Twins- Their Birth Story

Thursday, February 26, 2015

So the last time I wrote about the twins we were 18 weeks into the pregnancy, halfway done and finding out the genders. So far everything was going well and I was only told to seriously take it easy (we definitely didn't want to be going into labor this early).
20 weeks
21 weeks
24 weeks
25 weeks
26 weeks
27 weeks, and already as big as I was with Jacob at full term
See? Here's a picture with Jacob full term.
 29 weeks
31 weeks, last picture I could take because I was put on bed rest. Standing up to get ready and take a picture was out of the question.

Each week I became more tired and less able to do anything, and we had to start taking Jacob to friends and family during the day because I could no longer bend down or pick him up to change his diaper, to get him into the high chair, stand long enough to prepare food for myself or him...Bed rest was looking more and more like an inevitability. I'm surprised my body lasted as long as it did. I think it was around 30 weeks that my cervix started thinning too fast and both babies had a lot more fluid than is normal, adding more weight and making it harder for my body. The doctors were visibly worried and  told me to go on "bed rest". I was told to only pick up Jacob when I absolutely had to, and couldn't walk for more than 5 minutes without sitting or laying down again for a long time.

Three monitors during my non stress test, one for each babies heart beat and the other to measure contractions.
The top line is their heart beats, the bottom is the contractions.

About four weeks later my non stress test on Thursday wasn't going well. I was having contractions and they were getting stronger and closer together. They put me on a low dose of nifedipine, and sent me home. Friday morning I didn't feel right at all, and was so worried that I called Robbie home to come take me to the hospital. They hooked me up and my contractions were again getting stronger and stronger, this time they couldn't make them stop. They rush me up to labor and delivery and put me on the heaviest muscle relaxant they have, I think it was magnesium, and by the time they finally got it in my IV my contractions were 2 minutes apart and making me cry. We were talking to NICU doctors and getting ultrasounds. At 34 weeks our babies had really good chances if they were born and we couldn't keep them in, 90% survival rates, but it was going to be brutal for me. If the contractions didn't stop they wanted to postpone them for at least 48 hours so that the steroids that would help their lungs develop a little faster could have a chance to work. Those shots sucked. The first one burned so bad, but the second one the next day was given to me by another nurse who rubbed and massaged the area after and it didn't burn! She said it was a trick every nurse should know. They should make that mandatory.

Muscle relaxant medicine doesn't just target your abdominal muscles, it targets all your muscles. I couldn't eat in case I had to get an emergency c-section (both babies were still breeched), and the medicine was making me so nauseous I couldn't if I tried. It made me have constant hot flashes and I felt like I was on fire. After a couple hours the contractions still hadn't stopped and they were still getting worse, so they checked my blood to see if they could up the dose without causing damage. My blood didn't have dangerously high levels yet, so they upped the dose. After a couple hours of that high dose the contractions finally started to subside, and I was starting to look like a zombie. Now that I've been fasting for more than 12 hours I was begging for food since it didn't look like we would be needing an emergency c-section. I tried some jello and juice, and tried to get some sleep (Ambien doesn't do squat for me by the way). I got maybe a few hours, and sometime around two in the morning I called Robbie because I was having a panic attack. They had to check my blood again, and after being pocked and prodded all day and scared to death I couldn't take one more thing without him (he had gone home to get some sleep, I figured one of us might as well)...and that's when things got bad. They should have checked my blood sooner because after she checked my blood my body started shutting down. I had too much of the muscle relaxant in my system and my body was losing control. Let me tell you it is no fun having fluids coming out of every opening you have. And then I passed out.

I woke up and Robbie was there. They had greatly reduced the dosage they were giving me and though I still looked like a zombie I was feeling a little better. By the end of the day I was only on nifedipine and able to eat jello and broth, but still didn't have any strength or control of my muscles. I couldn't get out of bed and support my weight let alone make it to the bathroom. By the end of the next day I was able to take a shower sitting down only because I had enough strength to get there.
I think this was after I had taken a shower, I look a little less zombie like.

By the end of the shower I was so exhausted I passed out again. Tuesday the contractions started again, and quickly. They lasted all day, and again I wasn't allowed to eat. At the end of the day they were stopping and food has hardly ever tasted so good. They kept me a couple more days to make sure I wasn't going into labor, and sent me home on full bed rest. I was to be laying down at all times and only able to get up to go to the bathroom, take a quick shower, and if I had to make myself food if no one was there to do it for me.

