Long before my struggle with cancer or any of the events of this last year, my wife and I spent 64 days of hell with our twins clinging to life in the neonatal intensive care unit. On more than one occasion I got the “look” from a nurse or doctor that one twin was simply not going to make it much longer. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a moment-to-moment battle for a while.
Before I go into more detail, I would ask you to watch this short video I made at the time about it.
See video below
Our struggle started before their birth, as Amy explains below in an excerpt from our Care Pages.
Amy – “From the moment we found out we were expecting twins, this pregnancy and birth has been a wild ride. We were referred to the perinatologists at Maternal Fetal Medicine in Harrisburg at 26 weeks because there was a significant size difference in our twins. The doppler scans revealed some other concerns with our little Alison. We started getting the ultrasound scans twice a week to keep an eye on things.
Two days before Christmas, I was admitted to the hospital for high blood pressure and to check for preeclampsia. I got to leave the hospital on Christmas Eve and we spent Christmas with my family at my sister’s house in Harrisburg. Three days later, my water broke and I headed to the hospital again. My water had only broken around Alison so they started me on a Magnesium sulfate drip to stop contractions and to give the girls some extra time in the womb. On January 2nd, I started having some stronger and more regular contractions. Each time they tried to track them with the monitor, however, they slowed down so the Dr.’s did not feel that I was in labor. Boy were they wrong! After continuing with strong contractions through the day on January 3, I started to feel that something wasn’t right. In the evening I got up to use the restroom and could feel one of the babies pushing down with lots of pressure in the birth canal. They called the Dr. and confirmed that labor had started. Since they knew that Alison was breech and she was not strong enough to endure labor they rushed me down the hall for an emergency C-section. It turns out that Alison’s leg was indeed in the birth canal and that is
what I felt. The whole process felt very much like ER with Dr.s and nurses running down the hall pulling on their scrubs. They had me prepped and under anesthesia in what felt like 2 minutes. It was probably best because I was very scared. They tell me that Jim was very brave and calm and sat with me throughout the surgery. Alison Elizabeth was born at 8:51 PM and weighed 1 pound 12 ounces. Hannah Mae was born at 8:53 and weighed 3 pounds 11 ounces. They took them both straight to the NICU and so our journey begins as parents of preemies.”
And a journey it has been. During their 64 day hospital stay, Hannah had two chest tubes to help her breathe. Alison struggled with maintaining her body temp and feeding issues. When they finally came home they were on apnea monitors for another 2 months. Alison had double inguinal hernia surgery and Hannah had tear duct surgery in the months following their discharge. Alison battled with pneumonia and continued to have feeding trouble at home. Hannah used an inhaler until she turned a year old. They got physical and occupational therapy until they were 2 ½ and Alison continued feeding therapy until she was 3. In the grand scheme of things, they are doing amazingly well for being born 10 weeks early. Alison still has some sensory and eating issues but we know how to deal with them. They are both thriving in kindergarten. We are incredibly blessed.
On their 6th birthday we reflect back on all that they have overcome, and how their crash landing into our world made us stronger parents and taught us how to rely on each other. We draw on that strength once again, as I fight my current battle with this cancer. After watching them fight to survive, I just have to stick around to watch them grow and flourish. Happy 6th birthday to my sweet little baby girls.
With Fierce Hope,
Jim (with some help from Amy on this one)