The Intoxicating and Addictive Allure of a Baby

With my first Mother’s Day behind me, and a huge move across the country just days ahead, I found myself thinking about the adventure we are about to embark on.

The next chapter of our lives includes a road trip with two cars and two babies. At nine months old, they are still technically six months old because of prematurity. If I asked you what your six month old was like, you wouldn’t remember. That is now known to me as the cloud of allure. Let me remind you what six month olds are like – absolute terrors!

Every day is a battle with Jekyl and Hyde in baby form and times two. At 6:54 in the morning, I peek in at them on their monitors; they are in their respective cribs, bored and clawing at the taut sheets, not yet screaming because the boredom and hunger have yet to enrage them. I lay in bed, hopeful to get some last moments of rest when I hear one yell out.

“EHHHHHHH!”

A sharp wave of anxiety rushes through me. My heart beats a little faster. F%ck. It’s 7:02. They aren’t supposed to eat until 8:30. I peek in again on their monitors. Both are on their sides and sleeping; meaty, soft arms are draped over their sides. Who yelled out? It’s a game to them, i know it.

I miss them. Looking in at their soft skin, I yearn to hold them and touch them and make them smile. The smiles…they’re addictive! Why though? They scream, they fuss, and are often inconsolable. We do everything we can for them, trying to mask our frustration behind a worried smile. We check the clock – is it nap time yet? Dammit, no! We frantically find toys that might entertain. We clap, we dance, we sing…all of it might work for a split second. We are exhausted.

We take babies for walks to kill time. We give them baths to kill time. Do all babies have a witching hour?

My two little hell raisers begin their fits around 5:30 at night. They’re tired, I’m tired, hubby is tired…but they don’t eat until 7 or 7:30. What do we do?

A long day turns into a long night. We guiltily find ourselves excited that the night feed is upon us. They bathe, get changed, eat, get burped, poop, get changed again, and go to bed. That’s when we are free.

Hubby makes dinner. We eat, have a glass of wine, and head to bed. Our living room seems a place of leisure from a past life. Our bedroom is now our safe haven. The girls have been in bed for maybe an hour. I peek in on them on the monitor and my heart swells looking at them sleeping sweetly. I resist the urge to go in and touch them as stirring the beasts would only bite me in the end.

I miss them. I sleep for a couple hours and peek in again. I wake at 6:08. I peek in. I cannot wait to hold them, hug them, and touch their soft skin.

We are practically tortured daily by babies, but yearn and crave them. They sometimes drive us to the brink, but we love them. As everyone says, it’s worth it.

They’re intoxicating. They’re also horrible. I love them. They are addicting. After a long day of screaming and inconsolable unrest, I go to sleep. I miss them already.

Cutie A on left and Cutie B on right posing with their once too-big preemie diapers.

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23 and 4

At 19 and 6, it was glaringly obvious to all of the doctors that modified bed rest was the best thing. I was no longer driving, was working from home, and was to have minimal movement up and down stairs. Pfffffffft. No one is going to tell me when I can and cannot have a sandwich…or cake. Delicious, amazing, single-serve mug cake. That was one exception I made for going up and down the stairs. I would wake at 3AM every morning with a rage craving for CAKE…s’mores cake, confetti cake, strawberry shortcake cake…all of the cakes. I sincerely want to know which baby forced me from my restless sleep every night for this ridiculous craving!

At 23 weeks and 3 days, I was on top of the world! A close friend threw us a shower in our home so that I didn’t have to leave. How cool was that?! The party came to us! What I did not realize at the time was that I was way too mobile. By the end of that Sunday, after seeing the last person off, my legs hurt, my belly was doing this weird thing where it would stiffen and felt like it was vibrating, and my feet looked like balloons. I was on my feet all day long. Tired, I went to bed early.

I was on top of the world…until the middle of the night at 23 weeks, 4 days. I was awoken by the feeling of a clot passing. I hoped it wasn’t, but I checked, and it was. Again, my belly kept getting hard, vibrating, and it looked like a baby was trying to push out the side of my belly. I called out to hubby and told him we needed to go. Unfazed, he got out of bed and quickly changed as I took one, last quick shower. I knew that a shower was a luxury that would be taken away if I had to stay at the hospital. I also knew that the doctors would be awaiting my return, so I had packed bags to take with me – including my tweezers and my magnifying mirror. God.