Those last few weeks really, really, really sucked. It was only two weeks but it felt like two months. I felt like a terrible mom because I couldn't take care of my son, and if I did I was endangering the two inside of me. No matter what I was doing I felt like I couldn't win. Jacob was so mad at me he wouldn't even look at me when Robbie brought him home. He was constantly gone and only came home to sleep. I'm so grateful for our family and friends who took him, and that he is such an easy going kid people were happy to take him and he wasn't too much of a bother. He didn't stop being mad at me until I could pick him up again at the end of December.

You would think that I would use that time to do some projects that desperately needed to get done, like things on the computer...but no. I got more and more depressed every day. I wanted nothing more than for them to get out of me, but at the exact same time I wanted nothing more than to keep them safe inside to give them the best chance possible. Quite the conundrum I know...

Taking nifedipine every four hours was like having a newborn, and sometimes it was just easier to take an hour to eat (sometimes it took me an hour and a half) and stay up another three till the next dose and then try and sleep.

On Saturday night, November 22nd, around 11 o'clock, I had been doing just that with Robbie and we were watching some TV show when all of a sudden I grabbed his arm, squeezed, and grimaced. For the past two weeks I'd been having contractions, but when you have 10 lbs of baby plus double the fluid, double the placenta, and any other extra weight that comes with twins, they call it "uterine irritability". It's kind of funny to think of your uterus being irritable, as if it was a person. Thursday and Friday I'd been having uterine irritability and I thought it might have been a little more than normal but nothing to make me concerned. But this was different.

Funny thing was we were about to go to bed because I was just about to take my dose of nifedipine, and after the third contraction that made me grimace and breathe heavily we decided it would be pointless to try to get some sleep now. We were both very disappointed. Looking back on it, it's hilarious that that was my first thought..."Darnit! I wanted to sleep"...An hour went by and they were consistent and not letting up. Just like when I went into labor with Jacob, I had really long painful contractions and not a lot of time to breathe and rest between them.

Thank goodness for our wonderful neighbors. I love them so much. And what are the odds that they have a 21 year old daughter who is now a really good friend? We really lucked out on this whole neighbor thing...The original plan had been to drop Jacob off at Robbie's brother's house, and turns out their kids were at the grandparents for the weekend and they had turned their phones off to get some amazing sleep. The next morning when we found that out we just laughed, and thought of this.  They didn't answer, so we went and knocked on our neighbors door. God bless them for answering at midnight and not being upset with us. My dear friend came and slept on our couch so we wouldn't have to move Jacob.

And off to the hospital we go! I'm freaking out. Starting to shake uncontrollably. I'd had the date of December 5th in my head which was my scheduled c-section, and it wasn't December 5th. They weren't supposed to be coming yet. I wasn't ready. If they were coming out naturally I would not have been freaking out as much. I've done the natural thing before and it was awesome, but I wasn't ready for my first major surgery. I wasn't ready to be cut open. I was very much all about the "I" up until I held them for the first time.

They checked me in at OB Triage and what do you know, I'm dilated to a 4 and these babies are coming this morning. By now I know all the nurses and it's almost like having a bunch of friends who see you naked and do things to you that most normal friends would never dream of doing. First they had to stop the contractions and stop me from shaking, it's not exactly comforting thinking of the doctor cutting into me when I can't stay still or all of a sudden my abdomen contracts and the scalpel goes wonky.

Turns out my doctor was out of town or unavailable or I was going to be cut open by a total stranger. If I wasn't freaking out before, I was definitely freaking out now. We love our pediatrician, and he had said he wanted to be there. Not only is he Jacob's doctor, he was mine and Robbie's almost our whole lives. We love him like family. Not to mention he's LDS. He helped deliver my sister, and since they weren't sure she was going to make it he helped my dad give her a name and a blessing before they took her to surgery. He told me he wanted to be there for me and the twins too, and what do you know they called him and he was busy with another sick person. I was glad for the sick person who had his help, but I was so sad...I was heartbroken. I had hoped that he would be there to help me, and now he wasn't. I don't like doctors, I definitely am afraid of them, and so to trust a doctor is a lot for me...and then to have the ONLY two doctors that I trust not be there? My heart was so sad, and so scared.

