Posts Tagged ‘ Birth Story ’

Birth Stories: What It’s Really Like to Have Twins!

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Alesandra Dubin and TwinsThe day I delivered my babies is both completely blurry and seared indelibly into memory.

After a long, surreal lead-up to my scheduled c-section, there was nothing left to do but deliver some twins. On July 22, at 38 weeks, we were actually sleeping when the alarm sounded at 4 a.m. For the last time, I peeled my enormously pregnant body from the bed and got in the shower, following with my full hair and makeup routine. My husband, David, couldn’t understand why I would bother, but of course I knew 1) there would be pictures! And 2) it might be a very long time before I managed such a feat again.

For the last time as a family of two, we left the house with our bags packed. It was a warm, beautiful early morning, and we snapped a picture of the moon over our house. Minutes later, we arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where we had our pick of prime parking spaces at 5 a.m. — a dream for a Los Angeleno, and an auspicious beginning to a big day! I noticed a sign that advertised discounted parking at a weekly rate, and as I shuffled into the hospital, I asked the parking attendant how to get the weekly pass, which would save us $10 over the course of our four-day stay. David couldn’t believe I found the energy to focus on such a pursuit, but I reminded him that every dollar counts with two babies on the way! And I’m nothing if not a hustler for a great bargain.

We made our way inside to check in for labor and delivery, at the same desk we had seen on our maternity ward tour when the reality of this day seemed infinitely far off — as if it were actually on another planet instead of just weeks away. This time, it was we who were checking into the hospital to deliver babies, and it was still too enormous to process.

We met our wonderful nurse, Griselda, who would be with us for 14 hours that day. She got us all prepared, running my IV line and strapping on two fetal monitors, one in blue and one in pink. She’d be my guardian angel — among many — during our stay.

Eventually, it was off to the operating room, where TLC’s “No Scrubs” was playing; the anesthesiologist had apparently honored my preference for ’90s hip-hop when he selected the Pandora station. I remember registering the neat play on hospital scrubs as the terror set in. I was most worried about this part of the day: David would have to stay outside in the hall as the team administered my spinal. It was the only time we’d have to be separated. As I sat sideways on the operating table with my legs dangling and my back exposed, Griselda squeezed my hands as she leaned into me, forehead to forehead. I’ll always remember her caring support.

Soon, the anesthesia began to take effect, and I didn’t like the feeling one bit — the feeling that my body had vanished from the boobs down, and there was no guarantee I’d be able to feel it again. I panicked.

The team let David come in early, and they also ran Propofol into my IV for the anxiety. David used the tools in his tool box to calm me: He rattled off a list of words that corresponded to my favorite images and memories. “Our first dance… Bora Bora honeymoon… scuba diving Belize… the beach in Rio…” He named as many of my favorite things he could think of in the moment, before, owing to his own nerves, he just repeated the list.

I heard my obstetrician say, “We’re down to the uterus now,” but I was less concerned about the progress of the surgery and more eager to feel my body again. Soon, I heard the cry: My son was out in the world. David’s face was hovering just over mine, and though his mouth was covered with a green hospital mask, I could see that his eyes exploded with emotion. Our son.

Someone announced the weight: six pounds, six ounces. Then another cry and another weight: five pounds, 12 ounces. My daughter was on the outside too. Both were whisked to the other side of what felt like a very big room for their initial medical attention. I heard someone tell David, “…other than that, she’s great.” I called out to try to understand what that meant. It turned out my daughter’s body temperature was low, but she was quickly warmed up. And beyond that, they were perfect. I felt rhythmic tugging as the doc stitched me all up. And then someone (was it David?) brought the babies over to my chest so I could hold them for the first time, one nestled under each arm. We’re a family of four now — imagine that.

From the operating room, we moved to the post-op recovery room, where my parents came with pink and blue balloons and held the babes. We shared their names for the first time: Maya Zoe and Jordan Oscar. Jordan was platinum blonde like me at birth, and Maya had dark hair — something she got from her dad that I never expected. They were devastating in their sweetness, too precious for words. How improbable and magical that we actually made them and I carried them inside!

