Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Twin Birth Story, part 2: The Babies

As I lay on the operating room table listening to the sound of my newborn Baby A (Isabel Hope) crying from across the room, I heard someone say, "Three pounds, fifteen point eight ounces."  Immediately, I knew what that meant.  Isabel would not be staying with me--she would be heading to the NICU because of her small size.  It wasn't long before someone came over to tell me just that.  Before she was taken from the operating room, Isabel was brought to me so that I could "meet" her.  My bundled little baby was still crying, but at the sound of my voice she immediately became calm.  I spoke softly to her and kissed her sweet little face and wished that I could hold her and keep her right there with me.  The unfairness of it all briefly crossed my mind--I am her mother, the one who carried her for nine months and the one who just underwent surgery to bring her into this world and the one who loves her more than any other person possibly could, yet I have no choice in this matter but to stay here on this operating table while my baby who needs me is taken elsewhere.  Man, that was a hard moment; but I had to believe that God's grace would see us through.

Meanwhile, our Baby B (Elliana Faith) had been born and was crying just as vigorously as her sister.  How reassuring it was to hear two strong, healthy cries.  As we had suspected, Elliana was big enough (5 lbs. 10.2 oz.) to avoid the automatic trip to the NICU; but due to her low blood sugar, she would be immediately taken to the regular nursery and given formula.  Again, thoughts of the unfairness of the situation came rolling in.  I am the one who has done all the work, and now I don't get to have either one of my babies.  I hadn't even seen Elliana yet, so I requested that she be brought to me before being taken away.  I whispered to her of my love for her and kissed her soft little cheek, and then she, too, left the room.

I don't remember most of the rest of that day thanks to all the medications in my system, but I do remember that Elliana was able to join Travis and me in our room shortly after I arrived back there.  Her blood sugar would be continually checked every eight hours, and she would continue to receive formula until my milk came in; but she would be staying with me!  And four days later, on June 1st, she would be discharged with me, as well!

Over in the NICU, Isabel, who also had low blood sugar (and zero fat reserves), had been placed on an IV through which she was receiving sugar water to supplement the formula she was taking by bottle.  Each day her IV drip was gradually decreased and her formula intake gradually increased until finally the IV was removed and all her calories were coming from formula (fortified breast milk once my milk came in).  She received some phototherapy for a couple days for slight jaundice and remained in an isolette until she was able to maintain her body temperature in an open crib.  Eleven days after her birth--and one week after my and Elliana's discharge--on June 8th, Isabel was discharged from the NICU and came home to join the rest of her family!

The details of my twins' birth story certainly did not go exactly as I had hoped and prayed, but as I sit here writing this post while holding two beautiful, healthy babies on my chest, I can only praise God for His perfect plan.  I may not understand it, but I don't need to....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Twin Birth Story, part 1: The Mommy

Nine days ago, on May 28th, 2009, our precious twin baby girls were born into this world via planned repeat cesarean section.  Because I was so strongly desiring an attempt at VBAC, we had thought to move this date back another week in hopes of buying more time for me to go into labor.  But when my May 26th OB appointment revealed protein in my urine, my doctor ordered a 24-hour urinalysis to screen for preeclampsia.  The deal was that if I passed the urinalysis, I could have another week.  But if not, we would keep the May 28th cesarean on the books.

Travis and I went home from that OB appointment praying that the results of the urinalysis would provide a clear indication of whether or not we should prolong the pregnancy.  When the results came back the next day, we recognized that our prayer had been answered.  I believe the doctor's exact words were, "Angela, you have way way way way too much protein in your urine.  These babies need to be delivered."  With a surprising amount of peace, I responded, "Okay, we'll see you in the morning."

With about 16 hours remaining before the time of my scheduled cesarean, I continued to believe that God would cause my labor to start within that time if it was His will for me to avoid the surgery.  Despite my fears about the surgery itself, I knew that I needed to trust in Him.

That night I managed to get about three hours of sleep.  My restlessness wasn't so much due to anxious thoughts as it was to the discomforts of being 37 weeks pregnant with twins.  At 4:30 a.m. I finally accepted the fact that I wasn't going to get any more sleep and crawled out of bed to start my day.  What a weird feeling it was to know that I was getting ready to go deliver my babies.

About four hours later I walked into the big and brightly lit operating room.  Men and women all dressed in blue were scattered throughout the room preparing for the procedure at hand.  When I saw the familiar face of my doctor I told him I was scared, and he stayed right by my side while the anesthesiologist administered my spinal.  Once I was totally prepped for surgery, the anesthesiologist told my doctor to start making the incision before having my husband brought in.  I felt the tugging at my abdomen begin, and moments later my husband's loving eyes met mine.

The tugging continued as I tried not to think about what was happening to my body.  Then came my doctor's voice from the other side of the blue drape.  "Angela!  You have a hole in your uterus!"  "Yeah?  I could feel the tugging," I replied.  "No... you have a hole in your uterus before I made an incision.  The only thing holding those babies in is the amniotic sac."  At once my husband and I knew what he was saying, and with tears streaming from my eyes, I looked up at him and whispered, "God knew.  Praise God, because He knew."  Travis closed his eyes, and I could see the emotion on his face.

Not too much later we heard the cry of the first baby followed by that of the second a couple minutes later.  My husband left my side to be with the babies and to take pictures while the doctor sewed me back up.  When the doctor was finished, he came around to my side of the drape, eyes wide with an emotion I can't describe, and said, "Your old scar was completely separated.  If you would have labored or your water would have broken, we would have probably lost you both."  He went on to say, "That scar should not be tested again.  There is virtually nothing left to the bottom of your uterus.  The lining down there is as thin as cellophane.  I repaired it and double stitched it, but that scar should not be tested again."

Those of you who know me or who have been reading my blog know that I prayed for months that I would be able to avoid having a repeat cesarean section.  I never knew whether that was God's will, but I did know that His purpose would prevail; and I prayed unceasingly that whatever the outcome, God would be glorified. Though I believe I had truly surrendered my desire for a VBAC to Him, I think it seemed from my human perspective that God would be best glorified by doing the impossible and answering my prayer.  Instead, God has glorified Himself through what appears to be an unanswered prayer.  He did not grant me my desire for a VBAC because He knew what the consequences of that would be.  It is in this unanswered prayer that the extent of God's mercy and love is more real to me than ever before.

Still, nine days later, all I can say is, "Praise God, because He knew...."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Birth Announcement: A Double Blessing Realized!

On Thursday, May 28th, 2009, at 36 6/7 weeks gestation, Travis and I welcomed into the world our precious twin baby girls.  Isabel Hope (Baby A) was born at 9:11 a.m., measuring 3 lbs. 15.8 oz. and 17 3/4 in. long; and Elliana Faith (Baby B) was born at 9:13 a.m., measuring 5 lbs. 10.2 oz. and 18 in. long.  Both babies were born in good health; but Isabel, because of her small size, was admitted to the NICU (where she remains) soon after birth.  The picture below was taken in the NICU the day Elliana and I were discharged.  It was the first time I was able to see my babies together and the moment at which I began to fully experience the reality of what I have called from the beginning a double blessing.

Stay tuned for more on the birth story of Isabel and Elliana!

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