Thursday, June 26, 2008

Milo & Madeline's Birth Story

Word of warning for the squeamish: I don't go into any gory details here (because there really aren't any), but there are some fairly frank descriptions of obstetrical practices.

On Sunday, June 15 (Father's Day), Milo and Madeline were born at 25 weeks, 2 days gestation. I woke up that morning feeling a heavy pressure in my lower abdomen, and like something was weighing heavily on my cervix. I'd had this feeling before, but it had always subsided as the babies moved off whatever they were sitting on. This time, though, the feeling persisted even after I was up for an hour or two. I also had some very, very mild cramping (sort of like menstrual cramping). I looked up preterm labor in my pregnancy books and saw I had two of the common signs, so called my doctor. They had me sit for an hour and monitor how many cramps I felt. In an hour I felt 3 distinct, but not strong, cramps, and a few others that might have been cramps or might not have been. I waited one more hour with the same results and called the doctor back. They told me I should come in to be safe.

I arrived at the labor and delivery department at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley around 1pm. They hooked me up to a monitor, and saw I was contracting every two minutes, but I was only feeling a few an hour. At first they figured I was just having a persistent series of Braxton-Hicks contractions, but when they examined my cervix, I was soft and 2 cm dilated. Then the mood changed dramatically.

I was put in a delivery room and given magnesium (a mild paralytic) to try to slow down and stop my uterus from contracting. I was also given steroids to try to mature the babies lungs in case they had to be delivered. After 4.5-5 hours, I was still contracting every 2-4 minutes. When they examined my cervix again, it was low, extremely soft, and 4.5 cm dilated. Then the mood changed dramatically again.

The doctor had explained to us that if I had to deliver, they would do a c-section, as it would be less stressful for the babies given their age. They needed to preserve their strength for what lay ahead for them, and vaginal delivery would tax them too much. Because my labor wasn't stopping, I went in for an emergency c-section. The babies were born at 8:20 and 8:22 pm. I heard Madeline cry a tiny bit when she was born, but could not see the babies. Two separate teams of neonatologists and nurses immediately took each baby and brought them to the NICU. Rob went up with them and stayed with them while I was closed and in recovery. The NICU brought down photos of the babies for me to see while I was there.

I saw the babies for the first time in person on Monday morning in the NICU. I remember thinking the looked quite good for how old they were. They were still very pink and full of fluid from being in the womb. (They lose the fluid and get darker as time goes on.)

No one knows why I went into preterm labor. I had none of the risk factors except for carrying twins and was feeling very well the week before and even the day before this happened. It was all a shock to say the least, and the speed with which I went from being a healthy pregnant woman to a non-pregnant woman was astounding. Despite the difficult circumstances of their birth and how much we all have to face together as time goes on, we're so thrilled to have our children here with us, and take such joy in seeing them every day.


Kevin Mc said...

Dear Elaine, Rob, M&M - so glad to hear that things are continuing to improve! I think Milo looks a little like Rob when he's been kayaking too long - pale and wrinkly! Give everyone a big hug from us,

Kevin, Tracy & Evie

Jason said...

Hey Guys, It makes me so happy to hear about the porgress they are making. They are in great hands. I have worked with NICU staff for years and I have never known a more skilled and compassionate group of people. DJ, Dani, and I can't wait till all our kids can play (read kayak) together.


Laura, Jeff and Ella said...

Hi Guys,

It's so great that you've taken the time to put this together! It's wonderful to hear about the improvements they're making, and that hopefully Madeline might not need surgery after all. We've thought about you all so much the last few days, and can't wait to see further posts!

Laura, Jeff and Ella

Heather said...

I got goose bumps reading the last sentence of this post! Very touching! Awwww...

So glad you shared 'the beginning'. Can't wait to see you ALL soon!

Our Love to All ♥,
Heath (and the 3 J's too)

Sarah V said...

Thank you so much for sharing Madeline's and Milo's stories. Sounds like you both are taking things in stride. You are very strong people and parents, and it seems they have inherited your strength. We can't wait to hear and see more of the babies' progress. Elaine, I hope your recovery from the surgery is going well. It may be slow going for awhile, but I wish you the best and swift healing.

Sarah, Matthew, and Auden