birth story

Warning:  This is more of a what happened before and after story, as I was totally knocked out for A&R's actual birth.  Double warning:  It's uncensored and really, really long.

It all started on April 30th, 2011, when I took a pregnancy test and saw that magic word “Pregnant”.  I had been so used to seeing “Not Pregnant” that my heart literally jumped out of my throat.  We had been trying for nine months and I remember running down to the basement where Seamus was cooking (we had construction going on at the time so we were using the basement kitchen).  I showed him the pregnancy test and started crying immediately.  We hugged for what seemed like an eternity and I cried, because you know, that's what I do.  I was supposed to run a half marathon the next morning with my sister, but decided against it.  I knew I was only 4 weeks along so I didn’t want to risk anything happening to this tiny being growing inside of me.
The next two weeks went by without a hitch.  I had an ultrasound scheduled for my ninth week to date the pregnancy and meet my new OB.  At 6 weeks I experienced some bleeding.  We went in for an early u/s expecting to be told that I miscarried.  When my OB started the u/s he told me to relax and that it was likely that nothing was wrong.  The next words that came out of his mouth would change our lives forever.  He said, “Do you have a good heart?”  I said “yea, why?”  (Thinking, what the hell does my heart have to do with this?) He said, “Well, you’re having twins!”  I never laughed and cried so hard in my entire life. 
I immediately bought Dr. Luke’s book about carrying multiples.  I spent the next few days reading through the chapters and getting myself anxious.  I read all about pre-term labor and other complications that are common with multiple pregnancies.  At one point, Seamus told me to put the book down and stop making myself crazy.  So I put the book down and never turned back.  I spent the next few months taking it pretty easy.  I did a lot of lying down after work but I also did my fair share of tidying up after the construction going on in our house.  And I was seeing my OB every three weeks.
On September 12th, I was put on bed rest at home due to a shortening cervix.  I went to the hospital with Seamus for a routine growth scan and a cervical check.  When they measured my cervix it was at 1.2cm.  The cutoff for bed rest is 3cm.  I was monitored for contractions (I wasn’t having any) and my OB was called to come a check on me.  She checked my cervix again and gave me the bed rest talk.  I cried.   But mostly because I was nervous about not being able to work, and how we would afford our mortgage for the next 4 months, not because I was nervous about carrying to full term.  I convinced myself that I would be in bed until I was 38 weeks.
Exactly one week later we went in for another cervix check, and much to my surprise my cervix was no longer measurable.  The technician who measured it didn’t say anything at first.  She simply put the wand down and left the room.  I knew something was really wrong.  She came back with the doctor, who checked me again, and they immediately told me I was being admitted to Labor & Delivery.  While I was waiting for a bed, I heard them say I had a bulging bag.  I never heard this term before, but I knew what it meant.  Aiden's bag of waters was descending into my cervix.  Which meant my water could break at any minute.
I was admitted to triage and hooked up to a mag drip and IV antibiotics and three monitors – one for each baby and one for me.  I spent the next 24 hours there not able to eat or drink anything for fear that they would have to perform an emergency C-section.  I was contracting the whole time, every minute or two, but I didn’t feel the contractions.  A neonatologist came to my bedside and explained to me and my husband all the complications our children would face if they were born now, in a week, in two weeks, etc.  I felt like I was living a dream. 

