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.
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.
Hubby 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.
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!
An amazing hospitalist decorates my room to add color and cheer to detract from the Golden Girl era wallpaper and valances.
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.