Birth Story Part I: Before the Birth

It’s been a few weeks exactly 8 weeks since the birth, but I still can’t believe that Annie kept the babies in for so long/the babies wanted to stay in for so long that we got to travel as planned.  The last nonstress test for us was on Monday September 11, and our scheduled C-section was that Friday.  Annie passed the nonstress test, but that particular test recorded four contractions.  It could be the beginning of something or it could be nothing.  Regardless, I was on high alert from that moment on.  Dr. OB said that if Annie was to have real contractions or if her water somehow was to break, then she’d go right to delivery and wouldn’t be able to wait for any of us to arrive.  The reason was that the drugs to hold off labor would be too dangerous for the babies at that point.  I was truly alarmed by that statement.  We were merely two days away from traveling.  No one knew if the babies would decide to come earlier than planned.  I was hoping and praying that Annie and the babies would continue to hold on tight.  My phone was always with me and any ringing would make me jump.  Annie promised that she would contact me immediately if it got even a little close to her thinking that it was the real deal so maybe we could try to jump on a plane to get there in time.  Because of this, Monday and Tuesday were both a little stressful for me as we had already come so close to delivery.  If we had to fly earlier, we would have to book all the flights, hotel, and car rental last minute at a much higher cost.  Money was not the biggest concern.  If we didn’t have to spend the extra money, it’d be great.  But if we had to, it was already prepared.  Missing the birth all together would be the biggest disappointment of this whole journey.  At the same time, I was trying to keep my emotions in check.  It would be totally okay for the timing to not go my way as long as it meant for the babies to arrive safely.  With this uncertainty, I managed to stay at work until the last planned day. My desk had never been so clean.  My file cabinets were all sorted out.  My therapy room was free of clutter.  My return to work in six months would surely be smooth at least when it comes to space control.  The babies made it possible for me to enjoy my last few days of work before motherhood began.

With our suitcases and two original packages of car seats plus car seat bases in tow, my mom, Bob, and I flew to Annie’s state on Wednesday.  That day was exactly 38 weeks of the pregnancy.  There was no emergency text or phone call from Annie, so we continued our journey knowing that there was a very high chance for us to be able to make it to the birth.  We rented a hotel room right across from the hospital.  It was a room with a king bed and bunk beds, which was just right for the two of us and my mom.  We knew that we wouldn’t be using the room much ourselves during the babies’ hospital stay but it was a good location for a base.  Plus my mom could walk to the hospital without needing a ride from us.  I was grateful that a hotel was available within walking distance to the hospital.  The rental minivan wasn’t something I was used to, but I insisted on driving it (rather than Bob) because I knew full well that a minivan was going to be in our very near future once we got home with the babies.  It wasn’t bad driving it, and that particular make and model actually weren’t too impressive as the cargo space was lacking for all the luggage and stuff we had.  The 2018 Ho.nda Ody.ssey that we drove was much more impressive.  Anyway, I was still appreciative of the available minivan rented at very reasonable rate.

Annie had blood work done at the hospital in the afternoon.  I asked what it was for.  She said that she was told that sometimes a gestational carrier’s blood might mix with the babies’ blood so the blood type had to be confirmed once again before the C-section so that enough blood would be ready in case a transfusion was needed.  Right after the appointment, she and her whole family met us at the hotel before our dinner date.  It was just so nice to see her all healthy and well prior to the birth.  She really did have the best twin pregnancy one could have asked for.  No complications.  No bed rest needed.  She was still driving, still taking walks, and even attending bible study in the evening.  Her bump was big, but wasn’t overly so especially considering that she was at the point 38 weeks pregnant with twins.  We all had a lovely Italian meal with Annie, her husband, two younger kids, her oldest with his fiancee, and her brother.  Afterward, we took a stroll by the lake across from the restaurant.  It was a great time for all of us to catch up with one another and to enjoy each other’s company before all of our lives were going to be changed forever.  I was just amazed that Annie could even take a long walk at that point of her pregnancy.

