Since my blog has become more like my journal over the past few years, I'm including all the details I can about their birth here. Feel free to just skip to the pictures, since that's much more exciting. :)
As I mentioned in my last post, my doctor was worried about preeclampsia and I was waiting for the results from blood, glucose and urine tests. On Tuesday morning, I fell asleep for what I thought would be a short nap. Four hours later at about 2 p.m., I woke up and went to the bathroom to discover that the left half of my face was horribly swollen, like I'd been stung by a bee.
I was concerned about it, so I tried to send Andrew a text — except I sent it to my sister, who is a nurse, instead. She was inspired to tell me to call my doctor immediately. When I called, they still didn't have the results of my tests back and told me to have someone take me to labor and delivery right away to make sure the babies were OK.
I called Andrew to let him know, but he was stuck in a meeting and wouldn't be able to get to the house very quickly. Luckily, our amazing downstairs neighbor, Aubrey, was working from home and was able to take me to the hospital right away. I checked in and the nurse quickly put monitors on my stomach to check the babies' heart rates. They were both absolutely fine, and it was actually really cool to hear their heartbeats, because they were in sync after a while and just sounded like one heartbeat.
Andrew arrived about a half hour after us and held my hand while they monitored the babies. By this time, the swelling in my face had gone down a bit, but the nurses were still concerned about it. My doctor was actually at the hospital, but he was in surgery all day, so he hadn't been able to check on me. A little while later, the on-call doctor came in, saw my face, and said he thought it could be Bell's palsy, which could be a warning sign of a stroke. He had me head down to ER for an MRI to make sure nothing was wrong.
After being shuttled down to the ER and waiting to be taken in for the MRI, the on-call doctor came back in and told us he had good news: I did not have preeclampsia. We were starting to calm down and thinking that we might be able to head home from the hospital, since I'd been there about four hours waiting for my doctor to get out of surgery. Finally, at about 6:30 p.m., my doctor came in, and he did not have good news.
He'd been checking in with his nurses throughout the day to see whether my lab work was done, and it had taken longer than usual. He'd just heard back, and I had HELLP syndrome, which is a life-threatening complication where your liver and kidneys basically stop working and you are at risk for a stroke or seizures. The only way to stop HELLP syndrome is to deliver your babies, so Dr. Barney told us that our twins would be coming that night.
I remember starting to cry and looking at Andrew, who looked really worried. I'd been trying so hard to make it to even 32 weeks, and now our babies were coming even sooner than we'd planned.
While my doctor told me that a vaginal delivery might be possible, he said it would probably take two days for me to dilate enough since it was still so early, though I was having some tiny contractions that I couldn't even feel, and the labor could take a long time. Because of the risk to the babies and me, I opted to have a c-section. Dr. Barney had to head back to a different hospital for a surgery again, but he told me he'd be back soon and would perform the c-section between 9 and 10 p.m.
They wheeled me in for the MRI a few minutes later, while Andrew called my parents and his parents to let them know that the babies were coming very early. When I came back from the MRI, his parents were there and a man from his parents' church ward was on his way with some consecrated oil so that Andrew and his dad could give me a priesthood blessing. In our church, worthy men who hold the priesthood of God can give blessings of healing and comfort to those who are sick. We believe that God uses them as His mouthpiece to give these blessings.
In the blessing, I was promised that the twins and I would be OK, and I was counseled to trust the doctors and be relaxed. It was a great comfort to me, especially when the results of the MRI came back soon afterward and were normal.
I called my parents to let them know that the MRI results were fine, and they told me they were trying to figure out how to get down to Utah as fast as they could (a four-hour drive) after they found a substitute for my mom for work the next day and got home to pack.
Some nurses and a firefighter (not really sure why he was there) wheeled me back up to labor and delivery so they could start me on magnesium, which was supposed to help with the effects of HELLP syndrome. They actually took me to the wrong floor at first and had me in a weird room that looked like it had been vacant for months until a nurse called to find out where I was. By this time, I had a throbbing headache and was desperately thirsty and hungry because I hadn't eaten anything since 9 that morning, so everything was kind of a blur.
