Our Birth Story

I always knew that giving birth would be a life-changing experience. But I had no idea just how dramatic and traumatic that change would be.

It has been two months, and I think I am finally ready to look back and reflect upon our experiences during this time.

When I last posted, I was on bed rest and playing the waiting game, hoping to stretch out the pregnancy for as long as possible. We made it to 33 weeks and 2 days. On July 23rd, an ultrasound showed reverse end diastolic flow in Baby B’s placenta, so it was time for them to come out. A C-section was scheduled for that evening. I was nervous, but excited to finally meet our two boys.

Miles Sizhe Pelletier and Ryan Sijin Pelletier were born at 8:35 and 8:36 pm respectively. Miles was 4 lbs, 2 oz, and Ryan was 3 lbs, 2 oz. Although they were premature and tiny, they were both born pretty healthy without any serious issues. I saw them briefly for a few seconds each before they were taken to the NICU. I remember thinking how tiny they were, much smaller than I’d imagined, but elated to hear their strong cries. Len followed the babies to the NICU and said that he’ll see me in a bit when they’d closed me up.


That’s when things went to hell on my end. I started hemorrhaging uncontrollably. My uterus just would not contract; they gave me 5 different drugs, all to no avail. By that time, I was feeling very rough. They kept offering to put me to sleep, but I didn’t want to; I kept thinking that something was going to work soon, and if I just tried to cope through the pain, I wouldn’t have to miss out on seeing the babies that night. Eventually they made the decision for me and put me to sleep.

I woke up early the next morning in the ICU of a different hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital. I realized I was intubated, and Len and my mom were there beside me, but was too groggy to perceive much else. Later that morning, I woke up much more clear-headed but unable to talk because of the tube down my throat. Len was so patient, so loving as he made me as comfortable as possible. We even had a good time figuring out how to communicate my needs through hand gestures. As always, he made me calmer, more relaxed, and almost cheerful in what was a ridiculous situation.

The tube came out around noon, and I’d never been so happy to hear my own voice again. That’s when Len finally sat down with me and told me the whole story of what had occurred the night before. After I was sedated, they put a balloon filled with water in the uterus to force it to contract and monitored me that way for 3 hours. It did not work, and I kept losing more and more blood during that time. In the end, they asked for Len’s consent to perform a hysterectomy as a last resort; and in the end, that’s what they did as it was the only thing that stopped the bleeding. I ended up losing 10 L of blood in the process and was kept alive through continuous transfusions. My doctor told us later that that is more than twice the amount of blood I had in my whole body to begin with.

I listened to all this with a very matter-of-fact attitude, and although I was initially a little dismayed to hear of the hysterectomy, I just felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for our medical system. If I had been in a different part of the world, maybe even in a different part of this country, my story might have had a very different, tragic ending. I made a mental note to myself that one day when my body has recovered, I must go donate blood. None of the blood that I had in my body was mine; I was only alive because someone else gave me their blood.

There was lots of talk of sending me back to Women’s hospital so I could be with the babies, but as it turned out, the next day was my toughest day. I was in more pain than I’d ever experienced in my life, and eventually they found that I had a few other complications from the surgery. I had ileus of the bowels, which they treated by putting an NG tube down my nasal passage to suck out gas from my abdomen. They found a blood clot in one of my ovaries. And the most serious complication was a damaged ureter because a suture was put too close to it during the hysterectomy. That was what caused me so much pain on my left side. They put a tube into my kidney to drain it externally, and I lived with this nephrostomy for 2 months.

I ended up staying in the ICU at St. Paul’s for 5 days before I was finally transferred back to Women’s Hospital. During that time, my singular focus was to get well enough so I could go back and see my babies. That was the hardest part of that ordeal. People kept congratulating me on their birth, but it all seemed so surreal to me still. I clung to the memory of their cries and of their little faces the moment they were born in an effort to remind myself that they were real and that I was really a mom. I knew that they were doing well in the NICU and that they were in good hands, but I irrationally feared that I might never get to see them again. As always, Len was my rock during this time, as he shuttled back and forth between hospitals, sending me pictures and updates of the twins.


When  I was finally transferred back, I got to go see the babies almost right away. They were in different rooms, as Miles had gone immediately into intermediate care, while Ryan needed more intensive care. I ended up seeing Ryan first. As Len wheeled me up to his little incubator, I felt nervous, excited, not sure what to expect. Then when I reached in, and my hand touched his unbelievably soft velvety skin, I was overcome with intense relief and joy and I started crying for the first time since the whole ordeal began. And when the nurse put him on my chest and I held him, stroking his soft head of hair, a wonderful sense of calm settled over me. All was finally right again.


