I don’t even know where to start with this super twin mama Susan Elliott. I just freakin love her to death…and I do not say this about most people. Or even five other people. Seriously. Susan is one of those few who make you feel like a superhero for doing everyday things. An she’s so genuine about it that you start thinking you are amazing because you’re a SAHM with a part-time job.
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, she was one of the first people I got in touch with since she was one of the only people I knew who had twins. I left her a message about how scared I was and totally freaked out and basically a blithering, idiotic rambling. In response, she sent me this picture:
I then proceeded to cry for 10 minutes. She said something really simple in the message like “This is what it’s all about and everything will be fine.” And it was. What I didn’t know was what she went through to have these boys! If I had, I would have cried for days!! I knew she was in the hospital for a few months prior to their birth but, as anyone who has never had kids let alone twins knows, I didn’t comprehend what that might mean. Thank God because I would be blogging from a mental institution right now. If they allow that?!
This is how it began for Susan:
“I went into the hospital at 19 weeks, I was in for 2 weeks, out for 2 weeks and then back in for 72 days.”
I’m sorry…I thought you said 72 days. As in, almost three months.
And that’s when I knew it was going to be a good story. And that I would be sending her a gift basket of wine that is 10 years too late.
Basically, Susan had constant contractions for three months. Three. Months. You thought you were such a martyr with your “I was in labor for 30 hours” BS. HA! Ok, so maybe you’re one of those freaks who didn’t get any drugs. Well, Susan had to be put on a plethora of them and they were not the kind that simply “take the edge off!”
“I had to lay on my left side the entire time because baby B (Sam) wasn’t getting enough space and fluid. I couldn’t move from the hospital bed at all. Finally, after four weeks I was allowed to get up and walk to the bathroom so that was huge.”
I would say so. I can barely sit through a two hour movie and that’s something enjoyable!
“In order to get keep me from going into labor, I was given Magnesium. It’s a nasty medicine that makes you feel horrible. It’s nicknamed “pregnancy crack” and I have never felt so horrible as when I was on it. It makes you hallucinate, have hot flashes and turns your skin grey. The side effects were unbearable. Your body cannot tolerate being on Magnesium for too long so they would alternate drugs. In between having Magnesium they would put me on Terbutaline which was given via shot into the side of my leg. It was like having a jolt of caffeine pushed into you and can give you the shakes and make you feel extremely anxious. I had seven treatments of Magnesium which was more then any nurse on the floor had ever seen.”
At the mention of “pregnancy crack” I was disappointed I somehow missed it during my labor and delivery. Shouldn’t that be a perk for creating a human or two? Upon hearing the whole story I realized it’s actually like real crack and no one should be on it. Anyhoo – back to Susan:
“At 25 weeks the doctors diagnosed me with twin to twin transfusion syndrome. The stats are not in favor of being able to have a healthy delivery with this syndrome. Basically Willie had too much fluid causing his organs to work overtime and Sam had too little causing him to be a risk of not thriving. Soon they learned that Sam was in danger of suffocating and they needed to try to make some room for him which meant sticking a gigantic needle into my belly to take 700cc’s out of Willie’s sac. The hope was that it would create more room for Sam but there was no guarantee. The biggest fear was that it would push me into labor and the main goal was to get these babies to 28 weeks. When the doctor inserted the needle, Willie GRABBED it and was pulling it. You could see it on the monitor and it was excruciatingly painful. I thought I was going to vomit. There was a nurse by my side and she was gently blowing into my face and asked “Is there anything I can do?” and I said “Yes, you can stop blowing into my face!”
“I was really embarrassed afterward because my mom was in the room and I was so rude but they pain was so bad…”
If this nurse thinks blowing into a patients face is somehow soothing, then I doubt it’s the first time someone yelled at her.
“My contractions intensified and they were certain I would go into labor. But once again, Sam and Willie pulled through and after 24 hours the contractions slowed down. After that, our hope was restored that we had a chance to keep them in.”
And I remember being annoyed that I had to drive 45 minutes twice a week at the end of my pregnancy to get my “non-stress tests” done. What an ass I am!
