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The Sidelines

As I sit here in my postnatal recovery room listening to other babies cry and their mothers soothe them, I can't help but get a little emotional. This entire pregnancy has been a roller coaster and yet, despite all the odds, we've prevailed. My babies are here, six weeks early. I've been benched as people who are way more qualified take on the task of helping my littles thrive. They are in NICU and as difficult as it is to be apart, they are healthy. That alone is enough.

My C-section went as smoothly as possible. At 7:59 am on Sunday morning, out popped Mabel, weighing in at 5.6 pounds and measuring 18 1/4 inches. Her tiny cry letting us know she had arrived was also a reminder that those little lungs could have used more time to develop. Less than a minute later, Walter was out. At 6 pounds even and 19 1/4 inches, he was bigger and louder. His cry was piercing and filled me with confidence that somehow this would all be okay.

Both babies were whooshed by me and taken to their separate incubators. I remember feeling shocked by how normal they looked. These little pink, screaming humans surrounded by a dozen adults. There is a team of people in the room when you deliver twins. Each child gets their own NICU nurse, doctor, therapist, etc.

Already playing to a packed house. These are definitely my kids.

Walter weighing in.

Mabel making her first appearance.

The babies were good. Everyone was impressed. For preemies, they had great color, were a great size and were doing well without oxygen. Feeling confident that they would be okay, off they went to NICU with Dan by their side.

Suddenly the room felt quiet. No more crying babies. No more stats being shouted out. I lay on the table for what felt like forever as they tried to get all my body parts back inside the small incision. The uterus had behaved itself and clamped down. Everything was going as best as could be expected. The trick now was getting this huge, stretched-out uterus back inside me. I'll spare you the details and just say it was uncomfortable and involved a lot of pushing.

It felt like forever. But soon enough I was rolled to recovery. Normally this is the golden hour you spend with your child doing skin to skin and practicing latching. It's an hour of bonding with baby. I knew going in I wouldn't have that luxury this time around. Instead, I sat with one of my favorite nurses and we cracked jokes as I began dry heaving into a bag.

As it turns out, I have a bad reaction to morphine. The next 14 hours was a blur of scratching my face till I bled, dry heaving constantly and being unable to keep my eyes open. To be honest, had the babies been with me, I don't know what I would have done. I was a mess.

Dan bounced back and forth between me and the babies. He tried showing me pictures of our new humans but I couldn't get my eyes to focus and apparently kept passing out. The whole day is a blur.

I did muster up enough energy to transfer to a wheelchair and go visit Mabel and Walter that evening. My visit was short as I spent most of my energy trying not to fall asleep or throw up on them. I ended up falling asleep, which is not ideal when you are holding a brand new tiny human. So back to recovery I went.

Since then, we've fallen in to a routine. I pump every few hours and go to visit the babies during their "care" hours. This is when they get changed and fed and are their most alert. I get to hold them for an hour each during their feed. I rock them and sing to them and still get weirded out by how tiny and soft they are. Every day, there is some new hurdle they've crossed. They've been outside of me and inside their plastic boxes for three days now. They didn't need oxygen, they are both self-regulating their body temperatures, off their IVs and Mabel even latched and nursed for 20 minutes last night. Big progress for only three days.

There is no "coming home" date set. NICU is a day-by-day type place. There is a strong likelihood that one will come home before the other, as they still have some hurdles to cross. Mainly Walter, who occasionally is forgetting to breathe and has some residual left in his belly after eating. But they are fighters. And right now, it's my job to sit back, let everyone do their jobs to help my children grow and cheer my kids on from the sidelines.

I'm still hobbled from surgery, and I'm certainly not in any shape to throw on a cheerleading outfit. But you better believe this mama bear is going to do her best to let these kids know they are fiercely loved and try to gracefully accept that parenting these two is currently a team effort, and most likely will continue to be for quite some time.


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