A year ago at this time (10:00pm on 10/06/07) Misty and I were sorting through baby clothes and getting the babies room organized following a day of baby shopping…Little did we know that a little over 5 hours later Misty would be wakened by her water breaking. The events which took place over the twelve hours that followed were some of the scariest moments of my life up to this point.
Wanting to be more safe than sorry Misty and I rushed to Corona Regional hospital both pretty sure her water had broke, but both in a bit of denial about it. The hospital quickly took her and began an ultrasound and prepped to test to see if her water had in fact broken. The ultrasound and tests confirmed that her water had in fact broken, and that the babies were ok. I remember the panic that rushed through Misty and I when we found out. We both knew that having twins already made the pregnancy a high risk, but the idea that the babies could show up nine weeks early was terrifying. There had been no complications, serious stress or trauma up to this point. All of her ultrasounds were fine, all of her stress tests were fine, and if she was having contractions she was never aware of them. I remember Misty repeating to me, “They’re not supposed to be here yet. It’s too early.” Those words have stuck with me as one of the hardest things I have ever heard my wife say. As it wasn’t until that point that I realized the seriousness of the situation we were in.
Misty remained at Corona Regional under nurses care as they sought out another hospital that had room in their NICU. Corona Regional does not have a NICU so their facility was out of the question. They contacted hospital after hospital after hospital, but there was no room. I was starting to understand how Mary and Joseph must have felt when it came time to have Jesus. Finally they found an opening, and best of all we wouldn’t have to ride a donkey to get there.
UCI Medical Center had an available opening and Misty and the still unborn babies would be transferred by ambulance later that morning. At this point they had given Misty some medicine to help 1) stop contractions and 2) stop any pain or discomfort she was in. A few hours later the ambulance from UCI arrived to pick Misty up and transport her, and both my mother-in-law and my parents were now at the hospital. Since I hadn’t planned on being at the hospital long I sent my parents back to pick up a few things for when we arrived at UCI, while my mother-in-law and I caravanned down to UCI following the ambulance.
When we arrived at UCI I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my god I am never going to be able to afford this”. Truth be told I was right…but I’ll save that for another post. The hospital and the room Misty was in was like no other I had ever been in; top of the line technology, quiet rooms, comfortable rooms. I remember commenting to more than one of the nurses and doctors that came in and out of the room at how amazing the hospital was.
Hurry Up and Wait
After some more tests and talking with the team of doctors that would be working on Misty it was decided that as long as there was no infection the babies could remain in the womb until they were a little bit older. Because of their age and size there were risks involved, most specifically the strength of their lungs. With nothing more to go off of other than that it was now just a waiting game. We had no idea if Misty would be in the hospital for hours, days, or even weeks. The fact of the matter was as long as the babies were ok they didn’t have to come out.
The day dragged on and we were all tired, stressed and anxious. As each hour passed it seemed like Misty’s discomfort increased, contractions were started to look as though the babies were going to have to enter this world earlier than planned. Finally the decision was made that they would take the babies via c-section since at their weight they could not be delivered naturally.
I remember the moments leading up to entering the room where the c-section would be performed and my mother-in-law and I were at our wits end. I knew that at any moment my first two children would enter the world. But in the back of my mind was the fear that as quickly as they came into this world they could be taken from it. Those minutes of prep time before the procedure seemed like lifetimes to me, and when they finally whisked me into the room they had already gotten ready to work on Misty.
I watched the whole thing, I can’t describe it to you because it all blurs together in my mind, but I remember there being a lot of blood and I remember it being a lot more violent looking than I had imagined. They took Aiden first since he was the one whose water had broken. I remember seeing them pull a baby from her torso and then rushing off into another room…the room was silent accept for the sound of the music that was playing and the commotion of the doctors. Misty was loopy from the drugs at this point, so much so that I don’t think the impact of what was going on around her really had the impact it had on me. They then went in for Cambria, this being the more violent aspects of the procedure when it looked as though the doctor was performing a wrestling move on Misty to try and get Cambria to pop out where he could get to her. She was yanked from her mother’s insides in a matter that looked almost inhumane, but one leg she dangled and then was softly placed in the arms of another doctor who whisked her over to a table just to the right of Misty and I.
The room again seemed silent to me despite the fact I was surrounded by commotion and the sound of the radio still played in the background. Again no cry like the one’s you always hear in TV and in movies when a baby is born. They worked quickly over Cambria and their medical terminology kept me from knowing even remotely what was happening with either Aiden or Cambria. The silence ate at me and the lack of understanding made it feel as though the weight of the world was resting on my chest. It was hard to breathe, and it was hard to think straight.
The Weight of the World Is Lifted
Finally the silence was broken by a shriek from Cambria. It wasn’t until that moment that I knew whether or not either of them was alive. And at that moment it seemed that at least part of the weight was lifted off of my chest. I knew then, that at least for that moment Cambria was alive and breathing. After a few minutes we were notified that Aiden was also doing well. The moments that followed are a bit of a blur to me, the overwhelming emotion that poured over me along with the sheer chaos that surrounded us gives me flashes of moments that followed including seeing both babies and then myself leaving at some point to follow the babies to the NICU.
Once in the NICU the confusion resumed. They planted me on a stool toward the center of the room and they began hooking the babies up to a number of monitors. I remember the moments vividly because I remember feeling like I was in the middle of one of those scenes in a movie where everything around you slows, the audio gets muffled and suddenly the only thing moving or reacting in real time was I. I remember noticing all of the babies surrounding me that were clinging to life. One in particular was connected to some sort of ventilator that sounded like a portable generator and the vibration from the tube which seemed to engulf the babies face caused the baby to look as though it too were vibrating. But through all of this all I was thinking was how my babies were here and being hooked to machines like some sort of science project and I had yet to even hold them.
Again my time spent here seemed to take what felt like hours as they hooked up breathing devices, heart monitors, breathing monitors, and a number of other devices to make sure that everything was functioning the way it should. Again the time here blurs off and on and the story of the day is distorted due to exhaustion, emotion, and the chaos that surrounded their birth. However this would not be the first time or the last time I would sit in this room unsure as to what exactly was in store. For the next month Aiden and Cambria would call UCI’s NICU home.
That day was the first of many challenges that I would face in the year to come. And as I look back on that day I do so with tears in my eyes and a sinking feeling in my gut. I look back and realize that the two smiling faces that greet me every day when I walk in the door could have been taken from me before they even knew who I was. I realize just how much we take our life and the time we spend with those we love for granted. I realize that at any moment the serenity and comfort of the every day can do a complete 180 and make a turn for the worst with no warning.
Happy Birthday Aiden & Cambria
Aiden and Cambria on the day they came home, exactly one month later.