Finishing Out the Week at EIRMC and Going Home

The rest of my weeks stay at EIRMC included lots of trips (some walking and riding back in the wheelchair and some walking both ways) to the NICU and were spent with me not resting as much as I should have for my surgical recovery - but who can rest under these circumstances? -and going down to the NICU for as many feedings as possible.  The NICU invites parents to attend rounds each day if we would like.  This gave us the opportunity to listen first-hand to the doctors (Jenkins or Anshutes) talk about each of the babies with the baby's nurse, the charge nurse, the nurse practitioner and the occupational therapist and it gave us the chance to ask questions directly to the doctor.  We attended often during my stay at the hospital and several times after I had been discharged.  Since the main issue was size, once the babies were stable I didn't feel a burning need to be at rounds each time.

Charlotte needed to be under the photo-therapy lights for a while and she wore little velcro sunglasses to protect her eyes.  She didn't seem to mind it as it didn't interrupt her regular routine.

We tried to do as many feedings as possible - Slade started taking most of his nutrition by mouth pretty early in the week.   Charlotte's suck-reflex wasn't very strong and she would only take about 4% of her nutrition by mouth and the rest by NG tube.  I would try to put them to the breast once a day and get them some practice and the nurses said it was good for them.  Both Shane and I tried to do "skin on skin" with both babies as often as possible.  It is good for the babies' emotions, circulation, breathing and digestion.  The NICU has a privacy curtain you can pull around our little spot to make it more like a private room.

This was Charlotte's reaction to her first facial.  The nurses were trying to get the sticky from the tape off her face.  She didn't really like it that much!  :)

We had some great and fun visitors that week in the hospital.   My Uncle Garth and his lovely bride, Amy came and brought us a dozen really pretty yellow roses with red edges.  It was nice to visit with them.  My Uncle and Aunt, Calvin and Kristie Romrell also stopped in to visit.  I found it very endearing that for all of our visitors - after they were done with me, Shane was anxious to walk them down to the NICU to show off his new babies.  My Aunt Chris and Uncle Dale came and brought me some frozen yogurt.  This was my payback for visiting her with each of her babies with a frozen yogurt treat.  It's hard to believe that her babies are so grown that one is married and the other two are in high school!    Michelle, AKA Shell / Shellie and John and Heidi Owen came to visit one evening.  (Shellie and Heidi also came the night before the babies were born).  They made me laugh way too much for having a glued-shut incision on my abdomen - but the pain meds prevented it from hurting and it was good medicine.  Laughter is the best, they say!  I think Shane felt a little left out.... he is still catching up on all my friendships that I have had for years and  years - but he is a good sport most of the time and is trying to join in the fun.   Some of my siblings came by with their kids to visit the babies - but they wouldn't let the kids go in - you have to be 18 to go in the NICU.  Grandpa Romrell and Valeen came to the NICU to see the babies and I have a little video clip of that video.  Grandpa Roland Romrell turns 90 years on in June.  He was giving Shane tips on being extra careful with the babies' heads. 

We received some fun gifts via delivery at the hospital (separate of the babies).  The Harris family sent some beautiful flowers.  Drive Marketing sent two little cookie boxes with cut-outs of babies onsies, bottles, etc. and a little stuffed animal from Cheryl's Cookies.  The best cookies in the world.  My visiting teachers brought me a bag of treats and my very attentive insurance agent (Stevan Sargent of the Alan Sargent American Family Agency)  brought me some diapers and wipes and a nice little card about milking!  My sweet husband sent an enormous bouquet with a very sweet love note - a big deal to this "verbal" girl from her "non-verbal" husband.   On the day that the flowers from Shane came I had a nurse that was really allergic to lilies - and the both bouquets had lots of them.  She put a garbage bag over the one that was already in my room and asked if she could keep the new bouquet from Shane at the front desk until her shift was over.  Okay.....  very interesting!

I was able to be discharged on Friday. It was so much harder leaving without the babies than I had expected.  I had heard it would be hard and understood, theoretically, that it would be difficult - but I was surprised by my level of emotion and cried on my way to Defining Line!  We fed the babies before gathering up my overly abundant amount of stuff and then Shane dropped me off to get a haircut, went home and unloaded all the stuff and then came back to get me.  From there we went back up to the hospital to do another feeding and then went home and crashed!  I hadn't had my haircut for 15 weeks and needed to have good hair to balance out my fat body for the big bridal shower the next day.  I was so inordinately thirsty during the haircut - I could not get enough water! 