I was still watching my phone very closely that same evening and of course there was no emergency phone call.  The next day, I was feeling good as we were coming so close to delivery.  I was relieved that we would be able to make it to the birth as we were now staying so close to the hospital.  At the same time, I was still feeling a tiny bit anxious that somehow she wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time if her water was to break or some other emergency happened.  We installed the car seat bases that morning.  We had a lovely visit with Annie’s family that Thursday afternoon as well as to pick up the frame stroller that was mailed to Annie’s house.  Then I asked the question: “Are the babies moving?”  Annie answered, “They were going crazy after dinner last night, but I haven’t felt them much today.”  She said all day long her uterus felt very tight and strange, but it wasn’t really contractions.  Suddenly, my mind was filled with worries because of this.  Annie reassured me that she was certain that the babies were just resting and they were probably getting ready for the birth as the time was near.  But it was hard for me to rest my mind.  I have read too many blogs and been on this journey for too long that stillbirths are very much real in my mind.  It was so hard to shake the worry.  I told Bob who urged me to be excited about the upcoming birth rather than being worried, but my mind just wouldn’t cooperate.  I didn’t tell Annie that I was worried.  Bob could see it in my face though.  Annie did say that she could feel that the birth could be right around the corner even if we weren’t going to have a C-section.  Either way, I couldn’t show her my worries, so I just hid my emotions.  Sitting there in the backyard with this person who had been carrying our babies for so many months knowing that the journey would end very soon was one of the most surreal, strange, and exhilarating moments in my life.  Very difficult to describe.  Right before dinner time, we said our goodbyes.  The next day would be the big day.

That evening in the hotel room my worries continued to consume my mind and heart.  I so desperately wanted to relax and enjoy the last evening before the babies would be in my arms but I just couldn’t.  Bob said that I should text Annie and ask about any movements that she felt that evening, but I refused to do so because I didn’t want to alarm her with my worries.  Excitement, worries, and nervousness were some of the emotions that I experienced that night.  I still managed to have quite a few hours of sleep knowing that it would be the very last night I would be so carefree to sleep through the night.

Annie was due to arrive at the hospital at 5:30am.  I didn’t find any text messages from her, so it meant that she didn’t give birth overnight.  While we were getting ready to head over to the hospital, Bob saw on Fac.ebook that Kenneth, Annie’s husband, checked in at the hospital online.  I was relieved to know that they had already arrived at 5:27am.  When we went to the birth center at 6:25am, Annie was lying in a hospital bed with things hooked up on her belly.  I could see two monitors on the side showing heartbeats of the babies.  That was such a sweet sight for me.  I could at that moment drop all my worries believing that the babies were still there and were waiting to make their debuts into this world.

(to be continued……)

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They Are Here!!!

Baby A and Baby B are here to join our family!

Bunny, our Baby A, is the girl, and was born at 8:21am on Friday September 15, 2017.  She was 6 lbs 9 oz and 19 1/4 inches.

Okra, our Baby B, is the boy, and was born at 8:23am.  He was 6 lbs and 20 inches.

They are perfect in every way.  We are so so so so in love!

They are more beautiful than I ever imagined.

We are a family of four.

Annie is a rockstar.  She is doing well recovering.  She spent some quality time with the twins today.

My heart is so full.

Happy birthday babies!

Now we learn to be parents.

I will write more when there is time.

MicroblogMondays: Almost There

I can’t believe we are still at home.  The babies are holding on tight.  Today we will have our last nonstress test.  If they are still staying put, Annie will have blood test done at the hospital on Wednesday.  Our scheduled C-section is going to be bright and early on Friday.  It’s crazy to know that whether or not we are ready, the babies will come on Friday at the latest.  It still feels very surreal even though our house is looking more and more ready for the babies to come home to.

We got our maternity photos back.  I printed out three of them and hung them on the wall next to the window.  One of them is very sweet: Annie and I were sitting down with my hand on her belly and both of us looking at her belly.  These pictures look great on the wall.  And then last night, Bob and I spent a long time doing this:

The lighting is a bit off because the pictures were taken at night.  In the morning you should be able to see that the walls are beige/yellow and the wall decals are gray and yellow.  We are very pleased with how it turns out.  We had to literally stick each piece on one at a time.  It really took patience, and it pays off big time.  I love how this looks in our nursery.