I panicked looking for the number to labor and delivery, not knowing I was leaving a trail of blood in my wake as I looked for where I had written the number down. I found it and called to let them know that they would be having a visitor soon. Hubby and I were both calm, yet worried on our way in. He dropped me off at the front of the hospital and went to park. I hurried to the elevator and made my way up to L&D (Labor and Delivery) on the 4th floor.

I went through the motions of everything, including the red pee sample. I wanted to cry. I had two little angels in my belly that were relying on my strength to make it another few weeks to our next milestone of 28 weeks. No pressure.

The girls were a bit bigger now and a little easier to find on the ultrasound machine. Three straps around my belly – one for contractions, one for baby A, and one for baby B. They could always find baby A as she rested peacefully at the bottom of my uterus. Baby B – not so much. My ribs, my left side, my right side; she did not want to be bothered with this monitor! She would kick it, kick her sister, and kick me. That was when I determined that this baby would be Vivian, after Vivien Leigh from Gone With the Wind. Vivien’s character was strong-willed and determine. Baby A was quiet and unassuming – that would be Olivia, named after Olivia de Havilland and her character of Melanie Hamilton. I even knew their profiles on the monitor! The docs would never be able to pull a switcharoo :).

The machines told me two things – one, the babies’ heartbeats were perfect and two, I was contracting (those strange vibrations) every three minutes. You know what that meant – magnesium sulfate. Luckily I had snuck a Nature Valley bar on my way in because magnesium sulfate means no food and no water; just a sodium drip. I was to stay on a “mag drip” for four days. There was vomiting, negotiating a bed pan versus catheter, no food, no water, and no shower for four days. After the fourth day, I was allowed a nutritious and meaty meal of water, ice chips, and jello.

Through those four days, I got no rest. I was monitored hourly. Vivian moved constantly, so at the very moment I would finally doze off, a nurse would come in, apply some conductive gel, and move the monitor around to find her. The gel was itchy and I started to develop a rash where each of the girls resided.

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Olivia (far right) and Vivian’s (far left) Apartment and home decor (middle)

I felt disgusting. We had  two visitors to the room that Thursday, which I promptly turned away as I turn into Joe Pesce when I’m hungry, unshowered, and only allowed to pee in a bed pan. I also did not mention that I was working from my bed during all of this. As they left, a chaplain came into my room. That was the last straw. I was emotional, stressed, and exhausted. I finally started bawling and told her I would love it if she left so I could rest. She said she would grant my wish. A glimmer of hope rose within me, then she pulled up a chair and sat. I lost it on her.

“I just want to shower, I’m exhausted, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, and I want to be left alone! Please, just leave!”

In shock, she stood, tucked the chair away, apologized, and left. I asked hubby to leave too. He did.

Hubby came back with some Cheetos to which he promptly tucked away behind the couch on the window sill after asking if it was okay for me to have them. To my chagrin, it was not. I eye-f@#$ed the shit out of those the rest of the day and into the night. My eye cameras were drawn to that bag constantly like some inherent tractor beam within me that did not work. Pause for a moment from the Cheeto bag when…

My doctor came in and gave me a run down of the events that would follow. I was finally allowed that savory goodness known as jello and ice chips and I was also allowed to shower. I was also to stay three days after the bleeding had stopped. Oh my God. I cannot tell you how quickly I rolled out of my bed and waddled into the bathroom. The warm water felt amazing, but I was still bleeding slightly. Thankfully, the girls were safe and growing.

Later on, I revisited those Cheetos and somehow negotiated with my night nurse. I begged her to bring me the tasty morsels. I was to eat only half of the bag of Cheetos. Score. I savored every bite. They were phenomenal! Though I had half of the bag as promised, sadly, the bag did not make it through the night after my second wave of eating half the bag.

The next morning, I figured all evidence of my mid-morning feast was gone – my fingers were licked clean, then wiped, and my face was freshly washed. Well, the empty bag had fallen to the floor next to my bed and laid forgotten. I surely could not fetch it, so it stayed. Oh well.

cheetofest.jpgHubby took photographic evidence of said Cheeto destruction.

