Growing Our Family
“My husband – we’ll call him ‘J’ – and I have been together for almost 12 years; we met when I was in my second semester of college and have been inseparable since. In 2019 we got married, and in late 2021 we decided it was time to begin trying to grow our family. We already had a few fur babies at home, so we wanted to add a human into the mix.
Trying to get pregnant thankfully only took a few months, and on March 12, 2022 we found out I was expecting! We were ecstatic, and I spent the next few days floating on cloud nine. I had always dreamt of becoming a mom, and it truly felt like the most perfect timing in our lives.
We kept this exciting news to ourselves for a few weeks. We wanted to have a doctor confirm the pregnancy before telling anyone around us, although deep down I really wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I had no idea what to expect at the ultrasound – other than what I had read online and seen in movies – which, to be honest, could not have prepared us for what we ended up finding out.
As soon as an image popped up on the screen, the first words the ultrasound technician muttered were, ‘Uh, I see two babies.’ J responded, ‘Are you serious?’ and she said, ‘As serious as a heart attack.’ My mind was going wild.
This woman just told us we are having twins AND she was having a heart attack? I didn’t fully understand what was happening. No one actually has twins, am I right?
My obstetrician informed us our babies were identical twins, they shared one placenta, and this would be a high-risk pregnancy. I would likely need to deliver them a few weeks early via a C-section. As excited as we were to know we had two healthy babies growing inside of me, I was also terrified – and, if I’m being totally honest, a little let down.
Knowing I would need to have a C-section was disappointing and scary, but the excitement I felt about bringing two little ones into our family outweighed any of those fears. I also knew that a C-section was what had to be done, for my daughters’ health.
Life During Pregnancy
Throughout my pregnancy, I continued to meet with my regular OB and a prenatal specialist regularly, and the first few months of my pregnancy fortunately were relatively uneventful. I really enjoyed being pregnant. I loved to see my body grow, change, and make room as my babies were getting bigger and stronger. Each new stretch mark was like a battle scar I proudly wore.
As the pregnancy progressed, Baby Girl B was growing at a faster rate than Baby Girl A (although she did continue to grow slowly), and my doctors were concerned. At one of my appointments at the beginning of my second trimester, they also informed us my cervix had shortened a considerable amount from the previous visit the week before, and this likely meant I would be delivering sooner rather than later.
At my very next visit, during the ultrasound, the technician called the doctor into the room to examine me even further. They saw the blood flow to Baby A was inconsistent with what Baby B was receiving, and since they shared one placenta, this was very concerning. The perinatal specialist told me I would need to be immediately admitted as inpatient to the hospital (at only 25 weeks 3 days).
She did tell us we had enough time to go home and pack our bags for the hospital; the babies were not coming that day by any means, but we needed to head to the hospital as soon as we could after that. On the drive home, we called our parents to tell them the news we were just given. We went home and I packed a quick bag of some toiletries, chargers, and clothes.
Our Stay At The Hospital
My husband and I then moved into my room in the labor and delivery wing of the hospital. Since I was feeling perfectly healthy and had no concerns for my own wellbeing, it was a very eerie feeling being admitted into a hospital.
My babies, on the other hand, were being constantly monitored – there were bands that had to go around my belly to check their heart-rates and movements. They both continued to grow, and the twins were both doing as well as they could be during every check.
As I was not allowed to leave the hospital – and no guests could come in, due to COVID restrictions – part of me felt like I was a prisoner. I told one of the nurses I was simply an incubator for my baby girls; I wasn’t even really the patient there.
J and I both worked from home (or, at this point, worked from the hospital) so we were able to work on our computers every day in the hospital room. J did have to go home every few hours to let the dogs out and take care of our house. He would also go home to work out and shower every morning.
I was beginning to get used to our new routine. The nurses would come into our room to monitor my babies, check my blood pressure and temperature a few times throughout their shift, and I oddly really enjoyed the hospital food.
My babies were both incredibly active (which is a good thing!) but that did occasionally make it difficult for the nurses to find them on their monitors. During each ultrasound, the twins had healthy heartbeats and looked great.
