walking for a great cause…join the {march for babies}

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Over three years ago, I received the best news ever.  I was expecting TWINS.  The emotions I felt at that moment cannot be described.  Joy, excitement, and anxiety all bundled into one ultra happy moment.  My doctor alluded to the news by pointing to a blinking blurb on the ultrasound screen and saying ‘You see this, this is one heartbeat over here’…then my husband I were quick to notice another blinking blur on the screen, and asked ‘So, what’s that?’, to which we heard ‘and that’s another heartbeat’…the words that followed fell on deaf ears, we were so stunned at the news.  The doctor was quick to point out, though, that we should not get too excited because all too often this could quickly become another case of the ‘vanishing twin’.  That sort of burst our bubble, right then and there, but we remained optimistic.

Months of doctor’s visits, days and nights ruined by morning sickness, and too many hours spent dreaming up the perfect nursery for TWO followed.  I was due in February, but by November my belly measured the same as that of a woman carrying one baby at eight months!  It was early December when I went in for just another routine doctor’s visit, that turned out not to be as routine.  I was asked to walk over to the hospital wing so they could admit me because they detected abnormalities in the blood flow going to the babies, and Baby B was especially compromised at the moment.  I was only 26 weeks along when this happened.  I don’t think I understood how serious it was, because I remember asking the doctor if I could go home and come back with my husband, and when he said I needed to stay, the reality of my situation quickly sunk in.

That first night in the hospital was so hard.  Victor stayed with me all night, the first night of what would be a three-week stay.  I was strapped on to all sorts of monitors and the hospital staff kept rushing in at whatever sign of stress was noted on their screens.  On that day, they brought someone in to have a very serious talk with me about the possibility of not having both babies make it through the pregnancy, or maybe not even that night.  As I write this, I fight back the tears.  They were asking me to make a choice between one or the other.  That was not an option, I said.  I choose both.  I thank God that my situation lasted another three weeks, as every day I endured one more day on bed rest was another day my babies grew stronger inside of me.  So many people asked me if I was tired of being in the hospital, and I could not understand their concern.  I patiently waited for days to pass so that my babies’ risk of suffering long-term illnesses due to premature birth would decrease.  I shopped online for Christmas gifts for my sweet husband and wrote out all my holiday cards from the hospital, without a feeling of regret for being in my situation.  It was, simply, out of my control.  Some asked if I was sad I would not get to experience a natural childbirth.  I was not.  I was grateful just to be able to experience motherhood, when the time was right.

The day came at 29 weeks.  Baby B was under distress and it was time to go into surgery, so that the babies could be delivered and start their next phase in the NICU.  They were so tiny, but I still heard their little cries as if off in the distance.  I caught a glimpse of each before they were whisked away to the NICU with their proud father.  I didn’t get to see them properly until much later that night, when I was being transferred to my recovery room.  They were so tiny and fragile, but much larger than I’d imagined they’d be, given their birth weight and length — Baby A was born at 2 lb 5 oz, 14.5″ and Baby B was born at 1 lb 12 oz, at 13.75″.  I was in love with them at first sight.  Such sweetness in such a small package.  I was blessed.

I was released two days later and left the hospital without my babies.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, and it was even harder staying home alone with all their baby items in my room and an empty nursery that had not yet been decorated.  The pain from the surgery was unbearable at times, but it didn’t stop me from visiting them each day and bringing them fresh breast milk with every visit.

We didn’t share photos of our babies when they were born, because we wanted everyone to feel joyous for their birth and not pity for their overly tiny bodies.  We didn’t name them right away either, because we were preoccupied with their health and wanted an opportunity to get to know them first.  A week after they were born we settled on the names Eva and Zoe.  {I wrote a sweet blog about their naming here.}

We got through each day, one at a time, facing new challenges along the way and not knowing when they’d come home with us.  Two months and two days after their birth, Eva and Zoe joined us at last, at a meager 4 lbs and 5 lbs respectively.  Those days were very hard, adjusting to two little ones in such a fragile state.  I don’t think many understood how delicate they were, at first, but we stood fast and did everything possible to keep them safe and healthy during their first few months home.

Introducing Eva Grace and Zoë Elyse

One day after coming home — 2/26/10

We continued to face many challenges once they came home, but were happy to have them with us nonetheless. Eva has undergone two eye surgeries, and had to wear a corrective helmet for three months.  Zoe has had one eye surgery, as well.

A moment to reflect...

First Birthday — 12/23/09

It is easy to forget those tough times we had in the beginning, not knowing what awaited us while they were in the NICU.  I would have never thought I would have been a NICU mom, going to visit my girls for months in a NICU, and becoming so close to the nurses who watched over my babies like their own.  Many babies came and went while my girls were there, and I longed for the day when I’d bring my girls home.  It pains me to say that not all babies that spend time in the NICU go home.  It was hard to see some parents with their little ones, that were in less fortunate situations.  Sadder still are those situations where parents take their babies home, but they still struggle after their stay in the NICU.  A few months of go, one of my blogger friends lost one of her twins to a very rare disease caused by premature birth, and it still makes me sad to remember her journey, and how optimistic I was during the baby’s treatment but how heartbroken I was that he didn’t make it.

I must admit I felt a certain level of anxiety when I reached 29 weeks again, with my second pregnancy last year.  Thankfully, though I made it through to 39 weeks, and welcomed a baby boy last year in March, healthy and huge compared to the girls — Lucas was born on 3/31/13 at 7 lb, 19″.

Zoe & Eva meeting Baby Lucas {the reason I couldn't walk in last year's March..} xo

Zoe & Eva meeting their brother Baby Lucas – born 3/31/2013

Now they’re three, my sweet girls.  They are still petite, but full of energy and joy.  Eva has an affinity for music and dance, and Zoe is the playful one who is a natural at sports.  

{sister love}

{sister love}

I know this is a long story, and it means a lot to me if you are still reading.  The reason I share my story is that I want to do what I can to help bring other babies home healthy and strong despite being born prematurely.  Better yet, I want to help in the fight against prematurity.

“Did you know?  In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely.  

Every year, nearly half a million babies are born too soon in the United States, a 36 percent rise over the last 25 years.  Premature birth is the number 1 killer of newborns. ” – the March of Dimes

On Saturday, April 27th, I am walking in the March for Babies to show my support for the March of Dimes.  I invite you to join me in the walk, to show your support, and if you can’t join in person, I appreciate any donation you could afford.  Every little bit counts.  Help me make a change in a little one’s life today.

http://www.marchforbabies.org/personal_page.asp?pp=4812168&ct=4&w=6100456&u=haydeez

{Thank you}

xoxo

Haydee

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