In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.
In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.
Leila and Rahul were born 2 months early, at 31 weeks in Hong Kong, where I temporarily moved a month before the birth, to access better NICU facilities.
At 29 weeks my contractions became more frequent, every 5 minutes. I was immediately hospitalized, for the 4th time during the pregnancy, given another round of steroid shots to speed up the babies lung development and put on a magnesium drip. The contractions were controlled at this fancy private hospital that didn’t have an NICU. So at 8am on Sunday morning, exactly 31 weeks gestation the doctor announced that I was in labour and had to be taken to the Queen Mary, a public hospital with an excellent NICU facility.
Rahul was low in the womb so a Cesarean section was risky. Leila was under my rib- cage and in a transverse position. A natural vaginal birth carried the risk that she might not turn head-down and an emergency C-section would then be needed.
Until then, my doctors had all been men who said I would need a C-section. That morning though, my husband Maher and I had to decide what to do on the spur of the moment, while I was contracting and in an emergency delivery setting.
The doctor on call was refreshingly a young woman who was insinuating that I opt for the natural birth. We didn’t have my blood-type on paper, so they couldn’t operate until they got the results. They drew blood soon after I arrived, late morning. They could not administer an epidural for the same reason. I secretly wanted to give birth naturally, and for the first time in the entire pregnancy I realized that it was possible, with risk of course, but we were accustomed to that by then. I felt I was in good hands. The efficient and natural way in which my case was being handled made me realise they did this often.
A sweet nurse called Angel held my hand through many of the growing contractions and Maher was by my side. I breathed in a gas mask, which would ease pain from the contractions. I remember frantically asking for Maher as I was being transferred from the ambulance stretcher that brought me in from the ambulance. I was wheeled through blue hallways, metallic elevators and ended up in the little delivery room. He wasn’t with me and I had no idea if he’d found his way.
He doesn’t speak a word of Mandarin, forget about Cantonese. The contractions were getting stronger, and longer and I didn’t realise that it wouldn’t be until 5pm that the babies would arrive. He made it. I relaxed a bit when as I saw him.
It was lunch time. The nurses insisted that he grab something to eat. There would be a wait before the delivery. My parents were waiting outside by then too. He took them down to the Starbucks that I would get to know very well over the next 6 weeks.
Between contractions Maher drew my attention to the view from a window next to my bed. It was beautiful. The afternoon sun was shining, the blue sea was glistening, and there was an island. The gas relieved some pain, but as the contractions became stronger I started to do bhramari (humming bee sound), and sheetali (sucking air in through a rolled tongue) breath work. It all came back to yoga, during the pregnancy and now. It was spontaneous. It kept me calm, grounded, and connected to a familiar practice. I used ujjayi breath all the time, contractions or not.
Just before 5 pm, I had fully dilated. The room suddenly filled up with nurses, doctors and two teams of paediatric specialists, one for each baby. Maher caught a glance of Rahul when he came out, right before he was rushed to the NICU. In the meantime a doctor was pushing on my belly to help baby 2 turn around. Another doctor had already given me an episiotomy and was ready to enter and manually turn Leila if needed. She turned on her own and was born 7 minutes after Rahul. She didn’t cry. There was some quick movement and maneuvering around her incubator for a few moments. They resuscitated and rushed her to the NICU.
A few minutes after all the delivery procedures ended Maher went up to the NICU to see our babies and to get some information about them. Only parents were allowed in during the visiting hours, 9am to 8pm. In the span of a few minutes, the room I was in went from being full of shouting nurses and doctors, to empty. I found myself alone, eating a bowl of rice and Cantonese beef or pork. I don’t remember which. There were two attendants who came in to ask which I didn’t eat – beef or pork. To them my brown skin automatically meant that I was either Hindu or Muslim. I asked for chicken.
The women then wheeled me to a room with thirty little cubicles separated by green plastic curtains. Each space fit a single, tiny bed and a little cupboard. I was to spend the next 3 days and nights there.
It was almost 8- o’clock, the end of visiting hours. My parents and brother-in-law who had just flown from Chengdu, made it in for a few minutes. They put my clothes, mobile phone, and whatever food they had on them in my little cupboard. I could reach for it from my bed. Maher came by for a minute with no news of L and R yet. The doctors were still preparing and assessing them and he hadn’t been allowed in. He rushed back to catch the 8pm deadline.
The attendant on duty who was changing sheets, cleaning the cubicles, handing over babies to their mums for feeds, and bed pans to others was not in a good mood, obviously bored and exhausted from her day in and out of dealing with new mums and their crying babies, and especially lacking patience for one who doesn’t speak Cantonese. I was exhausted but the adrenaline was pumping through my veins. My husband had seen the babies and sent me photos by SMS but they didn’t open on my phone. I spoke to family and friends. They were all upbeat and congratulating me. Maher was worried and I was reassuring him.
The room I was in was always awake, day and night, with the 30 mums trying to feed their babies, sleep, use the toilets and showers, and contain their excitement and pain.
A nurse came by to check my blood pressure. It was high as it had been for the last few weeks. I was not to leave the bed until early the next day. She also handed me a syringe and showed me how to express milk by massaging down on my breast, and then pushing in and down, but not squeezing. I slept for a few hours before I had to pump again, and then again. In the future I was to wash my hands thoroughly before expressing, clean the nipple and make sure the syringe was always in its wrapper. This I did every 3 hours that night, and for many months after. The nurse was surprised by how much colostrum I managed to express. Each syringe had to be labeled clearly and precisely with the date, time, and babies names, and then kept frozen until I could take them to the NICU in the morning.
The NICU story is a post on its own. After the stressful entrance into the world L and R are now healthy 4-year-olds. For almost a year now we’ve been living on Koh Samui, a magical island in Thailand. Living a dream.
Natasha is mum of 4-year-old fraternal twins Leila and Rahul. She moved to Koh Samui, Thailand with her children after spending 7 years in China. Her husband travels back and forth because work is in China. She has started practicing her yoga more regularly again, and even teaches a few classes a week, after a 3 year break. She blogs at her personal site Our Little Yogis and at Multicultural Mothering.
In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.
In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.
My pregnancy had been difficult, to say the least. From 6 weeks on, I was beset with a very severe case of “morning” sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Despite medication, I vomited multiple times every day of my pregnancy (and, in fact, for about a week afterwards). Mr. A did not have a measureable heartbeat at our 7-week ultrasound, and measured very small. He developed a nice, strong heartbeat, but continued to measure behind. When I was 21 weeks, a follow-up anatomy scan revealed a complication, not with the boys, but with me: I had cervical funneling. I was put on bed-rest.
At 23 weeks, a high-risk OB doctor informed me that our Mr. A had fallen completely off his own growth curve, and had a very dim prognosis. The doctor said it was probably a virus, infection, or placental failure. He suggested either delivering between 24 and 26 weeks, or giving up on Mr. A. The panic and helplessness I felt still clutches at my heart. I felt so incredibly torn: why should I punish Mr. D by dooming him to a very premature birth, simply because he was a twin? But how could I give up on Mr. A? Whenever people say, “I always wanted twins!” or wish twins upon someone undergoing fertility treatments, I flash back to this moment, and think no, no, you don’t want twins, please hope instead for a healthy, singleton pregnancy.
It turned out, much to my joy (with a side-dish of pure rage), that Mr. A had no virus, no infection, no failing placenta, but instead an incompetent doctor. The ultrasound machines had switched to different software or something, and hadn’t properly calculated estimated gestational age, and the doctor didn’t bother to look at raw numbers before telling me this dismal news. I had multiple follow-ups at different offices, plus a ton of blood work, and everything was fine. Mr. A was small, but doing just fine.
The weeks crept by, and I remained pregnant. I was even briefly off bed-rest, for 3-week span that included Christmas. I was, however, having very regular contractions. I had non-stress-tests twice a week, and after each one, they wanted to send me to L&D. But my funneled cervix was holding fast, so I remained on bed-rest and carried my boys all the way to my 35th week, much to the amazement of myself and my OB. I was having ultrasounds every 3 weeks to monitor Mr. A’s growth, and he was holding steady on his own curve, with Mr. D riding along at about the 50%ile.
On Tuesday, January 31st, I went in for another NST. My husband happened to have that Tuesday off, and so he came with me. My boys, especially Mr. A, gave the nurses fits at each NST, refusing to stay still for the required 20-minutes of continuous monitoring, stretching these tests into hours-long events. On this day, Mr. A was so wiggly that they decided to simply to a biophysical profile on him instead, and throw in some growth measurements for kicks.
They never got that far. The ultrasound showed Mr. A hadn’t grown in 10 days. He had, according to their measurements, actually shrunk. (I do know that babies do not grow shorter, but they can lose weight. We suspect this is what happened to Mr. A.) More alarmingly, the his umbilical cord was showing reverse blood flow. Mr. D was doing great, but my husband and I were pretty sure we knew what was coming.
But first we had to wait. The tech could not say, “These babies are coming out.” Even the high-risk OB would not say, “Today is the day.” I was sent to my regular OB’s office, where we waited. In the mean time, I called my younger sister, who is an OB in a different state, and left her a voicemail explaining what was going on. And my mother called me, and so I told her as well. About 4 hours after my NST should have been, my OB sat down with me and my husband, and said that she would schedule a c-section for 5 pm, so not to eat or drink. I had very much wanted a vaginal delivery, and she was even willing to perform a breech extraction, but with both my boys being transverse and with my lower baby being significantly smaller than my upper baby, that was off the table. I had kind of seen this coming, and really, the bottom line of my birth plan was “everyone out, alive”, so c-section it was.
The following 2.5 hours were very strange. We went home, I packed a bag and took a picture of my pregnant belly. My husband went to his office to finalize his FMLA. I watched an old episode of “The Daily Show”, thinking, “This will be the last time I sit on this couch without a baby in my house.”
I was wrong about that. While plenty of 35-weekers do indeed come home from the hospital with their moms, with little to no NICU stay, such was not to be the case for my boys. I had gotten beta-methasone shots to mature their lungs about a week prior, so I did have reason to hope. However. Mr. D had what is known as “wimpy white male syndrome”—he just did not do as well as girls or babies of other races would do. Mr. A turned out to have a very rare chromosomal abnormality, and would have needed extensive NICU time even if he had been full-term. I believe with all of my heart that the only reason Mr. A survived at all was because he was a twin. If he had been a singleton (as my current pregnancy is proving), I would not have had cervical funneling, extensive contractions, multiple ultrasounds because they simply couldn’t see Mr. D’s diaphragm or Mr. A’s kidneys due to positioning, etc. My OB-sister thinks that perhaps they would have noticed that my belly was measuring small, but frankly I am not convinced. Of course, if Mr. D had been a singleton, he would very likely have been full-term. Thus I think both my boys were in the NICU solely due to being multiples, but that Mr. A would not have made it that far if he were not.
