In retrospect

My son who is now 4 years old was delivered by a midwife. When I got pregnant for a second time, I immediately contacted the midwife and intended to have another midwife attended birth.  Of course, finding out I was having twins, changed those plans. I was suddenly switched from a low-risk clinic with midwives, to a high-risk practice with a doctor. Although I continued to hope for a natural birth, eventually, my daughters were delivered by cesarean because they weren’t positioned properly. I was reflected on this change of plans the other day as I thought about what to say to a friend is scheduled for cesarean delivery for her twin boys next week.

I’ve often tried to figure out what the purpose of having a cesarean delivery with the girls was. Not the medical purpose, but the life lesson person. Right from the beginning having a cesarean was one of my biggest concerns about having twins. I couldn’t find any information about how to decrease the chances of having a c-section with twins, but I decided I was just going talk to the babies and tell them why I wanted them to get lined up for a vaginal delivery. But, always finished by saying I trusted they knew when and how they should arrive.

My Baby Girls (5 hours old)

My Baby Girls (5 hours old)

I think one of the benefits of having a c-section (in retrospect 2 years later) was that it really made me focus on the babies for the first days and weeks.  First, we were in the hospital longer so they were, of course, my focus. Then, when I got home, I couldn’t physically do housecleaning, cooking, laundry etc.  While it was frustrating to feel helpless, I again had to focus on the babies. There wasn’t much else I could do. I made me slow down and not try to do everything. (However, at the time, I was not so patient and appreciative of this opportunity.)  I took full advantage of the doctor’s orders not to lift, push, pull or carry anything heavier than my baby (just one!) for the first six weeks. I had lots of help from my husband, my mom, my sister, friends, and even my son, while I started healing.

Did your babies’ births goes as expected? What did you learn from it?

19 thoughts on “In retrospect

  1. “Did my babies’ births go as expected?” Ha! At least you only had to recover from a c-section! I got to be one of those rare cases — delivered baby A vaginally and baby B by emergency c-section! But it doesn’t matter now — we’re so thankful to have them. The biggest thing I’ve learned is just to stop planning. Nothing ever works the way you expect it to, so you might as well just save yourself some time. :)

  2. Like you, I had a midwife-attended birth for my first child.

    For the birth of our second child, we were planning a home birth with another midwife. When (nearly six months into the pregnancy) we discovered our bonus baby, my midwife dropped me because she didn’t feel comfortable doing a twin delivery. We were left scrambling to find a care provider that would support a natural birth and it was next to impossible. (Every hospital I visited seemed like a fast track to a c-section and the one -size “high risk” approach really bothered me.) I ended up birthing them at home with four midwives present (although it was technically illegal) and the birth went smoothly.

    It is a special skill to learn how to deliver non-vertex babies and it is something not taught in medical schools. Hospitals and the vast majority of doctors automatically default to C-sections and it is a real shame because twins are hard enough without having to recover from major surgery on top of it. I am glad that you were able to see some benefit.

  3. Before we knew we were expecting twins, I had started seeing a midwife. We had to change plans and go with a high risk doctor once we realized we had two on the way. And due to complications, a c-section. Not at all the way I hoped things to go, but really all that matters is that the babies and mama are OK and I’m thankful for the quality of care we received. The c-section was easy, though a little scary but what birth wouldn’t be, and recovery wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe.

  4. I am slowly learning that NOTHING with twins goes as planned! My scheduled c-section turned into an emergency c-section based on Baby A’s heartrate dropping significantly while they were prepping me for the planned c-section. The doctor was already at the hospital from an earlier delivery, so he was called to check on me and the babies and he went inot panic mode and thought it’d be best to get them out asap. I was rushed into the OR. My nurse gave me my catheter before I had my spinal. Lovely. She just kept apologizing, but there was literally no time once the dr deemed it an emergency. Both boys were brought into this world 45 minutes before they were scheduled for surgery. Little did I know that that would be the first and last time we we would ever be early for something!! Ha!

  5. My first singleton son was born naturally without drugs. I’d hoped to have a natural birth with my twins as well. As the time approached my docs were preparing me for a c-section and presenting it as the gospel. I refused to take this as the only way, until I found out both babies were breech around 32 weeks. When I went into labor at 35 weeks, they told me babies had turned, but they wanted to prolong labor as much as possible. With success they kept me from laboring until 36w6d. I had a wonderful hospital support staff who was versed in transverse vaginal deliver for baby B, just in case. I elected for the epidural this go around in case there had to be an emergency c-section, but I made it through labor with both babies vaginally! I think this labor went as much to plan as I could have hoped for! I willed myself to avoid the knife as much as possible, and it was a midwife who gave me the best advice on pushing in delivery. Love your midwife!

