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Guest Blogger: Andrea Natelborg Speaks About Her Twins Wyatt and Grace

My husband and I got married March 5th 2011.  We knew we wanted to start a family and knew we would need assistance in doing so due to my health history.  I was diagnosed at 18 with stage 4 endometriosis and chronic ovarian cysts.  After months of fertility treatments we became pregnant.  Sadly we miscarried shortly after.  We continued our journey, crushed but not fully aware of the true ache that would consume us.  We became pregnant again after another round of treatment.

This pregnancy seemed to be going well and then one Sunday I woke up to bleeding and abdominal cramping.  We shortly lost that baby too.  A year of more painful fertility treatments passed with nothing to show but empty arms and heavy hearts.  We decided to try again and this time became pregnant with twins.  Grace and Wyatt.  We were beyond hopeful but still so full of fear.  We had lost all of our prior pregnancies so we cautiously watched the days pass.  The babies looked wonderful and we had a due date of December 21 2012.  We couldn’t have been happier.

On July 16th our happiness turned into terror.  We had a routine Dr. visit.  It was discovered that I was having contractions and that my cervix was too weak to support a pregnancy.  We pleaded for a cerclage, a stitch that is sewn into the cervix.  It helps to support the weight and prevent shortening.  It doesn’t promise anything but it can provide a few more weeks.  Our team sadly refused to place the stitch.  We were heartbroken.  We were sent home on strict bed rest, and medications.  One week later my cervix went from 2.5 to .98.  We were devastated.  The team still didn’t have any options for us besides continuing bed rest and hoping we made it to viability.  We were 17 weeks at the time.  We would have done anything to bring our babies home safely so I never once complained about being bed ridden or my lack of control.  I relied on my husband, family and amazing friends for everything.  I was allowed to shower every 3 days, but had to remain sitting and had to be quick.  The days passed and we were getting closer to viability.

I was admitted to the hospital for closer monitoring.  I lived there for two long months, all the while hoping we would bring our sweet Grace and Wyatt home one day.  Living in the hospital was emotionally hard.  The food was hard to eat, especially since I wasn’t using much energy in bed.  I was rarely hungry but forced myself to eat as much as possible in hopes of helping our babies gain weight.  My husband decorated my room.  He brought books, flowers, a computer, all of my shampoo, soap and bathroom supplies.  He brought me outfits and even had twin sized sheets for my bed.  He was amazing!  I knew I was lucky to have married such an amazing man, but that time showed me exactly how strong and loving he was.  He helped me shower, he helped me on and off the dreaded bed pan, got me water and encouraged me the entire time.  We never thought for one minute that we wouldn’t survive.

August 29th 2012, 23weeks 5 days… two days shy of “viability”.  My contractions became worse, they were very strong and the doctors thought I would deliver that night.  We prepared for a c-section all the while praying we would make it though this.  Praying that our Grace and Wyatt would survive and not suffer.  We asked the doctors to do everything possible to save them.  I was placed on Magnesium to slow the contractions and also provide a barrier for the babies brains.  I was given steroid injections which help to mature the babies lungs.  I felt like a bus had hit me and my body was on fire.  The medication took a huge toll on me.  My head ached like never before.  Days passed on the medication and we were still pregnant.  My contractions were getting further apart and we hoped to make more days, weeks… I felt horrible, I just knew something was wrong.

I begged my husband not to leave my side.  I told him I thought I was dying and honestly I did.  I was struggling to breathe.  I knew something was wrong.  My doctor arrived and took one look at me.  He ordered the medication be stopped and a chest x-ray be performed.  I was right, my lungs were filled with fluid, I had pneumonia and was struggling to breathe.  I had absolutely no energy for anything.  I tried sleeping but the air starvation and my pounding head made it hard.  I slept through my viability week!  We finally started relaxing a bit.  We reached 25 weeks and pushed forward.  At exactly 25weeks and 5 days I went into full blown labor.  There was no turning back.  I was rushed into an emergency c-section where we delivered our beautiful babies.  Wyatt was born September 12 2012 at 12:55 and Grace arrived at 12:56.  They cried, they were intubated and taken straight to the nicu.  I didn’t get to see them right away but my husband caught a view as they rolled them out.  I spent the next few hours in recovery but pleaded to be allowed down to the nicu.  I wanted to see the babies, to touch them, to tell them I was so proud of them and that I loved them always and forever.

They were beautiful.  I was shocked at how small they were, yet how strong and perfectly formed they were.  Wyatt looked just like my husband, his skin was light, and he had light blonde hair on his beautiful head.  My husband is a brunette now but was a cute toe head as a kiddo.  Wyatt’s nose was my husbands nose and we jokingly apologized to him for it.

