When Joanna Taczanowsky’s water broke just 23 weeks and five days into her twin pregnancy, she was immediately sent to the hospital, where they began the whirlwind process of injecting steroid shots and attempting to stop labor. Thus began a waiting game that would only end when her babies decided they were truly coming. What follows is an excerpt from Joanna’s book, Tiny But Mighty: Life In the NICU & At Home With My Micro Preemies.
Since we beat the odds against delivering within 24 hours, we were hopeful I would continue for weeks. Unfortunately things changed that afternoon when I got up to use the bathroom.
The nurse asked if I was sure I did not feel anything unusual, and I assured her I just needed to use the restroom. When I sat down, I felt as if I had to urinate but could not. I instinctively reached down to feel something I knew was not right.
It was a baby’s head.
I called to the nurse and she and my husband helped me back into bed, as a doctor was immediately alerted and ran in. I guess it was a doctor; I honestly have no real memory of who did what next because it was then a blur of activity around me. I was quickly wheeled on the bed down the hall to a surgical suite that instantly filled with labor and delivery and neonatal doctors and nurses.
I did not realize my husband had left until he returned and was told to sit by my head. The anesthesiologist introduced himself, but since there was no time to offer any kind of pain medication, I assume now he was there just in case I needed to be put under general anesthesia for some reason.
The doctor told me we were not waiting for a contraction to push (like you see on TV) but rather the nurse encouraged me into position to begin pushing the baby out immediately. I tried my best to do what they were telling me, regardless of how foreign and incorrect everything felt. Luckily it did not take more than two pushes and Baby A was born at 4:26 pm on April 25, 2013, only 36 hours after his water broke.
After baby A was born, the neonatal transport team took him to be stabilized. Apparently my husband looked so shocked at the state of our child that the attending doctor had to ask him if he was alright. He was, but he felt crushed at the sight of our baby in that state.
The NICU transport team worked on the baby as my husband looked on. The attending doctor then instructed the resident how to tie off Baby A’s umbilical cord and tuck it back in my uterus with the placenta, as to have as little disruption as possible in order to try to hold off Baby B’s delivery.
At the time I had not known it was possible to deliver one baby and not the second. In fact, I had asked one of my nurses the day before if that was possible, and she had said that it was not; if they had to deliver one baby, they would deliver the other. I was lucky in that they were both head down, so I could deliver only the baby whose water had broken. If they were both feet down, I would have needed a C-section and both babies would have been born. It was a relief to be told in the operating room that there was a chance Baby B could stay inside longer to continue to develop.
Once the doctor finished cleaning everything up, he graciously put in a catheter to relieve my bladder (my second unmedicated catheter). A moment later, a transport nurse wheeled the baby by me in a transport isolette, and said, “Your husband tells me this is Charles.”
Without thinking I replied, “No, I think it’s Henry.” My husband and I had recently agreed on names but had not reached the point of discussing which baby was which. At that moment I realized I had been thinking of the baby on my left as Henry and the baby on my right as Charles. My husband would have agreed to just about anything at that point so there was no argument from him.
Henry James had officially entered the world weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces and measuring 12 inches long. The whole ordeal felt as though it took mere seconds. In reality, I do not think we were in the operating room more than a few minutes. Soon I was wheeled back to the labor and delivery room. The goal had changed. Now I told everyone I was going to keep this second baby in for as long as possible.
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11 hours later Charles David, weighing 1 pound and 8 ounces and measuring 12 inches long, joined his brother in the NICU, and our real journey began. After a very rocky road, entailing surgeries and ventilators and eye exams, the boys came home after 105 and 134 days in the NICU, respectively. Life at home was filled with pumping, doctor’s appointments, Early Intervention, ongoing concern for germs and one trip back to the hospital. My hope for this book is that someone just beginning their journey with a micro preemie might find solutions, hope and maybe a little laughter.
In honor of Prematurity Awareness Month and all the amazing preemies and preemie parents, Joanna has offered to give away one copy of Tiny But Mighty: Life In the NICU & At Home With My Micro Preemies to a lucky Preemie Babies 101 reader. Just enter through the Rafflecopter below!
Originally from the East coast, Joanna Taczanowsky graduated cum laude from Saint Anselm College with a degree in Biochemistry. She currently lives in Spring, Texas, with her husband and twin boys. She loves her exhausting job as a full time mom. Her book, Tiny But Mighty: Life In the NICU & At Home With My Micro Preemies, can be found on Amazon. For more information, visit TinyButMightyBook.com.