“Two weeks prior to delivery I wasn’t breaking down salt correctly. The result of that is unbelievable itching like you can’t even imagine. No yeast infection can compare. My tongue itched. My eyeballs itched. I had internal itching. The only thing that helped a little bit was laying naked with ice packs all over me. My mom washed all my stuff in Dreft but it only helped minimally. At this point desperation surrounded me. Thankfully I am a religious person and found myself saying the rosary over and over to distract myself from the itching. One thing that kept me going was the fact that I knew I would be leaving the hospital one day. It was humbling to know that there were people laying there who would never be leaving. For the first time in my life I felt like I had a glimpse into a window of what it might be like to live with a terminal illness. I stress glimpse because I knew I would get to leave. My prayers turned to those who wouldn’t be leaving or who have pain that won’t subside. I am forever humbled.”
You humble ME Susan! How you could be going through this and still think of others is beyond me. And…you just started saying the rosary? I would have had a priest in there on day 9. You are my hero. Preach on…
“It was during this time that I told one of the nurses that I was going to jump out a window… and then shit got real.”
Apparently you can’t tell hospital staff that you’re going to jump out a window. Especially when you’re pregnant with twins. Luckily the nurse told her this discreetly but *bonus* she ended up getting a room with a better view….because that will help her not jump somehow? Maybe there was a trampoline underneath? Also, the Perinatal Unit gets overcrowded and at times she had to share a room. This made it even more difficult, but after she was there for so long (and maybe talking cray cray), she was guaranteed her own room.
“At 31 weeks I had my daily sonogram and it showed the babies were ready to come out! But then, pre-eclampsia hit so more magnesium and then steroids for the babies lungs. The development of their lungs was a huge concern, for obvious reasons. Finally, 72 days after entering the hospital, Sam was born at 10am and then Willie at 10:01. They were in the NICU for a month. They were only three pounds each when they were born but they had fully developed lungs! The bad news – they both had holes in their hearts. They were given experimental meds to close them and it worked!…the other option was heart surgery.”
I’m really not sure how Susan didn’t need heart surgery after this! I just give her so much credit for hanging in there day after day and then finally and miraculously getting two little miracles – first in the form of her beautiful babies and then with the lung development and heart medication. That is the least she deserved after going through so much! There is a God and apparently he listens to Susan.
“After all that, the hardest part was visitors and helping them understand the babies were extremely fragile. And I was too. I was beyond weak from bed rest and was dealing with withdrawal from the daily meds. I needed to be alone and the babies just needed to rest and grow.”
“I was surprised at how many people were offended by my inability to have them over. I just wasn’t myself and I’m sure post-pardum played a role as well. My twins were extremely colic so they were constantly crying. It was crazy though because all in all I was just so glad they were home and in my care. Chris (my husband) was working two jobs and doing everything he could to keep things moving. He too had been though so much and needed to be alone with me and the babies when that time was available to him.”
My twins came right home with me and I can completely understand this! My boys were only 5 pounds each at birth and I didn’t want people (or their kids!) touching them or waking them up, etc. If you know someone who’s having a baby, here’s a tip: The best thing you can do is give them food. And by “give” I mean leave it in a package on their doorstep as you ring the bell and run! No one wants to see you and you’ll have your whole life to see the babies. A new mom wants sleep, hot food and a martini not company.
Susan’s mom advice:
1. Hold your babies. I felt like they should have still been inside me growing so I wanted to hold them all the time. If you were at my house, you were holding a baby!
2. Have all the conversations and take all the advice you want from moms before you have your baby/ies, but realize it’s ok to change your mind about parenting. As a mom you are a totally different person.
3. My husband and I use the word “team” because twin parents need each other more then ever! You are tired, overwhelmed and financially stretched so you are bound to get mad at each other. Set up strategies before the babies come that help you stay on the same team.
4. All the bullshit in your life goes away because it’s all about those babies and their health.
5. It’s the most wild time and being a twin mom is a really intense way of becoming a parent so give yourself a break.
Susan is a super twin mom, an unbelievable teacher, wife and friend. I only wish we lived closer so her boys could teach mine how to be more awesome.
What’s your birth story? Any good hospital story will do! Do you know an amazing twin mom? Is that an oxymoron?