A Bit of Wallpaper

I didn’t sleep at all the night before Foster’s surgery. I laid awake and prayed. I prayed until the words wouldn’t make sense anymore. Yes, it was much less complicated without brain tissue, yes the surgeon was wonderful and experienced, yes the anesthesia was perfectly safe for our little one, yes the best team was surrounding our little boy at this very moment. But I wanted God on my side. I wanted him to guide the surgeon more than I wanted my next breath.

Moms and dads out there understand. It doesn’t make sense to some people but I’d give my life to ensure my boys had the best of chances and a healthy life. Parents know what I’m saying. Those tiny beings rely on you for everything. This little boy’s life was out of my hands and into God’s. All I could do was pray He would give me the grace I needed to handle His plan for Foster.

We went downstairs to meet Dr G one last time and see our little boy off to surgery.

Dr G explained that he didn’t see any brain matter in the cyst and that he expected a hour or two long surgery. He was most concerned about Foster’s skin being thick enough to sew over the hole in his skull. Once he was able to open it up he would know exactly how to proceed. We thanked him and he walked away. I doubt there was a moment when I wasn’t crying. I just refused to let the tears fall.

I held the tears in. I sucked it up and scrubbed my hands so I could touch my sweet little boy. I couldn’t hold him and he looked so tiny in the big bed with three ivs sticking out of him, plus a ventilator, oxygen monitor, heart rate monitor, temperature monitor and others I can’t even remember.

I sat in my wheel chair (that I wasn’t too proud to use after surgery) and cupped my tiny baby and said a prayer with my husband over him.

I also have a confession.

I don’t watch sad movies.

I read the ending of suspenseful books to avoid disappointment.

I refuse to watch any movie where an animal dies.

I cringe if I hit a bird in my car.

I tell Gavin not to tell me if he hits a animal in his car.

I make him take out the mouse traps.

I’ll even scoop up a lady bug to put her outside. (Yes all lady bugs are girls in my head)

I am a rainbows and sunshine kind of girl.

I was terrified that my little boy would leave his earthly parents.

Over the past two days I felt myself afraid to go to Foster’s bed. He and Beckett were on different sides of the NICU as they hadn’t had the opportunity to move them next to each other. I was scared of going there and seeing my little boy going downhill. I was scared of going to his bed and finding out that he had passed away in the middle of the night. I was scared to go over to Foster and find that I was so attached to this little being that I would fall into a depression when the doctors told me that something went wrong during his surgery.

There. I said it. I was hesitant to go over and see my youngest son because in my crazy post partum brain it was a defense mechanism against having my heart broken.

I couldn’t handle it. I am an anticipator as a old boss of mine would call me. I want to anticipate and prevent for whatever I can. I want to look ahead and think of problems that need solved and solve them now. I refuse to go through something that is unnecessary when I could prevent it. In my head if I stayed away from Foster, I might not have as much pain if he passed away.

This is completely ridiculous. My heart would be broken anyway.

They came to take my son to surgery. And I lost it. Not in the big loud sobbing kind of way, but in the stoic and silent kind of way. Constant tears running down my face and I sat like a statue in the wheel chair next to an empty spot in the NICU. I watched the staff wheel him away and his nurse followed after comforting me with a detailed description of what to expect. But I still cried. Emotionless and empty but with tears streaming down and wetting my collar.

Gavin and I went over to Beckett’s bed and decided I needed to go upstairs and pump. We kissed our middle son goodbye and Gavin delivered me upstairs and went to grab some breakfast outside the hospital.

I pumped for about 10 minutes when Gavin came back in with a funny look on his face.

“We need to go downstairs.”

“Why? I’m not done here.” I was confused.

“The doctor called and told me to go downstairs at Beckett’s bed and they would tell us how surgery went. They’re done already.” Gavin set down the brown bag with our breakfast and grabbed the wheelchair.

My heart sank. Y’all it SANK.