Wyatt looked so big compared to his sister.  Wyatt was 1lb 12oz.  We were in love instantly.  Grace looked just like me.  She had an olive complexion and the sweetest brown hair.  You could see the waves in it already.  She was very petite.  She had one eye open and we always joked that she had her eye on us!  She weighed 1lb 4oz.  We never for a second believed they wouldn’t be coming home with us alive.  We knew we were in for a long nicu stay.  We knew of the complications that could follow, but we knew that we were willing to be there for every step of that journey.  They were our babies and we would have done anything for them, and we did.

Three days passed… our beautiful angels were perfect.  They were doing ok, not great but not horrible.  Then that night our world came crashing in around us.  At 3am we were alerted that Wyatt had suffered a bleed.  He was very anemic and needed a blood transfusion.  Of course we signed the paperwork and rushed down to the nicu to see him.  They had him on a blood pressure medication to help increase his pressure, and started the infusion.  Grace looked good, but I think she felt her brother suffering.  Her little heart was racing.  They decided in the morning that they would run more tests and also do head ultrasounds to see if they had brain bleeds.  We prayed on our hands and knees for them to be spared.  I prayed for them to be out of pain, to be the miracle I knew they already were.  We had so much faith, we were so strong then.

Sadly we were given terrible news.  We learned that Wyatt had a grade 4 brain bleed.  This was the most severe.  He was having seizures and was in so much pain. My heart broke watching his little body struggle.  We also learned that Grace too had a grade 4 brain bleed.  We were besides ourselves.  We continued to pray and support the babies.  Another day passed and we had an outside dr come in to give us a second opinion.  The babies were getting worse and were suffering.  Aside from the brain bleeds our sweet angels lungs were shutting down.  We were devastated.  We asked to be able to hold our sweet Grace and Wyatt.  We didn’t want them to pass in their cribs.  We wanted to kiss them, to place them against our skin, to talk to them and then to put them side by side just as they had been for the past 6 months.  We were able to do so.

Our angel Wyatt passed at 5:25 on September 16 2012, and Grace followed him at 6:30.  We felt at peace then, I have no idea how we made it out of the hospital and into our car.  We had nothing to carry with us, our car was filled with 2 months of hospital accumulation.  It didn’t have car seats, it didn’t have Grace or Wyatt.  The drive home was soberingly silent.  When we arrived our house was filled with boxes of baby gear, baby clothes, toys etc.  We sobbed and went to bed.

The two weeks following our loss was a blur.  We were so busy planning the cremation, the celebration of life party and we were preparing to do the ocwalktoremember.  I was in denial and my husband was doing his best to carry me forward.  We took a trip to Yosemite where we spread some of the babies ashes in May lake.  We spent days in nature sobbing, and learning how to breathe.  It was a much needed start to our end.  As the weeks passed I became more and more depressed.  My husband broke down often but held it together all too often to help show me that he was strong and that we would be ok.  I became suicidal.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I stayed in bed, never sleeping, my mind running a million miles an hour.  I didn’t eat, I just survived.  My husband found an amazing therapist and brought me to him.  I have been seeing him weekly since then.  It has helped so much.  Our relationship was rocky.  I was so angry and hurt.  I was mean and cold.  My husband had not only lost his two children, but his wife was now a shell of a person he once knew.  He continued to love me and encourage me.  He has been instrumental in my healing.

In January we decided that we would attempt IVF again.  We had looked into surrogacy but it just didn’t work out as we had hopped.  We transferred two embryos again and were lucky to become pregnant.  One baby survived the transfer and implantation process.  We called the baby EM.  If the baby is a boy we planned to name him Ethan Wyatt after his brother and if the baby is a girl her name will be Micaela Grace after her sister.  I am heading into my 20th week today.  It has been very emotional and so hard on me.  I have had a really hard time becoming attached to the pregnancy for fear of burying another baby.  At 13 weeks I had major abdominal surgery to place a TAC- abdominal cerclage.  This type of band is placed around the cervix just below the uterus.  It is placed abdominally using either your old c-section incision or 5 small incisions in the belly.  The risks are high and the recovery was brutal.  This band is permanent, it requires a c-section delivery and very close monitoring.  We were so blessed to have found information and experienced doctors to place it.  We are finally starting to exhale a bit, but are still very cautious.  We just shared the news with family and friends last week.  We are so very hopeful.

We will always miss our beautiful Grace & Wyatt.  We will always wonder what our lives would have been like had they survived.  We will always think about the people they would have grown into, the friends they would have made, the jobs they would have chosen.  I miss them every second of everyday, but I am learning to find the hope to live again.  I am so excited to see them again one day!  Until I can hold and kiss them again I will do my best to be the best mommy possible to their siblings and the best wife to their daddy.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “You gain strength courage and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

I will continue to live, to be a mommy and to be a wife.

Thank you for your time and listening.

Andrea

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