And it was just as magical to see Miles and to hold him, and one special night, I got to hold both of them at the same time, which was unforgettable. I was at Women’s Hospital for another week, which I spent shuffling back and forth between my room and the NICU, and navigating my way through the beginnings of pumping breastmilk. That was one thing that did go well for me; the nurses and doctors told me how lucky I was to even be producing breastmilk, as many women who’d lost as much blood as I did and received as much physical trauma would not be able to produce any. And I remind myself of that often these days, as I face other breastfeeding challenges.

An interesting thing started to happen as I felt physically better and better during that week. When I was so weak and ill in the ICU, I had no trouble staying positive and mentally strong; I had only one goal in mind, and that was to get well enough to see the babies again, and everything else was irrelevant. I took all the news of the hysterectomy and nephrostomy in stride and didn’t even think twice about it. But it was as though real life finally caught up to me when I got back to Women’s; I had acheived my singular goal, and now the real challenges of dealing with the aftermath began. I felt so frustrated by my slowness and pain and helplessness. I started to feel angry and guilty about missing the first 5 days of my babies’ lives. I hated with a passion my new appendage that was the nephrostomy. And even though Len and I had only ever planned to have two kids, I started to resent having that choice taken away from me. I would get annoyed every time a new nurse came to check on me and, not knowing my story, would ask me about my postpartum bleeding and fundal height, and I’d have to explain yet again that I did not and will not ever again need to think of those things.

I realize that what I felt is a very human weakness. When one is in the thick of a crisis, one does not have any trouble keeping sight of the big picture, because that’s all there is at that point. But once things start to get better, it gets harder and harder to keep that big picture in mind, and the little things start to seem more important. So I kept repeating to myself multiple times a day, “Big picture, remember the big picture”; I was alive, babies were alive and healthy, and that’s all I ever wanted through this whole journey.

I was discharged from the hospital exactly one month from the day I was first admitted back in July, and it was quite surreal to be home again after such a long absence. The babies were soon transferred to the NICU in Burnaby Hospital, where Len and I learned to care for them, everything from feeding to changing to bathing them. They have now been home for over a month, and it has been, as expected, ridiculously busy and challenging. But in between the hectic happenings of the day and long nights, there have been moments of intense joy and love, which make everything more than worth it.




I have lots to learn still, and the challenges of caring for two newborns at once will no doubt intensify next week when Len returns to work, but I am excited to move forward and discover new experiences on this motherhood journey. And I say move forward, because I’m writing this from yet another hospital bed. I had surgery a few days ago to fix that damaged ureter, and if all goes well, I should be going home today. I was really quite traumatized by all that happened from the c-section complications, as I found myself really dreading this surgery. I had mild panic attacks about it in the days leading up to it, and found myself thinking very dark thoughts about the worst possible outcomes. But thankfully all seems to have gone according to plan, and hopefully I can soon put all this insanity behind me and truly focus on our new life with little Miles and Ryan.


Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Thoughts


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Our Pregnancy Journey

“Man, this whole having kids business is really not for the faint of heart!”  That’s what Len said a few months ago, as we left our doctor’s office after the most stressful and scariest visit to date.

This whole pregnancy has been one learning experience after another. And as I near the end of this journey, I want to reflect back on some of those lessons before a whole new journey begins and new learning experiences present themselves as our twins come into this world.

This is me at week 8, blissfully unaware that there are two in there… 

We went for a dating ultrasound a few days after this photo was taken, at which time the tech told us, “so there was a bit of a surprise; I saw two in there!” Len started laughing hysterically and I think I exclaimed something like, “are you serious?!” It was quite the shock.

That was the first lesson in learning to let go of any preconceived expectations or semblance of control. To be perfectly honest, my first emotion upon hearing about the twins (after the initial shock started to wear off) was not one of elation, but of dismay. Not only were we faced with the overwhelming idea of caring for not one, but two, babies all at once, we also had to immediately let go of many wishes and preferences we had for the pregnancy itself. I had to mentally readjust what to expect, in terms of my level of activity, for how long I would be able to continue to work, how long I should take for maternity leave, and details in regards to labour and delivery. Also, we were in the care of a midwife group, but had to be transferred to an OB, as twin pregnancies (deemed automatically as “high risk”) are out of the scope of their practice. I was disappointed about that, as we had really wanted to be under the care of a midwife. However, it all turned out as it should, as I  have been very happy with my OB, and as I write this from my hospital bed, I certainly have found out why twin pregnancies are considered high risk in the first place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

After the initial disbelief passed, we quickly realized just how incredibly blessed we are to be given this gift. And that has been the pervading theme of this pregnancy since then. Through all the ups and downs, physical and mental difficulties that have come our way, I have honestly never felt more blessed, more thankful, more joyous in my entire life.

