Welcome to my new blog, “This Wild Blue Yonder.” I have closed the door on our former blog, “We Have Room,” (at ronnieandheather.blogspot.com) after realizing that it was time to move on. Our old blog detailed a very tumultuous time in our lives and I would like to leave it online to chronicle that challenging season and for memory’s sake. I never want to forget that our former season of life helped us to arrive at our current season: as parents of twin baby boys. Reed and Rory were born on September 21 and September 22, 2013. The last update I had posted on our former blog was about a month before they were born. As you can imagine, a lot has happened since then. But I don’t feel like I can begin to post new updates about our current life without first telling my personal birth story. This is something another twin mama encouraged me to do after the boys were born. How I wish I would have done this months ago, but as you can imagine, life gets busy with twins. Throw in a PCS to Alaska at their 2-month mark and it basically went out the window. Now the boys are 9-months-old, sitting and crawling, exploring everything around them, and I don’t want to let any more time pass without marking their amazing milestones and sharing it with our family and friends.
The main reason my husband, Ronnie, and I started a blog was to keep family and friends updated about our journey through foster care, which we hoped would turn into adoption. Unfortunately it did not, but we did end up doing In-Vitro Fertilization… a last ditch effort fertility treatment after 5 1/2 years of Infertility. Thankfully our first round was successful and we were blessed with twin boys. Although elated to finally be pregnant, I had a challenging pregnancy, dealing with constant nausea and vomiting. I finally felt good for almost 2 months, then just got huge and terribly uncomfortable. I always told myself that I would never complain if I ever got pregnant because I would just be so happy to get that experience. But I think anyone who has ever had a challenging pregnancy can agree that it’s hard not to complain with everything that is happening to your body. My last blog update was at the 7-month mark of my pregnancy. Right before I reached the 8-month mark, on Thursday, Sept. 19, I went into the hospital for a routine non-stress test. Twice a week I would go in, they would strap monitors on my belly, and each baby’s heart-rate, as well as any contractions I was having (which came much more frequently the closer I got to my due-date). On this particular Thursday the Labor & Delivery ward was busting at the seams. Everybody was going into labor or getting induced because of high blood-pressure. There was a full-moon that night and a low-pressure system was on its way in to San Antonio, and apparently both of those things are said to cause women to go into labor. So I was there thinking, “Wow, I’m glad I’m not going into labor this weekend, there wouldn’t be any room for me!” Soon after comforting myself that I would be in-and-out after an hour so, I witnessed a triage-room verbal brawl.
The girl on the seat next to me (divided by only a curtain) was being very loud and I couldn’t help but hear her entire conversation with her mother, as could the rest of the women in the room, who all happened to be in there waiting to get induced for high blood pressure. The conversation became louder, with the girl saying that she didn’t want her husband’s family to see their baby after it was born until her husband got to see the baby, blah blah blah. Her dad found his way in there and started having an argument with his daughter, berating her for having to deliver that news to the in-laws or something. Their conversation got louder, an argument that really didn’t need to be an argument at all, but I had a feeling that communication was not this family’s strength. A nurse ended up intervening, asking the father to lower his voice, that she had high blood pressure and needed to stay calm for the baby, not to mention the other 5 women in the room who were also suffering from the same thing… He started talking back to the nurse, it became an all-out verbal assault with curse-words and yelling. She had to call for security to come and escort him out, but he ended up leaving on his own, yelling obscenities all the way down the hall. Meanwhile, I am trying to stay calm, secretly afraid that this guy was going to pull out a gun or do something irrational. I glance over at my monitor that is now beeping because my blood pressure began going through the roof. I tried to do some deep-breathing and calm myself down, by I began to get really light-headed and called the nurse over. She came in and I told her I wasn’t feeling well and that the argument had alarmed me. She was apologizing and trying to calm me down and I just started crying. For some reason, that episode really got to me and I just couldn’t calm down. My blood pressure was spiking and she stayed close-by, trying to keep me calm. Eventually they moved the girl out of the room because I think her ongoing discussion with her mother and her overall presence was making everyone uncomfortable. I continued to do my deep breathing and my high-risk doctor came into observe me. She was concerned that my blood pressure was spiking and told me she would like to keep me there for the next couple of hours to observe me. I regained my composure, called Ronnie and work, and told him that he needed to come to the hospital.
