The day before we had our twins was a normal Saturday. We took our one and half year old daughter Gwenevere to the Potter Park Zoo with my parents and we all had a wonderful time. Gwenevere especially enjoyed seeing the Chuckwalla as well as the Meer Cats and Peacocks. I had to take breaks often as I was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. I wasn't concerned since I had experienced frequent Braxton Hicks throughout my pregnancy with Gwenenvere. That night after we had tucked our daughter into bed Micah and I sat on the couch and he rested his hand on my belly. We both felt Penelope wiggling around up high near my rib cage and James gave us a big kick down low on my left side. That night after I fell asleep I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and I noticed some mild cramping. I wasn't too concerned and I fell back asleep.
The following morning I woke up and still felt cramps. I didn't think it could be anything too serious but I wanted to call my Doctor just in case. I called the on call OB as it was a Sunday and waited on the couch for a call back while Micah and Gwenevere played outside. The Doctor called me back within a half hour and instructed me to go to the hospital to get checked out. My mouth went dry and my stomach dropped. I hoped nothing was really wrong, but I felt scared. I got dressed and called for Micah and Gwenevere to get ready, we were going to the hospital. On the way to the hospital the car was silent except for some singing and chatting in the back seat from our daughter.
Once we arrived at Sparrow Hospital they got us checked in and put us in a triage room. The nurse came in and after several minutes of searching was able to find both babies' heartbeats. I didn't know that this would be the last time I would ever hear that beautiful sound. They hooked me up to a monitor and we waited. Micah and Gwenevere sat in a chair and watched TV while Gwenevere snacked on some Pirate Booty. She began to get restless so Micah took her out to run around. One of the Resident Doctors came in to to check me. She began the exam and quickly stopped. She calmly explained to me that one of the babies' amniotic sacs had prolapsed and was bulging out past my cervix. She said that she wasn't sure why it was happening but she explained that we did nothing that our twins would be born in the next few days. She also explained that because I was only 22 weeks and 5 days pregnant they would certainly not survive. They tilted my bed so that my feet were above my head in hopes that the sac would go back inside the cervix. Micah and Gwenevere came back in our room and I began to sob while trying to explain to Micah what was going on. He again left the room to contact my parents so they could pick up Gwenevere.
My family all came to the hospital. My Mom, Dad and sister Anna were all there. My Dad took Gwenevere home with him and my Mom and Anna stayed with Micah and me. They decided to do an ultrasound to check on our twins and also to get a better idea as to what was going on. Before I was wheeled down they gave me a medication to hopefully stop any contractions. By the time the ultrasound tech was ready for us my contractions had begun to get more intense and more frequent. She had me roll onto my back and all throughout the ultrasound my contractions were coming faster and stronger, about every 2-3 minutes. I could barely bring myself to look at the ultrasound screen. I knew our babies were strong and healthy, but not strong enough to survive being born. When the tech was done they wheeled me back upstairs to our triage room.
Once we were back in triage the on call OB had arrived and started discussing all of our options with us. He kept saying "If you were just two weeks further along we could...", it was so painful to hear that if only this had happened a couple of weeks later we might be in a different boat. We knew that at 22 weeks they had a zero chance of survival and wanted to do everything we could to stop labor. They told me that they would do what they could but that labor is like a snowball rolling down a hill, sometimes it gets too far along to stop. The OB offered trying an IV of Magnesium Sulfate which had some potential risks to me, but I didn't care. I told them to start it right away. They moved us all to a Labor and Delivery room and started me on the Magnesium Sulfate. Within several minutes my contractions slowed and seemed to stop. For about an hour we once again had hope that our precious babies might make it. After a little more than an hour I felt a mild contractions, then another. Suddenly labor picked right back up where it had left off. Strong contractions every 2 minutes and I was feeling an urge to push. I said to Micah and the Doctor that I knew our babies were coming. They stopped the IV and tilted my bed back to a normal position. I held Micah's hand and my sister's hand to help get through the contractions, but I didn't want to deal with the physical pain anymore. I asked for an epidural and shortly after the Anesthesiologist was in our room. She had me sign a form and then administered my epidural.
Not long after I got the epidural I felt strong pressure. I reached down and I could feel something coming out. It was our son still in his amniotic sac. We called for the Doctors and they helped me deliver our son. He was born at 7:05pm and he weighed 1lb. 4oz. The Doctor asked what his name was. Micah and I hadn't decided on a name yet, but we had liked James as it is Micah's middle name. We quickly agreed that our son's name was James. He was handed to me wrapped in a blanket. He was moving around and I could see him opening and closing his tiny hands. I held him close to me and told him over and over how much I loved him. Micah and I both kissed his warm soft cheeks and we cried our tears onto him. I couldn't believe how beautiful he was, he even had a full head of dark hair. Even at just 22 weeks he was one of the cutest babies I had ever seen. After a while of holding him I passed James over to Micah and he sat and held him. Several minutes later James died in Micah's arms. Soon after it was time to deliver our daughter. She was born at 7:40 pm and weighed just over 1lb. She was a little smaller than James, but she looked just as beautiful and perfect. Unlike her brother she didn't have any hair, just a bald little head. I got to hold her right away. Micah and I decided to name her Penelope. She gently wiggled in my arms and we told her how much we loved her. I savored every moment with her and I couldn't believe how much I loved her already. I kept telling her how sorry I was. After a while I passed her to Micah and he held her and whispered loving words to her as she died in his arms.
Looking back on James and Penelope's birthday I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that my Mom, Dad & Sister got to witness the birth of our beautiful son and daughter. I am thankful that we got to hold them and tell them how much we loved them. I am thankful that James and Penelope died in the loving arms of the Dad, I can't imagine a warmer or safer place to die. I am thankful that their death was peaceful. I am thankful that even though it was only for a short time, we got to meet them. There are so many things I wish I could change. I wish I was still pregnant. I wish we were painting their nursery instead of packing away baby items. I wish Gwenevere could have met her brother and sister. I wish they could all grow up together. Every day I try to remember to good things, the things that I am thankful for instead of the things that I can't change.