In recovery, the onslaught continued. Vitals checks, chaplain visits, and still waiting for hubby, who upon hearing the news had to get from the venue back to the hotel and pack up before embarking on the mind-numbing, four hour drive to us.
Baby B was busy fighting for her life with a whole team of nurses, who during her three month stay would filter through and tell me that they remembered the day she came in and how far she'd come. One day, I would finally ask how bad it really was and a nervous neonatologist said they were very concerned the first 72 hours. I had to state which funeral home I wanted to use and with all we had been through over the past year, I was all too familiar with our wonderfully helpful local director.
When there is this kind of loss, everyone wants to help, however, they can. To my dismay, most of them wanted to talk. They would push and prod and I was busy trying to hold it together for everyone around me. That and I still had school work to do all the while. The staff dressed Baby A and wrapped her in a blanket and brought her to me in a comfort cot. It was a bassinet with a cooling system under it, so I could keep her with me and hold her for as long as I wanted. I kept her in my room til the day I checked out. The bereavement specialist offered to do hand and foot castings, have a special volunteer photographer come, and even make special arrangements to allow big sister to come visit. I took her up on all of them. Anything I could do for my little girl, who was already gone.
The other thing people would keep doing throughout was implying I needed to be medicated. This is a sad experience and I am allowed to be sad about it. I am allowed to cry. I am allowed to be disappointed and angry and hurt. It will never go away, but I will never give up.
As you've read, Multifacet Mom is many, varied things. This is just one more unique part. After my time in the hospital, I would add "mom who has a child waiting for them in heaven" and "NICU mom" to my never-ending list.
Tonight, say an extra prayer for every mom who came home without their baby and see #prayersforbabyb for her miraculous struggle.
What do you say to people when you have to break news? How do you do it? Who do you tell? Especially, when it is something so personal and makes you feel that you have let everyone down. How do you hold it all together to do all that needs to be done at a time like this? You take a deep breathe, put your head down, and just do it.
As we drove, I quickly contacted people I needed to tell. A quick note to work, "They sent me to the hospital. Lost at least one. Don't know when I will be in next. Will keep you updated." Not sure what passed through my supervisor's head. Hopefully, he hugged his own twin daughters a little harder that night.
Then my best friend, who was expecting me for quiz bowl practice just two days later: "Won't be in Wednesday. Headed to the hospital. Pray for me."
Next, I had to tell the most difficult people, my mom, grandmother, and husband something. I knew hubby was still working so just sent, "Call me as soon as you are free." I didn't want anyone to worry. My grandmother, who was watching my then three year old, got, "Heading to the hospital. Be home late." Finally, my mother, who had been most excited about this and maybe the biggest disappointment she would ever get, "Going to hospital. Will be home late. Bad, just bad."
We arrived at the hospital and my dad asked if it was ok for him to come in with me. The security guard had to escort us up to maternity and said, "Oh, exciting day, huh?"... Like, read the room, dude. As we reach the desk upstairs, they had decided to skip the triage room and send me directly to a labor and delivery room. I got into a gown and situated in bed still waiting to hear from my husband.
The specialist arrived with his equipment and scanned and searched. Then, I'll never forget, he said, "We need to have an adult conversation." In a multiples pregnancy, the babies are labeled by how close they are to the exit. They could't find a heartbeat on Baby A and Baby B was not doing well. I had a choice to make: do nothing or have an emergency c-section. (The nurses in NICU would later tell me that they were under the impression that the staff was pressuring me to let the babies go.). I asked how much time I had, said I just wanted to talk to my husband, and asked what Baby B's chances were.
One hour. They needed to start the process and perform the section within the hour and maybe Baby B would have a 50/50 shot. I, finally, was able to talk to my husband who also spoke with the doctor, but really, I had made my decision. If we had a shot, we needed to take it.
The whirlwind began. IVs, a shot to help surfactant production, and a fetal monitor that a nurse had to sit with me and hold in place to try to watch the baby's vitals. They asked if I wanted my dad in the operating room.
"Yes. He's a pastor. He needs to baptize them. Does he need to be in the room to do that? I need to make sure they are baptized." The consensus was that yes, he would need to be in the room. The nurses brought him operating room gear to change into. One kind nurse noticed my phone and asked if I would like her to take pictures. I wouldn't realize til later how grateful I would be for those shots.
We headed to the operating room, and the anesthesiologist did her thing. They laid me down and got me situated, but all the medication made me so sick, I felt like I had tunnel vision as I projectile vomited over my left should. I told them frantically, I felt like I couldn't breathe and it was in my nose. They must have given me something else because then, I calmly stared at the wall as I felt all the pressure and pulling of the procedure. They had asked me if I wanted to see the babies as soon as they were delivered. I said that I would rather they get all the medical attention they needed first.
Later, my dad noted how busy the room was and I would think about how much I had traumatized my father. There was the doctor, anesthesiologist, dad, me, and fifteen nurses. Five busily attended to me, five to Baby B(who he rushed over to baptize), and five who just stood around...there was nothing they could do. A cleaned up Baby A was brought to my dad on my right side and I watched, trying to keep it together, as he baptized her.
