“My husband and I met on a blind date in 2007. Our first date was to see No Country for Old Men. He talked the entire movie and abruptly left when it was over. I swore that I would never go out with him again.
Three years later we were married and 9 months after saying I do, we found out we were pregnant… with twins. We were elated. We welcomed healthy 6 week early fraternal twin boys on February 6th, 2012. The boys spent five days in the hospital and were sent home where our lives became very busy (yet very fun).
I have always wanted to have a large family. Having twins was a bit overwhelming at times, but we soon settled into a routine. Yet, as the boys grew older my heart longed to have another child. My husband and I had discussion after discussion about having another child. He was very hesitant because we had conceived our twins naturally and we were told I was at a high risk for having another set of multiples (due to ovulating multiple eggs at a time). We did nothing to prevent pregnancy, but it every month there was a period and when there was a late period, there was always a negative pregnancy test. Every negative test was heart breaking.
Fast forward to 2017. Our boys had turned 5 and we were just living day to day. Then we got a phone call. It was from my father in law. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Our lives were shattered. Honestly, my husband and I have been very blessed in this life. We truly had never had to deal with anything ‘bad’ happening to us in life. His dad being diagnosed with cancer was a first for our families. Don’t get me wrong, we had ups and downs, but nothing as life altering as cancer. One morning sitting on our front porch, God and I had a very serious conversation. I begged Him for a baby. I had prayed about another baby, but this was different. I was broken hearted over my father in law, over negative tests, over life. I begged for His mercy. Shortly after that conversation and my father in law’s diagnosis, I once again had a late period. I let it go for days, but on my way to work one morning, I made the decision to stop and get a few pregnancy tests. In August of 2017 on my break in the bathroom, two pink lines showed up. I was pregnant. I immediately called my mom and then my husband. They were both hesitant to show excitement. I think it was mainly to protect me, because they knew how bad I wanted another baby. We scheduled an appointment with my OB (a very close family friend and my mom has been his nurse for 20+ years). My husband, more than myself, was elated to find out that there was just one baby. He was truly a hot mess until he was reassured of this.
This pregnancy was different. I thought at the time it was because there was just one baby. Looking back, I feel like I should have known that something wasn’t right. I spotted and had extreme pain early in the pregnancy. Every appointment I was reassured that the baby was fine, and every pregnancy is different. We found out that we were adding another little boy to our already crazy household. I love being a boy mom, so I was beyond excited! I was working as a nurse 3-4 days a week and felt great for the most part. My lower back had started to ache more as he grew bigger, normal pregnancy pains.
On Monday, March 5th, 2018, I worked a 12-hour shift in the intensive care unit. My back hurt extremely bad that day, but I took some Tylenol and felt better of the most part. I was 30 weeks and 3 days at this point. On Tuesday when I woke up, I had started spotting. I knew in my heart something was not right. I had a scheduled appointment with my OB for that afternoon. As the day progressed, I started to hurt more and more. When I got to the OB appointment, I found out my cervix was very thin, and I was having contractions about every 5-7 minutes. They gave me several medications to stop the contractions and advised me to go to the University of Tennessee Medical Center if I went into labor, since our local hospitals were not equipped to handle a preterm baby. My mom also came home with me just in case. The medications only worked for a few hours and I started having contractions again. My twins had slept in between my mom and me that night. At 2 a.m. I had woken up and my oldest twin Kainan was facing me. The voice of God spoke to me and assured me that he would take care of this baby as He had the twins. I felt peace in that moment, and I knew right then that I would have a baby that day. At 6 a.m. when I woke up, there was blood everywhere. I calmly called my mom and husband in the room. My mom reassured me and helped me quickly get dressed. Our hour and fifteen-minute drive to the hospital felt like an eternity. I have never felt pain like that before. Upon entering the hospital, we skipped the emergency room and went straight to the OB floor. I could tell with being a nurse myself, that the nurses receiving me were anxious about the situation. This is where the process hit full speed. I was quickly admitted, residents started showing up at my bedside (since it is a teaching hospital), and the physician on call made a rather speedy appearance. Her name was Dr. Fortner. She was a God send. I knew enough about what was going on to be scared but was in so much pain that it was hard to focus. She did her very best to assure me that my baby and myself were going to be ok and in my heart, I knew we would be, but I would be lying if I said that death for both of us didn’t enter my mind more than once. Placental abruption is a medical emergency and can cut off the oxygen supply to the baby. I knew we were not in an ideal situation and told my husband (who did not speak the entire day) if it came down to saving me or our baby boy, to save him.
At a little after 11 a.m., Dr. Fortner came in and told me the game plan. ‘We are going to the OR.’ I already knew that was in the game plan, but when she spoke those words…reality set in. There is a term in nursing ‘Wimpy white boy’ that refers to little white boy babies. They have a tendency not to do well in situations such as this. That phrase is all I could think about. Dr. Fortner could sense my fear and she prayed with us. It was truly the sweetest prayer I have ever heard and then there was that peace that passeth all understanding. Shortly after she left the room, a handsome, young, cross wearing man in scrubs appeared at the foot of my bed. He lacked introduction but started joking the moment he entered the room. His name was Dr. Meadows. He was the neonatologist that would be with me in the operating room. Most people may be offended by his personality, but for me it is exactly what I needed. He put me at ease, reassured me that my son would be just fine, and that I would have put up with him caring for my son in the NICU for the next 6 weeks or longer. We were going to be just fine. As soon as everyone left our room and it was just family… this baby needed a name. We hadn’t decided on a name yet, although our fathers had already picked out names. My father in law loved the name Kade and my dad loved the name Jordan, it was perfect.
We went to the OR and at 1:15 p.m. our son came into this world completely in his sac (which is called en caul) weighing in at 3lbs 13 ounces. He was a perfectly healthy, red headed little boy. They quickly whisked him away to the NICU.
We stayed 31 days in the NICU. I can honestly say that sitting there day in and day out is the loneliest I have ever felt. My husband would stay with our twins thru the week and bring them to me on the weekends. My parents drove an hour every evening to bring me dinner and stay with Kade on the weekends, so I could spend time with my twins. Thankfully, Kade was just what they called a ‘feeder grower.’ We struggled with feedings and had a few setbacks during our stay.
Thankfully, I had a friend that had a baby in the NICU (although her circumstance was more critical than ours), but she was a lifesaver for me. There are days that I would feel sorry for myself and my parents would tell me ‘Lauren, one day you will have to help someone else in this same situation.’ They were correct. I have had several close friends that have had their own babies in the NICU, and I have been able to reach out to them. You see that is how life works. We all go thru struggles and majority of the time we question why. Our job is to help one other on this earth if we can do so. I had friends, nurses (that are now some of our dearest friends from the NICU), family, and complete strangers help us thru our journey and for them, I am forever grateful.
Kade turns one this week. It is still extremely difficult for me to talk about our time in the NICU. Honestly, I am not entirely sure why. He was and is completely healthy, but for me that was the most difficult time of my life. Sitting in the NICU changes you. Not for the good or not for the bad. It just makes you a different person. It made me a stronger person and mom. Every single day I thank God that He brought both of us thru that day.”
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