Friday, June 12, 2009

With Open Arms

Thursday June 4th 5:00 PM

The wait is almost over. For two days I've been living on the Labor and Delivery floor with a heavy dose of "mag" (nurse slang for magnesium sulfate) coursing through my bloodstream to control my blood pressure. Doug is with me and we are waiting for the nurses to wheel me into the Operating Room. A cesarean section is scheduled for sometime after 5 PM to deliver our twin boys.

Tuesday I went in for my routine check-up, suspicious my blood pressure was on the move. I vomited Monday morning, had a dull headache that came and went, but no glaring symptoms of pre-eclampsia. Yet.

After watching my urine stick sample turn a stunning aqua green (instead of the normal yellow), my suspicious were confirmed. I left the ladies room knowing there was a considerable amount of protein in my urine - a definite symptom of pre-eclampsia. The nurse took my blood pressure. 160/95.

It was a good thing Doug had come with me. I wasn't going to be stopping by Costco on my way home for frozen chicken. They admitted me right then, started me on the mag, and gave me a shot of beta methasone to promote the lung development of our two babies.

If you haven't been on mag before, I don't recommend it. Unless, of course, you want to prevent a seizure.

How to describe mag? It's like riding the Wonderland Teacups at Disneyland. Blurred vision, headache, seeing double. But unlike the temporary repercussions of the Teacups, mag effect doesn't go away after a few minutes. For 48 hours (and then another 24 after delivery), I squint with one eye closed in attempt to see, in single rather than double vision, the face of the person talking to me.

It was lovely. I felt lovely. And don't I look lovely?

But! (I keep telling myself) three days on mag to allow for incubation of the beta methasone will be worth every blurry minute if it will help my boys.

5:53 PM

I am lying in the OR. My body is shaking uncontrollably. I'm not sure if it is the epidural, exposure/body temperature, the shock of surgery, or nerves. I fold my arms across my chest. A warm blanket is placed across my upper body. I can't see anything but the blue drape hanging 6-12 inches above my face. I search for Doug who is standing behind me and grasp his hand tightly. I feel tugging and pulling in my abdomen. Then the words of Dr. Kaelberer. "Here he is! Baby A!"

I hear the squeaky, high-pitched, beautiful cry of my newborn son. I choke on a sob and take a short breath in. I feel tears coming. Spencer is here. And he has a voice. He is safe. Doug catches a glimpse of him as he is whisked into the NICU window where nurses and the Neonatologist are waiting for him.

5:54 PM

More tugging and pulling (sorry if the picture above makes you squeamish. I love these kind of pictures.) Dr. Kaelberer calls out again. "And we have Baby B!" Once more, I am relieved to hear the healthy cry of my 32 week-old boy. His name will be Gordon. Another sob rises in my throat and Doug takes my hand in both of his and kisses my forehead. They are both here. And they are breathing. Our boys.

From the NICU window we hear the nurse call to us. "They are beautiful. And they are doing extremely well. Congratulations Mom and Dad!"

The doctor "sews my six-pack abs together again" (his words).

Sidenote: my six-pack abs lent a man in the hospital waiting area to ask me a couple nights ago when my baby was due. He was mortified when I told him I delivered twin boys last week. I didn't mind. And told him I wasn't the least bit offended. But he felt awful. So my six-pack abs must be hiding in there somewhere. Where? Not sure. It may be a long while until I find them!

The OR team cleans me up and I return to my room for recovery. The wait is over. But I can't stop shaking. For three more hours the shaking persists as I try with every mental capacity to make it stop. Doug goes to the NICU to check on the boys. I am monitored carefully but still can't stop shaking. Finally, just as Doug is leaving, my prayers are answered and my body calms. I sleep.

Above is a picture of Gordon one hour after he was born. CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure) doing its job.

Spencer's little feet pictured above. The red light is from a pulse oximeter. I did not see the boys until the following morning - Friday. Still on the magnesium, Doug took me to the NICU in a wheel chair. I stood next to each of our son's isolettes, reached my hands inside and cradled their heads in my right hand. With my other hand I held their feet. One at a time I welcomed them into our world, into our family.


We welcome Spencer and Gordon. Born the exact same day of gestation (to the hour) as Ali and Sami! 32 weeks 5 days - 6PM MDT, 8PM EST. Uncanny.

Already we can say with love and gratitude that these boys have an extraordinary place in our family. Eliza, Alexandra and Samatha cannot wait to meet their baby brothers.

Spencer James
5:53 PM MDT
June 4th, 2009
Gordon Robert
5:54 PM MDT
June 4th, 2009

Spencer's feet.

Both Spencer and Gordon required phototherapy for two days. Here is Spencer in his glamorous goggles. The girls thought these were "so funny!"

They haven't seen the boys yet. Unfortunately, this NICU doesn't have a viewing window. But Spencer and Gordon do have a "pod" (room) of their very own. Eliza drew black and white portraits of them that are now hanging on their isolettes. Round circular bodies with a straight line for a nose, dots for eyes, a mess of black hair, and twiggy arms/legs protruding from their ballooning center. Terribly cute.

One evening, before I was discharged from the hospital, Doug brought all the girls for a visit. We dined in the hospital cafeteria. The girls pushed my wheelchair. And Doug raced them down the large, open corridors. It was so nice to be together again.

