Sunday, February 05, 2006

It's a ... one of each!

UPDATE!! UPDATE!! (DATED FEBRUARY 6, 2006, 9:50pm)

Deanna came home today, so don't bother to phone the hospital number -- you'll only be interrupting the poor woman who took Deanna's place! The twins are still at BC Women's, though, so we'll be going back for visits often -- and if any of you happen to tag along with us, you can see them too!

In the meantime, my parents have posted a few of their pictures here, and I've started a Flickr account with a few more photos here.

- - -

And to think I was going to see Curious George this morning.

For those who just want the baseball-card stats, Deanna went into labour Saturday morning and gave birth to Elizabeth Joy Chattaway (4 lbs, 12 oz) at 3:17pm and to Thomas Lawrence Chattaway (5 lbs, 2 oz) at 3:46pm.

Deanna will probably stay at BC Women's for only two or three nights, including tonight, but the twins could be there for up to three weeks -- it depends on how quickly they learn to "eat". Apparently it is the hospital's policy to keep premature babies in the "intermediate care ward" there until the 36-week mark, and Thomas and Elizabeth (how patriarchal of me to keep listing their names in that order, when it was she who was born first!) were at 33 weeks and 2 days today. So, I'm not sure who can see the babies in person just yet -- just relatives and "support" personnel, I think, and while I would normally interpret "support" to mean medical types, they did allow Fr. Lawrence to come in and say a prayer.

For those who want a little more story ... and a few more gory details ... I'll post it in a comment to this post. No point in clogging the home page with my anecdotes.

But there's always room for one more picture! Here's one of Deanna's hand touching Elizabeth:


Peter T Chattaway said...

And here's the longer version (copied-and-pasted from an e-mail I sent to a bunch of friends, so some of the information here is a little more explanatory than it would be if I had written it just for Spruce Islanders) ...

I was going to catch a screening this morning, and I had arranged ahead of time to see the film in question with the daughter of a friend of mine, with the friend herself keeping Deanna company here at home. But shortly before these friends of ours came over, around 9 a.m., Deanna said she didn't think she'd want me to step out today. So I gave the pass to our friends when they got here. And then the home-care nurse came over, and told Deanna she should probably go to the hospital for an assessment.

I asked if I should call a taxi, and Deanna suggested calling Fr. Chris and Mat. Kim, since they live between our place and the hospital and they had told us to let them know if we ever needed a ride or anything. So Kim picked us up and got us to the hospital around, oh, 11 a.m. Since she is a doula -- and since we had difficulty getting through to our main doula, Mat. Sarah (due to a power outage that hit her neighbourhood today -- yikes!) -- Kim stayed at the hospital, just in case. And then the doctor examined Deanna and discovered that she had dilated to "8 or 9 cm". "Out of how many?" I asked, but I knew the answer. "Ten!" said the doctor.

Just to put this in some perspective, Deanna had been at 3 cm for pretty much the entire past three months -- hence all the "bed rest" she was required to get at the hospital. Going up to 8 cm was a bit of a jump.

At this point I started making phone calls. (Actually, I had made one or two before this, but at this point I really stepped up the phoning.)

Deanna's mother, Jan, showed up fairly soon, and she was in the operating room with me and Kim and the various hospital personnel. I took a seat behind Deanna's head; someone asked if I wanted to come around and get a better view, and when we asked Deanna for her opinion she said she didn't care, but I vaguely recalled that she had said she wanted me by her head, so I said I'd stay there, and besides, I figured it was good to preserve a little mystery. One doctor asked if they should set up a mirror, but Deanna quickly nixed that -- and then I realized I could catch glimpses of reflections in the doctors' visors, if I really wanted to. ("Why the visors?" I wondered. I got my answer when the second baby's amniotic sack burst and water spurted everywhere. But I'm getting ahead of myself.)

Nothing in the past seven-and-a-half months had prepared me for the moment when Elizabeth emerged and I could see her flailing and hear her wailing down at the other end of the operating table. I had seen ultrasounds, I had felt kicks, I had glimpsed her through a glass darkly -- but now I was seeing her face-to-face. I cut the umbilical cord, but was glad no one asked me if I wanted to hold her just yet; I think I would have been too weak to do so. I just stared and stared at her, as the pediatricians and nurses measured her and bundled her: the way she gulped for air, the way she stuck out her tongue, the way she moved her arms and legs, etc.