I just knew something terrible happened. I just knew our little boy had something terrible happen to him. He may not have even been alive.

I stopped all my pumping and scrambled into the chair.

We nervously sat next to Beckett as Dr G walked up to us.

“It went very well, much faster than I anticipated.”

We breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“He actually had no fluid interaction between the meningocele and the skull. There was a thin membrane, almost like wall paper, that was over the skull that kept the two separated. Foster won’t even need to follow up with a neurologist. He shouldn’t have any issues developmentally. The hole in his head should close over time. I just cut the cyst and stitched the skin to his head and it went very well and very quickly. The skin didn’t have any problem adhering to his head.” Dr G explained the basics of the surgery as we sat there just listening.

So at some point in his time in the womb, a small layer had formed over the hole and ensured that Foster’s brain wouldn’t be affected in any way. There was no possible way to tell this before he was born or before surgery.

My sweet little boy had a twenty minute surgery and he was all fixed. He was all better. He wasn’t hardly at much risk in the first place, but we didn’t know that. Foster’s body had, at some point, fixed itself. There was little to no risk to our sweet boy and all his surgery turned out to be was cosmetic. That wasn’t what we were told at 12 weeks, that wasn’t what we were told at any time leading up to this day. We were told to expect a difficult situation, to make plans for a child with disabilities. The statistics didn’t say tat everything would be ok. But God did. All that worry and the situation was entirely in hand already. God’s hands.

I thanked God the second Dr G left. We went over to Foster’s bed and we saw him from a distance. He didn’t even need a blood transfusion. He lost 1 cc of blood which wasn’t even enough to make much of a stain during surgery. He had a small piece of gauze over his neck and they told us to go rest or catch up on sleep while they hooked him back up, but all his vitals were good and he hardly needed the pain medication prescribed for him.

Gavin and I smiled and hugged each other, shocked that this morning was nearing 8:30 and we had gotten such good news about our precious little boy.

We said goodbye to both our boys and we went back to our hospital room.

Gavin started making a few calls to family to tell them how surgery went and I settled into bed.

I slept like a baby till late afternoon.img_2999

Out Of My Hands

The hours following my delivery of our two boys were a blur. They wheeled me back to my labor and delivery room and I waved to my dad, my mom, and our pastor on the way past. All were very proud of me and excited to hear how the boys cried loudly after their birth.

My legs were still numb and I couldn’t feel much of anything below my chest. Immediately I felt so tired and worn out. The first hours post partum are critical to establishing a milk supply. With our first son, Rowan, I exclusively pumped for 8 months due to difficulty with Rowan’s latch. I was very familiar with the pump and how things worked. They set it up for me and I nearly fell asleep as the whir of a pump filled my ears. Gavin came back and reported on the boys for me. They were stable and doing well. They needed respiratory assistance and would be intubated soon. I nodded and laid my head against the pillow, begging for something to wet my mouth. Ice chips were enough for me as my stomach revolted at the thought of food.

Soon my time in labor and delivery was up and they wheeled me to the NICU to see my precious little boys. I was able to hold Beckett for a brief time but all I wanted to do was hold both my babies and go to sleep. Apparently thats not recommended to fall asleep holding premature little babies. They wheeled me over to Foster and I looked from a distance at my teeny little boy. Most of what they said to me went right over my head. Obstetrics is what I was used to talking about and this intensive care stuff was definitely a different field of medicine that I knew nothing about.

They wheeled me to my old room on 4 Women’s and I began my recovery. I avoided most food until later that night and dozed off and on. Mostly I asked about the boys and rested but didn’t sleep as the medication wore off and in between pumpings.

I had made it. My goal and job was mostly done. I would pump what I could to feed those little boys but they were on their own. It was up to them to fight for their little lives. It was a feeling of helplessness and great accomplishment.

