As far as newborns go, the girls were super easy. A little scary kind of easy. Dont get me wrong, they were newborns, up every couple of hours. But, they were both breast feeding well, sleeping as well as you can ask, etc. My mom was down here helping me out, and my dad came down on a Friday night for the day to visit. I sent my mom to get a real night sleep at the hotel with my dad and told her that Mark and I could handle the night since Mark didnt have to work on Saturday. Of course, the girls picked that night to be miserable! I figured my "normal" newborns had arrived. All day Saturday they were just a little fussy, but we got through the day. We even decided that we would take the girls to church the following morning. I went to feed them for their 9 PM feed on Saturday night and BOTH of the girls refused to latch. It was so strange. I didnt know what to do. They were only 11 days old and my sister (who had already done this with 2 kids) informed me they were too young for a hunger strike, so I was stuck. I pulled out the pre-made formula that we had swiped from our overnight Vanderbilt jaundice visit the week before and tried that. They took it. Although I was not pleased about the not breastfeeding deal, they had been so fussy all day, I gave in. First rule of twins: Survive.
They refused to latch at midnight feed also, so out came the formula. Ruthie just flat out refused to eat at the next feed. Both girls were miserable through the entire night. I actually fell asleep in our spare bedroom with Maddie on top of me and my mom fell asleep on the lazy boy with Ruthie in the nursery. We were up all night. For the 6 am feed, I woke up to my mom calling me into the nursery. Ruthie felt warm. I broke out my brand new rectal thermometer that I had no idea how to use as a new mom. 102.5 fever. Panic. I took Maddie's temperature. 102.5 fever also. More panic. Paged the pediatrician for the first time. He sent us to Vanderbilt saying we should plan on being there for the night since they hold newborns with temperatures to check for meningitis, etc.
Since we had been to Vanderbilt less than a week before that for jaundice, the staff remembered the twins. They moved us back into a holding area and put the girls in incubators and started the fluid collection. Ruthie first. Her blood draws were the worst. She was 5 pounds, and they couldnt find a vein. I felt like a horrible mother, but I had to leave. They made us leave for the spinal tap anyways. After we came back in, Maddie was sleeping in her incubator in the corner, and Ruthie was mad at the world. Mark took her little finger in his hand and tried talking to her. Mark called the nurse over. Ruthie was squeezing his finger as she started convulsing in rhythm. The doctor came in and looked at her eyes. Seizures. They gave her some anti-seizure meds through her IV and they stopped. By this time her fever had gone down, so we knew they were febrile seizures. Why is my 12 day old having seizures? Convulsing again. Another round of anti-seizure meds through the IV.
It was close to 10 AM and Ruthie was miserable about life in general. I mentioned to the nurses that she really hadnt eaten since her 2 AM feed, so I thought I should at least give it a try. I took her out of her incubator and tried to give her a bottle. No luck. Newborns are floppy anyways, but she went a little limp. I look up at her monitor and I call the nurse. " I think her oxygen monitor came off her foot. It says her her 02 is at 40%". Then the words that ring in my ears still. "She's not breathing! Bag her!". My child is grabbed from my arms and the screaming, crying mother is kindly escorted from the room. I collapsed on the floor in the hall, screaming. My mom just held me praying over and over again, "Please dont let her die, please dont let her die, please dont let her die." They get her breathing again and let me back in. What in the world is going on? No one seems to know. They decided to take Ruthie for a CT. I decide to go with them to get the CT and Mark is going to stay with Maddie. We get half way down the hall and she stops breathing again. They resuscitate her and we wait in the hall a few minutes. They try moving her again and her 02 stats drop. We are left with no other choice but to intabate her and let a machine breathe for her. She is moved up to the Pediatric ICU. We arent able to see her for a little bit while they get everything situated up in PICU, so we stay in the ER with Maddie.
They have not even began any fluid draws on Maddie. They take her blood and urine and try to put in an IV line. We know from our jaundice stay a week ago that she has hard veins to find. Not much has changed in a week, and they finally get the line into her tiny little 5 pound body. Maddie's fever has dropped also. We know a spinal tap is coming, so we are just waiting until they kick us out for that. Maddie starts convulsing. We page the nurse. Seizures. They give her some anti-seizure medication and they stop. She begins convulsing again, but on the opposite side as before. More anti-seizure medication. The doctors were concerned that breathing problems would come next, just like her sister, so they hold off on the stress of a spinal tap. Although she technically should not have been in PICU for just a fever and seizures, they were kind enough to admit her to PICU so that we could have both of our children on the same floor at least. I have a feeling they could see the stress and fear in our eyes.
As they are moving the girls up to the PICU we walk out into the waiting room of Vanderbilt Children's. An entire waiting room of our family and church family from Hillsboro Church of Christ are there waiting for us. It was around 11:30 AM, so they had come over as soon as the "Amen" was said on the closing prayer. They hugged us, they stayed and prayed with us. We had no idea what was going on. Our church family would become a huge part of this story.
That was Day 1 of 10 days.