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


  1. I love reading birth stories. There is never anything ordinary about the moment a baby is born. It's definitely life changing. Glad you were able to write it all out while all of the details are still fresh in your mind.

  2. congrats, lindsay!! the boys are beautiful! lindsey told me they were born but i just had a chance to read your blog now. we spent 12 days in the nicu with claire and it is SUCH a rollar coaster, but how FORTUNATE we are to have that amazing care for our preemies! are you guys still there? hang in there, mama!!! some day it'll all be a distant memory!!