Monday, December 27, 2010

Parker and Cooper: Birth Story

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is unlike anything else. Kind of a different world. I semi-compared it to Las Vegas in the sense that there are no windows, you don't know what day it is, or if it is even light outside, and it never sleeps. It is exhausting. But, it is a place of healing, and here at the U of Iowa, one of the best Children's Hospitals in the nation, we are blessed to have our boys being cared for by the top doctors and nurses. So here I am, sitting in a dim room, with gentle music playing in the background, and listening to the grunts of sweet "Mr. Cooper" as the doctors call him, and trying to find the words to write the birth story of our twins.

The goal was always 34 weeks. It was a minimum goal, but a goal nonetheless. This goal would get us to deliver at Mercy, with Dr. W (however my new name for her is Dr. Awesome), and hopefully would get the boys past the most critical stage, if born at that gestation. The weekend of their birth was hectic. I think I knew it was coming. Wrigley knew it was coming, and indicated this to me by following me around, staying by my side at all times, and just having a general look of concern... you know, for a dog. We spent that weekend doing last minute things - paying bills, getting the carseats installed at the Fire Department, buying last minute things we needed, and trying to mentally prepare ourselves for whatever may happen. Sunday, December 12th I stopped taking Terbutaline, the drug I was taking to stop contractions. It really didn't take long that day for my contractions to become regular. By about 7 minutes apart, I decided it was time to call Labor and Delivery. To my relief, Dr. Wenzel was the OB on call. To my disbelief, she broke the news that my labs came back revealing that I now had severe Preeclampsia. Crap. I had done everything that Google had suggested to ward off this nasty illness, but it wasn't enough. I was now convinced that my body simply doesn't like the second part of third trimester pregnancies. This news, combined with my regular contractions was enough to send us to the hospital. Our neighbor, Tom, came over to watch Logan until Brian's sister arrived, and we drove through the ice, snow, and rain (lovely) to the hospital. The timing of the first major snowstorm of the season was awful.

I was hooked up to the monitors, and really, for hours, was convinced I would either be sent home, or admitted for hospital bed-rest for as long as we could keep the babies in. Around 11 pm, the nurse came in, gave me a gown, and announced "Let's have some babies". It all hit me. A rush of adrenaline, and fear, and excitement... I was going to have some babies. We moved to a labor room, started a small dose of pitocin, and waited. The doctor came in and broke Cooper's water, which was the weirdest thing ever. It didn't take long before the contractions were painful enough to make me want to cut off my own arm, so the epidural was ordered. The glorious, fabulous, working epidural. My epidural was an epic failure when I labored with Logan, so a WORKING epidural was heavenly. The babies continued to look fabulous, but every time I would start to doze off, my heart rate would drop, and they would wake me up. So much for a nap...

Around 5:30 am things started to feel a little different, and from there on everything happened so quickly. The room went from dim and calm to a bustling, bright, and energetic frenzy of people in purple scrubs. There is nothing that feels more real than seeing your baby for the first time. I pushed Cooper out in two pushes. He came out crying and pink. I started sobbing, knowing that our lives were changed forever in that tiny moment, with that tiny body. Brian cut the cord, and it was then time to work on Parker. The stinker was still breech, so Dr. Awesome got to work. With one hand on the inside, and her entire upper body leaning on the top of my belly she turned Parker to a head-down position. While it felt like I was being hit in the stomach with a sledgehammer, it was also the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. The confidence that Dr. Awesome had made me feel totally at ease with the situation, and really made the pain worth it. She held Parker's head in place with her right hand, did an ultrasound with her left hand to check positioning, broke his water, and two more pushes and my tiny third son was born into this world. I remember being a bit shocked but how tiny he was, and the first thing I was was "oh my God, he is so small". Brian cut Parker's cord and went to be by his boys' sides.

Cooper Lee McGowan, December 13, 2010, 5:54 am, 5 lbs 10 oz
Parker Michel McGowan, December 13, 2010, 6:06 am, 4 lbs 10 oz

In those 12 minutes, our family became complete.

