How did Geri do?
Geri did great! She was brave throughout the whole thing, stayed calm, asked questions and was appropriately assertive. We knew she was nervous about the c-section and the epidural (her first ever) but you never would have known.
How did Jeremy do?
He loved the c-section and was very patient about everything else. Yes, you read that right: He loved the c-section. They gave Jeremy a seat at Geri's head but he didn't sit in it long. He quickly stood up to watch the surgery, leaning over the curtain that was put up to protect him from exactly that. Jeremy later said he wished they could put the twins back in and take them back out just so he could watch it again.
What would be one of the worst possible things a husband could say to his wife while watching her undergo a c-section?
"It looks like they're gutting a deer"
But he didn't . . .
Oh, yes. If you know Jeremy, you know he said it. In his defense, one of the hospital staff said her husband said exactly the same thing during her c-section. And Geri is used to that kind of thing so it didn't seem to bother her at all. Jeremy really is a great guy and a supportive husband, but he masks it with his sense of humor to maintain his macho image.
Did you watch (i.e. did you pass out)?
Actually I did see parts of it, although I stood back. When they broke the first sac (for Kennedy) it created a nice little fountain of fluid, and I wondered if that was the boy already taking a shot at peeing on the doctor. Turned out it wasn't. When Shepard finally had his turn the bag didn't so much break as "pop". There was a splash as if someone had just oversqueezed a water balloon.
Who got to go into the room during the c-section?
Geri, Jeremy, Sarah, me, and (by the look of it) much of the town of Hillsboro. It was a pretty big room, and when I tried to count people once I got as high as twelve before I got distracted again. With the masks it was impossible to tell who anyone was.
What did you wear in the operating room?
Our regular street clothes, right down to our shoes.
Oh, and over those we wore a zip-up white jumpsuit that added at least 30 pounds to everyone who wore it, little footies over our shoes, and a dork cap over our hair.
So how did the whole twinectomy actually happen?
As I said in an earlier post: Like clockwork. We showed up at 7AM and walked past the maternity department to the elevators and then to outpatient surgery. There, Geri was taken back to get into her gown (not the elegant kind of gown - the "flash your butt to the world" kind) and after a little while we were all called back to stand around her bed uncomfortably. After a while the anesthesiologist showed up, and rather than stand around he got right to work talking Geri out of a spinal (the one thing she was sure of) and into an epidural. This raised her anxiety somewhat, as Geri obviously shares my view that a needle in the spine is never anything to sneeze at (actual tip: while they are inserting the needle DO NOT SNEEZE). As if to emphasize that this was serious business, Geri's blood pressure dropped alarmingly as the anesthetic caused her blood vessels to relax. Still, she was a trooper.
The doctor was late due to a woman having a baby the old fashioned way (which is much harder to schedule). Finally, he showed up and they wheeled Geri away to get her "prepped" (which I suspect meant warning her how stupid we were going to look in our outfits so she wouldn't laugh herself off the table). We stayed behind and put on our dork suits. We were still taking pictures of each other when they called us back, which seemed to annoy the guy who called us (although it was hard to tell since he was wearing a dork mask).
After the twins were extracted we got to take pictures with them, and they were put together in a wheeled bassinet (which always sounded to me like musical instrument played by a fish, but is actually a small starter crib), hidden under a pile of blankets, and wheeled out to the elevator for a trip down to Maternity. This required them to pass the waiting room, which was filled with relatives of the babies and of Geri.
Down in maternity they did the things you expect: Weighed them, measured them, smeared stuff in their eyes, and let them sit in little tanning beds to try to get some color after all that time indoors. Sarah and I got to be there the whole time while everyone else (except Geri, who was still upstairs being stapled shut) watched through the large window.
After a while they wheeled Geri into a small maternity room, where the babies were eventually taken, too.
Did the c-section turn out to be the right way to go?
It's arguable which is easier for the mother/surrogate in most cases. The birth is certainly easier and more controlled with a c-section. But clearly there is more recovery after a c-section.
The baby goes through a lot less with a c-section (imagine leaving a house by a newly-cut door instead of being flushed down the toilet) but it turns out some of the violent squeezing of vaginal delivery actually wrings prenatal fluids out of the baby's lungs and stomach, and generally wakes the kid up to the fact that the good days are over and it's time to start gathering his/her own oxygen and nourishment. A baby pulled out through an incision is ticked off about the light and the noise and the cold and has an overall attitude of "PUT ME BACK!". A baby born vaginally, however, just had an experience comparable to an adult leaving an airplane through a running jet engine, and, despite the paradise he or she had experienced in the womb for the last nine months, has a sadder but wiser attitude of "I am NOT going back in THERE!".
If all college students were put through a similar ordeal to leave their parents' house, it would be interesting to see how many came back to live in the basement. I'm guessing not many.
In any event, Dr. Slater had a HUGE I-told-you-so that made it clear he was right about recommending the c-section. He didn't rule out trying vaginal birth, but warned that after the first twin was born vaginally, the second can sometimes flip in such a way that an emergency c-section is necessary anyway. So he would have had to knock Geri out completely and use whatever surgical team was available at the time rather than doing an epidural and having his wife assist. Dr. Banias still didn't rule out a second vaginal birth after a flip, but it would have required he stick his arm (not hand, ARM) in there to a depth usually associated with large animal veterinary procedures to try to turn the second twin.
As it happened, after Kennedy was extracted, Shepard began defensive maneuvers that left him in a breach and face-up position somewhere up in Geri's ribcage. Getting him out was a bit like extracting one of our cats from the cat carrier in the vet's office. So since Dr. Slater was in charge, if Geri had started with a vaginal birth Dr. Slater still would have had to hit her over the head or something and call the custodial staff to assist with a c-section anyway. She was much better off starting with the c-section.
What was Geri's reaction to Shepard's extraction?
She commented that it felt like someone was reaching into her ribcage. At that point Dr. Slater, who had his arm in the incision up to his elbow, said, "Oh, that's just me."
Four is your limit on kids?
No, three was our limit. One got in under the wire.
Will you recommend Geri as a surrogate to others?
Sure, if there was a chance she would ever do this again. But she's done, too.
Why did she do it the first time?
Partly out of generosity and a desire to help another couple have a child. And partly out of another kind of generosity, using the money from this procedure to help a relative with another procedure. It wouldn't be my place to tell that story here, but suffice it to say that other story seems on track for a happy ending (or two), too.
Did she have any trouble giving up her babies?
[sigh] They actually weren't her babies. We get this question a lot (so did Geri). Sarah is biologically the twins' mother, and I am the father. Geri was very protective and took very good care of them, but she never considered them hers. She's got three great kids of her own. No matter how many times we explain that, some people still come back with "Well, I could never give up my baby like that." Which means they would be a very poor candidate to be a surrogate.
How did Harrison and Grace react?
Well, first of all, they didn't know there was anything unusual about this arrangement. It's actually the second time Harrison has been a part of it. They both know that "Mommy's tummy is broken and a baby can't grow in there."
They are both (still) thrilled to have babies in the house and to have another sister and (especially to Harrison) brother. Harrison is eager for Shepard to be old enough to begin his training as a ninja.
What does Harrison call the umbilical cord?
"The extension cord"