But dreams about my future eventually gave way to reality, and we left for the hospital. My mother met us there. My husband and I had agreed that his job was to stay with the babies, and my mother felt that it was her job to stay with me.
They monitored the boys for a bit, then wheeled me into the freezing OR room. The room was teeming with people: a full NICU team for each baby, my OB and her partner, the anesthesiologist, a few nurses, and a medical student who got the fun job of holding the little tray while I vomited into it. I have always reacted poorly to medications of any sort, and the spinal and morphine and whatever else they used was no different. My husband came in, dressed to impress in sterile gear, and held my hand while they made the incision. There was a lot of tugging, which felt very odd. Mr. A was really wedged into my pelvis, and extracting him was difficult. But I heard them say, “Here he is!”
Someone—probably a NICU doctor—showed me my firstborn for less than a heartbeat. I was not allowed to snuggle him as I so longed to do, but I could clearly see why: he was a very scary shade of grey, and not crying. “He looks so blue!” I exclaimed, but no one answered. “Will he be ok?” Then I heard a weak cry, and began to sob myself. He would, he would be just fine.
And then, “5:31 pm, Baby B”…and I saw my Mr. D. They let me kiss him. I heard them call out Mr. A’s weight—3 lb 12 oz. That was 6 ounces less than the estimate, but I couldn’t dwell on that. He was 17.25 inches long. They took Mr. D and weighed and measured him: 6 lb 2 oz (exactly as estimated) and 19.5 inches. A’s APGARS were 6 and 7, D’s were 7 and 8. I think they would have let me spend more time with Mr. D, but my Mr. A needed to go to the NICU, as he was having a very hard time breathing and clearly needed surfactant and intubation (not that I could see this, as my OB was still mucking around in my uterus, extracting placentas and massaging blood out and whatever else goes on). My husband left with them, as did my heart.
I was sewn up and taken back to recovery, where things did not go well. I continued to vomit, and began shaking uncontrollably. The nurse seemed unphased, but my mother was very worried, I was I. My husband returned briefly to show me pictures of the boys, then left again. A neonatologist stopped in to give me news I couldn’t yet process: Mr. A had a cleft palate and was doing much worse than he should be. I just wanted to be with them, to see my boys, to hold them, to kiss them. I was eventually taken to a room on the floor, shaking less but still vomiting. I was told I couldn’t see them until I could walk from my bed to the wheel-chair unassisted. They would not even let me attempt this until 5 hours after their birth. When they did, I feared I wouldn’t make it. I believe I walked those 3 steps on will-power alone.
I was wheeled into the NICU, and saw my beautiful sons laying in adjacent open warmers. Mr. D had an IV in his scalp and an NG-tube down his nose, and all the monitoring devices, but no oxygen. I was allowed to hold him for a few minutes. I cried the whole time, at the love I felt for my beautiful son. Mr. A was on an oscillating ventilator, had an umbilical IV and an arterial line in his right arm, an I was not allowed to hold him until his fifth day of life. But I cried to look at him, out of love.
I did not feel a “completion”—a sense of “now I have my babies”, an ending to a birth story. I never really did. I suppose it truly ended 62 days later, when both of my sons were finally home from the NICU, and I was able to hold them both in my arms. It was a very long journey, but worth every minute.
So, I have wondered since what that singleton baby pregnancy would be like. Would it be similar? Would I get as big, as my womb was already very stretched out from the previous two occupants? How long would I go since I didn’t have a cut-off gestational date quite like I did with twins (38 weeks)? How much weight would I gain with just one baby? How would I feel? Would I end up with another C-section? And many other similar questions swam through my head.
I’m sure I’m not the only mother of twins who had these questions. While not all twin moms have their set of twins (or other multiples) first, many do. And for these women, I would like to answer the above questions as they applied to me.
First, my pregnancy overall was very similar in how I felt, especially in those first few months. But, I had less morning sickness/nausea this time around, though that could have had more to deal with the fact that I was at home all day and could eat a little something any time I needed to, unlike when I was pregnant with my twins and was going to school full-time and in the marching band as well. I had a similar amount of heart burn, indigestion, and fatigue. I didn’t have as much of a problem with varicose veins or Charlie horses this time though.
Joyously, I didn’t gain as much weight (my biggest fear) the second time around! With the twins I gained about 50lbs, going to almost 38 weeks gestation with them. With one baby I gained about 35-40lbs and went to just shy of 42 weeks gestation. However, with the singleton pregnancy, I started to show much sooner than I did with the twins. But, I’m pretty sure that’s just how most subsequent pregnancies go though. (See my twin belly montage post HERE)
And I did and didn’t get as round. While my belly did end up sticking out as much as my twin pregnancy (basketball/torpedo style), there was a difference: I wasn’t as round at the top. I still had room under my rib cage. I could breathe easier with a singleton pregnancy, even at the end. And the one little guy didn’t kick me in the ribs. With twins, I had no room under my rib cage as there was a child floating around up there! (See my 40 week singleton belly picture HERE)
I didn’t gain any more stretch marks on my belly (as if I could), but I did get stretch marks on my butt, of all places. My belly didn’t itch hardly at all like it did when I had two in there. I still had round ligament pain, lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions, and a baby pinching those sciatic nerves, though.
But, I was really nervous about giving birth, however. Since I had a scheduled C-section with the girls, I didn’t even know what a real contraction felt like. I didn’t know how I would handle it. I didn’t know how much it would hurt. I knew I wanted a vaginally delivery, but I was scared. So, I read several birthing books, and tried to prepare the best I could, although I never did make it to any birthing classes. Thankfully, I handled the early contractions and labor fairly well, though I did end up getting an epidural after more than 24 hours of labor.
But, I am so happy to report that I did not have a repeat C-section! I was able to deliver my singleton son vaginally. (Read his full birth story HERE.) While doing so meant I had the wonderful privilege of waiting 13 days after his due date until I was able to hold him in my arms, I am so glad I had a successful VBAC.
With twins at home, I did not want to laid up in the hospital for 3-4 days, be on drugs for several weeks, and have a hard time picking them and other toys and things up around the house. (Read THIS post for more of my reasons to opt for a VBAC.) I wanted an easier, quicker recovery from childbirth, especially since we would not be having any help after we came home.
To my happiness, it is indeed how my recovery was with a VBAC. My son is now 6 weeks old, and I have been feeling great, most of the time. My body has bounced back much quicker. I was only on a simple ibuprofen for about a week postpartum, not codeine for two weeks. My bottom was sore instead of my abdomen. A VBAC meant that I was still able to take care of my twin three-year olds by myself. I was able to comfortably pick them up for the first time in months (no pregnant belly in the way). I had more energy to play with them, after a short while, as I was no longer winded after I climbed the stairs, like I was while pregnant.
Also, my son spent zero time in the NICU. One of my twins, though born at almost 38 weeks, spent two days in the NICU, recovering from a partially collapsed lung. With my singleton birth, I also got to hold my child immediately afterwards, unlike with the twins. I didn’t hold either of my girls until four hours had passed after delivery, and then only one of them. With my son’s birth, I was able to leave the hospital after a short 38 hours after giving birth. I stayed four days at the hospital after I had my C-section delivery of my twins.
If you had twins first, how did your pregnancy compare to a subsequent singleton pregnancy? Better or worse? Did you have a repeat C-section (if you had one the first time)? What did you fear most?
ldskatelyn is a wife, and proud new mother to a six-week old boy and three-year old fraternal twin daughters. She is enjoying adjusting to life as a mother to three and enjoying having her body (mostly) back after being pregnant for nine long months. She blogs about her life and family over at whatsupfagans.blogspot.com
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.
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?
We had a very un-eventful pregnancy from the start. I found out at 8 weeks we were having twins…not only that but i knew at 8 weeks that they were identical twins. We found out at 14 or 15 weeks that we were adding 2 more girls to the mix. My 20 week u/s was fine…i didn’t do any other genetic testing. My original due date was Jan 20th…but my dr. said right away with the being identical we’d probably do a c-section around 37 weeks…maybe 38. Every appt was just fine..i know we were very blessed to have such a great pregnancy…less the puking that seemed to go on forever. I was never put on bed rest…but i put myself on it the day i found out i was having twins! LOL! I was already a SAHM, so i remember most days just laying around most of the day and eating(how else do you fatten up two babies growing inside of your belly?). I do remember that i was very very sad that we had to cancel our SECOND trip out of town with my, then, 21 month old…we had this awesome trip planned to go to Vegas, to stay at my favorite hotel(mandalay bay) with my parents. I kept thinking i’d start feeling better and we could go anyway…that just didn’t happen. I also remember cancelling on our sitter the night of my birthday(june 12th) b/c i was SOO sick and couldn’t quit puking. We didnt’ make it back to that restaurant until just a few months ago!
We had a planned c-section the day after Christmas. Knowing how hard it was going to be to raise twins and a 29 month old we looked into au-pairs for some help. Julia came to us, the October before the babies were due. She was able to get settled in, i was able to get some restand Hannah(our older little girl) had a play mate. It worked out well, for a while. The girls were born the day after Christmas via c-section. It was all planned..the girls were 36w4d and weighted in at 5.7 & 5.11. The dr. wanted to take them as early as possible due to them being identical and the risk of TTS(twin to twin transfusion syndrome). Although, he was pretty sure they didn’t have it, he wasn’t 100% sure. They did end up with TTS. It was so weird b/c they were alway within ounces of each other in weight, which is a tell tale sign of TTS. The only sign they had was that Sarah had bloody purple hands & feet and was very very bright red and Samantha was as pale as a sheep. We were very thankful that he took the girls when he did, otherwise the TTS could have progressed quickly and we could have had a bad situation. Since the life of a red blood cell is 120 days…it took about 2-3 months for one baby to lighten up and the other to darken up.
The night before they were born i couldn’t sleep. Not that i could sleep very well the last two months, considering i was sleeping on the couch(it was closer to the ground and i could just roll off), but that last night was BAD. I was told not drink or eat anything after midnight, so i set the alarm clock in the living room for midnight, so i could stuff my face one last time and drink as much water as i could, before i was cut off. Sure enough, got up at midnight(i don’t even think i was sleeping anyway), had some deserts(it was xmas night, so we had tons of food in the fridge), had some food and a ton of water. AHH…much better.
