Thursday, October 20, 2005

Some Thoughts From Liz

Brian's wedding ring on Kaitlyn's foot - taken on 10/20/05

Well, where do I start? I guess there is no where to really start writing again. I’m so thankful for my brother Gary that has relayed updates to every one, I’ll probably still have him do so, as my abilities to communicate are still a bit limited (due to my emotions and continued exhaustion).

This is sort of disjointed array of my thoughts over the last two weeks, without going into many of the day to day details that Gary has already described here. I can say that typing while sitting sure is a lot easier than while lying on my side in bed!

I feel absolutely overwhelmed by all the outpourings of love, support and grief for our little family. The comments here on my site, the emails, flowers, cards, etc have touched us. I can't believe that this "blog" has been viewed 2,400 times!!! Wow. I hadn’t been able to turn on my computer until just a few days ago, and reading all the comments just made me weep. I’m sorry we’ve been sort of unreachable, this has been the hardest thing that we’ve ever had to deal with (and I thought 3 months of lying in bed was tough). I’m trying to start to re-connect with folks slowly, so if you call please leave a message if I don’t answer. I promise to start picking up the phone a bit at a time.

I’m not sure why I’m so tired still, I felt fine when I was lying in bed for almost 3 months, now that I’m allowed to get up I am too exhausted after a few hours (which usually consists of a trip to the city and the hospital). The doctors are all still worried about me. The NICU docs and nurses can tell when they see me that I haven’t had enough to sleep or eat – here they are supposed to be worried about Kaitlyn and they always tell me they are worried about me too. I’ve actually just hit my pre-pregnancy weight (in just two weeks), so that is their worry now. All throughout my life whenever I've had big emotional set-backs I usually loose a lot of weight - guess it's not different now, except added to that is the strain on my body from breast-pumping. I get mad at myself that I’m so tired, why can’t I be stronger, I’m not having to wake up every 2 hours at night with new borns as I had expected being a new mom would be. The docs remind me that I’ve been very sick and I should allow myself to be tired.

Having an open wound on my abdomen really, really sucks. 3 times a day Brian is a godsend (a bit of gross stuff here) as he has to rip the tape off, take out the gauze packing, clean and repack the wound. There’s no way that I can even look at it. At least my doc said on Tuesday that “it’s looking better and starting to heal.” We are looking at a month at least until it “heals.” Which means it will eventually just start “filling itself in” with healthy skin. Sheesh! Thank goodness when they did the c-section that they cut the nerves too, so the thing that hurts the worst really is the tape ripping off my stomach and sensitive areas. The docs think it’s from my ruptured membrane and infection I got when I went into labor 2 weeks ago.


After having contractions all night, getting lots of drugs to try to stop the contractions (terb and moraphine), I started getting a fever around 5am. When the fever started going up I knew this was it. I started crying saying I wasn’t ready, the girls weren’t ready; I had promised myself that I was going to make it to at least 30 weeks. It was just too early. Brian rushed in from work (he basically just left the firehouse); my doctor came in to do the surgery (she wasn't even on call) and it was decided the surgery would be at 7am (enought time for Brian to get there). I was terrified. Labor is supposed to be a joyful event, and this was anything but joyful.

Corinne Margaret McCarthy – Born at 7:24 am on 10/4/05, passed away in my arms 3 hours later.
Birth weight: 1 pound, 13 ounces

We always knew that if we had a daughter we were going to name her after our mothers; my mother – Corinne; and Brian’s mother - Margaret. This was decided a LONG time ago, even before our long journey to get pregnant, and somehow we both always knew we would have daughters. We were keeping it a secret.

We hadn’t named our girls in utero, as we hadn’t decided which of our twin daughters were going to get this special name. The moment that they were born, Brian felt it was especially important that we give our special PROM princess our mother’s name, as she needed all the strength that our moms could provide.

I can remember so clearly when they pulled first Corinne and then Kaitlyn out of me, Brian was crying, I was terrified, and the wonderful L&D nurse (Elizabeth) that tried to keep me out of labor all that night who decided to stay after her shift ended to go into the OR with me, leaned over and said “you are a mom now to 2 beautiful little girls.” I think I said something about it was too soon to know if I was a mom, and she said, “No, you are a parent now for the rest of your life no matter what the outcome is.”

Yesterday (10/18) was really awful. We went to the funeral home that was near where we used to live in North Beach in SF. We choose that place because we remembered seeing brass band funeral processions going down the street and we have such fond memories of North Beach. We have chosen to have Corinne Margaret cremated, and then Brian and I are going to decide what to do with her remains. We may wait till Kaitlyn comes home (probably early next year) and go to Tahoe (if Kaitlyn is allwed due to her lung issues) where we met and got married. There is no place as special to us then the peacefulness of the mountains. They picked up Corinne’s body today (10/19) from the hospital which made me feel incredibly sad, as our 2 daughters are no longer together in the same building anymore.