Those Cheetos never stood a chance against a ravenous, pregnant Joe Pesce. Never. Until next time, little buddies. Ugh. I still had three more days. I had bruises up and down my arms from blood draws and IVs and my arms were sore from all of the pokes. More importantly, through it all, hubby and I still made the best of things.

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A very pregnant hubby looks on for the camera.

Our NICU doctor, Dr. George Powers, paid us a visit to congratulate us on making it to 24 weeks. The mortality rate went down exponentially, but the risks were all still very real and very high with potential issues that could arise should the girls choose to come sooner (or should my body choose to force them out). With this visit, he broke down new statistics and measures to expect. With every visit from every doctor, we took great comfort in knowing that our girls were in the right place.

Do you know what else told us we were in the right place? The fact that my doctor on call did the below for me. I am the first documented case of twins post-radical robotic trachelectomy in the world. This doctor called me a unicorn (hence the continued unicorn theme with the girls). She was and is amazing. She has one heck of a sense of humor and genuinely cares for her patients. We are so honored to have experienced her care!

20170716_093930.jpgAn amazing hospitalist decorates my room to add color and cheer to detract from the Golden Girl era wallpaper and valances.
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Better Hospital Rooms & Gardens

By Sunday I was bored, had a craving for IHOP, and exhausted, but hey, at least I brought my tweezers with me; eyebrows on FLEEK! I was also released from the joint that Tuesday. Hallelujah!

And with that, the girls made it to their next milestone of 24 weeks…now to 28.

 

Micro Preemie Babies are Hard, Y’all

I know it’s been eons since I have written anything. To be honest, hubby and I have been through absolute hell the past 7 months. Between several visits to the hospital due to premature labor/bleeding, emergency c-section, a 92-day NICU stay that included heart surgery on both babies in their first week of life, taking home and raising not-your-average twins, and battling insurance, it’s been absolutely insane.

One thing that you’re never prepared for is having children. What you are also not prepared for is having more than one at once. What you are absolutely never ever positively not prepared for is having micro preemie more than one at once. It comes with its own unique set of challenges that are unlike those of term babies.

Within 5 days of having them home, I had been to the pediatrician with Vivian and Olivia twice. That’s two car seats, two pacifiers (which I did not pack because I was new to this new mom thing…I also did not pack a diaper bag), an oxygen tank, an SpO2 monitor (because sweet Vivian went home on oxygen), two co-pays, and oh yeah, I was getting a cold; the last thing you want to have when taking care of micro-preemies. That, folks, is $120 within 3 days. I had insisted on driving them on my own, telling hubby that he did not have to take time off work.

“I’ll have to figure out how to do this on my own anyway, I’ve got this!”

Yeah. I had it all right. I must have looked like absolute shit at the doctor’s office despite my efforts to pile on my makeup. I pile it on anyway because, well, I pay enough for it so you might as well see it, but upon inspection in the natural light of my rear-view mirror (OH! Cute babies sleeping!), I had orange splotches at my temples, hairline, and cheeks where my makeup was not blended, my cat eye was more of a raccoon eye from lack of sleep, and my blush was applied like It the clown. I sucked at this mom thing and looked it too. As I piled my babies into the room, I felt that ‘I had this’. I was feeling a sore throat coming on and was wearing a mask while slathering on hand sanitizer on my NICU hands* (which is a whole other phenomenon; see below).

My pediatrician was wonderful. She looked at me point-blank and said,

“No one really tells you this, but the first 8 weeks are shit.”

Okay, kind of reassuring to hear from my doctor. A wave of relief washed over me. I see some moms on instagram, facebook, magazines…they look amazing! Rested, hair perfect, and brows perfectly maintained. I already looked like a Cro magnon man. How could I fall apart in just 5 days? My brain was telling me, “Go!”, but my body was telling me, “No, honey, you do not have this”.