We had to be at the hospital to check in at 8:00a so we got up early, packed Hannah up to go to my sisters house and left. We dropped Hannah off around 730a that morning and took the short drive over to the medical center. That was such a weird feeling…knowing when i got back in the car i’d be a mom of THREE! Oh My, was i really ready for this? We valeted the car and walked up to the 7th floor(labor and delivery). We rang in and they let us in…i got a room right away and got into my gown and the waiting began. We had lots of people coming and going…one for the dreaded IV…the one thing i have always dreaded since my first pregnancy with Hannah. Fortunately, the IV went in just fine. Then they monitered the babies…but only for about 20 minutes and everything looked fine. In between all of this, i was dying of thirst. I was begging and begging for water. I finally convinced the sweet little nurse that i HAD to have some ice chips or i was going to dehydrate soon. She argued with me and said that was what the IV was for…but i still didn’t give up. FINALLY, i sent my hubby out to beg for some ice chips…the lady brought in a cup of ice chips..but said “One at a time”. Well. little did she know that i was going to down them and beg for more. She gave me more but said…don’t blame me when you get sick. I said “i PROMISE i won’t.” LOL! Finally at 10a my dr. comes in and asks if i’m ready. Uh, YES, I’m ready! So, they came in and rolled me down to the OR. It was weird..laying on a bed and being rolled around like i was incapable of walking. Kinda fun..but made me feel helpless in a way.
The OR is weird and smells like bleach to me. It’s SOO bright and COLD! I laid on the bed while my dr. got out his handy dandy little voice machine and dictated a whole bunch of info about me(weight, age, health, date, time, etc). While all this was going on…i was lying there and Paul was getting his scrubs on. For some reason he had to wait out in the hall for a while…then they called him in as they began the procedure. So as they wheel me in to the actual OR they tell me to get off this one bed and on to another bed. WHAT? I had to pretty much roll off of one bed(the whole 200lbs + of me) and climb up the little step and up on to another bed. It was HILARIOUS and i wish it had been recorded…seeing a gigantic woman rolling from one bed to the other. What were they thinking? I crawl back up onto the other bed and the anesthesologist comes in for my epidural. A sweet nurse gets in front of me so i can lean on her(my hubby wasn’t in the room yet) so he could put the epidural in. Few pinches, some cold sensation, and it was IN! Ahh…that epidural can do some wonders. I lay back down and i remember very vividily that there was a nurse in there, really cute, young and SOOO sweet and she was talking to me the whole time. Almost to the point that i was annoyed..but she was just SOO excited…she said that she had twins that were 4 or 5..and that they she hadn’t delivered a set of twin in a while. I think most women that go down to the med center with multiples go to tx. womens b/c they have a level III NICU. The hospital i chose did not…but if there had been problems, they would have just rolled the girls right on over to Texas Childrens(through the tunnells)…so no biggie for me. Anyway, she kept talking and talking and was soo sweet. Finally, i see all these people gathering around me..and they brought my hubby in for the big moment.
First, they kept poking at me to make sure i couldn’t feel anything…they kept asking “can you feel this”…nope, just the pressure. I remember lots of pressure and tugging and i kept asking over and over “are they here yet”. My poor hubby just kept saying no…they are still cutting. Then i started to smell burning…YUCK! I guess as they cut, they carterize your skin so it doesn’t bleed so much. Then i hear the dr. say…”baby A is out”. I hear a loud SCREAM! Samatha was out. Then i feel a ton more pressure…Sarah was breech so it took a bit of pulling and tugging to get her out. Sure enough less that a minute later i hear another scream. Sarah was out! They wisked them off to get weighted and cleaned up..and i remember asking my hubby over and over…”did they look ok, did they have ten fingers and ten toes?” He said, yes they looked fine. I was a bit worried b/c i refused all the genetic testing b/c my dr. all along said that doing genetic testing on the girls could always lead to false positives and in turn lead to doing a amnio…which was not an option for me(i was only 30 & healthy).
After the babies were born they were wisked off to their little isolettes, cleaned off and checked out by the 5-6 people per baby(nurse, neo, etc). They said everything was fine and brought the babies back in while i was being stitched up. I remember this part all too well. I remember my dr. talking to another dr.(i guess there were two dr’s in the room doing the delivery..perhaps b/c of them being twins). The dr.s were talking about fishing and vacations and all sorts of fun stuff. I was thinking to myself the whole time: “are you serisous, are they seriously just chatting away while i’m ripped open, probably bleeding to death.” Ok kinda dramatic…but it was kinda funny. Here you are, laying on a table…just had two babies, there is blood everywhere and your insides are laying on the table and the dr’s are just chatting away about life. FUNNY! Then the nurses brought the babies back in…everything was fine. The nurse hands one to Paul…he brings her over to me to see…AHHH..relief…she is precious! Then she tries to hand the other one to me. WHAT? IS SHE CRAZY…i’m being stitched up and i’m totally out of it. I looked at her and said, “i can’t hold her i’ll drop her!” The sweet anestheologist said, “can i hold her for you?” I said, “Sure, because i can’t hold a baby right now.” So he held her for me and i just looked on…antoher precious baby. TWO babies…still amazes me today!! I just laid on the table and cried…and i have to say, i saw a tear or two in my hubbies eyes too(sorry hunny, i know i’ve just embarassed you b/c men don’t cry)!
Then they roll me into recovery. I was shaking and shaking. I was freezing and feeling REALLY bad. Paul went with the girls over to the nursery and then to my room to call everyone, so he wasn’t with me at all. I kept telling them..i NEED more covers. I think they may have put 5 or 6 of those warmed(in a big oven) blankets on me to keep me warm. I was furiously shaking and then it hit me. I was trying and trying to cough. I DID tell the dr. before the surgery that i still had the cough i had had for 2 months before the babies were born. He kept giving me meds..they just didn’t work. Anyway, the nurse in recovery said “you CAN’T cough!” “You will pop your stitches out.” I just nodded as i had to cough soo bad and i kept trying but i was so out of it, nothing would come out. Finally the lady went and told someone and came back with the MIRACLE “stop coughing” drug. I don’t know what they gave me…but i didn’t have to cough at ALL after that shot. AMAZING. Oh, but then came the puking. This is where the ice chips came in…all of a sudden, laying there, i kept trying to talk and tell them i felt something coming up. I was just about to puke all over myself and the nurse came running with a little puke pan and shoved it against my chin, as i puked and puked. Thank goodness for the puke pan…otherwise i would have been covered in puke…thanks to the ice chips i probably shouldn’t have eaten. I have to say, laying in the recovery room was so peaceful. Weird, but peaceful. You get to just lay there and do nothing. People are watching you…but you can nod off…sleep, dream about laying on a beach in a bikini, do whatever you want to do for a whole hour or two. It was weird..but nice and quiet!
I think i finally got up to my room that day at 12noon or a little after. Then almost immediately they rolled the girls into my room. Again, OMG, there’s TWO of them. It hit me again…i was looking at these two precious babies…soo amazing. I had a feeling of being over whelmed. A good feeling….but i was still in disbelief of the whole twin thing…until i saw them both after the drugs had all worn off. They were beautiful..and soo tiny compared to Hannah who weight 7.4 lbs at birth!
Getting out of bed after getting back from recovery was bad. Now, again, i had gained 65lbs this pregnancy so i wasn’t one of those moms that just bounced back and lost the weight. I gained TONS and TONS of water weight from the IV. I have ONE pic of myself in the bed and a few of me holding the babies after the c-section that no one will EVER see till i die! LOL! I looked horrible. So, getting back to getting out of bed. Yeah, that was funny. I was sooo scared to move…and it hurt so bad i was pressing the button every 15 minutes for more meds. I don’t even know if they helped or not b/c the pain was still bad…but it was worth a try. I finally got out of bed that evening and walked like 10 steps and back. Progressively it got easier…but the first few days were really bad. I think they last day i was there(Friday), Paul & I took the babies for a whole lap around the maternity ward…with the babies in tow. THAT was our first day of feeling like a rock star. EVERYONE out in the hallways were talking about us and stopping us to see the babies. THAT was the first day, of the comments that will go on, until my girls are old enough to be individuals and try to not look alike…as i know i will face one day, probably when one child comes home with blue hair and purple nails! LOL It was amazing how many people walking to other peoples rooms looked on as we each pushed a baby down the hall. I was so proud of myself. I did it…i made two precious babies…and i got to keep BOTH of them and take them home with me.
As we were leaving the hospital that same day everyone we passed was staring at me. One poor lady was so nosey she came right up to me and told me her story(i don’t even remember it now), but just stood by me as i waited for the valet to bring our car around and just stood there and stared at my babies…one in each arm! (yes, that is really me…with cankles and so swollen i could hardly fit into my twin pregnancy clothes)!
The girls were able to come home from the hospital with us and while we were in the hospital we were very lucky to have my sister(who has a daughter that is 3 months younger than mine) keep Hannah. The best part was that she actually lived right across the street from the hospital and would drop Hannah off downstairs a few times a day to come see the girls.
Since i have been on both sides of the spectrum with a vaginal delivery with Hannah and c-section with the girls…i’m going to say that their are pros and cons to both. Hannah actually ended up breaking my tail bone b/c she was in my birth canal for soo long. I had to go to a spine dr. who gave me some anit inflamatories and pain pills but would not operate due to infection. It still, till this day, hurts when i sit on something hard. The C-section was awesome…i didn’t feel a lick of pain, but the staples annoyed me afterwards & I think it hurt pretty bad and was very itchy. Of course, i will always have a “battle scar”, but it’s turned out well b/c when Hannah asks how the babies came out i can show her my scar and not go any further into details.
When we came home from the hospital we had a nightmare on our hands. We had been in the process of remodeling our new home(but the bathroom add on was the major mess left) and the contractor had been acting kinda fishy prior to us leaving to the hospital. He wanted extra money and came in and showed us all the great things he was going to do to the semi-added on bathroom. He wanted an extra 5 grand and we finally agreed on 3 grand the day before christmas. WHAT A MESS! We came home to our bedroom opened up to all the elements outside…no nursery, the house was a mess & our contractor wouldn’t answer his phone and disappeared. It was cold outside and the bedroom wasn’t even closed in….the bathroom didn’t have sheet rock…we could see outside from our bedroom. We had to play musical bedrooms…and the whole ordeal was a nightmare! That is definitely a part of my birth story and coming home from the hospital that i really hope to forget one day. I just know karma will come back to bite that bad man in the keister for what he did to us. A mom always dreams about bringing their babies home to a beautiful nursery full of stuff…we brought them home to a pack n play and no cribs in sight as we were in the middle of such a huge mess that had been going on since Sept. The humorous part of this whole ordeal was that we thought as pay back we’d call the bad man everytime we got up to feed the girls in the middle of the night(12,1,2,3,4am). Of course he didn’t answer…but his phone was on b/c it rang. It really makes for some good humor in the middle of the night when your sleep deprived and freezing due to the big hole in the wall in the bedroom next door! I can laugh at it now…i guess if it’s the worst part of my birth story…it wasn’t that bad. My babies were healthy and that was always #1 on my list.
