As you may have noticed, its been a while since my last update on here! We’ve had an unbelievably busy year, some events that basically flipped our world upside-down! About a year ago I announced that I was pregnant with TWINS, which really stepped up our game…this meant lots of projects & preparations in a VERY short amount of time! We started almost immediately because I was warned that twin pregnancies are often shorter than singletons, in fact my doctor cautioned me that because of my stature, the babies may run out of space a few weeks earlier than expected…but what happened next blew our expectations right out of the water.
At 27 weeks & 3 days, just as we were finishing up the bulk of our preparations around the house, my water broke. The day started like any other day, I woke up feeling excited and grateful for my giant growing belly (here’s a photo I
took about a week before), while working at my shop I began feeling tired and crampy, so much so that I decided to close and go home. The half hour drive home felt like an eternity, I was in tears from the pain. Due to the nature of it, this pregnancy came with lots of cramps and pain, so I assumed maybe it was just part of the process, it was too early to be in labor, so I thought….I arrived home and called Brett, he rushed right home. Meanwhile, I decided to let the hospital know how I felt; they advised me to RUSH in. 20 minutes later we were standing in the emergency room explaining my situation to the nurses, and then it happened. My water broke. Onlookers cheered and wished me well (as I looked more than full term), I cried and yelled frantically that we had to stop it, Brett screamed “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING, IT’S TOO SOON!!” The next couple hours were a blur, I was pricked with what felt like 1,000 needles & hooked up to countless machines, next thing I knew, I was on an ambulance headed to a hospital with a high risk labor and delivery and a level 3 NICU.
After settling into the new hospital, doctors advised me although it was possible they the could be born at any moment, they would do everything in their power to keep the twins from coming. I was injected with steroids to help mature the babies lungs, and drugs to help prevent brain complications due to extreme prematurity. Doctors tried to prepare us with realities we just weren’t prepared to face. We were told that the twins may not survive their birth, and if they did, there was the possibility of several health complications and developmental delays. We prayed that I’d last another hour, then a day, maybe even a whole week…but the babies had other plans. 4 days later, on May 21, 2015 at 12:32pm Hayden Claire & Grant David arrived via cesarean section. Hayden was just 1 lb 14 oz. and Grant was 2lbs 2oz.
They were the tiniest, and most beautiful babies I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe they were outside of my belly and now a part of our world, in fact they WERE our entire world. I spent the next 4 days sitting in a wheel chair by their side while I recovered from my c-section. I felt helpless, like there was nothing I could do to help them. I couldn’t help them grow anymore, they needed machines for that, in fact they wouldn’t be living without those machines. I knew the only things I could offer them were LOVE, support, and milk. So I held their hands, reminded them how strong they were, and pumped as much milk as I could. I felt so grateful and lucky that despite their early birth, I had a excellent supply of milk, so I pumped around the clock (I eventually pumped so much milk that it ended up sustaining both of them for 6 months!) The day I was discharged from the hospital without my babies was the worst day of my life. It felt so unnatural to be going home without them, and knowing that I’d have to do that everyday for the next few months felt unbearable. I knew my babies were fighters, but was I? I doubted my strength. We pulled up to our home, but it didn’t feel like ours anymore; it felt like theirs. After all, everything we did was for THEM. I told Brett I wouldn’t look at it the same until they were there with us. I wanted to feel normal, so we tied balloons to the mailbox that said “Welcome Baby Boy” and “Welcome Baby Girl”…no one had to know they weren’t home yet. I just wanted to celebrate them regardless.