The doctor told me about another patient who had twins and was in a car accident because she was so tired. She offered me her personal number and that she would come over to take care of night feeds if we needed so that we could get some rest. She went on to explain that when she was a resident, she became pregnant (RESIDENCY?! and baby?!). Between her and her hubby, she stayed in the nursery to handle the night feeds so that hubby could rest and work. This was what I tried to do. Hubby handled formula and bottle washing (holy HELL, so many bottles!!!) since I had NICU hands. That was a huge task. I handled the night feeds so he could rest and maintain his normal 7-5 and his teaching jobs. Yup, between the two of us, three jobs to maintain twins.

“I get it. Bills don’t pay themselves,” she said.

Even more relief. My doctor was standing there telling me, in not so many words, that it’s okay to have your life turned upside down and to prioritize the way that suits you and your family. We took her up on her offer to come over the next night. Yet another angel on earth! Who is this person and who better to trust to watch your preemies?!

You think one baby is hard, try two that are micro-preemies! It comes with a whole different set of responsibilities. They don’t eat like term babies, they need intervention with development and motor, daily stretching to prevent torticollis (the atrophy of the neck muscle) that also prevents plagiocephaly, which good luck with preventing that with twins.

I’m not looking for a woe-is-me type of deal here. Not at all. What I am looking to do is let you know that it’s not easy and it’s okay. No one is perfect (except those moms on instagram, facebook, and in magazines) and that’s ok.

Once week nine rolled around, both babies were looking at us and cooing. That was last week. They will be ten weeks corrected on Thursday (5 months, 9 days actual). Today they are torturing me like any infant would, but times two. I’m stressed, but showered. My days are filled with chaos, screaming, crying (sometimes all 5 of us with the dog included), NICU hands that are just starting to heal, and most definitely double doody…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*NICU hands: dry, cracked, blistered, itchy hands that are not remedied by anything except a lotion called Dermarest. NICU hands.

I Provide for My Babies

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I almost cried looking into my empty fridge. That is a single bottle of 20ml’s of milk, barely an ounce. I made that for my babies.

Having micro preemie babies in the NICU has more of an effect than anyone can imagine. It’s not just the emotions driving their care, safety, and lives, it’s also the feeling of not being good enough to care for them in one of the most important ways during the most crucial time – the first weeks of their lives.

I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that, since my girls came so soon (26/4, roughly 14 weeks before term), I will not be able to keep up with their demand (and how awesome that they have such demand now!). I’m not less than. I provided for my babies during their first days of life, and now on day 50 of their stay in this world, I will still give what I can until I cannot give anymore. What no one understands, unless you have had a NICU baby, is that your body is not ready to produce for your babies yet; it still thinks you are pregnant. You’re essentially forcing it to do what it was not ready to do. You don’t have a baby to constantly hold. You look at your baby or babies through double-paned incubators. You can change their diapers and stroke their soft skin…when you open the doors to their incubators. You can sometimes do skin-to-skin contact, but once per twelve hour shift. You can hear their muffled cries…through the double-paned windows of their incubators. You feel connected to these tiny human beings, want to hold and love and console them whenever they cry, but you can’t; not in the normal sense, anyway. You can’t hold them like a regular mother can to produce the nutrients they need. Instead, as a NICU mother, you sign waivers so that they can receive donor milk where you cannot give. When they can no longer receive donor milk, they switch to formula. In between all of those, you produce the tiniest amounts until it can fill up a single feed. And when you have twins, they have to share.

“Get some rest!”

(But make sure you pump every 3 hours)

You pump all you can. You’re exhausted. You’re at home or staying at a Ronald McDonald house away from your babies. You still produce 10mls per feed…maybe you luck out and hit 47mls. You give up. Your energy is focused on everything else but yourself, except that you are inadequate for being unable to produce for your babies. You’re pushed by hospital staff and friends.

“Look at pictures of your babies.”

“Wear their blankets while you pump so you are able to smell them.”

“Listen to clips of hungry, crying babies.”

“Consume galactogogues!”

I’ve bought powders and cookies and eaten oatmeal. It’s not the same. At 33 weeks and 5 days, my girls weren’t even supposed to be here, but instead are looking at me through the double-paned windows of their isolettes. I’ve realized that I’ve beaten myself up enough. I’ve let the doctors and nurses know that I will be pumping as much as I can for them, but I’ve had enough.

