Friday, March 9, 2012

Olivia’s Birth Story

I am writing Olivia’s birth story to be featured on the Wall of Hope in the NICU where she was born.  I wrote it a few years ago, so I just had to go in and change a few things.  For those who are new to this blog, I thought I would repost.  It’s also a great reminder for me to remember how far she has come and what a miracle she is.

After being sent home from the hospital on August 21st, 2007 with premature labor symptoms, I was told to stay on bed rest at home until my next doctor's appointment on September 5th.  I was almost a week into it and my symptoms kept getting worse. On August 27, 2007, my husband had jury duty. He was going to try to reschedule it, but how do you do that when you know that twins are arriving? Luckily, he wasn't chosen and he was sent home around lunchtime. Because he had the afternoon off that day, we decided to go back to the hospital. I didn't want him to take any more time off work to take me to the hospital. I remember getting ready and doing my hair before we went. I called my mom on the way there because she was a little upset that I didn't call her the week before.

Once we arrived and got settled in, my cramping had worsened and I was told that I was having contractions. My mom soon showed up and I thought it was a little silly for her to be there. After they examined me, I was dilated 2.5 to 3 cm and they told me that this was my new home away from home. They had mentioned starting me on magnesium sulfate in hopes to stop the contractions. I was told to remain as calm and relaxed as possible. Soon afterwards, my dad and brother made it up to the hospital. I really wasn't expecting them to come, but having my family there was one of God's great blessings.

A high-risk doctor came in shortly to examine me again and I kindly asked my parents and brother to wait in the waiting room. It was then that I learned that I was over 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced. There was no time for magnesium sulfate or anything else. . . .we were told labor could not be stopped.

Now, when I first became pregnant after three years of fertility treatments, I was carrying three babies. I remember searching the internet for everything that came in threes. I came across a website, which is now and I learned about Cole, Paige and Kaylee who were born at 24 weeks. This is one of the reasons why we chose Paige for Olivia's middle name. I remember watching a video about the first three months of their life and bawling uncontrollably. Kaylee, sadly, did not make it. No baby or family should ever have to go through all of that. It was my first real encounter with what micro-preemies experience and the first time I realized that some babies don't pull through. When I was told that labor was imminent. . .I knew that I was only 23 weeks, 1 day. In my mind, I kept saying, "Cole and Paige were born at 24 weeks. . .they were born at 24 weeks." I knew that every day mattered, but at least I had some gauge as to what was considered viable and what was not. Many places don't consider a baby viable until 24 weeks, but will resuscitate before that if the parents wish. We had prayed for these babies for so long and we already loved them with all of our hearts. They had to be okay.

Immediately following my second examination, my water broke. The room was immediately filled with doctors and nurses and RTs. . .and two little incubators. My contractions got very intense after my water broke. Ryan completely fell apart and I went into some sort of shock. I remember Ryan asking them if I was okay and I wanted to respond, but what would I say? I was far from okay. This was the worst day of my life.

After my water broke, my contractions got really bad and I didn't have so much as a Tylenol. It was then that the doctor rambled off all the things that could go wrong with my babies. They had a 30% chance of survival and a 90% chance of a major disability. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't care. . .I loved my babies with all of my heart. I would handle whatever God would bless me with. . .I just wanted my babies. They kept asking us what we wanted to do for them. We just shouted, "Everything!! Do everything! We want what's best for the babies!" I don't know how many times we shouted that. There was nothing to think about or consider. We wanted our babies to have every chance possible. Another blessing was that I was at the hospital so that they could have immediate care. Had I been anywhere else. . . they wouldn't have had a chance.

I remember when they started telling me to push. What? I hadn't gotten that far in my pregnancy book. . .I mean, I had just passed the halfway point. So, I pushed like they do in the movies. Three pushes later. . .Olivia Paige was born.


She was born on August 27, 2007 at 6:18 pm. She weighed 1 lb 1.5 oz and was 11.5 inches long. She was bruised and battered, her skin was almost transparent and her eyes were still fused shut. They didn't wrap her in a blanket and hand her over to her anxiously awaiting mommy. We didn't even get to hear our baby cry. At 23 weeks, her lungs were not that developed. There were no first pictures together, no video of our smiling faces. I didn't feel like the mother of a precious baby girl. . .I felt like a mother who had just lost her child. I caught a glimpse of her out of my eye before they rushed her away. Ryan said, "She's moving and she's beautiful." I kept those words with me.