It just isn’t right for anyone to have to watch their first child being born, watch her die in your arms just a short time later and then have to arrange for her remains. We never, never thought it would be this hard. We knew all along once Corinne’s membrane ruptured that this could be the outcome, but it is just so much harder than we could have ever imagined.

The emotions of loss while at the same time knowing you have a living daughter has to be the hardest thing anyone should have to go through. I wasn’t able to go in to see Kaitlyn again for 4 days after they were born because I was so sick. The first time I saw her I couldn’t believe how small she was, and all the tubes and everything attached to her I of course broke down again. The first thing I thought about was the fact that the space next to her was empty, as it was where I said good-by to Corinne just a few days earlier and that I was so grief-stricken. Corinne was supposed to be there.

I missed her, Brian missed her, Kaitlyn missed her. We still miss her terribly.

I got so used to the idea that we were having twins. Now every time I see a woman with a single baby I feel so sad. Isn’t that terrible? I had gotten so used to having 2 little girls.

Corinne was a fighter. I felt her move and kick inside me all the time, even more than I felt Kaitlyn. That was probably because she didn’t have any fluid around her for 10 weeks. She saved her sister. The doctors told us the chance of keeping my pregnancy was slim after Corinne’s water broke at 16 weeks, 6 days. She lasted exactly 10 weeks until I was 26 weeks, 6 days. Kaitlyn needed that time so she could be with us today. Corinne saved her sister and we will make sure that Kaitlyn knows she has a twin sister looking out for her in heaven just as she looked out for her inside me.

I gave birth to two beautiful incredible little girls. I will never, ever forget that. I still cry myself to sleep many nights just thinking about how much I miss Corinne and that it just isn’t fair that she had to leave us so quickly and that her sister will never get to know her.

Kaitlyn Elizabeth McCarthy – Born at 7:25 on 10/4/05
Birth weight: 1 pound 10 ounces

I still haven’t gotten to hold Kaitlyn. I’ve hardly gotten to touch her, and it’s usually through a blanket or something. Isn’t that sad? She is 2 weeks old, and hasn’t grown a bit. She is still just barely 1.5 pounds. She fits in the palm of Brian’s hand (except for her long legs). Brian’s wedding ring fits easily over her foot and onto her leg. We tried this with Corinne when we held her and Corinne’s foot was bigger so Brian’s ring didn’t fit. I asked the doctor yesterday if she was 2 weeks “older” physically, as if I had gone 2 more weeks in the pregnancy she would have been so much better off. The Doc said that basically she was still “stuck” at the same GA (Gestational age) at which she was born (26weeks, 6 days) because she’s been so sick and had so many set-backs.

Going to the NICU is so difficult as there isn’t anything we can do. We go in, stare at her, cry for her, whisper to her, that’s about it.

Having a heart surgery at such a young age. We were so scared. The heart surgery she had to have was to open a duct that normally closes when a baby is older in the womb. Often times preemies are given a drug to close the duct, but after 2 doses, it didn’t work for Kaitlyn. When the duct is open it causes major problem with her heart and lungs, as it allows fluid to get into her lungs. I was still sick the day of her surgery I was sent all around the hospital having tests while she was being operated on. What a miserable day. But, she sailed through the surgery really well, and my tests came back ok.

Today was really the first promising news I’ve felt for Kaitlyn, and I actually felt like I was finally doing something, as she was given a very small amount of my breast-milk. Up to now, pumping has been awful (awful because there should be 2 babies on my breast, not a machine.) At least the one good thing about me is that my breasts actually are working! Supposedly lots of preemie moms have a lot of problems expressing their milk, and I haven’t had any problems there. Being small-chested all my life I always wondered how in the world I’d produce enough milk to feed a baby, but I can now say that the size of women’s breasts doesn’t matter and that it’s the only part of me that has worked correctly. I have so much milk built-up at the hospital that they are going to have to tell me to stop bringing it in. So knowing that she was finally given some today was great news. The Doc warned that it was too soon to tell how she is really taking it though, there is quite often feeding problems with preemies. Great.

