This little tale I’m about to tell isn’t just for the mommies out there. It’s simply for anyone who finds that whole “baby gotta come out” situation as fascinating as I do, and ,actually, the men that…well…did this to us because you might as well know.
This is totally for all of you…
I’m taking a
quick stroll down memory lane (yes my memory, but hang in there it will be worth it) to tell you a little story of how two of the coolest people got to planet Earth.
My journey is somewhat unique because when I went for my first OB appointment to see my little lima bean and hear its heartbeat something somewhat unexpected happened.
Now, before I get to all that I must quickly fill you in on my desire as a young girl to be a mother just to make the story complete.
(Men out there–if this actually caught your attention enough to stay, you have just landed on a golden opportunity to gain sacred knowledge that will ultimately catapult you into “Rock Star” status in the eyes of your woman because you will be two steps ahead of her–if her pregnancy journey takes a left turn–armed and prepared to use that knowledge to comfort her, be her rock, and give her sound advice.)
Hahahahahahahah!!!! Sorry, I was lost in a moment of fantasy. If a man clicks on this link AND reads to the end, I just may deserve a medal.
OK –back to reality! I knew I wanted to be a mother from the moment I had the ability to hold baby dolls. I took the best care of those babies. I swaddled them, fed them, dressed them, rocked and sang to them. I even breast-fed them…well pretended to because that’s what good mommies do! I had a plan. I was going to get married and be a mama, and the only detail I would have to iron out in that plan would be the who–as in who was gonna be my baby daddy. (But that’s a completely different story. A DOOZIE, but not for today.)
At this point, I believe you have enough of the background knowledge you need for the full effect so, I will get back to my story now.
A year or so prior to this OB appointment (I referred to earlier) my husband and I went through a devastating miscarriage that rocked my world. Anything after that, of course, was going to make me uneasy and terrified of possibly enduring the same fate. So, every pregnancy test, every appointment, every heard or unheard sound, every weird feeling or no feeling at all had me on edge preparing myself to hear those shocking words once again, “We were unable to find a heartbeat…I’m so sorry.”
Now, Let’s go back to that memorable day in my OB’s office. My husband, Thomas, (AKA “Baby Daddy”) and I were nervously awaiting the screen shot of the unidentifiable object when the sonographer (yes, apparently that’s what they call them according to my Google quest) said something I will NEVER forget.
Sonographer: “Have you been taking fertility drugs?”
Sonographer: “Well, someone just made up for your miscarriage because you have two.”
Now, I know people can have like fourteen babies at a time these days, but just imagine (if you are a parent of a single) those exact words.
Wow…it still gives me chills.
OK, now let me shortcut this a bit.
My pregnancy was AWESOME. I loved every moment, only threw up once, was the picture of health for every appointment (minus the placenta previa which managed to work itself out), and looked and felt as cute/sexy/important as ever. I wore pregnancy like a Cartier necklace in mint condition passed down from my wealthy great-grandmother…
That is…before it was stolen and rearranged to look more like a set of twister beads from the 80’s that wasn’t quite so fascinating nor covet-worthy.
My pregnancy plan had been to continue with my career as a pharmaceutical sales rep for Abbot Labs, work up until the time the babies were due, take my six weeks maternity leave, and then jump right back in to work. Pregnancy and children weren’t going to slow me down.
I was in my 24th week or so (stop trying to figure it out–6th month) when I started having Braxton-Hicks contractions. They said it was normal at that point in my pregnancy to have these mild contractions and that they wouldn’t last. But they did. I waited them out for weeks. I took warm baths, went back and forth to the doctor to measure the intensity of these “mild” contractions, took the asthma medicine I was prescribed that made me feel like I couldn’t get my breath (ironic huh?), called the doctor every time I had them for long durations (as told to do), and was eventually put on bed rest at 26 weeks. No more work for me. (So much for my whole work till I deliver plan.)
Finally one evening when I was still enduring these “mild” contractions (now not so”mild”) and just not feeling right, I was summoned by the doctor on call to go ahead and get to the hospital. It was late, and I really didn’t feel like making the 30 minute trek in the cold to see a doctor, but I didn’t argue.