While Ronnie was definitely concerned for me, he was also excited that things might be progressing toward a possible induction. We were both SO ready for the pregnancy-portion to be over and for the boys to finally be here. He arrived at the hospital about an hour later with some Burger King for us to eat. In hindsight, I’m so thankful because that would be my last meal for the next 4 days. Yes. I said 4 days. We’ll get to that. Over the next few hours, my blood pressure continued to rise. What the numbers were, I couldn’t tell you now, which is why I probably should posted half-a-year ago, when all of this information was still retained in my memory. My doctor was concerned and wanted to admit me to the antipartum unit to observe me and have me to a 24-hour urine protein test, to see whether or not I had developed Pre-Eclampsia. Ronnie, of course, was a trooper, keeping me company and trying to make me laugh :).
I was admitted, hooked up to more monitors, drank a lot of water, was put on a liquid diet and did the 24-hour test. Aside from my high blood pressure, another concern was the pitting edema I had in my legs. My legs had retained so much water over the last month of my pregnancy, they had swollen to the point where they could hardly be squeezed into my pants and my feet could no longer fit into any shoes. I had one pair of flip-flops that were 2 sizes too-big so that I could actually squeeze my ballooning feet. Doctors continued to monitor me and finally came in Friday evening to deliver the news: I had very high levels of protein in my urine and had developed Severe Pre-Eclampsia. And I was going to be induced that night. Ronnie began to smile and I began to cry. He was excited because the day had finally come, and he knew how miserable the last month of pregnancy had been. I had such a mix of emotions ranging from fear to excitement to nervousness to anticipation to dread. I knew what was ahead of me and I knew it was going to be difficult and painful. I also knew that it could be dangerous. Pre-Eclampsia, if left unassisted, could lead to Eclampsia, which could be life-threatening for both mother and baby. The biggest threat, I was told, were seizures. So they immediately hooked me up to a Magnesium drip, which proved to be the most challenging part of the labor process. While on that medication you are unable to eat. Anything. Only small sips of water and chewing ice chips. Oh, and this medication also makes you very sick to your stomach. So I had that going for me as well.
They wheeled me from the Antipartum unit to the Labor & Delivery Unit. I had to wait a little while because, like I mentioned before, they were overflowing with women having babies. They were even moving them to the Postpartum unit as quickly as they could to free up more room for women in labor. As soon as I was in my room the process began. I had various doctors and nurses coming in to explain the process to me, but honestly it’s now kind of a big blur from that point forward. Here is what I do remember… the Magnesium was already making me sick. I had to keep numerous sick bags nearby because I was throwing up so often. The induction process was much more painful than I expected. For those who want details, read on. For those who don’t, skip ahead to the next paragraph. They had to insert that would eventually inflate to the size of a tennis ball on the inside of my (closed) cervix and one on the outside of my (still closed) cervix. It was so painful, I cried to Ronnie, “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can do this. It hurts so bad. I don’t think I can do this.” He just looked at me with sympathy and said, “You have to do this. You are the only one who can do this.” After a while the pain lessened. I got used to it and it slowly began to dilate my cervix. I honestly don’t remember the timeline of any of this. I remember that our dear friend, Melissa, came by to visit me on Friday evening and came back again on Saturday as well. She acted as my doula and I was so thankful to have her there as part of the process.
I didn’t get much sleep that night because the contractions were really kicking in. The pain got so great that I had no problem asking for an epidural. Unfortunately, they told me I had to be dilated to 4 cm before they would give one to me and I seemed to be stuck at 3. Finally I progressed to 4 cm and they brought in someone to administer the epidural. The hospital where I had the twins is a military teaching hospital, so I found out he was a resident in Anesthesia. I know that they have to learn somehow, but I was honestly nervous about being used as a practice round with a high-risk pregnancy. After the epidural was in and I was able to lay down and relax, I noticed that I was numb on one side, but that I still felt quite a bit of pain on the left side of my body. Turns out that the epidural was not in properly and was only affecting half of my body. The other half was in painful labor. They weren’t able to come back to fix it for many hours, so I was thankful I had Melissa there to help. It was frightening going through the process and not knowing what to expect, and she really helped keep me calm and focused, giving Ronnie instructions on how to apply counter pressure on my lower back and help with the contractions as much as possible. Melissa talked me through each contraction and helped me visualize my body dilating and opening up and the babies moving down the birth canal, preparing to be born. It may sound a bit strange if you’ve never experienced labor, but it was incredibly helpful and soothing. I was still incredibly sick, chewing on ice chips as if they held the key to life and continuing to throw up every 5-10 minutes. Finally they came back to fix the epidural. The pain was so great that they decided to do a full spinal block. My body didn’t handle the block well and I bottomed out, my blood pressure dropping and needing an oxygen mask to help me breath. I was one of the scariest parts of my labor, but they knew exactly what to do and took great care of me. After a while, my body became regulated and I even rested a little bit as the medication set in and numbed my body. The only bad thing about Spinal Blocks are that you can only have one and once it wears off, it’s back to full-on labor pains. They didn’t want to risk doing anything more to me, so I just suffered through the labor. Again, Melissa, Ronnie and the nurses all took great care of me as I continued the labor process. I listened to the “Double Push Mix” I had created on my iphone and was so thankful for music in that moment. Just as I was closing my eyes, listening to Hillsong United’s “Inside Out,” (very fitting, I thought… “from the inside out, Lord my soul cries out…”) and as the doctor checked, she said, “You’re dilated to 10! You’re ready! Let’s go! That was the best news I had heard in days. I was so ready.
