I doubled over because the pain was so terrible, the hospital admitted us immediately. The doctors and nurses did what they could to try and stop what turned out to be active labor. What I had hoped would be a natural drug free birth became a labor desperately fraught with drugs of any kind that would stop what was impending by any means possible. For three days I laid in a hospital bed in excruciating pain, slowly dilating, terrified of what might be ahead of us, preferring to die in place of those tiny boys inside of me. I didn’t even know if they were viable. I didn’t know what the outcomes might look like; and I was in so much pain I couldn’t even entertain the notion of researching anything because I couldn't think straight. John, unable to have much of a voice in anything at all, tried to stay awake the entire time, tried to do what he could to remediate things, tried desperately to be as supportive as he knew how.
On the third day I was 10 cm dilated and they rushed me to delivery.
As they rolled me down the hallway I howled in fear, the animation of the hospital ceiling playing out before my nonfocusing eyes. Nurses tried to make eye contact. Doctors asked a million questions. Decisions were made. Lots of frantic, life-altering decisions. I cried. John cried. My mom cried. And then, William cried. Then Elliott too.
Each boy was two pounds and change. William approached three pounds, which they assured me was a fantastic size for their gestation, especially given that they were twins. Elliott was closer to the two pound mark and had been transverse (sideways), so they'd had to fish him out of me. They joked that he was trying to swim away from their hands. He had bruises on his legs from where they'd pulled him out (breech).
At midnight John took me to the NICU for the first time, where I saw my tiny charges sleeping in their see-through plastic boxes, wires spiderwebbing around them, machines humming loudly beside their beds. The NICU was loud and active for midnight on a Friday. I looked at their faces, seeing bits and pieces of John and I in their countenances, and still completely unsure of what lay ahead.
On Monday we were told that William's health had deteriorated vastly overnight. And things only got worse. We had to say goodbye to him on Bastille Day, July 14th, 2011, as we each cradled him in our arms. John and I reeled. Life as we had known it was gone. And in its place was a world that was as completely unpredictable as it was uncomfortable and terrifying. So we stayed by Elliott's side, we taught ourselves how to advocate for him, we stuck together, we cried frequently, and we hoped that someday the entire experience would be relegated to memory.