I have been meaning to share a bit more of the girls' birth story. But it just seemed to be too much to write about in one post. Overwhelmed in how to write it, after writing some initial notes and feelings before I forgot, I walked away and concentrated instead on watching my two little babies grow.
As their first birthday approaches however, I have begun to think about those days before they were born, and feel if I share a little about each day that led up to their early birth, then perhaps it won't seem like such an ordeal for the writer or the reader.
Recently somebody said to me that I should start to forget their prematurity as it might hold them back if I continually have it in the back of my mind in terms of their development. Whilst I would never want to hold the girls back with my own expectations, I disagree a little. Perhaps as only someone who has watched their tiny wee babies struggle to live can understand, everything that they do, every smile, every babbled word, every step, will mean a little more to us. When I think back to that first month, nearly every time we drove into hospital or back home I wondered if that would be the last time I saw my precious babies alive. Sounds melodramatic now, but back then their tiny little hearts, lungs and digestive systems were being pushed to deal with the outside world months before they were ready to. Infections could have posed a serious threat to their immune systems. Often we watched them stop breathing or their heart rate would drop dangerously low, bringing nurses and doctors rushing to their humidicrib, as we stood and watched helplessly.
While I sincerely hope that their premature birth never holds them back, and that there will come a day when I don't think about it, the experience has changed me: my outlook, my perspective, my priorities and even some of my relationships. I will be forever grateful I can be a Mama to our daughters, Maggie and Elisabeth, because there were many times I wondered if I would ever bring them home.
A year ago today I woke up and felt incredibly tight across my bump. It was Tuesday, the previous Friday we had visited my obstetrician and a scan had showed two equally sized healthy babies. I remember discussing his upcoming holiday, and he promised he wouldn't be going anywhere in late February when we expected to be welcoming our babies (we still didn't know their sex). We even discussed the milestone of reaching 28 weeks (just after Christmas) when the risk of cerebral palsy drops significantly with premature birth. Rob and I celebrated by going out to see the new James Bond movie that night, Skyfall. Rob later joked that perhaps the excitement of seeing Daniel Craig was too much for me, and brought about their early birth.
I had been through terrible morning (all day) sickness for the first 16 weeks of my pregnancy, but my second trimester had been going along just fine. When I battled through that day at work feeling uncomfortable and achey, needing to pee every 10 minutes, I remember thinking selfishly that the next three months would be unbearable. I got home and went straight to the window seat to lie down. I even cried. Maybe deep down I knew something wasn't quite right. You can read in my post the next day that I was trying to cheer myself up.
I eventually fell asleep that night, but it was not a restful sleep.