1) THE TWO TINY PINK LINES
And this is where the world of normal ends for this particular story.
2) LADY PUKESALOT
The horror. The horror. I will here speak of it only in the detached form of mathematics. Morning Sickness x 24hrs/day + 10 to 15 daily vomits x 3months = 30 lost pounds. Ugh.
3) THE DOUBLEMINT ULTRASOUND
Have you ever had an ultrasound technician, without looking up, nonchalantly say, "Well, there's two in there." Jenny and I were planning to have a pair of children together and were honestly thrilled at the news; This was efficiency redefined.
4) THE HUNT FOR THIN CLEAR MEMBRANE
So apparently even identical twins have this tough little barrier wall that protects them from each others' umbilical cords. Well, 99% of them do anyway. About 1 in 50,000 pregnancies, however, result in Monoamniotic/Monochorionic twins: Mortality rate: About 50%. After literally spending hours watching Twin Tv through the ultrasound cable box, the doctor is now sure of three things: They are girls... they are identical... and they are in in danger.
5) THE WORRY AND THE WONDER
The only way to reduce that terrifying 50% statistic is to regularly monitor heartbeats and cord status. If things go south and won't come back, the c-section that is automatically scheduled for 8 weeks early happens, well, earlier. For obvious though arguable reasons, Canada traditionally doesn't start such monitoring until 28 weeks. Our MoMo news came at 24 weeks. Jenny (my hero) was admitted to the hospital at 27 weeks... hence the title of this segment.
6) THE SOUNDS OF SURVEILLANCE
The shrill screams of full term baby after baby. The clunking wheels of fetal assessment machines. The sweet rhythm of heartbeats.
7) THE MAD DASH
Thursday, March 19th, 10:06am. The hospital is on my office phone. Ruby is "acting up." This means her heart rate is decelerating and they want me to come in. The escape from school is clean but the giant laundry truck blocking my car is not. The story of the ensuing five minutes is worth hearing in person but here are the basics: Honking my horn, honking HIS horn, attempting to move truck after starting it (failure), attempting to not fatally strangle man slowly walking to my rescue who stops to debate legality of his parking job. (success)
8) THE DOCTOR IS IN(DECISIVE?)
We are at 30 weeks and 4 days. Ruby's heart was "acting up" all morning but stable for hours afterward. She also stopped growing two weeks prior. So better IN or better OUT? The doc is in sync with us... these MoMos are coming out ASAP.
9) THE C-SECTION
I suppose this segment is almost as "normal" as step 1, and I simply could not be happier about that particular truth. Charlotte Elizabeth is yanked out by the head at 2:44pm. She weighs 3 pounds and 8 ounces. Ruby Jane follows at 2:45pm. She is 2 pounds, 14 ounces. We desperately want to hold them but obviously are not allowed. I tell Dr. Sanderson that he is a Rock Star and thanked all the brilliant people that helped.
10) TWISTED SISTERS
They were the ominous x-factor from the moment we learned of their unfortunately interactive nature. Minutes after the births we were told the cords had been photographed for the medical files and were offered a look at them; They lived up to their billing. Tightly twisted for the six or so inches closest to the placenta, they then formed an impressive knot with the thickest cord hanging a full eight or so inches beneath... this would be the part that was apparently wrapped around Charlotte's neck four times. You know, the official Atheist slogan states that "There probably is no God, so quit worrying and enjoy your life." There is a reason the word "probably" is in there.
11) THE NICU FOR TWO
As any parent knows, when their kid skins a knee, has a nightmare, or narrowly avoids a nasty spill, sometimes the best medicine is a simple hug. So despite the simply incredible news that was gushing our way (breathing air on night one, gaining weight, strong colour) Jenny and I, after thanking our lucky stars, couldn't help ourselves from wanting more.
12) KANGAROO CARE
As I wrap up this note one full week after Charlotte and Ruby entered this bright world, I can now happily report skin to skin contact for over an hour with each of them. The experts say this will really help with emotional and physical well being. I can only assume they are referring to all four of us.