October 14, 2012

Colin and Shire's Birth Story - Finale!

Coming Home!!

Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 if you're just tuning in. Thank you for following my story these past few days. The birth of our twins was quite a journey for us and the details all feel fresh at this time of the year as we near their birthday. I look forward to sharing it with them when they are older.

After a week and a half or so, nurses began telling us our kids would be coming home with us the next day. We would get SO excited and have a celebratory meal the night before. Matt would make arrangements at work and we would arrive, car seats in hand, to bring our children home - only to learn that they needed further monitoring. This happened 3 times. The reasons why they would need further monitoring varied. “Well, Colin spit up during his feeding last night, so we would like to hold him and make sure he can keep his food down”. Ridiculous. (And for the record, Colin didn’t keep his food down for an entire year straight. Poor thing had reflux like I’ve never seen). Or this one: “Shire has been a lazy eater and had a feeding in the middle of the night where she just didn’t seem as interested in eating as she did in sleeping” Also ridiculous. (And for the record, when Shire came home she was an excellent sleeper...it was often her brother who woke up to eat!). So, we kept getting our hopes up and then crushed. It was torture.

We questioned the nurses and doctors, voicing our concern/opinions that the issues that our babies are having appear to be issues that most newborn babies have, (full term, even). When we spoke up on our children's behalf, we were scolded with remarks such as, “Do you really want to bring your children home now and risk them not eating or gaining weight?” Or, “Do you really want to bring Colin home now and risk that he will spit up during a feeding and potentially have his heart rate drop as a result? Because if that happens, it will be a lot harder to get him back into the hospital at that point!” My husband and I were made to feel irresponsible for wanting to bring our ‘imperfect’ children home. I told you before that my ability as a mother to care for my own children would come into question. And it did, every day. I felt small.

At 3 weeks I was on my way to the hospital one morning, (driving on my own for 2 weeks at this point), and I called my Mom. As soon as she answered her phone, I could barely speak, the urge to cry had taken over. I was completely weak from emotional exhaustion. I think all I could get out was that they wouldn’t let the babies come home but they should be home. It felt like the doctors and nurses would just keep finding reasons to keep them. Absurd reasons. Was it because Matt and I looked/were so young, (25yrs)? Had we not shown them that we knew what we were doing? But who does when they have their first baby/babies? What would it take for them to release OUR babies into OUR custody? We were spent.

That morning I spent my 2 hours in the NICU doing the usual routine, and as I came off the elevator to leave, there was my Mom. She had driven out to meet me! I sat down by her and told her how the babies were doing. As we were talking, a kind doctor, who just a day or so ago said the babies should be home within a day or two, was on his break getting a coffee. I pointed him out to my Mom and told her he thought they were in good shape, but that the doctor on call the day after him said they needed further monitoring.  Whether it’s her red hair or YEARS of being a Mom, she walked right up to that doctor on his coffee break and told him what had been going on. I introduced myself, again, in case he had forgotten me in the 2 short days since he had been assigned to my children. He was sympathetic. I needed someone who was sympathetic. This doctor said he would talk to the doctor on call that day and see what he could do. That evening Matt and I went back together to do the evening routine with the babies and we were told the kids would be home soon. Yeah right. We’d heard this over and over again.
The following morning my Mom came with me as we had planned to get a coffee after I visited the babies. When I went in to the NICU, Shire’s nurse casually told me that Shire could go home whenever I wanted to take her. My heart nearly burst with excitement! Colin’s nurse said he had spit up again or something and they wanted to watch him one more night. Not ideal, but if I could take one baby home, I would take one baby home. I didn’t spend my 2 hours in the NICU that morning. I called Matt who was at work, and told him I was going home to grab Shire’s car seat and bring her home! I could have waited for Matt to get there in the evening, but there was no way I was going to let either of my children spend a second longer there than they had to. My Mom waited in the emergency pull through with the car, I ran to the NICU with my car seat, strapped Shire in as too many nurses looked over my shoulder, kissed my sweet Colin and told him I would be back for him tomorrow, (I promised him), and got out of there fast. It was a weird feeling carrying Shire out. I felt like I was saving her….and I felt like I was betraying Colin by taking his sister away and leaving him to spend the night alone without her.
As Shire and I approached the doors that would take us out of the hospital I saw my Mom who was standing by the car with the biggest smile I have ever seen on her face. She stared at Shire, kissed her, and then we got her in the car. Neither of us sat in the back with her as we drove home. My Mom offered, but I had been made to feel  worried about my babies every day for over 3 weeks, and I would not worry about her safety now that she was with me.

The next morning, my family came over to babysit for the first time :) They watched Shire while Matt and I went to the hospital together to get our son. Colin made more of a dramatic exit than Shire. First of all, neither of them had worn real clothes yet, so as I struggled to get his flayling arms in the onesie and then inside the soft footsie outfit I had brought, he screamed so loud the entire NICU fell to a hush and all eyes were staring at us. I didn’t care. He was entitled to his opinion, afterall. Secondly, he hated his car seat. He screamed the whole way out of the hospital. He screamed the whole way home, (and for the record, he would continue to dislike his car seat for the entire first year and until we switched him to a forward facing car seat when he was big enough). When we walked into our apartment, he was greeted by his sister, his Noanie and Pops, and his Aunt Casey. Shire had slept the entire time. As we got Colin out I remember it was just a quiet and peaceful time. He slept, his sister slept, and we got to stare at them together. I felt alive again and for the first time since their birth, true, deep joy.

The months ahead were hard. After 3 weeks in a NICU routine, it was difficult to establish our own routine. The exhaustion alone of two newborns waking up at night to feed made me mean.:) Figuring out how to feed two babies at the same time who both needed to gain a substantial amount of weight was very, very hard. I wish I could say that after the babies were home, life was all good. It was good, but very challenging. The amount of work was daunting. BUT, I learned early on that work will always be a given when you have children. The work cannot define the day. There is so much more to having babies than just the work in and of itself. There is so much joy to be had if you don’t get lost in the work!

I also learned that raising children is truly a God sized job. There is no way that either Matt or I can possibly have all the strength and patience needed to do the job well on a daily basis. We must come to the Lord to be replenished – we cannot do that on our own. Our supply runs out so fast! The Lord’s supply is never ending and more than sufficient.

I remind myself of these things, even 3 years plus one more child, (Mason), later. The Lord has been so good to us. He has replenished our strength and patience every day. I am super duper far from being a perfect parent, but I can tell that my kids feel so loved, respected, and safe, and that’s what is most important in their young lives right now. God has helped me to find my voice again, and it’s stronger than it was before. The Lord has strengthened me in my confidence, in my patience, in extending grace to my children…He has stretched me and challenged me in ways I never imagined, but has never ever left me without hope, guidance, and help from a loving support system. I have so much yet to learn, but He is teaching me about Himself, myself and my little ones every day. I delight, every day, in the amazing gift of our little ones.
 
{Meeting some of their family those first days home}







 
 
{Finding our stride}
 
Thank you again for taking the time to read this!
 
~Chelsea
 

1 comment:

  1. Christie SmethurstOctober 15, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    Chelsea, I have loved reading this "mini-series". As soon I saw there was another post I was on it! As Aunt Lynda said, you are a real writer...so engaging! And I loved learning about so many details of the whole experience, especially what it felt like. As a (hopeful) future healthcare practitioner I really value hearing the perspectives of patients and patients' moms as I develop my philosophy of care for the future. And by the way, you're a great mom! I'm coming to you for tips when the time comes around. : )

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