Last weekend, Bob left Annie’s town early and I stayed behind one more day to attend the first nonstress test with Annie. Since I’d be in town, I scheduled a tour at the birth center where the twins will be born. The nonstress test was scheduled for 11am. I was going to ask for a tour afterwards. The OB nurse manager there could only do it earlier, so we scheduled for 10am. Good thing we did, because the one-hour time window for the nonstress test was a lie.
Let me talk about the tour at labor and delivery first. The birth center was expanded about a year ago and looked fabulous. It’s located on the first floor of the back side of the hospital. While waiting for the nurse to meet us, Annie commented on the security of having the birth center on the first floor, since she had only been to labor and delivery on second or third floor. I am quite sure that the place is very secured. You cannot go in and out of the the unit unless you get buzzed in by a staff member. There are secured doors everywhere that you can’t access to unless you’re being let in. The OB nurse manager showed us around, and said that having it on the first floor was the only way to have all the space it needed. Instead of sharing an operation room with the rest of the hospital like it used to be, here they have two operating rooms just for this birth center. They can staff the OR themselves whenever they need to. The OR’s back door opens to a hallway that connects to the neonatal intensive care unit, so any babies that need to go in there don’t have to travel far. The place is huge and seems to be never-ending.
We discussed about the logistics and details of the birth. Annie has been scheduled for a Cesarean-section on September 15th, which is 38 weeks 2 days. The babies may come any time between now and then. But if it is not an emergency C-section, it is very likely that Bob and I as well as Annie’s husband can all be in the OR. Even the birth photographer that we booked may be able to be present. Our photographer said she has done it twice in this hospital so I hope that it will happen for us as well. The nurse manager said that it is not a guarantee, but they often try to accommodate the parents as much as possible. So it is highly likely that we’ll be able to fit everyone in there. My friend who used a surrogate there for her twins did it. So I am hopeful.
After the birth, we’ll have immediate skin-to-skin, as this hospital is called a “baby friendly” hospital. The babies will be placed on my chest and Bob’s chest if they are both healthy and don’t require additional medical attention. This hospital also encourages nursing. For the second time, the OB nurse manager asked me if I’d be doing “re-lactation”, as she already asked me on the phone a few weeks ago. It’s interesting to use this term because it denotes a prior experience with lactation, which I didn’t have. I told her that we will try to have Annie hand-express colostrum during her hospital stay, but we will start the babies on formula immediately. The nurse manager said that the birth center provides donor breast milk if we desire, and all babies in the NICU are fed donor breast milk. But she understands that this is an expensive endeavor when we return home so she fully supports us whatever decision that we make. A lactation consultant is available to help with whatever we need 16 hours a day at the hospital.
Bob and I are going to be given a hospital room during our babies’ stay. The babies will be in the room with us the whole time barring any need for the NICU. Annie will be recovering in a room next door. Typically she’ll be released from the hospital in 48 hours. The babies could also be discharged in 48 hours if they both do well with everything. I asked if I have to write down all the details for the hospital, but the nurse manager said that there is no need as they will take good care of us.
The visit there was very positive, and now I know exactly where to go and what to expect. Things may not go exactly according to plan, but it is so good to have some idea of what may happen. I am so glad that we made this special trip to Annie’s town so the tour could happen.
Okay so what about the nonstress test? We thought that it was going to be a relaxing time for Annie, but no… it was stressful! Annie lay down on one of those recliners and got hooked up right away. Baby A’s heartbeat was easy to find, but Baby B was nowhere to be found. To say that I was nervous about it was an understatement. I know that he/she is deeper inside so it will be hard to find him/her, but boy, I was anxious about anything being wrong with him/her. It took 10 minutes and a second nurse to come in and finally find Baby B. In the meantime, Annie continued to push that button whenever she felt them move, so she couldn’t just relax. Those two heartbeat monitors were strapped on her and the nurses left. After about 10 minutes, both of the babies went offline probably due to movements. So Annie had to ring a bell for the nurses to return. Baby A was again easy to find, but Baby B was moving around. Dr. OB came in to check and said that Baby A was showing us what they wanted, which was for the heart rate to go up and down 15 beats three times. But Baby B was having a more stable heart rate and had one spike at that point. So Dr. OB ordered the nurse to use a buzzer to hopefully wake up Baby B. After that, it was still hard to find Baby B. Dr. OB eventually pulled in a bedside ultrasound to find the exact location of Baby B’s heart. At least I got to see Baby B on the ultrasound! This kiddo has been hiding his/her face from the machine for many weeks now. The funny thing was, even though they could find the exact location of the heart, the monitor did not always pick it up at that one location. After Dr. OB left, two nurses kneeled next to Annie, one holding the monitor for A and the other one for B. I was told to use the buzzer one more time on Annie’s belly to wake up B. Once that was done, Baby A was probably angry that we woke him/her up and started to react to the buzzer with a heart rate acceleration. Baby B’s heart rate also started to go up, but took a very very long time for it to come back down to baseline. Annie and the nurses were joking that I will have a baby who will stay angry for a very long time. We needed Baby B’s heart rate to go up one more time, so all of us were cheering him/her on by saying “Come on baby! You can do it!” Two extra nurses came in to study the print out, and said that we just needed Baby B to perform one more spike. The nurse who was holding Baby B’s monitor saw it on the screen that the heart rate did spike one more time. We were so relieved! It took one surrogate, one intended mom, four nurses, and one OB to finish this very stressful nonstress test. The whole thing took one hour 45 minutes.
And this is only the beginning. Annie returned last Thursday for a second nonstress test. Later on she told us that both babies were doing well, and the test took “only” one hour 45 minutes, again! I sure hope that it will get easier for Annie because she’ll have to do it twice a week until the day the babies come to this world. She is such a rock star. We feel very blessed to have her on our team.
We have at most four weeks four days to go. Wow…