We spent every single day in the NICU, we’d drive up at 10am and leave around 10 pm. We became regulars in the hospital cafeteria (I still miss their chicken & rice soup)! I always felt a pit in my stomach when we walked past the elevators and saw all the parents carrying car seats filled with full term babies, I’d ask myself, “did they understand how lucky they were”? We spent the next few weeks holding Hayden & Grant as much as we could, speaking with doctors, and trying to wrap our heads around preemie conditions, medical terms and tests we never imagine we’d have to understand. Ventilators, CPAP, brain scans, stomach Xrays, pic lines, feeding tubes, and my personal favorite (not), the pulse ox and heart rate monitors, these things quickly became second nature to us. The nurses would laugh when the monitors would sound and we’d yell “it was just a quick ‘desat’ (oxygen de-saturation) he came back up on his own!” Which really meant the babies were a work in process, but were slowly learning how to breath effectively on their own. We had great days, reducing breathing support, first baths, first outfits, allowing the babies to attempt to breast feed for the first time, and one of my favorites, moving them out of incubators and into REAL cribs!! The bad days were few between, but they were there. I’ll never forget the night I had a bad feeling and called the NICU around 11pm to see how they’d been (we’d just left around 9pm), the nurse told me Grant was having a terrible time since we left. His oxygen saturation kept dropping, and she had to nudge him several times to get him breath. We flew to back to the hospital and I held him for hours, he didn’t drop his oxygen once during that time, maybe he just missed us, we’ll never know! We slept on the sofa in their room that night, but he gave us a real scare!
Over the next several weeks, we watched Grant and Hayden grow and thrive in the NICU. The nurses and doctors became a second family to us and them, they cared for them (and us)with such compassion, it was simply incredible. The NICU became our home, it was our babies first home, our whole life now existed there. As the end of our stay grew closer, oddly enough we realized that we may miss the NICU just as much as we wanted to get the babies home.
We would sometimes attend the doctors “rounds” in the morning. This was where they’d meet to discuss each child. One day at rounds, about 8.5 weeks into their stay, I asked the doctors if we could start the twins “spell watch”. This was a period of time (usually 5 days) that the babies would need to go through without having any issues, and if they made it, they could go home. The doctors looked at me reluctantly and said “okay, today is day 0”. My heart skipped a beat. This meant that if all the stars aligned, the babies had a real shot a finally coming home in less than a week! At this point, the babies were off all breathing support, and taking their milk without feeding tubes, so they had to prove that they could really do it all on their own! Of course we didn’t make it through the first spell watch, in fact we had to “reset the clock” back to day 0 several times, which was absolutely devastating, this was the longest and most excruciating part of our stay. Finally, after a little over 10 weeks, we had made it safely through the spell watches! Grant was a day ahead of Hayden, coming home on August 2, and Hayden on August 3-but we made it! It felt surreal that after almost 3 months we were allowed to leave the hospital with our babies! We cried bittersweet tears because we were so grateful yet sad to leave our second home. It was an incredible day.
When people hear of our experience, spending 2.5 months in the NICU with our 28 weekers, the common reaction is “oh, I’m so sorry, that must have been terrible”. The truth is, yes, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced, but I wouldn’t trade it or change a thing if given the chance. Grant and Hayden were born different. They had to prove themselves, and fight for their lives from their very first breath. In my eyes, they’re superheros, and I hope they carry that with them forever. Watching these babies beat all the odds humbled me in a way I’ve never experienced, and taught me how little control we really have sometimes. This is their story, my wish for them is that they always know how much they are loved and never doubt their strength, because they fought HARD to be here.
The twins are now about to turn ONE and we are beyond grateful for the progress they’ve made. Throughout their first year, the twins were followed by early intervention and countless specialists (eye doctors, ear doctors, physical therapists, nutritionists, you name it)! When we brought them home we were told that preemies of their gestation (born 3 months early) are given a window of 2 years to catch up to kids born at the same time, because we are essentially asking them to speed up their development by a whole 3 months ahead of what they would have been. We were also told that despite their wonderful progress in the NICU, we may face some developmental delays in the first year. Well, we don’t know what we did to get so lucky, but at the 10.5 month mark Grant and Hayden were both discharged from just about all of their specialists, including their physical therapist who felt they had already fully caught up! The only specialist we kept was a nutritionist because they are simply picky eaters! We realize how our experience could have been drastically different, and we count our lucky stars for their strength and health everyday. We know one thing for sure, we never have and never will take a single second with them for granted.
Here’s the video I created to document their first year of life, and everything it took to get them here!