Sunday, January 20, 2013

where do I begin...

A lot has happened since my last posting.  I don't even know where to begin.  We are now a family of 5.  In one minute, my life changed forever as I heard the cry of my second daughter and shortly thereafter, my only son.  As they were born, a time of immense soul-searching and utter dependence on the sovereignty of God came to a head.

On July 13th, 2012, I thought I had lost a baby.  It was my third pregnancy- one miscarriage, my lovely Gemma, and now this one.  I was nauseated, exhausted, and uncomfortable- thus in a word... pregnant.  Only 8 weeks along, I felt shocked when ALL my symptoms just disappeared.  I was watching my best friend's kids when I called the doctor and scheduled a viability ultrasound.  We had only tried for one month, I got pregnant right away- this was too good to be true.  That night, all alone because Abe stayed home to watch Gemma, I laid in the ultrasound room at Woodwinds praying for a heartbeat... feeling all along that something was off, different, not quite normal.  There, in the dim light, the ultrasound tech turned the screen toward me and asked what I saw.  Surrounded by fuzzy gray, two small black circles with obscured pulsing white centers blinked back at me.  I said, "that's not two is it?" and she said as she pointed to each circle, "One, Two".  At that point, I began to shake.  Truly, I shook through the entire rest of the ultrasound, absolutely shocked at what was going on inside me.  A trillion questions roared through my mind, how would we afford daycare?  Abe's job had just been cut!  How would we find a place for them all to sleep?  We only have two bedrooms!  Then I got irrational!  Will I have to give one up for adoption because we can't afford both?

It was an ugly 30 minutes.  Then, I called my best friend from the lobby and sobbed uncontrollably for a good 45 minutes.  How was I going to tell Abe?  How was I going to make this work for our family? I called my mom, made a comment about how everything was fine-heartbeat and all and drove home.  She had no idea what was going on.  I just wasn't ready to talk about it yet.  I had to get my head wrapped around it first.  And, I had to tell Abe.

I called Abe and told him to kennel the dogs and meet me in the driveway.  He did and I handed him the ultrasound pictures.  Then, I just wept.  How was I going to do this?  Gemma was so hard as an infant; I was so worried ALL the time; I am not up for twins; I barely got used to the idea of having another and then twins?  Both Abe and I tossed and turned all night long, not sleeping, feeling so scared.

That shocking picture, those two little black circles, changed our lives.

That began one of the most surrendering seasons of our lives; A season in which we are still DEEPLY entrenched.  Abe began looking for any job that would provide full-time pay with the understanding that because we knew God had provided these two precious babies a home in our lives, He would not leave or forsake us. He would provide.  I am not naive and assume that God just swoops in and clears up any difficulty, loss, or struggle but I did have this faith that He would make a way for us to welcome these two precious lives into our family and be all the better for it.  He would provide what we need.

My entire pregnancy was different.  Since I was carrying two, my blood volume was much higher so I had awful varicose veins, and sciatic pain.  I was uncomfortable sooner and could feel movement much sooner too.  The babies always seemed healthy on the ultrasound and I continued to do life as I always had.  We kept seeing job after job not come through as I grew bigger and bigger.  Throughout this whole time, very contrary to my personality, I was calm... at peace.  I felt like something had to happen- these babies were on their way and we needed to find a way to feed, clothe, and provide for them.  I scheduled my c-section for 38 weeks and continued to picture our lives with 3 kids under the age of 2 1/2.

At 33 weeks, I went in for a routine doctor's appointment, had an ultrasound, a bio-physical profile, and a doctor's visit.  The night before I had been up a lot of the night with bad lower back pain and cramps. They weren't rhythmic like contractions or anything but I still thought I might be going into labor.  When I got up the next morning, I felt better.  I walked around Babies R Us to get an outfit for each of the babies for coming home and then went to my appointment.  I didn't have lunch- I figured I'd grab something after the appt.  When I told my doc what the previous night felt like, she wanted to check to see if I was dilating.  When she checked me, she was very quiet.  She looked me in the eye and said, "Okay, this is what we're going to do.  You are dilated to a 4 and I'm sending you straight to labor and delivery.  I will try to stop this.  I'm going to throw everything I can at you to stop this but I may not be able to.  Did you drive yourself?  Okay? Well, go- don't ask any questions, don't stop for your suitcase or anything, just go straight there."  Turns out, when she checked me, she could actually feel my daughter's feet and contemplated calling an ambulance to get me literally across the parking lot to the hospital.  In shock, I left the office and headed to labor and delivery at St. John's Hospital in Maplewood.