The next day I felt better but was still tired and still needing strong medication. I did my best to get up and walk. Gavin held my hand and let me steady myself on his shoulder. He changed my socks for me and even helped me put up my hair. I begged for a shower and Gavin stood in the bathroom as I fumbled around with the hot water, trying to feel clean again. He was my solid rock that I leaned on. He ran to the vending machine and grabbed his weepy wife a Dr Pepper and relayed important information about the boys that I asked him to repeat about 20 different times in a row so my medicated brain could understand and process. He washed pumping parts and even held in a couple of jokes that surely would have stretched my incision. What a guy.

We made trips to the NICU, asking the nurses to explain again what desatting meant and what the heck was in a TPN iv fluid. The neonatologist in charge of our boys, Dr D kindly explained what the procedure was and that the boys were holding steady. We asked the dreaded question.

When was Foster’s surgery?

Dr D told us that Dr G would be by shortly to inform us of what the process would be for Foster. Dr G ordered another MRI to get good images of the meningocele and scheduled surgery for 7:00 am Wednesday morning. We spoke with the anesthesiologist and signed consent forms.

The next morning would be the most critical of our year. We didn’t sleep one little bit.

October 17th

October is a busy month in our family. Fall harvest is in full swing, we are taking cattle off of summer pasture, working all those cattle, weaning all the calves, and this year we added having twins to the list!
Delivery while under monitoring is almost like any other day, except at the end of the day there are babies to hold and see. In my case, it started the night before delivery. The doctors ordered monitoring the night before. This means I have the hockey puck shaped monitors strapped to my stomach THE WHOLE NIGHT and into the morning. I had been through this and knew from experience that sleep is rare when your twins refuse to sit still for the monitors. Yep, they take after their father.
After having packed the necessities for my scheduled c section, I had my “last meal”. In my case, a chicken salad sandwich and a Dunkin Donut, glazed chocolate of course. I figured why not get those babies to gain an extra ounce or two before delivery. I was definitely hoping that donut would go to them and not to me.
Protocol was to wheel me down, which I hate. I feel like an invalid. Now there is nothing wrong with a wheelchair at all, but when I’m a perfectly healthy pregnant woman and needing someone to push me along, I feel like a big fat faker. I didn’t need this chair! In one of my attempts to get up I cut my toe. Another attempt dropped my bag on the floor.
“Sit in the chair missy!” My sweet nurse Jerri, directed me.
I sat.
Maybe it was nerves, perhaps worry about having a cesarean section. Whatever the case I was a nervous wreck. I asked for an Ambien (sleeping pill) before they wheeled me downstairs. They put an order in. I grabbed my pillow tight and Jerri wheeled me downstairs with Gavin following behind, who was ready to pass out for the night.
I was wide awake as could be. Room 6 loomed in front of me, ready for my last stay in labor and delivery. Jerri hugged me goodbye and I met my evening nurse. Gavin walked to the couch and set up his bed for the night. Despite not getting any sleep the night before, there was no way I could close my eyes, even with my satiny sleep mask. I put on the hospital gown and took the nightly medication, including the Ambien, and the nurse strapped my monitors on and the babies immediately rebelled. They started their nightly ritual of running from the monitors.
Gavin gradually fell asleep and I chatted with the nurse about my last night here. I detailed my journey and lamented the fact that the babies would never stay still. The nurse reminded me that this would be the last night I was pregnant with twins and I should enjoy it. I bit my lip.
My last night? My last night. It was. I couldn’t believe the day had finally come. I slipped on my sleep mask and the nurse went to attend her other patients. I laid in the bed listening to their heart beats and savoring the last moments of their many kicks and prods. My last night pregnant with my twins. It was scary and exciting all at once.
Morning eventually came and the day went on. They checked my IV and started fluids. They readied the gurney I would be wheeled to the operating room on. My nurse ran around getting things ready and answering my many questions. Gavin looked at me and said he needed food.
“Don’t bring that back here. I’ll smack you. I’m hungry enough as it is.” I said in a playful yet very serious tone. This NPO (nothing by mouth) crap is for the birds.
