(If you missed the beginning of the story, you can catch up here.)
David watched the entire surgery – from incision to sutures – by my side. He was fascinated and took pictures of the entire birth. I treasure the pictures we have of our babies entering this world. I am so grateful for them and for the opportunity to watch everything myself from a big ol’ mirror suspended over me. It was incredibly surreal. We were becoming parents! The dreams I’d had for years to become a mother, the dreams David and I began to dream together to begin a family – they were being realized! The long, yet incredibly short, months leading up to this moment hardly had me prepared for what it would feel like as I watched each baby emerge from my body.
I could feel tugging EVERYWHERE.
They pulled Makenna (Baby A) out first – she was the one moving down into the birth canal. Makenna was born at 3:03pm with her mouth wide open and shouting for all to hear! Makenna weighed 3lbs 13 oz and was 16” long.
Noah was pulled out second (Baby B) – he was on my left side, more towards my back…though he seemed to have a hand or foot all over me! Noah was born at 3:04pm, also screaming loudly. He weighed 3lbs 12 oz and was 17” long.
Little Emma (Baby C) was born last – she was stuck waaaaaay up in my chest cavity and they had to tug quite a bit to get her down. Emma was born at 3:06pm and did just as her brother and sister – announced her birth to the entire room! She also weighed 3lbs 12 oz and was 17 and ¾” long.
I gave birth to three babies in four minutes.
All three were perfect and healthy with very high APGAR scores (girls were 9 each and Noah was 7). We were sososo grateful! The staff began caring for them and getting them stabilized while they finished putting me back together. David even got a picture of the Dr. with my uterus on top of my body. Ew. Haha! During this time I began feeling nauseous and was concerned, so I told the anesthesiologist. He apparently misunderstood and thought I was asking for help and immediately gave me something. It started knocking me out. I was headed back to recovery but it took me a bit longer to recover and delayed getting in to see my babies! Oh, so frustrating! My body and soul just wanted my babies with me, on me, snuggling me, but there I lay – numb and floating in a med-induced drowsiness.
Finally, after friends and family came in and rejoiced with us, David and I were taken (I was still on the recovery bed!) into the NICU to meet our new babies. One by one, we made it to each little isolette. We peered in and carefully received each tiny, sweet baby. They were so little! And already the mommy guilt began to set in – I felt this incredible pull to be with Noah and Emma (whom I hadn’t “met” yet) when I was with Makenna. I wanted to soak in the moments I had with my Baby Girl, to memorize her face and explore every detail of her perfect and beautiful body….but I had two other babies to hold. There were two other babies who needed to lie on my chest, who needed to be kissed on their feathery and silky heads. These two other babies lay in their little “cribs” patiently (for now!) waiting for mommy and daddy to come to them. So I looked and fell in love and cried tears of joy and fear over their small, but healthy bodies. I reluctantly put our baby back in the isolette for some other woman to continue caring for her….and moved on to the next baby. I’ve never EVER felt such a wash of intense emotions. It was nothing like I anticipated. But they were so precious and just as helpless as any other newborn and I immediately knew I would do anything for them. (If you are pregnant with multiples, the situation I just described may be one of the most overwhelming you’re likely to feel with babies in the NICU. Please contact me if you’d like more information on ways you can prepare and how you might be able to respond in these situations.)
After the most amazing few hours of my life (aside from marrying my Love), I was so exhausted I couldn’t even think straight. We went up to my room to continue the recovery process…and begin the parenting process! Laaaaaaaate that night I FINALLY got a pump (thanks to Donna!!) and began the first in a long line of parental sacrifices. It was grueling – this pumping in the middle of the night (after only sleeping a few hours in the past 48) while recovering from major surgery and having given birth to not just one baby, but three.
When people hear that I had babies in the NICU for a month their response is almost always “at least you got to recuperate without immediately having the care of the babies and their demands.” I usually just nod my head in agreement while thinking how this couldn’t be further from my perspective. I would say it was harder. I had to use a pump – a poor, poor imitation of a baby – to begin the process of getting my milk in instead of allowing my babies to do what God created them to do. And there were no babies in my room to listen to their little noises or with whom to snuggle. I had to make a long and painful trek down to the NICU if I wanted to see my babies – to give the nurses the precious, precious amounts of breast milk my body yielded in those first attempts. My body was designed to have my babies near me – I craved being able to smell them, to touch them, to stare at them with my husband by my side. Instead, I was poked and prodded and assessed and forced to look at my babies through plastic windows. I had to relinquish the majority of their care to the doctors and nurses (who, gratefully, were wonderful and capable!). A, once released, I was compelled and driven to be with my babies as much as possible. The journey from home to the NICU room was a daily physical challenge. So, no, I don’t believe it was better. It was far more emotionally draining than the physical challenges ever could be of bringing home babies.
But, hallelujah, we survived! It was not the birth I longed for, but in many ways it was far more glorious and beautiful and emotional and perfect than I could have imagined: David and I were parents to the three most beautiful babies in the world! Our Makenna, Noah and Emma had arrived!!! We felt so very blessed and realized everything had been worth it for these precious gifts from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).
(I considered most of the pictures from the days in the hospital to be private. But I am now comfortable sharing them.)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY FAVORITE THREE BABIES IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. WE LOVE YOU, MOMMY AND DADDY