Gushing Emotional Mama Syndrome

Milestones…today was the girls’ last day of VPK. Their graduation program was last Thursday night but today was THE LAST DAY! My babies are growing up too quickly. This picture is from their graduation program. I’ve definitely developed “Gushing Emotional Mama Syndrome” over the last week. It started at graduation, watching them up there on stage doing their part in the program. The nine VPK classes were divided into three teams of three classes, each with a special role on the “VPK Graduation Express”. My girls were part of the “caboose”. They sang all the alphabet songs, identified vowels vs consonants, read a short story out loud and sang “Five Miles from Home!”. Before everything started I was a little worried about Livvie. Sarah’s a ham so I knew she’d be fine, but as they were all marching in, Livvie was looking around wide-eyed, thumb in mouth. They walked all the way around the church and then down the center aisle, right where DH and I were sitting, and I was afraid that as soon as she saw us, she’d dart out of line and over to us. But she did great! She didn’t even suck her thumb while they were on stage! I was so proud! Tears they were a-flowing! Yesterday they came home with the most wonderful scrapbooks that Ms. Tammy and Ms. Mary put together for us. The books documented their whole VPK year, including pictures of all their events as well as just general classroom and playground pictures, drawings, writing exercises, the whole shebang. And once again, I had the tears a-falling looking through both books. Ms. Tammy and Ms. Mary are incredible teachers.

This truly was a huge milestone for us, as the girls birth was a bit of a miracle in itself. (This picture is with Ms. Tammy today.) They were conceived after a second run of IVF, three years after we learned we lost our first set of twins, also conceived via IVF, two days after my mom died. My girls were born seven weeks early by emergency c-section. I had developed a severe case of pre-eclampsia called HELLP syndrome. I was already high-risk, pregnant with twins at 37, so I was on weekly hospital monitoring for three hours every Monday. That particular Monday my blood pressure was very high, so the nurses really didn’t want to let me go home after my monitoring. I had a regular doctor’s appointment scheduled for the next morning, so I convinced them to let me go home since I’d be seeing “my” doc the next morning. There’s the kicker. My doctor was out of town! When he told me he had to go out of town, I told him, “Don’t you go out of town on me! I’ll have these babies while you are gone!” And he said, “No, you’ll be fine, you’re still seven-eight weeks out!” He hooked me up with a colleague for monitoring while he was gone and that’s who I was scheduled to meet for the first time the next morning. Little Dr. Sunny Kim. Very sweet, tiny little Asian woman. When I went in to see her for the very first time that next morning, she took all my vitals, reviewed the nurse’s notes from the previous day’s monitoring and said she’d be right back. She was gone for what seemed like hours. When she came back in, she sat down in front of me, took my hands in hers, said she had conferred with Dr. Shaykh by phone, and then said, “You are very sick; we have to take these babies now,” and immediately sent me over to the ER for prep. In shock, I called DH and told him he better get there quickly. Then I called my dad. His response was, “You can’t have the babies now! I’m not there!” Typical father! He made it from West Palm Beach to Jacksonville in three and half hours. Apparently he was there by the time I woke up from the surgery, but I don’t remember much.

Sarah was delivered first and, through the miracles of modern medicine, I was still awake at the time. But then Livvie decided she wasn’t ready to face the world. (Here with Ms. Mary today.) She literally turned around and headed north, getting lodged up in my rib cage. This made it very hard for me to breathe, and I started panicking. All I remember from that point was the nurse anesthetist coming to telling me, “Okay, Kelly, we’re just going to put you to sleep right now; everything will be fine.” DH said things moved very quickly from that point. He probably should have been removed from the room, but I guess with everything happening so quickly, they just didn’t get to that and he got to watch what he now refers to as “Discovery Channel Live”. He said Dr. Kim had to stand up on a stool and press down with all her weight on my chest and upper abdomen to try to push Livvie down. That explained all the soreness and bruising I had in that area when I finally came back to reality. From pictures, I know that the girls were both wrapped up and shown to me before being whisked off to the NICU, but I have no memory of that. For the next two days, I was kept pretty drugged up and on a morphine drip to keep me in bed until they could get my blood-pressure stabilized.

Strangely enough, the only memory I have of those first two and a half days was really wanting to brush my teeth and my dad bringing me the bed pan to brush my teeth in! Dad and DH said they were glad I didn’t see the girls those first two days as they were in pretty bad shape, Livvie in particular. When I was finally allowed out of bed and taken to see them late Thursday night, I felt such a strong mix of emotions: pure joy that they were here, mixed with sadness and fear that they were so very frail, mixed with the first dose of Mama guilt because I couldn’t carry them any longer. They were right at four pounds when they were born and dropped below four pounds for about a week before they finally started gaining a little weight. They are about 10 days old in this picture, and it's always cracked me up. They seem to be saying to each other, “Oh, Sis, we shouldn't have had that last bottle last night...I have one heck of a milk hangover”. Sarah was slow and steady with no real issues other than her very small size. Livvie struggled a bit more, undergoing a full blood transfusion at about a week old. I was sent home after five days but had DH or Pops drive me up there every day to sit with them in the NICU until they could come home.

Two steps forward, one step back. That was the nurses’ mantra until the girls could come home, about three weeks later; this picture was taken just before we left the NICU with them for the last time, Sarah on the left, Livvie on the right. I know our story is not unique. I have two very close friends who delivered twins even earlier than I did and spent more grueling weeks than we did in the NICU. That truly is the miracle of modern medicine. Like my girls, Luke and Dylan and Adrian and Christian are all now happy, healthy wonderful little blessings. So we do get to celebrate those milestones, every one of them. And we’re allowed to have “Gushing Emotional Mama Syndrome”, like all Mama’s are. My girls now amaze me every day, the little geniuses that they are (you knew that was coming, didn’t you :-). They’re so smart, and so brave, and so funny, and so sweet, and so beautiful that I often wonder why I was deemed lucky enough to call them mine. We are truly blessed.

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Anonymous said...

Great story, Kelly! I think I may have "GEMS" as well after reading that. You're girls are adorable. They seem to have grown up so much just since I've been reading your blog...

e.beck.artist said...

oh my goodness! ... you made me cry .... i have a new baby twins story too ...... and it makes me so happy ... and it makes me cry ..... life sure is interesting!

Anonymous said...

They certainly ARE a blessing. Answers to many prayers from your friends for sure. Thanks for sharing all of your story - I'd only heard bits & pieces - *sniff*sniff*

You are certainly entitled to enjoy every moment and share with us Moms the "Gushing Mama Syndrome". I love it!


Andi (RrlScrapGal) said...

Beautiful babies!
From you Fat Book pal!

~Denise~ said...

I found your blog on a google alert for HELLP. Your girls are so beautiful, and I'm so happy things went well for you all. I had HELLP with my first, who just turned five last month. It's amazing to see how their lives started so rough and how they grow into these wonderful human beings.

Best wishes to you and your family.

*pal said...

Hi Kel - I think I knew (somehow) that you had a C-section, but I had no idea about the circumstances. I, too, had a C-section to deliver Zane because of high BP. Your girls are just delightful, and truly little gifts from God. Lots of love.