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Shannon's twin pregnancy journal

Birth Story
August 15

While everyone was running around preparing (clearing an operating room, ordering two units of blood to be in the room, alerting various staff who would be in attendance or waiting in the NICU for my babies, etc.), I called Peter on his car phone. For nearly five weeks, Peter had not been more than an hour away from me in case I needed him. On this particular day, he had gone across the state of Ohio to pick up our daughter who had been visiting an aunt in Virginia. When I first reached him, he said he was an hour and a half away from the hospital. I believed he'd make it just in time. Forty-five minutes later, at 12:15 PM, he called the nursing desk and told them he'd been mistaken and was an hour and a half away at that point. The doctor poked his head in and said that we couldn't wait. I cried some more as I was shaved and prepped for surgery. Two IV's were started, one in my right arm for antibiotics and fluids and another in my left for blood if I needed it. The anesthesiologist came in and explained various forms of anesthesia. After she explained epidurals and spinals, she asked which one I wanted. "You're asking ME?" I questioned. Finally, another person from anesthesia came in and recommended the epidural. I didn't really care; they both sounded equally bad. A man I'd never seen before came in and had me sit on the side of the bed. He sat on a stool in front of me and gripped me in a tight bear hug. Then he pulled my upper body down so that my back was curled into a "c." Injection of a painkiller and insertion of the needle and catheter followed. It was uncomfortable, but not as bad as I feared. After that, I was taken to the operating room. Although there were many people surrounding me, I'd never felt so alone.

In the OR, I was moved onto the operating table and the anesthesiologist began administrating the anesthetic. I was so scared for my babies that I needed quite a bit before my body went numb from my chest to my toes. I lay there helplessly and looked around at all of the strange faces. Suddenly, a familiar face appeared. Saundra, one of my favorite nurses who had been with me since the beginning of my stay had heard that I was going to surgery and Peter wasn't there. Although she was assigned to other patients, she asked if she could be with me during the delivery. I was so grateful for her understanding. She stood behind the doctor as he made the first incision, waiting to be handed the first of my children to be born.

Kai entered the world at 1:20 PM and Saundra whisked him away to the resuscitation room. I didn't see him and he never made a sound. I feared the worst. Abi joined her brother at 1:21 PM. I saw only the top of her head as she was rushed from the room. Unlike Kai, she came out screaming. It was reassuring to hear her little voice. During all of the confusion earlier, I had signed a consent form to have a tubal ligation. By 1:30, the surgery was over and I had twelve staples in my belly. Peter was waiting as I was rolled out of the OR and he held my hand and apologized as he accompanied me to the recovery room.

We kept asking everyone around us about Kai and Abi. No one had any answers. Finally, the neonatologist came in and told us how our babies were doing. Kai's Apgars were 7, 9, and 9. That was great news. But he was having trouble breathing on his own and was placed on a ventilator five minutes after birth. Abi's Apgars were 8, 9, and 9 and she was breathing room air on her own…YAY!!! We were assured that both babies were stable and we would be able to see them when I left the recovery room. Around 4:00 PM, my bed was wheeled into the NICU and pushed between two warming tables. Peter and a nurse helped prop me up enough so that I could see my babies. It was an incredible moment, seeing them for the first time. I was so afraid they would look scrawny and scary and I wouldn't feel any connection to them. Instead, I saw two of the most beautiful babies and felt such love for them that I couldn't put it into words. Peter and I both had tears in our eyes as we gazed at those tiny little fighters. The moment was further enhanced when the NICU nurse asked if I felt up to holding our daughter. Of course I was up to it! I would have had to be unconscious not to be. She felt so small and warm and so right in my arms. I hated to give her back when they said it was time for me to go back to my room. We didn't get to hold Kai then, because they were still adjusting his vent settings. It was enough to see that he was alive and fighting to stay that way.

The rest of the afternoon and night passed in a blur. I was out of bed within four and a half-hours of the surgery and begged my nurse to remove my catheter. After a call to the doctor, it was removed. I wanted food but the doctor wrote orders for me to have nothing by mouth. After three calls to him, he finally agreed to allow me clear fluids. Water and decaffeinated iced tea never tasted so good. Peter and I made and answered phone calls. At some point, he took me to the NICU in a wheelchair to see the babies again. They were still as beautiful as I remembered. Eventually, Peter asked if it would be all right if he went home to get some sleep. After five weeks of sleepless nights from worrying about the babies and me he was exhausted. I hated to see him go because I was not ready to be alone but I told him I was fine. Although I promised him I would get some rest myself, as soon as he left I was on my computer announcing my news to all of my friends online. It was impossible to sleep when I was so wired from all of the excitement. I spent another couple of hours on the phone before I finally gave in to my own exhaustion. Once again, I dreamed I heard Kai and Abi crying in the night.

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