Monday, July 25, 2011

Twin delivery at 34 weeks – a mother’s intuition

I haven’t written in a while. A lot has been going on. Yes, that’s right. I have BIG news. Baby boy Ethan Joseph Busel and baby girl Aria Jordan Busel were born on May 11, 2011 at 9:23 and 9:24 am respectively.

And here’s why I haven’t written since April...

My pregnancy became complicated at around week 26. I am fine. Diabetes is fine. Actually, I saw my endocrinologist last week and he said, “Your diabetes is so well-controlled that you are on auto-pilot despite being completely pre-occupied.” My last A1C was 6.1, and my blood pressure and other tests are fantastic. Yay for me.

The kids, actually Ethan, were having problems though. Ethan’s placenta had negative Doppler flow, which means that blood and nutrients were flowing out rather than in. His growth stopped at week 26. He was born very small. I mean very, very, very small.

We were told he wouldn’t make it. And we had a decision to make: deliver early in an attempt to save him – putting them both at risk - or prolong the pregnancy as long as possible hopefully giving her a better chance. He would be at risk for survival no matter what, according to the doctors.

We were told the risks of delivering at different stages during the pregnancy. If we delivered anywhere before 32 weeks, they would both be at serious risk for brain, heart, and lung malfunctions.

The day we found out that Ethan might not make it, we cried. Oh did we ever cry. The decision was really difficult. When should we deliver? What is the best date so they both make it? Healthy???

After a lot of deliberation and meetings with doctors, multiple ultrasounds, we decided to push the pregnancy as long as possible. Lior wanted to deliver at 32 weeks. The high risk doctor tried to push us to 36 weeks. My woman’s/mother’s intuition told me 34.

I was still questioning that little voice I heard until my OB/GYN told me 34 as well. Confirming my feeling with his medical experience. A c-section was scheduled.

The little voice was really a whisper, a very clear whisper. I heard it during one of our doctors' meetings at around week 28 or so. We were talking about our options for delivery. And I heard "34" loud and clear. I know when I hear a clear intuitive whisper because it makes me stop in my tracks. I normally would have been hysterically crying, but instead, I stopped, listened, and even smiled. I knew I had been given guidance. I believe it was divine guidance, but who knows.

I was monitored very closely for the last eight weeks of my pregnancy. I went for ultrasounds two to three days a week – never knowing if there would be two heartbeats or not, but believing with all my heart and soul that there was.

And Ethan kept kicking. I could feel him moving. Actually I felt him moving more than she. He would twist and turn – pushing on my ribs, pressing on my bladder. She flittered a bit, but nothing painful. I actually started worrying about her too. The ultrasounds were reassuring me about her, and every kick and every push was a God send regarding him. It reassured me that he was going to be okay, and I felt deeply with all my heart that he would make it.

The weeks passed. My doctors decided to send me out on maternity leave – to lower the risk of delivering early.

May 11th rolled around, and I went into the c-section a nervous wreck. Not only because of the surgery, but also because of the outcome. What would happen? Will he be okay? Will she be okay? Will I be okay? Honestly, the experience was traumatic, yet thrilling. I was about to become a mom! But this wasn’t at all how I imagined it being.

The doctor was in the midst of injecting the epidural (painful), when the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) doctor came over to me, with her piercing blue eyes and said, “You know your son might not make it?”

“Yes, I know,” I growled.

Sheesh, what timing. I couldn’t kick her because of the effects of the epidural. They probably plan it that way. She was wearing a Jewish star around her neck though, and I couldn’t help but feel that God was on our side. I always felt that he would make it. I just knew.

I was laid down on the surgical table. Lior was brought into the room. He held my hand reassuring me that I was okay. “Remember to breathe,” he said. I asked him to say that despite not having to push through labor pains since breathing reminds me to be present, rather than making up worry-wart stories in my head.

The operating room was packed like Grand Central Station. There were five person teams of doctors and nurses for each baby, and also the anesthesiologist, three residents, the OB/GYN, the high risk doctor, OR nurses, my husband...oh yeah and me.

The operation had begun. I will spare you the details. But basically after a lot of freaking out on my part, and a lot of Lior calming me down, I heard the doctor sing, “I feel your son kicking me.”

A minute or two later (maybe it was even seconds), I heard crying. Crying. Yes, I heard crying. “That’s your son,” I heard the doctor say.

And a minute later, I heard another cry. And that was Aria. Everyone had expected her to come out first, but sure enough, he kicked his way to the front of the line.

The nurses brought both of them over for me to see. The proof was there. I am a mom of two beautiful children. And they’re both alive, breathing, and yes, crying. Lior went to check: Five fingers and five toes on each hand and foot. Forty altogether.

The room cleared out. The babies were taken to the NICU. They needed special treatment since they were premature. I was stitched up and to make a long story short, I went to work on recovering from the c-section.

Aria was in the NICU for 10 days. She was sent home on May 22. She has been an absolute joy, and it’s a load of fun watching her discover the world.

Ethan is still there. He had more work ahead of him on the road to recovery, and now we’re waiting for the finishing touches. He’s doing really well and I’m impressed with how much he’s overcome. I don’t know when he’s coming home since they tell you a day or two before the discharge. He has been there for 10 weeks though, and needless to say, it’s been a complicated and emotional journey. (more on that in future blogs)

I’ve been living in uncertainty for quite some time, and needless to say, it’s been rough. A roller coaster ride of emotions.

I am fortunate to have the support and love of family and friends. Our entire family has also been supported by a wonderful team of doctors, nurses, and professionals along the way. I have also been utilizing my usual mix of yoga, walks, journaling on gratitude and about whatever is bothering me. And honestly, I have also had sleepless nights, mad researching on the internet, lots of calls to the NICU for updates, meetings with doctors, and countless crying sessions. I’ve been allowing myself to feel whatever I need/want to feel.

But I’m okay.

This experience has been a huge lesson for me in coping with uncertainty, being present, and listening to my intuition. I have learned to put a lot of trust in the Universe’s grand design, clearing my head of the worries and fears, and listening for those whispers of clarity. I can’t say that I’ve mastered the lesson yet, but I’m working on it.

It’s a lesson in letting go of control and trusting that the Universe is on our side. As a friend of mine wrote me the other day, forces are constantly in motion around the Universe working within our best interests. Our lesson is to relinquish ourselves to that and trust it. As Eckhart Tolle said in “A New Earth,” once we become at peace with uncertainty, once we accept it and embrace presence, the world opens. And it has. I have experienced it time and time again throughout my life and most recently, with the birth of my son and daughter.

So here I am living in a holding pattern - waiting for my son to heal. But hey, he’s alive. He’s overcome SO MUCH and improves every day! He smiles, observes, learns, sleeps, plays, eats, and grows. And perhaps because I heard a whisper and listened, perhaps because I trusted the Universe, perhaps because of love, positive energy and prayer, and perhaps because of science and quality medical care. Whatever the reason: I feel at peace with the decision we made, and the Universe rewarded us with two wonderful miracles.

I’m ready to start writing again. See you next Monday.