So, my sweet man Thomas (who had to go to work very early the next morning) drove me to the hospital just outside of Atlanta to get checked out. The contractions had really started becoming more intense turning my stomach into a very large over-inflated basketball with rock-like hardness, and those contractions were coming closer and closer together. Thomas had decided to take this as an opportunity to run every red light from our driveway to the hospital. I reminded him that I wasn’t due for eight weeks so he probably had enough time to go ahead and hit those red lights, but do you think that made him reconsider? Right. Fortunately we did get there safely, and the stress-inducing drive didn’t take my contractions to full-blown labor, but I was exhausted and very ready to see what the doctor had in store for me and the future of this pregnancy.
Well, after a short visit from the doctor, (two hours later) I did end up getting admitted. I really didn’t bring much because it was so unclear what my fate would be. Why would I have a hospital bag packed eight weeks early anyway? Much less one that had enough items for a month and half.
My first thought was I’m having my babies tonight. (This was very exciting. I was ready!)
Unfortunately, after a very stern talking to from my doctor about how having them tonight would be detrimental and that I wasn’t here to have the babies, I was here to keep from having the babies my new thought was I’m going to rot in here.
I wasn’t due for eight weeks.
Here I had been on a paid vacation from work because of my doctor mandated bed rest at week 26 having the time of my life shopping for Christmas, showing off my belly, and watching all the glorious daytime TV I could get my hands on. I had learned to work around the discomfort of the contractions, and although they did eventually slow me way down-they didn’t stop me. Braxton-Hicks contractions didn’t scare me. They just scared the doctors.
In your FACE bed rest!
Ah, consequences…aren’t they great? Because I didn’t take the whole “bed rest” situation seriously, there were consequences to pay, and a sentence to serve. I was checking in to the hospital, and I wouldn’t be coming out until my due date or until the babies refused to stay in any longer. My brain hadn’t quite wrapped around this idea yet as I was wheeled away.
I knew It was official as my own clothes were quickly whisked away and replaced with the standard issue hospital gown that sets you up for failure every time you try to tie it as if I had some sort of special appendage that could actually tie things behind me. Ok, I can do this. I can say goodbye to my home stretch maternity wear that would no longer be necessary to get me through the last month and a half of my pregnancy in style. The truth was, my cute mid-pregnancy body had been traded in for something a little more swollen and puffy
unrecognizable so, quite honestly, the gown was working for me somewhat, and soon to be the least of my worries.
Just when I was
enjoying enduring all of the hustle and bustle of the hospital staff as they catered to me like royalty herded me in finally understanding how terribly uncomfortable I was during my quest to populate the earth, I was kindly fitted with my very own catheter.
Yay for me!
I tried to tell them how very unnecessary that was and that I would be ever so happy to urinate in that little room in the corner where the pee pee goes down the big pipe and far, far away where nobody knows…the way the normal people do it, but noooooooooo. They preferred I not get out of bed (ya know, the whole bed rest thing and all) and don my own Bag-‘O-Pee during my stay.
Get this. They were planning on putting a tube in a tiny little hole I knew my body had, had never witnessed, but was absolutely sure things only came out of–no exceptions.
After they had assured me that this was a legal procedure in all 50 states, and it wasn’t going to be optional, the nurse came in with her cart of bagged sterilized paraphernalia. As I was rounding the corner to the third stage of grief (bargaining) the nurse with her cat-like reflexes started and finished before I even had a chance to grit my teeth in preparation. It might as well have been a rusty, five-inch nail because the pain sent me to the moon and back and then right back again to that very same moon every time I moved a little to the left…a little to the right…up, down…well you get the idea–whenever I moved.
Finally, when that whole fiasco was over they eventually got me to a pretty nice room to settle in, and we just waited to see what was next. This was truly just the beginning, but that part I didn’t know yet. I was still under the impression that I could probably just let them know that I would really just like to go ahead and deliver, and then very soon I would happily be beginning my journey as a mother.
Again, I laugh at the thought.
Initially, when I was admitted to the maternity wing, I had asked a lot of questions about those I was surrounded by. I wanted to know what their story was and why they were here and what was going on. One woman was screaming so loudly on one of those first nights that I had to know pronto. She was delivering. Oh dear. There was another woman pregnant with twins as well, but much earlier in her pregnancy than myself. I had been told that she had actually delivered one of the twins and they were trying to keep the other one in as long as possible. Of course, that led me to the question about how the delivered twin was doing, and the nurse reluctantly told me that he didn’t make it. This was information that I really didn’t need to be thinking about as I was in a very similar situation.