The next couple of hours were scary. Brian immediately went with the boys to the NICU at Mercy Hospital where I delivered. I was able to hold Parker for just a few seconds before he was hurried out, and Cooper was with us for a few minutes longer, but was also taken out for some help. I know this had to have been scary for Brian. He was in the NICU with them while they were assessing their medical needs, and it was decided they would be better off at UIHC. Brian told me the news with tears in his eyes. I know he was scared, but trying not to freak me out. It was a horrible feeling for me not being able to see for myself what my babies were going through. With Preeclampsia, I had to be given Magnesium Sulfate for 24 hours after birthing the boys. This meant complete bedrest. The last thing a mommy wants after giving birth is to not be able to see her babies for 24 hours! They brought both boys into see me before their transfer to the UIHC. Parker was intubated, hooked up to a plethera of monitors and tubes, and this made me cry. The vision of having two healthy newborn twins that we would take home with us was dwindling. They brought Cooper in next with a breathing tube in his nose, and covered in monitors and wires, and my heart just sank. I was in this in-between stage of euphoria from this amazing birth, and meeting my new sons for the first time and heartbreak because my babies needed help. Shortly after, I was also taken by ambulance to the UIHC where we have been for the past 14 days...

NICU Nurses are amazing. NICU Doctors are amazing. My husband? He's amazing. The past two weeks have been a blur. It has gone by faster and slower than I had anticipated. The boys have gone from tiny, helpless preemies to almost acting like term babies. The roller-coaster of the past two weeks has been unbearable at times, made tolerable by those around us. We spent the twins' First Christmas in the NICU, and while that in itself was hard, nothing can compare with the complete gratefulness that I feel for having strong, healthy babies that continue to grow and improve. Parker and Cooper have forever changed my life. They have given me strength I didn't know that I could have. They have made my Logan a big brother, and a proud big brother at that. They have bonded Brian and I in a new way, and strengthened our marriage more than I can quite grasp. They have completed our family more than I ever could have asked for. When I look at my three children together I feel a sense of calm unlike anything I have ever felt before.
Dear Cooper,

You have such a kind soul. I can tell already. You are quiet and calm. You are patient. You are an observer. Your tiny fingers fit perfectly around mine, and when I sit quietly with you laying on my chest I can't help but breathe you in to capture just a tiny bit of that calm. You are exactly what our family needs, and I cannot wait to watch you grow.

Dear Parker,

You were born a fighter. You have a mind of your own. You are the fiesty one. Just ask the nurses! You are sweet, with big eyes and a tiny smile. You love to eat. You don't like to wait. You get that from your mom. Your tiny body is strong, and when I snuggle you into my arms, you not only fit, but you just melt into place in a way that I know you were meant for me. You are exactly what our family needs, and I cannot wait to watch you grow.

Dear Logan,

You amaze me. Every day, you amaze me. You are sassy, and smart. You are kind and gentle, strong-willed and persistent. You are stubborn, and usually fair :) You are a big brother now, and you are amazing. You have handled this crazy transition with such ease and success that I admire you. You have taught me how to be a mother, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Dear Logan, Cooper, and Parker,

Thank you for choosing me to be your Mother. I am so filled with love in my heart. I cannot wait to watch the three of you become best friends, and experience life with each other. I love you all to the moon and back.

Love, Mommy

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

34 Weeks

I am trying to muster up the time and energy to sit down and write the blog post about the birth of our twins. I feel like I need to be in exactly the right state of mind because I don't want to leave out one detail of the extraordinary experience it was. What I can say now is that my babies? All three of them? Are amazing. I am so in love with having three sons. I have never been more in love with my husband. I cannot wait to snuggle all three of my boys in my arms at the same time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

33 Weeks

I am so uncomfortable. I have never imagined discomfort like this in my entire life! While it is completely, totally, and undeniably worth every second for the sweet baby boys we will be adding to our family, I am so ready to not be pregnant anymore! I am stretched, cramped, ached, swelled, and pinched in ways I didn't think possible. This belly? This belly is like a life-form of its' own. I am actually getting stretch marks in places where the babies like to hang out or stretch out limbs. I cannot begin to imagine what this belly is going to look like when it is vacated!

I had an OB appointment on Monday. I was down 5lbs from last week. Wowza. That tells me how much I had been overdoing it, and how swollen I was because of that. Other than that, everything looked fine, and I wasn't any more dilated that I had been in the hospital, which is the best news we could have gotten. I had an NST Tuesday, and another one tomorrow, and so far those have been great. We have another ultrasound on Monday, so we will see how large these babes are! I am hoping for 6lbs!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's that called?