My first trimester passed relatively well; I was pretty nauseous most days, all day long, but thankfully nothing more than that. I managed to stay relatively active, including enjoying snowshoeing when Joe (Len’s brother) was in town (I’m at 13 weeks here):

Then just as I began to get over the nausea and start to feel like my old self again, we were faced with the next challenge, this one more terrifying than I could have ever imagined. We had screened positive for a neural tube defect and given odds of 1/19 of it being the case. That was what prompted Len’s remark about this not being for the faint of heart. I’d never felt so scared, so helpless, in my entire life. Needless to say, the 12 days that followed that appointment while we waited for the ultrasound were the longest 12 days of my life. The first few days were the hardest. I could not talk about it, even with Len. I was in the grips of a fear that I had previously not known could exist, and I often raged silently. I felt like I had done all that I was “supposed” to do in terms of taking care of myself before and during pregnancy, and didn’t understand how this could possibly be. Logically, I knew that these things just happen, and it’s not about what I did or didn’t do, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty and searched endlessly for answers. And I couldn’t talk about these thoughts because I felt like verbalizing them would somehow give them even more power over me.

But as is the case with most crises, I found that talking about it, reaching out to Len and to my friends, helped ease the unbearable intensity of these emotions. And the turning point happened one day when I came to the realization that I was, in fact, incredibly blessed. For a few days until that moment, I had only focussed on the negative, on the fear and pain of the situation. But then I found myself thinking about all the countless women in the world who have trouble conceiving, who would give anything to be in my position, to even have the chance to get pregnant and try for a baby. Let alone two babies at once. And I went quite suddenly from feeling sorry for myself to feeling so, so thankful and lucky and blessed. I realized that no matter what the outcome was, we had already been blessed with this amazing gift, that the 16 or so weeks of pregnancy I’d already had were truly the most wondrous and happiest 16 weeks of my life, and that nothing would change that very fact. And I also decided that I needed to enjoy this pregnancy to the fullest, that no matter how long or short or difficult this pregnancy was to be, I never wanted to look back with regrets or take a single minute of it for granted.

That was the most powerful lesson I’ve learned through all this. And it has coloured the way I’ve approached the pregnancy since then, especially now.

And thankfully, the ultrasound did rule out any neural tube defects. But of course, because that was ruled out, it pointed toward another probability, a placenta problem. And that’s where we’re at now.

But again, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

The past couple of months have been lovely. It has been quite amazing (and at times, comical!) to experience all the changes to my body, and we were very lucky in that things have progressed relatively smoothly until now.

Week 19:

Week 23:

I worked until the end of June, which was my goal, so I was very lucky to be able to do that. Then the very next day, our friends threw us a fabulous, memorable baby shower (pictures to come!), after which I enjoyed a few glorious days off in the long-awaited West Coast sunshine. Then I came into the hospital last Friday for my monthly ultrasound, and suddenly found myself admitted here and put on bed rest. That placenta problem we were warned could happen has now shown itself; the placenta to Baby B is showing intermittent absent end diastolic flow, so I need to be monitored very closely. So far all the non-stress tests have been great, and the doctors are hoping to delay delivery for another week or two, putting me at 33-34 weeks.

As we knew this was a very real possibility from early on, we are just so thankful it didn’t happen until now. We are just taking it one day at a time, and hoping these babies stay inside for as long as is safe for them.

It has been quite the adjustment for me to go from being relatively active and feeling just fine to being put on bed rest. And of course, we have had to mentally readjust to expect preemie babies. But all the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way through this pregnancy are really helping me keep a good perspective on things and stay as positive as I can. I’ve written before about how hard it is for me to “go with the flow”, but for the first time in my life, it feels quite natural to do so. I know that I’m in the place that is safest for the babies, and that’s all that matters right now.

It helps, too, that the care I’ve received here at BC Women’s Hospital has been outstanding. I can’t believe how wonderful the nurses and staff have been. And a couple days ago, I was reminded once again just how blessed we are to be expecting. My awesome nurse, Lisa, revealed that she and her husband tried for 16 years to get pregnant, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be in that position and be a maternity nurse. And yet she speaks of babies and children with such genuine enthusiasm and affection, and is such an amazing, caring nurse. That was really inspiring for me.

And so that’s where I am now, at 31 weeks and 5 days, and feeling more blessed and thankful than ever.


Posted by on July 12, 2012 in Thoughts


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