My journey to parenthood was a long one. After 3.5 years of unexplained infertility, countless interventions, and a failed round of IVF, I was pregnant. Not only was I expecting one baby, but it was twins. I was overjoyed and terrified. I had been dreaming of that moment for so long, and yet it was hard to relax and enjoy a high-risk pregnancy. The majority of my pregnancy was uneventful until around 27 weeks. At a routine appointment, signs of pre-term labor were noticed and I was sent across the street to the hospital for an IV and monitoring. Several hours later, I settled into my hospital room for indefinite bed rest. Over the next seven days of hospital bed rest, we did everything possible to stop the babies from coming, while also preparing for the very real possibility that it might not work. On the eighth day, I had finally convinced the doctors that I would continue strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy, at home. One final fetal monitoring stood between me and my own bed. And then, one twin’s heart rate dropped. It continued to do so over the next six hours. I wasn’t going home, and in fact, an emergency c-section was necessary. Several doctors crowded into my hospital room and tried to explain the risks and potential outcomes of delivering at 28 weeks.
Our next stop was the NICU. Our passage through the NICU was not without moments of bliss and despair. I developed an all-day, everyday NICU routine that would become my new normal. We dealt with many of the common health problems associated with prematurity; jaundice, apnea, PDA, and infections. But after about 2 months, both babies were finally ready to come home.
As my twins grew, they loved hearing about their “origin” story and seeing pictures from their babyhood. From the very beginning, this always included discussions of life in the NICU, explaining that they were born early and were very small and needed additional time in the hospital to grow. I thought a book would be a nice supplement to the conversations we were having, so I set out to find a book about the NICU. I was looking for something that was a simple introduction to the NICU, was developmentally appropriate for younger toddlers, and reframed the NICU experience from scary to positive. But I couldn’t find anything I loved, so I decided to write one myself. My children enjoyed the book, we read it over and over to the point that they memorized it. I began to get requests for the book from friends and family. I thought that if this is something that helped my kids, perhaps others can benefit from it as well.
I decided to start Me Two Books, an organization that uses books as an educational tool to help children recognize differences in themselves and others and to embrace it. My first book, I Was a Preemie Just Like You celebrates what young preemies went through, and reminds them that they are not alone. I know that one of the things that I enjoyed while my kids were in the NICU was reading to them. It made me feel like a “normal” parent and I could block out all the noise and imagine that I sitting in my children’s nursery reading to them instead of a hospital. It helped me forget about the stress, if at least temporarily. I would have loved to be able to read my preemies a book about being a preemie.
My journey to parenthood has been so much more than I expected.
It has changed my life, my career, and my passion. Having preemie twins changed me forever, and for the better.