Thursday, August 30, 2012

To the Doctor

Monday morning, Nathan and I loaded the kids up and drove two hours to Spokane. Ezra and Elliott had an appointment with a pediatric urologist--an appointment I have been anxiously anticipating for the past 9 months.

The boys are wonderful. Everything about their birth was a miracle. However, when I told their birth story back in November, I did leave out a minor detail. I considered not sharing it even now, but two upcoming surgeries are weighing heavily on my mind, and I find the entire situation impossible not to talk about.


As I was laying on the operating room table and feeling each contraction, I had two prominent thoughts:  I knew I had control of my body, but I also knew I had no control regarding the health of by unborn babies. I prayed they would be breathing, I asked for their forgiveness for not making it to a larger hospital, and I reassured myself that everything would be alright if I forced myself not to freak out.

A couple of pushes later, Elliott was born. He softly cried, and I knew he was breathing. I was instantly relieved. I called out to the doctors and nurses in the room, "Is he okay?"

The response from one doctor was, "We'll talk about it later."

My heart dropped. What in the world did that mean? I still had to deliver Ezra, but was obsessing over Elliott possibly having some huge issue. I imagined the worst and thought for sure he was being prepared to be sent to Sacred Heart in Spokane via helicopter. These thoughts happened in just a couple of seconds.

A nurse suddenly called out: "He's fine! He's fine! He's perfect!"

I felt better, but I worried if she was lying to me. 

Eight minutes later, Ezra was born. I tried to sit up, but they made me stay down on the cold, hard operating room table. I just wanted to see the babies. I looked over and could tell Ezra was smaller. I watched two nurses monitor his breathing while a doctor examined him. Together, all three women looked at something on one part of his body. The doctor pointed and the nurses both exchanged a curious look and stared at little Ezra.

I knew Ezra and Elliott were going to be fine, but I also knew that something was going on. The rest is a blur, but I remember being sent up to my hospital room and getting into a wheelchair. Before I was taken to the nursery, Nathan came into the room. He gently put his hands on my shoulders and looked at me right in the eyes. My stomach dropped again. I thought I was going to throw up. I was bracing myself for the worst.

"So...," he paused, "there is something wrong with the babies." He quickly went on to say, "But don't worry. It can be easily fixed and they are perfectly fine. They...have a little condition with their penis."

I felt my entire body go limp with relief for the second time that day. I immediately said, "Oh gosh. I can handle that!" 

The nurse wheeled me into the little nursery and formally introduced me to my two sons. As I looked at them breathing in unison, I was overwhelmed with immense gratitude. They were two amazing miracles. Their minor birth defect was just that--minor.


Both boys have a condition called hypospadias. For your own sake, I advise not Googling the phrase. Basically, hypospadias is a condition where the opening of the urethra is on the underside, rather than at the end, of the penis. Additionally, the boys do not urinate through the urethra, but instead from a tiny hole a few millimeters below the actual opening.  Obviously, this can cause a number of complications--especially as they grow older.

As with most birth abnormalities, there are mild to very severe cases. Fortunately, Ezra and Elliott have very mild cases of the condition. The pediatric urologist let Nathan and I know that their hypospadias could be easily repaired.  She also let us know that they would only need one surgery rather than two like we originally thought. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to do the surgeries on the same day. 

I asked the pediatric urologist how many identical twins she had seen with the condition, and she said there had only been a couple of cases that she remembered. I then went on to tell her how several nurses at the local clinic had said, "It's so weird that they both have it!" Considering that they are identical twins and sharing the same DNA, it didn't seem too weird to me. The urologist then said, "What is really weird is seeing cases where one identical twin has it and the other doesn't. I've seen that happen at least twice." She also explained how based on information like this, scientists have tried to determine if the condition is environmental or genetic. As of now, there is no conclusive evidence pointing to either theory.

What I do know is that I am grateful for the power of modern medicine. I am glad that this minor issue can be corrected and that our sons can live a normal life. While at the urologist's office, we met another set of identical twins. They were 13 years old and had two H names (they loved that the boys had two E names). One girl was in a wheelchair with spina bifida and the other girl, who loved talking to us about our babies and about being a twin, had Asperger's syndrome. She kindly asked, "Do your twins have disabilities like us?" It was such a simple, yet honest question.

I wasn't sure what to say. I explained that the boys had a small disability, but that it could be fixed. I said they were really lucky to have such a little problem. I also let them know that my father was in a wheelchair, so I grew up thinking anyone in a wheelchair must be amazing. They both smiled at that response.  These girls had a wonderfully kind mother, and I felt somewhat embarrassed to be parading around two perfectly healthy boys. Their mother asked about my delivery and the NICU, and again, I felt guilty telling her that they had no NICU time and that the entire delivery went great. Her story was incredibly different than mine. She had had miracles of her own, but she and her daughters have been through a lot after months in the NICU and countless surgeries. It was a gentle reminder that although this surgery seems overwhelmingly huge at the moment, it is nothing in the grand scheme of life. What a miracle it is to have healthy children! 

I still think the nurse was right the day E and E were born: They are perfect. 


  1. Oh my gosh! The face Elliot is making is like so Anna, I can't even take it. I love that she has twinsins. ;) It is crazy to have our trials put into perspective like that. They are such fun and cute little boys. I just love them.

  2. Yeah, I would have been relieved to hear it was a penis problem, too. As long as their brains and eyes and hearts and lungs are fine, the rest seems like cake.

    Not to trivialize their birth defect. I hope the surgery goes smoothly! I find it fascinating that they both have it.

  3. I remember when my daughter went in for surgery on her bladder and ureter at 7 months. I was waiting for Brooke to be taken back and a mother with a toddler (18 mo) asked why I was in. So after I told her, I asked her. She said her baby had cancer. I wanted to cry. I felt embarrassed for thinking Brooke's surgery was some big thing when it could be so much worse. And honestly it was a big thing for me, but it makes me feel so much more for those who have to deal with bigger problems than a little repair on a bladder or ureter.
    I hope the surgeries go well. The good thing about babies is they heal so quickly. We weren't even in the hospital for 24 hours before we could go home.

  4. I cried reading that last part. Your perspective is amazing, Celia! Keeping you guys in our prayers!

  5. Celia, I admire your great attitude. You're absolutely right. What a huge miracle after a scary pregnancy. They're totally perfect! I've heard of a few kids who have the same issue, and although it's not fun to recover, everything will be absolutely fine. And it's great Nathan will be around to help! It really is a huge miracle they didn't need any NICU time. That is amazing!! When Noah was in the NICU just for 3 days with jaundice, I saw the other mothers in there day and night checking on and nursing their babies in the rocking chairs, and almost every other baby in there had an issue bigger than jaundice. It was a big wake-up call and it made his issue seem so tiny. Maybe the boys will be able to comfort each other after their surgery. :)


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