My questions stopped after that.
Now, I do love me some TV, but laying flat on my back all day with that being my only form of entertainment was pure torture. Oh the boredom! I did keep myself busy painting my nails and tweezing my eyebrows. I put on makeup, investigated the rolling table and drawer that neatly slid right over my bed, filled it up with all of my essentials–nail polish/lip balm/tweezers/ phone etc, read magazine after magazine, and finished a novel. It was about ten o’clock the very next day, and with exhausted resources of fun I was beginning to realize that this was going to be harder than I thought. And I already thought it was going to be hard.
One morning after one of the doctors had checked my cervix for dilation, she asked me if I would like to get a shower. What? They were going to let me get out of bed? I must have looked like hell and smelled like death. A big “Yes!” through held back tears was my very grateful answer. But, my question was what to do about my IV and catheter? Her way too simple answer was to take it with me. So you want me to go from not getting out of bed at all to dragging metal contraptions to another room?
So during my stay I became the master at navigating my way to the shower wheeling an IV cart full of tubes connected to me and trying not to move that minion of a catheter tube hanging between my legs. What’s not to love about a little challenge?
Well, I not only did this successfully, but I took my shower, washed and conditioned my hair, shaved my legs–well what I could see of them, slathered my body from head to toe in the lavender lotion they provided for me, and wait for it…blow-dried my hair. In your FACE boredom! By the time what came to be my morning ritual was complete, I was begging to get back in that bed.
I began looking forward to this time every day especially with the bonus that the nurse would overhaul my bed with fresh sheets during my shower. I, unfortunately, as with every thing else I had to endure, was at the nurses’ mercy. One day I was feeling really bad due to the shot of magnesium (you will hear about that soon), and I told the nurse how about she come back in a little while (as if this was a premium hotel with turn down service). Her abrupt response was “Now or never.” Hmmm…no shower and the same sheets as yesterday… (Oh yeah, I became Oprah-like about my daily change of sheets.) So, up and at ’em I went. I would force myself to get up even on the bad days just for this one comfort. A bonus was that it sucked up a good two hours of my never-ending days.
As the days continued and my contractions would get worse the doctor would order a shot of magnesium to be put in my IV. Sure sounds good…something to do. Well, 2000 mg of magnesium feels like liquid fire running through every vein in your body, with a nice side effect of feeling like you’ve got the worst flu you could imagine. It was definitely a trade-off. No contractions–good–burning fire veins–bad. Whatever. At least this made me want to sleep and not miss shopping soooooo…
Along the way some very disturbing news was delivered to me by my original OB. He came to visit me and told me he had some news for me. I could tell by looking at him that he wasn’t going to be telling me I had been chosen to be on the cover of Hottest Maternity Moms. Baby B (the one that would come out 2nd–now known as Sophie) had apparently decided to step on her sister’s head, Baby A–now known as Rafferty. She was breech. So? Soooooooooo, that means I would not be able to experience a natural birth–plus drugs. You have got to be kidding me. These were the things that were rushing through my mind: I’ll have a scar on my awesome abs that I was totally planning on getting back ASAP, a scar, getting sliced open and having a really bad scar, an ugly scar, and a scar that might be seen in my bikini, oh, and, a much longer, more painful recovery. After whining about this and crying, my doctor gave me another stern talking to about what was really important here. This is part of most woman’s expectation by-the-way. We typically don’t go into this signing up to be sliced open so someone can pull a human being (or two) out. We are wired with an innate need to PUSH a baby out. But, the truth was, I was really getting used to the idea of being flexible and adaptable the further along I got in my pregnancy. Especially since I just kept getting screwed left and right. Still–fighting–down–the–inner–negativity. Fine. Slice and dice. Whatever.
When the pity party was over, I went back to the thoughts that the good doctor left me with, and that was that I was one step closer to having two-not one-but-two healthy babies to take home, and this was certainly going to increase the odds. Of course this was a no-brainer and would eventually just be another chapter in my story.