When giving birth to twins, my hospital requires everyone to deliver in the Operating Room in case they need to do an Emergency C-Section. So they wheeled me back to the room, got Ronnie into his scrubs so he could join me, and prepared me for childbirth. I had to get another IV in case they needed to administer more medication for a possible surgery. Some people say that getting and IV is the most painful part of childbirth. I disagree. I think the entire childbirth process is the most painful part of childbirth. But aside from the pain, it was the audience in the operating room that was also somewhat concerning. Again, this is a teaching hospital, so including Ronnie and myself, there were 17 people in the room. Yes, as in 1-7. I had my high risk doctor who came in the middle of the night, especially for my delivery (how special am i?!), a 4th year OB Resident, who I had seen many times and trusted, a 1st year Resident, my Anesthesiologist, and 2 whole teams of people, 1 for each baby. They all just stood there and stared at me as I laid on the delivery table, wide-legged and throwing caution to the wind. I had to forget that they were staring (and whispering about..) my lady parts and just focus on the task at hand. Ronnie stayed right next to me the entire time. He was so amazing, encouraging me quietly in my ear as I gave birth. I am so thankful that I got to go through that entire experience with him.
I wish I could say that I was a rock-star and popped those babies out. But it took me a really.long.time. I headed back into the room around 10:00pm. Baby A, Reed, was born at 11:32pm. Pushing a baby out, whether medicated or not, is kind-of an out-of-body experience. You are pushing so hard, are so light-headed, so focused, so excited and in so much pain all at once. By the time he arrived I was just plain exhausted. It was a lot of pushing. He came out, I caught a glimpse of him, and then they took his limp little body to his station. Apparently he was having trouble breathing and I began to panic. All I wanted to do was see him and hold him. They assured me he was doing fine, that they were going to take him to the NICU and everything would be all right. He was stable. Then they yelled, “Okay, push!” And I said, “I can’t! I’m too tired!” And they said, “You have to!” So I began pushing. And pushing. And pushing. I was so exhausted that I honestly don’t remember much of that process. All I know is that an hour-and-a-half later, Rory arrived. He was happy having some alone time in my womb and didn’t really want to make his arrival, but eventually I won :). He arrived at 12:55am. Yes, my twins have separate birthdays. I realized after Reed was born that there was no way I was going to be able to push another baby out in 20 minutes. I love that although they will have to share so many things over the course of their lives, at least they each have their own special day.
The post-labor process was incredibly painful. I had a bad Grade-2 tear from the inside-out and it took them 45 minutes to stitch me up. I was screaming out in pain so much that finally the Anesthesiologist came over and immediately administered some morphine into my fresh IV because I had so many other medications pumping into my other one. Praise the Lord for that guy. I don’t remember much after that, but Ronnie said I was just laying there, semi-passed out while he went over and met little Rory. I began to come-to as they finished cleaning me up and preparing me to go back to my L&D room. It was in the early hours of Sunday morning, I was drugged, emotional, exhausted, and still sick from the Magnesium drip, but I was so thankful to have the birthing process over-with. I laid in my room, fading in and out while Ronnie and a nurse gave Rory his first bath. They brought Reed into my room after a while and quickly took him back to the NICU after realizing he was having trouble regulating his blood sugar. I was so out of it that I really didn’t care. I just wanted to sleep, but realized I had yet to hold either of my sons. One of the things that makes me sad is that they didn’t hand the babies to me after they were born. I realize that it was a high-risk scenario and they needed to make sure they were okay. But I wish more than anything that I could have had a few moments with them. Ronnie brought Rory over to me so that I could finally hold him. Ronnie got a few pictures, took him back and I fell asleep, for how long I will never know.
