Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gratitude and Going Home

During my nearly nine weeks (NINE WEEKS!!!) in the hospital I have met dozens of amazing health care professionals. From the committed team of midwives who helped find my squirmy babies' heartbeats three times a day for six weeks, to the team of doctors, anesthesiologists and nurses who cared for me during my c-section. From the incredibly gentle and patient NICU nurses, to the pediatricians who saved Violet's life when her lung collapsed and have watched over the girls since they were born.

One of the privileges of being a patient here for so long is that I was able to form relationships with several of the people who have cared for me and the girls. I will truly miss the midwives and nurses here. One of the more special relationships for me and for Neil is with the gifted and committed doctor who watched our girls grow and carefully examined them with twice weekly ultrasounds and then performed the c-section when they were born. Anne Marie is a tall Finnish woman who we first met on a tour of the maternity ward of the hospital when we were deciding if we would stay in Denmark for the pregnancy or move back to the US. Our relationship started out tentatively. We had met many ultrasound doctors already in this pregnancy and at least two of them had offered options to terminate the pregnancy.

Any fears we had about Anne Marie were completely unfounded. She was so kind and so thorough each scan, always checking each girl's blood flow at critical places in her body, all the organs, and of course, the cords. After six weeks and twelve or thirteen lengthy ultrasounds, we knew each other pretty well. During all the measuring and monitoring, Anne Marie would occasionally point out things like hair on the babies heads, good images of their faces and their lungs moving in practice breaths. I got the feeling that not only did Anne Marie understand why I checked into the hospital so early in the pregnancy (26 weeks) but that she also let out a breath of relief each scan when things still looked as good as they could for the babies.

A week or two before the scheduled c-section, Anne Marie told us she would be doing the surgery. We didn't even know she was also a surgeon at that point, but having the doctor who knew the twins best perform the surgery seemed perfect.

I am not sure when exactly Anne Marie worked her way into my heart. Was it during my six weeks of hospital time before the girls were born? Was it the moment when I realized she was invested in the outcome of my pregnancy and was rooting for us? Was it when she safely delivered the girls? Maybe it was when she came to the neonatal unit to check on me and the babies a day or two after the operation? I can't be sure, but at some point I realized how big a part she played in the miracle of our girls' lives. She helped watch over them and then brought them into the world. We could never repay her for all that she has done for our family. But, of course, she wouldn't allow it if we could.

A few nights ago we ran into her and began talking about how incredible it is that the umbilical cords were not entangled when the girls were born and how miraculous the whole pregnancy really was - how week after week there were no problems. As Neil was saying this, I could see that Anne Marie agreed. Her eyes got a little misty. I then tried to thank her and got about halfway through before bursting into tears. (I am sure some of these tears can be blamed on post-partum hormones, but I think I may have cried even if hormones weren't a factor.) She gave me a huge hug.

How do you thank someone like Anne Marie? I have been grappling with this. How do I tell her that she will always be with us, always be a major character in our family's story? I am sure we could have had a fantastic outcome with less personalized medicine. We could have had 12 different ultrasound technicians and a surgeon and still ended up with the same positive result, but the personal connection and continuous care we received here was so much better, its value unquantifiable.

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In other news, after nearly three weeks in the NICU (and a total of almost nine weeks for me in the hospital) we are going home on Saturday!!!! The hospital has a fantastic early release program that allows us to go home and remain there while the girls get stronger and learn to eat on their own. A nurse will visit twice a week to make sure we're on the right track and we get to bring our family together at long last. We are thrilled. It is, of course, a little scary to take on all the night feedings and all the care of the girls, but we are ready.

For several days now (since Monday night, I think), the girls have been off the heart and oxygen monitors that kept them tethered near their beds and are only connected to small hand-held apnea monitors. Today we took them around the hospital to meet some of our favorite midwives and visit an old roommate of mine. Being able to carry our babies around is fantastic as is not worrying about the numbers on the monitors and just focusing on the babies to determine how they are doing.

When we go home we will have the monitors for a few days and then the nurse will visit and remove them! At that point, the only remaining piece of equipment on our babies will be the small feeding tubes that run through their noses to their tummies. Neil learned how to put one in today because the girls have become fond of pulling them out. As soon as Aviva and Violet can eat all that they need to keep growing on their own, the tubes will come out and the nurses will officially discharge the babies from the hospital. Until then, we get lots of support and get to be in our own home.

My own home, with Riley and Neil and Aviva and Violet. (And my mom and dad who are here to help.) I cannot wait...

5 comments:

  1. BEST news. Thank you SO much for writing all about your experience. It has been so wonderful to accompany you this way. I'm so happy for you to be going home!!

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  2. oh i echo rachel's comment! what a gift to follow with you and pray with you at each point! praising G_d with you for your little miracles!!!

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  3. Amazing dear family. I am reminded of past trials and how there were many angels that gave their strength and supportive skills and energy helping me with a hard journey. What a beautiful heart you have my neice. . your children will be so blessed to have such thoughtful and caring parents....the kind of people that should have children!

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  4. Thanks so much for keeping this journal and keeping all who know you and love you in the loop. You and Neil seem to be making all the right decisions and I don't think it's just been luck. You researched, you discussed and from that communication and the deep love and trust that you have for one another came a unique opportunity to find the right people who would help you bring your two miracles into the world. Unckie and I are so very happy for you and the three youngin's. Big hugs to all and say hi to your Mom and Dad for us.

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  5. Congrats on such an amazing, positive outcome, Jodi! Your post made *ME* cry, and I have no post-partum hormones to blame! Can't wait to see more pictures of the girls, especially with their big brother! :)

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