After almost 2 months of throwing around words like “cerclage,” “velamentous cord insertion” and “betamethazone” like we were talking about the weather, we’ve realized a few things:
- Most people probably don’t know/care what these things are, or will ever have reason to
- Damn, we’re glad to not have to talk about that stuff anymore
- Our new vocabulary (isolette, nasal canula, gavage feedings) is probably just as uninteresting to most people
But in the interest of catching people up to speed, we’ll go ahead and throw them all in this post (with fun “urban dictionary” type explanations) for your enjoyment! If anything, you’ll be that much more educated about high risk pregnancy and can pull these phrases out at dinner parties and look really smart. Some of you have already heard this story and have walked alongside us for most of it. If you’re one of these people, you can just fast forward to the cute baby pics. You know how the story ends. =)
We had made our 20 week ultrasound appointment–the fancy one at the perinatal clinic–for the day after school let out. Mostly because that was when we were due for it, but also as an exciting symbol of finally being able to throw ourselves into a summer of Expecting Twins. At that appointment we learned that my cervix was shortened–to a scary extent–and that we needed immediate surgery to put in a rescue cerclage (fancy surgical crochet-work to sew my cervix shut so the babies wouldn’t fall out). On average, the doc said he’d been able to buy expecting twin moms an extra 10-12 weeks with this procedure. Some quick mental math revealed that, ok–we’re going to have babies a lot sooner than we expected.
The next day, we were in for the surgery, and after 45 minutes AWAKE in an OR with my numbed-up lady parts exposed to a dozen people (one of them being a really nice nurse who let me listen to Pandora on her iphone in a feeble attempt to drown out the doc’s play-by-play that I told him I wasn’t really interested in), I was told I could go home as soon as I could feel my legs and prove that I could pee. After 3 hours of Nick getting his kicks poking me with random recovery room paraphernalia and saying “can you feel THIS?,” I finally passed my test and went home on modified bed rest orders for the next 2 weeks.
Weekly ultrasounds ensued, where we would find out “baby dimensions” (Nick’s terms) and see live dopplers of their bloodflow to make sure both were getting enough of my placental awesomeness. Turns out Baby B was not, due to a velamentous cord insertion (umbilical cord attached to the edge of my placenta instead of the middle–not that uncommon in identical twins, who have not yet had one of Nick’s kindergarten “sharing” lessons). So again, we were being “monitored” for that. The weekly doctor appointments usually went something like this:
- Ultrasound tech chases 2 spastic babies around my belly for about an hour, saying cute things like “you little rascal! show me that cute little femur!” but probably thinking, “you little bastard! you’re making me hate this job. stop doing backflips, dammit.”
- Doc comes in and tells us babies are growing, BUT [insert reason to worry here]
- Nick asks doc if all the things I’m doing on modified bed rest are ok (blinking, swallowing, breathing) or if I’m endangering our unborn babies
- Doc says everything I’m doing is fine.
- We spend the drive home arguing about what exactly the doctor said was fine for me to do.
At our 23 week ultrasound, we strutted into the clinic all cocky-like, because our 22 week scan had finally been a good one, with the doc saying everything looked fine and babies were growing, cerclage was holding–all rainbows and butterflies. After the usual hour of baby-chasing by the ultrasound tech, we waited an unusually long time for the doc to come in (we had seen a new doc from the group each time–this was another new one). He told us that my cervix was shortened further and that the babies were being held in by a thread (kind of literally, considering the fancy crochet-work up in there) and that this meant we would not be passing go or collecting $200, we would be going straight to hospital baby jail. They even made me wear jail clothes.
Ok they didn’t really make me wear jail clothes. But they did take me straight from the perinatal ultrasound clinic through secret hospital baby jail tunnels in a wheelchair to my cell, just to make sure I didn’t try and make a run for it. The next 72 hours consisted of fetal monitoring, IV drips with evil side effects, fetal monitoring, betamethazone shots (steroid shots that would guarantee the babes would fail olympic doping tests if they were born in the next 2 weeks and tried to join the US cycling team), and more fetal monitoring. They said if everyone behaved in utero, I could go home at 26 weeks.
The first couple of weeks actually went by pretty quickly, thanks to lots of visitors, a baby shower via Skype and another one moved to the hospital! I vowed to stay “productive” and spent the other hours working on baby room art projects, doing daycare research, googling my odds of staying pregnant for more than 28 weeks, and sending Nick home during the day to FaceTime me into projects he was working on around the house. I also got daily “alternative therapies” (acupuncture, reflexology, qigong, massage, guided imagery) that made me feel like i was being productive and proactive during my jail sentence, even though I admit, and Nick will tell you, it sometimes looked like voodoo magic. Everyone had creative and well-intentioned suggestions for passing the time during my stay at Chateau Abbott, including catching up on all episodes of Breaking Bad, learning Mandarin Chinese, reading lots of Cosmo, knitting something (also requiring learning how to knit), and starting a blog (which I laughed at at the time). While I appreciated all of these ideas, I stubbornly stayed my course of “being productive” during daylight hours and watching the olympics with Nick and my parents during primetime as my “guilty pleasure.” Mom totally did it up for the opening ceremonies–full room decorations and olympic-themed food and games included.