On my sixth day, the perinatal specialist called the hospital room and told me it would be okay if I went home and instead just checked in every few days to monitor the babies. I told her I felt uncomfortable being discharged right then and, as nice as it would have been to be in my own home, I wanted to wait a few more days for one last ultrasound – which was being done every three days.
I said that, after the next ultrasound later that week, if everything still looked normal in terms of the blood flow between them and the growth of the babies, I would then go home.
My husband and I both finished our full days of work after that call. At about 7:30 p.m. (right at a shift change for the nurses), they came in to look for the babies’ heart-rates and to check on their movements. My husband was on his way out to meet his sister and nephew for dinner – they just so happened to be in town for the night – and the nurses were having a hard time finding the babies.
I had some pain in my belly, but I had eaten a huge milkshake earlier that day and they were pushing hard on me to find the babies, so I assumed it was just a regular stomach-ache. I couldn’t feel the twins moving around as much, but the ultrasound showed they were healthy and active, so the nurses said they’d be back in about an hour to look for them again, in order to determine their heart-rates.
The nurses left, I was completely alone in the room, and as I stood up to go to the bathroom, I felt liquid pouring down my leg. I looked down and saw quite a bit of blood on the bed and the floor. It felt like time stopped.
I called the nurse back into the room, and she sat me on the toilet so she could go grab a doctor. The tears came and I began panicking. She told me I was in good hands and sometimes women stayed pregnant for weeks after their water breaks. I felt relief but somehow knew that wouldn’t happen to me.
I texted my husband to come back right away because I was bleeding. Thankfully he was only a few minutes away and rushed right back. When he came into the room he said, ‘How are you?’ I hugged him and said, ‘I’m so scared.’
My nurse ran a swab inside of me that tested for amniotic protein, and it came back positive – meaning my water had indeed broken. The on-call OB (who I was just meeting for the first time) then inserted a speculum inside of me to see if my amniotic sacs were broken, and they were.
She checked with her fingers to see how dilated I was, and she said I was fully dilated. Baby A was practically through the birth canal already; her head was the only part of her still inside of my uterus.
Because my babies shared one placenta, the only option was to perform an emergency C-section right then. I would need to be under general anesthesia, unfortunately my husband wouldn’t be able to come into the operating room with me, and this needed to happen immediately.
All of a sudden, what felt like twenty nurses and other hospital staff started pouring into my room. I was absolutely terrified and truly had no idea what was about to happen. It felt like I was watching this from above, as if I was watching it happen to somebody other than me.
I thought I might pass out from the terror I was experiencing. Nothing about this was what I expected. I was not ready and my babies certainly weren’t either; they were only 26 weeks 2 days gestational age! I wasn’t even in my third trimester at this point.
They rushed me into an OR down the hall while my husband and I said our goodbyes in-between tears and ‘I love you’s.’ In the operating room, they began prepping me for surgery. I didn’t recognize anyone in the room except for one nurse and the OB who I had just met a few hours prior.
There was so much commotion going on around me as more staff (the anesthesiologist, NICU nurses, labor and delivery nurses) started coming into the room. They inserted a catheter, poured iodine on my abdomen, then the anesthesiologist put a mask on my face and told me to take some deep breaths.
It was so cold in the operating room, and I was shaking – both from the temperature but also from the fear. They were reading out my medical information, and I continued to feel like I was watching this all happen to somebody else. There was just no way this was my life! The last thing I remember was one of the nurses rubbing my hair and telling me, ‘It’s going to be okay,’ which I absolutely did not believe.”
This is part one of Mollie’s story. Read the second part here: ‘She was fighting to stay alive, but couldn’t fight anymore.’: Mom details NICU life with twins, tragic loss of 15-day-old daughter
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‘A nurse whispered at my bedside, ‘Pray honey, just pray.’ She squeezed my hand and reminded me to have faith as tears streamed down.’: Mom recalls traumatic birth of daughter, is thankful for ‘the gift of life’
‘Please just save my wife!’ I slumped over. They did an emergency c-section to save my baby. I wouldn’t stop bleeding.’: Mom survives Amniotic Fluid Embolism during birth, ‘I’m so grateful to be alive’
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