We’ve Come a Long Way, Babies!

 

The nurse practitioner measured my rapidly expanding abdomen and muttered, “I wonder . . . hmm. We should do an ultrasound.”

Excited that I would be to see images that I knew weren’t usually scheduled until later in the pregnancy, but slightly concerned about why an ultrasound might be needed, I squeezed my husband’s hand and smiled.

She scanned the ultrasound wand over my swelling abs and said, “Well that explains it, you’re having twins!”

Those words couldn’t have stunned us more.

We felt thrilled, panicked, thrilled, worried, thrilled, sober, thrilled, confused, and thrilled; all in the space of about 30 seconds.

It took quite a while for reality to set in, and then it set in with full force.

Twice the morning sickness. Twice the aches. Twice the difficulty moving, sleeping, eating, and everything else.

And twice the excitement.

But the big day came sooner than we hoped.

8 weeks early, to be exact. On February 10, 2007 the OB team did everything possible to stop labor. Nurses rushed between the labor room and the NICU. OBs and Neonatologists convened in the hallway and in the room, discussing grim expectations.

Nurses pleaded with me to rest and breathe. My husband pleaded with the OBs for some alternative. I pleaded with God to let my babies survive their birth.

Then, miraculously, one tiny babe was placed in my arms. As I breathed in Elisabeth’s intoxicating newness, the OB commanded me to push again.

“Again? NOW?! I didn’t even get a breath!”

Then, marvelously, Olivia was being raised so I could see her. But I couldn’t hold her, because Elisabeth had stopped breathing and Olivia’s breathing was extremely labored. They were both rushed to the NICU.

Miraculous, and marvelous – what better words can there be?

They had survived. And now they depended on machines to continue that survival.

I demanded, as forcefully as I could in my pitifully exhausted state, to see them immediately. So I was wheeled up to the NICU, oriented in the protocols and shown to their side-by-side isolette incubators.

I looked at their tiny bodies, swathed in wires and tangled in tubes, and everything inside me broke loose. But they needed strength from me, not tears. So I held it together. Until I got back to my room.

Then I wept.

For hours my body shook, my husband held me until my sobs had dried and there were no tears. My mind told me that they were alive, and receiving the best medical care available, and they had a very optimistic prognosis. They were going to be just fine!

But my arms were empty.

For weeks, the NICU nurses explained each procedure and stepped me through how to care for my tiny babies. Each day they grew stronger, overcoming hurdles that are not usually hurdles; like learning to alternate breathing and swallowing.

Eventually, they could be together in the same isolette. They hugged each other and stroked each other’s foreheads, just as they had done in the womb.

Eventually, I could hold them together, their tiny bodies resting softly on my chest. With each beat of my heart, I willed strength from my body to theirs. With each breath, I begged God to take years from my life and give to them.

Then one terrifying day, we came home.

And we continued to overcome hurdles. Each day blended into the next, but my babies were home and they were strong, and getting stronger.

Before we knew it, we were celebrating their first birthday. Then their third, and fifth.

And today we celebrate their ninth birthday.

The tiny babes that Perinatologists warned may have special challenges, have grown into healthy, strong, vibrant girls, who are setting the world on fire.

Literally.

They have turned the fire pit in our garden into a “dragon’s lair,” and one of our cats has been commissioned to be the dragon. Tiger is not pleased in her new role.

The challenges that we anticipated, blindness, deafness, mobility and developmental struggles, have not materialized.

Instead, our worries now involve whether or not they get the required viola practice time each day, or if their grades are meeting their potential.

We’ve come a long way.

And that’s what Doulas of Los Angeles is all about. When an individual, or a family, can look back at their beginnings and say with pride and gratitude, “We’ve come a long way, baby,” then the future is brighter, safer, stronger, and MORE for the next generation. MORE in every way.

So on this day, when my family celebrates the birth of our twins, I invite you to join the celebration and take a look at just how far you’ve come.