The Birth Story

Our babies are almost 6 months old and I still haven't recorded their birth story.  It's not fresh on my mind anymore and we all know that the story ends with these two darling babies...

 but I really want to at least get the chain of events down so I can remember it and tell Spencer and Madi about it in the future.  I love that every woman has a different experience with pregnancy and labor.  I think it is really fitting that we all have our own unique experience because having children is such a life-changing experience and each individual child is so unique.

Also, a short disclaimer, this is the longest post I have EVER written.

So, without further adieu.... 
It was Tuesday, March 26th and I had a routine check-up at the specialist's office at 10am.
At that point in my pregnancy I was having doctors appointments at least once a week.  
One with the specialist to do an ultrasound/Biophysical profile on the babies to check their overall health and another with my OB to check on my health and dilation.
I had been feeling great that day and had plans to meet up with one of my best friends, Becky, for lunch after my appointment.  I went through the usual routine with the ultrasound tech (I got to know her pretty well since I was there on a weekly basis!) but at one point in the ultrasound she got really quiet and kept examining one area with the monitor.

I knew something was up. I had been through this before when they initially put me
on bed rest because of preterm labor and dilation.
Thankfully, instead of continuing to sit there in silence and scare the bajeebees out of me
my ultrasound tech calmly said something to the degree of,
"I'm noticing some concerns with the way your uterus is looking and the amniotic fluid level of your baby girl. I'm going to go get the specialist and we'll take a closer look."

At that point I was feeling pretty nervous.
Marty was at work because this was just another routine check-up and he couldn't take time off for all of my many many appointments.
So I said a frantic little silent prayer asking God to let everything be OK and to let my babies be safe.
Several minutes later they came in and had me get my things together to move me to a consultation room. At that point I was really starting to get nervous because I knew they do that when something is "up."

As I sat in the small little consultation room all by myself my emotions really started to pick up.  I could feel the tears coming and I just wanted Marty to be there to hug me, hold my hand and be his calm self to help me recognize that everything was going to be OK.

I had a special experience and said another silent prayer, but this time I felt prompted to just ask for peace.
I immediately felt warmth and calmness come over me.
I knew that the specialist was going to come in and tell me that today would be the
 day we'd welcome our babies into the world.
My emotions changed from fear to faith.
I felt joy in knowing that our babies would be here soon and we'd get to love on them and hold them!
I also remembered that the babies were both looking very healthy at each of my appointments in the past and that I had made it to 36 weeks, which was awesome for twins.
I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for such an immediate answer to prayer.
My experience sitting in that tiny little room was really special and I am so thankful for the peace that overcame me because that set the tone for the rest of the adventure ahead of me.

Soon thereafter the specialist came in with a big smile on his face and said, "Well, are you ready to meet those babies? Because they're coming today!"
I almost squealed in excitement...actually, I think I really did.
He then proceeded to explain that the amniotic fluid levels on our baby girl were low enough to be of concern, but not so low that it would constitute an emergency.  He also explained that there were signs of my placenta beginning to detach...which is not good while the babies are in there.  He reassured me that I did not need to panic and that by delivering me today we would be preventing some potentially very dangerous situations.  And he confirmed that I would be getting a c-section, which I was already preparing myself for mentally because both babies had been breach for the last couple of months. So he told me to call my husband, go home and grab my hospital bag and head on over to the Labor and Delivery unit!  Woo hoo!  These babies were coming soon!!!

So I got my stuff together and carefully but quickly made my way to the parking lot because I didn't get service in the doctor's office building to call Marty!  It seemed like it took me FOREVER to get out of the building and it felt so funny passing by people in the building who had no clue that my life was going to change drastically that very day! I seriously wanted to tell every person I saw that I was going to go have my babies!  But I thought that I should probably tell Martin first :)

So I finally made it to the car and immediately called Martin.  He picked up the phone and I got all choked up as I said, "Are you ready to be a daddy?"  We were both so excited.  I explained to him what was going on and told him to get his stuff together because I was coming to pick him up from work!

After I got off the phone with my handsome husband I quickly called my mom to tell her and my dad to hurry and get in the car to come see their grand-babies (they were driving from Colorado).
 I got all choked up again as it started to sink in that our children would be with us so soon - ahhh what a blessing and how exciting!
Then I called Becky to let her know that I wouldn't be able to make it to lunch for the best reason in the world.  Becky and I were so excited because she was moving out of the country in less than a week and now she would be able to meet the babies before leaving!
Then, as I waited in the parking lot of Martin's work, I sent a quick text to our family members to let them know that the babies were coming!  I just wanted to share the news with everyone!

Martin hurried into the car and we drove home to grab our things.  At home I kept on wanting to clean and tidy up because I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that the next time we would be
here we would have two babies in our arms.

