It's amazing what we stumble on while surfing the internet. Today I clicked on a link on CNN.com on the story of a Toledo woman who was implanted with the wrong embryos and some where along the way ended up on a website called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, which is an organization that provides free photography services to woman who have lost a baby.
I read a few of these incredibly touching and sad stories, and was overwhelmed with feelings. Sadness. Sympathy. Anger. Guilt.
But most of all, I kept thinking how lucky I was to have somehow ended up with not just one, but two healthy children.
And while I cursed so much of the process at the time, I can look back now and appreciate how many wonderful things aligned just right to make their life possible.
It was an unplanned pregnancy. I wasn't taking any vitamins or supplements or folic acid. But luckily I discovered I was pregnant very early on and was able to immediately be put under a doctor's care.
I had recently moved to Ohio and hadn't even found an OBGYN yet. I picked Dr. Miracle out of an insurance directory. I believe I owe my sons lives to this amazing doctor.
We discovered it was twins very early on (7 weeks). Dr. Miracle scheduled an ultrasound right away "just in case," even though most woman I know don't have their first ultrasound until 12 weeks.
Dr. Miracle just so happened to have completed a residency with a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist who specialized in multiple pregnancies. So the first thing she did was begin monitoring me for incompetent cervix, which she knew I was at higher risk for carrying multiples, by ordering a vaginal ultra sound every two weeks.
When the MFM in Toledo saw the initial "funneling" (first signs of an incompetent cervix) he was actually willing to wait another week to see if we needed to operate. Dr. Miracle was more aggressive. She called me at work that afternoon and I'll never forget her words: "He is the specialist. But I'm telling you, if it was my babies and my body, I'd be in the hospital having that cerclage done tonight." And I was. And I did.
From there, I did everything she told me to do. Everything. She told me to stay on bedrest for one week. Lay in bed all day. Only get up to go to the bathroom and for one short 5 minute shower a night. Have Superman time me.
After one week, I went in for my check up and there was more bad news. The cerclage was holding, but the funneling was worse, my cervix was opened all the way down to the sutures now. Instead of going back to work and continuing the rest of my pregnancy normally, I would be on bedrest (or what I like to call "bed arrest") for the remainder of my pregnancy. I was 20 weeks along.
Everyday before leaving for work, Superman would fix up a cooler of meals and snacks for me and put it on my bedside. I watched a lot of tv, surfed a lot of internet, did a lot of crossword puzzles, cross stitching, crocheting, reading...you name it. We were new to the area, so during four weeks of bed arrest I had six non-Superman visitors. My in-laws came once, my aunt and uncle from Indiana came once, one work colleague came, and one of my friends from home who was traveling through NW Ohio on a business trip. I was bored out of mind. But I stayed in that bed.
After three weeks of weekly check ups, the prognosis wasn't good. My cervix was dangerously thin and open. Dr. Miracle said it could no longer take the pressure of traveling 10 minutes for my weekly check ups. She was concerned the cerclage would rip (I could have hemorrhaged) and/or that the amniotic sac would break (pre-mature delivery). She wanted me in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. I was 23 weeks along
I was still allowed up to go to the bathroom, but my daily showers which had been changed to every other day showers were now changed again to weekly showers. I would be a button press and five feet away from emergency medical care. My room was the closest to the nurses' station on the maternity ward. I was ordered to spend my days lying in the trendelenburg position, with my feet up and head down. I was put on medication to hold off contractions, since they would have an averse affect on my cervix. I was given a steroid shot to help develop the boys lungs in the likely case they were born pre-mature.
Once a week, I was wheeled down to the ultrasound tech (not in a wheelchair mind you, in my bed). Every week my cervix measurements got smaller and smaller. Every week we held our breath, crossed our fingers, and said our prayers that my cervix could hold out just one more week.
As my cervix continued to shrink, my restrictions grew. Soon there were no more showers. Soon I was on a bedpan.
Right around 28 weeks, what the medical community deems "viability," I had a brief resurgence in my cervical measurements. We were elated. Until I got the letter from my insurance company saying it no longer considered my hospital stay to be necessary medical treatment. They argued that because my cervix was getting better, I didn't need to be in the hospital. Dr. Miracle told us not to worry. She explained to the bureaucrats that my cervix was getting better because the treatment WAS WORKING. Then, in language they understood she asked if they'd rather pay for an extended minimally invasive stay of the mother or for the extended intensive care stay of two incredibly premature babies. They decided my care, being considerably less expensive was the better investment.
Unfortunately, the resurgence didn't last long. And soon I was back to agonizing over premature delivery and what possible long term complications my sons would have if they beat the odds and survived.
At 30 weeks, Dr. Miracle told me if I made it to 35 weeks and the boys measured at least 5 lbs each, she'd plan the cesarean. (Any thoughts I'd had about trying a vaginal delivery were by this point long gone out the window. I'd have been much too weak.)
The nurses made me a tear off countdown clock. We started a "birthdate" pool.
My cervix was shrinking. I was put on an IV for dehydration. I was depressed. I was lonely (my only regular vistor was Superman, but even he worked, so my time with him was limited to 6 pm -10 pm during the week). I was pale. I was weak. I slept a lot.
At 33 weeks, the boys were both measuring almost 5 lbs by ultrasound, so Dr. Miracle, Superman, and I set a delivery date: June 11. We called our parents and friends.
(Sidenote: My sister wanted me to change the date to June 13, so they'd share her birthday. I told her she was crazy after 16 weeks of bedrest to ask me to wait even one more day. In hindsight, though I haven't told her, I wish I'd waited. But at the time I was not mentally or emotionally prepared to do that.)
All of the days in the birthdate pool passed....33 weeks and 5 days, 34 weeks and 1 day, 34 weeks and 3 days... my stubborn little cervix literally beat every single date that anyone had guessed. Including Superman's. Including mine.
My parents came.
Superman's parents came.
June 11th came.
And at 11 am, I was wheeled into the Operating Room.
At 11:36 am, Thing 1 was born weighing 5lbs 13 oz and 18.5 inches long. Scoring a perfect 10 on the Apgar scale.
At 11:38 am, Thing 2 was born weighting 5 lbs 7 oz and 18.25 inches long. Scoring a 10 on the Apgar scale.
Six weeks later, during my final post-delivery check up with Dr. Miracle, she admitted that even she didn't think I'd make it to 35 weeks. She thought when I was admitted to the hospital, I'd be lucky to make it another 2 or 3 weeks tops.
I don't know why fate smiled down on me and my boys, but I'm really really grateful.