This week, Rob and I went on our tour of the hospital I will be delivering at. I meant to take pictures, but this is the only one I ended up with.
The spelling of entrance doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Fortunately, the rest of the hospital did not disappoint. We were in a group of about 20. I was not surprised to find out that most of us were first timers. Everyone showed up early and looked nervous. I was the only one pregnant with twins. I didn’t want to be that girl with all the questions, but I was. Sorry girls, your mom is Type A, might as well get used to it. At least I wasn’t the dad that asked about parking three times. So, my wife is in labor, and there is no parking in the lot. Can I just pull up and put my hazards on? No.
Our tour guide was a nurse from labor and delivery. Not only did she have extensive information about the hospital, as a nurse she was clearly qualified to answer all of our questions about the delivery process. We started in the labor and delivery unit on the third floor. All vaginal births are done in private rooms. C-sections are done in operating rooms, which.. are also private. For vaginal births, you do your recovery in the same room that you deliver, and your baby never really leaves you. There is no room full of babies like you saw on movies in the 50s. For a C-section, if the baby is born healthy, it is given directly to dad who goes into the recovery room while mom is stitched up and taken care of. She then joins baby and dad in the C-section recovery room, which can accommodate two patients.
And then there’s the scenario that Rob and I are anticipating. C-section, followed by babies going to the NICU. We would love to forego a stay in the NICU and have the babies come home with us, but it is all up in the air. Both my OB and perinatologists (they keep multiplying) agree that my ideal window for delivery is between 34 to 37 weeks, the later the better. I know some moms of twins are like, I had twins and went to 40 weeks, easy peasy! Well, I have to trust my team. My OB and perintologists agree that with mono/di twins going more than 37 weeks is not an option. However, within that window, the further along I get, the more the babies weigh, the less likely they are to spend time in the NICU. Five pounds plus is my goal (more sandwiches please).
When I deliver all depends on my body and the babies. So far, cervix good, fluids good. Babies are measuring the right size and the same size which means there are no indicators of TTTS, something that could lead to premature delivery. I am doing everything I can to keep the babies in as long as they can stay, but unfortunately it isn’t much. I am hydrating, eating a crap load, and trying to walk the fine line between staying active and doing too much. I’ve also learned that women who are tall are more likely to take babies to term. I am praising God for my 5’7” height. I am seeing my OB tomorrow (it’s a big appointment week for me) and I am definitely going to continue the conversation with him regarding goals for labor and what I can do to keep the girls cooking.
Based on my knowledge that the preterm labor and the NICU are a definite possibility, I asked the questions during the tour. I will be in the operating room with my OB, the neonatologist, two neonatal nurses, and Rob. I like that each baby will get her own nurse, no need to start sharing at this point. Rob and I will get in full surgical garb and there will be a curtain separating us from the view of my belly. I accidentally watched a C-section last night online. I thought it was just a story about identical twins. Let’s just say I am grateful for the curtain. I will be given an epidural which sounds pretty scary, to be honest. Babies will be cut out, for lack of a better term, cleaned up, shown to Rob and I, then whisked away to the NICU to begin care for any of the issues that are presenting. Then they will finish up with me (placenta, stitches, staples, oh my!) and I will go into the recovery room. From there, it all depends on the girls.
Thinking about the NICU is the part makes me well up every time I think about it. I just hate that I don’t know if they will be fine. I don’t know if it is going to be a scheduled C-section or I will go into labor, I don’t know if they will weigh enough, I don’t know if they will be able to breathe on their own. I have been pretty good about shutting it out of my mind because there just isn’t anything I can do about it, but seeing the NICU and talking about the facilities made it feel very real.
However, as much as I want the girls to stay out of the NICU, I did hear plenty of comforting information on the tour. My hospital is a Level 3 NICU. Any of the issues the girls have can be dealt with at the hospital I am delivering at. No transferring to a regional hospital. The girls are allowed to stay in the same isolette and the hospital is big on skin-to-skin. Finally, each baby in the NICU has her own webcam. Her own freakin’ webcam. Sign the consent form, get the link, and you and whomever you share with can watch the babies 24/7. Hallelujah.
I haven’t been the weepy pregnant lady at all, but having to learn about all of this and accept it as a concrete possibility has really tested my ability to keep it together. So, if I go ‘round the bend and start insisting that I consume 5 million calories a day, this is the place that it is coming form.
After I asked far too many questions about the NICU, we headed up to the maternity ward on the fifth floor. This is where moms and babies recuperate together for the rest of their stay. For healthy babies delivered vaginally the stay is pretty short, 24 to 48 hours. For healthy babies delivered via C-section, three to four days. I am totally up for three to four days and then home with the girls. That seems awesome. During that time the girls stay in the same room with me the whole time, in the same bassinet! Yay for hospitals being well informed on twins. If the girls need to stay in the NICU, I will be discharged when I am ready and then we go to the hardest part, us being at home, girls being in the hospital. Luckily for us, we are 20 minutes from the hospital. We could have it much, much worse. I know me, being me, will want to focus all my energy and attention on the babies, which will be difficult when I am recovering from a C-section. I am counting on my mom to keep me in check.
Up in the maternity ward we covered how to fill out a birth certificate, when we have to have names decided by, and where to go to get their social security cards. The registrar said she could give us two days at most to name the babies. Luckily, we have names. Yes, we have names. We went over ordering meals, having guests, and where dad gets to sleep (chairs that turn into beds for the win!).
So, we are ready. We know where to show up, where to park. Everything else feels like a choose your own adventure novel waiting to be written, but at least we know what all the options are along the way. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go eat a second dinner while trying not to think about the NICU.