Tuesday, June 4th, we had an 8:30 am appointment with Laurel’s ObGyn Dr. Seet. Laurels blood pressure was high which indicated a risk of preeclampsia. So the doctor sent us to the hospital to get more tests. The next test showed protein in her urine which confirmed a diagnosis of preclampsia. We were admitted to hospital. Her blood pressure and protein blood levels were not that high so the doctors and we thought we would go home the next morning. Laurel got the first of a two course steroid shot in the butt just in case the babies came early. Joel brought his camping pad and sleeping bag over so he could spend the night with Laurel.
Wednesday, June 5th at 1 am. Laurel had very little sleep, Joel had roughly two hours. Laurel woke Joel saying “I think my water broke”. Joel got up and went to get the nurse. The nurse swabbed the fluid and confirmed it was amniotic fluid and her water did break. Laurel was not feeling any contractions but in reality was having beginning ones. Laurel was put on IV fluids and magnesium in the hope to slow down her labor so that she could delay the labor enough to get a second steroids shot. Laurel kept telling the nurses and doctors she had to poop. Doctors and nurses assumed it was the baby trying to be pushed out and said don’t do it. It got worse and worse for her till she finally insisted and they brought a commode. Laurel took a big steamy smelly dump. Turned out it was poop and not the babies. Laurel’s pain and contractions got worse, so they decided to move her to a labor and delivery room around 3 am.
Laurel was very sick from the magnesium and her contractions and stomach pains got way worse. She requested an epidural. It took about an hour to come. And when it came, it didn’t work for about another hour so she was in a lot of pain and wiggling all over and sitting up. Finally the doctor checked to see how she was dilated and saw Griffin’s head. We were whisked away to the operating room for the delivery
5:30 am we were in the operating room with about 20 people. There were 4 Neonatal intensive care unit staff on standby for each of the twins. There was two obgyn’s, their nurses, and an anesthesiologist and his assistant. They put Laurel’s legs up in the stirrups and she continued to have a lot of pain throughout the pushing and the birth of Griffin at 7:08 am under Doctor Bush, the obgyn for him. Griffin James Gross was born 4 pounds 3 ounces and 16 inches long and crying and pinkish grey.
Shortly after Griffin’s birth, Laurel’s cervix and things closed back up and Kate was not really moving along. At this point, most of the staff left except for a resident doctor, and a couple of nurses. The new doctor on hand, Dr. Spielvogel and another doctor took over. Dr. Spielvogel was dealing with another case and the other doctor decided to call for a c-section. People came pouring back in – 4 NICU people, anesthesiologist and assistant and lots of nurses. Dr. Spielvogel came back and reviewed Laurel’s status with a hand in her vagina and said he wanted to try for vaginal birth. Laurel and I were very happy about this. We wanted vaginal births all along. The doctor began giving Laurel Pitocin to get her contractions back. Her contractions came back, but not with the intensity and pain and fast birth like we had with Griffin. Instead these were 2-5 minutes apart. Laurel pushed really hard for two hours. The doctor said he would not do this with most patients but he knew Laurel was tough and strong mentally and physically for it. During contractions, Laurel had to hold her breath for 5-10 seconds and push as hard as possible then get one new breath and then hold and it push again and repeat for 3-8 times. In between contractions, we had nice conversations with the doctor about Laurel’s crew and Joel’s golf and his kite surfing and previous golf experiences. I was incredibly impressed by her championship spirit when after a huge amount of hours awake and delivering one baby in a very painful way, she gave it your all pushing for two hours with a stretched out uterus even though contractions weren’t happening. She impressed doctor Spielvogel so much he decided against c section and stuck through a very intense pushing period for hours.
At 12:50 pm Katherine (kate) Carolyn Gross was born. She was quiet and grey and listless for the first minute. The NICU people went to work and within 5 minutes she was crying and doing quite well. Dad Joel went with Kate at that point to the NICU. Dad was super tired at that point and doesn’t remember a ton other than looking over people’s shoulders and walking long ways to NICU. Dad Joel spent an hour or so with the babies while they were cleaned up and taken care of. Then Joel went back to see how mom was doing when the NICU people said it was ok.
