I had my tonsils removed when I was 19. Before that, the only thing close to surgery was when I got my wisdom teeth removed at age 17. I’d only stayed overnight in a hospital one time before my emergency c-section.
Scared and alone, with the exception of those 2 small babies in my belly, I had my first major surgery.
While my life wasn’t in danger, It was a true emergency for my babies. One of my twins’ heart rate was decelerating. I’m not even sure if it was beating as they rushed me to the OR. I was too scared to ask what they had seen on the ultrasound machine before the doctor asked me the question that would change all of our lives.
“Do you want to do everything you can to save these babies?”
There wasn’t a moment of hesitation.
“Yes,” I said with tears streaming down my face.
I knew it was too soon, they were too little, and the odds were stacked against them. There was no other choice.
Just the day before, my husband and I had met with a Neonatologist. He had come to prepare us for what might happen if I had to deliver my twins early.
I had been in the hospital a little over a week. When I hit 24 weeks, I asked if I should be admitted for closer monitoring. My twins had been diagnosed with TTTS and SIUGR, both conditions of their shared placenta, since week 16. Actually, the doctors went back and forth between the two conditions because there were signs of both. The only thing that mattered was that one twin was significantly smaller than the other, and he wasn’t getting good blood flow. The chances of his survival were unknown at best.
If he didn’t make it, and he was still inside my body with his brother, there was a chance his brother wouldn’t make it either. When twins are connected through a shared placenta, their blood flow is connected. If one passes, there is a chance all that blood will rush into the living baby, causing a stroke and brain damage.
So, while their survival inside me was uncertain, their delivery didn’t bring much better odds.
The neonatologist gave us the statistics on survival rates at 24 weeks, 25 weeks, and 28 weeks. They were hoping to get me as far along as possible. He told me every hour I could keep those babies inside me could mean one less day in the NICU.
Yes, each hour was that important.
He cautioned that even if they survived, it didn’t mean there wouldn’t be complications both in the short-term, and for the rest of their lives. Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Lung Disease, Hearing Loss, and Vision Impairment were just a few of the words I remember.
The Night Before
After the doctor left, I felt like I was in shock. I think part of me thought that if I reached viability, 24 weeks, the doctors would be able to take over and make my babies OK.
But, they are just doctors. They do their best, but they can’t save every baby.
My husband had sat with me to listen to the doctor, but I wanted to be alone after that. Plus, he had to take care of our other child at home.
Although, I couldn’t be alone.
A nurse was with me most of the time I was in the hospital. She had continuously adjust the monitors on my belly. I had two straps with monitors wrapped tightly around trying to trace both babies’ heart beats. At a little over 25 weeks, it’s very hard to keep the babies on the monitor. They are so small, and they move around a lot.
So, she would get them in place, and then have to keep coming back to adjust. If I had to use the bathroom, she would unhook me, and then we’d have to start all over again finding each heart beat when I got back in bed.
My belly was sore. My body was sore, and my anxiety was through the roof. Even with the sleeping pill they allowed me, I hardly slept at all that night. The nurse had stayed for most of the night, but then left. She had been with me for hours, and she had other patients.
By the time I was finally too tired to think, it was getting light out. I heard a slow heart beat on the monitor, and I realized that it must not be mine. I almost turned over because I was just so tired, but something made me press that nurse call button.
That choice change my life. It saved a life. I will forever be grateful for whatever stopped me from just rolling over.
As soon as I told the nurse about the slow heartbeat on the monitor, about 4 nurses rushed in. They turned me on my side and gave me oxygen. They told me to take deep breathes, and they called the doctor. Or maybe he was already on his way.
It wasn’t my doctor, but whoever was on call. He brought a portable Ultrasound machine with him, and scanned my belly. I still, to this day, do not know what he saw. Whatever it was, it told him it was time for my babies to come out.
They really do shout “Book an OR” like on TV.
I asked if I could call my mom or my husband, but there was no time. As they cut off my pants and lifted me to the operating table, I was crying and in shock.
I didn’t feel the catheter go in, but I did see the mask come down over my face as the anesthesiologist tried to calm me down. Honestly, I don’t remember if she asked me to count, but I do remember her yelling at the doctors and nurses not to start yet because I wasn’t out.
I also remember praying that I wouldn’t feel them cut me open.
The last thing I remember was praying to God that both of my babies would be alive when I woke up.
Why I Share
I don’t share my story to frighten anyone. Please don’t feel sorry for me or feel sad. Even though I didn’t get the pregnancy or delivery I wanted, I got a miracle. Two miracles, in fact.
Born at 25 weeks, 5 days, my boys were born weighing 1 lb 7 oz and 2 lbs 2 oz. They spent 91 and 93 days in the NICU before coming home.
They are now 5-years-old, in kindergarten, and best friends.
I share my story because there are thousands of other similar stories out there that don’t get heard. People need to realize what a high-risk pregnancy looks like. An emergency c-section is truly an emergency situation, and a premature birth is something you can’t prepare for.
However, if there is someone out there reading this that is experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, I want you to know I made it through. I would do it all again just to have my babies alive and safe. You will be able to handle whatever you need to do in order to fight for your babies.
For the last 2 years, the premature birth rate has increased in this country. That scares me, and needs to stop. Not everyone is as lucky as we are with their outcome.
Since I am not a doctor or a researcher, sharing is the only weapon I have to fight this devastating killer. Please help me by sharing my story, or sharing your own. You can also visit the March of Dimes for more information. Please click HERE to learn why we support this organization.
Have you experienced an emergency c-section? Do you know anyone who has given birth prematurely?
Will you share our story?