Due to a shortening cervix and continuous contractions, I was put on hospital bedrest from the time I was 19 weeks pregnant with my twin girls. At 23 weeks I was admitted to the hospital in pre-term labor. As many NICU parents find out through the consultation process, babies earlier than 24 weeks are considered not “viable,” meaning they cannot survive outside the womb, and the doctors didn’t recommend resuscitation if I was able to deliver my girls. I told the Labor and Delivery team attending me that I didn’t want to even speak to a NICU doctor because I knew what they would tell me, and I was determined to meet my babies, no matter what. As a Pediatric Nurse, what I knew from my formal training was more of a curse than a blessing and I had no idea what to expect if I delivered so early but I knew I had to keep them “cooking” as long as I could.
Once I reached 24 weeks, I took a small breath because I knew the doctors would be okay with my decision to resuscitate. But to say that I was scared is an understatement— I have never been so fearful in my life; that I could potentially lose my two precious girls was unfathomable. Luckily, after 4 days in the hospital my labor stopped and I was able to go home to continue bedrest. I made it to 25 weeks and 5 days before I was admitted again, but this time I would stay until the girls were born.
My sister’s son had spent time in the NICU the previous winter and she added me to the online community for Randall parents as I neared 26 weeks. At this point my recent OB visit had revealed I was already dilated to 4cm and while I was stuck in my hospital bed, I waited for the minutes to tick by faster. In anticipation of delivering at any moment, I was looking for positive stories about babies born from 25 weeks on and needed some positivity to get through the experience.
The NICU support group was honestly one of the main reasons I stayed positive. Hearing others’ stories gave me hope; knowing it was a possible I could see my babies grow up healthy and happy.
With each week that passed I would look at and read about others’ experiences delivering at that gestation to stay positive. To be able to connect with other parents who had lived similar experiences while I waited for my babies to arrive was incredible. I knew that no two situations could be guaranteed to be the same but hearing success stories gave me hope.
Ultimately I was on hospital bedrest for 78 days and delivered my babies at 36 weeks and 6 days. I met my beautiful girls Emerson Jo and Sawyer Kate. Although I didn’t experience the NICU firsthand, I spent so many hours, days, and weeks mentally preparing myself to be there. Worrying every day for my girls and having to face the potential that things wouldn’t work out as I had hoped took an immense toll on me. It was the most challenging and emotional roller coaster but I owe it to the NFNW community for giving me the hope I needed to get through it with a positive attitude.
Born on 7.22.16 at 4 lbs15 ozs. and 5 lbs., my sweet girls are now nearly 6 months old and as smiley as ever! For those mamas on bedrest- there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. NICU stay or not, you can get through it, and you will.