Joel got back near the Operating Room and wasn’t allowed in. They told him they were working on Mom Laurel. He went and sat in the waiting room and started texting people the news. He had been texting his brother Jordan updates on Google Hangouts throughout the process. Dr. Nijat, the head of all the OBGYN’s at the hospital came out and gave Joel this 30 second explanation – “Your wife Laurel was having her placenta cleaned out by the doctors when they discovered her placenta had grown into her uterus and while trying to remove it she started to bleed. She has lost some blood and will be having transfusions now and we need to remove her uterus.” Then he walked away while I started to freak out and get very worried and upset. When the doctor came and told me your uterus had to be removed and you were losing blood, I just about lost it. I sent my text “I love you more than anything” while I sat in the waiting room quietly panicking.
What Laurel remembers is that after Joel left, Dr. Spielvogel could not get her placenta’s to come out by pushing on her stomach. He tried to do a manual extraction by reaching his hand inside to pull them out. After 30 minutes of trying that, he decided to try a DNC procedure in which laurel was put in a twilight sleep. He said it would take 15 minutes. 1.5 hours into the DNC, he and Dr. Nijat who he called in for a second opinion decided they had to do a hysterectomy. She was woken up for 30 seconds. She was told her placentas had grown into her uterus and was losing too much blood. It was a life or death situation and they had decided to do a hysterectomy and was put under general anesthesia.
When Laurel woke up from anesthesia, the very first thing she did was turn to me with the most heartbroken face I’ve ever seen and keep saying I can’t have any more babies and crying. I started to cry just a little but tried to stop myself so I could be encouraging and helpful. I looked up on my phone really quickly about this and saw when they a hysterectomy they may not remove ovaries and you can have surrogate babies in that case. I told Laurel that and tried to reassure her. I think it only partially worked. I asked a nurse if I could talk to the doctor without Laurel to ask this so if he said he took her ovaries he wouldn’t tell her yet. Nurse said no. I did it anyways and pulled him aside. He started to tell me everything and I just said does she have ovaries he said yes, so I grabbed him and we went in to talk to her. He told her the story. He said he did everything he could to save her uterus and brought in the most senior doctor at the hospital for a second opinion. Dr. Nijat, the most senior doctor, put his hand in her vagina and immediately said we need to do a hysterectomy. He said he was very sorry and he knows how incredibly hard she worked for those two vaginal births, but this was the only way to save her life.
Laurel was transferred back to room 274 for recovery and Joel went back to the babies. His memories are spotty after 40 hours without sleep. He remembers sitting with the babies and putting his hand on them to calm them, changing diapers, talking to them, and always being very worried that he was too tired and might squish a baby. He was very afraid of the tiny babies the first night and next day, but since Laurel was recovering from major surgery he knew had to step up and take care of them. He became much more comfortable quickly and had hours of just holding his hand on the babies. The babies were the size of his hand so it was good bonding.
Laurel was very sad she couldn’t bond with the babies right away. She cried when Joel came back about it. Joel held her and talked to her and then we went to sleep finally late that night. I still had my sleeping pad and sleeping bag in her room. The next morning she had to get IVs and catheter and lots of other stuff removed so she was not able to go see the babies till 2, so Joel went and was with them 7 am to a little before noon. Then Laurel and Joel went together for the first time to see the babies with Laurel’s dad and stepmom who had come to see us. It was very emotional and exciting for everyone. Laurel was afraid to touch them at first because they are so small and delicate but became more comfortable quickly. She was crying a lot because she was so worried about the babies.
Fortunately, she still have your ovaries and we can have surrogates and have more babies of our own. And much more importantly, we have two living beautiful and healthy twins.
Laurel has been very emotional throughout this whole incredibly intense experience. She had the wonderful new joy of being a mother to beautiful twins and the loss of her uterus and the emotional loss that she can’t carry babies in the future. She says that was the most emotional experience of her life both mentally and physically. She does think her crew experience helped. You just have to push through and get through tough situations and it’s worth it.
Our twins are strong. They are on bubble cpap to help inflate their air sacs in their lungs