Colin and Shire's Birth Story - Finale!

Coming Home!!

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 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!


This post was originally published on Chelsea's Garage, now affectionately known as StyleMutt!

Colin and Shire's birth story, Part 4

Part 4 - Life in the NICU

If you're skipping over these Birth Story posts, I don't blame you one bit. :) I'm just telling it as it happened with the details that feel fresh this time of year. And for those who read this blog for the fun stuff, (home decorating, refinished furniture, etc), it has been a busy last few days and the garage is full of some exciting new pieces and projects!!! There will be some fun posts coming up in the next few weeks of all the goodies. :)

The babies were not allowed in the post natal room with me, which was sad, but it also made me get up and get moving almost immediately after the surgery. Matt came to the hospital early the next morning, helped me into a wheel chair, and rolled me down to the NICU. First we went to Colin’s room. I felt a huge welt in my throat when I learned our babies were not even in the same room. When I looked in his incubator he was sleeping and all swaddled up, (except for his right arm which was left out for an IV). That made me sad. Did it bother him? Did he feel the IV? I got to hold him right away. I couldn’t believe I was holding my own flesh and blood. I loved him so much. It was difficult holding him at first. For one thing, I’d never held anything so small before. Also, he had so many cords and wires stuck on him that were somehow hanging out of his swaddled blanket, it was awkward! We got used to that fast, but it was tricky in the beginning. I loved holding him, regardless. It felt right. :)

{Some kind nurses made each baby a sign for their incubator}

{First time holding my son}

I hated putting him back in the incubator. Hated it.

Next we strolled on to see Shire in the room next door. It made me happy when I realized they were right across from each other, on opposite sides of a thick wall. There wasn’t a window or anything, but it reassured my momma’s heart that they really weren’t very far from each other. When I saw Shire I had so many thoughts and feelings fall over me. First, she was beautiful.

A perfect looking baby girl with delicate, feminine features. Second, she was not swaddled. She was hanging out naked with only a diaper on. Was she cold? This bothered me for a week straight until she was finally allowed to be swaddled. They couldn’t swaddle her right away because her tiny veins in her arms were too small for the IVs, so they did something called a central line in her belly button. They removed the umbilical cord and ran things into her belly button. As long as she had the line in her belly button, she wasn’t allowed to be swaddled.

Because of this central line in her belly button, we were not allowed to hold her. I had no choice but to get up out of my wheel chair, which was painful and stand by her incubator to talk to her and touch her skin. A kind nurse came up behind me and put an extra robe over my shoulders. I had forgotten that all I was wearing was my large undies and my hospital gown which I thought was secured in the back. It was not. I might have been mortified if I wasn’t staring at my daughter for the first time. It hurt my arms not to hold her.

Three days after their birth I was released from the hospital. It was November 2, my Dad’s birthday, and exactly one month from when I was admitted. For weeks I held onto hope that I would get to go home, but after my babies were born and I realized they would need to stay at the hospital for a while, leaving was the last thing I wanted to do. The day I was scheduled to leave we waited until late in the evening so we could spend as much time as we could with our babies. I cried saying goodbye to them, even though I knew I would return the next morning. It didn’t feel right walking into the cold, dark November air, with empty arms. It was the first time I’d been outside in a month. And it should have been a joyful occasion. But joy was so lost somewhere deep inside me. I felt heavy sadness and cried the whole way home. Actually, I cried the whole way home and then every day and night for 3 weeks straight. I had gained 19lbs with Colin and Shire and lost 29lbs after 2 weeks post pardum. I was

so sad.

Once home, I started a schedule that would be grueling, emotionally and physically. We thought it would be best for Matt to go back to work right away and wait to take his time off for when the babies were home. It seemed like the right thing. But I was still recovering from surgery and just getting out of bed by myself hurt, let alone the process of pumping every couple of hours. Besides the physical recovery, the loneliness and missing my babies was overwhelming. I will never forget my Mom dropping


during this time to come and help me. She would prepare food and coax me to eat. She drove me every morning to the hospital the first week since I wasn’t supposed to drive yet post-surgery. Because of the swine flu epidemic, no one, and I mean

no one

was allowed into the NICU besides Matt and me. So, my Mom would drive me to the hospital and sit in the lobby for 2 hours waiting until I was done visiting/feeding my babies, (we were limited to one hour at a time with each child). My schedule revolved around either pumping milk or visiting my babies. I'd go by myself every morning, (once I started driving myself after the first week), and then again with Matt in the evening after we'd scarf down a quick dinner together. The first day visiting the hospital was the worst. I walked into the NICU by myself, and went to Colin's room first. Just upon


Colin, I started crying. I was embarrassed. I just knelt close to his incubator and told him I was sorry to have left him and that I missed him.