We had Julia stay with us through June and after that i was on my own. As much of a pain it was having a foreign person stay in your house, eat your food, party till all hours of the morning and just totally annoy you, Julia was a life saver since i didn’t have family that could come over and help on a daily basis. In all reality, i probably could have done it with just the twins…but Hannah needed a playmate. She needed someone to play with, someone to color with and someone to take her outside to get fresh air. In June, i fired Julia and took over. It was hard for a while…but you do what you have to, to make things work. Paul started taking Hannah back to MDO(mothers day out) and i kept the girls with me on those day. We didn’t get out and do much…but we did do a TON of walking up and down the street with the girls. Looking back…i just did what i could to keep my head above water. We had interviewed a few people after i fired Julia. BUT thinking about it…i decided it was easier for me to just do it on my own and not have anyone invading my space. I still feel like i made the right decision! And after Julia left i just had this feeling of peace come over me. Like i was able to get up and walk around in my pj’s all day…not brush my teeth if i didn’t want to…and not have to worry about another mouth to feed since she coudn’t cook for the life of her.
I can’t say this road has been smooth sailing for us the entire 17 months…we’ve had some bumps along the way, lots of colic and crying babies, sick babies, and sometimes i even felt like i had a touch of PPD…but the extent of my PPD was crying and telling my hubby a couple of times how much i hated my life(as my babies were crying and i was on the floor crying with them b/c i didn’t know what else to do for them). That is definitely all over with now.
Now that my girls are 17 months old…it’s a breeze. I still have some issues taking them all out together but it’s just a learning process. You learn what’s easy and what’s not so easy and you adjust your life.
Compared to the other ladies at HDYDI, I’d say my birth story is, well..a bit boring. Not that the birth of our sons, Finn and Reid, were anything but boring. Because it was, hands down, the most memorable day in my life thus far. But, there were no surprises on their actual birth day. We came into the hospital that afternoon knowing full well that births (especially multiple births) rarely go as planned. But, to our surprise…there were no surprises! I arrived on time, the doctors arrived on time, the C-section went without a hitch, and the boys did just as well as our OB hoped they’d do. I’d even scored the room on the Mother/Baby Unit that the nurses, for the past 4 months, had been saying they’d save for their “twin mama”.
However, in the spirit of Birth Story Week here at HDYDI, I’ll tell you the nitty gritty. Even though I really think that it could just be summed up like this: “Two babies. Bothbreech. One diagnosed with IUGR. Two Grade 3 placentas. One scheduled C-section. Two happy parents.” But, that wouldn’t be as much fun, now would it? After all…who doesn’t like telling the story about the day that changed your life forever and made your heart swell with love, joy and pride?
Some background info
Both of the boys had been in a breech position since week 28. At the 32 week mark, my OB said that the likelihood of Baby A transitioning into a vertex position was very low. It was then that he dropped the C-bomb. I had been planning a natural delivery since Day 1…no drugs, lots of deep breathing, visualizations, peaceful music, a belly dancer (kidding on that one)…you know, the whole nine yards. Well, that went right out the window during the office visit. It took some time and contemplation to come to terms with the surgery, but I eventually took comfort in the fact that I knew (approximately) when these babies were going to be born (my OB would not let me go into hard labor). I was especially glad to know that I would most definitely not be pregnant forever. As much as I didn’t believe it.
At week 34, a 25% discrepancy in weight between Baby A and Baby B was found. It was decided that we’d wait another week and, if the weights didn’t equalize, the boys were going to be born no later than 36 weeks. Another issue that was uncovered at the 34-week mark was the deterioration of my placentas. It was determined that both placentas had enough calcification to be deemed Grade 3. There was certainly time, but not much, before these puppies were going to cease supplying nutrients to our babes. Not a good thing.
At 35 weeks, there was still a weight discrepancy, and Baby B (Reid) was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), so we knew that they were going to be born one week from that day. However, I wanted to deliver at a hospital that was not equipped to handle babies with major breathing issues. So, I was required to have an amniocentesis to determine lung maturity. This was scheduled for January 25th at 8:00am. My due date was February 26th, 2007. Finn and Reid were born on January 26th, 2007…exactly 36 weeks.
I know this is a ‘birth story’ and not a ‘pre-birth story’, but I must mention something about the amnio. It was beyond strange! The only way I can describe it would be the sensation of being uncorked. I felt like a bottle of wine that someone was decorking. The pressure was intense, but the feeling was just plain weird.
Regardless, after delivering the test tube of fluid in which surrounded my children to the laboratory, I was driven to the hospital to undergo my daily Non-Stress Test. I was having some serious contractions, so they checked me. I was still holding steady (from the morning ‘check’) at 2cm and 75% effacement so they released me after a couple of hours. When a baby (or babies) is breech, there is risk of a prolapsed umbilical cord. This is a obstetric emergency with a 11-17% mortality rate. High enough that you don’t want to chance it. And the more I was dilated, the more dangerous it was to send me home. But fortunately, I hadn’t had any cervical change in almost 3 days. Either way, I was to spend the next 36 hours doing nothing. This was no easy task for someone who hates sitting still and furthermore, had a lot of stuff to do before becoming a parent!
Fast forward to Friday, January 26that 3pm. I showed up at the hospital, thirsty and starving, wearing the one and only outfit that still fit. My husband and I were loaded down with our backpacks, pillows, Boppy, breast pump and diaper bag. I got dressed in the hospital gown, took a dose of some crazy concoction to settle my stomach, got my IV and was hooked up to the fetal monitors. The boys were very active and I was having some wicked contractions. I think the boys knew that something was up because they were more active than they’d ever been. Either way, after experiencing the contractions I was more than a little relieved that I had an automatic ‘out’ for having to deliver naturally. Let’s just say I was very happy when the anesthesiologist strolled in.
After signing my life away on stacks and stacks of paper work, I had my father-in-law take a few pictures, one of which highlighted my cankles.I felt like a big water-logged rubber ducky. And, you can see by the extremely unflattering photographs, that I also looked like one. After a few camera clicks, the nurses asked everyone to leave the room (including my husband, which I was surprised by). I was asked if I needed something for anxiety (I declined, surprising even myself) and then told that it was time to be shaved. For some reason, I didn’t even think that they would have to shave me. Down There. But, I guess it does make sense, after all. The shaving experience reminded me of the time when I had the not-so-good idea to dry-shave my under arms one morning in 10th grade because I really wanted to wear my favorite tank top to show off my tan. Yah. Bad idea. If I could do it again, I think I’d get a Brazilian wax done beforehand and call it a day. It’s not comfortable and the nurses are anything but careful.
After the shave, it was time to head into the OR. I did a few stretches because I knew that I wouldn’t be on my feet for quite a few hours.
As I exited my room, I was greeted by my regular OB, my mom (she’d flown in from Oregon that morning), my in-laws and my husband. I gave them all one last pre-motherhood hug and told them that I’d see them in a few. Brook would follow me into the OR once my spinal was in place.
It seemed that from the moment I entered the OR, I just could not stop shivering. I know this is normally a side effect of the anesthesia, but I hadn’t even got up on the table yet. I think it was just my nerves. The thought of me being cut open (while awake!) was a bit much for me at that point in time. I kept shivering and my teeth kept chattering as I laid on the table. The anesthesiologist told me that I was going to have to stop shivering before he could put the spinal in–you know, that whole ‘precision’ thing. I tried, but I couldn’t, so one of the lovely nurses gave me a warm blanket and that did the trick.
The anesthesiologist sat me up and explained the procedure. A nurse was in front of me to lean on as I hunched over and she also helped to quell my nervousness witha hand massage. It would have been nice to have my husband there during the spinal, but I realize this isn’t procedure. As the anesthesia entered my body, it felt as if someone dripped a cool, thick liquid slowly down my back. By the time she laid me back down, I was numb. The feeling of knowing that your body IS there, but not having any control of it from the sternum down, is classified as ‘creepy’ in my book. Just for fun, I tried to pick my leg up, asking a nurse if, indeed, I had picked it up (she said, “nada!”), and then laughing because of the weird-ness of it all.
When I was fully numb and settled, they let my husband into the room. He was told to sit to my left. I remember him holding my hand, being comforted by his touch, and thinking, that in a few minutes, we were going to be responsible for two tiny little human beings when I barely even felt grown up myself.
Let the show begin
With all 10 ‘team members’ in place, my OB said they were going to go nice and slow…that they weren’t in a hurry, so to just relax. All I was concentrating on was whether or not I heard a baby crying. I made him promise to clearly tell me when each baby was out.
At 4:01 pm, they broke Baby A’s (Finn) amniotic sac. On the video my husband shot it took precisely 1 minute and 11 seconds of tugging to get Finn out. His brother and he were wedged in there. Tight. I don’t have to go over the, ummm, pressure that you feel as one surgeon is pulling a kid out, while the assisting surgeon is pushing on your stomach like he’s kneading a huge hunk of bread dough, because that was already covered in the other HDYDI birth stories. But I will reiterate that, yes. It is in.freaking.tense. I found myself making grunting noises as I was being pulled and pushed around.
At 4:02pm, Finn Andrew finallyenters the world, feet first (weighing 5 lbs, 6 oz.), after what seems like eons of them pulling, poking, tugging and pushing to get him lodged out from underneath his bro. “Baby A, 4:02pm”, my OB says. He doesn’t cry. They suction him. He still doesn’t cry. The OB cuts the cord, hands him quickly to the nurse, who wraps him in a towel and gives me a very quick half-second glimpse of my first born son, and then hands him through a window that lead into the NICU. I was scared to death that he wasn’t crying. I’d watched enough Discovery Health to know that you want a baby to cry. Crying is good. Crying means the baby is breathing. Finn was not crying. I tried to stay calm, with the help and reassurance of Brook and the anesthesiologist, because I still had one baby left inside of me.
At 4:03pm, they break Baby B’s (Reid) amniotic sac and he pops right out feet first…screaming!! It was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. I cried and laughed all at the same time. For whatever reason though, they didn’t let me see the little guy. He was the one they were worried about (though he was a plump 4 lbs, 11 oz.), so he was quickly wrapped and shoved into the NICUwindow with Brook on the nurses heals. Once I heard Reid cry and then about 30 seconds later, the distant cry of Finn (finally!), I relaxed and settled into a post-birth happy/exhausted state as my OB started singing something in Russian. I drifted in and out of this state of mind as Brook snapped a few photos and some video and came back to show me our new sons. I asked him if they were okay about 1,000 times, in between gushing over the pictures and videos that were taken minutes before. But truth be told, I really, really, justwanted a nap.
