This is how the twins arrived. Some of it might be graphic, so read at your discretion.
Friday morning I woke up and felt a little funniness downstairs. I a little bit ignored it, a little bit wondered about it. But mostly I just ignored it. That’s what I do. I started updating the “Stories” section of the page and got on the phone with Amber to talk to her about said “funniness”… “Amber, I think my water broke?” “Melissa, how can you think it broke?” “I dunno…” and I kept on updating and putzing around the house doing my morning routine, getting Jack out of bed, getting ready to head outside to play in the pool on a beautiful day (to include donning a bathing suit) etc. Mid-way through all of this I said, “Yeah dude, my water is definitely broken. I think I should call Justin.” Amber said she’d rush right over. I was feeling ZERO contractions so I kept on about my morning chores and finally got ahold of Justin who insisted I get to the hospital as soon as possible and he’d meet me there. A couple hours and a McDonald’s stop later and I was there, leaving behind my precious Jack to embark on a new journey as a mother. I checked in around noon or 1ish and they finally got my Pitocin a-dripping at 3pm. Luckily, spending weeks and weeks at 5 cm meant I progressed pretty quickly and I consented to let them do the stupid epidural around 6 cm.
I really hated it. I mean, after everything was all over, I’m glad I had it, but no, I’m not a convert. I’d rather deal with the pain. It’s just a personal thing. The insertion didn’t really hurt – but the overall sensation was disquieting and felt unnatural and unnerving. They gave me a test dose strong enough to knock out the contractions for an hour to make sure it was working and by the time I hit 7.5 cm or so, it was gone. My doc checked me and noticed there was still a bag of water between Addie’s head and her exit, so she popped that and I was ready to push an hour of decently uncomfortable contractions later. Of course, at this point, they’re telling me, “Tell us if you need to push, okay?” And I said to Justin, “Honey, put on your scrubs and tell them I need to push RIGHT NOW.” Of course they came back and said, “Okay, sure, well let’s get you to the OR… don’t push, okay?” Some ungodly number of minutes later, after what seemed like an interminable trip through labor and delivery we arrived in the OR and some ungodly number of minutes later, the requisite number of spectators had arrived and the room was prepped and I was fully under the impression that I had been abducted by aliens because I refused to look at anything other than the gigantic light directly above my head and at Justin’s face in his silly scrub mask. Everything else was a sterile blue-green and white blur against stainless steel and tile. NOT exactly the most comforting environment for what I was about to undertake. FINALLY, after people saying, “Don’t push Honey, breathe.” And me thinking “I’d like to push my fist through your face,” they told me to push. I don’t think it was more than 1 or 2 contractions and a few pushes before Addie made her entrance in one long push. Her cry was AMAZING to hear. They took her over to get her evaluated and Justin kept a watchful eye over both of us. I pushed through another contraction to get Jordan to move down and maybe a second one that brought her to the cervical opening and the next thing I heard was my doctor say, “Melissa, honey, her heart rate is at 80 so I need you to push her out on this next contraction, okay? She needs to get out now.” My mind started racing instantly as I stared in Justin’s reassuring face… “Oh my God there are no drugs in my epidural and it’ll take at LEAST 5 minutes to dose me up enough for the C-section, not to mention the prep time for that. Oh my God, my baby’s life depends on me and this next contraction.” I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. I pushed with all of my might, I swear I did. I have never exerted myself like that in my LIFE, but she didn’t go far enough. I learned later that her face was towards the ceiling, presenting the larger part of her skull which is much more difficult to push out. My doctor recognized the issue and audibled instantly to a forceps extraction. Justin briefly saw the forceps, I didn’t look. Now, up to this point, I hadn’t made really a peep except for the requisite panting and puffing. No moaning, no yelling… well, they gave me some oxygen, told me to push, and opened up those forceps. I let out a holler like none other at the absolute paralyzing pain that instantly flashed through my hips and up my spine as I pushed while they guided little Jordan down and out in about 2 pushes. I screamed with relief when she was out and Justin kept me focused so I could calm down a little bit. At some point in between all of this I got to give Addison a kiss, and shortly after Jordan came out, Justin brought her over for me to see as well. I looked over and saw giant little baby hands waving back at me – he and I both remarked instantly at the size of their mitts – so adorable! I only briefly saw them before they were taken to the nursery for the rest of their evaluations. Meanwhile the doctors were STILL working on me and I was STILL in crazy amounts of pain. I realized something was going on and I just told Justin to go be with the babies. “They need you, Daddy – there’s nothing you can do here – I’m fine. Go be with them!” I know he was torn, but I think my doctor reassured him and he went with the girls. And off he went to be with Addison Ryan Gallagher, born at 8:48 pm weighing 5lbs 6oz (a pound less than estimated by the ultrasound) and Jordan Riley Gallagher, born at 8:57 pm weighing 7lbs 2oz… the little babies with giant hands.