It was a lot harder to sleep at home that I expected.  The discomfort of my empty abdominal cavity was very unpleasant and getting in and out of bed or changing positions in my bed was hard to do and painful with out the armbars or adjustable-ness of the hospital bed.  Who would have ever thought that I would miss that miserable hospital bed.  Having a baby (or two) isn't for the weak of heart.... it is a big pain in lots of areas!   

Day of Life Two (April 18th)

So much of the first couple of days were quite a blur.  I'm sure the lack of sleep contributed but I think mostly it was the Percocet.   That first night Shane spent the night in the room with me.  I was allowed and encouraged to get up a few times but with help.  I had the catheter, the IV cord and would have to unplug my legs from the wraps/pump that were hooked up to encourage circulation.  I was doped up and also on Ambien to get a good night's sleep.  The babies were in the NICU - which is not particularly close to my room and wouldn't be able to come out for their entire stay.  I did wake up to pump every 3 hours and would either send the tear amount with Shane to the NICU or with the nurse.  It was reassuring to have Shane there in the room with me so that I could have an instant helper without having to push the call button to impose on the nurses - although they never made me feel like I was imposing.  My experience at EIRMC was fabulous and all the nurses were very kind and lovely.  The beds aren't that comfortable but after the c-section having the adjustable bed with the rails (so you can do all your situating with your arms and not your abdominal wall) is KEY!

The morning after the babies were born - Day of Life Two - as the NICU counts everything - I got up and brushed my teeth and did my make-up in my bed while I waited for breakfast.  I was very hungry and glad to be able to eat something.  The doctor (I think it was Baker that did rounds that morning) came and checked on me.  My big complaint was a trapped gas feeling in my abdominal cavity - it felt empty and quite uncomfortable all at the same time.  They were giving me some expensive form of Gas-X for the discomfort and said it was quite normal to feel that way any time you are "opened up".  I also hated how swollen my legs and feet were from the pitocin.  I guess a regular delivery you get pit for several hours after the baby (to contract the uterus) and with a c-section you get it for 24 hours and with twins an extra amount... and that swelling would last for 10+ days because it was in your muscles and would take a while to work out of your system.  I was anxious to get all that done so that I could go down to the NICU to see the babies.  Shane went home and showered and let Hurley out  and got back as quickly as he could.  I felt impatient about getting down there because I couldn't really remember the babies or what they looked like.  I had a vague memory / worry that they were ugly and had pig noses.  Shane thought I was being ridiculous - but once I saw them with their nasal canulas squishing their little bitty noses I realized that was what my drug-induced brain had been remembering. 

Shane had mentioned that he didn't dare to pick up or hold the babies because they were so small as he was wheeling me down in the wheelchair to the NICU.  Once we got in there I felt so hot (it was only 72 degrees in the NICU) because of the extra fluids and the narcotics that I could hardly stand to be in the room.  I felt so guilty that all I wanted to do was get out of there because of the heat (or my reaction to it) when I shouldn't have wanted to leave at all because there were our precious little miracles.  I told Shane that I was feeling really dizzy (which was true and part strategy) and so he would have to handle the babies.  I wanted him to have confidence with the babies and I knew that once he successfully held them once he would be hooked.  I was glad that I did that - despite him telling me multiple times, "you are doing it wrong" - because he does feel like the expert.  And he is.

We found out that Charlotte had a "velamentous cord insertion" - which is when the umbilical cord is attached to the edge of the placenta - instead of the center - so it doesn't have as much vein support as it should.  That was probably why she was so small throughout the pregnancy.  And that there was a clot on her cord - which was probably why she dropped off in growth the last week.  So - we were very glad that we did the c-section and got her out of there.  Both babies were on room air with a little bit of force via nasal canulas for 24 hours.  Neither of them had to have surfactant or be on the c-pap or ventilators.  Both babies had IV's and were getting antibiotic incase of an infection (which Slade got off after the labs came back and Charlotte stayed on for a few more days to get more fluid).  Both babies were on all sorts of monitors (breathing, heart, temperatures, oxygen saturation).  The babies IV's blow easily and sometime they were on their arms/hands and sometimes it was in their heads.  It was disturbing to see it in their little heads - but it actually hurts them less and lasts longer.   Both babies had nasal-gastric tubes and the first few days it went in their mouths and not their nose because their noses were so small.