We were supposed to also put this bible verse right above the dresser/changing pad, but I was too tired after applying the elephant and the giraffe, so it will have to wait.

Annie has also been doing some work.  She put together two baskets; one for the OB’s office and the other one for the hospital nurses.  Inside the baskets there are homemade caramel corn, Baby Ruth, double mint gum, Sour Patch Kids, and Hershey’s kisses.  She also included a card with a picture we took at our professional photo shoot.  I thought that was very thoughtful of her.  And it tells you how good she has been feeling, that she has the energy to do all of that.

I have been calling this past weekend a bonus weekend since I really didn’t think that we’d have it all to ourselves.  It was quite heavenly.  I did a Tar.get run and bought a bunch of essentials.  We enjoyed lunch and dinner at two of our favorite restaurants.  We even took a nap on Sunday just because we could.  The babies are allowing us to enjoy some down time before the craziness begins!

If all goes according to plan, Bob and my mom and I are going to fly out on Wednesday.  We will spend some time with Annie and her family on Thursday.  T-4 days!  We can’t wait to see our babies face-to-face.

MicroblogMondays: Feeling Silenced

My guy best friend is currently in town from out of state. Whenever he’s around, we always get together.  This time he came one week before his wife did so he could visit his parents with his 7-year-old daughter.  When we were making plans for dinner, my friend alerted me that I’d have to be prepared to explain to his little girl why I had babies coming without having a big belly.  Apparently he hadn’t told her our news yet.  I said I’d be ready to explain. And then he told me that he hadn’t had the talk with little girl about human reproduction yet.  When she asked questions about how babies came about, he told her to ask her teachers.  I guess he was uncomfortable talking about it and really didn’t want to do it at this point.  I told him that 7-year-old is not too early to learn about where babies come from.  He said he’d think about how to talk to her.

Fast forward a week later.  In the afternoon right before our dinner date, my friend called to finalize the details.  Then he asked, “Is it okay if we don’t talk about the babies tonight?”  Honestly I was taken aback by this request.  He went on to explain that he still hadn’t told his daughter about our situation, and he still didn’t know how to explain human sexuality to her.  So he thought that it would be better for us to simply not to talk about our pregnancy or anything that had to do with our preparation.

I don’t know.  I was sitting there with my phone in my hand feeling a little disappointed and sad.  I know that he wasn’t ashamed of our situation.  I know that he does want to celebrate our babies with us.  I know that it was solely his problem of having a hard time with this talk with his daughter.  It is simply his choice of parenting and it is a decision that has nothing to do with me.  But why did I feel that I was less than those who could achieve a pregnancy and proudly present their bumps?  Why did I still experience sadness and disappointment that my best friend could not rise above this situation and use this opportunity to educate his young child about unique ways of building a family?  If I were pregnant with a big bump, this wouldn’t have been an issue for him because then he wouldn’t have to explain how our embryos got transferred into the surrogate.  I know that I am not less than others who physically carry and give birth to their children, but my heart still ached that I could not just proudly talk about our excitement and our future.

Dinner was weird.  Bob and I sat there and talked about everything but our babies and surrogate.  Our life recently has been so engrossed by the preparation for the upcoming birth of our babies that I felt choked by this enforced avoidance of the topic.  It felt so unnatural and tiring to have to consciously watch our words.  When I handed my friend a thank you card for his gift, his little girl asked what it was.  Bob was so smart that he quickly changed the topic to distract the little girl.  And my friend finally asked how we were doing with everything, but it was done in our native language so his daughter couldn’t understand it.

It just made me sad that our joy and pride had become so hush-hush that night.

When we said our good-byes in front of the restaurant, I asked my friend how he was going to explain the sudden appearance of two babies in our life.  He said he’d wait to see if school would teach about human sexuality and go from there.  I know that his choice does not mean that he isn’t happy for us, but it just left a bad taste in my mouth for a few days because we could not openly celebrate this newest chapter of our lives with one of my best friends.

