. I get it. And it’s great and all. I was pumping and giving them what I could when I could but there’s not time for that shit in the NICU. No time when my babies were hungry. No time to wait. And definitely not a time to be prideful. Every calorie counted. Every ounce of energy the boys wasted on being hungry and upset burned calories. And if you burn calories without getting very many, you lose weight. Not good. **If you disagree with me, fine. I’m not about to get in a boob war with you about it.**

I was still overwhelmed about all that was going on but the NURSE in the pod helped me voice my opinion for the first time. She helped me voice my mothers instinct. What I would have done without that nurse, I do NOT know. Nor am I glad I never found out (I hope that makes sense. My emotions are hard to sift through here). I essentially had to DEMAND them to start feeding the boys formula (GASP!). My boys got put on a feeding regimen and they instantly changed. I still pumped and began producing some milk that I split between them throughout their stay there. But overall, FED IS BEST.

image

Nick and I spent as much time as possible with the boys between my medication times and my own check ups. We did kangaroo time as much as we could. The problem with skin-to-skin with a premie is that sometimes it can hurt more than help. In our case, the boys had a hard time regulating their body temperature so initially we couldn’t hold them for long periods of time. **We would go through cycles of this through our time in the NICU.**

image

It wasn’t long until the boys were moved to a level 2 NICU room that they shared. This was definitely a privilege for them to share a room. This was one of the reasons we were in the level 3 initially – waiting on a room. I couldn’t imagine spending my days split between rooms. It was hard enough going back and forth between mine and theirs. It was nice to see them together. **They never were actually together (side by side) until their first night home. That was weird for me since they had spent their entire lives to that point in the same location.**

image

When you’re in the NICU you learn about all the noises. Oh so many beeps and alarms that sometimes mean scary things and other times it means a lead was dislodged by the baby kicking. It’s absolutely incredible how closely these babies are monitored. And it’s absolutely terrifying hearing all the beeps and alarms (until you become numb to them).

image

Then the day came.

I was to be discharged. I don’t think I could have dreaded that day more than the funeral of someone I love dearly. But it came and I couldn’t imagine not being in the same hospital with them and commuting to the hospital daily. I didn’t want to “leave them” at night without being super close by. The nurses were wonderful – they let us stay as long as we possibly could in our room and luckily they didn’t need the room urgently. They knew the hardest thing we were about to do was about to happen. They were kind and thoughtful but we still had to do it. By the late afternoon, we made our last visit to the NICU as residents of the hospital. Even though we were going to return the next day (and however many days following) our hearts smashed in a million pieces when we left that hospital…. childless.

I have never been more sad in my life to leave the hospital without my babies. This was NOT how I pictured it. This is NOT what I wanted. THIS WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. I wasn’t supposed to spend the drive home from the hospital with my husband looking at empty car seats and listening to each other cry. Because we both cried, we both broke that day, we both didn’t know what would happen or how we would manage whatever was to come. We both went numb.

The following days were hard – REALLY DAMN HARD. I would sleep on our couch because I just couldn’t imagine coming to bed – a bed where I spent 34 weeks holding my stomach and feeling them move inside of me. It wasn’t right. I cried a lot in those days. My heart literally ached. I woke up early to pump and I would call the nurses around 6:30am every day (before the shift change) to speak with the night nurse. I would obsessively write down their vitals and weight and then asked whatever questions I needed to that morning. My mom usually came to take me to the hospital (I was on driving restrictions because of the surgery and medication) and I would sit in their room for 10 hours a day or longer. My sister would visit during her lunch hours and spend time learning how to be an aunt. She worked in the Med Center so it was nice to be with family when they could come. Nick would come towards the end of his work day and we would go home together. My heart would leap at the sight of them every morning and shatter every night as we walked to our car. Nick told me one time my demeanor just changed as we walked further away from the NICU and he was right. Every day I relived leaving them. Every day my heart broke. Every day it was mended again. It was a horrible cycle.

Overall, we were lucky – the boys only spent 15 days in the NICU and both came home on the same day. Compared to the other NICU residents, it was a short period of time. Talk to my heart and it shouldn’t have ever happened. We had a few ups and downs. That’s simply how the NICU is – a constant roller coaster. It’s a roller coaster I never want to be on again. It’s a ride I wish NO one would have to take.

