Monday, February 18, 2013

The Night Before Our Lives Changed Forever

I wrote this the night before the twins ended up being born. When I wrote it I thought I would be having them a couple of days later and had no idea that I was a mere few hours away from going into labor. I thought I would be spending my 30th birthday hooked up to monitors awaiting the arrival of our boys. Instead I spent my 30th birthday in labor, and subsequently on an operating table staring at my precious sons for the very first time. Lucas Daniel Reissig was born at 1:02 PM. Zachary Garrett Reissig was born at 1:04 PM. And 30 years prior, Courtney Dawn Tarter (now Reissig) was born via c-section at 1:06 PM. How's that for crazy timing?!?

The night before they came I couldn't sleep at all, primarily because the steroid shot made me wide awake. So I read everything the NICU gave us that night, read Scripture, looked at Pinterest, checked Facebook a million times, prayed, and wrote this post. I had not stayed up all night since high school and I really hope I don't have to do it again any time soon. But I will say that I feel like God did that to help me prepare for the craziness that was awaiting me that morning. Here is what God was doing in my heart the night before our lives changed forever.


So yesterday we went to our normal ultrasound appointment knowing that Luke looked a little small last time. But honestly, I was not anticipating he would want them to come this week. After measuring Luke first he gave us the news that Luke was not keeping up with Zach and was now in the 11% while Zach was in the 64%. Plus, after examining Luke's cord on the ultrasound he thought there were some blood flow discrepancies that were contributing to his slow growth. Basically, my uterus was no longer safe for Luke. His recommendation to us was that I get started on steroids to strengthen their lungs and then deliver them after they have had 48 hours to work. He then told us it would be best to go home, pack our bags, and check-in to the hospital until we have these babies. So we did everything he said. We rushed home, got our stuff together (thankfully I started that this weekend), and headed to the hospital, our home for the next few days. The doctor who will deliver them, and who has walked through our infertility with us, came to see me and said he will deliver them via c-section on Thursday. Luke was just too small to try to have them any other way. So we will have our boys by the end of the week. And two days after my 30th birthday. Not a bad set of birthday gifts! My mom is flying in on Wednesday and my sister-in-law (one of them) is coming Thursday morning. I am so glad I will have family around for this since it will be a very emotional time, I am sure. By the time I deliver they will be 32 weeks and 1 day. And Luke could be under 3 pounds.

When we got pregnant with them we always knew this was a risk, and would be another opportunity for us to trust our great God. In fact, our entire life these last two and a half years has been one roller coaster ride of God continually calling us to trust him as good, wise, and loving. If we don't believe that now in the scariest moments of our children's lives to date, we will never be able to teach them honestly about this God we claim to love and trust. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Do I trust him? Do I believe he cares for me? Do I believe he is for me? I want to. In some moments I struggle for control. In others I feel remarkably calm, and if you know me that can only be from him.

We have felt loved beyond what we could imagine. God has shown up in so many ways these last couple of days. From the fact that my high risk doctor pushed my appointment forward so he could see me sooner, which revealed Luke's minimal growth over a 10 day period. To the countless emails, texts, gifts, flowers, and visits we have received from friends and family all over. These people have walked this road of infertility with us and loved us well in the sorrow. Now they are loving us well in the uncertainty of delivering our precious boys eight weeks early. We are overjoyed to introduce them to everyone very soon. God knew this would happen and he is not surprised by their early arrival.

God does not leave is to ourselves in uncertain and frightening days. Fear has always been a big struggle of mine. My vivid imagination does a number on my thoughts in difficult days. But I have been comforted by all of the evidences of God's sovereign hand throughout this entire experience. He knew this would happen. He knit these boys together and ordained the day of their birth. I just never thought it would be 2 days after mine! Or on my brother's birthday! So we look to him, the one who sustains every molecule in this universe, and the ones holding our sons together, too.

Thank you for your prayers. We are looking forward to meeting them on Thursday morning and introducing them to all these people, near and far, who have prayed for these miracle babies for so long.

Isaiah 25 reminds us that God has established his plans from the beginning and will accomplish them. These are his good plans for us and for our boys.


Thankfully, Luke weighed more than we thought, and their discrepancy was not as vast. Luke weighed 3 lbs 4 ozs and Zach weighed 3 lbs 15 ozs. It was discovered that Luke's cord actually implanted in the membrane of the placenta, not directly into the placenta. This accounted for his slow growth the entire pregnancy. It wasn't until after his arrival that we realized how rare and serious this was. My labor and delivery nurse told me that if my water had broken up top near that spot (rather than on the bottom) both of us could have bled out before we got the hospital. We believe that God is sovereign, but in moments like this we are even more aware of his power and authority over all things. We are thankful for life and thankful for the life of these sweet boys. And now we can't wait to take them home!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Twin Update: One Week Old!

Whew! It is hard to believe that these boys are one week old today. This time last week we were sitting in our hospital room overwhelmed by God's provision in a safe (and unexpected) delivery of our boys. And now, here we are thanking God for one week of life! I finally feel like I can sit down and write out the story of their birth. There were so many things that we saw God do in the entire process last week and I will write about that in the coming days. Because they are in the NICU my life right now pretty much revolves around pumping, visiting them in the NICU, and sleeping. And I really do love every minute of it. I knew I wanted to be a mom, but I had no context for how much I would love it. Even though I am exhausted most of the time and can't remember one day to the next, I am so happy with these precious boys that God has given us. So here is how they decided to come to us last Tuesday.