For your entertainment, this was on day 3ish of my hospital stay.  I know, glamorous.
The next day I was moved to antepartum because I was no longer contracting.  Seamus went home and brought me my laptop, some magazines and books, a hairbrush, my toothbrush and anything else he thought I needed.  We were ready to live in the hospital for the next 3.5 months.  I wasn’t allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and the doctors were no longer checking my cervix for fear of breaking my water.  I was told to inform my nurse of any contractions, bleeding or discharge.  Seamus stayed with me every single night and went to work in the morning.  Five days later, I convinced him to go home and sleep in our bed.  He needed it.  He didn’t have work the next day so he would be able to sleep in.  He went home and I played on my computer.  I stumbled upon a Preemie support group and opened a post where everyone wrote about how their preemies are doing now.  It gave me so much hope.  I grew tired and went to sleep.
At 4:30am I awoke to some bleeding.  I immediately called my nurse who came with the resident on call.  She checked me with a speculum, and told me there is too much blood and she has to take me to L&D.  I asked her if I should call my husband.  She said yes.  I knew it was time.  When they moved me onto a stretcher, I looked over at my bed and saw the blood.  I said “Oh fuck!” when I saw how much there was.  As they wheeled me to L&D, I remember feeling very calm but a million thoughts were racing through my head.  I have no clue what they were.  The doctors performed an u/s to see the babies’ postioning, and the whole time I felt this urge to pee.  I knew it had to be the pressure of the babies on my cervix. 
I was moved to the OR and I remember it being so cold.  They threw me onto a cold, metal table and begain prepping me.  There were about 15 people in the room.  The anesthesiologist was so reassuring, he kept telling me not to worry, that they will take care of me.  I will never forget his face.  As they prepped me for surgery I made my mind slow down because I wanted to remember everything.  I wanted to remember that feeling of knowing that shit is going down, but not really being nervous about it.  Maybe I knew I was in good hands.  Or maybe my mind was just tricking me so that I wouldn't melt down.  I really felt like I was in a movie.  All I saw were these faces with masks on.  I couldn’t even recognize my own OB, they had to point him out.  I later found out that he made it to the hospital in 12 minutes.  Seconds before they put me under (there was no time for an epidural so they had to knock me out), I was told Seamus had made it to the hospital.  I was so relieved.  He wasn't allowed in the OR since I was knocked out.  But just knowing he was out there made it all okay.
I woke up in recovery sadder than I had ever been in my entire life. It was Sept. 25, 2011, and I just kept repeating to myself that today was my children’s birthday.  And instead of it being the happiest day of my life, it was the saddest.  At some point I asked if the kids were alive and Seamus told me the boys were ok.  He hadn’t seen them yet but they were alive.  Then the recovery nurse asked us what their names were.  Welcome to the world Aiden & Ryan Moloney.  You will do great things.
At some point Seamus left, maybe to eat or see the boys, I’m not sure, but my dad stayed with me.  I cried the entire time and he just held my hand.  I will never forget it.  I later found out that the bleeding was caused by a placental abruption, and that Aiden’s feet were hanging out of me by the time I was put on the operating table.  From the time I called my nurse, to the time the boys were born, only 45 minutes has passed.
         In many ways this isn’t a birth story at all, because I wasn’t awake for any part of the boys’ birth.  I often think about why this happened to us, and I try to understand the very difficult decision God made to put us in this situation.  After dissecting my story a million times and working through the anger that I feel about everything that happened, my short answer is this:  God put me in the hospital to save Aiden.  If I was at home when the bleeding started, we never would have gotten to the hospital in time, and we would’ve lost him, and possibly Ryan.  I thank God every day for making this decision for us.  Maybe this is true.  Maybe it isn't.  But it's something that I need to believe for my own sanity.

       I may never have a typical birth story.  A story where I get to nurse my newborn baby seconds after he comes out and take him home two days later.  It took me a long time to grieve that, and in some ways I still do.  I grieve the full term pregnancy that I thought I would have.  That naive state of mind where I imagined a perfect outcome.  You know, a part of me died that September day.  That girl who viewed pregnancy and child birth as this fairy tale where nothing would go wrong and my biggest choice was whether or not get an epidural.  I will never look at a pregnant woman or a newborn baby the same way again.  There will always be some envy.  And that is something I need to accept.  And I'm beginning to.   

      In spite of all these ugly feelings, I wouldn't trade my kids or my experience for anything.  Ok I lie...I would trade my experience for the health of my children.  But since that isn't possible, I make peace with the person I am today and the cards that I have been dealt.  I may be harder and a little rougher around the edges, but I'm a mom.  A mom who will take every breath, every ounce gained, every milestone reached - I will take them, and rejoice.  Because God is good.  And He gave us our babies.


  1. Joanna, your boys give us all so much hope. The strength that you have had through this all is amazing too.

    I think you said it best in the last two paragraphs of this post. I couldn't have said it better myself.

  2. Beautifully written Joanna. Even though our preemie stories are different, you took so many words and thoughts that I have been through myself. Aiden and Ryan WILL do great things. You are a wonderful mommy to them!

  3. Those last 2 paragraphs are so beautifully written!

  4. I think you should write a book!


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