I spent the greater part of my life in nursing. I started as an ICU nurse then moved into travel nursing and lived everywhere from the Virgin Islands to the Carolinas. My nursing experience trained me for many situations. However, no clinical education existed to help my wife, Parissa, and me navigate the tumultuous journey of our sons’ birth.
Twice the Excitement
In summer 2021, we went to the Caribbean Islands. It was during this trip that we discovered we were expecting. The timing was perfect, and we spent the rest of our trip radiating about this thrilling news. We were so excited!
Early on, Parissa mentioned her symptoms, like nausea, felt more severe and asked me, “Does anyone have twins in our family?” She playfully thought she was carrying either a larger baby or twins.
At an ultrasound appointment, we told the technician we didn’t want to know the baby’s sex. Turns out it was still too early to tell what the baby’s sex was, but the technician had other news.
The technician shielded the screen and said, “You’re going to have twice as many reasons to be excited. You’re having twins.” Parissa was right, and we were so elated. We later discovered we were having two boys, and our family was finally complete.
The pregnancy was going great until one day when Parissa experienced vaginal bleeding. As new parents, we were afraid — afraid the babies could be hurt. An examination revealed that she experienced a subchorionic hematoma. Our doctors mentioned this can sometimes occur in first or second trimesters, so we left feeling less concerned.
One week later, Parissa thought her water broke, but she didn’t have any other symptoms. Our appointment with our obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) was in a couple days, so we waited, trying to remain optimistic.
Our OBGYN did an ultrasound and that was when our fears were validated. Her water broke at only 14 weeks. We were devastated.
We were referred to a perinatologist, a specialist for high-risk pregnancies. The specialist said the condition Parissa had was previable premature rupture of membranes, a rare condition where a rupture occurs in the amniotic sac. At only 14 weeks, we faced the devastating news that the pregnancy may not be viable and the idea that one of our sons may not survive.
Two options were presented to us — terminate the entire pregnancy or undergo a procedure called selective reduction. This procedure would “reduce” the baby whose water broke, and the mother would carry on with the other child. This was a choice no parent wants to make.
We decided to consider selective reduction. However, both babies still had a heart rate and because of that, the specialist wanted to try and monitor their progress while Parissa was on bedrest. Our family’s future was unknown, but this provided some hope.
Let’s Keep Trying
Parissa continued bedrest for the next five months, which became a challenging part of our journey.
The earlier rupture caused her body to continually produce amniotic fluid. Because of the excess fluid, her water broke daily. She laid in bed, rolled over, or walked, and the fluid gushed out. This was terrifying. We constantly worried that our son who was affected by this rupture wouldn’t have enough amniotic fluid to support his lung development.
Our doctors discussed this risk with us. From the beginning, they said there was a 10% to 15% chance our son who was impacted by the rupture may not survive, and we wouldn’t know until 10 minutes after delivery if he would survive. Everything was beyond our control, and we just wanted to protect our children.
Parissa had begun her bedrest at home, but once she was 22 weeks along, she was admitted to Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns.
Throughout, we appreciated how our wonderful friends provided meals and emotional support. But our supportive medical team also made this experience easier to navigate. Everyone was realistically hopeful, which we appreciated.
While on bedrest, Parissa and I tried to keep our spirits up. We had a board documenting the length of the pregnancy, and we celebrated every single day.
Our nurses would celebrate with us, creating weekly graduation certificates with supportive messages. They were phenomenal, keeping us calm and helping us realize we could get through this. Their knowledge level, attention to detail, and professionalism made a difference.
As time passed, we became more optimistic, and when we passed 30 weeks, we started to feel good again.
There Was No Playbook
Before their birth, we still worried. From the beginning, we had to always “wait and see,” and the delivery was no different. There was no playbook for this scenario. We knew we had one healthy baby boy, but we prayed for two.
At 34 weeks, Parissa had a caesarean delivery. With a multiples caesarean procedure, they name each baby based on their position, so the twin who ruptured was Twin A and his brother was Twin B. Twin A came out first, letting out a loud cry, a sign for strong lungs, then came his brother who did the same.
The twins were moved to an adjacent room, and I kept checking how much time passed. Eventually, over 10 minutes passed, and I finally asked the nurses, “Is he going to make it?” With smiles, they said, “He’s going to be great.”
We named our sons — Leo and Rocky. Leo was Twin B, a beautiful, healthy boy, and Rocky was Twin A, our fighter. We chose Rocky specifically because he wouldn’t give up. After birth, Rocky only required one day with a nasal cannula and a CPAP machine. He was breathing on his own the next day. The worst was over, and we finally could focus on our family.
Cherish Every Moment
My nursing experience provided me with certain clinical insights during this journey, especially at the hospital. I wasn’t intimidated and knew what to ask for. This element helped us stay calm.
As a nurse, that was part of my role with patients — staying calm. I learned that aiding patients’ recovery can involve perspective, confidence, and teaching, and using those skills to support Parissa made an impact.
Our nurses were amazing especially after our sons’ birth. Rocky and Leo stayed in the NICU for two and a half weeks, and my years of nursing experience was great training for this. And while my nursing experience gave me confidence, the nurses still taught me something — every day — from best practices for their care to helping us pick up on the tiniest cues so we became more comfortable. By the time we brought the boys home, I had learned so much.
During our journey, we were presented with so much information, and in the moment — even with an abundance of nursing experience — your mind races, and it can be overwhelming to absorb what you’re being told. I found that writing down questions in advance and having the nurses walk us through each component step by step extremely useful. It alleviated some of our stress.
Our situation was so unique, and I am so grateful for our outcome. Our boys overcame the statistics, and they’re here. Leo and Rocky are now nearly six months old and are doing so well. They’re moving, sleeping through the night, and are so playful.
My mom once said, “Eventually, you’ll learn one day they’ll have their last.” Whether it’s the last time they read a book with you or the last time they play a certain game, it’s important to cherish every moment, and that’s what Parissa and I are doing.
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