After a long journey of unsuccessfully getting pregnant, both naturally and with the aid of infertility treatments, we finally made an attempt at IVF. Ten days after the procedure, I became very ill and had retained over 15 pounds of fluid in my abdomen in a matter of three days. The pain was unbearable. I called my infertility doctor in a hysterical state of agony. He told me “You need to go to the hospital now. The bad news is you are the one out of a hundred patients who gets Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) after IVF. The good news is…this means you are pregnant.” I won’t lie, the pain from this was awful at the time, but I could not have been happier to learn that I was indeed pregnant. I spent those first three days in the hospital, and was discharged just a few days before Christmas. And so began my pregnancy journey…
I learned very early on that I was carrying twins. We were beyond thrilled! I knew that a multiple gestation opened the door to complications and pre-term labor. Although I was aware, I never thought that would actually happen to me. I was a young, healthy, non-smoker who avoided anything even remotely considered risky during my pregnancy. I ate healthy meals, did low-impact exercises and took all my vitamins. I was doing everything right.
Fast forward to May 2nd, I was exactly 23 weeks pregnant. During a routine OB-GYN visit, my doctor noticed that my cervical length had become alarmingly short. She told me not to worry – but that I should go to the hospital for a closer ultrasound. Panic set in. Once at the hospital, it became clear that I would not be leaving until the babies were born. I was on strict in-patient bed rest.
Two long and boring weeks later, at 25 weeks and one day pregnant, I had an ultrasound to check my cervical length – I knew something was wrong when they sent me back to my hospital room on a stretcher instead of the wheelchair I had been taken there in. Not long after, I began to feel slight cramping. The monitors weren’t picking up contractions, but I knew something was not right. After about an hour, the doctor checked me and I had become 1cm dilated. Uh-oh. After another hour, I was 3cm dilated. Oh crap. They started a magnesium drip and I received betamethasone to try to stop the labor. It was not working.
Less than two hours later, still waiting for the contractions to slow, I felt the most painful one yet, and a strange “pop” near my tailbone. The doctor said I was fully dilated and baby A’s bag was bulging. Baby B was breech, and A was transpose. “We need to go NOW”, she said, and the room exploded in to an organized chaos as I was prepped for an emergency C-Section. Things happened in such a rapid succession, and everyone was expecting the contractions to stop, that I never got an epidural. I would have to go under general anesthesia – I would not be awake, and my husband could not be in the room for the C-Section. I was terrified my babies would not make it – this was way too early for them. They would not make it and I wouldn’t even be awake to get a glimpse of them. I was hysterical going in to the operating room, where no less than 20 people were frantically preparing things. I barely remember anything, other than someone yelling at me “DON’T TOUCH YOUR STOMACH! DON’T TOUCH YOUR STOMACH!” and someone else sitting on my legs to hold them down as the painful contractions made me want to curl in to myself. Then everything went black and I had no idea what I would be waking up to.
Leighton Kathrine Goers was born at 9:45pm weighing in at 1 lb 12 oz – much larger than her predicted weight. Logan Parker Goers was born at 9:46pm, weighing 1 lb 10 oz. They looked absolutely perfect – I fell so deeply in love with them. I believe that after delivering a baby, some sort of hormonal euphoria sets in. I was so happy, so oblivious to the challenges and struggles my tiny newborns would have to endure in their first months of life – more struggles than most people have to endure in their entire lives.
Over time, we learned that Logan had bilateral grade two brain hemorrhages. Leighton had a grade one hemorrhage. Although terrifying, we are very lucky that their brain bleeds were not significantly severe and resolved themselves. Logan also had a PDA – a duct near his heart that had remained open instead of closing upon birth. The PDA caused Logan some added challenges in keeping his blood properly oxygenated, since the PDA forced blood to bypass the lungs. It took a long time and a lot of waiting in uncertainty, but the PDA has also resolved without requiring surgery. He recently encountered a feeding intolerance issue which set him back a little with weight gain. He is now receiving donor breast milk and doing well. He is such a sweet little boy and loves to snuggle.
Leighton contracted blood infections on two occasions. Both times, the bug has been rare and antibiotic-resistant. They have been known to progress in to meningitis and were potentially fatal. Leighton gave us very clear signs she was sick – she would have a deep bradycardia and de-sat in to the teens. I can’t describe the fear we felt to watch our baby turn grey and have the nurse use a breathing bag to get her to respond and breathe. It is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy. Again, we dodged a bullet because we caught her infections in the very early stages and were able to eradicate the infection without complications. Leighton is a very silly little girl and is always smiling.
We are now in our third month in the NICU. Logan and Leighton have shown incredible strength, perseverance and sheer willpower to survive. After a month on the ventilator, a couple weeks on CPAP, we are currently weaning off nasal cannula and mastering bottle-feeding. We are in the home stretch now – each long day is one day closer to coming home. Many of you NICU parents know that this is an equally frustrating time – so close yet still so far away.
Every day since they were born I have been at their bedside, advocating and fighting for them. I have struggled to cope with the ups and downs that the NICU life throws at me, as well as my own personal feelings of guilt for what my babies are forced to go through. There are so many emotions to juggle, but each day I become stronger and am accepting what has happened. The unconditional love I feel for these precious preemies is stronger than anything else. They, and the NICU experience, have taught me so much and changed who I am. I am amazed by their strength and could not be more proud of these two incredible little people who have beaten the odds.
Chris and Nicole married in June, 2012 and live 45 minutes west of Detroit in South Lyon, Michigan. They have two dogs, Hank and Oliver, in addition to their new preemies, Logan and Leighton.