Little Sargent Slade seems so small on his own - but compared to his little sister - seems quite big.  It seemed a lot less scary changing Slade's diaper, taking his temperature, picking him up, trying to nurse him.  He was easier to handle or manage because he was twice as big as Charlotte - with twice as much muscle tone, etc.   Charlotte was just sooo tiny!  Both babies had very thin skin - so they were really red and you could see a lot of their veins.  Charlotte's head was so little that the individual plates in her skull were over-lapping each other.  The nurses told me that this showed that she would grow to be a normal sized person - and that you could feel the overlapping because her head still had so much growth to do.  It was a little disconcerting to feel the bones overlapping - it was like ridges sticking up in her skull. 

We weren't supposed to hold them too often or for too long - and only while they were feeding and not on every feeding - because it would increase their metabolic rate and they would burn off more calories than they were consuming.  Both babies were taking most of their food by the gavauge feedings.  Sometimes it would be hanging on the rack or the pump - but sometimes either Shane or I would hold it while we held the babies.  I would usually try to have the babies latch-on while they were getting the gavauge feedings.  The suck-swallow-breath reflex is developed during that 34th week of gestation and Slade's was a lot stronger than  Charlotte's.  I remember being worried that something was wrong with her brain and she was going to be slow.  Dr. Jenkin's assured me that wasn't the case. 

It was surreal and I felt like we were holding other people's babies and I kept  expecting to get in trouble for trying to nurse someone else's baby.  Except that I felt an intense desire to understand everything that was going on with them. 

We had some sweet little visitors later that day and it was nice to be able to get big hugs from everyone.

Ruth's McKay

Stevan and Ruth's Elijah

Ruth's Elijah and McKay and Stevan's Cooper and Easton and Kate who didnt want to be in the picture!!

Later that evening we went back down to the NICU and gave the babies their first bath.  The baths are done in the isolets under the warming lights in little tubs. It was a sponge bath so their cords wouldn't get wet.  It was a little scary handling such small little miracles - but they didn't seem to mind it too bad.

Before every feeding (and bath) we did their "cares".  This included taking their temperature (it needed to be 36.5c at least), and changed their little diaper - which were way too big for them.

Happy Birthday Babies! April 17th

When I got into the Operating Room - the nurse (Nancy) helped me get on the table and our nurse anesthetist worked to try to give me a spinal block.  He had to poke me a few times because he couldn't get the needle in.... it seemed a little traumatic at the time but in hindsight it really didn't hurt that bad.  It was more a combination of it hurting a little, being so uncomfortable as you try to round out your back with a giant uterus and your nervous and your afraid it won't work at all.  But it did go in - and they laid me down and put in the catheter, propped me on a block and strapped down my arms.  They put up the drapes and let Ruth and Shane come in.  I was nervous and trying to be funny.  I told the NA that I wasn't trying to be glib - but covering my nerves with humor.  He said he was impressed with my word choice under medication.  He was showing me photos of his red-headed children when a horrible wave of nausea came over me and I was trying to wait for a break in his story before I mentioned the nausea... but I was certain I would vomit - so I had to interrupt.  He added something to my IV and I felt instantly better.   

I think it was at this time that Ruth and Shane were admitted into the operating room.  I was glad they were there and Shane was glad that Ruth was with him for moral support.  They couldn't see much over the drape and Shane didn't try to look.  Ruth did look over a few times - and especially at the end.

I was quite worried that I would be able to feel things because I could feel the pressure of people touching me.  Dr. Steve Robison had Dr. Matt Robison assist him.  At one point I did remind them that I could feel what they were doing.  Dr. Robison asked me, "can you feel that?".  I couldn't and our NA told me that Dr. Robison had put a huge clamp on my stomach and if I couldn't feel that I didn't need to worry.  Shane and Ruth were good company and support.  I still felt the need to entertain the room a little bit even with the oxygen mask over my face. 

I have heard friends say that once the baby comes out that you feel so much better almost instantly as far as the pressure of them.  I can not express how literal this experience this is - at least with twins and a c-section.  It was such an instantaneous relief from pressure.  I practically felt like bursting into song.  Something grand and sweeping - like dancing around the room singing, "The Hills are Alive..."  But I couldn't - my arms were still strapped down.  Perhaps that is why they strap down people's arms like that.   

