Once I knew that it was the babies’ birthday, I started to get excited. Finally, I would be able to move around again! Finally, I’d have my babies in my arms. Finally, I’d be able to snuggle with my son again! The babies seemed to be moving around pretty well, and our only worry besides the possible kidney issue was whether we’d be able to tell them apart.
I texted Dr. OB to tell him that the babies were coming and ask if he could call the on-call OB and fill her in on all the craziness of my pregnancy. He said he would and wished us luck. We signed the paperwork for c-section and tubal ligation (no more kids for us!), met with the doctor and the neonatologist who would be taking care of the babies, and I was prepped for surgery!
Since I had a prior c-section, I knew what to expect, but it was still scary to have the spinal block and wait for my babies to be taken out of my belly. Baby A was born at 3:02 p.m., weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces; Baby B at 3:03 p.m., weighing 5 pounds, 2 ounces. At first, we heard two loud cries, and we were pretty excited. However, Baby B was having trouble breathing, and we were told that she would need to be moved to the NICU to be put on a breathing machine (CPAP) as soon as possible. The neonatologist also mentioned that she has microcephaly. We had no idea what that meant. Baby A seemed to be fine. She was taken to the baby nursery to be weighed, measured, and bathed. I sent my husband with Baby A and listened to the doctor and her assistant (there were very few people left in the operating room once the babies left) discuss black Friday shopping and my pretty pink Kate Spade bag.
I lay there listening to their conversation and wondered if the babies were ok. I could figure out that microcephaly meant “small head,” but I didn’t know anything else about it. We were never told before she was born, during any of the ultrasounds (which were at least once a week, sometimes up to three times a week) that there was any concern about Baby B’s head size.
In recovery, a nurse asked if they could give Baby A some formula, because her blood sugar was low. They wanted to ask, because I said I wanted to breastfeed. I said, “Of course. If she needs it, please don’t hesitate to give her formula.” My husband rejoined me and the neonatologist came in to discuss the babies with us. He said that Baby A seemed to be OK, but she barely squeaked by the requirements for the regular baby nursery. Baby B was on a CPAP machine. He said that she has microcephaly and brain damage caused by the TTTS. Wait, what? We were only told about a possible kidney problem! The neonatologist said that they would do an ultrasound of her brain as well as her kidneys, and he would request an MRI of her brain as well to determine the extent of the damage. I don’t think it really sank in at that point, because we hadn’t really seen her. My husband said that after they pulled her out of me, she was gasping for breath and turned blue. It was scary, but he knew that was why the doctors were there. I didn’t even get a picture with her. They had brought her by me and swept her away in the incubator. In the rush of hormones and craziness, I just tried to focus on the babies being here, and I thought they would probably be OK. I shot off a few casual text messages to some friends, coworkers, bosses, and Dr. OB, saying that the babies were born, but Baby B had some health issues and brain damage. Dr. OB assured us that we were in good hands with the neonatologist. Everyone said they would be praying for us. I just posted on Facebook that Baby B had some health issues and would need to spend some time in the NICU. I didn’t know how to explain something that I didn’t understand, and I didn’t want to answer the inevitable questions or field the barrage of condolences I was sure would come. I just wanted to be happy and enjoy this day.
My parents came to the hospital and brought my sweet son. He got to meet his sister, Baby A, and he stayed with Papa while my mom, husband, and I (in a wheelchair) went to the NICU to meet Baby B.
Little Baby B was hooked up to the CPAP machine, which was forcing air into her lungs. She was only on room air, not oxygen, which was great. It was still so scary to see her hooked up there, with her little head and tubes attached to her body. I cried, touched her, and said, “Mommy’s here, honey. I love you.” I needed to get back to the room, as I had just undergone major surgery, but I still couldn’t really process what was happening.
That night, I sent my husband home to get a good night’s sleep and get all the things we needed to mail my placenta to the hospital that performed the TTTS surgery (yes, it’s weird, but it’s part of the agreement when you have the surgery). I kept Baby A in the nursery so I could get some sleep, and I exchanged text messages with a few friends. Again, I wasn’t able to be super-excited about the birth of my babies. I wondered what life would be like. What was the extent of her brain damage? Would she be able to breathe on her own? Would she be able to eat on her own? Move? Talk? What would we do? How would this even work? Was I being punished for being a bitch about how much better my son was compared to other people’s kids? Would I be able to go back to work? Would she be functional? Would her sister feel guilty? Would she resent her sister, even though they clearly had no choice in the matter? Worse, would she not have the capacity to resent her sister? I couldn’t imagine. I have always been proud of my intelligence, and one of the things my husband and I love so much about each other are our big brains. Would we be able to handle this? I had so many questions and worries, but no answers. I did sleep that night, on and off, alone for the first and last time in a while.
To read about the rest of our TTTS journey, click here.