Now that I’m NOT ON IT ANYMORE, I should point out the perks/memories of being on hospitalized bed rest.
- A nice, cozy bed for my husband (Nick stayed almost every night–what a trooper)
- Arts and crafts class on Thursdays. Yes, I made this, and no, I don’t know what it’s for. But I followed the Swedish clown-school-drop-out-turned-artist’s instructions exactly.
- Free blood pressure checks for Nick by my brother (another clown that visited)
- A memorable 2nd anniversary
As we neared the 26 week mark, I had a growing premonition that SOMETHING was going to happen that would preclude me from going home. I tried to ignore it, but seriously–we’d had surprises at every corner so far. No way were we going home.
Shore nuff–the night before I was going to be discharged, I started having contractions. They drugged me up good and managed to stop them, but not before I had managed to dilate to 3cm. Bam. Jail sentence extended. Indefinitely.
They increased my meds and told me to get comfortable, because we needed to get to at least 28-29 weeks to really get the babies out of the woods. I was crushed, but I put on my big girl panties (literally–i was getting pretty huge) and crossed my legs tight, ready for the long haul.
Less than a week later, at exactly 27 weeks, contractions started up again in the middle of the night, but this time nothing was going to stop them. The nurse called the on-call doc, who showed up in a few minutes looking like he was fresh out of a REM cycle. He stuck his entire arm up to the shoulder up my hoo-ha and declared me 7cm dilated. He asked us if we wanted a c-section or a vaginal birth with the possibility of a c-section on the second baby. We thought about it for about .3 seconds and decided to go with the c-section.
Here’s how I remember the rest:
The minute we said “we’ll take the c-section, please,” the doc snapped his fingers and a team of 400 people marched into the room and started speaking to me in 9 different languages and hooking me up to various machines, inserting IVs into every available vein and asking me to sign forms. They wheeled me into the OR, made Nick go put on scrubs, and an anesthesiologist with an evil cackle tried to wheezle a rusty piece of barbed wire into my back. He poked at my legs and belly with a turkey carving fork asking “can you feel THIS?” (which was really weird deja vu), and I could still feel a lot of his pokes. For a minute I was convinced they were just going to slice me open anyway, but I heard someone say “knock her out.” Say WHAT? I waited for a blunt object, but instead got a mask on my face and some burning stuff in my IV, which I remember thinking must be the stuff they give death penalty criminals, minus the extra stuff that makes it painless. Then they said Nick wouldn’t be able to come in at all, and then I don’t remember anything.
I woke up with a tube in my throat that did NOT feel like it should be there, and I think I signed something to the effect of “OUT. NOW.” Luckily the OR staff knew ASL, and promptly removed the tube, and Nick came in and told me a really mean lie: we had 2 baby girls. I knew this was impossible, because I was 100% sure we were having boys, so I told the anesthesiologist to put more death juice in my IV because somehow I had woken up during the surgery and was hallucinating. Nick insisted that the babies were out and that they both had vaginas. I remember thinking that it was really weird that we just had 2 boys with vaginas. And then I don’t remember anything again.
Nick went with the babies through the creepy underground tunnel to Children’s Hospital,
and I woke up in the recovery room with my parents, who also insisted that our boys had vaginas. After awhile, they wheeled me through the long creepy tunnel to the NICU to see our tiny baby boys with vaginas.
Nick was there, and assured me they were both girls AND that they were going to be ok. I was confused, but relieved. I don’t remember going back through the creepy tunnel.
We ended up in a new, much smaller room on the postpartum floor, since I had graduated from antepartum. Our parents drove a UHaul up to the 5th floor room to unload all our stuff and bring it home. Nick said we had to come up with names. This had been a struggle for us, and we had KIND OF narrowed it down to a short list of about 12 girl names the night before, but I was kind of ignoring the girl name list because I knew we wouldn’t need GIRL names since we were having BOYS. It was a lot easier to come up with names when we had babies BORN and WAITING for names.
The official stats on the babes became:
Nora Ella Windschitl
Born August 6th, 2012 at 6:19am
“Dimensions”: 2 lbs, 13.75 inches
Bryn Reegan Windschitl
Born August 6th, 2012 at 6:20am
“Dimensions”: 1lb 4oz, 11.5 inches
This is where the birth story ends and the life story begins. We promise this will be the longest post and the rest will be mostly pictures of cute babies and won’t mention my hoo ha at all.
Sara & Nick