So, if you’re reading this, you more than likely know that our (hubby and my) life has been absolute chaos on roids riding a bike on fire through your living room, up the stairs, and into the bathroom where you keep all of your precious cosmetics and facial things. Not you? Ok, well, that’s my idea of an absolute struggle.

I’ve got roughly 10 drafts in the chamber (14 now since I started this one in December), documenting my life through this past summer and up until our girls came home. For now, those updates are going to take a back seat to what I’m about to tell you.

First, my cuties’ names are Olivia Mabel (Baby A) and Vivian Pearl (Baby B). I’m a huge fan of Gone With the Wind and also a huge fan of old, unpopular names –  Olivia de Havilland and Vivien (born Vivian) Leigh. During our sonograms, I would always see ‘Twin B’ kicking or hitting ‘Twin A’. Later, Twin B would prove the most difficult to find on the monitors while Baby A rested sweetly in the same position. At that point, I knew my feisty baby would be Vivian and my quiet baby would be Olivia (like the characters from the movie – one feisty and assertive, and the other sweet and quiet). I even made name cards detailing my feisty and my quiet baby. Even nurses agreed! Vivian, for all of her oxygen needs and lung disease, would scream and be heard loud and clear as soon as the doors to her isolette were opened! We were all shook by her wailing and stereotypical baby cries. All the while Olivia quietly had her needs met.

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Vivian is also very expressive. At only a few weeks old, she was not having skin-to-skin. Her oxygen saturation would plummet – a sign that she could not and did not want to handle it. I opted to swaddle her and boy was it amazing. She looked at everything around her with new eyes – her brain, a blank canvas waiting to create a masterpiece. She absolutely loved the world outside her isolette!

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I mean, look at these feisty expressions! Meanwhile…20171008_172129

Little miss Tommy Boy in the other crib, only making a peep when her diaper is wet, steadily gaining some good lbs. Notice the feeding tube? Yeeeeah. As soon as that thing came out – BAM! DIFFERENT BABY!

On the date of their release, Monday, October 30, hubby and I had the perfect plans for our sweet, little angels. They had beautiful ‘going home’ outfits, we were going to leisurely learn how to use our bottle warmers and sterilizer, pre-mix some sodium for Vivian, add vitamins and medications to syringes for quick access later on, and learn how to mix formula. We had our hearts set on seeing their expressions when their eyes met the sun for the first time. None of that happened.

We waited until 9pm for the oxygen company to drop off a portable tank at the hospital, received instructions 7 hours earlier on how to mix formula, instructions 5 hours prior on how and when to administer medicine…all forgotten in the whirlwind mix of getting our girls home.

I even think a nurse warned us, pointing  to Olivia, “I think she is your feisty one.”

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Olivia (left) and Vivian (right)

That morning, we had KSAT come in to do a segment on SIDS. I’ll be surprised if they can use any of it since Olivia wailed the entire time…I should have known.

I believe it was around 9:40 when we finally got in the door at home. It was dark, the girls saw no sunlight, and both Olivia and Vivian were crying. They had not eaten, so they were about 5 hours past-due on their feed. My poor dog looked disheveled, hubby’s hair was looking like Kramer hair from his hands anxiously running through it, and I was frantically trying to unpack meds and food, shakily pouring formula into bottles. (Do you have any idea the anxiety of two, screaming babies that are new to your home as a new parent?! Maybe…)

Finally, around 11PM, both girls were on their way to being changed out of their dresses (which had @#$%^&* buttons, by the way…BUTTONS!), into onesies, and fed.

Bottom line, things aren’t always what they seem. Babies’ personalities change. *Olivia is still our feisty one and Vivian is our nice, good baby…until there’s something she wants. You want to avoid, at all costs, hearing Vivian cry.

*Since this post, they have flip-flopped once more. As of February, Olivia turned into our quiet baby and Vivian our anxiety-inducing rage baby. Both are beautiful and healthy and oh so sweet until the early-evening is upon us.

Also know this…I know I’ve shared pictures of them in the hospital before, but it’s hard every time. Their sweet, tiny bodies endured so much to be what they are today. I even noticed a little scarring on Olivia’s foot today from all of the blood draws, and let’s not forget about the PDA Ligation scar on their backs. I treat them like the special miracle cuties they are and am so so grateful for modern medicine.

Above all, though their scars serve as reminders that they are the NICU Micro-Preemie warriors that they are, I also have their beautiful faces, chubby legs, and soft skin as a reminder of what unconditional love can create.

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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.