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Ford and Wyatt - 28 weeks, 6 days

On the morning of Thursday, January 17, 2013 I was getting ready for work when my water broke. Under normal conditions this would be an exciting event. However, in this case, I had yet to start my third trimester. I laid on the ground with a towel not knowing what to do. My husband proceeded to rush me to the hospital. My obstetrician doubted that my water could have broken; I had thus far experienced a pregnancy without warning signs. After reading the test results, she looked at me and said, “Well…your water did break.” I waited for her to keep talking, but she continued to look at me with an expression that implied that there was no way to fix the problem and that this was not a good problem to have.

I broke down at this point – no one wants to hear that their water has broken when they should have months of pregnancy in front of them. It turned out, Baby A’s (Ford’s) amniotic sack had ruptured also known as PPROM - occurring in less than 3% of pregnancies. The cause is unknown. Infection is thought to be a potential culprit; however, I tested negatively for this. At this point, no one could tell me why this happened or what was going to happen.

The doctors prepared for the worst – potential and likely delivery to occur that day. I was put on magnesium, thought to slow contractions and help protect the babies’ brains, along with steroids, to accelerate the babies’ lung development. I was in complete shock at this point.

My doctor calculated exact gestation to be 25 weeks and 4 days. I faced the realization that — at any moment — I could potentially deliver babies that might not survive and if they did would likely face many risks associated with not being fully developed. Several doctors were on the scene that day including a neonatologist whom provided us with a printout of the frightening statistics for babies delivered at this maturity. I will never forget the words of a high-risk obstetrician indicating that if the babies were born that day they would each face a 50/50 chance of being entirely “OK”.

I remember lying there with heart rate monitors on my stomach listening to the heart beats of my babies. In this moment I felt entirely helpless. No one could do anything to help my babies.

Scared doesn’t describe it. In this moment, there on the hospital bed, listening to the rythm of gentle heartbeats, I have never felt so dependent on God – praying for his grace, compassion, love, and faithfulness.

As the day progressed, despite being entirely out of my hands, the goal was to stay pregnant. My first goal was to make it 12 hours, secondly 24 hours to allow for the steroids to maximize in effectiveness. 36 hours passed. 48 hours passed. 72 hours passed. Every hour and, in turn, day was a victory as it gave Ford and Wyatt more time to develop and prepare for the harsh reality of an early delivery.

I remember being scared to move as Ford, the twin with the ruptured amniotic sac, was positioned low, towards my left hip. I hated to think that I could cause any pressure on him, as he had lost cushion of the sac.

Again, there was no way to control when I would go in to labor. We eventually made it to 26 weeks, followed by 27 weeks. I wouldn’t take the heart rate monitors off day or night. I wanted to make sure that we caught any sustained dip in heart rate if the babies were distressed. The twins were also monitored by ultrasound every few days and were subject to tests for movement, practice breathing, etc…

The hospital staff unanimously emphasized that 28 weeks would be a milestone as risks significantly dropped. At this point, I was so thankful for each day; however, when I thought of a goal (for example 28 weeks), I realized that despite reaching it, the babies would still be extremely premature. It was like having a goal to save $15 when what you want costs $20. Even if I made it this far…would it be enough?

Risks went down each day, but they were still there. Over analysis made Matt and I feel hopeless at times. We had to constantly remind ourselves that the situation was in God’s hands, and that these were His babies. It was only when we trusted Him that we felt peace.

It was on the 6th day after the 28th week, one day shy of 29 weeks, that I started to feel unusual cramping in the afternoon. This cramping developed into minor contractions. My OB decided to re-introduce magnesium and steroids in case I was going into labor. While things seemed to subside toward the evening, I fell asleep only to awake an hour later to escalating contractions. My doctor had me labor until there was a change in my cervix to rule out braxton hicks. Six hours later, it was safe to say that I was in fact laboring. I can’t describe the feeling of unwillingly going into labor. Something that should be so special felt so terrifying.

I was taken to the operating room for a C-Section. Three spinal taps later, I was numb (the needle broke off in my back on attempt two). I lost a lot of blood due to an internal, vertical incision on my uterus, coming close to needing a transfusion. All of this paled in comparison to the fear of whether or not my babies would be OK.

I remember hearing their first cries and looking at Matt. They were the smallest, sweetest cries I had ever heard. These babies that I had felt so close to over the last few weeks by simply watching their heart rates and feeling them move now became so real.

I wasn’t able to see them as they were rushed to the NICU for stabilization. Mu husband followed a team of about 10 doctors and nurses to watch. He will have to write his own story of the experience. I really admire the courage that he had.

I was wheeled into the NICU about an hour later to see my babies for the first time. The amount of equipment in place only allowed for me to see small portions of their faces as I looked through the glass incubator. Regardless, they were the most beautiful things that I had ever seen. I hated seeing them struggle to breathe despite the support.

I hated the fact that I couldn’t have given them more time.

In total, after my water broke, I spent 3 1/2 weeks on bed rest prior to the delivery of Ford and Wyatt. Leaving the hospital without the babies, empty handed, was difficult. However, I didn’t leave with an empty heart. They spent about 2 months in the NICU. I was allowed to visit each day. For now, I will say that it was a long, long road. I will write more about this and potentially post pictures from the experience at a later time.

I now have these two gifts from God home with me. I thank Him for the health that they have. I love them so much, and it sickens me to think that there was even a chance that I could have lost them.

While I had a successful career I knew God wanted me to be at home with my babies. I spent the first couple years of their life spending every second with my boys. I developed and affinity for photography and spent hours taking pictures of my babies. I was so proud of them and felt so blessed to be their mother. I was proud of my preemies and that they fought so hard. I was thankful to God and those that helped Ford and Wyatt. I wanted to do something to express my thanks, to help others, but what? My preemies were now walking and talking. They were big. What could I do?

One day I found myself looking at the preemie onesies Ford and Wyatt wore home from the hospital. We were told by staff at the hospital they had been donated. The onesies provided by the hospital were the preemie equivalent to a hospital gown. So, someone took it upon themselves to donate more comfortable and patterend onesies to children in the NICU. As I held the onesie I noticed as small stain and tiny tear in the sleeve. I thought to myself – this was their NICU uniform – this was their fight shirt.

Over the coming months I bought and printed hundreds of onesies with the slogan “This is my fight shirt”. We donated our onesies to local hospitals in our hometown. It made me feel good to know that parents who are going through such a difficult time could look down at their precious little babies and know they were fighting together. The onesies serve as a token, a badge of honor and a reminder to former preemies that they came into this world swinging.

As my boys began to grow their boyness began to show through. I began to identify with other mothers who were raising boys. It was like a badge of honor. Soon, the Raising Boys tee was born. I struggled to share it with others. It was a leap of faith to market it on Instagram – I did it more so out of a dare. Soon friends and acquaintances began asking if they could buy one.

Our brand, Ford and Wyatt was born and like our boys it has grown. Today, we offer Raising Boys, Raising Girls, Raising Legends, Raising Babes, Raising Tomorrow United Motherhood, Chaos Queen, Life with Boys, Mamma Love, Mamma’s My Girl and of course, by special order, our Fight Shirt.

Today we pride ourselves on creating clothing and apparel that honors the next generation and the women raising them.

Ford and Wyatt are thriving. My heart goes out to anyone that has undergone a similar or more challenging experience. I have learned that a life of trusting God is far superior to taking on burdens alone.