It took me a long time to get pregnant. When I finally did, my doctor was quick to point out to me all the possible issues that can be associated with a twin pregnancy; gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, preterm birth. Really, she was a bit of a downer. I spent a decent amount of my pregnancy thinking about how I would manage with preemie babies. And then, I passed the 30 week mark, and the 32 week mark and the 34 week mark. By the time I got to 36 weeks, I was thinking those babies would never arrive. Seriously, I hadn’t even had a contraction. Not one! And then, two days later, my water broke in the middle of the night. Off we went to the hospital to have those babies! I STILL didn’t have any contractions until after I got to the hospital.
Baby A (Danny) had been vertex and Baby B (Abigail) had been transverse since about 24 weeks (they kept saying they could move—and the babies never did) so they gave me the choice of a C section versus vaginal birth. Huh. I was not really ready for that kind of choice at 3am. We chose Option #2, the vaginal bith, and then, 18 hours later, changed our minds and went for the C section. What happened in between was not so fun and involved stalled labor, some epidural issues, a fever and some really strong wishing that I had picked Option #1. The details don’t really matter–and honestly, I don’t remember a bunch of it– the summary of it is: we had two healthy babies. I was ok (as ok as you can be after abdominal surgery) and the babies were ok. They were born at 9:05pm and 9:06pm on Easter evening. Danny came first, at 19 inches and 6lbs 6oz. Abigail was second, and not as ready as Danny–they had to break her water before getting her out and she was kind of blueish, with a lower APGAR score than Danny. The doctors said that sometimes the second baby, who is not as engaged in the labor, is not as prepared for the birth. She was 18.5 inches, 5lbs 15oz. I wasn’t able to see them that night because they were struggling a bit at first and needed to be monitored in the step-down nursery, but by 7am the next morning, they were hanging out with me & Seth in my hospital room. After that time in the nursery, they were able to room in with us.
I thought I would summarize what I learned from the whole experience:
1. They will offer you the choice of c section versus vaginal. I really wish I had just picked that c section at 3am, but you never know what’s going to happen. Lots of women have twins vaginally with no issues. But, be ready for that choice. And, if you want to change your mind later on, you’re allowed. They don’t really tell you this, but you can push for the c section. I did, although eventually the OB pushed for it too–once she realized I wasn’t progressing past 9 cm.
2. It’s really a pretty medicalized process. I don’t mind doctors or hospitals, but it was not that pretty picture from tv. Really not. A lot more doctors (or residents) and A LOT of people messing with stuff down there. In the OR, there will be a ton of people. Maybe 18 or so were in ours–people for me, people for the babies, I swear there were even a couple of tourists who wandered by. Ok, maybe not, but it felt like a lot of people. And, they kind of ignore you and go about their business.
3. C sections really aren’t that bad. I’d heard a lot of hype (“it feels like your intestines are going to fall out”) but while it hurt, it hurt a lot less than labor. And the pain meds work. The recovery was really pretty good for me. I know some people struggle with it, but it was no where near as bad as I was expecting. However, tell your husband (or whoever is there with you) NOT to look over the sheet. There is much more of you on display (and out of your body) than should EVER be there. He does not need that image of you.
4. There is not a lot of help in the hospital for breastfeeding, especially breastfeeding twins. (This may be different for other hospitals). Talk to your pediatrician when you leave the hospital to see how the babies are doing. Mine was fine with their eating because they started gaining weight at day 6.
5. If you have a c section, you really need the other parent in the room with you to take care of the babies. Getting in and out of bed was quite challenging (and I think fairly funny to watch). And, there are two of them. I think Seth had some fantasy of sleeping at home in his own bed. Yeah, not gonna happen. The one day he had to go home for a few hours (we were there Saturday to Friday), I had to get my mother-in-law to come in and help me with the babies. Those first few days I just wasn’t up to double baby duty.
6. Although I didn’t have any trouble with postpartum depression, lots of women do. Several risk factors apply to many of us moms of twins (or more!); 1) Having multiples 2) Using IVF 3) Having a birth experience that is traumatic or unexpectedly bad (baby in the NICU, medical issues during C section, scary moments for mom or baby). It’s not to scare any of the pregnant moms (I had all three risk factors and did fine) but it’s always good to know what to watch out for, so you can catch any sign of PPD early and be aggressive in addressing it. Because taking care of newborn twins is hard enough—you don’t need to be dealing with full-blown PPD at the same time.
7. On a less serious note, Goddess in Progress mentioned being wary of the photos you convince your husband to take while high on the anti-pain cocktail they give you. I would also caution against “drunk dialing” various family and friends once you come out of surgery but are still wacked out on drugs (and you really will be, if they give you the good stuff). Yeah, I still haven’t lived down the phone calls I made to friends and family—at midnight on Easter Sunday. “It’s not so late, honey, they won’t mind me calling!” My brother still cracks up remembering what an idiot I sounded like (as I think he described it, as if I were 8 tequila shots in to a night out on the town—I wish! It wasn’t that fun, really). Seriously, wait until the next morning, or assign this task to hubby.
It’s hard to imagine that was over a year ago. The one thing I learned from this is that no matter what the birth experience is like, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the little guys who come home with you, and the fun (and exhaustion) of watching them grow and develop. Check out how much they’ve grown in the past year!