I was given a shot of Demerol and, man, did this make me loopy! The next thing I know, I’m in the recovery room being handed a cell phone. It was my dad. I really just wanted him to be there. I didn’t want to talk to him on the cell phone. I wanted him by my bedside, so he could give me a hug and tell me that I was going to be okay at this whole mom-thing.
I was a mess. I felt drunk. I felt stoned. I felt…not like a mom should feel. I kept questioning my ability to care for two newborns. Telling myself that I was already a bad mom. It was horrid. The nurses assured me that this was just a side effect of the Demerol and that I should just try to sleep. I tried, but I couldn’t. I was too full of emotion and, being that I had not drank anything for nearly 13 hours, I was exceptionally thirsty. I begged the nurse for some ice chips. When she brought me the cup full of icy bliss, I instantly felt better and my spirits were lifted.
While I was in recovery, Brook was still going back and forth between myself and the NICU…bringing me more photos and videos of the boys. I couldn’t wait to get a good look at them, but I had to keep waiting…not exactly sure what for…but the waiting felt like a lifetime. So, I tried to get a few winks in between the nurses poking and prodding me.
FINALLY! It was time to meet my little ones. The nurses were going to wheel me into the NICU prior to heading to my room in the Mother/Baby Unit. When I was rolled in, they brought Reid over to Finn’s warmer. The two of them together. It was beautiful. It was surreal. I tried to touch them, but I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.
The NICU nurses said that they were doing great and that I’d be able to hold them within the hour. I was then wheeled to my post-partum room where I again nodded off. That was, until my husband decided that what I really could use right then was a stuffed monkey. There were only two monkeys that I wanted to see…and neither of them were stuffed.
At 6:32pm, I was able to hold both of my babies for the first time. It was pure love. Times two.
I managed to breastfeed both of the boys and they seemed to do okay for 36-weekers. It did, however, take forever for them to latch on and, once latched, they immediately fell asleep. This was only the beginning of our breastfeeding saga, but we’ll save that for another day. Although the boys were doing well, they did have a bit of a problem regulating their body heat, so they were constantly being whisked away to the nursery for check-ups. In between check-ups though, we did a lot of staring. Staring in awe of the two little miracles that we had created.
Around 7pm, I was having some very intense pain. I can normally tolerate pain fairly well, but this…this was bad. The nurses figured out that something wasn’t quite right when I answered “11” to their question on my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. I had said it was a “2” less than 20 minutes prior. I was restless and agitated. I kept hitting the button for more morphine, but it clearly was not working. So a call to my OB was made and, within 20 minutes, I was given another (magnificent) cocktail that took my pain level back down to a “2”. After that, it was alllll good.
That night, it was a mix of visitors, phone calls, never-ending breastfeeding and cups and cups of (ahhhh...) water. I felt as if I couldn’t get enough water. And the best part about drinking all of this water was that I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom because I had the catheter! I remember being hungry, but not really wanting to eat. Although, as a side note, this all changed the next morning when I felt as if I would never be able to consume enough food. I would order sandwiches to my room in the middle of the night and check the “hearty” portion on my room service menu. I don’t remember ever being more hungry in my entire life as I was the first two weeks post-partum. I guess making milk (or colostrum, rather) for two babies is hard work!
Something that I was not at all prepared for was the swelling that came post C-section. Admittedly, I gained a lot of weight. More weight than I should have. And for someone who is 5′ 3″ tall (on a good day), add another 70 pounds to your body and it’s bound to protest. My body protested by giving me a horrible case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Throughout my pregnancy, sure, I had my share of uncomfortableness and sleepless nights. But nothing compared to the immense pain, numbness and tingling in my hands. I couldn’t grip a pencil, let alone type on the computer all day for work purposes. The nights were even worse. I’d sleep withbraces on bothwrists and prop them up on pillows. I’d watch what I ate, careful not to consume too much sodium (i.e. my most favorite Mexican food meal…it was a shame), as that just made the water retention even worse, which in turn aggravated the carpal tunnel syndrome. I spent the better half of my pregnancy worrying about whether or not this would disappear after I gave birth.
The night that Finn and Reid were born, I was graced with the worst pain, numbness and tingling I had yet experienced. I felt uncomfortable even holding a baby because I couldn’t feel whether or not I had a good grip on the little guy. Sleeping was out of the question because the medsthat I was taking for the post-surgical pain did not help the least bit withthepainfrom the carpal tunnel syndrome. The nurse promised me that it would be better in the morning, that after the birth of a baby (or two), your body holds onto water like an industrial-strength sponge. It was a rough night, but I made it (thanks to many, many ice packs covering my hands and wrists!). And the next day, after getting up to walk, the swelling was considerably better. However, it wasn’t until 6 weeks post-partum that I had the sensation back in the majority of my fingers again. I am very thankful that I do not live with this on a day-to-day basis anymore.
Walking around the maternity ward, in between breastfeeding sessions, was my saving grace for a fast recovery. Although the nurses and doctors advised me to slow down, I really felt that the more I moved, the better I felt. If I didn’t have one or more kids attached to my boobs, I was out walking laps around the ward…often times pushing a couple of bassinets. I went very, very slowy…but it was movement nonetheless. I found that the Percoset they were giving me (after removing the Morphine drip) was making me tired and unable to focus. I was having such a hard time withbreastfeedingas it was, I didn’t need the added complication of drug side-effects to make it even more difficult. So, I told them to give me half of a dose. I found that this was a good amount to limit my pain, as well as keep me aware of it so that I wouldn’t over-do it when I walked. I was discharged from the hospital with a prescription of Percoset, but I never did end up taking it after the second day of being discharged. I relied on regular doses of Motrin. The twice-daily (very slow) walks around the neighborhood really helped aid in my recovery. It’s important to stay on top of your pain management, but it’s also very helpful to move as soon as you are able.
Wow! For a “boring” birth story, this sure is a lot of writing. And the life that I have right now is certainly anything but boring!
I hardly know where to start with this post…there are so many thoughts swirling around in my head regarding the birth of Jonathan and Faith. But first, I think you need a little background info.
Due to infertility treatments, I knew I was pregnant with two babies almost immediately. And as soon as I could, I got my hands on some “Twin Books” and started reading. And planning. And hoping.
I had a very healthy pregnancy, but it certainly wasn’t pain-free! I had joint pain, nerve pain, growth pain and skin pain. Basically, anything that could hurt, did! But amazingly, it didn’t slow me down too much, until I hit about 31-32 weeks. At a routine ultrasound, the tech thought that she could see my cervix shortening. My OB placed me on modified bed-rest (lay around as much as possible), and so I did my best to comply. Around 34 weeks, the doctor realized that my cervix was strong and not shortening at all, so she lifted my restrictions. Apparently, the tech made a mistake, and I never had had any issues with pre-term labor.
The entire time I was pregnant, I agonized over the method of delivery. Over and over I said, “I just don’t want to do both.” The babies were constantly changing positions, but at 33 weeks, they switched to vertex/vertex. And at 36 weeks, they were back to breech/transverse, with enough fluid to move again. It was driving me CRAZY! I am a planner, and I wanted to just plan what we were doing, and have time to mentally prepare.
At 36w5d, I started having contractions. After a few hours of mild contractions every 5-6 minutes, we went to Triage to be evaluated. By the time we were in triage, hooked up to a bunch of machines (3 monitors, bp cuff and pulse ox) they were every 3 minutes, on the nose! We were getting pretty excited!
I wasn’t in any pain, just uncomfortable. The exams stunk, of course, but the doctors and nurses were all nice. Technically, I was still pre-term, so they gave me a shot of trebutaline to see if it would halt the contractions. It didn’t, but I did feel like I just drank a lot of coffee or finished a hard workout. Very shaky.
Next, I had to drink a liter of water, so see if that would stop the contractions. It didn’t. All of this was to see if I was in actual labor or not. Well, the deciding factor is cervical change, and mine wasn’t! So home we went! It was mentally very discouraging to think I was going to be not-pregnant soon, and then be sent home!
The doctors told me to come back when I was in hard labor or if my water broke. I was so overwhelmed when they told me I would have to go into HARD labor before they would do my c-section (they were still breech/transverse). That just did not seem fair!
Day after day, I plodded along. Even though I couldn’t sleep, and had a lot of pain, I was able to do a lot of things. I was huge and cumbersome, but once I was given the all-clear, I resumed cleaning, laundry and other chores.
Finally, the doctors scheduled my c-section for May 15th, 2007. As 39 weeks pregnant, I walked into the hospital hugely pregnant, and walked out a Mama! I was incredibly nervous about the surgery, but even more so the epidural. I was so nervous, that I couldn’t walk myself to the OR. I was shaking too badly, so they took me in a wheel chair. Once in the OR, any sense of dignity flew out the window. I had already been shaved with a dull razor, and barely had any clothes on. Then I was asked to haul my giant self up onto the table, gown flapping open. The male anesthesiologists prepped me for my spinal, and it wasn’t fun. First of all, they asked me to sit cross-legged on a board the same width as a piece of paper! And on TV, a kind nurse holds your hand/head, but I was on my own. The numbing medicine hurt like hell, and they had to try several times to place the actual spinal. I know I was moaning by the end, but later realized that I had just been a guinea pig for a student doctor.
They laid me down quickly, as I was rapidly losing sensation in my lower half. They pinched me, and I felt it, and then I was totally numb. The next day, I had big bruises and sore spots where they pinched me with their instruments. At this point, they inserted my catheter, prepped my belly and brought my husband in. They started the surgery, and kept the draped close to my face, and didn’t allow my husband to peek. I heard all sorts of things, felt tugging sensations, but was strangely removed from the situation. When they delivered my son, they held him up over the drape, and I shied away from him because he was dripping globs of blood! My daughter was quickly delivered, but I don’t remember seeing her. My husband says they did show her to me. All I remember is hearing the doctor tell the anesthesiologist to start another IV, and I was rather focused on what was happening to me. They asked my husband to leave, and began working on me. I was losing a lot of blood, and my uterus wasn’t clamping down quickly. I heard this strange thud over and over, and I still don’t know what that was. Eventually, the resident finished fixing me up, but told me she wrenched her shoulder as she never had to work that hard to help a uterus clamp down before. My regular OB left before my surgery was completed, as she had to deliver another baby. Before she left, she did say that she though Jonathan and Faith were the biggest twins she had ever delivered at 7.12 and 6.12.