Still Hanging

36 weeks 1 day today.

Today’s OB visit was a growth scan instead of a nonstress test.  Usually Annie and I would do video conferencing so I could see the ultrasound images.  The connection at the clinic for video has been horrible, so I suggested talking on the phone again.  Annie said that she had her two boys with her so she asked if I minded just receiving messages.  Of course I didn’t mind.

I wasn’t super nervous about this.  After all, we have reached 36 weeks already.  But I still had a little bit of nervous energy going into it.

Shortly after the appointment started, Annie messaged me with the babies’ measurements.  She typed “6.04lb” for Baby A and “5.15lb” for Baby B.  Immediately I was alarmed at the difference between the two babies’ weights.  I thought it was really 6.04 pounds and 5.15 pounds.  I was thinking interurine growth restriction and other scary things.  Later, I verified with Annie that those points weren’t decimal points.  She  meant Baby A was 6 lbs 4 oz and Baby B was 5 lb 15 oz.  So there is only a 5 oz difference instead of a whole pound difference.  I know that these measurements could be off, but it was reassuring to know that they are quite big already.

I listened in on the phone while Annie was meeting one of the OBs in the practice (not our usual).  He said that the babies looked good with good weight.  The amniotic fluid was enough.  The blood flow to the umbilical cord was good.  All in all, everybody is doing well.  There is no sign of them coming any time soon.  The doctor said, “It looks that their birthday will be September 15th.”

Poor Annie has been exhausted, uncomfortable, and irritable.  Her hemorrhoid has returned.  She can hardly do anything at home.  Fortunately, we are in the home stretch.  The end is in sight.

I truly truly hope that we can deliver on the day we have planned for.  But I am also prepared for any time sooner.  Looks like no matter what, the babies will be born in September.

Bob is totally giving his red underwear and Batman shirt credit for the great scan today.  Crazy guy.

MicroblogMondays: Clothes and Stuff

We are 35 weeks 5 days today.  Being so close to our scheduled delivery date (and knowing that the babies may come at anytime), we need to pack our bags soon.  I started writing a list of things to pack, and certain things have already been put in the suitcases (such as the car seat adapters for our frame stroller).  One thing that has been stressing me out the most is the babies’ clothes.  Not knowing what size they may be when they are born, what kind of clothes do I prepare for them as their going home outfits?  And we are expecting to stay an extra night at a hotel after being discharged from the hospital before flying back.  So my mind has been going a little crazy trying to figure out what size the babies may wear and how many pieces of clothes to put in the suitcase for them.  Figuring out baby clothes sizes has been a bit confusing.  Different brands’ sizes are little different.  Some run big and some are small.  We saw this outfit and really like it.  However, it is not available in newborn size.  I still bought a pink and a blue 0-3 months ones for the babies and will still bring them on our trip, but I fully expect these outfits to be too big for the babies when they leave the hospital.  I was still a big confused about how many pieces of clothes to prepare in general and what size they should be.  Recently I joined our local parents of multiples group.  This group is super awesome.  Half an hour after I joined the group and was added on Facebook, these parents of twins offered a double jogging stroller for free.   Because I was the first person responded (literally two minutes after the post showed up), we were the ones who got them.  This free stroller is now sitting in our garage waiting for the babies to show up (and hopefully one day will sit in it while Bob goes running with them).  So back to the group.  I posted my questions about what size clothes to prepare and what size clothes these parents’ babies fit into when they were born.  People are so nice.  So many of them answered my questions with their own experience.  After reading all of their answers, my conclusion is that there is no set rule.  Some babies were born heavier (over 6.5 lbs) but fit into preemie clothes.  Some babies were born below 6 lbs and fit into newborn size clothes.  So my take home is, we won’t know until the babies are born and their sizes may not depend on how much they weigh.  The most awesome thing about this group is that there is a preemie closet!  We don’t have to buy any preemie size clothes because we can borrow them to prepare for the twins’ arrival.  Once we are done, either because we don’t need them or because they have outgrown them, we can return the clothes to the group so that the next family can use them.  This is such an amazing thing for parents of multiples and it saves us a lot of money or hassle to have to worry about buying them.  I will go pick up the preemie clothes today so I can pack some in the suitcase to prepare for the trip.  Our babies may not need them but I feel a whole lot better having them around.

