Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Boys!

The boys turned 1 today. Our only plans were to go to the hospital and say hello to the staff. We’re regulars at the NICU—I’m around at least once a month for committee meetings, so the doctors and nurses always get the latest news on the twins. It just seemed right to make a victory tour.

In 2009, 7800 babies were born at Alta Bates. You think that they wouldn’t remember us down on the Labor & Delivery floor. You’d be wrong. I think it was the combination of mono-amniotic/mono-chorionic twins plus the births at 25 weeks plus almost-New-Years-Eve. Everyone remembered us. Some even by name.

Our first stop was the nurses in the antepartum ward. The nurses don’t remember me so well (not even as the person who brought chocolate chip cookies on Christmas Eve for the night shift) but they all remembered Matt. Maybe because he spent every night in Antepartum 12 with me. I think he even had his own shelf in the ward’s refrigerator, filling it up with pepper crusted beef and fresh Straus Family milk from Whole Foods—the desperate culinary requests from a pregnant wife.

The first person we saw was the doctor who’d given the boys their Apgar scores. She knew us well. She was the doctor who decided that the boys would have the ligation surgery three weeks after they were born and the doctor who helped us pick a pediatrician. Next we saw my favorite nurse, Mariann, whose grandson is the same adjusted age as the boys.

Everyone said the same thing: “I was just thinking of you today!”

I had called ahead to see if the doctor who delivered the twins was working today. She was. (Actually, there were nine doctors there in the room when the twins were born. Three for each of the boys and three for me.) This doctor was the one who called the shots and wrote up the report.

She was floored to see what the twins looked like a year later. And so happy! You would have thought that I had just given her a check from Publisher’s Clearing House.

“You just made my year,” she told us, more than once. She couldn’t stop smiling.

“We never see this. We know that most of them do pretty well when they go up there [on the 4th floor], but we never know…” she trailed off.

Every once in awhile I do a good deed (like those Christmas Eve cookies—which Matt baked, not me), but the simple act of showing the attending obstetrician that her handiwork resulted in two miracles with stellar health—twins born three months ahead of schedule, one with the umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck, the other with a knot in his—feels like the best gift I have ever given. Who would have thought.

I’m glad she knows. I’m glad she knows that miracles happen and that she was at the starting line.

Wagner and Michael in their matching Penn State onesies from Cousin Lawrence

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Memories of Last Year: Sneaking Suspicions

Last year this time Matt and Chiara were in Tampa. I was at home addressing Christmas cards and watching back-to-back episodes of “Celebrity Rehab.” I was 24 weeks pregnant. I had just finished writing and posting “Survivor Mom,” my most-read blog post in the whole blog,* blithely anticipating the chaos that would ensue following the twins’ arrival.

*I get about a hit a day on this post. Judging by my stats info, it’s getting emailed around. 2nd and 3rd place go to the two posts following “Survivor Mom.” Worth mentioning is that in 4th place, very close behind, is the post on the “Michael & Wagner Kovac Christmas Gift Drive.

Before they made the trip I called my doctor to make sure it would be OK for my husband to be so far away from me. The nurse laughed to reassure me.

“Don’t worry. You are not going to go into labor at 24 weeks. I mean, never say never, but the chances are so small that I can say it’s just not going to happen.”

She reminded me that my high-risk condition: monoamniotic/monochorionic twins had nothing to do with early labor. The only reason the boys would be born between 28 and 34 weeks—in other words, premature—would be to prevent cord entanglement. But I had absolutely no factors that put me at risk for early labor.

“If anything,” the nurse continued. “You’ll get more rest with your husband and two-year-old away.”
I did get more rest. I went to two holiday parties. I read some books. I started to sort through the six trash bags of baby clothes that folks from the ballet studio had given us.

I was sooooo tired. And sooooo huge. I was starting to feel the babies move, starting recognize one movement as the Red Baby and another as the Blue Baby. And I kept pushing away the thought that I was feeling very much the way I had felt in the weeks leading up to Chiara’s birth. But that was impossible. It had to be my imagination. After all, I was only five and a half months pregnant.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Michael and Wagner Kovac Christmas Gift Drive

Little did I know it, but a year ago today I was about two weeks away from having very premature baby boys.  I spent Christmas and New Years in the hospital and the boys were born the night before New Year’s Eve

I’m grateful that Matt was able to stay with me in the hospital every night.  I’m grateful that my brother and his girlfriend could stay with Chiara to make this happen.  I’m grateful to the family and friends who visited, sent presents, made phone calls, and kept us in their prayers.  I’m grateful that I got such fabulous care.  And I’m grateful that as the twins approach their first birthday, that they are thriving.

Now it’s time for me to give back.

My niece and I have started a gift drive similar to the Loki Sky and Friends Gift Drive.  Loki Sky and Friends gives gifts to new parents who will spend the holidays in the NICU.  Our gift drive will benefit chemo patients at Grandpa’s hospital in Florida. 

Here’s what we have planned:
For the patients: great tote bags from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Socks and a snuggly blanket—while supplies last!

For the families of patients and for the doctors and nurses who have provided such great care: A “Tower of Treats,” an assortment of goodies, probably from Target.

All that plus hand made cards from the kids in my niece’s neighborhood.

Wanna be a part of it?  You can.  Here’s how:

We’ve set up a registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond:

We’re “Michael & Wagner Kovac Christmas Gift Drive.”  The tote bags will be mailed to Grandpa & Grandma.  You can also send gift cards (BB&B or Target) to their address.  Email me if you need the address. 

It’s the best kind of Christmas giving!  Fast, easy, inexpensive, and fits the need. We'd be so honored and grateful if you helped us help others.

Take care and take naps,
the East Bay Kovacs