A bit more about Kaitlyn…..she is incredibly feisty! I mean really, really feisty. I mean she has a temper like you can’t believe. The docs main concern (besides her lungs of course) is trying to keep her sedated and still, as she hates anything being done to her and kicks, moves, squirms and thrashes. She’s got the longest arms, legs, fingers and toes that you can believe and when she’s trashing about, she’s kicking her legs, waving her arms and trying to grab all the wires and tubes (yes, she has successfully pulled out her breathing tube in the past). I’ve only seen this anger full force a few times - (Monday 10/17) I entered the NICU when she was having a terrible attack of “pissed-off-ed-ness.” Alarms, buzzers and busyness was what I saw when I walked in. Of course the loud alarms piss her off even more. Scared the bejesus out of me. 2 Docs and 3 nurses were all around her doing all sorts of things, but basically her feisty-ness results in her de-stating (loosing oxygen saturation which results in the docs turning up her oxygen levels among other things.)

They’ve had her on a lot of sedatives trying to keep her calm. They discovered that she likes morphine the best. She was on some other, more “modern drugs” but she didn’t respond well (she got feisty), and that morphine was her drug of choice. Today the doc told me that yes, it was highly likely that she may now get a bit addicted to the morphine but the withdrawal effects from the drug was going to be better than her feisty attacks as it takes too much out of her.

I know how I felt at the hospital those 2 weeks, nurses constantly taking blood, giving me shots, taking my blood-pressure and temp, etc, etc., and I know how much I wanted to go home, so I can understand her attitude. She would much rather be back inside me, next to her sister and on bedrest! But, both Brian and I have determined that her real pissy-attitude comes from Brian, as he’s been known to throw a hissy-fit now and then.

The doctor at least laughed when she said that she knew, physically everything worked for Kaitlyn, as she certainly has control of her limbs during her temper-tantrums, and she laughed at us, saying we were certainly going to have our hands full with her!

I promise to post some pictures soon.


Leanne said...

It was so good to see your post. We owe Gary so much for keeping us up to date, but it's really special to hear from you. It's a step forward when we are all hanging onto baby steps! Andy and I send our love and hugs and prayers to you and Brian and Kaitlyn. Always.

Anonymous said...

Liz, It is great to hear from you! The L&D Nurse is will always and forever be the mom of two beautiful girls. What a tough road you are traveling. No one can imagine your strength and pain...
You mentioned not being able to hold Kaitlyn yet. I'm sure you know that the sound of your voice and your touch (even through the blanket) is sooo important. Kaitlyn knows her mommy and daddy and is aware of your love...even if only through a little contact! That is the most important gift you can give now!!!(Besides Brian's blood!)
Keep up the great work! You and Brian are terrific parents!!!
Love always, Sue

Anonymous said...


Hi, Kevin Shaw here--from Memphis! We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago about my wife's prom with twins.

Our stories are still incredibly similar.

Our original due date was January 2, 2006 (2 days before you) and Karen actually gave birth October 2nd (2 days before you!) We were all 26w6d (incredible, huh?).

Our daughter ALSO needed to have her heart valve closed (fortunately, the drug did work for her).

Fortunately, our prom baby (Kristian) did survive. He does have SERIOUS complications right now though. He has been diagnosed with hydrocephalus (build-up of fluid on the brain) and has already had brain surgery to release some fluid. He has a dislocated hip and multiple leg and feet problems (club foot, etc).

We TOTALLY get how exhausting this way of life is going to be for the next few months. We are always heading to the NICU or trying to sleep in between pumpings (Karen has not had the luck you've had with so much milk).

I'd love to talk to you again about your experiences when you and I get a moment to talk.

Hang in there and we are praying for you and your family.

Kevin Shaw (901-385-0560)

julie deruvo said...


First off, It is so nice that you did the post. It was as if you were talking right into my ear.

I am overwhelmed with the emotion of your message. It is just so beautiful. You allow us to feel the love that you have for both Corinne and Kaitlyn. Thank you for that.

As always, my family and I continue to pray for you and "Baby Kaitlyn" (as the girls call her) each night. I believe that it is the collection of ALL of us out there praying for you that is giving you the strength to get past each day.

My loving thoughts are with you and Brian at this time. Take all the time you need to feel better, you have gone through a tremendous loss.

God Bless,

Anonymous said...

Liz and Brian --I was so glad to hear from you all and know that the three of you are healing both physically and emotionally. I loved the picture and please send more. I understand you were able to change Kaitlyn today. Who would ever think that changing a diaper would be such a "mile stone"! We are thrilled for all! You remain in our prayer! Love Nancy

Michelle Flannagan said...

Liz- It's so great to hear your "voice" again. I have been thinking of you so often, and what you're going through.
Kaitlyn sounds like such a fighter, and that's going to come in handy. My Anna was much the same way(she also really liked the morphine) and is still the same feisty little peanut today.

It's so hard not to be able to hold them, I remember not holding Declan for almost a week and a half due to the vent, and it was so hard to deal with, but she knows that you and Brian are there, she knows your voices and can sense your presence.

Take care, Michelle from Sidelines