I went in for my ultrasound on Monday morning. We knew going into it that there was a possibility that Luke had further slowed in his growth, so we were a little prepared for the news that he seemed to have grown very little from my appointment ten days prior. I even had started packing a bag over the weekend just in case we had to go to the hospital on a whim. Daniel had just spent all weekend getting their room ready and we felt going into the appointment that the boys could come and we wouldn't be super stressed. But we were seriously praying that they would wait a little longer, or at least to 34 weeks. After measuring Luke first the doctor said that he had dropped to the 11th percentile (he was in the 20th before) and only gained 2 ounces in 10 days (not good). He checked Luke's cord and saw that his blood flow was not good enough and told us that it was becoming increasingly apparent that my womb was not a safe place for Luke to grow. He then proceeded to tell us that we needed to get them both out soon. I asked how soon and he said "you are having these babies this week." He allowed us to run home and pack a bag and then told us to come back to the hospital that afternoon. At the time he wanted us to spend at least 48 hours in the hospital while I received a couple rounds of steroids to strengthen their lungs. That would have allowed them to monitor the boys continuously just in case something went wrong with Luke. So we ran home and started packing. That was the fastest we have ever packed. We weren't even sure what to take. It's such a strange feeling knowing that the next time you come home you will no longer be pregnant.

So off the the hospital we went.

Because we were supposed to be there for a few days I packed tons of stuff to do. I was going to write thank you notes, read some parenting books, and catch up on some writing I wanted to finish before the boys came. I didn't touch that stuff one time. Once we got to the hospital we were surrounded by a flurry of nurses who constantly monitored the boys and me. We were given a tour of the NICU. My doctor came by to visit. And we had some good time with friends who came by to see us. Daniel and I started thinking that maybe this was God's way of giving us some extra time together before the boys came. My birthday was the next day (Tuesday) so we started thinking through how we were going to celebrate my 30th birthday while I was hooked up to a ton of monitors that were messed up with the slightest movement on my part. We were not expecting any more surprises.

The steroid shot was given to me that night and they gave me a sleeping pill too so I could at least try to sleep (since steroids make you wired). It didn't work at all. I do not usually have a hard time sleeping but for some reason I could not sleep. I was wide awake. I read every piece of material the NICU gave us. I wrote down some thoughts about the boys coming early. I read some things I wanted to read. I read Scripture and felt like God was preparing my heart for the arrival of my boys. I have not stayed up all night since high school and I forgot how long a night is when you never go to sleep. It's awful! Sometime in the middle of the night my back started hurting and I just attributed it to the fact that I was propped up some on my back and the boys were increasingly becoming heavier to me. I thought my body was just unable to handle the weight anymore. Around 5:30 the nurse came in and asked me if I felt something. I didn't feel anything, so I asked her what she was talking about.

"You are having a contraction right now. You've actually been having them pretty regularly for a while."

I told her my back hurt and she said that was why.

At first I didn't think anything of it, but I started noticing more and more that I was feeling something going on, but I thought they were just Braxton Hicks (which I got all of the time). Around 7:00 AM my new nurse came in and said that now they were 5-6 minutes apart. She decided it was probably best to check me since I was progressing, not slowing down in my contractions.

I was already 2-3 centimeters dilated.

Now that wouldn't be a huge deal except for the fact that just a few days ago I was nothing with no indicators of changing any time soon.

She proceeded to tell me I was in labor and told me that I was probably having the babies within the next few hours. I woke Daniel up and told him I was in labor. It took him a few minutes to really comprehend what was happening, but then it hit us both. We went from excitement to fear and then back to excitement and then back to fear. We knew the twins had a better chance of success if I had another round of shots, so we were hoping the doctor could stop the labor. He came to see me around 8:00 AM and confirmed that I was in labor. He originally said he was going to stop labor in order to give the boys a few more days to cook inside of me, but after talking with my high-risk doctor decided it would be best to let labor takes its course and deliver the boys within a few hours. The high-risk doctor felt like my body was telling us something, namely that Luke needed to get out in order for him to be okay.

We had to wait for an operating room to open up and since I wasn't in distress and the babies were fine we weren't high priority. Around 10:00 AM I started noticing more pain so she checked me again and I was already at a 5. At that point they were prepared to let me deliver them if I got to a 10. I was not prepared for that at all! I checked into the hospital thinking I was going to have scheduled C-section. Now I was facing the prospect of delivering them naturally! And after hearing them say that Luke would probably do better being delivered via C-section, I was really nervous about the alternative.

Thankfully, a room opened up and around 12:30 PM  I was on my way down to deliver the boys. At 1:02 PM  and 1:04 PM Lucas Daniel Reissig and Zachary Garrett Reissig entered this world at 31 weeks 6 days gestation! When they were getting me ready for the C-section I felt a sudden sense of fear about what their lungs would be like. It was almost too much to bear. I just prayed that God would bring them out screaming and thankfully they did make some noise on the way out. I didn't get to see them but for a few seconds because they NICU team took them away immediately to intubate them and evalute them. The moment I saw their faces my heart melted. Daniel and I both agree that it feels like a dream. Everything is a blur, but a happy one.

We didn't get to see them for about an hour while they NICU got them stabilized. After that they wheeled me down in my hospital bed and we were able to spend some time with them. From that moment on we continue to love them more and more. Every time we see them our heart melts a little more and we can hardly believe they are ours. The NICU doctor expects them to be there for at least four weeks, give or take a week. So we are one week down!

Here are some stats:

Luke weighed 3 lbs 4 ounces at birth. He was 16 inches long.

Zach weighed 3 lbs 15 ounce at birth. He was 19 inches long.

Both boys did not need to be intubated for long. It only lasted 30 minutes. Since then they have just had a little oxygen through a nasal canula.

And here are some pictures!



Zach and me

Daddy and Luke