I called Abe, in tears and told him to meet me at the hospital.  When I got there, Diane- my nurse hooked me up to an IV of Magnesium Sulfate- totally nasty stuff. Made me feel like I had a really bad sunburn.  They gave me a steroid to develop the babies' lungs and waited for the contractions to slow down.  When I got in to the hospital, I was having contractions every 2 minutes.   They were not like the contractions I had with Gemma.  I was just kind of crampy, and my lower back hurt.  I didn't feel a rhythmic contracting at all, just achy the whole time.  At one point in time, they were down to every 2-6 minutes.  After clinic hours were over, my doctor showed up to check on me.  About 5:30, she stopped in and told me that I needed to make it 48 hours for the steroids to be the most effective. She put me on strict bedrest and sent Abe home to get our things.  She told him that she thought it might be tonight so to hurry back.

While he was gone, my doctor lingered until almost 6:00... strange... and then my water broke.

That moment, my nurse- Diane, looked me in the eye and said, "Remember when I told you that if it became an emergency situation, everyone would just come rushing in here?  Well, this is that situation."

I called Abe and told him to come right back, that my water had broken and they were taking me in for a c-section.  After that, it's all a blur.  I took some meds, took off my socks, got wheeled quickly to the OR, and prepped for surgery.  At one point, I said, "Oh no, I don't have a camera."  My nurse Diane, said- "I'll go get my phone". How kind is that?

I told her just to have Abe grab my phone from my bag.  Then anesthesia got there, got me numbed up, and the NICU people came.  There were two teams of nurses, one for each of my babies, waiting near warmers.  I think they introduced themselves as the teams who would be taking care of my babies.  My babies...  plural.  Surreal.  I was so afraid of the c-section for so long but when it actually came time to have the surgery, I was filled with unexplainable peace.  I had a chance to notify my small group via text message that the babies were on their way and I know there were many people praying for us in that moment; specifically for peace for me and safety for my beautiful babies.  My best friend Katie had picked up Gemma from daycare and taken her home- they had prayed for us in the car as Katie tried to explain what was going on to Gemma.  Interestingly, the one thing that Gemma kept praying for was for "Mama not to be scared."  Sometimes it's heart-wrenching how God guides even the smallest hearts.

Abe made it to the OR just in time.  At 6:42pm on January 7th 2013, Quinn Noelle Wolfe came into the world.   I silently prayed, "Lord, let her cry, let her cry" and then I heard the most beautiful tiny cry.  With that, tears filled my eyes and I allowed myself to feel like a mama again. She weighed a whopping 4 lbs 3 oz. One minute later at 6:43pm, 4 lb. 4 oz Rohan John Wolfe was born and again I prayed that he would cry out.  He did, and then so did my doctor, "And he's peeing on me!" she said loudly.  I laughed and thanked God for my two new children.

This is my first moment with Rohan.  One I will never ever forget.  That is Deb, one of the neo-natal nurse practitioners.  She brought him right up to my lips so I could kiss him.  It brings tears to my eyes to see this picture and remember so vividly that moment- seeing him face to face.  He looks so little like Gemma and Quinn and I was just taken with this new little stranger from the second I laid eyes on him. My son.  My little boy.  Ah.

My favorite shot of Rohan and I- one small intimate moment that I got just with him, holding him by myself while they were still working on me.  It's amazing how the world stops when you gaze at your child.

Tears over my sweet boy.

The nurses brought the babies over to me, Rohan first, and I had  moment with them before they were rushed off to the NICU.  I was one teary mama with two amazing little babies.  Quinn looks a lot like Gemma did as a newborn.  Even though they are twins and not the same gender, they could not look more different from each other.  Quinn was having trouble breathing right away so they rushed her away quickly after we took a picture.  I understood and was not afraid to have her go.  I knew that she was in good hands, that her breathing was bad because of her prematurity and that I had no choice but to let her go.  I got a few extra moments with Rohan which is why I have more pictures with him.

One with daddy too.  Quinn is on the left, Rohan is on the right.

The NICU staff took our babies away and Abe went with them.  They put the babes on CPAP for oxygen, put a tube in their mouth to get the air out of their stomachs, a tube in their nose for feedings, IV's and all sorts of monitor leads.  I was taken back to my room to let the spinal wear off.