From there, we moved to what was supposed to be our room for the next four days. It turned out, we’d move again.

As the team of nurses was transferring me from the gurney to the hospital bed, I noticed a lot of blood. I said, “That’s normal, right…?” There was some focused silence and then a second nurse said to Griselda, “It’s just that I’ve never seen a clot that big.” Quickly, the babies vanished out of the room on their way to the nursery, and our tiny room filled with people. David said he counted nine in addition to us. One of the doctors was really young and I called him Doogie Howser. I was high on Propofol. And I was hemmorhaging: My uterus had been so distended from carrying 12 pounds and two ounces of baby to full term that, like an overstretched rubber band, it could not contract.

In another far-off era, or in another part of the world, that might have been the end of me. But with access to such quality health care and thanks to modern medicine, I didn’t worry about my mortality. I did however, feel anxious for the team to resolve the situation, and I thought the thermometer bouncing up and down in my mouth was a physical manifestation of my anxiety. In reality, I’d later learn, the shaking was just a standard side effect of narcotic drugs.

Griselda pressed repeatedly on my post-op stomach; it’s not the relaxing spa-like treatment I’d pictured when she’d said she was going to periodically “massage the uterus.” Doogie Howser administered a bunch of drugs including Pitocin. And within a few tense hours, my bleeding issue was resolved.

For the first night, we moved to an acute care wing of the hospital, instead of the standard labor and delivery ward, and the babies rejoined us, sleeping serenely most of that first day — hazy, as it was, for all of us. Apparently, my situation warranted some attention, with the head nurse coming to check on me as the first stop on her shift later that evening. I told her she was stunning and looked like Nia Long because I was still high on Morphine and Propofol, and was, apparently, without filters. (And because she was and did.)

Outside the window, I could see that night was finally falling on what was, without any question, the most intense and wondrous and magical day of my life: the day my twin miracles came into the world.

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Photo: Courtesy of Alesandra Dubin

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Why an Unborn Baby Boy With a Birth Defect Is Getting the Adventure of a Lifetime

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Jenna Gassew and Dan HaleyThis unbelievable story will touch your heart: Jenna Gassew and Dan Haley, a young couple living in Pennsylvania, is making sure their unborn son gets to experience a bucket list of fun adventures before his birth on October 12. The reason? Their baby was diagnosed with an incurable birth defect, one that lowers his chances of survival.

After slipping on some black ice two months into her pregnancy, Gassew went to the doctor’s office, where she found out her baby had anencephaly, a rare birth defect where a baby is born without parts of the front brain and skull; CDC statistics list 1 in 4,859 babies as being born with anencephaly each year. The young mom and dad learned about the diagnosis two days before their fourth wedding anniversary.

Even with the probability that their baby would die shortly after birth, Gassew and Haley decided against an abortion and relied on the strength of their Catholic faith. They set out to create a list of things and places they wanted Shane to experience.

According to the New York Daily News, the couple created a “Prayers for Shane” Facebook page where they post updates on Shane’s growth and milestones (like kicks and hiccups) and chronicle #shanesbucketlist. So far, the list includes eating cheesesteaks, watching Haley play baseball, seeing Zack Brown Band in concert, and feeding animals at the zoo.

Along the way, friends, family, and readers who have been touched by the couple’s journey have showed tremendous support (the page currently has over 97,000 likes) and posted encouraging messages. Responding to the outpouring of love, Gassew and Hale wrote, “We are truly blessed and forever grateful! Shane will be here in a little over a month and we can’t wait to meet him, but it’s quite clear that he has already had an enormously positive impact on the lives of so many people, and that is a miracle all in itself.”

Labor & Delivery: Labor & Delivery Timeline
Labor & Delivery: Labor & Delivery Timeline
Labor & Delivery: Labor & Delivery Timeline

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Image: Photo of Jenna Gassew and Dan Haley courtesy of their “Prayers for Shane” Facebook page.