My sweet baby girls are getting so big now! I know that I still played a part in that. I still provide for my babies in the best way a NICU mother can – I’m there to console them during their shots, know exactly what is going on with their care, and speak up when I know something isn’t quite right. They know my smell and they know my voice and they know my touch. I know that they love their legs and piggies rubbed, and I happily oblige. I know that one does extremely well during shots if she has her pacifier, and the other prefers a hand over her chest and back. And they both like head rubs :).

I provide for my babies.

Episodic Rage

If you know me, you know I can be dramatic. I’m a worrier; I get overwhelmed easily and can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. When I’m overwhelmed, the first thing to go is the cell phone. If I have zero time for me, I have zero time for you. Couple that with pregnancy hormones and you can get episodic rage. I work in an environment that, for the most part, has little stress. It comes in waves, my job. At times, it can be balls to the wall, feet to the fire type of busy. When it’s busy like that, people can be mean.

Well, at 19 weeks, 6 days pregnant, I had a meltdown at work because of that mean. I quietly shut my door, slowly took a seat at my desk, put my head in my hands, and bawled. I bawled carefully though because it takes me forever to do my makeup, but I bawled. Sticky and salty tears ran from my eyes to my desk (if you hold your head a certain way when you cry, the tears don’t run down your face, so your makeup doesn’t run) and watched the tears pool. At roughly 3:00 PM, I used the restroom (it’s not TMI if it’s part of the story) and saw blood. I panicked. Had my meltdown caused this bleed? I hope not. To be honest, I will never know.

I was terrified. I called hubby at around 4PM and was not able to get through. I texted him.

“Meet me at the hospital! Call me!”

I briskly walked to my car (cuz running is not an option for me at this point), having never been so scared before in my life. There were two lives in my belly that we worked so hard to obtain. I was one day away from being halfway through my pregnancy; I needed these two little girls to stay put!

I frantically drove to the hospital, which was normally a 15-20 minute drive. I stopped at red lights, looked both ways, and proceeded to go through them. Hubby called and spoke to me the rest of the way, trying to keep me as calm as possible as he frantically drove from work to meet me. To say I drove as frantic and safe as possible sounds like an oxymoron, but it is possible. I made it to my exit, but was stopped in my tracks by someone thinking they could teach me a lesson and that I was just being an impatient asshole (I was). They slammed on their breaks in front of me, sending me into the right lane to swerve around them and hit a left turn in front of them. Please – you know those assholes that are doing 90-100MPH on the expressway and especially don’t look like young punks just driving like jerks? I now know to leave them alone and not interfere because you have no idea what could be happening, and in my situation, it was an emergency. Leave them be and even stay in your lane to let them pass, or risk an accident.

I frantically parked in the front of the hospital and waddled inside with no regard to who was out there or what would happen to my car. Hubby ended up being right behind me. He took care of both our cars as I ran inside to labor and delivery.

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(It was about midnight at this point and this guy is trying to catch some zzz’s in an uncomfortable chair)

As the charge struggled to find the heartbeats of my girls because they were so small, she told me that they weren’t prepared for babies under 20 weeks. (DO NOT tell someone who is bleeding and has no idea what is going on that you are not prepared for 20 week babies). I worried and freaked out on the next nurse… The charge needed to work on her delivery.

They attempted to check my cervix, which was painful due to old scar tissue. It was still closed, which told us that the cerclage was still in place (or was it?). I was told that I was contracting and would need to be put on a drip of some medication called Magnesium Sulfate. I was given a rundown of how it may affect me and what its purpose was. It is a multiple-use medication, but in this instance, it is used to relax every muscle in your body. This means that it helps relax the uterus, along with your bladder and esophagus. You know what that means? No food, no water, and a catheter – I negotiated a bed pan…It also made me dreadfully ill.

You experience flu-like symptoms and extreme drowsiness. You’re not allowed to shower, either (you can’t walk, therefore, you cannot get up to bathe). This went on until Friday night when I was released at 20 weeks and 1 day.

