“Nothing in the world can prepare you for going home without your children.”
Jourdan Adams is calm as she describes her high risk pregnancy, the birth of her tiny twin boys as “preemies,” and the long weeks they stayed in the Northside Hospital Cherokee NICU (Neo-Intensive Care Unit). The emotional ups and downs will sound familiar to any mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
“The pregnancy was good – up until about 22 weeks. That was the first time I had to go to the hospital.”
Jourdan and her husband Tyler had been trying to get pregnant for a couple years, so when Jourdan’s home pregnancy test read positive, she went to the OB right away. Jourdan’s choice of a doctor was simpler than it is for many women. As a medical assistant for an OB-GYN practice, Jourdan made an appointment with Dr. Peahen Gandhi, the physician with whom she had worked so closely over the past few years.
“We came in super early – and then again at 5 weeks, when we saw 2 sacs! And that was how we found out we had twins.”
She admits the twin pregnancy came as a shock. “I just remember looking at my husband and saying, ‘Oh my gosh – what are we going to DO?!’ And my husband was so good, he just said to me, ‘Babe, we’ve got this.’
“But I was thinking, ‘No, you DON’T!!! You have no CLUE what we’re in for!”
Pregnancy of Hospital Trips and Bedrest
Jourdan relates that early on in the pregnancy she had a small bleed, which – she quickly adds – is “not unusual. ” But at 22 weeks the real trouble started. “I was feeling kind of weird at the office one day. Dr. Clay gave me an ultrasound and put me on the monitor – and they realized I was having contractions. She sent me to the hospital.”
At Northside Cherokee, Jourdan saw her high-risk specialist, who put her on fluids and sent her home, anticipating that the contractions would settle down once she was off her feet.
“But the next day I was still having contractions, regular – every 10 minutes. I went back to the hospital, and got three injections of terbutaline.”
Jourdan confesses, “Well, it was so early, I just wasn’t worried. I was thinking, ‘They’ll fix it… this is just normal, right?’ I never really felt super fearful they were coming.
“Then I was put on bedrest until 24 weeks – because that is viability. At that point I was allowed to work for three days.”
But at Jourdan’s next check-up, an ultrasound by Dr. Gandhi revealed a troubling development. “We realized my cervix was shrinking. After that, I was on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy.”
An Emergency Ambulance Ride to Atlanta
At Jourdan’s 27 week appointment, there was more trouble. “I was dilated, my cervix was shrinking further. They sent me to Northside Hospital Cherokee. The monitors showed I was having regular contractions – that I wasn’t feeling. They gave me more terbutaline – and then magnesium, which made me feel really sick. It was horrible.
“Dr. Gandhi came to check on me when got out of surgery. She took a look, and then she sent me straight to Atlanta [Northside Hospital Atlanta] – because she was afraid the boys were coming.”
Jourdan admits this time she was scared. “Dr. Gandhi said she was transferring me and I didn’t know she meant I needed to go by ambulance. It was terrifying. I was hooked up to all these machines – IV, catheter…We got there and I filled out all the paperwork. There I was, a at 27 weeks, looking at birthing my twins.
“But after a few hours at the hospital, I got settled and the contractions stopped. They let me go home again. And after that I was on bedrest until 31 weeks.
Waiting Alone, the Dog By Her Side
Jourdan describes the final weeks of bedrest as lonely.
“I was sitting by myself all day. I came down from my bed every morning. Tyler had to work of course – he was saving up his sick days for when we had the babies. He would help me downstairs, make my breakfast, and then he was gone the rest of the day. At lunch, my mom, or his mom, would come over to make me lunch and sit with me a while.
“I sat and I felt very hopeless. Dr. Gandhi called me every day to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. My husband was very supportive. But I felt so hopeless. I couldn’t do anything.”
Jourdan smiles when she mentions her dog. “We have a bulldog. And he sat with me every day. I made sure to put his bed right beside me, so I had him with me. He really did help me.
“My brother offered to get him and take care of him so I wouldn’t have anything to worry about – and I said ‘No – You can’t! He’s the only company I have all day long!’”
Jourdan made it to 33 weeks. And that’s when her boys decided to come.
Early Labor – A Rush To C-Section
Jourdan recalls the morning of the day the twins were born. “I told my dad, ‘I feel weird, I just feel off.’
“I went to the High Risk Specialist, and I was feeling my contractions in the waiting room. That was the first time I’d ever felt them. Then Dr. Gandhi came in to evaluate me – I was already at 4 centimeters. Dr. Gandhi announced, ‘We’re going to do your C-section within the hour.’
“All of a sudden it seemed like I was surrounded with so many nurses. I looked over at my husband and he was getting fully scrubbed in. I thought I had prepared myself, but it happened so fast. Our families got there really quick and they were able to say ‘hi and bye’ to me – and then I was taken back to the OR.”