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The Most Dramatic Labor and Delivery Viral Video Ever!

Friday, July 11th, 2014

If I’ve seen one viral video that defines “drama,” this is it: A 10-minute clip on YouTube right now shows a GoPro camera-wearing dad’s capture of not only his frantic race to the hospital with his wife in labor—but the baby’s sidewalk birth too!

(And given how close I am to my own delivery, I am literally writing this post through tears of awe, anxiety… and gratitude that I live just 10 minutes’ drive from my delivery hospital!)

The vid, called “Valet Baby,” has gotten more than 1.5 million views since July 4. It shows the highway stretching seemingly endlessly ahead in the front windshield of the car driven by dad-to-be Troy Dickerson while his wife, Kristin, writhes in labor pain, and repeatedly tells him she’s not going to make it to the Houston hospital for which they’re bound. He tries to comfort her, not realizing at first quite how serious the situation is.

At one point, Kristin chokes out through pained screams in the car, “I can feel his head!”

Shortly thereafter, the family arrives at the valet loading area of the hospital, and Troy helps his wife out of the car as a wheelchair arrives to the curb. At that point, she says, “His head is coming out.” And though her husband encourages her to try to make it upstairs into the hospital, she can’t walk—and she knows it’s just too late.

With coaching from her husband (after two previous kids, he knows a thing or two), Kristin delivers that baby right on the sidewalk! The censored video blacks out those intense pictures while the sound still rolls. When the picture comes back, baby Truett has arrived in the world, and a gaggle of nurses is on scene to attend. “He’s perfect, he’s perfect, he’s perfect,” Troy says over and over.

The video ends as the family and nurses ride up in the elevator, with mom and baby safe in a wheelchair, and mom asks incredulously, “Did that really just happen?!” She also informs the nurses that she’s a childbirth educator at that very hospital!

Watch the clip below—and I dare you not to gasp!

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Giving Birth: What To Bring to the Hospital
Giving Birth: What To Bring to the Hospital
Giving Birth: What To Bring to the Hospital

Photo courtesy of YouTube

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Saddest. Birth. Story. Ever!

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

We’re all still teary eyed at the mere mention of Marlise Munoz—a pregnant woman in Texas who was kept on life support for weeks against her family’s will until a court finally overturned a state law protecting her fetus, and allowed her family to lay her and her unborn child to rest. Now comes another tragic mommy-to-be story.

Robyn Benson—a 32-year-old Canadian woman, who was still a newlywed, married only seven months—was 22 weeks pregnant when she collapsed with a cerebral hemorrhage in December and was pronounced brain dead. But unlike Marlise’s husband who knew the fetus was not healthy, Robyn’s hubby Dylan—who first met Robyn when she was 16—wanted to keep Robyn alive in hopes of giving their unborn child a chance of surviving.

The doctors in Victoria, British Columbia, agreed and after six weeks of further gestation, Iver Cohen Benson was born on Saturday, February 8, at 28 weeks, weighing 2 pounds and 13 ounces with a patch of red hair, like his mom. The following day Robyn was taken off of life support, and later died.

Dylan announced on his Facebook page, “It is with a heavy heart but also with extreme proudness that I am posting this update. On Saturday evening, my beautiful and amazing son, Iver Cohen Benson, was born. Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met. As to be expected, it will still be a bumpy ride for he and I as he continues to grow under the care of the wonderful staff at the hospital.

On Sunday, we had to unfortunately say goodbye to the strongest and most wonderful woman I have ever met. I miss Robyn more than words can explain. I could not be more impressed with her strength, and I am so lucky to have known her. She will live on forever within Iver, and in my heart.”

Dylan later told the Vancouver Sun, “It’s the best and definitely the worst thing to ever happen to me in my life at the same time.” He is one strong man to have gone through that. All my best to Dylan and baby Iver, who will get to know his mother through the eyes of someone who truly loved her, his dad. What a hard journey they have ahead of them, but at least they have each other.

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Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies

 Image of Dylan and Iver Benson via Facebook.

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