On 9/18/15 Hollie and I entered the hospital suspecting a simple bladder or kidney infection. I will never forget the moment I came to realize the nature of the problem was much more severe. We were 23 weeks pregnant, Hollie’s cervix was dilated to 10cm and one of the sacks of water was bulging outside of her body. I saw sadness, worry and fear flood Hollie’s eyes with tears. The doctor’s face was covered in shock and actual horror. In that moment my body froze and my mind left the space my feet were standing in. I could physically see danger, anxiety, fear, and brokenness float in the room around me but I was standing inside a cylinder of protection and these emotions were not able to penetrate. My mind was fully aware of the severity of the situation but my soul was fully protected and standing strong in the midst of it.
Upon admission were given a chart of statistics designed to help us determine how to proceed. On that date the twins were at the 23 weeks 1/7 day gestational age making their viability unlikely. Our labor and delivery nurse mentioned that she was trained to offer support with grief and loss. The choices presented to us were to choose resuscitation and life support or to choose palliative comfort care. According to chart provided we were given the following data about our twins’ gestational age.
- Survival rate for those resuscitated: 21%
- Overall survival rate: 38%
- Significant long term neurologic disability in survivors: 40-60%
The professional medical recommendation on how to proceed with babies born in the gestational age of 23 weeks 0/7 days – 23 weeks 6/7 days is as follows: “Palliative comfort care is recommended. Resuscitation and NICU care are not recommended because of the high mortality rate and the high risk of neurologic disabilities in survivors.” As I stood listening to this advise I did not cry or even slouch. My mouth calmly said “thank you for this information,” and “I understand” but my heart was screaming at the top of my lungs “you essentially want me to abort my children!” and “you don’t understand, they are already miracles, we have waited ten years for this, they are destined to be our miracle children!!!”
Against medical recommendations, we chose resuscitation and life support for our micro preemies. After days of bed rest, our twins were born on 9.23.15 weighing 1 lb 6 oz (Jaxson Brave) and 1 lb 1 oz (Cadence Grace). The word “mini” in “Journey to Mini-Moore” has a whole new meaning now. They are one month old today (27 weeks 6/7 days gestational adjusted age). Their tiny organs are still premature and extremely underdeveloped; they are supposed to have 16 more weeks on the inside to grow (yes, four more months!) We’re not out of the woods, but look how far they have come! As I stare into their incubators day after day I have witnessed the honor of a miracle unfolding right before my eyes.
As a mother who did not carry these children that I am not biologically connected to I can report this: I am passionately and deeply bonded with my children. I’ve never seen a photo of the biological donors, so I’ve always wondered what my kids will look like. Now I have studied their facial expressions for countless hours every day. I’ve observed details that most traditional mothers could not experience at this gestational age. Details such as the cowlick on Jaxson’s forehead, the blondness of Cadence’s long eyelashes, and that the babies’ second toes are longer than their big toes. They have heard my voice and felt my touch daily for the past month. I have experienced the feeling of their tiny lungs breathing quickly as they rest on the slower, larger swells of my own chest. They grab hold of my finger when I touch their hands and their bodies calm under the soothing cupping of my own hands. The butterfly sized tickles of Jaxson’s tiny legs kicking the bare skin on my chest or Cadence’s delicate hand stretching over my neck are tangible moments that most adoptive mothers or intended parents don’t experience until hours, days, or even years after birth. The NICU experience is a roller coaster ride I would not wish upon any parent or child. However, I must accept this chapter as another piece of our journey and choose to soak up the blessing of this indescribable bond. Nothing about our journey has been simple or traditional but God has provided for our needs every step of the way and so I choose to trust Him to finish what he has started. Happy one month birthday Jaxson and Cadence!
If a photo is worth a thousand words than these videos are worth a million:
WATCH FIRST - Cadence on 9.28.15, five days old, 480 grams:
WATCH SECOND - Cadence on 10.22.15, 29 days old, 630 grams:
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