Twenty-nine minutes -- and one miniature amniotic flood -- later, Thomas was born. Deanna had not taken any drugs for the first baby, and had definitely been in pain; but for the second baby, they put something in her epidural, and it seemed to go more smoothly. Thankfully, both babies came out head-first, and there was no need for a caesarean or for any other kind of surgery. Me, I went through the same routine as before -- cutting the cord and gawking at the baby. Finally a doctor said it would be okay to touch Thomas, so I held his fingers with one of mine (or did his fingers hold mine)? At one point I looked back at the operating table and saw that the doctors weren't done with Deanna yet. "Don't tell me she's having triplets!" I said. They laughed. I then followed the pediatrician to the intermediate care ward, and spent a bit more time gawking at the babies (and snapping a couple of digital photos).

Mat. Kim was with us through the birth, and Mat. Sarah got our message and came down too, but alas, she did not arrive until things were well under way in the operating room. When I stepped out into the waiting area, both she and Fr. Lawrence were there, so I took them to the intermediate care ward, where he said a prayer over the two babies. Deanna was taken to a recovery room, and Fr. Lawrence said a prayer over her, too.

And then, gradually, one by one, people left, until it was just Deanna and me in her brand-new room at the hospital (Dogwood 7, phone number 604-875-2424 extension 6286). Seems like only yesterday that we got her out of BC Women's. Actually, it was three whole days ago that she moved out of that hospital and back home -- and those were three very good days, and I'm very glad we had those three days before she went back in.

It's bizarre to think the doctors were once talking of inducing labour on the 13th -- our first wedding anniversary, as it happens. It seems the twins couldn't wait quite that long. And it looks like we've become full-fledged parents less than a year after we tied the knot.

Like I said above, the twins might need to be taught how to "eat", and for now, while they stay at the BC Women's / Children's Hospital, they are being fed intravenously. The nurses apparently had difficulty finding a spot to give Elizabeth her IV, so they eventually attached it to her head, and cut off a few tufts of hair to make room for the needle; that hair is now in a tiny cup, which the nurses dubbed "Elizabeth's first haircut". (Fr. Lawrence and I joked that it was sort of a premature tonsure.)

Elizabeth was sleeping fairly soundly when Deanna and I went down to the nursery again late this evening, but Thomas was crying pretty loudly -- possibly because the nurse was giving him a bath, though he's also got some respiratory issues which I'm told are not uncommon at this stage for a preemie. (One staffer described his breathing as "grunty".)

So, interesting days still lie ahead. But so far it has turned out way, way better than I had hoped. In my imagination, I often pictured us being woken up by contractions in the middle of the evening, and leaving big puddles of broken water on the floor of our apartment as we rushed out to catch a taxi all by our lonesomes ... but instead, everything transpired between 9 and 5 (a proper day at the office), there was no mess except in places where there is supposed to be mess, and we had friends with us every step of the way. Not to mention we made it to 33 weeks despite all those doctors who said we'd never make it past 22, or 25, or whatever.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared right now -- creating new people is kinda freaky, after all -- plus I'm very tired (so tired, in fact, that I'm surprised I wrote all this). But I also feel very, very blessed. Thank you to everyone who was there today, and to everyone who has helped us and prayed for us and visited us (and especially Deanna) over the past three months. You've all made today possible.

avery said...

what beautiful babies!

thomasw said...

Congratulations to all four of you, having made it through a long - often worrisome - wait. Ah, but the pay off looks dandy indeed!

As parents, you couldn't have picked better names in my view! In particular, both Fr Lawrence and I are overjoyed at the names you chose for your son :)

Reuben said...

Congragulations and God's blessing to both of you. Your words made me cry.

pasivirta said...


biss said...

They look very adorable. That is an awesome shot of the two in the incubators.
Thanks for the detailed (but not to gorey) description of what transpired. It was an enjoyable read, and it's nice to know those little anecdotes.
And just as Thomas and Fr. Lawrence are especially pleased with your son's name, I am especially pleased with your daughter's name. Have you decided on her patron saint?

--I have food for you, collected from church. I'm trying to figure out how to get it to you, now.--

Simply Victoria said...

ps: that comment was mine, not avery's but she says congratulations too!:)

myn said...

