Fighting the tears as I stare at this post title. The one I ever so dreamed of…
The Buns came fast. Real fast. And were a total surprise! As you may have known from my 33 week BUMPdate, I was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday, April 19 due to heavy, frequent contractions, a short cervix and a few other symptoms that my doctor wanted to monitor for a few weeks while on strict bedrest (more details here). She’d visit me every day, and when we met that Saturday night, basically said I would stay in the hospital for at least another week to keep the Buns cooking, and at 36 weeks, (which would be this coming Thursday-crazy), she would discharge me, let me do my thing, and go into labor naturally without stopping it any further. Sure, I wasn’t too excited about the hospital stay plan, however I’d do what was best for the Buns who were due on May 25th.
But the Buns had another agenda.
Sunday morning, April 23 at 5:20am I peed my pants. Okay, not really. But I felt like I did! I had been hooked up to an IV for days, and had actually requested that the nurses decrease my amount as I was running to the bathroom (more like waddling) every 10 minutes to relieve myself. That morning I remember thinking they didn’t listen as my bed was completely wet and I couldn’t contain myself! It took a minute or two to realize that the fluid coming out of me was flooding beyond control and could be something else. When I buzzed my nurse, Hunter asked “everything okay?”, and I quietly said, “yeah all good”…as not to alarm him and let him (try to) go back to sleep while my nurse tested the liquid to determine if it was amniotic fluid or not. She asked for my opinion as she read the results on the strip (the strip changes color if your amniotic sac has been ruptured) and I seriously laughed out loud thinking, I’m trying to stay calm here lady, but I am in no mental state right now to tell you what is going on (side note: after our thrilling day together, I now love that nurse)! When she determined it was positive, she told Hunter and I that the babies would probably come out that day, and called my doctor. Turns out Baby B (Slater!) was taking up all the room in utero pushing Baby A (Zoe!) down further and further. She was breech and the sweet culprit who broke my water, but as you can see it was a tag team effort (note to self for future). Hunter notified his parents of the news and called mine who were across the country so they could change their flight and get home ASAP. I was nervous. Anxious. Excited. Terrified. I talked to my doctor less than 12 hours ago who was confident in another couple weeks! What happened? Were my babies going to be okay? She called me 5 minutes later and said “change of plans…we’re going to give you some meds and antibiotics to keep them in just a few days longer.” My heart was racing but I felt a sense of relief about the plan. Hunter called my parents back…”False alarm, don’t change your flight!” Next thing I know, my nurse comes in and says “ohhh, actually…we need to deliver you now.” “WHAT??” Can someone make up their mind??” I guess I was clinging to the side of the bed with contractions minutes apart (which I thought nothing of since I was in so much similar pain the week before) and had already started to go into labor. Beep. Rang my parents one more time. So many ups and downs in what felt like a ten minute period, it was wild you guys. And the best part is I’m thinking they’ll leisurely wheel me into the OR around 4 o’clock that day for a more scheduled C section, but nope – my doctor showed up moments later, they handed scrubs to Hunter and off we went!
Apparently I have pretty bad scoliosis, so the anesthesiologist had to tap me with the epidural 3 times to make sure he got me good (ouch)! He then said…I’m not sure if it got everywhere, so if you start feeling anything during surgery, holler and we will put you under completely (that was super fun to hear)! Sure enough, I started feeling things so he gave me just enough anesthesia to get me sleepy but also keep me awake :) We played Coldplay (obvi) and though I could feel intense pushing, pulling, and just pressure like someone was tearing up my insides (which I guess they were, ha!), I couldn’t stop grasping Hunter’s hand with the biggest smile on my face. It was the most exciting moment of my life. Hunter watched them pull out Zoe and though the delay of her cry scared the crap out of me, I felt a bit of relief when I finally heard her soft whimper. “Is she okay? Is she okay?” I had no idea, because the next thing I heard was “WOA he’s a big one!” followed by a louder cry. Enter John “Slater” to the world. I kept moving the sheet so I could peek at them. I just wanted to make sure they were okay. They couldn’t give us any official update but Hunter said all the nurses had giant smiles on their faces which to him was a sign we could breathe a bit.
