Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Flashback of Babies (Part 2)


Immediately I ran over to talk to my boss and he, seeing the look on my face, told me to get the hell out of there...

Already having a phone list and an order in which to call people the minute I got into my car. First call: my mother-in-law in Kankakee. I call her, and tell her the babies were here.

At first, she did not believe me, thinking that I was pulling a prank (for those of you wondering; yes, I could see myself doing that) But, after hearing my voice and checking her caller id and seeing a University of Chicago phone number, she stated that she and my father-in-law would leave as soon as he got home from work in about 10 minutes.

I then called my parents and they jumped in their car and began the 4-hour trip to Chicago from St. Louis to see their first (two) grandchildren.

Worried that I, or any other family member, was not going to be there when my wife woke up, I called my brother (a professor) at his DePaul University office in downtown Chicago. Without a moment’s hesitation, he hopped into a cab and rushed over to the hospital to be with his sister-in-law when she woke up. (For that, my wife and I can never thank him enough.)

Because this was, in medical terms, a ‘Crash C-Section’, my wife was put to sleep and an IV inserted. Dr. Ismail was at a meeting elsewhere on campus and, from what we were told, bolted out of the meeting when he was told the Mono/Mono twins were coming. He got there in time and delivered them both, skillfully and with a very modest incision, at 4:19 PM on May 22, 2002.

My wife and I were told later that ‘Baby A’ came out crying and that ‘Baby B’ came out floppy and unresponsive – meaning she had to be given oxygen immediately after birth. Additionally, there were five/six knots in her cord and a twin-to-twin transfusion had occurred. She was the baby that began to decell upstairs.

My twins came into the world at 4 pounds, 14 ounces and 4 pounds, 3 ounces. Very good weights for 8-week premature, mono/mono twins.

I arrived at the hospital about 2 hours after I heard the initial call at home – traffic, of course, being worse than usual. I parked the car and ran (faster than I have ever run before) into the hospital. Upon entering the Lying-In center, I saw my brother walking out of the Labor and Delivery department while reaching for his cell phone. My wife had woken up and was very happy to see a family member staring back at her, even though they did mistake him for the father and showed him a picture of the (very large) placenta…that is something that I know he will never forget. Exchange between him and an intern: “Ever seen a placenta that large?” “Not since breakfast.”

Because my wife had had an emergency c-section, she was, essentially, knocked out and woozy for the rest of the day/night. This meant that she would not be able to see our children until the next day. Again, my brother to the rescue.

He is an amatuer photographer, never leaves home without his camera, and had already taken a plethora of pictures of the girls. So he went out and got then developed so my wife could see them. Why is this special you ask? Well, the University of Chicago Hospital is NOT in the best neighborhood of Chicago... so it was a tad, I don't want to say dangerous... but you get the idea, for him to walk the streets to get some pictures developed... but got them developed he did, and my wife and I truly appreciated it.

The next three and a half weeks my daughters were living in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Chicago Hospital while my wife and I lived next door in the Ronald McDonald house. The care they received at the NICU was above par and words cannot express how much they were cared for and tended to. The care my wife and I received at the Ronald McDonald House was also phenomenal and has become our number one charity to give and ask donations for... (hint, hint)

On the first day they were both on oxygen and had a feeding tube with 'Baby A' having her oxygen taken out first, followed by Baby B the next day. The feeding tubes stayed in about a week.

Additionally, both girls were in incubators in order to keep their temperature maintained and to monitor their heart and pulse. Every time the alarm went off, my wife and I immediately jumped, but the nurses, knowing how sensitive those things were, calmly checked on them and then sedated us.

After one week, they both started to feed off a bottle and were not receiving any oxygen assistance.

The girls had many tests while they were in the hospital, and passed each one with flying colors. The only issue was that one of them (the one born floppy and unresponsive) was having some trouble maintaining her temperature at times, but, since that was the only issue, they decided that the girls could be released. They would be moved from the NICU at the University of Chicago to the NICU at our home hospital, Provena St. Mary’s. (I would have preferred Riverside, but we all know how insurance companies are...)

The day of their move, the girls were each placed in a portable incubator (that looked like it was a centuries-old iron lung) and placed in an ambulance with drivers who obviously had no idea how to drive. My wife rode home with them in the ambulance while I followed in our 'chase' car.
After being at St. Mary’s for two days, they were both maintaining their temperature and overall doing well, so they were released and sent home.

The effect of a pregnancy on couples can be anything: profound, disconcerting, inspiring, and problematic. But when you see their faces for the first time, it all dissolves away. Our (read: my wife’s) pregnancy had its share of problems; but the final results were, in no elongation, totally worth it.