Getting closer and closer!

MicroblogMondays: The First Scare

We had our first scare in this pregnancy, thinking that the babies might be coming.  I thought we had another nonstress test last Thursday.  I didn’t think much of it, and just continued with my day.  Annie wrote me a text not too long after the appointment started with the babies’ heart rates.  I was a little puzzled about this information because she usually would write me about 1.5 hours after the nonstress test time to tell me the results.  So then I realized that it was a scan and not a NST.  Annie reported that the babies seemed to be doing well, with biophysical profile of 8 out of 8 for both of them.  She then told me that she was in for a blood draw.  The doctor ordered bloodwork.  I was immediately alarmed because blood work is not the usual part of the routine.  Annie said that “all should be good” and that “the doctor just wanted to check some things because he stated he was just paranoid” as she said she hadn’t been feeling well the previous few days.  Her urine also showed traces of protein, so our OB was just double checking.  My immediate thought was preeclampsia.  Annie said that Dr. OB was not worried about preeclampsia because her blood pressure has been really good.  He said it could be because she is off Zoloft or it might have something to do with the liver.  I asked her how she wasn’t feeling well.  She said that she had been feeling out of sorts, nauseous, with tummy sensitive to touch and feeling dizzy at times.  She and Dr. OB both thought that it wasn’t anything serious and it might be related to the pregnancy being close to the end.  So I asked THE question: if it is truly liver problems, what next?  She said, if it is liver problems, then they would go right to delivery.  If not, then she just carries on.  Annie said that the blood test results should come back in a couple of hours.  We didn’t actually hear about the results for another few hours.  To be honest, those few hours were quite difficult to wait because it could mean instead of going home and preparing for dinner, we could be packing up and going right away.  Bob was the calm one.  He thought that at 34 weeks 1 day we were in good shape even if it meant delivery four weeks early, especially that they were doing well at our scan that day.  To him, we are ahead of the game already.  But I just really really wanted the babies to stay put for a bit longer so they would be as healthy as possible when they are born.  And I really didn’t want Annie to have any serious health issues.  I would like her to have the best possible experience with this pregnancy.  My mind also went crazy with all the things that we had NOT packed and what flight we should take so we could reach the hospital quickly if a C-section was going to be moved up to the next day.  And what if we miss the birth?  And what about all the newborn clothes that are not washed or purchased yet?  All these things were going through my head while I tried my best to carry on my day with the responsibilities that I had.  Once again, my very wise friend A. came to the rescue.  She told me to try my best to have faith in this process and not to worried because the babies have come this far for twins.  The average NICU can handle them now.  With her help of talking some sense in me and my husband’s calmness, I could stay focused on my tasks at work for a while.  Later on, about 2 hours later than promised, Annie heard that two out of three blood tests were normal.  I could breathe a bit more easily.  The final blood test result came two hours later, and it was clear as well.  So Annie didn’t have what the OB was testing for, and she was just very uncomfortable because of twin pregnancy.  I was relieved, but at the same time I knew that we needed to know exactly what to do when THE time comes.  Over the weekend we have gotten more newborn clothes from friends.  We finally purchased a dresser that comes fully assembled and will be delivered on Wednesday.  We also assembled the bassinets on the play yard in our room so that we don’t have to scramble when we come home in the future.  All I can do is to praise the Lord for calm people around me and for keeping the babies and Annie safe and healthy.  And I feel comforted that they are being closely monitored by Dr. OB.  Bob is now paranoid about his Batman shirt and his red underwear.  He did NOT wear them on Thursday because they weren’t clean.  He jokes this was all because of him not wearing these.  He thinks that he really needs to diligently put on these two items twice a week until the twins are born.

Almost 35 weeks.