Both girls were immediately placed on cpap to give their lungs a bit of pressure to help them breathe. We counted ourselves very lucky to avoid the ventilator.
The next few days were a blur of pumping, sleeping, and staring at my babies in their little plastic houses.
Then the diagnoses started coming down.
Both girls had whats called a PDA, or patent ductus arteriosis. Basically, its an extra artery in the heart that all unborn babies have. Its function is to allow blood to bypass the lungs in utero, since the baby doesn't need to breathe yet. In full term babies, this ductus usually closes when the baby takes her first breath. Our girls both had wide open PDAs, which had the potential to cause major breathing and digestive problems.
Both girls developed severe jaundice, which is very common in premature babies, and needed bili lights. They wore masks that resembled sunglasses which covered much of their faces.
Between the cpap and the sunglasses, we couldn't really get a good look our babies, other than those first moments when they were born.
Both of my babies were very bruised from my violent contractions. In utero, the babies were sort of in a ying yang position: Campbell head up, Lenay head down. Now as they lay in their isolettes, Lenay's face and Campbell's feet were swollen black and blue.
Both were on IVs for nutrition.
And Campbell had a brain bleed.
The only contact I could have with them was holding their hands for short periods of time. Having the isolette doors open for very long could drop their temperature.
I longed to hold them. I yearned to look each of them over from top to bottom. Hold their little heads in my hands. Stare into their beautiful eyes. Count their tiny fingers and toes.
Irrational as it may seem, I felt so much guilt. I did this to them.
I remember sitting by Campbell's bedside, and the nurse was explaining a priming schedule for feeding and she said, You know. Because they shouldn't have to be doing this yet. They should still be inside you.
She didn't mean anything by it.
I'm sure she had no idea what affect those words had on me.
But as she walked away, I broke down sobbing.
She was right.
They shouldn't have to be doing this yet.
They should still be inside me.
But they aren't.
Instead, they are out in this cruel world, fighting for themselves, and they don't even know what its like to be held by their mom and dad.
My one job was to keep them safe. And I didn't.
I failed them.