Jourdan was admitted to the hospital at 7 pm. And by 9 pm her twins were born, at just 33 weeks. Briar John was 4 pounds, 10 ounces, Wyatt Graham, only 4 pounds, 5 ounces.
Jourdan describes the uncertain moments after the delivery, wondering, Would her babies be okay?
The Cry Of Her Babies
“Dr. Gandhi showed me the boys right away, and I heard them cry. I had been anticipating that moment for so long, and I was so scared, so to hear them cry, I was like, ‘Okay I can breathe. They are okay.’
“I had two separate NICU teams. They were doing a full evaluation, and that was hard to wait for them to finish to hear how the boys were. My first baby, Briar, had to be put on a C-PAP [a device providing Continuous Positive Airway Pressure] – because his lungs weren’t fully developed. It was helping him breathe. So when I first saw him, he had the tubes stuck up his nose, and around his face. He just looked horrible. And I could only see him for a second, and then they had to take him upstairs.
“And then my second baby, Wyatt, he was fine. And he was the smaller one! And I got to see him for a little bit. They laid him on my chest. – and in that moment, everything just stopped for me – nothing else mattered. I didn’t hear anything, I don’t remember Dr. Gandhi sewing me back up… none of it! I just remember him being on my chest, and we were able to sit like that for just a few minutes. And then they took him to the NICU.”
Jourdan remembers being in the recovery room for a few hours, where the Neonatologist came in to talk to her about her boys, and that Briar would be on the C-Pap for 2-3 weeks.
“Dr. Gandhi sat with me the whole time, and then they took me to my room. And I remember them telling me, ‘Normally after a C-section you can’t get up for 12 hours.’
“But I had hardly seen my babies!!! And I just said, ‘THAT’S NOT going to happen. I’m going to get up, and you get whoever you need to, because I’m getting UP!!!’ So I got up about 4 hours after my surgery and I went up to the NICU and I was able to see my boys for a little bit.”
Northside NICU, Close To Home – “A Blessing”
Jourdan sits now with her twin boys beside her, each sound asleep in a car seat. She looks bright and well-rested. No one would guess that she has recently had a dangerous pregnancy, or even that she is the mother of infant twins born just 3 months ago.
We ask her, “How did you handle the waiting period before the boys could come home?”
“I didn’t anticipate, obviously, how everything went. It was hard to see them in the NICU, especially Briar, because he was doing this whimpering thing – they said he wasn’t in pain, that he was just getting adjusted to the C-PAP.
“I stayed in the hospital as long as I could – I stayed 4 or 5 days. And then they were like, ‘You need to leave. You cannot stay here any longer – you are fine, GO HOME!’
“I was anticipating that day, having to leave them – which was the hardest thing. And I had other moms tell me, you are going to be heartbroken. And I had tried to prepare myself for it, but nothing in the world can prepare you for going home without your children.
“Luckily, we only live 5 minutes from Northside Hospital, so we were there every single day, all day long. We got there every morning and only left for lunch. The boys had feeding tubes for the first week and a half, and we wanted to hold them while they were being fed so they would associate food with Mommy and Daddy. And after that we were working on bottles.
“The NICU team was so wonderful. The boys had their own room – so it was really nice.” She laughs. “We could kind of spread out.
“It was a blessing that we were in Cherokee County. I couldn’t imagine them being in Atlanta, and having to drive THAT every day. It was exhausting to be there all day long, and still recovering from surgery. It takes an emotional toil.”
Advice for Mothers of Preemies
We ask Jourdan: Do you have any advice or words of experience you would share with mothers of premature babies?
“I would get up in the middle of the night and pump in their nursery, and I had this song I would play for myself, by Darius Rucker, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long.” And I just played that over and over, and told myself, “It won’t be like this for long. The boys will be home one day.
“And I would just picture what their lives were going to be like – us on the baseball field, or whatever they will want to do – and I just dreamt about THAT. Instead of thinking about them in the NICU and everything they were going through.
“And also I put blankets under the boys in the hospital – the nurses did this for me – and they allowed me to take those home with me so I could smell them when I was at home. It kind of gave me that comfort – that they were there with me.
“In the NICU, I was trying to be very hands-on. I was always changing diapers, giving them baths, feeding them. I wanted to do those things, like I was at home. And it made me feel like I was somewhat normal. We also had a lot of people come visit them – which helped me, too. Because I kind of felt like I was able to show them off, like it was NORMAL – because usually people come to visit them when they come home. So I really liked that I could show them off, and tell people how good they were doing, and all their improvements.”
Jourdan concludes, “It is hard, so hard – but they DO come home!”
She smiles, her healthy twin boys now right beside her.