A Mother’s Miracle
My pregnancy started like anyone else’s. The worst feeling I had was like a constant hangover. It was nothing compared to some women have to go through. I thought I was getting off lucky. In a few months I had started to feel the baby move, “This is real, my baby is moving!” Little did I know this was BOTH my babies moving. I was having twins! I was shocked, they were so rare in my family, how could I have TWINS!! Could I handle it? Was I ready? Why was I having twins??? I would find out the answer to these questions soon enough.
Eight Short weeks later in my 27th week of pregnancy (6 months), on March 19th, I went in for my regular ultrasound. The doctor expressed to me her concerns about the weight of the babies. They were quite small and she was sending me to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton to undergo testing and observation. I was to leave that night after work. I left everything on my desk, including my coffee cup and mittens, telling fellow staff that I would probably be back in a few days. Today was the day that God had started to work his miracle for 3 lives.
After picking up my mom and my sister, we drove to the city and arrived at the hospital around 8:30 pm. In the car my mother had a talk with me about the worst possibilities. “It’s just observation”, I thought. I shrugged off what I considered Mother’s Excess Worry. I was admitted with my mom and sister by my side supporting me the whole time. The snow outside forced my mom and sister to eventually leave me on my own.
On Saturday I had another ultrasound and that is when the doctor told me he thought the twins weighed about 800 grams each, they were very small. He also discovered that the reason they were so small is that I was unable to feed them properly while in womb. The plan was to keep me pregnant for as long as possible to give the babies the best chance of growing and surviving. I was taken on a tour of the NICU. I gowned up an saw some of the smallest babies I had ever seen one was 830 grams. It was so small and delicate, yet it somewhat peaceful. I could hear the beeps of the heart monitors and I could see the mountainous patterns of breathing and heart beats. There was constant movement of nurses, always checking, adjusting, watching… Caring. After my tour I was brought back down to the Ante-partum wing and into my bed. . Later that afternoon I was given a steroid shot to help develop the babies’ lungs. It takes one shot a day for two days and then 48 hours to take effect, that would be Tuesday. Once again I was part of God’s Miracle for these Twins. Although the doctors and nurses were trying to prepare me for when I had the twins, nothing could prepare me for what later happened.
Sunday was uneventful I stayed in my room and visited with my mom, sister, and nieces and nephews. That night my mother returned to her home – 4 hours away, and told me not to have the babies while her and my dad were on their trip to BC for 3 weeks, they were to leave on Thursday. Being a good daughter, I promised.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004 would be a day I would never forget, if I could remember it all. What I can remember, what I was told and what I read in my medical file would change my life forever.
I woke up feeling quite fine. I ate breakfast and lay down to watch TV. “Bed rest sucks!” I thought. 9:00 came and I was starting to feel back pain. It got worse and worse until at 10:30 I called a nurse, I needed something for this! My whole body was screaming! Doctors came in, checked me out as best they could, I couldn’t stay in one position, it all hurt so bad!! They put me in a wheelchair and they were going to do tests. On the way out of the wing, I demanded someone phone my sister, I knew something wasn’t right.
The last part of constant memory I have was looking at the clock – It was 11:05. I had already endured 2 hours of the worst pain I had ever felt in my life! I remember being in yet another ultrasound room, already on the bed. The nurse tried to get me to lay down but every time I tried, I threw up. Deciding this wasn’t an option, the doctors put me back in the wheelchair. After what I thought was an eternity, I was still sitting in the hallway. The pain was excruciating. It’s 2:00, I remember thinking, “When am I going to pass out, I thought you were supposed to pass out after so much pain?!!” Not a second later I heard the doctor yell (I think), “Get her upstairs now!!”
Like magic I appeared in the operating room. I was already in a gown, and the doctor sat me up. They gave me a spinal shot for pain, and I remember them asking if I felt anything. Nope, nothing, completely numb. In a flash I was shown my daughter, Jordanna. I smiled. Dylan, however was rushed to the NICU and it would be 2 days before I would see him for the first time.