Brian: "They need to come up with another name for 'Mucus Plug'".

Lindsay: "There is another name - 'Bloody Show'".

(Long Pause....)

Brian: "They need to come up with a third name".

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bathroom Privileges Only

These are the words the I heard over and over again during my two day "pregnancy jail" in the hospital this week. Man, I have heard before that twin pregnancies can be a ticking-time-bomb, and can literally go from normal to not in what seems like minutes. This, I have found, is true.

Monday afternoon I had an NST (Non-stress test). These are standard with high-risk pregnancies, starting around 32 weeks usually. Basically it requires being monitored for 20-30 minutes to make sure baby(ies) are having a certain number of heart rate spikes within a certain amount of time. Logan always passed these with flying colors, and true to form, so do Parker and Cooper. I passed my first NST of this pregnancy with no problem, no contractions, nada... Then, I left and went to the grocery store to pick up a few things we needed. By the time I got home, I was having painful contractions. By Tuesday morning, the contractions were still there, and considerably noticeable. I had a regular appointment with Dr. W Tuesday night, and while there, she told me I was dilated to 1cm and in need of some monitoring. Within a few hours, I was in Labor and Delivery, dilated to 2cm and 80% effaced, with full blown (PAINFUL) contractions every 2-4 minutes; and being admitted to the hospital. Ugh...

Tuesday night in the hospital just sucked. Sorry for lack of a better descriptive word, but that is simply what it was... sucky. I was hooked up to monitors, in an uncomfortable bed, with an IV, in a hospital gown, with a killer migraine from the different drugs I had been given. I was pumped with a cocktail of antibiotics, Terbutaline, Nifedipine, steroids to help speed along lung maturation, and saline. I had developed a low-grade fever in the middle of the night as well, which has yet to be explained. Needless to say, I barely slept and was miserable, and ready for a shower come Wednesday morning. Dr. W was the on-call doc on Wednesday and broke the news to me that I would be staying at least one more night, and was on "Bathroom Privileges Only". She let me spend the day wireless, however, so bless her for that! No IV, no monitors, and I was allowed to shower, eat, and nap in a nice, larger room in Mother-Baby. I really did find it humorous how many times throughout the day I was reminded I was on "Bathroom Privileges Only". I mean, really? Where was I going to go?

Luckily, the contractions had really slowed significantly on Wednesday, and it was evident that we were starting to gain control over my labor. I realized how much I had truly been overdoing it. I am the mom though. I am the wife, and the hub of the house. Brian is a wonderful partner in the normal, everyday happenings of our household, but really, I am the one who takes care of most things around here. Combine that with doing daycare... I was really overdoing it and was clearly in denial. I realized this mostly when laying in the hospital bed and realizing that my hips didn't feel like they were being ripped in half, and my back wasn't aching... hmmmmm... it began to tell me that potentially this wasn't normal, and perhaps they are all right. Time for mama to rest. A friend reminded me that it is now the time to think of gestating these boys as my full-time job. Now that I am home, I really need to remind myself that many times a day. My job is no longer to clean, mop, vacuum, do laundry, go to the store, dust, and on and on and on. My job is to bake these babies as long as I can. So that's what I am doing. I am resisting the urge to grab the Clorox wipes, and shielding my eyes when I see something on the floor that should be vacuumed.

One thing I know for sure, is that we have the most wonderful family and friends. Not only has my amazing husband been my rock, my source of comfort, and sense of calm, he has also been Daddy Daycare, put work second and family first, and picked up the slack around the house while I am not able. Brian's Dad and sister have come out to help with Logan, and we have had friends bring us meals to help take off some of the stress. How amazing? Oh, and I need to mention the support of kind words from friends all over the country that have sent me messages, texts, emails, and the most gorgeous boquet of flowers I have ever seen.

So, our next goal is 34 weeks - 1 week and 2 days from now. When we get there, we will set the goal of 35 weeks, then 36. We are hoping to require little-to-no NICU stay for our newest McGowan's, so the longer they bake the better. In the meantime, I will try to remain on "Bathroom Privileges Only" while here at home, take my meds every 4 hours, and focus on my full-time job of gestating!