Did you read Genevieve’s previous article about Multiple Pregnancy?(French only)
I gave birth at 34 weeks, six days.
When people hear that, most say “That’s not too bad, you were almost at the end.” Since I don’t want to create conflicts, I just smile. I know it could have been worse, but having premature babies is not easy to manage.
To keep my childbirth story short, it was straightforward. I broke my water while sleeping. So we arrived at the hospital in the middle of the night. The nurse warned me that only my spouse could be with me during labour. I was surprised that she made that comment, but it was what I was expecting anyway.
When the obstetrician, resident, pediatrist, the neonatal unit director and six nurses entered to prepare the room, I knew what that meant. I was the star attraction. I was going to have twins. I was very calm, my pregnancy went really well, and hadn’t realised that 34 weeks was too early.
I quickly gave birth to Florence, my daughter (45 minutes of pushing). They placed her on me for a minute, then my husband took her. I hadn’t finished my labour! Six minutes later, my second daughter, Noémie, was born. Then suddenly everyone was stressed. A nurse ran out with Florence, followed by my husband.
I learned later that she had respiratory problems. Noémie stayed on me for about 30 minutes, then they also took her to the neonatal unit.
I was alone. No babies, no nurses. Totally alone. That’s when I realised my pregnancy was over. My babies were finally here. I was happy. After 30 minutes, a nurse came to bring me to my husband who was with our daughters. They explained all the next steps before returning home.
Wait a minute…my brain went into neutral. I thought we’d go home with the girls after a couple of days. They talked about weeks. I thought everything was fine. Nope. They brought me back to my room. Parents and friends came to see me, but they couldn’t see the girls. I was sad. The perfect vision I had of the girls’ birth was crushed.
My husband went home to sleep. For the first time in 34 weeks, I was truly alone. That’s when I collapsed and cried. I wanted to have my babies close to me. I felt responsible for giving birth to them too soon. The next day I went to the neonatal unit. My girls were in an incubator.
Little four pound mice, they were intubated, so I had to activate my milk production without them. In a room, I found four chairs and a breast pump. They were all separated by curtains. Many mothers with babies in the unit were pumping their milk. I kind of felt like a milk cow. This wasn’t how breastfeeding was supposed to be.
The days went by. I would enter the unit and consult their file. The nurses would write down what happened during my absence. My daughters would have several oxygen desaturations per day. In layman’s terms, their respiratory rate was too slow to provide them with enough oxygen in their blood. Each time that it would happen, their return home was delayed by another five days. You can imagine my stress when I read their file. And my deception when I saw that Noémie had four over the past three hours.
I had a courtesy room in the hospital, but it was suffocating. I thought I would never be able to go home with the girls. I would go home between feedings during the day, making the trip every three hours. My husband is extraordinary!
We did each visit together.
At home, I would walk by their bedroom and be filled with extreme sadness.
I closed in on myself. I wasn’t able to talk about what we were experiencing. I was scared for my daughters, and just wanted to go home with them.
I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.
A good thing that the staff was there. Even at 2 in the morning, the nurses would smile and say beautiful things. They were very helpful! I would be given lessons as I breastfed. The nurse would provide us with advice about baths, feeding, etc. I felt reassured.
One day, they told us tomorrow we could go home with the girls.
I was so happy! The night before the big day, I was scared that something would happen and that the girls would have to stay in the hospital. We finally placed the girls in their car seats. Our nurse and doctor filled out the paperwork.
Everything was fine. Suddenly, I was scared. Scared of leaving the safety of the hospital. The good-byes were touching. All the nurses came and cuddled the girls one last time. After 26 days, they become attached.
Once home, we placed the girls together in their bed. We looked at them and then said: “What do we do now?” 😊
The opinions found in this article are those of the author.