Even though my identical twins were born 12 weeks early, I was waiting for them. I had been waiting for them for years.
After years of unexplained infertility, countless interventions, and a failed round of IVF, I was pregnant. Not only was I expecting one baby, but it was twins. I was overjoyed and terrified. A twin pregnancy is high risk, so in addition to a regular obstetrician, I also was under the care of a Perinatologist. At a routine appointment, signs of pre-term labor were noticed. Confident that the root of my contractions was dehydration, I was sent across the street to the hospital for an IV and monitoring. Several hours later, I settled into my hospital room for indefinite bed rest. I was woefully unprepared, with nary a magazine to read or even a pair of socks. Over the next seven days of hospital bed rest, we did everything possible to stop the babies from coming, while also preparing for the very real possibility that it might not work. On the eighth day, I had finally convinced the doctors that I would continue strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy, at home. One final fetal monitoring stood between me and my own bed. And then, one twin’s heart rate dropped. It continued to do so over the next six hours. I wasn’t going home, and in fact, an emergency c-section was necessary. Several doctors crowded into my hospital room and tried to explain the risks and potential outcomes of delivering at 28 weeks.
Our next stop was the NICU. Our passage through the NICU was not without moments of bliss and despair. I developed an all day, everyday NICU routine that would become my normal. Pump, rush to hospital, wash hands, kangaroo, pump, check temperatures, stare at monitors, read, ask questions, pump, worry, ask more questions, try not to Google 28 week old preemie, worry, pump, change diapers, call friends and tell them I was pregnant with twins that were already born 12 weeks early, pump. We dealt with many of the common health problems associated with prematurity; jaundice, apnea, PDA, and infections. But after about 2 months, both babies were finally ready to come home.
Several years have passed since my walk as a preemie parent began. It has been a road paved with disappointment, fear, adversity, and complete joy. Having preemie twins changed me forever, and for the better.
Ali Dunn is the founder of MeTwo Books and the author of the children’s books I Was a Preemie Just Like You, and One of Two, A Twin Story about Individuality. She is the chief mom officer of identical twins born at 28 weeks.