I had to keep myself composed because I had another baby to deliver. Logan was breech, but they were going to try to turn him and deliver him as well. With Olivia no longer in the womb, Logan must have relished the additional leg room because he turned sideways. They said they would have to do an emergency c-section. And, just like that. . .they rushed me out of the room and Ryan was left in there all by himself. Yet, another reason that I'm thankful that my family was there. Of course, my parents and brother had only stepped out of the room for a quick examination and were probably discussing my long hospital stay ahead. I would have gladly replaced my babies' hospital stay with my own. My family had to watch the alarms go off, the incubators and doctors rushing into my room. My parents didn't even know if something was wrong with me and they thought they were losing their grandchildren. I passed them on the way to the operating room. Again, I just stared at them. I couldn't reassure them and tell them that I was okay, because I wasn't. Ryan wasn't okay. Olivia wasn't okay and neither was Logan. This wasn't supposed to happen. . .they weren't due until Christmas and here we were in the heat of the summer. I wasn't expecting to go full term with twins, but I thought maybe Thanksgiving or, worst case scenario, it might be as early as Halloween.

I remember getting to the operating room and they placed a mask over me after another bad contraction. They told me that would be the last one I felt. . .and that's all I remember.

When I woke up, I was in a room surrounded by most of our family along with our pastor. I wasn't quite coherent, but I needed to know how my babies were doing. I guess I just kept muttering, "My babies. . .my babies. . .my babies." I would stop as Ryan would explain it to me and then I'd just continue muttering. . "my babies. . .my babies."


Logan William was born by emergency c-section on August 27, 2007 at 6:28 pm, just 10 minutes after his big sister. He weighed 1 lb 1.75 oz and was 11.5 inches long. He, too, was bruised pretty badly, but his skin seemed to be a little more developed than Olivia's. I was unable to see him until later that night/early morning when they wheeled me into the NICU. I remember seeing Logan, but I don't remember seeing Olivia. I was still pretty drugged up.

Many people came to see me in the hospital before I went home three days later. I think it was hard for people. . .they didn't quite know whether to congratulate us or tell us that they were sorry. I didn't quite know what I wanted to hear. It was very difficult to leave the hospital without my babies. I would still pat my stomach and then remember that they weren't there, but they weren't in my arms either.

Olivia was in the NICU for 105 days before we were able to take her home. Her NICU journey went about as smooth as it could possibly go for a 23 weeker. She was on the ventilator for 2 months, she had ROP but it never progressed to the point of needing surgery. She had over a dozen blood transfusions, but escaped without any brain bleeds or NEC. It was truly a miracle.

I don't know why it helps me to tell this story. The more times I tell it, the more my anger lessens. The anger starts to turn into gratitude. I gradually stop wondering "what if" or "if only." I'm grateful for the things that went right. I'm grateful that I was able to spend 1 month and 1 day with my beautiful boy, although I'll never stop missing him. I'm so grateful for Olivia. . .I can't even begin to describe what she means to me. Telling this story reminds me of how far she's come and what an amazing little girl she is. Olivia got us through our darkest days. Somedays, I feel that I have had so much taken away from me. . . a full term pregnancy, a joyous birth, a son that I'll never know. But, one thing that will always remain is a heart full of thankfulness for the joys that I do have. That can never be taken away.


One Year


Two Years

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Three Years


Four Years


Four and a Half Years

Today, Olivia is 4 ½ years old and is a healthy and happy preschooler. She had strabismus surgery at 1 year of age and will probably need another in the near future. Her skin is still badly scarred because it was so underdeveloped at birth. Amazingly, she doesn’t have single scar on her beautiful face. She had surgery last year because of a keloid cyst that developed on her neck because of her central line. She is very small for her age at only 28.5 lbs. She has been 100% orally fed since she came home from the hospital, although it has always been a struggle to get her to eat. She is developmentally delayed and currently receives OT and PT services. I recently learned that she has retained many of her infant/primitive reflexes and we are trying to integrate those by doing specific exercises. We are still dealing with quite a bit of anxiety in certain situations along with some sensory processing disorders. Olivia, however, has never spent another night in the hospital, she doesn’t have asthma or any breathing difficulties. She is full of energy and always on the go with a smile that lights up any room. Olivia loves her Squinkies, Little Pet Shop, Thomas trains, and stuffed animals. After a miscarriage last year, Olivia remains our only child on earth. Her twin brother, Logan, will forever look down on her from heaven. He knows how much she went through and, like everyone who knows her, will forever be proud of the amazing person that is our precious Olivia Paige.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Awwww... I just read this at Joshua's 5am feeding and felt like I just re-lived the entire story again. I didn't know (or maybe I did and forgot, but I dont think I ever knew) that Olivia was a vaginal birth and Logan was a c-section! I guess I assumed they were both c-sections?.. wow.. I can't imagine what your mind was doing all that time... I (again) am so sorry you had to go through all that.. but you seem to be doing better (like you said) at re-telling their story. You will (and have) touched so many lives! I love you!