When the OR team was done with me, they asked me if I wanted to hold the kids on the trip to the recovery room. I didn’t even realize they were still with me, I thought they went with my husband. I was vehemently opposed to holding them, as I was totally numb and thought I would drop them! All three of us met up with my hubby and went to recovery. My parents, MIL and aunt were there to meet the babies. They all held the kids before I did, as I was still in shock, couldn’t feel my arms and didn’t feel ready to hold them. I was so focused on the trauma my body had just gone through, that I felt somewhat removed from the situation.
The nurses asked me if I want to try breast feeding, which I did, but we sorta had to prod my family to leave first! The rest of the first day is a blur. I know I felt like crap, wanted to vomit and had hot flashes. I know that I was overwhelmed that I had to start nursing the kids so quickly. After carrying them for 39 weeks, I was ready to share the workload withsomeone else! I was in bed until the next morning, with an IV in each hand and a catheter. I was on Vicodin and motrin once the IV drugs wore off. I had to remember when to ask for them, and that was hard to do. I was able to hold down some liquids the next morning, which meant frequent trips out of bed to the bathroom. There were some near-fainting episodes, but hour by hour, I felt better than the hour before. The very worst after effect of the c-section was the gas pain. My stomach sounded like it was giving off sonar-pings, and the air was moving so strongly that if I placed my hand on my stomach, it felt like there was another full-term baby kicking in there. I actually wondered for a while, if there was a third baby in there!
The kids roomed in with us, but I did send them to the nursery at night. I was so exhausted, and each mew and yawn they would make would keep me up. Unfortunatly, I was too keyed up and uncomfortable to sleep, so when we were discharged on the 3rd day, I was pretty exhausted.
We were so very blessed that our children were so healthy. The never needed oxygen, or intervention of any kind. They had no health concerns, and never left our side. I was intensely aware of how wonderfully the pregnancy and delievery had gone, and every day I am thankful that they are growing up to be strong and healthy children.
The only complication the kids have, is mild developmental dysplasia of the hip. Ironically, this was caused by their extreem lack of space in the womb!
In retrospect, I think I expected to be more emotional about their birth, like the women on TV who cry when they first see their children being born. But for me, I truly think I was in shock, and could only process so much at a time. I fondly look at their newborn pictures and video, and wish I could remember more of those first few days, but on the other hand, I have had a whole year of images and moments to fill my heart to overflowing. The birth was just the starting point of our lives together, and what a good life it is.
I have posted my loving version of the birth story here shortly after it happened. But I know “Birth Week” on HDYDI is more about sharing the nitty-gritty for you moms-of-twins-to-be who want to know “what’s it really like”. Here is what is was really like for Cynthia, Aaron & Brady:
First, a little background. When my singleton was born she arrived very quickly and unexpectedly at 33 weeks. I had not prepared for this possibility and delivered her at our local hospital – without a NICU. Subsequently, she was taken immediately from me, stabilized and transferred 50 minutes away. The doctors said I had an incompetent cervix which led to me having a very quick and relatively painless labor. So by the time I got the idea into my head that perhaps I should get myself to the hospital, I was pretty far along and very active; they couldn’t stop me.
Having gone through that kind of heart-wrenching experience, I vowed to be much more prepared this time. I was determined that there would be no surprises; no circumstance I had not considered. I researched, I read, I spoke with other MOTs and played out every scenario in my head. I prepared for the worst case and then…was pleasantly surprised with how it all went down.
I had my regular weekly appointment with Dr. M scheduled for 2:15 on Friday the 13th. Earlier in the week I had said the boys would be born on this lucky day but as the time for the appointment approached – and I still felt fine – I gave up on that theory. My internal exam showed that I was slightly further along than I was the previous visit. Meaning, I had gone from about 1 cm to 1.5 (or so) cm and was now almost 90% effaced. He gave me the option to go home and see how I felt for a while, or go directly to the hospital and be monitored. At 34 weeks – and after 6 weeks of bedrest – I was getting anxious and decided to go down to L&D for some monitoring.
When my husband and I arrived at the hospital about 35 minutes later (no time to go home and get my carefully packed bag with our CAMERA!), I was checked in without any delay and immediately examined. The resident’s face shows a little surprise and she says “You’re more like 2-3 cm. Welcome!” As Emomily said in her post, all I could think was I’ve waited for this moment – now I’m not ready!
I am asked if I am planning a vaginal or C-section delivery. As the babies were mono-di, I had decided ahead of time that if they were presenting anything but Vertex-Vertex, I’d get the C-Section. However, when they presented Vertex-Transverse, I balked. Did I really want major surgery? I’ve never had a “real” surgery before. why would a choose to go through that. OMG, someone…TELL ME WHAT TO DO! My husband gently reminded me that the only thing I’ve truly wanted to avoid this whole time was a one of each type of delivery, so I consent to the C-Section. And I start telling anyone who will listen that I am TERRIFIED. Thankfully, they take me seriously and put on the kids gloves to deal with me from that point on.
The attending arrives and examines me. His announcement is “we’re having babies tonight!” I am now more like 5 cm dilated. BTW – have a mentioned I still don’t feel any contractions? Good thing I didn’t go home to wait it out, I’d still be waiting for a signal to make me call the doctor….
Into the room we go. The spinal is put in with relative ease. Thank God I didn’t faint which is what I was sure was going to happen. Next thing I know I see hubby coming into the room and they tell me we’re going to start. They ask me if I can “feel that” and I can! Oh no! STOP! But I guess whatever I felt was high enough up on my torso that they decide to proceed because before I even know they’ve started, I hear a cry. WHAT? ALREADY? Aaron Denis emerges screaming his lungs out. Where was all the pressure I was supposed to feel? The tugging? What is going on down there…and…
Here comes the other one! 6:36 and out comes Brady Roy. Except, no cries this time. I start to panic. After an eternity (or 30 seconds) I hear a little cry. Whew. Turns out, his cord was wrapped twice around his little neck and it needed to be untangled.
And just like that, it’s over. But where are the babies? I heard people talking about them. Isn’t everything okay? You said they looked good, can I see them? They both needed to be taken immediately to the NICU so the best that they could do for me was to wheel them by me in their incubator. They slowed down, but didn’t stop. If I hadn’t mentally prepared for that possibility, I would have been devastated. Thankfully, I knew it was a real possibility and I made myself okay with it. I prepared to heal myself so I could get to them as soon as possible.
Daddy accompanied the babies to the NICU and I set about getting settled in my new room. Fortunately the combination of shock, delirium and good drugs got me through the night pain-free. At some point during the night the nurses came in to stand me up. No one thought to put a pad on me and I was greeted with a nice rush of blood down my legs and all over the floor. Whoops. Of course the sight of that had me whoozy, but otherwise the night was uneventful. I slept for approximately 7 consecutive minutes while I was anxiously awaiting the first meeting with the boys which would take place the next day.
The next day was when the trouble began. There was mix-up with my pain meds and I was undermedicated for a great portion of the day. So that upset me. I was only physically able to get myself down to the NICU one time that day. So that upset me. There was entirely too many visitors in and out of the room and I was an emotional wreck. The nurses offered me a sleeping pill for that night – which I gulped down and the day after that, things began to look up.
Healing was slow and staying on top of the pain was key. On the day I was discharged, I swelled up like a balloon and was very uncomfortable. Apparently there isn’t much you can do for that except drink a lot and try to pee it all out. The Vicodin gave me flash headaches so after my first night at home, I stuck with just Tylenol.
The boys started nursing on Day 3 and really got it by Day 7. They were released on Day 14. Thankfully we had been through the NICU experience before with our firstborn so we were prepared for what to expect. Aaron had the CPAP to start and was then under the lights for jaundice. Brady had two apnea spells on Day 3 and hospital policy dictated he couldn’t leave until he went 10 days without one; he had no other issues.
They are happy and healthy now, 25th percentile for actual age. As for me, I am pregnant again and hoping for a VBAC this time. All said and done, I’m glad I had the C-Section for the boys but the recovery WAS hard. Especially with other children at home. I’m glad I had lined up help and, honestly, I’m glad the boys stayed a little bit longer because I needed the time to heal.
it was a morning full of our regular friday routine of doctors appointments. first in line was the perinatologist for a non stress test and BPP (biophysical profile). since my blood pressure had been on the high side, i had to go every week for these more advanced tests to monitor the well being of our babes. this morning’s tests were just like the others – the boys were looking great. and my blood pressure was actually on the normal side of borderline. we left with the doctor saying, “maybe we won’t see you next week!” (which he had actually been saying for the past two appointments)
next up was our regular OB. he took a peek at my cervix and i was about 2 cm dilated (normal) and said, while everything looked good, he wanted to do more monitoring just to make sure my blood pressure wasn’t affecting the boys well being. his office is next door to the hospital, so he sent us up to labor and delivery for the tests. both jordan and i felt very strange as they admitted me into the maternity ward, like “what is really happening here?!” they gave me a gown, hooked me up to a blood pressure machine, strapped two monitors to my belly, drew some blood and tested my urine. after two hours, jordan was starting to get impatient and i was starting to wonder why were were still in the maternity ward. everything with the boys had checked out perfect and my blood pressure was, again, looking very good. the one thing were waiting on was the results of the blood test. that’s when dr. love walked in (yes, that’s really the name of our OB).
the blood test showed that my liver was functioning sub-optimally. i asked what that meant and the doctor gave me the grave diagnosis that if we waited it out, my body could stop functioning and he’s had patients slip into a coma in a matter of 12 hours. his next sentence was, “right now you’re healthy, the boys are healthy, so let’s have us some babies!” it was exactly one day and one month before my due date of feb. 27.
up until this point, i had been solely focused on having our boys with as little “interference” as possible. we had taken natural birthing classes and we’d talked to dr. love about my desire for a drug free birth. but now we were faced with a different situation than the one i had created in my mind and, i have to say, i’m pretty darn proud of my ability to quickly change gears (stubborn as i usually am!). both babies were vertex so we were set for an induced vaginal delivery. added to the safety factor, i was miserably uncomfortable at this point and it was almost a relief to know that in just a matter of hours our boys would be snug in our arms instead of cramped in my belly. so after a short discussion, jordan and i looked at each other, smiled, and said “it’s time to meet our boys!” my only nagging doubt was knowing the stress i incurred during the week due to some work emergencies. somehow in the back of my mind i still wonder if this all would have happened if i hadn’t been freaking out over work that week. my advice to all pregnant mamas: try to be as chill as possible, especially if your blood pressure is an issue.