Anyone who has ever had to stay in the hospital knows that every hour on the hour someone comes in your room to do something, and I was no exception. There was always someone taking my blood pressure, checking my IV tubes, emptying my Bag-‘O-Pee, or checking my cervix to see if I had dilated. It happened around the clock, and at one point I began to sleep with one eye open.
Fortunately, my amazing husband camped out in my room on a tiny window seat each and every night to see that I didn’t go through this alone, but there were occasions that he chose not to sleep at the hospital because he got in from work so late and had to be at work so early. I will always love him for that sacrifice because it was extremely hard on him and because I’m pretty sure I would have said, “See you tomorrow.” each and every other night. I love my bed, and I’m sort of selfish too, but I’m working on it.
Well, on one of those nights that I had gotten the phone call that he would not be coming up to spend the night, I told him I totally understood and would be fine, but I broke down crying after hanging up the phone due to the fact that this male nurse was on duty that night.
He was a very gentle soft-spoken guy that I really liked until the night I caught him peering under my covers when I woke up. (He clearly needed some higher goals.) The problem was that along with my nightly dose of Ambien, I was in such a fog induced state with yet another shot of magnesium that I questioned what I thought I saw. He stopped immediately when I lifted my head up, and I began wondering what exactly I had just witnessed. Was he looking for my arm to take my blood pressure? He hadn’t turned the lights on. Was he making sure my catheter was not tangled, or trying to find my IV? See my dilemma? I couldn’t say anything…to anyone. I’m also pretty sure he tried to cop a feel every time he put my blood pressure cuff on, but, again, was I imagining that due to the fact that I was delirious from the magnesium shot? These thoughts are the only reason I wasn’t on the national news being interview by Matt Lauer about how a male nurse groped me–a pregnant woman–during his shift. From then on I just made sure my covers were sealed around me and that the arm that he would need for the blood pressure cuff was as far away from my boob as I could get it.
Fortunately, I never had that nurse again. I’m not sure why but maybe my prayers just simply got answered.
As the days wore on, I had doctor after doctor coming in to check on me. We discussed my birth plan as well as the obstacles I would indeed face if I chose to have an epidural (choice number one) since I had scoliosis surgery back when I was twelve which came complete with three rods and spinal fusion. They sent one of the best epidural givers in the country apparently, and he said he would be able to do the epidural–crazy spine, hardware and all. Awesome.
It was starting to look really good, and my expectations for two healthy babies being born according to my already adjusted plan were getting higher and higher.
During my stay, I became a connoisseur of hospital food and would look forward to the days they actually let me eat meat. Oh, yeah, along with the magnesium came a liquid diet. I got broth and jello and tea. Yum. During those times it was so good to me, though. I loved it when my lunch tray would come in. This was another activity that would take up one of the hours of my never-ending day. I didn’t like it, however, when visitors would come just as I got my tray. I didn’t want to eat in front of them because it made me feel weird. (I was laying in a sheath that I was completely naked under in a bed that had a bag of pee hanging off of it, and I didn’t want to eat my hospital meal in front of someone?) I guess it just pushed the whole weird factor off the charts for me. Whatever.
Now, my husband is one of twelve so, as you can imagine, we had us some visitors. Some of the visitors brought visitors. That was always fun. (Refer back to the feeling awkward already) One visit in particular stood out as a memory I will go to my grave with. Just some background information–I have always been extremely particular about my body. I started working out in my bedroom at nine years old in the morning before I went to school. I taught aerobics/step/kickboxing/ for about twelve years of my life and then took up running. My physique was not only important, but exercise was in my blood. I loved it. Fast forward to this nifty scene of me in my hospital bed with family I was still getting to know and, well, their guests coming in for a lengthy
never ending visit one evening. I was in the bed–no kidding?–and unbelievably self-conscious about my body from the ass down. Forget about what was above my knees and let me explain the monstrosity below. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. Well, I have, but not on me. My legs were so swollen from all of the IV fluids and no movement that they were like two foreign objects sticking out of my body. My ankles had completely vanished. I looked like a Lego–nice face–weird body. My toes had become Vienna sausages complete with straggly hairs I couldn’t see much less reach to shave. Let’s put it this way, “Ain’t nobody gonna ever see this.”