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(The most uncomfortable love seat known to man. This guy has slept one too many nights like this with me)

During our stay, Dr. George Powers, Neonatologist and Chief of Staff, paid a visit to our room. His warm and jovial demeanor offered instant comfort to an otherwise stressful situation. He broke down percentages (which hubby loves) and potential outcomes for our babies. He has a way of breaking down situations that anyone can understand, offers a caring and kind attitude, and has a knack for delivering potential doom and gloom without making it sound that way – a truly gifted human being all around. We knew we were in the right place before, but especially knew now. He gave us another tour of the NICU during our stay, breaking down the various types of equipment and highlighting some of the tiny patients and how they are taken care of.

We were truly grateful for the decision to find a doctor locally. Had we stayed with Houston, we’d have been, for lack of a better term, up shit creek without a paddle. We had a game plan and felt comfortable with it…but life still throws you curveballs.

 

 

A Tour, a Meltdown, and a Precursor to Pre-Term Labor

For the week following our visit with Dr. Hill, we tried to get a tour of the hospital I’d be delivering at (conveniently across the street from my MFM Specialists). It was tough, to be honest, as there seemed to be all of these barriers to getting a damn tour. The hospital was just converted into a Children’s Hospital in 2012, with their NICU opened just this past April. It was “new”, but under construction. Labor and Delivery was on the 4th floor and the NICU supposedly on the 3rd. We were finally able to get in to see Labor and Delivery one day and, as soon as we got off the elevator, we saw ‘NICU’…but it was behind a bunch of plastic (that’s not good). Well, we were unable to get our tour at this time, and were certainly uneasy at seeing plastic covering over the NICU entrance.

Hubby and I discussed our experience over the next few days, rather, I had meltdowns over the stress of finding MORE new doctors/paying for appointments for new doctors. We know who won this battle (hubby)…We decided to touch base with other OB-GYNs in the area just in case, and we did. What we found was that, though the doctors were great, they did not have experience with this type of situation (no surprise here, and not said in a pejorative manner), nor did they give any warm fuzzies about the situation.

As an aside, at 12 weeks pregnant, Dr. Mildred Ramirez (my Houston MFM) told me no running for exercise. She described it like so… Imagine a balloon, tied off at the end, moving up and down. The only support the balloon has is the knot, and if enough pressure is put on that knot, the balloon pops. That makes absolute sense, right?! I was told that elliptical was fine, so that’s what I did – up until I was slapped in the face with the ‘high risk now’ comment.

We were onward bound at 18 weeks pregnant to a different OB/hospital just to try to have options. After having an episode of rage over parking at a structure at the new office (pregnancy apparently makes you have meltdowns and episodes of rage…who knew) because the hubby parked in some structure next to Mars, and I could not find him, we were at the next doctor’s appointment. Kudos to hubby for shrugging off and laughing at my episode of rage…

“I DON’T SEE YOUR CAR!”

“I’m right by the hospital.”

“I’ve gone all the way to the top of the structure and don’t see your car!”

“I’m standing by the doors.”

“WHAT DOORS?! THE DOOR TO THE OFFICE IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND I DON’T SEE YOU!” (Drives angrily out of the structure to find hubby. Never finds hubby and drives back to old structure because said structure was the right place to park.)

“WELL YOU’RE GONNA BE LATE THEN! I’LL MEET YOU INSIDE!” (Insert colorful expletives throughout my rage-laden outburst)

Though risky on his part to laugh at me, it did eventually calm me down.

So, let’s refer back to what the MFM in Houston told me about exercise. It made so much sense that I should not run, so I used this as a doctor test with all doctors moving forward to gauge whether or not I felt they were a match for our situation.

We met a wonderful OB at this appointment. She was top-rated in San Antonio, beautiful, and equally knowledgeable. Great time to test her.

“So, what do you think of exercise? Is running okay? Elliptical?”

“Running is absolutely fine! Elliptical makes your legs stretch too far, stretching the uterus and putting extra stress on the cerclage.”

Nope. That made little sense to me and my situation. I’m not poo-pooing this doctor’s expertise, as she is surely great for a regular pregnancy (she didn’t get high ratings for nothing)…but not mine. After that experience, I convinced hubby to do another tour at the Children’s Hospital with me. We were able to get in that day, thankfully! We were not especially blown away by the facilities, but what came next blew us away.

