June 21, 2008

The Gray Family Doubles Overnight. Welcome Matthew and Sarah!

I'll hope you can excuse my not posting anything here yesterday. You see, yesterday we were somewhat busy. Shortly after 9 p.m. yesterday night, my wife, Kristine, and I welcomed two new arrivals into our home - Matthew David Gray and Sarah Elizabeth Gray. After about 35 1/2 weeks of gestation, the pair emerged somewhat early, and definitely on the small side, but all signs point to them both being healthy and strong, even if we start slow.

In what I believe was a Web first, I tried to chronicle the proceedings, as best as I was able, using FriendFeed and Twitter in combination. Robert Scoble famously covered son Milan's arrival via Twitter and others have followed suit. But with FriendFeed offering me the best community and conversational platform, combined with great WiFi here at Lucille Packard Childrens' Hospital, I wanted to take advantage.

Thursday at 10:40 p.m.

Thursday night, the process kicked off when my wife's water broke. Having passed the 32 week mark earlier, when we knew it was "safe" to have our kids, we knew the time was imminent. We had hoped for a July 1 arrival, around 37 weeks, but we were as ready as possible, if any parents are ever ready.

Dog-sitting in Palo Alto, I had to turn around to Sunnyvale, finish packing her hospital bag, grab some things and turn back around. Somehow I did this without breaking any speed limits or running red lights.

Meanwhile, Kristine had started contractions, and was measuring around 10 minutes apart.

Friday at 12:30 a.m.

After coming back to Palo Alto, Kristine and I headed to Lucille Packard Children's Hospital and checked in. She was monitored, and contractions were definitely present. June 20th was going to be the day the twins were coming.

Friday at 12:53 a.m.

I wrote a quick note, using TwitAbit, to Twitter, saying, "For those who are curious... today is going to be the day. The "Schwag Magnet" twins are coming. Don't expect minute by minute updates."

The twins had often been referred to as "Schwag Magnets" by Cyndy of Profy and others, thanks to my call for them to wear Web-branded apparel at the end of March. There's even a FriendFeed room dedicated to "Schwag Magnets" and parents of all types.

My quick Tweet set FriendFeed abuzz, as you can see here. I tried to post updates every once in a while, saying contractions were 4-5 mintues apart, and that we would be there for a while.

Robert Scoble bet the twins would be "here by noon", and reminded us to "Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!"

I later checked in and said contractions were down to 2-3 minutes apart. But as time went forward, and there wasn't too much progression, FriendFeed got antsy, and of course, so did we.

Friday at 1:30 p.m.

After 12+ hours of early labor, things were not progressing as quickly as we had hoped. I updated people on Twitter again, only jokingly saying, "Twins still not here well after @scobleizer's 12 noon expected deadline. www.blamescoble.com"

Fellow FriendFeeders also noticed I'd managed to work in my usual Web activity between contractions.

While Kristine kept pushing, and contractions kept getting measured, the labor wasn't progressing all that much. Every few hours, the nurses and doctor would come in, only to find dilation was extremely slow. What was expected to go at a pace of 1 cm per hour was more like 1 cm per 3 hours, and eventually, no progression at all.

Friday at 3 p.m.

Superstitiously, I got out of my A's shirt, which I'd been wearing all day, and put on a Disqus T-shirt I got from Daniel Ha in our last visit. Given their success, I was hoping something would rub off. (Again, I updated Twitter.)

Friday at 7 p.m.

Kristine and I soon came to the same conclusion the doctors had - trying to continue with a vaginal delivery wasn't going to work. 20 hours after the water had broken, and 19 hours into the labor, we had stalled. The kids were in great shape, showing healthy heartbeats, but it was time to consider having a C-Section. It was something we wanted to avoid, but to avoid infection, and be sure to see our kids well, we agreed to move forward.

This time, I updated FriendFeed only, and not Twitter, saying only: "C-Section Imminent. Won't be Long Now. (Wish us Luck!)"

Friday at 9:01 p.m.

Matthew David Gray arrived, weighing in at 5 pounds even, measuring 47 centimeters.

Friday at 9:03 p.m.

Sarah Elizabeth Gray arrived, weighing in at 4 pounds, 3 ounces, measuring 47 centimeters.

Friday at 11:00 p.m.

After checking Sarah into the NICU, and Matthew into the nursery, I returned to find Kristine in recovery. Getting her approval, I updated Twitter and FriendFeed, saying: "Baby Grays are here! The boy clocked in at 9:01 at 5 pounds, and the girl weighed in at 4 pounds, 3 oz at 9:02. Both healthy.” (Note I was off on the second time by a minute)

After a long day of waiting, FriendFeed erupted with congratulations, and so did Twitter. See the Summize stream!


It's amazing to imagine how much people care, given our interactions are often so virtual, but I have to impress upon you how appreciative we are.

The twins' small size was expected, but not to such a degree. In fact, our latest ultrasound, 10 days prior, had expected Matthew to already be 5 pounds, 1 ounce, and Sarah at 4 pounds, 8 ounces. But we were near the margin of error. While the kids had all their fingers and toes, and responded to stimulation, Sarah's tiny size has guaranteed her a stay in the NICU. Matthew is in the nursery, and spent the night with Kristine and me, as we alternated holding him and catching some sleep.

I promise we will deliver pictures soon. We have only a few already. The twins' arrival was very visible, and we hope to keep you updated, between feedings, diapers and everything else. It's not like we're the first parents ever to have kids, but it's the first time we've ever done it. I'm glad to have been able to share the experience with you. More very soon.