But we are stronger for it. In hindsight, I was able to heal much better from the c-section before the boys came home. And when they came home, I needed to be the best I could be since they were premies and TWINS! I learned, we learned, so much about caring for our babies. I knew quite a bit but it helped Nick be a more confident dad as he learned from the nurses. It helped us learn about being a parental team to our boys.

**The nurses. They turn scared parents into confident ones. They are vital to the growth and strength of the moms and dads that walk in and out of that place. They are the reason we can care for our children and continue to do so well after the NICU.**

image

Despite the hindsight, I would like for this experience to be my only one. I’m praying this girl stays in a few weeks longer.

 

But if she doesn’t, we will be okay.

 

We will all be okay.

Rachel

 

 

The Boys Birth Story

Part 1

Goodness, where has the summer gone? I feel like this pregnancy is FLYING by so fast and I barely have time to think. Between growing and dealing with all the complications of this pregnancy and trying to survive the twins, I haven’t had much down time. However, when I do reflect I realize all that I truly think about is the week the boys were born and the NICU. That week in my pregnancy is fast approaching and it floods me with good and painful memories.

To give you a little back story, my twin pregnancy was so HARD on my body – I can’t even describe the aches and pains that I went through. But honestly, it was really uncomplicated until the end when the boys decided it was time to meet us. I will never forget that week.

image

It was a Monday and I was just over 33 weeks pregnant (see above picture). I taught my classes at Fort Bend Christian (Yes, I was still teaching full-time. Mostly, sitting down.) but I wasn’t feeling great. My swelling in my legs was so terrible and I was starting to get consistent headaches so my doctor had me come in for an unscheduled appointment. I was a little nervous but any extra appointments I had usually resulted in NOTHING. Do you know how frustrating that is? I mean, sure, I was happy nothing was wrong but then how do you fix whatever XYZ was going on. Oh wait, you can’t! Because it’s “JUST PREGNANCY.” I almost slapped a nurse one time when she told me it was “JUST PREGNANCY.” 😡

Anyway, my doctor wasn’t sure about sending me home so in an INSTANT I wasn’t allowed to work anymore and I was sent to the hospital to be monitored. I was there from Monday evening to late Wednesday. The babies were fine but they did give me steroid shots in case they decided to come early. Talk about stressful and scary. My blood pressure was on a roller coaster so I was sent home with instructions to not get worked up, relax as much as possible and check my blood pressure 4X a day. My labs were also clear of signs of being preeclamptic so there wasn’t a HUGE worry for the doctors. But I was having twins and the likelihood of delivering early was high.

It was terrible for me. If you know me, you know that being YANKED out of my routine did not sit well with me. Inside I was FREAKING OUT. I was freaking out about how I left work, what the new sub would be like, and how I was going to cope with semi-bed rest at home. It was not fun.

To make matters worse, on Thursday night, Nick and I woke up to our dog bleeding from her butt. I don’t know how else to say that. It looked like a CSI crime scene in our house. I was so emotional and huge and tired that I just cried and cried. I thought she was dying. Well, that didn’t help my blood pressure. My sister and her boyfriend had to come and calm me down (they live in the Heights) while Nick rushed her to the pet emergency. It was awful! She ended up being fine but the stress from the last few days took a toll on her too! Poor thing.

Needless to say, Nick and I were happy the weekend was upon us and we could just do nothing but rest. Nick got home from work and I was doing my usual peeing for the millionth time that day and complaining about my heartburn. He came in the bathroom and said “Man, I really would like some scotch and do nothing.” I said “That’s great. I think something just came out of me. I think we need to go back to the hospital.” Nick’s reaction to this was COLORFUL. He was so tired and I didn’t blame him – I was tired too! Now this was my first pregnancy so I had NO IDEA what was what. Or what should be coming out or not. LOL! Turns out my mucus plug had come out. I called the nurse and my friend Jane and they both said it could be a few days before anything but I definitely was waiting for labor. GREAT! Well, shortly after that, and I MEAN SHORTLY, my water broke.

Seriously!?! That week we could have made a ton of money on reality TV – you can’t make this up. 

We got ready to go to the hospital and made arrangements for some friends to get our dog. We had no idea what to expect. We were first time parents and we definitely didn’t think we would be having babies THAT DAY! We were so wrong.

image

(The picture above is what I took that morning we had the twins). We got to the Labor and Delivery in the hospital and I checked in. I mean I couldn’t even sit down! It was like a typhoon water party in my pants. I was freaking out inside and I felt like we were waiting FOREVER to get taken back in to triage. I mean, I was 34 weeks pregnant – TO THE DAY – and had just been in the hospital earlier that week. It’s a twin pregnancy, pre-term, and my water just broke. I was a first time mom and for all I knew the babies weren’t in their water and suffocating inside of me. Y’all, I was FREAKING OUT! You would think there would be a sense of urgency but whatever. I’m sure the reality was that time was moving so slow for Nick and I because we were scared and had no idea what was actually happening or if the babies were okay.

