In September 2016, I found out I was expecting not one, but two babies. The news filled both me and my husband with an overwhelming sense of pride and joy. We knew my pregnancy would be considered high risk because I was 35 and pregnant with twins. With that knowledge, I made a point to follow my doctor’s orders and enjoy every moment of my pregnancy.
We announced our blessings to our family and friends a few months later. I will never forget the love that was shown to us that day, as well as the tears of joy. At that point, my husband and I had been married for seven years, so finally being able to make a pregnancy announcement was a BIG DEAL.
Fast forward a few months to Jan. 17, 2017 – a day that changed our lives forever.
At 24 weeks and four days into my pregnancy, I began experiencing excruciating pain like I’ve never felt before. I knew the pain was an indication of something serious, so I immediately got up and drove myself to the hospital. Despite a rain storm and my husband being out of town for work, I made it safely to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital. I was immediately sent to triage, which is where I found out I was in active labor. At that moment, I was afraid. I could not wrap my head around what was happening.
When I saw my OB-GYN enter the room, I knew delivery was inevitable. As she calmly walked me through what was happening, I followed her lead and together we made a decision that would be in the best interest of both babies.
I delivered Amara vaginally on Jan. 17 at 7:40 a.m. She was so tiny at just 1 pound, 3 ounces, but the sight of her small feet moving gave me temporary relief. I was happy my baby girl was born alive, but I was afraid of the road ahead.
Once Amara was delivered, we waited for Arthur III to make his debut. After waiting and waiting, he never came. I was immediately placed on hospital bed rest and continued waiting for his arrival. Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, days turned into weeks.
Since Amara’s placenta remained attached to my uterus after she was delivered, I was monitored very closely while I was on bed rest. Eventually, my doctor gave me permission to see Amara in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 15 minutes each morning and 15 minutes each evening.
Seeing Amara fight for her life was very painful, but it gave me the strength I needed to continue resting so Arthur would have a better chance of survival. Two weeks later, on Jan. 31, I delivered Arthur via C-section after developing a slight fever. Arthur was born weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces. When I saw him, it was evident how vital the two additional weeks in the womb were to his development.
I was discharged from the hospital on Feb. 4. From that day forward, my husband and I made a point to be at the children’s bedside each day. Most days, both of us were there, but there were times when only one of us could be there. During our visits, we were constantly updated on the babies’ treatments and were encouraged to get involved in their care. Initially, the idea of changing the diaper of a micro-preemie was intimidating, but their nurses had a way of making us feel comfortable and confident during the process.
Eventually, something switched in my head and I said to the twins, “I’m no longer afraid of you.” Linda Harper (their primary day nurse) laughed out loud and after that, I made it a point to be actively involved in their care without needing direction. I found great joy in changing their diapers, taking their temperature and eventually giving them baths (with Janet Paskow – their primary night nurse).
For nearly four months, I watched them fight for their lives. Even during the most devastating times, my babies inspired me to be a stronger person. There’s something about watching an innocent baby fight daily that makes anything we had to complain about seem completely trivial.
Arthur was released from the NICU on his daddy’s birthday – April 30. Amara was discharged from the NICU on my original due date – May 5. She continues to be on a low flow of oxygen, which she will use until her lungs fully mature.
The babies are doing a great job at home. They are sticking closely to the schedule that was established while they were in the NICU and have managed to sleep pretty well most nights.
Although this is something I would have never planned or wished to go through, if my pregnancy had to turn out this way, I am so thankful I delivered at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands. Every doctor, nurse, therapist and hospital staff member we encountered provided high-quality care that exceeded our expectations. I cannot thank the NICU staff enough for saving our babies’ lives. Our eternal gratitude goes to the nurses who cared for them so lovingly – Linda and Janet, as well as Courtney Grant and Elissa Gentry. They will forever have a special place in our hearts.
As I reflect on our journey, I want to be a source of comfort to other families who are experiencing a similar situation. If I could give any advice, it would be to keep the faith, take one day at a time, celebrate every milestone and surround yourself with positive people who genuinely care about you.
And, to all the moms out there, I celebrate and honor you. Thank you for being the strong backbones of your family. I specifically want to honor my mother from whom I learned the importance of strength and resiliency – two qualities I leaned on heavily after the birth of our little miracles.
Happy Mother’s Day!
To learn more about high-risk pregnancy care, visit Women’s Memorial Hermann.