They had to keep me in the L&D unit for an extra 24-hours to monitor me while still on the Magnesium drip. My body didn’t seem to have any lasting effects from the Pre-Eclampsia, but you have to stay on the drip for 24 hours after you give birth, which meant that I still couldn’t eat anything for another day. I was SO hungry and SO sick all at once. Ice chips were my lifeline and I kept chewing them down in the absence of any other option. I spent Sunday discovering my new son, Rory, however saddened that I wasn’t allowed to visit my other son, Reed, in the NICU until I was off the Mag. drip. I was so sad that I yet to hold my firstborn, but tried to be joyful that Rory was doing well. He was so tiny. Born at 4 pounds, 11 ounces, he was a little larger than Reed, who was only 4 pounds, 3 ounces. But so perfect and delicate. I looked at him amazed that God helped Ronnie and I create this little person. They encouraged me to give him Formula because breastfeeding was difficult (my milk hadn’t come in yet). The lactation specialist helped me get as much Colostrum as possible to give to both of the boys, but supplement with formula. Breastfeeding was risky because they were both struggling with low blood sugar and they didn’t want Rory to burn too many calories trying to feed; he needed as many calories as possible.
Sunday was challenging with such a mix of emotions. I was so thankful to have 2 healthy baby boys who were doing quite well, despite being premature and born at 35 weeks and 5 days. But I was also completely exhausted, starving, and continually sick from the magnesium drip. I missed Reed and was so sad that I wasn’t able to go see him in the NICU and hold him. Luckily Ronnie went in a few times that day and had special one-on-one time with him, so I was incredibly thankful for that. My mom ended up flying in that morning and Melissa picked her up from the airport and brought her straight to the hospital. It was so wonderful to see her and introduce her to her twin grandsons. She had been praying for us to have children for so many years, crying right along with me, so to see her hold Rory for the first time felt so redemptive. She and Ronnie eventually went into the NICU so she could see Reed. I was so glad to have my Mom there for so many reasons. The Lord has blessed me with such a wonderful family and amazing friends.
In the wee hours of Monday morning the time finally came to remove my Magnesium drip. My blood pressure was being constantly monitored and the nurses had done a lot of blood work to ensure that I was ready. They wheeled me to the Postpartum unit around 3:00am and it felt like I had arrived in a hospital hotel. It was so quiet and peaceful and calm, much different from the L&D ward, which was still constantly busy with women in labor at all hours of the day and night. They brought Rory with us, who was sound asleep and encouraged me to try and get some sleep before going to visit Reed in the NICU. My heart was torn, but realized that I desperately needed to sleep. So after a couple of hours, a nurse brought Rory back from getting some blood work done. I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep without seeing my other son, so Ronnie stayed with Rory and a nurse wheeled me to the NICU.
Walking into that room was an experience that will forever be burned in my memory. I could instantly hear a high-pitched squeaky little cry and just knew that it was my Reed. They had just hooked him back up to his little station so he was irritated, but they assured me that he was a very calm baby overall. Seeing him laying there, incredibly tiny and hooked up to wires broke my heart. I couldn’t keep the tears from coming as I looked at him, helpless, leaving it up to others to care for him in the first 24 hours of his life. Through tears I told him that I was his Mommy and I was sorry it took me so long to come and see him and that I loved him and his brother more than anything else on this earth. The NICU nurse carefully handed him to me and there I was, weeping and holding my firstborn son for the first time. He quickly calmed down and stopped crying, somehow knowing that I was his Mommy and that everything was going to be okay. I fed him a bottle and rocked him back to sleep. I hated to leave but the new day was dawning and I had to have a myriad of people come and check on me back in Postpartum. I said good-bye to my tiny little love and wheeled back to my room. I ordered breakfast, which was the most thrilling decision I could imagine making that day. It was hospital food, but food nonetheless, so I scarfed it down and immediately became sick to my stomach. It looked like it was going to take some time for my body to figure out how to digest food again, since it had been 4 days since I had eaten anything.