At 6:00 (my sister says it was 11:00) I was in a recovery room. A nurse was trying to tell me what has happened. I looked to my right and I saw my sister. After demanding profusely to find out what was going on with me and my babies, they let her in with me. I heard her telling the nurse, “Tell me, she has no idea what your saying, talk to me!.” It was true, I remember nothing of what the nurse had said to me or anything else that night.
Thursday, two days after all of this, I am finally awake for more than 20 minutes at a time and can finally go up to the NICU to see my babies. My mom and dad took me upstairs to the twins. They were in a level 3 NICU, for really sick babies, in an incubator, but not intubated. They weighed 690 and 720 grams, which is just 1.5 lbs.
Their skin was so translucent I could see their veins, and their hands and feet were the size of my thumb nail. Their arms were comparable to my whole pinky finger. Head to toe they went from the tips of my fingers to 2 inches past my wrist, curled up they fit in my hand. But they were alive, and the hospital was abuzz about the miracle twins, so small and no intubation, and ALIVE!
So what happened? In 5.5 hours, it turns out I had pre-eclampsia, toxemia and HELLP (Hemolyis, Elevated Liver enzymes Low Platelet count) Syndrome, basically, over a few days your body will slowly shut down and deteriorate. Kind of like it poisons itself. My case happened so fast that my organs just stopped. Luckily for me there was no deterioration. HELLP has up to a 60% mortality rate for both the mother and child and only happens in .2 -.5% (one half of a percent) of all pregnant women; so everyone was extremely lucky. Even if the doctors had waited another half hour we all would have died. It was the worst case of HELLP the city of Edmonton has had in 16 years and one doctor told me I had “the most impressive display of pain he has seen in his career.” I should have died. Another miracle.
One week later, I was finally able to actually hold my babies. Blessed that they overcame the 3% survival rate that they were given, blessed that their heart and lungs were good, blessed they were alive and mine! A 3% survival rate… Another Miracle!
Two weeks after I held Dylan for the first time, I had to stop. The nurses phoned me in my boarding room and told me Dylan’s d-sats (oxygen level in the blood) were in the mid to high 20’s, they should be in the high 90’s. I ran up to the NICU as fast as the elevators could take me. The nurses explained to me that Dylan was no longer breathing on his own and had to be intubated, they were monitoring him extremely close and at one time even advised me they had a Chaplin on call if I needed him. My God.. my son is dying! That was the only thing I could think of. He had RSV, respiratory syncytial virus. That is a lung infection that can be fatal to premature babies. The next week I spent between my daughter Jordanna in the NICU and the Isolation room with my son Dylan. I could only gently place my hand on him with gloves on. I was not able to hold or comfort my child in his deepest time of need. Being that premature, his NICU team had concerns he wasn’t going to make it. But like me, my son is a fighter and eventually managed to pull through.
In the meantime, I felt everything, helpless, alone, tired, and weak. After 3 weeks of doing this on my own, I couldn’t any longer. My mother came and stayed with me for 4 days. She got me out of the hospital for walks, shopping and dinner. She let me cry on her shoulder, and lay in her arms. While I was constantly devoted for caring for my twins, she was devoted to caring for me. She reminded me that I had strength and that the three of us would make it out of there. Then Dylan got better.
After three months in hospitals, at 4.5 lbs each, we were allowed to go home – on their due date! Years later, my children are still small and slight but are otherwise developmentally on track with other children their age.
My 2 children – my only 2 children, came out of the only time I would be pregnant. Being pregnant again would mean immediate hospitalization, and I would be lucky to carry to 25 weeks. I have a 25% chance of having HELLP again, and I may not get as lucky as did last time. That is okay, because I have my two miracles right now. If I hadn’t had my ultrasound that day I wouldn’t have gone the RAH and I would not have received the steroid shot. I would have been at work on Tuesday and by the time I knew to go to the hospital, sign in, have the doctors do tests, call STARS, and fly me to Edmonton, we would have died.
So are my kid’s miracles? Yes, They are True Miracles, when I am at my wits end, I remember how close I came to not having them, and I try to not take advantage of being a parent. I make sure to give them tones of hugs and kisses, and each birthday is truly a celebration of life!
I thank my mom and sister for being the amazing support system they were for me. And I thank God for giving me strength to go on and my babies the strength to live. I thank God for Miracles!