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to see or feel them, but when the respiratory doctor put them both by my face, I shut my eyes and my world stopped completely. It was the moment I had been waiting for. Feeling and smelling them for the first time. There are no words and I will never in my life forget those first few seconds with my babies. My babies I hoped and prayed so long for. That once empty baby hole was not just full. It was overflowing.
Within minutes they rushed Slater and Zoe off to the NICU with Hunter following while I was sewn up and apparently became chatty cathy underneath all the anesthesia ;) My blood pressure sky rocketed to 187/110 but they calmed me down with nitroglycerin and then magnesium. I was clueless to the urgent situation as I was still in lala land from the drugs (plus the doctors did a great job of staying calm)…but my nurse informed later that she almost had to rush me to the ICU (which Hunter apparently knew about but thank goodness, kept his cool too)! Since they had to monitor my BP the rest of the day, I wasn’t able to see or hold my babies for 12 hours which was tough, but Hunter would visit them throughout the day and face-time me with updates. I’ll never forget the first time he got a good look at his little girl and said, “She’s so cute, Carly.” Hello heart explosion. My brothers came to visit and celebrate the Buns birthday in my room over TV and takeout with me while I recovered so although I couldn’t spend time with the babies, it was a happy day filled with so much love. Hunter’s and my parents visited later that night and were the cherries on top.
Since I hadn’t seen or touched the babies besides the brief moment feeling their faces in the OR, many thoughts and questions sped through my mind. Would they recognize me? Know I’m their mom? Connect with me? And vice versa. It was not how I imagined formally meeting them for the first time, but nothing about this whole process was what I imagined. When I finally got to hold the babies around 9pm, my worries disappeared and it was pure magic. I held them skin to skin, whispered happy birthday to them and my life turned upside down.
The rest of the week was an emotional roller coaster. Waking up and heading down the hall to the NICU felt like Christmas every morning. I cried every time I saw them for days. I’d come back to my postpartum room, look at photos of them and cry again. So much love. It hurt (and still does). Then I had a full day where I cried feeling guilty that they came too early. I had carried them for 8 months…had I now failed them? What could I have done differently? I’d look at their IV’s, oxygen tubes and wires, and just couldn’t stop blaming myself (exhaustion didn’t help). I felt awful. I couldn’t let it go. It wasn’t until my doctor reassured me the next morning that I was carrying 9 pounds of baby at only 33 weeks – which most women don’t even carry at 40 weeks – and my body had enough. She also reminded me that the babies are overall healthy, and just need a little time in the hospital to grow developmentally.
After begging for (and granted!) an extra night in the hospital so I could be near Slater and Zoe, I was finally discharged Friday morning, on April 28th. I stayed the entire day anyway to be with them and was determined to pump enough breast milk to provide enough for them for the next 12 hours, so I didn’t have to drive some back in the middle of the night, or supplement with formula. Not that I’m against formula, I just felt like it was my first test at mamahood and I wanted to do the best I could and be super mom from the get go (which I’ve since learned is not always realistic). We finally left them around 11pm to go home for the first time in a week and a half and wow, was that brutal. I thought I had it together, but as I kissed them goodnight, one tear slipped and opened the flood gates.You would have thought there was a death – not a birth – at the sight of my eyes and convulsing body. I had waited for them for so long. And now I had to wait longer? I felt robbed of the whole birthing process I had dreamed about. A mother should never have to leave her babies.
We’ve visited them every day all day since and now that we’ve grown close with the nurses, I feel a little more comfortable saying goodnight, as we know they are loved by them when we can’t be there. It’s still not easy to see my babies hooked up to a plethora of wires and monitors, and each day certainly has its ups and downs, but I constantly remind myself the littles are in amazing hands while they’re getting stable and healthy, and this bitter sweet chapter will all be over soon. We’re not sure when Slater and Zoe will come home, but I’m accepting this period as part of the journey of the Buns and embracing the good bad and sad. I plan to post a NICU update soon…although “soon” usually takes a little longer these days so bare with me ;)
Thank you for all your comments and emails…and friends and family – thank you for your texts, calls, flowers and love. NICU nurses if any of you happen to be reading this…I am forever grateful for you! We are so lucky to have such a supportive community and we can’t wait to share the Buns with you all!
John “Slater” Kenihan & Zoe Hope Kenihan
April 23, 2017 8:56am & 8:55am
4lbs 11 oz & 4lbs 2oz