That Monday involved a lot of hospital traffic. The Resident Doctor who delivered my twins came to check on me (do they ever get to go home and sleep, by the way?) and my stitches were doing okay, the lactation consultant helped me learn how to pump, another doctor came to press on my stomach and do post-childbirth stuff, baby doctors came in to check on Rory, a NICU nurse came to share the news that Reed would probably be ready to join us that evening, and a variety of other people came in for a variety of other things. Then I had my postpartum nurse giving me a hard time for not sleeping, to which I responded, when am I going to sleep??? Literally, EVERY time I tried to sleep, someone else would come into my room to wake me up for something. My mom came to the hospital and again, it was just so nice just to have her there. Aside from her, the only other person that I allowed to come to the hospital and visit was Melissa, especially since she played such an integral role in my labor process. I wanted her to have the chance to meet the twins as soon as possible. After my experience, I honestly understand why people would want hospital visitors after giving birth. I know that not everyone has a difficult or traumatizing birth experience, but I do know that with all of the other people you have coming into your room at all hours of the day and night, as well as just getting to know your new babies, it would just be too stressful to feel like you then have to entertain guests as well. Maybe it doesn’t bother the multitude of people reading this, but I know that I will probably skip the hospital visits from now on and wait to meet people’s babies until they are home from the hospital, settled and ready for visitors. I’m sorry if declining to have hospital visitors offended any of my San Antonio friends, but I honestly just was not up for it. I was glad to see so many of you when you brought us meals and then others when we attended church for the first time 2 weeks later. We had such an amazing support system at our church and I was so excited to finally introduce them to our miracle babies.
That Monday night in the hospital was wonderful. I got to eat lunch AND dinner, but most importantly, Reed finally was discharged from the NICU and got to join the rest of his family in our postpartum room. Getting to hold both of my baby boys for the first time was an experience I had only ever dreamed of, and one I will never forget. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
I had a great first evening and first night with my boys. Unfortunately, early the next morning, Reed’s blood work showed that he had high levels of bilirubin (aka he was “jaundiced”), so they kept in our room and hooked him up to a bili-light therapy bed. We were supposed to be discharged that day, Tuesday, because Rory and I were both doing well and they needed the room for one of the many women who had just given birth. I attended the discharge class with Ronnie and the boys, showered for the first time in days (which was amazing and painful all at once) and packed up to go home. Sadly, Reed’s bilirubin levels were just not lowering as much as the doctor would have liked, so was back to the NICU for the third time to receive more light treatments. Having to wheel my sweet baby boy back to the NICU, knowing I would be leaving him there and going home, was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Aside from the hormonal imbalance I was experiencing, it is just plain sad to have to be away from your newborn baby. I knew he was in good hands and I am incredibly thankful that we were in a hospital with such a great NICU, which gave me a sense of peace.
We were discharged, headed home, got Olive Garden takeout and a Redbox DVD to take home. We had a great first night home with Rory and I am thankful for that special time with him. The most challenging thing about life post-delivery was the sleep deprivation and the pain of recovery. I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for the sheer pain. But eventually I did heal, just as my friend Jennifer promised I would. And you know what? I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The next morning (Wednesday) as we were getting ready to go visit Reed in the NICU, they called and told us that he was actually doing very well and was actually going to be ready to come home later that morning! I cried out of sheer thankfulness and couldn’t wait to go get my little boy. We picked Reed up at the hospital and had BOTH of our little boys with us, a complete family, together at last, and finally headed home. How did I ever get so lucky?
My boys bring me unspeakable joy. However, I have such mixed feelings about sharing my joy with the world. There are those out there who are still longing for biological children, just as I did for over 5 years. And I know that my joy reminds them of their pain. I know because I remember un-following one blog in particular after that infertile woman had a miraculous pregnancy after 7 years and finally had a baby. I should have been happy for her. I should have rejoiced that God finally gave her the desire of her heart. But honestly, it was too difficult for me to see. All it did was remind me that one more person had a baby, while my womb was still empty. I could relate to her when she was infertile, but then she became a mom and all of her posts became about her baby, and I could no longer relate. Another person had graduated with a degree in Mommy-Hood and I was stuck in Barren University, possibly for the rest of my life. I am ashamed to admit that I had those feelings, but I know that many of you reading this right now can relate. And I know because of those feelings and because of your pain, you can no longer follow my blog. And that’s okay. I understand. I just hope that somehow, in some way, God will bring you comfort as you continue to navigate your way on the painful road that is Infertility. And if you happen to stumble back on this page in the future and want to keep in touch, I will welcome you back with open arms.
Thank you for sharing our life with us and for reading the.longest.blogpost.ever. If you had to take breaks and come back to it over a period of hours or even days, I understand :). I (kind-of) promise my future posts won’t be this lengthy. My goal is just to share my musings and our happenings. I want for those of you who desire to be able to watch the boys grow and feel as though you are very-much a part of our lives. I hope to remain a part of yours as well. So, this was MY birth-story, and I’m sticking to it :).