36 Weeks and three days. I had a scheduled c section because one of the twins was falling behind on growth. He had been neck and neck as far as growth was concerned but four weeks after the last ultrasound he went from 4% diffrence in growth to 21%. Three days later another ultrasound confirmed the measurements and I was told to expect to meet my babies as soon as the Operating Room had an opening. Both babies were breech and I was going to be having my first c-section after two uncomplicated vaginal births. It was disappointing but comforting to have an exact date. As a non practicing ICU nurse I was very familiar with surgery. I was comfortable and not worried, until I was convinced I would die of any number of the rare surgical complications I had seen.
Fortunately surgery went well and I met my two beautiful twins. At least I think they are; would any mother ever know if her babies were ugly??
The NICU team was called in for one of the twins not breathing well but soon left declaring him healthy. I was taken to recovery where I realized the fentanyl they gave me in surgery that had been making me feel loopy was still in full effect. After announcing 10 times that I was feeling drunk I asked the poor nursing student if it was safe for me to have sex. Not that I was going to I announced but just to know. With wide eyes and poorly concealing a laugh she chuckled that she didn’t know but that she would ask. An hour later while still in recovery my son was taken to the “stork’s nest” a transitional area where babies can be evaluated and given treatments like oxygen without having to be admitted to the NICU a kind of purgatory, except heaven it’s hell… I mean NICU. Rather than rallying he tired out after 12 hours of working hard to breath and was admitted to the NICU for oxygen. I was concerned but was reassured he would be out soon and just needing a little help since he was 4 days early.
I focused on trying to breast feed my daughter and keep her awake during feedings. She soon was also admitted to the stork’s nest and my husband would visit her while I would visit my son and then we would switch. Texting each other updates like “She has an IV now, it’s in her head.” ” They are taking a chest X ray of him to see why he’s not breathing well.” “They think she may need to go to the NICU.” “He is getting a sugar solution in his IV.” “She needs an X Ray.” ” He won’t be able to eat until he is off high flow oxygen… so at least a day.” “She is going to the NICU.” ” He is going up on his oxygen again.” “She is going to get blood cultures when she gets to the NICU. “
It was a lot. It was all things I had done to other patients as a nurse. It was not something I thought I would have explained to me why BOTH my children needed these interventions. I listened and thought what the nurses told me were things that were reasonable and prudent considering the situation. I sweated and felt my heart race as my daughter’s blood was drawn for blood cultures. I felt my son needed to hear my voice as he laid on his belly using every muscle available to help him draw in the next breath. And then all became quiet. The nurses and doctors had written the orders completed the tasks and now it was time to wait. The babies slept and I left for my room at 1 AM. And then it hit. There were no babies in my room. Someone else was caring for them when it should be me. I wasn’t needed. And I cried.