Emergency C-Sections, anti-labor meds, and two premature sons. We were in for the worst six weeks of our lives.
My twins were due Sept. 21, 2009. My wife’s water broke, for reasons still unknown, at 29 weeks and 2 days. I was at work (two hours away) and sped to the hospital, where she had been given her first dose of steroids (to help with lung development) while waiting for an ambulance transport to take her to a hospital with a Level 3 NICU.
When we arrived at the hospital she was given more steroids and additional meds to hold off labor while the steroids were given time to work. Twenty-four hours after they stopped the anti-labor medications, I was, once again, at work — and my wife, once again went into labor.
I got to the hospital and found out she didn’t want to tell me she was in labor because she didn’t want me doing 90 mph the whole way. A few hours later we were taken into an operating room so she could get an Emergency C-section. Baby B was in the birth canal but Baby A was transverse across my wife’s uterus on the top.
At 10:01 PM on 7/13/09 we met our boys and our world changed. They were whisked away by NICU staff to be checked out before my wife even got a chance to see them or hear their cries. A few minutes later (it seemed like a lifetime) they were wheeled back in so we could touch them, see them, and meet our sons for the first time.
We didn’t know it, but we were in for the worst six weeks of our lives.
Around midnight, I was able to go up with my mother-in-law and see them in the NICU. There were so many wires and tubes. It’s one of those things you never forget. I still get flashbacks when I see premature births or NICUs on TV. It was one of the scariest sights of my life.
The wires and monitors were the worst. The monitors watched oxygen level, breath rate and heart rate. The biggest concerns are apnea (not breathing), desaturation (low blood oxygen level) and bradycardia (low heart rate). Monitors watched all of these things and set off alarms when the levels went below a preset. That sound haunted every NICU visit.
Once I was able to hold them—after many weeks—I would find myself not looking at my sons, but at the monitor. I was scared, always waiting for something to happen. Fortunately, one of the great NICU nurses reminded me what I should be doing is focusing on the little person in front of me, and how incredible he was.
If you’re looking for advice should you find yourself in this situation, my advice is to find the silver lining. There will be lots of horrifying aspects of your NICU stay, but try to focus on the good. Maybe it’s the fact that soon your twins will get to wear clothes. Or soon move out of the incubator. Focus on the fact that then they will come off of the monitor, and soon it will be time to pass the car seat test. And before you know it, they will come home.
When our boys finally came home, it was week apart. We found dual inguinal hernias on Baby B the day before he was scheduled to come home, and he had an apnea after the surgery. Hospital policy was that he had to maintain five days without incident before he could go home. Major setback.
Because of this we encountered something that parents with premature twins often encounter: one twin comes home first. You get used to having one baby home. Then a few days, maybe a week or two later, after you have gotten your schedule set with one baby, the game changes. And you have finally, for the first time in many weeks, become a family. You have no idea what you are getting into, but you learn quickly. You have no choice when you have twins. You are both worn thin. Parents of single babies coming up to you with comments like, “Oh, it must be so tough!!!” Yes.
But after you have gotten used to things, you look back and think to yourself that there may be tough moments, but you would never trade your life for theirs. Your twins are something special, and you are something special: a dad of twins.