“WHAT are you doing to me?!” I asked. “Oh, this hurts?” “Uh, yeah… *grunt* Quite a bit, actually.” “Oh, well you’re bleeding pretty badly and we’re just trying to get it under control.” Oh. Well that explained why I couldn’t see my doctor’s arm and hand and why a second doctor was kneading my abdomen as if he were doing CPR chest-compressions. I think at this point the anesthesiologist realized that I was in a retarded amount of discomfort from their efforts to stop the bleeding so he started some drugs in my epidural – for which I will FOREVER be grateful considering what they ended up having to do down there. I’m not going into gory details, and I’m fine, but these were not sensations I really care to feel and I’m not dumb enough to want to be a martyr. After some ups and downs with my blood pressure and various medications, I was finally wheeled to post-op where I met back up with Justin who was absolutely horrified at the ashen, shaking mess that his wife had become. A combination of hormones, blood-loss, exertion, the cold temperature of the OR and weird meds in my body had left me a shaking, shivering disaster covered in warming blankets and barfing up the strange blue liquid my anesthesiologist insisted I chug en route to the OR in-between contractions.
He told me that they needed about 4 hours with the girls to do their stuff and we’d get them back once in the postpartum ward. Disappointed but too exhausted to argue, I was just grateful for the possibility of getting a little rest. They thankfully had put me in a private room because of the state of my body post-delivery and the fact that I had twins in-bound. Ordinarily Justin would not have been able to stay the night with me because I would have been sharing a room, but they realized that I was pretty weak and I’d need a little help with two babies. As it turns out, at around the 3-hour postpartum mark, a pediatric NP came in to tell me they had to put Jordan in the NICU. I was absolutely devastated. Everything had been fine afterwards I’d thought. They’d reassured me that everything was okay and that the dip in heart rate was not a problem. What was wrong? Well, as with many C-section babies, those extracted with the aid of forceps often don’t get a proper chest-compression on the way through the birth canal and that, combined with her face-up presentation meant she had inhaled some fluid that her lungs were having a bit of a hard time clearing. So I was concerned, and worried, and sad, but not terrified. An hour later they brought Addie to me and I FINALLY got to hold my baby girl who latched on (unlike her brother) perfectly and contentedly nursed for about 20 minutes.
She has blue eyes. She has dark hair. She has delicate features and a heart-shaped face with Justin’s eyes. She has some gigantic hands and long toes and fingers. She is absolutely stunning. We still can’t get over how tiny she is!
I finally was strong enough around 11 the next morning to walk down to the NICU to see Jordan. It was unfathomable to me that I had a daughter in the world I really had never met. I only saw her for enough time to give her a kiss before they whisked her away the night before. She was so lonely looking in her isolette – so little and so fragile. Wires and monitors and tubes obscured most of her features, but I could tell she also had dark hair, and Justin said her eyes are blue too. She has Jack’s chin and nose and mouth and now that she’s home, every time I look at her while she’s nursing, I see Jack at that age. It’s incredible. I wasn’t able to hold her – just stroke her cheek and whisper to her how much I love her and how much we all miss her. It was another day or so before I could hold her and didn’t get to nurse her until we had been home for a day or so. Thankfully, she improved quickly and we were pleasantly surprised when their June 3rd estimated discharge date moved forward and we got the call on Wednesday morning (Addie and I got home Monday) that we were allowed to go snatch her from the grips of the hospital. She lost some weight in the NICU down to about 6lbs 7oz and Addie gained an insane amount of weight in the first two days of life – from 5lbs 6oz to 6lbs!
Jordan’s homecoming was a relief for me – I had been pumping 5-6 times a day for her and we were trying to coordinate visits to her with neither child able to come with Justin and I, and it was breaking my heart to not have one of my babies home with me and it was obvious that Addie wanted her sister. Both girls are instantly calmed down with human contact. They sleep so well together – cuddled together and snuggly in a way that makes me feel queasy with love. As a family we only had Thursday to be together for a full day before Justin was back to work today to stand duty until tomorrow morning. I was so scared last night, but so far it hasn’t been bad. All 3 are sleeping now and the house is a mess and I’m unshowered and I don’t really care. I basically nurse and change diapers and play with Thomas trains with Jack. Rinse. Repeat. The diapers. The incalculable number of diapers. Holy moly. I am exhausted and spacey, but happy and fairly confident that I’m not going to screw any of the 3 of them up too badly over the next few months.