Once we got back there they tested me for amniotic fluid and sure enough, we got a positive test. The doctor came in and said, “Well, looks like you’re going to be having some babies today.” Ummm excuse me. “TODAY?!” “TONIGHT?!” “LIKE IN THE NEXT 6 HOURS?!” Nick and I were shocked nonetheless. It was 6 weeks early. It was too soon. We weren’t ready. (PS No one is ever ready for a child. Much less twins. Ever.)

We didn’t have much of a choice. The boys were coming. Actually we were already a planned c-section so having a c-section wasn’t bothering me. I had eaten just a little bit before the hospital so we had to WAIT until closer to midnight to have the twins. Well, being that my husband is super intelligent and creative, he asked the doctor if we could have one born on October 2nd and the other born on October 3rd since it would be so close to midnight. Yep. I’m not lying. He totally asked. I actually thought it was funny but would have been so cool. The doctor wasn’t impressed. LOL!

So we waited. And waited. Watched some Criminal Minds or CSI, I can’t really remember.

I got up to pee (AGAIN). And then we waited. Continued Criminal Minds (or CSI) and we were getting really into it until…..

A nurse came in and checked the heart rates of the boys. Baby A’s (Andrew’s) heart had plummeted for too long. What was a calm at 9:30-9:45PM INSTANTLY turned into some of the scariest moments of my life. In a SECOND, I think about 10 people entered my room. One flipped me to my side and got the baby stable, someone through oxygen on my face, another started prepping me for surgery (I HAD NEVER BEEN MORE EXPOSED IN MY LIFE), the anesthesiologist started shoving antacids down my throat between me breathing and no one was really talking to us. I just stared at Nick (who was trying to keep his cool). He did a great job not freaking out in front of me but that moment was terrifying.

Because the boys were stable, they were able to get me to the OR and ready for the surgery. I remember walking into the room and looking at this SKINNY table they wanted me to lay on. I mean, PEOPLE, it looked like they were asking me to lay on a 2 by 4 piece of wood. I was HUGE! And if I did lay on it, I was sure I would have snapped it in half. Once they convinced me the table would hold, Nick was back with me and it felt like forever for the surgery to begin. I was having trouble breathing because of the numbing block they put in my back but I was trying not to freak out. I mean, they were cutting open my guts…. the last thing I needed to do was have a panic attack on the table. Plus, I was worried that if I couldn’t breathe they would knock me out and I wouldn’t hear the boys so I just “remained calm.”

By 10:31PM Andrew James was born (4lbs 6oz) screaming his little booty off. He was NOT happy. He was the reason for all this mess in the first place. By 10:33PM David Edward (5lbs 4oz) was born sleepy. David wasn’t ready to join us. In fact, the doctor had to reach her arm into my uterus to grab him because he wasn’t cooperating. The fact that he wasn’t really crying was scary but it didn’t last long. Both boys were fantastic. We had two teams from the NICU and the lead doctor tell us they were great. They were breathing well on their own but they were definitely headed to the NICU for monitoring. At the time, I didn’t know what that phrase would mean. In fact, I didn’t know how it would change me. But while I was there in the OR, a new parent, sliced open, I, at least, knew they would be safe. I got to see them for a split second to take a photo and that was it. To be honest, right after the procedure, I was having a hard time recovering (my entire body was shaking a lot) that I wouldn’t have been able to hold them right away. So it was a tiny blessing right after surgery. But I mean MICROSCOPIC tiny blessing. In reality, I wouldn’t be able to see my babies for over 12 hours but that’s for my next blog post.

image

If you think about it, my entire week was full of trauma. The last 12 hours alone before they were born was enough for one person for their lifetime. So much to process in such little time. My brain was spinning. They were 6 weeks early. I was so lucky to have two healthy babies. We were so lucky. But there are no words to describe the anguish and emotional pain I went through after finally being released to my postpartum room WITHOUT my babies.

What we didn’t realize is that over the next few days and weeks before they were home it would be some of the worst days of our lives and it’s something no one can prepare you for.

 

Rachel