Our nurse, Rosemary, (who was as sweet as can be) took us on our tour of Labor and Delivery, then showed us the way to the NICU. As it turns out, what we thought was the NICU was actually area under construction for a newly-remodeled section of Labor and Delivery. She introduced us to Natalie in the NICU, a member of the transport team. You know those awesome people that ride in helicopters and rescue critical babies? She’s on that team. She was and is lovely. That is the only word for her. She took us through a brand new, state of the art NICU at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. We were in awe. Everyone we encountered was kind and accommodating. We knew we were in the right place just in case our girls came early.

You see, when choosing a hospital, especially if you are high risk or elevated high risk, it doesn’t matter what the labor and delivery facilities look like. The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is in the process of renovating, but at the time the rooms were similar to the Golden Girls’ Miami pad – outdated with pinks, greens, valances, and flower borders. Bleh! It was the NICU that just blew us away. In case our girls came early, it wasn’t about me, it was about them. It was always about them.

Here’s the Boring Part of the Story

Shortly after speaking to the surgeon that performed the trachelectomy (probably on a spaceship somewhere just above Houston because that’s what aliens do to abductees probably), we realized that the trek to Houston from San Antonio may no longer be feasible. The “what ifs” started surfacing…We had initially planned on shacking me up in an AirBnB location in Houston at 24 weeks pregnant, but were really concerned with cost and travel at that point of my pregnancy. We also wondered, if my pregnancy was so high risk, what if there’s an emergency and we can’t get to Houston? No one in San Antonio knows us or our case, which could be dangerous! We had no idea just how high risk the pregnancy was…

Dr. Mildred Ramirez, the MFM at Texas Children’s Hospital, was amazing in the short time we met her. I met with nurses, a nutritionist, a geneticist…we just felt so at ease with the standard of care at the hospital. I mean, they house the number one Neonatal Intensive Care Unit specializing in Cardiology. Did I botch that name up? Probably. We voiced our concerns to her, asking for a referral to someone local. She linked us up with Dr. Peter Nielsen at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, which mirrored their standard of care to Texas Children’s since it was in the Baylor network.

Just a few weeks later (at 17 weeks pregnant), we walked through the doors of Maternal Fetal Medicine office for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. Dr. Nielsen was not in, so we met with Dr. James Hill (which did not immediately sit well with me since there was a switch made without us knowing). While we waited to meet with a strange, new face, I googled Dr. James Hill. West Point graduate and retired Colonel? Okay, yes. Went back for a MS at Stanford? Yup, right place. (Those aren’t his only credentials, but those are the familiar and quite impressive ones.)

Within seconds of meeting Dr. Hill, we knew we were in the right place. He listened intently as we spoke of our concerns and told our story. He is very methodical, which we appreciated, and also has a dry sense of humor, which was also appreciated. (If you ever see him, do not let his serious demeanor fool you…he’s awesome and can easily make you feel at ease!)

At this appointment, he really said something that drove it home for us. I mentioned our initial intent to stay in Houston at 24 weeks pregnant because we were high risk. His response was, “You’re high risk now“.

Ugh. Wow. 17 weeks pregnant and, to that point, everything was smooth sailing; little-to-no morning sickness (with twins, no less), no issues getting around (except the feeling of being a beached whale while on the couch Netflix and chilling), still going to the gym and walking or doing elliptical with light weights, and I was all belly with two, beefy baby girls. We were so pie in the sky to that point. Any time thereafter I tried to describe the situation, I was met with a look like I had two heads and was making it up that bed rest was needed and that I shouldn’t be driving. You can’t make this situation up and it’s most certainly not a relatable one to the normal baby maker.

We had no idea, but we were in for a wild ride that was yet to come… well, all things considered, our ride was about to turn into an amusement park ride at Cedar Point that hasn’t been considered yet – think Millennium Force meets Demon Drop meets Top Thrill Dragster (which is sinking deeper into the ground, by the way), all of which are combined to make a two-year-long ride. Boy were we happy we made the choice to stay in San Antonio…