Amber kept Jack at her house for us on Friday night – THANK YOU AMBER!!!! - where he apparently did fantastically well. I am so proud of him! Then, for the remainder of my stay, Justin got to be super Daddy and take care of all things household and Jack. They had their routine of coming to visit Mommy – replete with counting of hospital floors in the elevator and button-pushing sequences and dinner rituals. My little boy seemed to grow up over-night and his vocabulary exploded and he seemed to magically understand things I thought were too much for him. I was changing Addie’s diaper in the hospital and Jack was watching and he said, “That’s disgusting.” (Yes, he says it. “DIS GUSSSS TIG”) “No it’s not, Jack. I change I am exhausted and spacey, but happy and fairly confident that I’m not going to screw any of the 3 of them up too badly over the next few months.
Amber kept Jack at her house for us on Friday night – THANK YOU AMBER!!!! - where he apparently did fantastically well. I am so proud of him! Then, for the remainder of my stay, Justin got to be super Daddy and take care of all things household and Jack. They had their routine of coming to visit Mommy – replete with counting of hospital floors in the elevator and button-pushing sequences and dinner rituals. My little boy seemed to grow up over-night and his vocabulary exploded and he seemed to magically understand things I thought were too much for him. I was changing Addie’s diaper in the hospital and Jack was watching and he said, “That’s disgusting.” (Yes, he says it. “DIS GUSSSS TIG”) “No it’s not, Jack. I change your diaper all the time.” “No.” “Yes, I do.” “No, don’t poop.” “Yes, you do.” “No. I fart.” Magical, see? He was so kind and gentle with Addie – and he patted my belly and declared “All done, Baby” when he saw her out in the world. I could go on and on, but we really are just so proud of him. He truly loves them – he makes us either bring them up with us for bedtime or else he absolutely must kiss them before leaving for nap or bed. If one cries, he makes sure we’re dealing with it or else tells us, “It’s better” after he’s covered them gingerly with a blanket. He feeds them bottles (supervised) as well as he can and loves to hold them and stroke their heads. I love my kids.
I’m thrilled to able to dance around with him (we do “dancing” in the kitchen) and get down on the floor with him and chase him around and snuggle with him on my lap… I’m tired and my legs and ankles are still swollen, but it’s getting insanely better quickly. I have no idea how much weight I gained because of the edema, but I’m moving quickly in a good direction, though by no means stressed about it.
On a very sad note, the night I delivered the girls, Enzo took a turn for the worst with his illness… Justin, incredible man that he is, tried everything to nurse the bunny back to health on his own – hand feeding, watering, even bathing the poor fella who couldn’t stand up anymore and was just voiding where he lay and soaking in his own urine and poo… Justin sat for hours with him, holding him and trying to reassure him and coax him to eat and drink enough to show improvement. When I got home, I saw how totally painful the whole thing had to have been for Justin – Enzo was so pathetic and such a sad, sad sight and required so much attention that Justin dotingly gave him despite worries for me and the babies and his own exhaustion. He held that bunny in his lap, let him pee on his lap, and petted him to calm him down when Enzo spasmed, remaining steady and strong. I love my husband. After a couple of days, Justin and I spoke with the vet and determined that it probably would be best for Enzo if we let him go. He had no quality of life. He deserved peace that wouldn’t come here on Earth, and so, on our way to go pick up Jordan from the hospital, we dropped Enzo off at the vet and said goodbye to our furry buddy. It hurt us so much (and me, admittedly, more than I thought it would) to see him go… the way his body was wrenched made it so that he was stuck on his side with his head nearly upside down. He started trembling in his carrier while I was waiting for the paperwork in the vet’s office, so I unzipped the front flap to put my hand on his heaving side to calm him down and when I took it away, he stuck his good front paw out the zipper like he was reaching out to me. I held it until they took him from me. I’ll never forget it. We’ll never forget you, Enzo… Thank you for everything, pal.
I know this has been an impossibly long post, and I’m sorry, but there has been so much change in the last week!
I want to thank everyone who has helped, offered to help, or just given a few words of encouragement, prayer, and congratulations. We couldn’t have done any of this without you guys – we love you!
AND – a HUGE congratulations are in order for a very dear member of our family, Justin’s cousin Sarah Calta is now Mrs. Alan Schoeneberger – a wedding that must have been absolutely beautiful and we are so sorry to have missed it! Best of luck to you two from all five of us! We love you!
And with that, I hear another round of diaper changing coming up and potentially some whirl-wind toy and baby-blanket purging in the living room. Enjoy the update and stay tuned for more!
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