as soon as the decision was made, jordan left the hospital and went into high gear. he had to run home, get our packed bags (thank god we did this two weeks prior!), get matilda (dog) and ally (cat) set at their caregivers, call our doula, etc. i called my parents to tell them what was happening and my mom and dad immediately scheduled their flight to be with us the following morning. and then the real “admittance” began. i signed a bunch of papers (we had done pre-admittance which helped reduce a lot of the paperwork), twice as many because we were having TWO births. i have to say that’s when it started to really sink in. reading and signing all of these papers for baby a and baby b. very soon i was going to meet our TWO babies, and be responsible for them for the rest of my life. i was going to be their mother. wow.
from that point on, things started happening fast. i was moved to our room – a regular labor and delivery room – and hooked up to an IV and administered pitocin. i was still by myself, but feeling pretty calm, and i was even able to call a few family and friends. it was a good time to just center myself and reflect on what was happening. i was so excited and a little bit scared of how this birth was going to go, although i had an overwhelming sense that everything would be just fine. and to my surprise, i had no reservations about how things were progressing and how we were dramatically veering from my “ideal” of birth. this was around 3:00 pm.
jordan got back to the hospital around 4pm and our wonderful doula, lanell, showed up shortly after. around 5:30pm dr. love came in to break my water. the nurse had tried about an hour earlier but had no success. it was a weird feeling having this gush of water come out, but to feel no pain sensation. and up until that point, despite getting pitocin, i hadn’t really felt any contractions. the doc said that would change soon. and it did. in a very. serious. way. i went from feeling no pain to having very intense contractions almost immediately. and mind you i didn’t want an epidural and was committed to going as far as i could without this assistance. by 7pm i was in the throws of labor and it was the most painful, intense thing i have ever experienced. i was a competitive gymnast my whole life and suffered countless injuries, body traumas, broken bones, 5 surgeries. you name it! nothing compared to the pain of labor. i think the fact that it was induced and didn’t naturally progress was a big factor. it was zero to sixty and i was totally overwhelmed. all i can say is thank god for our doula. she massaged my back, said inspiring, guiding words, and kept me going. i was having contraction after contraction, with sometimes less than 30 seconds between them. it was crazy. i was moaning, i was screaming, i was smashing my face into the pillow and drooling like mad, i was squeezing jordan’s hand so tight he honestly thought i was going to break some bones. and then they checked my cervix and it is was only dialted 5 cm. i was ready to give in.
i talked to jordan and my doula about getting an epidural and lanell gave me extra strength and assurance to keep going. after about three more hours of mind and time-bending labor, i felt an urge to push and lanell thought this was an excellent sign and asked the nurse to check me. we all thought for sure i was just about there. no deal – i had progressed, but was at 8 cm. ugh! i knew i didn’t have 2 more cm. in me without some serious help. without hesitation, i screamed “i’m done! get me an epidural! NOW!” it couldn’t come fast enough (after i made that decision, it was like the longest 10 minutes of my life waiting for it!), and as soon as it was in, it was instant relief. actually, it was more like sweet, sweet relief! all of the crazy pain i had experienced for the past 5 some odd hours vanished. i took a nap. i meditated. we listened to great music. i laughed. i imagined the birth. around midnight i started feeling a lot of pressure and asked the nurse to check. i was very close, but still not dilated to 10. an hour and more pressure later, she checked again and it was go time. time to push. so exciting!
i got to push on my side for a while, on my other side, and while it felt good, i wasn’t making as much progress as the nurse wanted. so she asked me to go on my back, which i was not thrilled about, but said i’d give it a try. it wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be. and i was getting much better at the “mechanics” of pushing, which basically consists of pushing through your butt, like you’re taking a monster poo.
finally, after about 70 minutes of pushing, abel’s head had crowned. it was beyond exciting and i could really feel it. part of me wishes i could have seen what was happening, but just seeing the excitement on jordan’s, lanell’s and the nurses faces, i knew something very powerful and amazing was happening. the nurse called in the doctor and EVERYTHING changed. we were lucky to stay in the L and D room the whole time, which i am so grateful for. no OR for the delivery, which is unusual. but within a matter of seconds, this wonderful, private, intimate birth sanctum that we had created for the past 10 hours totally changed. with the arrival of the doctor came about 7 others. the lights got bright, they wheeled in a two stations for the babies, it became cramped and chaotic. this was at 3am. it took another 30 minutes of crazy pushing with the doctor and his entourage before abel was born. dr. love had gone home and so a doctor we had never met was “at the helm.” he was a serious guy and it was clear that birthing our babies was serious business to him. “one big push and his head is out!” and i felt such amazing relief. two more pushes and our sweet abel was born at 3:38 am! as soon as he was out, the nurse tried to grab him to take him to the “examining” station. our doctor said no, this baby is going to his mother, and he put abie on my belly so i could hold him. i will never forget this, my first time seeing my first born. total magic. so overwhelming and beautiful. it was beyond what my mind could comprehend and i felt totally out-of-body. i was all heart.
after about a minute of me holding abel (or maybe it was 30 seconds), they whisked him away and it was back to business. push! push! push! all of a sudden i realized i had another baby to birth – it was oskar’s turn. i had no break between births. in retrospect, the one thing i wished was to have about a 10 minute break after abie was born. pushing one baby out is crazy, intense work and deserves some recuperation before going for it again. but for some reason it was very important to get oskar out as fast as possible. well, that just wasn’t ozzy’s style. he started out high in my uterus and after an hour of pushing, sometimes double and triple “rounds” of pushing without a break, plus the doctor being elbow deep (literally) trying to grab a leg to pull him out (oz was head down so it was to no avail), we were all spent. oz’s heart rate had a couple decelerations and the doc declared that he had only descended to the top of my pelvis. not a ton of progress for an hour of pushing. then the hot spot reared its ugly head. the epidural had worn off in one localized area, causing intense pain on the left side of my pelvis. i thought i had a cramp and was trying to stretch it mid pushes. hysterical now that i look back, but not fun while it was happening. the doc probably thought i was a nut ball. i remember pushing the epidural button like 50 times. the doc looked at us and said, “i think we need to call this.” i looked at everyone and said, “i’m done. get oskar out.” it was as simple as that, and then the energy changed once again as i was wheeled into the OR and prepped for a c-section.
meanwhile while i was pushing ozzy, abel started retracting, meaning his breaths weren’t getting easier with time, but was struggling to breath like it was his first breath. so they rushed him off to the NICU and i told jordan to stay with him. so jordan had no idea what was going on with oskar’s birth until he came down at the tail end to find me being wheeled out of L and D to the OR. jordan reassured me that abel was going to be just fine and was with me as i was prepped for surgery. i was surprisingly calm through all of this. it was just what needed to be done. until the doctor pinched my stomach to make sure i was totally numb and i said “you just pinched me. of course i felt that!” the doc told the anesthesiologist that he needed to get me ready for general since i wasn’t numb enough and they needed to get oz out. i looked at him and i must have had such fear, desperation and disappointment in my eyes that he said back to the doc, “it will take me 5 minutes.” the doc, in a less than cordial voice said, “we don’t have 5 minutes, do it now!” our anesthesiologist gave me a knowing look and said, “give me one minute,” and soon i felt my whole body go numb, up to my chest, and he said back to the doctor, “check her again.” i felt nothing, and a second later i heard, “cutting!” our oskar was born at 4:48 am. i got to see his beautiful face after he was all cleaned up and bundled up, but he was off to the NICU too, as he was retracting just like his brother. jordan left to be with our newborns and our angel doula stayed with me through the tormenting post-op period.
i hadn’t even considered a c-section while i was educating myself and preparing for the birth of our boys, so i was completely ignorant to what was going on the whole time. as they started to put me back together, my whole body started shaking, trembling like i have never experienced. i felt like i could barely breath. i couldn’t even control my teeth from chattering. it was misery. and i wish i would have known what to expect or had talked to the doc about getting some meds to take this edge off. thank god the shaking only lasted for about 30 minutes, but it seemed like forever. lanell stroked my hair and face and rubbed my arms and hands, talking me through it. she was a god-send. i started to feel better and was wheeled into recovery. jordan joined me shortly after and said the boys were fine. we both crashed. jordan was in a deep sleep for about two hours and i kept going in and out of consciousness, reliving some of the past events, wanting to see my babies, but so exhausted at the same time. i remember just wanting the nurse to come in so i could find out when i could leave recovery and see our babies, and it seeming like forever.
by 7am or so, we were finally taken to our regular post-partum room and i was feeling really good. i had so much energy, i wasn’t tired a bit, and i was ready to hold my babies. i made a few phone calls to family and friends to tell them about the birth of our boys (they were all STUNNED that i was talking at this point!). jordan went to see the boys and took some forbidden video to show me. by 8:30am i got a phone call from the NICU that the boys had been taken off oxygen and were ready to start nursing. our nurse at that point had said because of the c-section, i couldn’t get out of bed for a few more hours. but our doc came in shortly after and said i was cleared to go visit our babies. so off we went! it was a miracle to really hold them for the first time, to touch their skin, to kiss their cheeks and their hands. to have them breastfeed, which they both did pretty good that first time, considering being born at 36 weeks. jordan and i were instantly beyond in love, beyond happy. our beautiful boys were finally with us on the outside. we could see what they looked like. after 9 months of imagining, dreaming and talking about what they would be like, here they finally were, right before us. amazing is all i can say.
the boys were in the NICU for the next three days for monitoring. it was tough to have our healthy boys stuck in this place, attached to all these monitors, and having our interactions with them controlled by, what we coined, the “neo-nazi-NICU-nurses.” at the same time, we were able to get full nights of sleep while the nurses fed them every 3 hours, and recover from what was probably the most stressful, traumatic, amazing and profound event of lives. this was a very good thing. during the day we were on a 3 hour schedule of going to the NICU, nursing each boy for 20 minutes (and no more!), feeding them a formula supplement, changing their diapers, cuddling, and putting them down to sleep. we probably got about one hour in between these periods to go back to our room, eat, take a nap, and do anything else we needed to do. jordan was amazing during these first few days. he was born to be a dad and to care for these boys. he was my constant companion and supporter, such a rock. and i wouldn’t dream of this journey without him.
as far as post-op pain, i won’t lie and say it was a piece of cake. my insides felt like they had been turned inside out because, well, they had! it hurt to move, period. i can only recommend to stay on top of the pain with meds. i took ibuprofen and something a little stronger to help manage it all. i was super lucky and didn’t tear at all during the vaginal birth, so i really only had to contend with the pain from the c-section. i took all the anti-gas, stool softener stuff, too. this may be gross, but i remember desperately wanting to take a poo after the second day. the nurse brought me some hot apple juice and it magically did the trick. we had great nurses and another one taught me the best way to get up and out of bed. from your back, bend your one leg and push yourself to your side. then push with your arms to a sitting position while sliding your legs down the bed to get your feet to the floor. it’s a lot easier to use the automatic bed to help you get up while you’re in the hospital. but after your surgery, make sure and ask your nurse to teach you the best way to get up. it makes a HUGE difference!
