Thursday, October 18, 2012
In Which the Twins Turn One
For months, I had barely been able to walk, as my stomach was so huge and heavy, and my hips felt like they were coming apart at the seams. My feet were hugely swollen, not that I would know, cuz I hadn't seen them in forever. Everything on me hurt. My back and hips, my stomach itself, my swollen ankles, everything. I could barely eat because there was no room in my insides for anything but babies. What I DID eat had to be carefully measured and carefully chosen, because I had gestational diabetes. I had horrible heartburn, even with meds. When I would try to lay down, it took me forever just to get up on the bed. Then I would try laying flat, but there was so much weight and pressure on my internal organs, I'd have to change position. Then I'd try turning on my side, which is what they generally tell pregnant women to do. But when I did, my enormous belly would flop over onto the bed, and I could FEEL the babies, lying on the other side of my skin. There was no position that didn't hurt.
I got up that morning and went on autopilot, getting everything packed and ready and into the car. I was trying not to think too much, because I was so afraid inside that something would go wrong...that I'd bleed to death, or something would be wrong with the babies. I couldn't even process all my emotions. At that point, I just wanted it OVER.
It didn't take long once we got to the hospital for things to start happening. They start hooking up tubes and wires and getting everything ready, and then they led me down the hall, you have to walk yourself to the c-section room while your husband stays behind and puts on his little outfit and waits for everything to get started before they let him into the OR. I had seen this all on tv, I knew how it would go, and I just did whatever I was told, trying to ignore my nerves. The anesthesiologist came in and started the epidural, and then they strapped me down to the operating table. I was so nervous about the surgery, but at the time, all I could think of was how good it felt. It felt like hot liquid pouring down my back and into my legs, and then suddenly, NOTHING HURT. It was the first time I had felt no pain in SOOOO LOONNNNG! The Dr. kept asking "Are you ok? You're so quiet and that's not like you!" I'm like "I'm just enjoying the lack of feeling! This is GREAT! I feel wonderful!" He was chatting with me and joking around and I felt what I thought was him running his finger across the underside of my belly. He was cutting me open.
They finally brought Charles in and I was so relieved to have him near me. It's an odd, very helpless sensation when you can't move your body, and you couldn't run if you wanted to, but you're wide awake. I was anxious to see the babies, but also semi-out of it from the anesthesia. Almost like I was watching it happen to someone else. Then I felt a "POP!" and a huge "WHOOSH!" Even with all the numbing and the lack of pain, just having him pull the first baby out felt AMAZING. Like popping the biggest zit EVER. A total release of pressure. They held him up over the little curtain and he dripped on me, I knew it was "him" because 1) I knew it was baby "A" and that would be Weston and 2) His testicles were dangling inches from my face. I heard him cry and felt another surge of relief. Seconds later, another "POP!" and then they were holding up Aila over the curtain, also dripping. Charles rushed around to see the babies better as they dried them off and checked them out. The Dr. kept chatting with me as he was doing all the rest of his work. I just kept thanking him and saying how good it felt to get them out! He said he'd never had anyone tell him how great it felt in the middle of a c-section before.
Soon, Charles was bringing them over to show me. I couldn't use my arms yet or hold them, but he held them up close to my face so I could see them. There were BEAUTIFUL. I saw lots of hair, and I noticed that Weston had big juicy lips. When they got me all put back together again, they laid both babies on my chest and wheeled me down the hallway to recovery, Charles walking alongside the bed. That feeling when they laid both of my babies on me, I will never, ever forget that! People passed us in the hall and looked at us and smiled, and I felt like I was holding millions of dollars or something. As my sister put it, "Having twins feels like an embarrassment of riches!"
They still had to check my stats as I came out of anesthesia, and check vitals on the babies, etc... so for the time being, no one was allowed back to see us. It was just the nurses, Charles and I, and our twins. After the babies had been thoroughly checked out, they handed one to me, and one to Charles. I remember I had Weston... and they gave us little bottles of formula to feed them. We were holding the bottles in their tiny little mouths and we looked up at each other, and I said to Charles "Can you believe this? Can you even believe this is happening right now?" About that time, I noticed Weston was making funny little grunting sounds. The nurses heard it too, and called the NICU. He was having trouble breathing. They came and took him, for what I assumed would be a few hours in the NICU, and it ended up being five days. I was ok when they took him, cuz I thought for sure he'd be right back.
Over the next few days, I got to know Aila like the back of my hand. The smell of her, her cry, her schedule, how she liked to be held, everything. I gave her little spongebaths in our room and checked her out all over, from head to toe. I counted all her fingers and toes and made sure everything was as it should be. But baby Weston was two floors down and down a long hallway, through a door you had to get buzzed into. I had just had a c-section, and couldn't just run down there to see him. I had to wait till people were there so that someone could watch Aila, cuz she couldn't leave our room, and then get someone else to wheel me down to the NICU so I could see Weston. The nurses were not particularly friendly, with the exception of one, and it was very difficult to hold him and spend time with him. He was hooked up to so many things and I had to ask to have them unhook him so that I could even hold him, and sometimes they just told me "No." I would just stare at him in his little bassinette, struggling to breathe, and I was DYING to hold my baby! Furthermore, I had spent all these months fighting to grow TWO babies, and they had not spent more than a few minutes together from the time they came out of me. I wondered if Aila missed him, and if he missed her, and if they knew that the other was missing. I wondered if she would sleep better once she had her brother next to her. I was feeding her and holding her like you would any singleton baby, but I had been reading up on and practicing how to feed and hold and care for TWO, and it just felt so wrong, having them separated.
Finally, after 5 days, they released all of us to go home. We got them all dressed and in their little car seats and strapped everybody in, and I was beside myself with excitement, but also filled with trepidation, cuz I was taking home a baby that I felt like I didn't even KNOW. And so far, I'd had no practice with TWO.
We got home, and I got out the boppy pillow, and put them in it together, side by side. As soon as Aila felt his skin touch her face, she turned to him and started sucking on his ear. They cuddled up tight to each other, and I knew they were happy now that they had each-other near, and the happy tears started streaming down my face. THIS was how it was supposed to be!
Over the past year, I've gotten to know Weston, my little baby boy who I didn't know at all the day I brought him home. He is demanding, bossy, funny, hungry all the time, LOVES animals, and grins just like his daddy. I've gotten to know Aila so much better than I did. How she's prissy, sweet, quieter than her brother, a bit more skittish, and loves to be snuggled. They play together, fight together, refuse to take their naps together, and insist on having whatever the other one has, be it food, toys, or attention. They are the hardest thing I've ever done and by far the most rewarding!