Before we got in the car to head to the hospital Marty gave me a priesthood blessing of comfort.  In our religion, a priesthood blessing is a special prayer that someone who has the priesthood (Martin) says on behalf of someone in need of comfort, healing, or special counsel.  It is basically calling upon God to bless us with his love and power.  After Marty gave me a blessing we took a minute to smile and hug each other and soak up the last few moments of our family being just the two of us.

We made our way to the hospital (which was only about a mile away from our home in Minnesota) and I got all checked in, changed into my awesome hospital gown, and settled into our room.  By this time it was about 12:30pm.  Now it would just be a waiting game for when the doctor would be available to perform my c-section.  While we waited we called family members, watched tv, read, tried to take a nap, and reminisced on how quickly the time had passed and that we were actually at this point we talked about for so long.

I was hooked up to lots of monitors this whole time - one for each baby's heart beat and one monitoring my contractions (because it turns out I was contracting fairly regularly but didn't feel any of them). I was lucky enough to have an awesome nurse who was so helpful and sweet.  She reminded me SO much of a dear friend of mine from college (Mary Louise) who played a pivotal role in my life so it was so wonderful to have a nurse like that.

We were originally told that I would probably get my c-section around 4 or 5pm, but it kept on getting pushed back. Surprisingly, and thankfully, the time seemed to fly by.
Around 8pm the nurses came in to start prepping me for the surgery and by 8:45 I was rolling down the hallway in my wheelchair to go have these babies!  Marty got all dressed in his scrubs and was taken to a room where he would wait to be brought in to be by my side for the c-section.

Martin watching the time as he anxiously waited to go into the surgery room

I was a little nervous about getting the spinal block because I had a bad reaction to anesthesia-type medicines in the past, but I was honestly so stinkin' excited to see our babies that I really didn't think much of it.  It wasn't painful and it kicked in really quickly.  The lower half of my body felt so weird.  The best way I can describe it was that it felt like your foot or hand does when it "falls asleep," but at a more intense level.
I got all situated on the surgery table and they put up the big ol curtain just below my shoulders.  Then they strapped my arms down (which they do for everyone as a precautionary measure) and then Marty came in and it was game time!

The anesthesiologist stood by my head and gave us the play by play of everything that was going on.  I really liked this because I couldn't feel a thing and I wanted to be able to remember something about the moment our children were born.  I loved having Marty right by me.  We were both just so excited. I was a little anxious to see how Marty would handle the surgery because he doesn't do too well with those types of things, but he was a champ!  He even stood up at one point to watch part of the c-section!

My absolute favorite part of the whole experience was the moment when the anesthesiologist was explaining that they were about to take our baby boy out and then I heard our little Spencer cry for the first time.  It was complete joy.  I started to cry tears of happiness (minus the tears though, haha, for some weird reason tears weren't flowing but I definitely had the lip quiver and everything else that goes with crying!)

So our sweet little Spencer was born at 9:28pm and weighed 6lbs 3oz and was 19.25 inches long.
Our sweet little Madilyn made her debut shortly thereafter at 9:29pm, weighing in at 5lbs 15oz
and she was 19.5 inches long.



Martin got to go over and watch them get cleaned up and take pictures of them.  I was so eager to see our babies!!!  Soon Marty brought Spencer over and I got to see him for the first time.  Oh he was so precious.  Then a nurse brought Madilyn over and I just could not stop smiling.  I remember feeling like I could light the room with my smile because I was so genuinely happy.  "Pure joy" is the best way I can put it.

Seeing Spencer for the first time

Seeing Madilyn for the first time

The nurses then took the babies and Martin got to go with them while I got all stitched up.  As soon as these babies entered this world I could tell how much Martin loved them.  He was so sweet with them and so proud to be their daddy.  I loved watching him with them.  It's like I got a small glimpse of the love that God has for us.  And Martin was so extremely helpful.  I actually didn't change a single diaper of theirs until our last day in the hospital!

The rest of the night that they were born was kind of a blur and I really don't remember much of it.  I think that between all the hours of adrenalin while we waited and ya know, having babies, my body was very deservingly tired :)

I remember that people came and visited that night, which I loved! Becky, Joaquin, Yvette, Mariana, and Caleb all came to visit and it felt SO great to have all these people celebrate with us! Over the next few days a bunch of people came and visited and brought us yummy food and treats.  We felt so loved and were so excited to show off our babies :)

We didn't decide on names for the babies until Wednesday morning.  In order to decide we looked at each baby and called them each name we had narrowed the possibilities down to.  Some just didn't seem to fit and then we decided on Spencer Cruce Gille and Madilyn Anne Gille! Spencer has Martin's middle name and Madilyn has my middle name, which are both family names that we wanted to continue on.