A week went by and I felt physically stronger. Then good news came! Shire’s nurse told us we’d be able to hold her the next day! I was SO excited!!!! That day I put on a special dress for Shire. It was a strapless dress so that she could feel my skin, and it had lots of bright colors, which I thought she’d enjoy looking at. I totally forgot about the stupid hospital gowns we were instructed to wear every time we went to visit the babies. Ugh. I hated all the rules. But, it really didn’t matter what I was wearing, what mattered was getting to hold our Shire Grace for the first time.

It was like lifting air. She smiled for me and it lit up the room! Gazing at my daughter was/is like seeing my heart outside of my body. Now it was even harder to leave her behind. She would be thriving even faster if she were home, I thought.

Tomorrow is the finale to this birth story, (finally!!!) Stay tuned to find out how/when our babies come home.


Colin and Shire's birth story, Part 3

Part 3: Delivery Day!

Here are Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.

The morning of October 29, (34wks pregnant), was like any other day in the hospital. Judy, my angel, was assigned to me. She let me finish my breakfast before coming in to start the non stress test. She got the monitors in place over the babies fairly easily, and after an hour or so of continual contracting, she became concerned. She asked, “Are you feeling these contractions?” “No” I said. “Well you should be. They are quite strong. I am going to go ahead and call for the doctor to examine you”. Having never gone through labor before I didn’t know what to expect, but if this nurse said that these contractions were “strong”, then I felt like I must be superhuman because I did not feel any pain or discomfort at all, and I was not on any pain medication. The doctor came in, did a quick examination and said very matter of factly, “You are 3cm so we'll go ahead and get the babies out via c-section today”.
Just like that?!

I turned to Judy, one of the few people I trusted in this place, and told her it wasn’t time. She stroked my hair and told me it would be okay. I pleaded with the doctor to let the babies stay in. I wasn’t in any discomfort, and according to the monitors that were measuring my babies heartbeats, they were happy as clams themselves. Somewhere in my head I recalled hearing that it can take a woman a looong time to dilate fully. I figured that it took 4 full weeks for me to go from 1 – 3cm, so why not wait another few weeks??? I called my husband, I called my Mom and Dad. They came. Matt was with me when they took me down to Labor and Delivery. We were briefed on what would happen in the delivery room. I wasn't nervous. The Lord gave me a peaceful, calming strength in those moments.

The delivery room was peaceful in an eery way. It was all white and had bright 'walmart' lighting. Everyone was chatting casually as they prepped for the c-section surgery, (some of the nurses were talking about the options for breakfast in the cafeteria that morning). It was weird. My whole world and life were about to change tremendously and I was listening to chit chat so casual I thought I was standing by a water cooler. But, it was kind of relaxing…was that on purpose? Maybe that’s their secret trick J
When they told me everything was ready, I asked the doctor if they would please lower the sheet , (that blocked my view of what I can only imagine looked like a horror scene from a movie), when they pulled the babies out so I could see them right away. That was my only request. I had no others. Matt sat next to my head and we held hands, waiting anxiously to see our babies.

Colin Joshua was first as he was on the bottom. It had been that way from the very beginning. Shire was practically doing jumping jacks on his poor bottom. It was a matter of seconds between when they told me they were starting to cut to when he was out. Amazing! I heard his cry, but no one lowered the sheet. I heard someone say “Here he is!” I had my eyes focused at the top of the sheet that was the wall between my son and me. I was trying hard to see him. They tried to lift him up but it wasn’t high enough for me to see anything. Finally I saw his tiny bloody hand which briefly flopped over the side of the sheet and then he was whisked away to be examined, cleaned, etc.

It took them a bit longer to get Shire Grace. She had made her home up by my ribs so they had to really ‘search’ for her. When she came out she did not cry, but not because she couldn't. She was quiet and ready for this moment. They lifted her up, not much higher than Colin, but this time I saw her little, tiny face peering over the sheet. Her eyes were open, just like that. She was ready to be born. She stared right at me for a brief second before she, too, was whisked away.

It seemed like a long time to me between when they took them away to be checked and when they brought them over to us. Understandable. They were premature at 34 weeks, so the team wanted to make sure they were okay. When they brought them over they were completely swaddled with tiny little hats on. We had our first family photos :)

We were told both babies scored 10s on their Apgar test, and that they were going to be taken down to the NICU for some further monitoring. 10s on their Apgar. “Great!!!” I thought. Surely we’d be able to take them home in a few days when I was discharged from the hospital. I was so encouraged! Matt went with the kids to take some pictures and I chatted with the staff about hospital food as they closed me up.

Turns out, it would be more than a few days until the kids would come home and while there are children born every day in far, far, worse circumstances, these circumstances were very difficult for us.
Coming up - life in the NICU and coming home with empty arms. But don't worry, there's a happy 'ending' ahead :)