This weeks featured blogger is Angie of The Douglass Familyf. Angie is the proud MoM of Madelyn and Georgia who were born at 26 weeks and 3 days.
Were you surprised to find out you pregnant with identical twin girls?
Yes, very! In December 2008 my husband and I decided we were ready to add to our family and in February 2009 we found out I was pregnant with twins! I remember looking across the room at my husband as we both saw two little “baby blobs” on the ultrasound screen. The look of sheer surprise/elation/fear/excitement on his face is one of the sharpest memories in my mind.
What was your pregnancy like?
It started off very calm. I had no morning sickness, just a little nausea if I let myself get hungry. Things got interesting when I went in for a routine appointment with my ob/gyn at 17 weeks and found out my cervix had shortened to 15 cm. My doctor put me on bed rest but warned me that she didn’t think I would make it to a point where our twins would be viable. I hated that word, viable. To me they were viable the moment I found out about them and started loving them. For the next 6 weeks I spent my days on the couch or in bed and looked forward to my weekly ultrasounds as they were my only chance to be vertical and out of the house.
At 23 weeks and 5 days I was admitted to the hospital after my ultrasound showed my cervix had shortened even more. After being admitted the nurses noticed some contractions on the monitor and so I was transferred to labor and delivery and hooked up to magnesium sulfate (yuck) to stop the contractions. The mag helped and I lasted an extra 19 days on bed rest in the hospital.
After some surprise, middle of the night contractions my husband made it just in time for my emergency c-section at 3:45am.
Your girls were born at 26 weeks and 3 days, what was their NICU experience like?
Oh wow… when I saw this question I asked my husband and he gave me an exasperated look and laughed saying… “I don’t know… long?” So yes, I would say long and busy and an emotional roller coaster. Our girls each weighed 1lb 13oz at birth. Each suffered with the typical preemie breathing issues as their lungs weren’t fully developed. They both started off with support from a ventilator and were gradually weaned to CPAP and then nasal cannula until they were finally strong enough to breath room air on their own.
Between the two of them we encountered just about every typical preemie issue out there. Georgia had an open PDA that was treated with ibuprofen and closed without surgery. Georgia also required a chest tube for a short period of time and had an intraventricular hemorrage (brain bleed) and periventricular echodensities (abnormalities in the white matter of the brain) but both had resolved on their own within a few months. Georgia spent 67 days in the NICU and went home weighing only 3lb 13 oz!
Both girls had ROP (eye disease) but again we were blessed as both girls’ eyes gradually healed without intervention. Both girls needed multiple blood transfusions (I worship blood donors) and IV nutrition for an extended period of time.
In addition to being 14 weeks premature Madelyn had her own issues. When she was 3 days old she was diagnosed with a jejunal atresia. Basically, the blood supply to a section of her intestines had developed incorrectly, they call it a vascular accident. So when she was less than a week old a surgeon very carefully removed 18cm of her intestines and then later joined the intestines back together. She spent 123 days in the NICU and came home with nothing but a little scar to remind her of her bravery.
It seems like such a cliche but I wholeheartedly believe that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Our NICU experience showed me that I can handle more than I may give myself credit for. One of our first days visiting the NICU I overheard a mom saying her son had been there for 100 days. I remember thinking, “wow I don’t know if I could handle that.” Well 123 days later I realized we had all made it out and home in one piece.
What advice would you give other families that may be going through the same thing?
Give yourself a chance to breakdown and cry when you need to. Find a comforting shoulder and let it out. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for the moments you don’t feel like crying.
It may be low on your to do list but take lots of pictures and record everything in any way you can. You may think you will never forget anything about the experience but over time the day to day particulars will fade. Your child’s birth is still something to celebrate even if it isn’t following the perfect storybook path.
Ask questions! No question or concern is stupid when it comes to the well being of your child. You may feel silly but you’ll feel much better in the long run knowing all you can.
What is your favorite activity to do as a whole family?
We love to explore and enjoy the great outdoors. Since we live in Michigan we are just now thawing out. My husband loves to ski, and I imagine in the very distant future the girls may love it too, but I’m more of an indoor spectator when it comes to the cold weather activities. Previously we have enjoyed visiting beaches and sand dunes in the area or just driving somewhere new to explore. We love to spend time on the water fishing or relaxing. Hopefully that will continue for years to come, with the girls. So far spring this year has meant lots of barbecues with friends and family and stroller rides to check out the world. I can’t wait to see where our family adventures take us now that we are a foursome.
What question do you have for the other parents in the community?
I’ve always been amazed with the “multiples connection.” I often notice our girls holding hands or reaching for each other. Do you think your little ones share a special connection because they are multiples? What kind of funny/interesting moments have you witnessed between them?
Be sure to leave the answer to Angie’s question in the comments section and be sure to leave some bloggy love over at The Douglass Family!