From the drive over to the hospital to when I was sitting in recovery, less than two hours had passed. Less than two hours and everything had changed. So much had happened in those two hours, and there was so much more to come.
"I can't believe I am telling you this."
Hubby had made it safely to Chicago for a week of work which in January is a feat in itself and I had enlisted my father to drive me to my afternoon appointment. It was the first day back to school after Christmas break, but I had written my supervisor to be sure it was ok that I do some grading from home that morning. We were hoping the appointment would hold some answers to help resolve my discomfort. Who knew? Maybe they would put me on bedrest.
I hadn't felt great, so I had a blueberry muffin first thing in the morning, no coffee (because I was being super careful and not allowing myself any caffeine), and submitted the last assignment I had to complete for my second Master's. I made sure I was ready to go and grabbed an apple just in case I got hungry. Grandma arrived to watch big sister, dad texted that I was in the driveway, and big sister came to give me a hug. "I won't be long, just a couple hours for the babies appointments, and I will be home with you," I told her.
I grabbed my purse. After all, all I needed for the appointment was my ID and insurance card. The drive to the doctor was only about 30 minutes. I wasn't too uncomfortable, but I was glad that I didn't have to drive. Dad needed a couple directions to make sure he knew where we were headed, but my "Vehicle Operator" father (No, really. He literally, actually wrote books (textbooks) on the subject) didn't let me down and we were at the office door in no time. "Be back soon. It usually doesn't take long." He headed to the neighboring Kroger to look for deals and wait out the exam time.
Things were normal. Check in and present ID. "Do you have any changes to your address or insurance?" they asked and I sat to wait to be called. They called me, weighed me, and sent me to the ultrasound room. All normal. I explained the past week to my tech as she slathered on gel and started her scans.
I was having a lot of difficulty laying for the exam. As most pregnant women know, you really can't lay on your back after a certain point because all the pressure of what ya got going on up front, will cut off circulation to your extremities. All the weight and pressure made it hard for me to breathe and I had to set up every often to catch my breath. The kind staff offered me a Sprite and kindly let me remove my mask to try to alleviate my discomfort.
Another thing most pregnant women can attest too, is how excitedly ultrasound techs like to point our features and print out pictures. Not only was this not the case, but the tech stopped out to get the doctor, who usually doesn't appear until you are move to the next room. The tech kept focusing on the same area and didn't chat. I have dealt with many nurses and techs recently...How many do you know that don't chat?
The tech left and the doctor came in. "I can't believe I am telling you this," she said.
I stopped her. "Twin transfusion (that I had been asking and asking about) happened. Something's wrong," I said.
"We can't find Baby A's heartbeat," she said. My mind flashed to the times I had complained that they shouldn't be able to kick me in the ribs and the hip at the same time, at least not so early. "I called a specialist (who I was familiar with because we had been referred to him for a scan for my first child after mentioning the same concerns that we stated with these...when there was only one and I was five years younger) and he will meet you at the hospital with his equipment."
I texted my dad, held it together til I got to the car, and dad drove. Luckily, all the main hospitals were in the same direction from the doctor's office. It took me a while to get it together enough to tell him which one.
Having a sick child is stressful and most people, thankfully, have not had to experience having their child in the hospital for an extended period of time. When my little one was in the hospital, we also had big sister at home. On top of that, I was working remotely and my husband worked a combination of from the office, remotely, or while traveling. We were grateful that things were as flexible as they could be so that we could spend as much time at the hospital as possible. We knew it was going to be a long haul because, though no one knows for sure, the best guess for babies in the NICU is that they will be there until their due date. Our mini miracle came into the world at 25 weeks and 1 day, so the estimated length of stay was fifteen weeks. Remember, I am not a medical professional, simply a mom that has been through it and hopes that my shared experience might assist or enlighten others.
What do you do at the NICU? There are a lot of little things you can do to help support your preemie and our hospital staff was very supportive. First, they gave us two Snoedels (snoedel.com). These are little dolls designed to hold your scent so that it will be comforting to your preemie. There were two so that we could swap them our and she would always have one while I would wear the other one. Next, I was pumping to feed our wee one and to maintain a supply until she was strong enough to breastfeed (We are still working on this.). All the staff also encourage you to get as involved as possible with things like diaper changes, baths, and belly massages. Finally, as long as baby can tolerate it, mom and dad are encourage to participate in kangaroo care.
Kangaroo care is stripping baby down and holding them skin to skin on your chest. This encourages bonding and helps to stimulate the growth that baby missed out on in the womb. It can also help with brain development.
There are lots of things that can change baby's schedule. This could be medical procedures, types of feedings, length of feedings, and more. Usually, the schedule calls for feedings and assessments every three hours or every four hours. This is an example of what a typical day looked like while we were in the NICU and baby still had a feeding tube. We would try to go to the hospital six days a week, but this all happened in the winter, so we did have to take a few snow days.
It is absolutely exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take each day and each new bit of news one at a time and utilize your support system. Talk it out and ask for help, most people want to do something and are waiting for an opportunity. You've got this!