Sodium bicarbonate does not taste good. I had to drink it because I had eaten a couple hours before (if I had known that tonight was the night I wouldn't have eaten, but unfortunately I don't know the future), and the nurse said to take it like a shot. I looked at her funny and said "but I've never had a shot, I don't drink"...please keep in mind I'm still freaking out. By now I'm saying over and over "I'm okay, but I'm not okay. I'm not ready. I don't want to be cut open. I know I need to calm down. I'm calm. I'm not calm. I hate this. I don't want to do this" etc etc.

I didn't want to be cut open. I didn't want to be unable to pick up Jacob for another six weeks. I wanted to hold my babies right after they came out. I was mad. I was so mad and heartbroken that this birthing experience was not going to be the amazing experience I'd had with Jacob.

Robbie was a brick. I couldn't have done it without him. I would have given up. The thing I remember most is his smiling face telling me he loves me and it's all going to be alright.

You know how often times our spouses do NOT say the right things and they just keep trying to comfort you but they're only making it worse? This was one of those rare and miraculous occasions where he didn't say one thing that was "wrong". Everything he said made me feel like it was going to be okay.

And then our pediatrician walked in. It's after 1 o'clock in the morning and instead of going home to sleep he came out to help us deliver these babies. By some miracle he made it, and it really helped me calm down.

I finally stopped shaking and they wheeled me into an operating room in the ER. No wonder people don't like hospitals. It seriously looked like I'd been wheeled into a horror movie. Robbie couldn't come in yet, not till after they gave me the epidural. By now a whole new shock had set in. I wasn't exactly freaking out, but I was. I was really quiet and trying not to look at anything. I think the anesthesiologist was worried about me, or maybe it's normal for them to ask if you know who you are, where you are and what they're about to do to you. I was very matter of fact. "You're about to shove a giant needle into my spine so I don't feel anything below my chest so they can cut me open and take my twins out." I'm so glad he had a sense of humor. He kept talking to me, keeping my mind occupied on other things instead of what was actually happening.

Robbie and I both thought they'd forgotten him. Everyone was in place when he finally came in. I held his hand and looked into his eyes the entire time trying to find the strength to stay calm and accept what was happening. The doctor said "I just did a test by poking you with a sharp object, did you feel anything?". My first thought was "did you seriously just poke me with a sharp object without telling me you were going to poke me? What if I wasn't numb yet!" I didn't feel anything so they went to work. At 2:20 am Riley came out, and 2:22 am Chase came out. It was the weirdest feeling when they were pushing them out, the word that comes to mind to describe it is yuck, a yucky feeling. I heard them cry a little, and they barely showed them to me before they were whisked away. They put Chase on a breathing monitor for awhile, but other than that they were small but healthy. They were both 5 lbs 1 oz, and Riley was 18 inches and Chase was 19 inches? I might not be remembering their lengths right but I know he was one inch longer than she was.
Riley Dawn Van Patten
Chase Maxwell Van Patten

 By then I was exhausted. I was glad to see my parents and sister who came down at 3 in the morning (who does that!? People who love you). And boy was I glad to hold those babies. I couldn't sleep well because I had to be careful of those stitches. Your belly doesn't immediately go back to the way it was, so I couldn't see them for at least two weeks unless I was looking at a mirror and from underneath. I was so nervous that I would just pop open and all my guts would fall out (of course they wouldn't if you do what you're supposed to do, modern medicine is freaking amazing, but that doesn't stop your mind from thinking it). If you have the option to go all natural I would highly recommend it. I did not like being cut open, and I did not like the long recovery and having to tell my 16 month old that I couldn't hold him or pick him up. But I am grateful for the science, medicine, and knowledge that kept me and my babies alive.
 Bam! We're here!'s just been go go go from that moment on. I am always feeding somebody, or cooking something, or cleaning something, or playing with a baby, or trying to sleep or get someone to sleep. And it has been wonderful.

It wasn't as amazing as Jacob's was, but I'm grateful that I had it. I mean, if I had a choice between what happened and the alternative of another natural birth I would chose what happened because that's what was supposed to happen. It wasn't as amazing, but it got the job done. We welcomed two beautiful babies into this world, and when I was able to meet them a couple hours later it was just as incredible as if I got to meet them right away.

And now we have three little babies...all under the age of two.

What an adventure.