That night I got to see my babies.  I tried to wiggle my toes as quickly after my surgery as possible.  They told me that I could go down to see them once my anesthesia had worn off enough that I could wiggle my toes.  I touched them and spoke softly to them, prayed over them and then collapsed into bed.

The next day, Abe came in and we spent some time with our babies.  By 2am on Tuesday morning, 8 hours after she was born, my little superstar Quinn was off all supportive oxygen.  Rohan stayed on CPAP for another day and then was moved to a Nasal Cannula for a couple of days.

Abe doing Kangaroo Care with Quinn (one day old)- skin to skin, proud papa.

Rohan John

my Quinn Noelle

Abe doing Kangaroo Care with Rohan

Me and Rohan

Some memorable dates:
1/7/2013 6:42 and 6:43, the Wolfe pack became a pack of 5.

1/11/2013  The first time I got to hold both of my babies at the same time.  My best friend Heather got this picture of that moment.  Quinn was just zonked out and Rohan snuggled up behind her, nestled right in against her.  The familiarity of sharing space for the two of them was tangible.  He just relaxed into her back.  I can't tell you what it meant to me to be able to hold them together.  This is the day I was discharged and I was heartsick to leave them.  The pictures that Heather took that morning were so healing for my heart.  I was able to walk out the doors later that afternoon with peace and less tears than I anticipated.  Thank you sweet friend for the gift of these moments.





1/20/2013  I mentioned to the NICU charge nurse that I wanted to try tandem nursing before they left the NICU.  She said it was a great but lofty goal.  Then, on the 20th, I got to tandem nurse my babies, holding them at the same time, feeding them at the same time, gazing at them in my arms AT.THE.SAME.TIME.

So, now the babies are just "feed and grow".   We are working towards full oral feedings, which is still a ways off, and they need to grow in order to go home.  I am home with Gemma and Abe, trying to keep our little world here as stable as possible for Gemma.  She has been having a really hard time, worrying that I'm leaving her.  I was gone for a week when I delivered and she just lost it.  Yelled a lot, was totally out of sorts.  So, I'm going to the NICU during the day while she's at daycare and then Abe meets me there for the 2 o'clock feeding and we go and pick up Gemma together after that.  She is calming down and feeling more comfortable.  

I'm healing well- pushing myself a bit too hard right now, but trying to take it easy.  I feel really good.  I'm pumping every 3 hours or so and making a lot of milk for the babies.  They are being fed breast milk via NG tube in their nose and they nurse a bit when I'm there.  I'm absolutely in love with them and get antsy to see them every day.  Whoever drives me to the hospital has to deal with distracted conversation as we get closer... I am just counting the seconds until I am in their presence and holding them, cuddling them, nursing them, nuzzling them, changing them, memorizing every tiny detail of their bodies.

I have been restricting visitors and will probably continue to restrict visitors even after they are home until this nasty flu and whooping cough season is over with.  I will not put them at unnecessary risk and because they are preemies, they will be tiny and extra vulnerable for awhile.  Sorry if you had your heart set on seeing them sometime soon, you may have to wait until warmer weather and open windows get rid of the germs!

People have been overwhelmingly generous with meals, prayers, kind words and support.  We are so thankful for our "village".

Once the babies are home, I'll try to keep up with more frequent updates.  In the meantime, we are well.  So So So blessed.

I have really been touched and encouraged by the song ALL OF ME, by Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real.  He wrote it for his sweet baby boy, born with a heart condition that left his future very unclear.  Even though my babies are doing so well and should be healthy and fine... seeing your sweet baby with tubes, unable to keep their temperature up, having low heart rate or oxygen levels, APNEA spells, reflux, etc. leaves you open to putting a guard up, a protective wall between you and the little life whose upheaval could hurt you the most.  I have realized that these sweet beautiful babies are so worth everything I can give.  Every bit of love, every tear, every hushed kiss, every giggle...even though loving them makes me so roughly vulnerable it's almost unbearable, they are worth all of me.

I've also been praying through this small verse for them:
EXODUS 14:14  The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.

My sweet miracles, what a wondrous gift you are.  What a wondrous God we serve, who knit you together and hand delivered you to us.  Your Daddy, your big sister and I will love you recklessly... we promise.