One year ago today, our lives changed forever. On April 1st last year, I went into unexplained pre-term labor at only 23 weeks 5 days pregnant with twins. We were told by the high-risk doctor that if our children were born that day, they would not survive. That is a moment that we will never be able to forget.
I thought I should share this very honest, very real side of our story. I love to post about each milestone our babies meet and every challenge they work so hard to overcome, but if I am sharing my story and showing the reality of having former 24-weekers, I can not ignore this part of the story.
I have read that 74% of women who went into premature labor have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. I don't think I have PTSD, but I do have moments of traumatic memories. It does not interfere with my life; however, the memories are still very real and harsh. I was washing bottles last night and just started crying. I realized that today was the day I went into the hospital one year ago. I can feel myself in that exam room being told that I was dilated to a 2 and would not be going home. I can picture Brenna sitting in the window seat playing with some toy. I remember trying not to cry so I would not scare her, but how can you not break down when you are told you are in pre-term labor at 23 weeks?
The memories come back at the strangest times, unexpected and uninvited. Jim and I were driving to the movies a few weeks ago when an ambulance passed us with lights on inside and just like that I pictured myself riding in the ambulance with Camdyn on our way to Dell when she had turned pale and lethargic. I could feel myself praying over her and repeating "breathe baby breathe baby breathe baby . . ." I can't remember if I said those words out loud or if they were just circling in my head the entire way to the hospital. Then I will think back to how it felt holding her limp body rushing her into the pediatrician's office and handing her to him then praying, praying, praying. And just like that, the memory goes back into its proper storage place inside my brain waiting for its next uninvited arrival and we are just a couple driving to the movies.
I can hardly even drive past Mopac (the babies address for 4 1/2 months). When I do happen to pass by the hospital, I am the scared mother again going in to visit my tiny babies not knowing how they will be doing that day or what bad news the doctors may have to deliver. If I am lucky, I will just drive on and the memories will stay suppressed. Other times, the traumatic memories venture out for a moment and then return. I will see myself clutching Cade tightly against me on the day they told me he may need a trach for life. I thought if I held him tight enough, maybe I would never have to let him go, and they would never be able to tell me anything bad again.
At random times, I will see myself being rushed into the operating room. I feel it all over again. I feel the fear. I remember how cold, how very cold it was in there. Later I learned that was because my body was in shock. I was shaking uncontrollably. I did not know it was possible to be so cold. Everything happened so fast. I remember thinking that they were in such a hurry that there would be no time for the spinal to work. I was so afraid that I would feel them cutting me open. There were so many people. They rushed the babies off to the NICU before I could even see them. All I was able to see were their isolettes being whisked away.
Sometimes when I hold the babies at night, I hold them so close to me wishing that I could somehow hold them tight enough that they would return to the womb. I want so badly to give them back those 4 months they missed.
Even in the simplest things, a memory returns. The babies took their 1 year birthday pictures last weekend. I made a pink cupcake for Camdyn and a blue cupcake for Cade. When the pictures were done, Cade's lips were stained blue. I couldn't help but think how thankful I was that his lips were blue from frosting and not from the lack of oxygen.
I don't want anyone to think that I am dwelling on the negative memories or dwelling in the past or feeling sorry for myself. I know that we are lucky. I count my blessings every day. I only want to paint an accurate picture of my story, and as much as I would like for those bad memories to fade, they are present. They are part of the whole picture. Without them, I wouldn't be able to see the beauty and miracle of every moment with the amount of clarity that I now do.
Luckily, I get to spend this April 1 making cupcakes and decorating for my babies 1st birthday! Such a better way to spend a day than the way I spent this day one year ago! I am so blessed!