Back to the company.
I desperately had to go to the restroom (this was a time in my journey when I was catheter free), and I asked Thomas to come around to my bedside and help me get my slippers on so I could shuffle my larger than life self over to the restroom. The way my mind works, I just figured that statement would be a signal to the guests that I needed some personal time in a room that was half a foot from where they were all loitering, so maybe they would just go ahead and call it a night. Well, apparently that’s just me. Well, one of
the loiterers Thomas’ brother’s best friend, “Pitty-Pat”…yep, happened to be closer to me. As soon as the words left my mouth, I began to see Thomas’ mind begin to formulate a more convenient option, and panic set in. Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it. I was trying to mind-Jedi this information over to Thomas, but the dreaded words came anyway.
“Pitty-Pat, will you help Amy with her slippers?”
If daggers actually could shoot out of eyeballs, we would have been planning Thomas’ funeral the next day.
Oh no he di int.
So here comes sweet ‘ole Pitty-Pat coming over getting the most up close and personal look at my two sausage legs. Maybe he could hit my toes with a razor while he was there. Not much to lose at this point. As I was mental noting the conversation I would be having with the nurse once they left about preparing a hospital bed down in ICU for my husband, I watched poor, poor Pitty-Pat bend over trying to shove my sausage stumps into granny hospital slippers and wondered if this moment would be seared in his brain like it was going to be seared in mine. I was even thinking about taking up the doctors on that offer for those drugs that up until then I had no intention of taking because I didn’t want my babies exposed to drugs like that. Things change. So what if I have high babies, maybe all three of us will forget this ever happened.
Anyway, the company left, and I had a little conversation with the husband. We’ll just leave it at that. He was sleeping on a three by four plank after all. Lol.
After about 21 days and nights of the never-ending stay in what I now believed to be the place I would grow old in, my contractions started to lift. My doctors were beginning to think I could go home and continue the last five weeks of my pregnancy at home. What? I did all of this and I’m coming home with absolutely nothing to gain from it but possibly needing to set up some therapy sessions? The disappointment was palpable. This information came to us on a night Thomas was there, and I’m sure he must have been ecstatic to not have to spend another night on the three by four plank, but he just consoled me sweetly anyway. Then came some really good news. The nurse had come in to give me my nightly dose of Ambien, and remove my catheter. Whoo hoo!!!!
“Free at last, Free at last. Thank God, I’m free at last.”
Well, as you know by now with my stories, It ain’t over till it’s over.
I was laying there thinking of all the things I was going to do the next day (still hadn’t learned my lesson) when I started to feel moisture in my bed. I was so used to just peeing at will maybe it was still happening. I told Thomas that I was going to get up and go to the bathroom and check something, and that he needed to make sure I came back after having taken the Ambien and all. Nothing unusual I guess. I went back to the bed and decided to call the nurse just in case. What if this was how a water breaks? I know people say it gushes, but very little had been normal in my pregnancy, so I wasn’t going to ignore it.
In a few minutes the young blond nurse came in to check me, and as she was doing this now way too familiar activity of glove on hand–finger in vagina–asked me (warning-this is so gross) if I had a yeast infection. As she was asking this question, she did this barely noticeable shiver and “icky” face that I most certainly did notice. My answer had been “No” because it was true, and also because I had been on Diflucan since I got there to prevent that very possibility since I was on a cocktail of antibiotics that are notorious for bringing one on. So, what was she so horrified about and pretending (poorly by-the-way) not to be? I was starting to panic. Was I ruined down there? Was I ever going to be the same again? Was it so hideous now that even a nurse couldn’t look at it without wanting to vomit? Not one baby had even come out of my vagina yet, and it’s already setting off someone’s gag reflex? What the hell?
Soon another nurse was called in. What was this show and tell? Actually she brought in these special strips that would change a certain color if the liquid coming out of me was indeed my water. The strips changed color, and within five minutes my water actually did break, and…it was a gush. Normal! Yay!
Time to have a baby…five weeks early
What? You’ve got to be kidding. The good thing is, is that the doctors really wanted me to get to this week in my pregnancy and felt it was very safe to deliver. And side note–I wasn’t hideous. It was my mucus plug that the nurse, unfortunately, had to witness me losing. Gross!!!!! Sorry, but I feel the need to tell you that it’s awesome and not hideous down there.