WELL DONE PETER & DEANNA!!! i thrilled that there are babies everywhere!!! they look beautiful! i can't wait to meet them.

Glory to God!!

Gabe said...

Glory to Jesus Christ! Many Years Thomas and Elizabeth!

Magdalen said...

First off, a big huge hug to you, D, Elizabeth and Thomas. I can't wait to meet the very youngest members of our family (followed closely by Owen, can't wait to meet him either.)
Secondly, a big tongue-sticking out, and a Nelson-style "Ha Ha!" to all the doctors and their doomsday predictions. Pfft. What do they know?
I'm thrilled beyond words that their birth worked out so well, and D and your kids are all healthy and safe. Tell D we love her.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Thanks, all. Deanna may be coming home as early as tomorrow (Monday), but the twins will still be in the intermediate-care ward, so if anybody wants to visit them with us, let us know!

Re: the names and where they come from.

"Thomas" is my middle name and my dad's middle name, and it was my grandfather's first name -- so it's a perfect name for a Chattaway. I have also always liked St. Thomas the Apostle, or "Doubting Thomas", or whatever you want to call him, for all sorts of reasons relating to my own grappling with doubt and faith; if I had been an apostle, I think I would definitely have been a stick-my-fingers-in-the-wounds kind of guy. (I especially like the way St. Thomas is portrayed in the 1985 mini-series A.D. Anno Domini, which begins with the Resurrection and goes on to depict events from the Book of Acts, etc.) The fact that "Thomas" also means "twin" is kind of appropriate, in this case, though that didn't occur to me until long after we had settled on the name.

"Lawrence", or Larry, is Deanna's brother's name. It also happens to be the name of the priest who officiated at our wedding -- maybe y'all have heard of him?

Side note: The fact that "Thomas Lawrence" happens to be the name of the main character in my favorite movie of all time is pure coincidence. Deanna has never seen Lawrence of Arabia (1962), so when she proposed naming our son this, she wasn't influenced by that at all. FWIW, as soon she suggested the name, I plucked a book off my Lawrence-of-Arabia shelf just to confirm that the "T." in "T.E. Lawrence" really does stand for "Thomas". (I then asked, not at all seriously, if we could name him "Thomas Edward Lawrence Chattaway", and she promptly said no.)

"Joy" is the first name of Deanna's aunt and the middle name of one of my sisters.

I'm not sure how we picked the name "Elizabeth". I know it was my grandmother's middle name, but I don't think we ever thought about that until afterwards. I do remember telling Deanna that it was a great name because there were sooooo many nicknames for it. "Peter", by comparison, doesn't offer many options, nickname-wise.

As far as patron saints go, I had assumed Elizabeth's would be the mother of John the Forerunner, but the other day someone showed me a list of other potential Elizabeths, so who knows!

RW said...

It is such a good story.

congratulations peter and deanna.

Welcome thomas and elizabeth!

Simply Victoria said...

hm. I just gave this another good read. it's a very good read.
it brings it all back to me.
the sploosh of water, the pain, the joy, the brand new human beings being introduced to the world.
I'm so happy for both of you. how perfect.
you and your beautiful children remain in our prayers.

God grant health and many years to Elizabeth and Thomas Chattaway!!

elizabeth said...

yea!!!!!!! prayers answered and prayers continued...

Matthew Francis said...


5cent said...

God bless all for four of you! I'm so happy for you two. May the Lord protect in their small state. You must be both so proud. I love the names too by the way!

5cent said...

Indeed, the babes are beautiful. I glanced over a little of the long version, here. I tingling all over about the whole thing. Bless you again. I'll tell Elise all about it.

Mira-cle said...

Glory to God for these little miracles :) Congratulations.

Kai said...

From us as well, God's blessing and all the best wishes from us to the four of you...
Theresia and Kai

kimberley said...

peter, deanna, elizabeth and thomas:

much rest and joy to each of you!
good work!
god bless you.

elizabeth said...

love the pictures; very beautiful... prayers continued...

jaime said...

God grant you many years, health and salvation! Glad to know that we can tweek our prayers in the liturgy from unborn child to born!
lots of love to you

:-)Ronie said...

Congratulations on your blessings! I have identical twin boys--so seeing those isolettes brings back soo many memories.

I pray for God's strength and vitality on you and yours!