The featured blogger this week is Stacie of 3 for Team Lopez. Stacie is the proud MoM of 4 year old twins, Shawn and Jason, and 1 year old Jackson. Stacie had quite the journey to mammahood, I hope you fall in love with her and her story as much as I did.
After struggling with infertility and finally becoming pregnant with twins, you discovered at 20 weeks that you had an incompetent cervix, can you discuss what happened at this point and offer any tips for MoMs-to-be who may be in a similar situation?
The day I hit 20 weeks with my twin pregnancy was the first day of the new school year. I had taught all day and told each and every class that yes I was pregnant, but I expected to work until around Christmas time. Little did I know how wrong Iwas. I didn’t see that group of kids again until the end of April!
That afternoon, I had a regular MFM appointment. I learned that my cervix had shortened to 1.2cm and started to funnel. I had an emergency cerclage placed the next day and was put on strict bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. I’d like to say that I handled things well, but I don’t think I did. I was a mess, terrified that I was going to deliver my babies at any moment. I was also so angry with myself because I worried something wasn’t right, yet I let the nurses and the MFM doctor make me feel like I was overreacting.
I was very fortunate that my husband and mom did everything they could to keep me sane and comfortable. My husband would pack me a cooler of snacks and drinks for the morning. My mom would come over in the afternoons to make me lunch and keep me company. My husband took care of the house and made dinner once he got home in the evenings. All I did was stay horizontal and incubate for as long as I could.
In our case, I pPROMed twin A at 26 weeks. I went on heavy duty antibiotics to ward off infection for as long as we could. After I was given steroid shots for the babies’ lungs, I was sent home for a week before I was admitted when it became clear twin A fluid was no longer replenishing. I delivered 17 days after my water broke, at 28 weeks and 3 days.
If you are a MoM and find yourself in a similar situation:
1) Please research as much as you can on your condition and advocate for yourself. Do not let someone dismiss your worries or make you feel like you are being silly. It is much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your children’s lives. You are the expert on your own body. If it feels “off” let the doctors know.
2) Arrange for a support system if at all possible. Your significant other will likely do a lot, but you need to have as many people as you can get to help. Creating a schedule of times for visitations also can make the day go by much faster. (While you’re at it, release yourself from the need to always look presentable. That just isn’t going to happen. Make the “bed head” your friend.) If there is no one available, establish a “cooler bar” next to your bed so you don’t need to get up to get snacks/food throughout the day.
3) Find something that will keep your brain occupied while on bed rest. In my case, even though I am an AVID reader, I just could not stay focused on a book. I did a lot of movie watching, taught myself to knit (I had the lofty goal of knitting a blanket–It didn’t happen.), used my computer to connect to others on message boards and through blogs, and played a lot of Scrabble.
Since your boys were born at 28 weeks they spent 90 and 100 days in the NICU, what was this time like for you?
Things were very difficult while the boys were in the NICU. There were many complications and a few surgeries while they were there. I would dread hearing the doctors say anything about odds for the various things that could happen. It seemed like the smaller the chance we’d have for some complication, the stronger the likelihood that it would happen. Times two.The boys were even transferred to a different NICU an hour and a half away from us at one point, which was even more challenging. It was a much larger teaching hospital there, so we became lost in the myriad of patients. I was so relieved when they were finally transferred back to the care of our local hospital.
People always say that they just don’t understand how we did it during that time. I suppose if I look back, I can say the same thing. The thing is, there really isn’t anything you can do when you’re in the middle of a crisis like that except to put your head down and push on. I never really allowed myself the luxury of stopping to think. Thinking brought fear, and well, I just didn’t want to go there. In the NICU, there is far too much to fear.
I do have a bit of PTSD from our experience. For instance, it took me a long time to get over a strong urge to turn my car around when I get to a certain traffic signal on the route I’d take to get to the hospital. (I had a mini celebration once I realized I had past that light and I didn’t have to fight that urge.) There is the occasional television show or a sound that might trigger a reaction, but they are few and far between now. For the most part, I have put that time behind me.
What tips do you have for families that may also be facing an extended NICU stay?
The best thing I think we did, and something I recommended to a neighbor who faced extended NICU time with one of her twins, is to write everything down.
If we talked to a doctor or nurse, we’d write down what they said. We’d write down what we experienced while we were visiting the boys. We’d write medications and procedures so we could remember and research them later. We were able to even go back and reference what we were told by doctors and knew when information was contradicted, so we could learn why. We also wrote down our thoughts and feelings about things in general while the boys were in the NICU.
We were also pretty clear with doctors and let them know that we wanted to have all the information they could give us. If there was a remote possibility of something happening, we wanted to know up front. My brain needed to know all it could. There was so much out of control in the NICU. Having that knowledge gave me back the tiniest bit of control. I needed that so much.
Are there any lasting effects from being born at 28 weeks?
Most children born at 28 weeks have few long lasting problems. We haven’t been so lucky. My boys still receive PT and OT therapy twice a week and struggle with gross motor skills. They are as smart as whips and hilarious, though.
What have been some of your favorite memories with them over the last 4 years?
Actually, some of my fondest memories of my boys are just listening to them play together in their room (when they should be sleeping!) and form that special twin bond. They were apart a lot when they were very young, so I feared that they might never have that closeness you hear about twins having. I have loved watching that bond develop between the two of them.
Now if I could only stop them from fighting!
What are some of your favorite things to do as a family?
We enjoy the simple things. A trip to Target or playing in the backyard can be so much fun with my guys. We also love going to the zoo or on new adventures when we get the chance.
What questions do you have for the other families in the community?
I’d love to hear tips for stopping the arguing and fights that erupt between my boys.
Be sure to leave your answer to Stacie’s question in the comment section, and then head over to 3 for Team Lopez to leave some bloggy love!