Finally, they got me back down to the right room where a kind nurse, Brooke, bundled me up and helped me calm down. Andrew's parents were in the room, too, and we were all just waiting for the doctor to come back. A NICU doctor came in to let me know that he would be taking care of the twins when they were born and that they'd immediately be taken to the NICU so the nurses could help them breathe and make sure they were OK. He also warned us that they would probably be in the NICU for two months because they were coming so early.
Andrew rushed home around 8 p.m. to grab our camera, phone chargers and my hospital bag (which already had most of the stuff I needed because I knew something was wrong and had been preparing) and came back to hear that Dr. Barney was still at the other hospital in surgery and would probably be back closer to 9:30.
Brooke handed Andrew a blue jumpsuit, hat and shoe covers so he could be in the operating room with me, and they were a little snug (or, as she put it, "one size fits nobody"), so we had to take a picture of him for posterity.
At about 10:15 p.m. (my doctor had called again to let us know that he was trying to hurry, but would probably not be back until after 10), the nurses wheeled me in to the operating room for the spinal anesthetic. The NICU doctor who would be helping with the c-section, Dr. Lapine, had me sit on the edge of the table and hug a pillow tightly as I bent at the waist. The spinal hurt, but it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined it would be, and I tried to relax even though my legs had started shaking because the room was freezing cold.
The doctors then had me lie down and put up some tall blue curtains so I wouldn't be able to see anything and let Andrew in. They started poking my stomach to see if the anesthetic had set in yet — and even though I still felt a little pain in my upper stomach, they went forward and made the incision. I held Andrew's hand as they clamped my stomach and then felt a lot of pressure.
Finally, after what felt like both doctors were standing on my stomach, they delivered Henry at 10:40 p.m. He cried just a little bit, and the NICU nurses immediately whisked him away before I could even see him. One minute later, Norah was born. She hardly made a sound, and the other NICU team immediately took her to get her on oxygen.
Andrew snapped pictures of the babies and told me what was happening, and the doctors started trying to stitch my stomach back together. Unfortunately, the anesthetic had not penetrated as far as it should have (which is what I'd been afraid of), and I started throwing up and couldn't stop. Andrew held my hand and tried to calm me down, but one of the doctors had to put me out for a few minutes so they could finish stitching me up.
When I woke up, they were wheeling me back to my hospital room and I was in shock and had to be wrapped up in warm blankets to stop the shaking. Andrew had been in and out of the NICU taking pictures and watching the nurses caring for our beautiful babies. He showed me photos, since I still wasn't able to see them, and Brooke finally let me suck on some ice to see if I'd be able to keep any fluids down.
My parents arrived shortly after midnight, and they, Andrew and Andrew's parents all went to the NICU to see Henry and Norah. The magnesium I was on made me feel like I was on fire and very sleepy, so I fought to stay awake. I kept asking about seeing my babies, but I was told I'd have to wait until the morning. My dad took a quick nap and left at about 2:30 a.m. to head back to Idaho, since he was the only one certified to give a test at the high school the next day, and my mom went to our house to sleep.
I slept off and on throughout the night as Brooke kept checking my blood pressure and blood and trying to get me to keep liquids and food down. I also had inflatable compression socks on my legs to get the swelling down and kept getting interrupted to take pain medicine.
Finally, at about noon on Wednesday, I got to see Henry and Norah for the first time in the NICU. They were tiny but absolutely beautiful and perfect. I felt such overwhelming gratitude that they were healthy and being taken care of. We were able to reach through the beds and touch their hands, which was amazing. Even though they were so little (Henry weighed 3.8 pounds and was 16.5 inches long, and Norah was 3.6 and 14.5 inches long), they were strong and fighting already. It was hard to believe they were ours.
We are so in love with our babies and feel so blessed. I am fortunate to even be alive, and we have beautiful children that are healthy and growing. Andrew pointed out that though it's sad to have them in the NICU for possibly two months, these are basically bonus months that we have with our Henry and Norah. It's so special to watch them getting stronger and knowing that they are ours to take care of once they come home.