When the girls walked into my room and saw me for the first time after delivery, they approached me with caution, asking if I was OK. They poked my tummy and wanted to see my "owie." They clamored onto the hospital bed, ate orange slices from my dinner tray, and devoured the cookies the nurse brought them.

Mom holding Gordon's hand.

Dad with Spencer.


After one week in the NICU both boys are breathing room air, their IVs have been discontinued, I was given the green light to try breast feeding, and yesterday evening we arrived to find them wearing clothes! It is amazing at 33 weeks, their little mouths know how to latch, suck and swallow. They are making fabulous progress. One of the Nurse Practitioners has been calling them her "Rock Star Preemies."

This is Spencer (above) after a feeding. They are so small they fatigue quickly. So at this stage the boys receive the remainder of their feeding through a pump and NG tube.

Gordy after a feeding.

One of our favorite NICU nurse, Jessica, made these cute cards for each of the girls. She used the boys' footprints and handprints and the girls were tickled! This was their first gift from Spence and Gordy.

Spencer looking at Mommy. We expect the boys will be in the NICU until the first of July some time. So we live in two worlds right now. Home and the Hospital. It's been a scramble to get childcare each day for the girls, to make sure everyone is taken care of so we can make it for one feeding in the morning and one at night.

We think the girls are weathering the shuffle quite well. We did, however, find Eliza downstairs cutting luscious locks of her hair last night with my scissors - just before dinnertime. Aaaahh! Earlier in the day I caught her painting her face with my lipstick, mascara and cheek blush. Gasp! And all day we've been picking up the fluffy innerds of a stuffed doggie Eliza chewed a hole in. Hmmm. Do you think she needs a little more attention?

It's a challenge but we're doing the best we can right now. And we're so grateful for all the family and friends who have come with open arms to help. We love you.

Every mother looks for that moment when she first connects with her baby. That moment when her child's eyes are open long enough to find her own. They see each other deeply, intimately, beyond the flesh. Spirit to spirit. Maybe it's a reuniting from an earlier place or state of being; another wait - over. Because they have found each other.

Three nights ago Gordon locked his dark eyes on mine and we watched each other. I smiled and talked to him softly. He wrapped his precious hand around my index finger, opening and closing it again and again. Clutching my one finger in his five. We knew each other and I was overcome with love for him, thrilled at the prospect of all we will do and experience together.

This morning, after feeding Spencer (who has been the sleepier of the two), we shared our moment. Spencer was very alert, looking at the lights and walls around him. Finally, he found my face and we studied each other. I caressed his cheek with my finger, watched his purple lips make different shapes, and wondered what promises we might have made to each other.

These boys are a gift. A generous wondrous gift. We open our arms to them - ready to give them all we have. Welcome Spencer and Gordon. Welcome.


  1. Cath and Doug we are so thrilled for you guys. They are absolutely beautiful. We are grateful that they arrived safely and that you were so well cared for Catherine. What a blessing. We wish we could be there to help. Please give love to the girls and those sweet beautiful boys. with love, the gillespies

  2. Congratulations!!! I am so happy you all are doing well. How big were the boys? You had them at 33 weeks?

  3. Cath - I love you, the love the pictures, and love the boys. How precious. I am 36 weeks tomorrow and really looking forward to that moment you describe when you know without a doubt that this little person was meant for your family. Someone for you to love and to love you. That is so precious. And as these little guys get bigger, you will find out how special little boys can be. When Enoch was born we knew there would be differences, but experiencing them makes your life more enriched. And your girls will shower love on them, I can't wait for all the cutie pictures and updates.

  4. Congratulations! What beautiful little boys! We are so glad they are here safely, and that you are healthy as well.

  5. Congrat! You really do look so beautiful in these pictures Catherine! Your writing is so beautiful as well and I am impressed you have already posted this. I want to help you. I am going to try to find your phone number to call.

  6. Congrats. I am so glad to hear that they are hear and doing well. I loved the pictures. What a wonderful mom you are and how lucky those boys are to be born into such a great family.

  7. We're so happy to hear everything is going well with you and the boys--CONGRATULATIONS! They are beautiful; what a sweet addition to your wonderful family!

  8. Congratulations! I'm so glad everything came out all right!! The boys are beautiful. I wish I were there to help as I was last time. I can't wait for them to get a little bigger and watch then grow! Come back to VA and see us!

  9. Cath, Loved your post! The boys are so precious and tiny! Their weight combined is still less than Brighton, crazy! Hang in there during this time of juggling back and forth. What can I do to help? Can't wait to meet the boys. Hold them, rock them, sing to them, kiss them, smell them, and bottle them up! Time passes so quickly! Love you! Trina

  10. Wow! I'm weepy with joy and in awe over you and Doug. What a marathon. Well done!!!

  11. I must say our delivery experiences were quite different, and I'll take mine anyday! Way to go, Cath!

    We are so happy for your family and glad all are healthy and well, minus only a few locks of hair!

  12. Cath, I am so touched at the beautiful way you express yourself. I have been brought to tears reading these last several posts. Motherhood is truly a divine gift. What a beautiful mother you are.

    Congratulations on the birth of these beautiful boys.

  13. Congratulations! They are beautiful and I am glad to hear they are doing so well.


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