A Babies Story

Some of the best things I read throughout my wife's pregnancy were birth stories. Not that silly TV show, but good first hand accounts of different pregnancies and births. So I sort of felt obligated to put ours out there. Most birth stories are written by mothers and are a a lot more emotional than mine. Blame it on the Y chromosome, the engineering training, or my mother if you must, but I've tried to put a little of myself into it so other dads to be can get some of idea what it's like. I'm intending it to be three parts because I'm just that verbose. So come back in a day or two for the next part.

Complete uselessness flavored by varying degrees of worry and occasionally interrupted by fetching things. That's how I'd summarize the third trimester and birth. It's also a fair description of the more negative parts of being a parent of newborn twins.

Pregnancy is a natural process and generally not especially dangerous. But there is always the what-if factor. You'd have to be crazy or extremely oblivious to not worry. I suspect that a lot of pregnant women indulge in denial or deliberate ignoring of the problems, and I don't begrudge them of that at all since they are the ones that have to go through the process. But since I'm the male half of the team, I didn't have any good excuse to ignore the more dangerous parts. So I worried about my pregnant wife and the growing baby from the beginning. The very first worry was about all that champagne we drank in that short gap between conception and when she figured out she was pregnant. Toward the end it progressed to worrying that one twin was moving too much and the other wasn't moving enough.

It's bad enough with just a singleton, but when you find out you're going to be the parent of twins you're constantly bombarded by potential disasters. Doctors, baby book authors, and pundits all agree.... twins often come dangerously early and mother and babies are a lot more likely to have complications. It's ground into you pretty much constantly. The first thing we found out was that her midwife would no longer see her because twins are automatically high risk. That was a hard hit to the mother to be who chose midwife care over doctor because of worries of medical intervention. In the end, the pundits were half right. Our twins weren't born dangerously early, but there was a pretty serious complication for their mother.

The last few weeks and months of a pregnancy are pretty miserable according to all reports. And even more so for multiple fetus pregnancies. I've read a lot of blog accounts from women who say they 'begged' their doctor to induce. That's a pretty dangerous game to play, but the human body, even the female version, can only take so much punishment. By the time The Mrs got to 38 weeks the list of indignities was long. (I was going to mention a few, but in the interests of my own well being I think I'll forgo that.)

Around week 30 I came home to find her sitting on the couch talking on her cell phone. I'm either empathic or good at reading her body language because I knew there was a problem before I even heard her speak. Turns out she was in the shower and suddenly all vision in her right eye was blocked by an intense light. The doctor said to immediately report to the labor and delivery ward at the hospital since their office was closed for the day. After several hours of monitoring the verdict was pre-eclampsia. For the less medically inclined of you, that is essentially pregnancy induced high blood pressure. Nobody has figured out what causes it, but the leading theory is some sort of interaction between the fetus' blood and the mothers. The only cure is giving birth.

This is when everything kicked into high gear for us. Fetal monitoring showed the babies were rock stars in there. No problems with them. Had the blood pressure of a 48 year old day-trader, but it wasn't bad enough to try and get the 30 week old fetuses out. So we settled for a wait and see approach. This basically translated to monitoring the hell out of my wife. She was in the doctors offices twice a week. She knew the nurses and office staff by first name. The doctors still only checked her once every few weeks, so that gave us hope that nothing too terrible would happen. But the monitoring consisted of a weekly non-stress test which meant the nurses hooked her up to a couple of microphones that listened to the babies heart rate for 15 minutes or so. (I was there for several, and that's a lot harder than it sounds.) The other weekly visit meant going to the imaging center for an ultra-sound scan, and then off to the doctor's office to review the results. I found the ultrasound trips very reassuring, but The Mrs found them extremely annoying. They were scanning the fetal anatomy to make sure everything was growing, and that everyone was practicing breathing. That can take a pretty long while with two of them in there.


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