  6. The birth of my boys definitely didn’t go as expected! I mean, I knew that the chances of having to have a c-section were fairly high, but up until the day they were born, there was no reason why that would have to happen. But then my obstetric cholestasis got worse, I developed severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome – resulting in the awesome (or not!) experience of my boys being delivered by emergency c-section under general anaesthetic. That sucked. Then I was in ICU until the next day and the boys were in the NICU for a month.

    What I learnt from it all is to just take everything as it comes. My boys and my hubby are the most important people in my world, and stressing out over things I can’t change doesn’t help anyone.

  7. I started my pregnancy with a nurse-midwife group at my local hospital. Once I found out I was having twins, I figured they would drop me, but they didn’t. I had to be in the OR with a physician present for the births, but my midwife delivered both of my babies vaginally. I feel very lucky because I know I’m in the minority. Both babies started out vertex, but Baby B shifted sideways (as they often do) after Baby A was born. I was adamant that I didn’t want a c-section after pushing out Baby A (and Baby B was doing fine), so I was allowed to push with Baby B until she shifted enough that she only came out a *little* sideways. :-)

  8. Really good post!

    Like you, I was hoping for a natural delivery and ended up with a c-section. My boys were transverse. I was REALLY afraid of having a c-section, afraid of the epidural, afraid of the recovery with twins and a 2-year-old at home… but it went so well. The recovery was much easier than my recovery from my med-free vaginal delivery of my daughter. (There were complications.) And having a scheduled c-section made for a calm and peaceful delivery room.

    Just want to highlight the upside for anyone who, like me, has learned their babies aren’t going to budge and they’re stuck with a c-section!

    Also, I was able to have a natural VBAC two years later, and it was wonderful.

  9. By the time I went into labor, I didn’t care how they got out of me! I wasn’t married to a vaginal birth; I just wanted a safe birth. (BTW, the photo of your babies is absolutely adorable!!)

  10. Thanks for sharing some of the hidden pros of c-section. I too had an unplanned c-section. I was the only one in my parenting class to not write a “birth plan” because the idea that I would be able to completely control a twin birth seemed unlikely to me. I am a twin myself and was delivered naturally by my mother, so it was important to me that I try for the same. My doctor knew my wishes and explained carefully and fully the reasons behind needing to switch to a c-section as my induction was producing great contractions but no dialation after many hours. I took the advice of my doctor and did what was best for my boys. Since then, it has been a good thing to recognize that some things (many things!) cannot be controled when it comes to twin mothering. The best you can do is be as prepared as possible for anything and realize the only thing you can really control is yourself. So when the c-section came I decided to accept it and make the best of it. I could at least control my attitude about it! It was the first of many changes of plan and by now I’ve realized how often the deviations turn out a-ok.

  11. The birth of my twin boys also did not go as planned. I developed an atypical presentation of HELLP syndrome (my blood pressure was normal throughout my pregnancy until the last day or two). I ended up having a general anesthesia for my c-section & receiving magnesium & platelets to help with possible seizures and other side effects from the syndrome. All these things were OK because my twin boys were healthy weighing 5lbs 3 & 4. They spent 30 minutes in NICU & then my husband and I got to hold our bundles of joy.

  12. I was a c-section, non-breastfed baby of the early seventies and when it came time for me to develop a birth plan for my twins, I really just developed a sliding scale for my expectations instead.

    I labored naturally for 24 hours, with every intention of having an unmedicated vaginal delivery and then had an emergency c-section when one of the babies’ heart rates completely dropped out.

    When presented with the boys in the recovery room, it was immediately clear whose heart rate had dropped. He was healthy, but white as a sheet, whereas his identical twin was ruddy and normal looking.

    Both boys are completely fine and thriving three-year-olds now, who were EBF the whole first year. In retrospect the only thing that really matters to me is that they were both healthy.

    How they got out is a total afterthought, and the reality of the c-section has honestly never bothered me a bit.

  13. One of the biggest lessons I learned – and try to remind myself of – is to keep things in perspective. Did our birth experience go “as planned”? That would be a resounding NO in quite a few areas…but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I ultimately have two happy, healthy babies, and I’m alive and well to take care of them.

    This is a great post, one I’ll keep in mind to share with friends who are facing a C-section in the future.

  14. We have such similar stories! I, too, loved using a midwife for the birth of our first born. When we found out we were having twins on our second pregnancy, we switched to high risk doctors. I had such a fear of a C-section but was also told it would most likely be the way our twins arrived.

