“Our Cups Runneth Over.” A mother’s story: from NICU to Kindergarten

The following story was written by Erin Furlong, a mother and Labor and Delivery Nurse at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, a campus of Methodist Hospital.

My name is Erin and I have been a Labor & Delivery nurse at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital for almost 10 years. I have grown there as a nurse since I graduated nursing school and I have also grown as a mother to 3 beautiful children. My husband, Cody and I had our first son in January 2006, born full term with only complications being gestational diabetes and mild pregnancy induced hypertension. We got to take him home with us as we left the hospital 2 days after his birth.

When we decided it was time to grow our family and have one more to complete us, we tried but weren’t able to conceive easily this time. We underwent testing and after a year of trying and finally using Clomid, we finally got the news we waited for for so long, I was pregnant!!!

Then as life throws us curve balls, we found out it was TWINS!!! We were in total shock. We planned for 2 kids not THREE!! 🙂 Being a Labor & Delivery nurse, I knew that twins alone made the pregnancy high risk. I walked around in a daze of some sort until we got the news at about 22 weeks that my cervix was shortening, an early indicator of possible preterm delivery. At that moment is when the daze ended and we became terrified…terrified we may lose these 2 miracle babies! I was put on bedrest at that time. And at 24 weeks, I was hospitalized for contractions and continued shortening of my cervix. After one night at Metropolitan, I was transferred to Main Methodist due to contractions and the gestation of the babies. If I were to deliver soon, they would likely need surgery, which is why I was transferred for the surgical capabilities Methodist Hospital NICU had that Metropolitan Methodist Hospital didn’t. I stayed in Antepartum at Methodist Hospital for 4 weeks with a couple scares during those 4 weeks, especially at 27.2 weeks, when I was taken to Labor & Delivery because I was told I would most likely be in labor that couldn’t be stopped. With a million prayers and amazing doctors that had the tools, medications and care required, the contractions and labor were stopped.

At 28 weeks, when I met criteria for Metropolitan Methodist Hospital’s NICU to care for them if delivered, I made the decision to be transferred back. Metropolitan Methodist is my home away from home and I wanted to be able to deliver there. At 28 weeks and 6 days, my usual contractions started to increase and become more intense. I was checked and was told I was 4 cm/ 100% effaced and that now my always head down baby boy A was breech. I was prepared for a cesarean section right away on June 21, 2009, Father’s Day that year, and delivered Jackson Wade at 12:59 am and Makenna Brooks at 1:00 am. Jackson weighed 2 lbs 11 oz and was 15.25 inches long. Makenna weighed 2 lbs 10 oz and was 15.5 inches long. I don’t remember a lot of the time in the OR, only certain things stand out. I could see a team of people around each warmer taking care of our babies, our babies that were so small and so fragile. I didn’t hear much of crying. They were both intubated. They tried to show them to me before quickly heading to the NICU but it was so hard to see them with all the blankets and special wrapping they needed for warmth.  My heart was so heavy. I felt helpless at they took them away and I couldn’t go with them obviously. I knew they were in great hands but my heart ached.

They spent several weeks in the NICU, Jackson 10 weeks, and Makenna 11 weeks. They were intubated for a couple of days to assist with breathing. They had all kinds of IV’s, lines, tubing, monitors. It was so hard to see them underneath it all. They both required dopamine drips for a while. Throughout their stay, they were routinely tested for infection, anemia, blood gas levels, brain bleeds, chest x-rays. They both had PDA’s, and were treated both with 2 rounds of Indocin. Jackson’s resolved. Makenna’s resolved to stable point but when she was about 18 months old, she had outpatient surgery for a heart cath to correct her PDA. While in the NICU, they both became anemic and were given 2 blood transfusions each. Knowing this was a possibility, we were able to have family donate  perblood and they were each given blood from our personal donors. We will never know exactly whose blood it was, which we actually prefer, because in such a helpless situation where family can’t even see the babies, it brought a sense of feeling that maybe that person’s blood helped in the long process of saving Jackson & Makenna.  They both had a lot of problems with bradycardia and desats, were on CPAP, nasal cannula, etc.  They each were treated for jaundice. They both had bad reflux. I got to hold Makenna for the first time when she was 5 days old. We held Jackson a few days later.  That was such a landmark for us in their long journey. There were so many ups and downs and when sitting next to one of your babies who needs to be touched to help them remember to breathe and bring their heart rate back l up, you just feel so overwhelmed. And when your other baby who about 10 feet away has the same episode, it brings a moment of “OH MY GOD please pray for them” how do you choose which one to tend to first?? Those days on bedrest and especially the weeks in the NICU were beyond overwhelming, scary, stressful, so many words come to mind. I kept a journal and wrote in it every single day they were in the NICU. It helped me keep all the information given organized and know each baby from the other as you’re told so many things, things that no parent wants to hear, things you never thought yourself would hear. We were beyond blessed and lucky to be able to bring them home, only on heart monitors and a couple special medications which in time were discontinued. They’ve seen specialists for their eyes, heart, development and they are PERFECT. They are now 5 years old in Kindergarten this year and could not be any healthier. It’s hard for me to look at the pictures from where they started, but looking at pictures of where they are now is AMAZING and truly makes my heart happy and feel so beyond blessed they had the care they did. If it weren’t for that care in the NICU and while I was pregnant, they may not be here today and they may have not been as AMAZING as they are today. Makenna is a sweet, little bit shy, helpful, smart, and caring little girl. Jackson is full of life, funny, affectionate, and playful, smart little boy. The family of 4 we always wanted is now the happy, healthy family of 5 that we wouldn’t change for anything!!!! The love we have for our kids is just unexplainable. “Our cups runneth over.”

Furlong TwinsWritten by Erin Furlong, Mother and Labor and Delivery Nurse

Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, a campus of Methodist Hospital

(Photo of Jackson and Makenna)


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