Before you know it my own personal entourage was surrounding me prepping me for the big moment. I got a nice little shave that was a little awkward! Really it was. I know you think after all that I could probably walk naked down the street and not really care, but, no, that’s not true. I was so excited, though, that I got over it quickly. I was a little stressed out that I had just taken an Ambien. How is that supposed to work? Thank goodness I wasn’t going to have to push. If you have ever taken an Ambien you would know that It causes you to go into a coma like state for about eight hours. Still wondering if that was going to be a problem, another bit of news came my way.
My catheter had to go back in.
“No thank you.”
“I’m sorry, it does.”
“I would prefer to just pee on myself please.”
So, the next step was to take myself and eventually Thomas to the surgery room in order to get prepped for the arrival.
But, first I must tell you about the epidural. Remember Dr. Confident who said no worries about my spine? Yeah, that was going to be a problem. When getting an epidural you have to bend your back in the shape of a C so they can reach the right area. Now spinal fusion (I told you about this earlier with the scoliosis surgery) means no more bending. They wanted me to get in the same position as a normal person, and then he would do his magic. I was thinking this was going to be interesting because my spine doesn’t bend…at all. After about thirty minutes, my arms being pulled like taffy over whatever that thing was (Ambien was really kicking in at this point) prayers to the heavens above by my sweet little black nurse (AKA the “Taffy puller”) and prayers by me at the command by her to “Pray with me honey!” and MULTIPLE sticks, the doctor finally said that he was not going to be able to do the epidural and any more tries might give me an infection.
This came with more bad news. I was going to have to go under anesthesia, and Thomas would not be allowed in because they would treat it as a normal surgery. Neither one of us were going to witness the birth of our babies. How much more bad news would be in the pipeline? I was getting numb to it…or maybe that was the Ambien. Whatever…just let me go to sleep!!!!
The next thing I remember was that I was being wheeled by two of the tiniest babies in incubators. Are these mine? Drugs…so…many…drugs.
The next thing I remember was my mom telling me how wonderful my babies were. What babies? Drugs…so…many…drugs.
The next thing I remember was that my best friends Doug and Sharon Wesley were in my room telling me how tiny and sweet my babies were. What babies? I asked them to stay put so I could visit but that I was going to close my eyes for just a second. I woke up the next day. Drugs….so…tired.
The next thing I remembered was that I was getting wheeled down to the NICU to see my babies that apparently half of the state of Georgia had already seen and held.
Those two tiny babies I saw earlier were mine. I held them like I may drop them while the nurse tossed them up and played basketball with them as I waited for the next baby to be put in my arms. It was the scariest thing. How was I supposed to know what to do? Thomas was sitting across from me holding one like he had done it all his life. Oh yeah, one of twelve, the oldest boy, the second born…
They would bring the babies to my room to be breastfed and then come back and pick them up when I was finished.
So…two babies…just been cut open…all alone in the room…hmmm.
I would have to lift my bed up using the remote control, take one baby out of the bassinet and lay it beside me, then get the other baby and feed it. Then I would lay that one down beside me and pick up the other one and feed it. Then I would have to figure out how to get both of them back in that little bassinet. That was a lot of work after major surgery!! Then, they would come pick up my newest little treasures and I would get to lay back down and drift off to a very happy place. Yes, they were out of me and I took the drugs now. Yesireee. In the breast milk you say? Don’t know. Don’t care.
So it was my second day of mommyhood and really getting the hang of things.
Step One: Feed babies
Step Two: Give them back
Step Three: Take nap.
This totally works for me. On this glorious second day of motherhood, I was on step two and had them all ready to be whisked away when the nurse came in to give me my medicine. Then something strange happened. She started to walk away…without the babies…
“Hey there, aren’t cha forgetting something?”
“Oh no. They’re yours.”
“But we had this nifty little arrangement all worked out.”
“Yes, but now they’re yours.”
She smiled and left my room.
I turned and looked at the two little baby burritos lying beside me. All mine…
“Ok, girls, this is what we’ve been waiting for.”
“I’m your mommy, and I will love you to the end of time.”