My parents got into town on Weds afternoon and it was SO great to have them there.  I felt like a little kid on Christmas between the excitement for the babies to be here and the anticipation of sharing our joy with our families.  It was really sweet to see my parents with their first grand-babies.  The first time they saw the babies they got all choked up and the feeling of love in the room was almost tangible.

Our stay in the hospital went really well and I am so thankful for the caring, respectful nurses that helped us.  One in particular, Colleen, was absolutely great because of how loving, enthusiastic, patient, and understanding she was.

I recovered really well from the c-section and am so thankful for how smoothly things went with the c-section.  My stomach was really sore the first couple of days and moving around wasn't easy, but I always felt better after I did get up and move around.  My emotions felt pretty stable up until the last day in the hospital when I felt some baby blues and sudden mood swings.  I remember that as we were getting ready to leave the hospital I was feeling so happy and excited to bring our babies home!  Then as we were about to actually leave I suddenly started crying because I was so nervous about taking care of our babies and I was worried about them not getting enough nourishment because my milk hadn't come in.  After some good long hugs and reassuring words from Marty and my parents I was completely calm and feeling excited again.  It was a unique experience and thank goodness for patient, loving people around me!

Leaving the hospital

My awesome parents were so kind and made sure we had a warm welcome waiting for us at our apartment

We were SO incredibly blessed to have my mom there to help for the first week and then Martin's mom there to help for the 2nd week.  They were life-savers.  They went extremely sleep deprived for a week to give us any chance possible to sleep while we could.  They prepared meals, cleaned bottles and pump gear, soothed babies, got up with the babies at night, changed diapers, watched the babies so Martin and I could take quick breaks with just us, and so much more.  They even took over Martin's night time baby duty because he was still working during the day while we had the extra help so he would be able to be at home when our moms left.  He was starting to sleep walk/talk because he was so exhausted so we were a little concerned about him helping with the fragile little babies while he was so out of it :)

Nursing the babies was a learning experience.  I had this awesome pillow that wrapped around my torso and held both of the babies up so I could feed them at the same time.  Spencer had a really hard time latching on so we used a shield to help him. They both lost over 10% of their body weight while they were in the hospital, which meant that they weren't getting much milk.  That was a hard thing to handle because all I wanted to do was give these babies everything that they needed.  It also took a long time for my milk to come in so we supplemented the babies with formula to make sure they were getting nourishment.

Sooo...the doctor and lactation specialist started us on a very tiring schedule
of feeding them every 2-3 hours for the first 2-3 weeks.  We worked it out to go something like this:
- nurse both babies at the same time for about 30 minutes
- feed them 2-3 ounces of formula or any previously pumped milk
- burp them, change their diaper, get them settled in their crib
- then I pumped for 30 minutes
- get any sleep we could (usually about 30 min to an hour, but we got it up to 2 hrs every now and then!)
- then start the process all over again

It was exhausting.  Once my milk came in it helped quite a bit, mainly to have peace of mind to know that my babies were getting nourishment.  That routine lasted for 2-3 weeks then we were able to start feeding them every 3-4 hrs.  I continued to pump after nursing them and once Martin went back to work I began solely pumping.  It was really difficult to nurse both of them when it was just me at home because I couldn't get them situated to nurse at the same time and nursing them one at a time took at least an hour.  By pumping (and with the help of an incredible pump bra thing that makes it so you don't have to hold the pumps) I was able to be completely pumped and have fed them both their bottles in 20-30 minutes.  To this day I still solely pump and am so thankful that we found something that met all of our needs.  It's not easy with all the bottle and pump washing multiple times a day and having to schedule things around pumping so I can consistently pump every 4 or so hours, but I feel like it's worth it.

Overall, those first 2-3 weeks are a bit of a blur.  But I remember thinking that it wasn't as bad as I had anticipated.  Many parents of twins told us to prepare for the worst because it was just plain hard.  I totally agree that it was hard and I had never been more tired in my life, but I'm also glad that we braced ourselves for the worst because it really didn't seem too bad compared to the stories we heard.  We got to enjoy our darling little babies and experience our love for them growing.

And here we are!  Six months later and we survived and are going strong!  Spencer sleeps through the night pretty regularly and Madi is still working on that :) They are rolling around, sitting up, and changing every day!  All the long hard nights and moments of wanting to join in on their crying and times when it is just plain hard is paying off big time. We love these little babies so, so much.  I love seeing them discover new things and getting to listen to their giggles and watch their faces light up when Marty or I walk into the room.  Being a parent is one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but it is by far the most rewarding.  And THAT is our story thus far. :)