Baby A was born first - Sargent Slade Williams at 5:05pm.  He weighed 4 lbs and 13 ounces and was 18 1/4" long.  It was great to hear him cry.  Dr. Robison showed him to me - but from my vantage point all I could see was the bottom of his feet.

An entire minute later, at 5:06pm, Baby B was born into the world.  I was very glad to hear her cry - as we were all worried about her having dropped of the growth chart. 
Charlotte Dee Williams and she was 2 lbs 12 ounces and 15 3/4" long.  Smaller even than was predicted.  Dr. Robison held her over the drape so we could get a peek at her and then they passed her through the same window that our son had gone through to the Resuscitation Room.  I really think they should call it a different name.

Again - let me say what an amazing physical relief to have those two babies lifted off my diaphragm!  I couldn't really believe that they were here.  We sent Shane to be with the babies and Ruth stayed with me.

Ruth stood up at that point and was very interested in what was going on.  She was so amazed at the size of the GIANT fibroids that she forgot to take a photo of them.  Six weeks later she is still kicking herself for not taking a photo.  She asked Dr. Robison some questions and I remember that she was impressed / curious that he was using a straight needled to close.  I also recall him saying in response to the hospital having a different type of dermabond than he normally used, "that I will make it work - I learned how to roll with things like this in Iraq".    While he was closing one of the nurses came in and told me that everything was fine with the babies and told me their weights.

They took me into recovery and Shane went to see the babies in the NICU and to tell our support team in the waiting room that everything was alright.  In addition to those already there, my long time bestie - Michelle Clements Harris was there, ,along with Krista and Phoebe Smith, and Ashytn Larson.  Cole was also there.  Shane went out and told everyone the babies names - it had been our "hot secret" for 7.5 months.     Shane really liked the name Slade and I really like my maiden name, Sargent - so we did a combo for our son.  I have always liked the name Charlotte and about 10 years ago a friend of mine had a toddler they called Lottie (Charlotte) and I liked it all over again.  And, my dear husband was raised in Charlotte, NC.  Dee is my dad's middle name and Shane's mother's name.    Doctor Robison came out into the waiting room and said hi to Cole and Byron and I think that my mom introduced him to some people - if I'm remember what people told me correctly.    I waited in recovery for what seemed like forever.  My nurse, Nancy, took good care of me.  A few people came back to seem me for a few minutes at a time.  I was nauseated and they came me phenergan which made me even more sleepy and out of it than before.  Shell got a real kick out of how crazy I was acting.  I kept saying something to the fact of "I'm sorry I'm acting so crazy" but I couldn't help myself - I was aware that I was out of it but couldn't quite wake up enough to stop.  It seemed like forever until my husband came to see me.  I had the nurse go look for him.  He and Anna were changing all my stuff to a new room and that took a little bit of time.  I was staring to think they he had gone out to dinner with some friends or something.  I had to stay in recovery for about an hour.  Stevan and Angie came back there and Anna brought me some photos of the babies to see on her phone.  My mom came back and Leah came in for a few minutes to see me too.  Ruth had to get back to work.  After my hour they wheeled me on the gurney through the NICU to see the babies.  I was so out of it from the phenergan that I couldn't really keep my eyes open and I kept saying to the nurses, "I'm sorry that I'm acting so crazy".  I saw the babies in the isolates and was able to reach in and touch them.

  It was great to know that my Aunt Karleen was helping with the babies and helping Shane in the NICU.   The babies did great.  They did not need any surfactant, nor did they need to be on the c-pap.  They both had IV's, received antibiotics - in case of infection being the cause of their being so small (they didn't have an infection) and for the first 24 hours were on room air with a little force in a nasal cannula.  And they were being kept warm.

Here are some additional photos of the new born babies.  They don't really look that little in the photos because there isn't anything to give perspective to their tiny size.  But they were tiny!

Sargent Slade

Charlotte Dee

Sargent Slade

It was quite a night!  I really can't remember a lot of it.  The babies had to stay in the NICU of course.  They never got to come to my room - but I was able to take an Ambien and sleep - other than to get up to start to pump.  Nothing like pumping for 15 minutes in a total drug and exhaustion induced stupor to get 1 or 2 tear sized drops of colostrum every 3 hours!   Shane spent the night that first night and was helpful to have there since I had the IV and the catheter and was so drugged.

What an experience!