When you think of birth and babies, breastfeeding seems like it comes naturally, but it is not always as easy as you would think. My two pregnancies were as different as can be, like ice and fire. The first was a vaginal delivery after almost 60 hours of labor at 40 weeks and one day with a 10lb 14oz girl. The second was an emergency c-section at 25 weeks and one day where we lost one daughter (1lb 15oz) and our second daughter (1lb 8oz) was headed for a long stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
I have degrees in science, but for some reason it never occurred to me that the milk doesn't necessarily just flow. The medical staff was nervous that my first might be losing weight and had an infection from an extended labor, so she was whisked away to the NICU and I was left with a pump to try and get the milk flowing. I felt very lucky that while I "primed the pumps," my daughter was able to consume donated milk, and it was a good thing! That big baby was gulping down four ounces at a feeding! She was born on a Saturday and it took me pumping eight times a day for fifteen minutes at a time, four days (which felt like a lifetime) before I finally produced my first drops of milk. After that, we still had a few days before she would latch. Finally, after her round of antibiotics, she was released to go home and though the week had seemed like a struggle, I felt confident that I would be able to breastfeed her successfully.
I fed her eight times a day til she started skipping one night feeding and would pump a couple times a day so that I would have a supply for a few times that I knew I would have to be away and for when I went back to work. I pumped enough to use breast milk in her baby cereal for beyond the first year and she finally had her last latch (a bittersweet moment) at just over two years and three months.
After struggles the first time, I had done research about how to best accomplish breastfeeding with twins. Unfortunately, the struggle here was going to be much more emotionally, physically, and mentally intense than I could have anticipated.
Due to medical complications, it was two month before I could even try nonnutritive breastfeeding. This means you pump all the milk out of your breasts and just attempt to get the baby to latch for practice. On this date, Baby B was 2lbs 8oz. Can you imagine the difference in this minute miracle and her sizable sister?
Then, we worked our way to actually attempting breastfeeding. It's natural. It should come easy. Right? Not so much. It takes a lot of energy and coordination to breastfeed, which our preemie just didn't have. When the baby is breastfeeding, it also means that the milk can't be fortified with extra calories, vitamins, and supplements.
Today, we are at just over six months of chronological age, Baby B is 8lbs 2oz, and she successfully latches and transfers(actually gets milk to flow and consumes it) every morning. Until we get on the growth curve, it is unwise to breastfeed more than once or twice a day. Baby just needs all those extras that she can get from adding to the breast milk and we save her a few calories by letting her bottle-feed. I am still hopeful that we will reach a point where we can spend more mealtimes bonding, but for now it's the pump for me.
I wrote my first query letter to a publisher when I was in the fourth grade. For those of you that have not come across this term before, a query letter is a proposal that a writer sends to a publisher to try to sell their work. This could contain a synopsis of their story, a sample chapter, some background on the author, or a variety of other things depending on the type of work. This publisher did not accept my idea for a zoo "abc" book, but they were kind enough to write back and encourage me to keep going.
It has been a few years and the idea of being able to write for a living has continued to nag at me and story ideas constantly fill my head, however, I have let the notion that my initial product must be perfect (which is completely ridiculous) hinder me from even attempting to write. One might see the evidence in this in the difference between the date of my first "MultifacetMom" Instagram post, April 18, 2018, and the date of this first post of the blog that I hoped to write, July 2, 2021. What a waste! I have decided that the time is now to conquer the most difficult, dreaded, draining part of being a writer... just starting to write.
In this vein, I am drawing inspiration from a talented weaver of tales, who also happens to be a great friend of mine for ...seventeen years! (Wow, when did that happen!?) The fantastic, fiction, fabricator himself, Chris Felts. If you have not had the privilege to be awed by his work, take a moment to check him out on Amazon (Can you say, legit!) https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Felts/e/B00IW1BK8U?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4&qid=1625249134&sr=1-4 He is hardworking and dedicated to his craft, but has realized that sometimes publicizing your challenges, such as his popular, "Write Everyday in November", helps to fuel your work and keep you accountable. Chris, be prepared to feel flattered as I mimic your method. Though it is not November, or the first of the year, the first of the month, a Monday, or any day a sane person would traditionally try to start anything, I have decided to begin today (Friday, July 2, 2021) and write a blog post here everyday for 30 days. There are all sorts of theories on how long it takes a habit to form, but I have decided that this will give me a good benchmark for progress.
"Who the heck do you think you are and what could you possibly be writing about for a month?"
Great question, self. Thanks for asking. (Yes, I will work on the corny stuff. Can you tell I'm a little nervous?) In this blog, I hope to share my experiences of working in a variety of industries (and the variety is quite various), being a mother, NICU time, traveling, and fighting for that impossible goal of "having it all" that we have all been beaten and brainwashed into thinking we can accomplish.
Thank you for starting this journey with me and be sure to follow me on Instagram @multifacetmom !
Day 1: Complete! Now to reward myself with a viewing of Something's Gotta Give while I make my dinner from Hello Fresh (not a sponsor...yet? ;) ).
Rayna Moore -
© 2021 by Rayna Moore