    Fortunately, in my 36th week, Baby B (Clara) flipped from head up to head down…I still have no idea how she managed to do this! I delivered vaginally but with an epidural (doctors were concerned baby B could still be an emergency C-section and needed to have the epi in place).

    After experiencing one natural singleton child birth that went almost exactly the way we wanted it to, it was quite different to have the epidural for the twins.

    I love your post. It’s so important for us to see the “life lesson” in all that happens. From the moment we found out about our spontaneaous twins, I’ve been looking for the life lesson – now that they are here it all makes sense.

  15. Does anything go as planned with multiples? I had a Great OB Dr – he encouraged natural births and allowed me to go to 39 weeks – I had to be induced b/c the babies were so big (6.3 and 7.6 birth weights) but after 32 hours of labor a c-section was a necessity. Wasn’t my original intention but it resulted with two healthy babies (and a healthy mom) – I credit my Doctor for being present and understanding throughout my entire experience. We had discussed my wants and some of the options if things didn’t go as planned at each milestone. Just being prepared for all possibilities was very comforting for me.

  16. I didn’t have a plan, other than to have healthy babies! Of course…we would like to have avoided a c-section…

    I ended up going on hospital bedrest at 23 weeks, went home for two weeks, and then back in the hospital on a magnesium I.V. until 30 weeks when my water broke. Baby A was breach so it was all C-section baby! It was stressful, but after 7 weeks in the NICU the boys came home and now they are a year old. You would never guess they were preemies.

    My sister in law had twins, and she was dead set on her plan of a midwife. Her boys went 40 weeks and were totally healthy 8 lb babies, but something went wrong in the delivery and since she wasn’t in a hospital the 2nd baby died. It was so so sad.

    I think as I look back on my experience, I realize that it’s good to want things a certain way, but it’s better to be able to be flexible and to always keep the babies’ best interest first. Heaven knows I didn’t want to be hooked up to an I.V. and use bedpans, but I’m so grateful that I did, and that it bought my boys’ a little more time. I’m so grateful for modern medicine.

  17. I was looking up midwives to deliver twins like crazy when I was pregnant. I did NOT want a csection any way I could avoid one, and everybody knew it. lol. I couldn’t find a midwife to help me out, and mentally towards the end, I had to prepare myself for the csection possibility, though I never was really expecting one. I had had 3 full term children vaginally, 2 against the odds, wth awful scary births, so I was hoping to go off with a bang. Did my birth experience go as expected?

    It absolutely was BETTER then I expected. I got to get to 7 centimeters before I even knew it was true labor. The pain was much easier to handle or recognize even, the my other labors. Everything progressed smoothly and quickly. I didn’t need pain meds. There were no scares, like fetal distress, and all the things I have dealt with before, and had feared, esp. times two. I had great nurses and doctors, unlike 2 past experiences I had that were simply horrific.

    I feared the ‘having one baby one way and the other baby the other way’, especially since baby B was breech, but they were able to fish her out very quickly. Not saying the hand in the uni was pleasant, it wasn’t horrendous like one would imagine, and I was so scared that mabe something might go wrong that I nearly opted for a section last minute, but trusted the doctor, and it was a great choice.

    There was no privacy with this birth AT ALL. I mean it was filled with people in that room like an Aerosmith concert. I felt famous, but I was happy that I had healthy babies. nice sized, beautiful babies, and that I didn’t need so much as a stitch. I didn’t have even have an abrasion. Yes..this time God was REALLY good to me! I predicted hell and got heaven instead. I was at the right place, right time, right doctor. I feel lucky.

    No matter how they are born though. They are blessings, and time heals. As much as I love them, I’d have had them out of my mouth if I had to:)

    xoxo Shelly

    http://www.twinpossible.com/blog

  18. I actually learned the first time around that I never wanted to deliver a baby the vaginal way EVER again in my life. It was the worst experience ever. The delivery went great, I needed stitches… but then, I began hemorraging. Apparently not all of the placenta was removed. I had to go back into surgery and get knocked out, where they went back in and removed the remaining placenta and stitched me up again. I lost so much blood that I almost needed a blood transfusion. Afterwards, I had no energy and I was in the worst pain I had ever been in my life. The boppy was very useful to me, it was the only thing I could use to sit down and I could not stand for more than 5 min. It took about 3 mos to get my energy back and for me to start to feel ‘normal’ again down there. So, when I found out the 2nd time around I was having twins, there was no single doubt in my mind that I would deliver C-section no matter how ready they were to delivery vaginally. People warned me of the healing process and pain from a C-section, but I just KNEW there was no way it was as terrible as my experience. Sure enough, I was right. The C-section and recovery was a breeze compared to my first delivery.

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