“You’re strapped to that bed. I don’t think I have to worry about you smacking me.” Gavin mocked me from a safe distance. I threw my satin mask at his retreating back.
My lovely mother came in ready and excited to see us off to surgery. We all joked and chatted and another friend of mine walked in. I met Emerald during my hospital stay where we were both patients on 4 Women’s. I jokingly refer to her as my “twin” sister, as we both were pregnant with twins. There were many hours of watching birthing shows, drinking hot chocolate, and bugging the nurses with our incessant chatting between Emerald and I. We compared notes on our pregnancies and what we missed about the “outside world”. We definitely became family as we supported each other through deliveries and whatever else life on the fourth floor threw at us. Emerald was there when I needed someone and I was there for her. It only made sense that my support group would include her.
We sat and debated about cesarean sections and how I would feel after. We made bets on who would come out first. Dr. C came in and we asked him who he thought would be first out. Then we decided that since Dr. C would be the one to decide which baby would come out first that we didn’t want to make a bet with him. He would have a bit of an advantage. Dr. C asked if I had any last minute concerns, I shook my head, completely confident in his abilities and ready to meet my boys. Dr C left to do another c section before attending mine. The nurse continued to bustle around and things began to get more serious.
The nurse got a call and heard that the OR was ready for us now. I started to get nervous and excited. Gavin scrubbed up. I put my hair up and reapplied my lip chap in a nervous habit.
This was it. 7 months of waiting for this day. I would meet our boys and all I could do was hope they were happy and healthy.
Gavin and I said a prayer together and they wheeled me off with Gavin next to me, cracking jokes about having gurney races.
15 people stood in the OR ready to get me drugged up. Gavin stayed close by as I squeezed his hand as they injected my epidural. I said silent prayers during each stage, hoping things would go well and my boys would be ok. Dr C and Dr K came in as I was prepped and ready to go. Dr K was my resident physician who checked with me daily and monitored my progress. I’m sure she was as excited as I was to see both of our first set of mono mono twins. They tested my epidural one last time and Dr C assured me things would go well. After they put the sheet up my anesthesiologist kept me informed of what was happening. Did he need to? Absolutely not, but he was very kind to let me know what was going on. I was nervous and drugged and couldn’t believe what was happening. The lights were bright and the monitors were beeping steadily. I introduced myself to all the staff and joked as much as I could to keep my emotions at bay. I have pretty bland jokes as defense mechanisms when I feel too emotional. They laughed at my bad jokes anyway. The moment came. They pulled the first baby out.
Beckett William Ezell was born at 11:32 am on October 17th, 2016 weighing 3 pounds and 15 ounces, measuring 16 inches long. He immediately started to cry as they moved him to the incubator to suction and assess him.
Foster Anthony Ezell was born shortly after at 11:34 am on October 17th, 2016 weighing 3 pounds 12 ounces, measuring 15 and 3/4 inches long. He also started to cry his little lungs out. They arrived in style for sure. Their little lungs were not as strong as Rowan’s when he was born so their cries sounded much quieter but were just as thrilling to hear.
Gavin followed over to the incubators to look at the babies. I had silent tears running down my face as I joked that there really were two babies in there. My boys were here. The rest became a bit of a blur as they increased my medication once more and started to finish the surgery. I was able to take a couple pictures of the umbilical cord via one of the nursing students in the room. He was kind enough to photograph the cord that caused my babies so many problems but also gave them their life blood.
I won’t share a picture on here because its a bloody looking rope and can make someone very squeamish, like it did my iron stomach husband. Suffice to say that it looked like someone twisted a bunch of rope and tied three or four knots at the very top to make one large knot, my babies has inches of wiggle room past the massive knot the size of my fist. I truly know that God watched over them and got them to their 32 week goal. Knots in their cord, they still survived. Braided cord, they still survived. I was the recipient of a miracle in so many ways, I couldn’t count them all.

My boys, Beckett and Foster were evidence of the greatest miracle I’ve ever been a part of.