we felt incredibly blessed because after three days the boys were discharged from the NICU and got to spend our last night in the hospital with us in the room. it was weird! for the first time, it was just the four of us as a family. we had to set the alarm to wake up to feed them throughout the night. they were such sound sleepers! we were unsure parents, having had the nurses looking over us, helping us along while they were in the NICU. but we were so unbelievably happy that were were all together, able to finally get to know each other on our own terms. we probably got out of bed every hour to stare over the boys sleeping together in their crib. the next day we were all discharged home. my parents had flown in from chicago the morning the boys were born and had been at the hospital every day supporting us during our stay. they brought us food, love and encouragement, and they had the house all ready for our arrival. what an incredible feeling to walk into our home for the first time carrying our boys. matilda fell in love with them immediately. no growling, no barking, just sniffs and licks and calm.
and so it began…the boys’ entry into this world. i dreamed of two births that would be simple, intervention-free and beautiful. i got two births that were complicated, full of medical intervention and beautiful in their own right. most people hear my story with a horrified expression and say something like, “you poor thing, you had to go through it all!” i honestly don’t feel that way. at all. i wouldn’t trade this experience in for the world. i feel honored to have experienced the utter glory and bliss of a vaginal birth. i also feel blessed that we knew what we needed to do with oskar to get him out safely. and as momentous as birth is, and as much preparing as we do for it, 16 months later it honestly feels like a blip on our family time line. it is the beginning of so much. so much fun, love, smiles, growing, laughter, tears, questions, pain, craziness and utter wonder. utter wonder.
I was convinced that I was going to carry the boys until well into the next decade. This was the pregnancy that would never end.I would sleep forever more in a recliner. I would get up to pee 14 times a night for the rest of my life. I would never be able to eat ice cream because my gestational diabetes would never go away. I tried my hardest to convince my OB, Dr. J-W, that she should go ahead and schedule my c-section for earlier than the 38 weeks she declared would be “long enough.” I begged, I cajoled, I bribed.Nothing worked. And to add insult to injury, technically the day I turned 38 weeks was a Saturday. No elective c-sections on weekends.So I would have to wait an additional two days! I think I actually started to cry in her office. She smiled, patted my knee and told me to come back next week.Hmph!That was on a Friday.
Monday morning, I went in for routine U/S at 36w, 3d.The radiologist, who was not exactly known for his bedside manner, but who was well known for his well deserved ego, offhandedly told me that he thought Twin A’s amniotic fluid looked low and that he’d like for my OB to take a look at it. (Luckily her office was right next door to his.)Dr. J-W popped in and they quickly started talking and pointing and then all of a sudden, Dr. J-W looks at me and says, “They’re coming out today, my dear.I’ll schedule your c-section for later tonight. Go to the hospital right now. They’ll admit you to L&D for observation.”And I said…nothing. I remember my heart rate shot up and my jaw dropping. I asked if I could go home to get my bag and was given the green light. But she told me not to take longer than an hour to get to the hospital.
I was so freaked out/excited that I had to pull over so I could start calling everyone. First I tried my husband, Scott. Didn’t reach him on his office line. Ok, I’ll try his cell phone. No answer. I leave a message and then call him right back. Still no Scott. Hm. Ok, I’ll call my mom, who’s babysitting my daughter. I call my dad. I call my sister, who is a pediatric resident. I call Scott’s mom. Still no Scott.
By this point, I arrive home and start crying. Where the %$@&^ is Scott?! Even the receptionist at his office isn’t answering her phone. So I get crafty and start to dial extensions randomly. The first person who picks up is the admin to one of the senior VPs. I start to explain what’s happening in a high pitch voice, super rapid fire. I’m pregnant with twins, they are going to be delivered today, I can’t find Scott, he works on the other side of LA and it will take him at least 40 minutes to get to me. I’m freaking out. I stop to take a breath and she says in the most lovely and calm voice, “Don’t you worry, I’ll find him. He’ll call you.” I swear I had barely hit the end call button when my phone rings. Scott was in a meeting and had left his cell phone at his desk. Uh, what?!? Any way, he’s heading to the hospital.
I get there, I check in all by myself. They know who I am and have a lovely bed for me in L&D. I get hooked up to a fetal monitor with about 400 belts wrapped around me.Well, I guess just three. And then I settle in for a long afternoon of waiting. Various family members flow in and out. Scott arrives. I’m not allowed to eat or drink, but that’s okay, right? I only have a few hours to wait until my c-section is scheduled at 5:30pm. A nurse comes in to check me out and trailing her is a brand new nurse, freshly graduated from nursing school a week ago. I kid you not – a week on the job. The older nurse wants to start an IV for me. She wants newbie to do it. I figure, why not. And newbie does a fabulous job – I barely felt it.
It was right about now that the nurses started to play with my mind, telling me that the OR wasn’t going to be available until 6:30pm, then it became 9pm. I was not thrilled with the thought of having to wait, but hey, whatever. The only thing that concerned me was that this was all occurring on September 10. I really, really, really didn’t want the boys to be born on September 11.Everyone promised me that they would be born sometime today.
Ok, I settle down to wait some more. I’m thirsty & tired, but not allowed to drink anything. I think I tried to bribe the nurses to let me get water chips. But noooooo. Then I realize that I’m feeling sorta uncomfortable. But then I feel better. But then it happens again. Oh good lord. I’m having contractions. I’m going into labor. Don’t they realize that I’m going to have a c-section?
For the first hour the contractions are a piece of cake. But then they start to get a little more, uh, pronounced. I get measured – 3cm. More contractions, more pain, more time passes. I’m 5cm now. They give me something to stop the labor.It doesn’t work. More drugs, still don’t work. They call my OB. One last try with the drugs. Still in pain, still contracting. Dr. J-W waltzes in. “Okay, my dear. They are coming to come out right now.”
I’m not ready for this. I’ve been dying for this day, this time to come. And I’m not ready. I’ve been uncomfortable for weeks.Haven’t slept through the night in months.I’ve been in L&D anticipating this all day.Still not ready.But off we go. I say goodbye to the family.Scott puts his scrubs on, as does my sister, who will join us in the OR.
I get wheeled down the hall and have to hang out in the hallway because they aren’t quite ready in the OR. The scrub nurse is still getting things sorted out. They wheel me in. I get my epidural and immediately fall in love with my anesthesiologist. They let Scott and my sister in. And then I swear half of the hospital streams into the room. There are two teams from neonatal, two respiratory teams, a neonatalogist, my new loverboy anesthesiologist, my OB, another OB, a few random surgical nurses, the scrub nurses. I think there were 13 people besides me, Scott and sis.C-r-a-z-y. This is because the boys were considered preemie as they were being delivered before the 37 week mark.
I barely have time to start to worry, something I do well and often, when Dr. J-W starts cutting. I remember that Norah Jones was playing and thought that was nice as it was one of three CDs that Scott & I took on our honeymoon in Belize. I feel the usual pressure and then I hear a bunch of commotion, including a baby crying. It’s 6:25pm, and Joshua Christopher Mencken has entered the world. My sister looks over at Twin A’s team and tells me that he’s looking good. More pressure, more commotion, but no baby crying yet. I start to panic. Finally a hoarse cry. But still, I’m getting anxious.
Brief intermission to bring you up to date regarding Twin B. When I went in for my NT scan, Twin B’s back of the neck measurement was slightly higher than they wanted to see. The odds that he had some form of chromosomal issue became 1 in 142 or something like that, versus Twin A’s odds that were around 1in 10,000. I got genetically counseled, I was recommended an amnio, we got a double echocardiogram (another reason why the NT measurement is sometimes high). My blood work came back within normal ranges as did the echo’s. We elected not to get the amnio and just wait to see what would happen. (Even with an increased risk, 1 in 142 odds works out to being a 0.7% likelihood.) I decided to not worry about it again until there was something to worry about.And surprisingly, I was able to stay calm for the rest of my pregnancy.And now back to the birth story…
So at this point, I know that Josh is out and doing well. I know that Nathaniel Paul Mencken was born at 6:26pm. I do not know how Nate is doing. I gather up my courage and ask my sister in a very quavering voice, “Is he okay?” She gives me a very quick response, “Sure.” I push harder, “I mean, does he have Down Syndrome?” My sister gets up (against the orders of the anesthesiologist) and peeks at him. She runs back to my side and says, “Absolutely not, he is a perfect baby boy.” Whew! I’m not a particularly religious person, but at this point I say a prayer of gratitude.
Scott is allowed to take a couple of pictures. We’re ready for him and for my sister to be able to follow the boys to the NICU if they need to. However, as the teams examine the boys, great news! They are doing so well – no breathing issues, nothing else to be concerned about at all.Their APGARs are both 8 and then 9. It really doesn’t get much better than that. The neonatal teams and the respiratory teams for both boys leave. As does the neonatalogist who looks pissed off somehow. As if we have inconvenienced him.Whatever. My boys don’t need you anyway, mister.
From this point, I don’t remember a ton.I’m tired, I’m relieved, I’m so thirsty that I’m about to jump off this gurney and try to find a drinking fountain. I start feeling a lot of pressure in my chest. Huh. That can’t be good. I look for my boyfriend, Dr. Feel Good Druggy Man, and ask if I should be worried. He looks at me for a minute and looks over the curtain for a minute. “Nah,” he says, “They’re just stuffing your guts back in.” I kid you not, that’s exactly what he said to me.
We learn all of the facts about the boys as they are weighed, measured, cleaned up and otherwise inspected:
Joshua Christopher Mencken weighed 6 lbs, 12 oz, and was 20” long. He was born with no hair except for a ring of hair around the back of his head, prompting my mother to start calling him “Friar Josh.”
Nathaniel Paul Mencken weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz, and was 19.75” long. He was born with a very big and very bald head that turned red when he cried, giving him the nickname “Nater-the-tomater.” His voice continues to be very husky.
They get whisked off to the nursery for their first baths and for the family to get their first views. I get 4,000 stitches and staples and wheeled off to recovery. I know from when my daughter was born, that I probably won’t get to see the boys for at least an hour. The nurse in recovery tells me that I can go to my room in Maternity when I can feel my legs. Scott comes back in to tell me what everyone says when they see the boys. I ask the nurse for some water. She asks my OB who gives her the thumbs up. I think I drank about a gallon of water. It takes about 45 minutes of waiting and then it’s time.As they wheel me to Maternity, my family gets a brief minute to say hi. We’re all excited and grateful that everyone is okay.
And then suddenly I’m in my room. The reality of my life hits me. I’m a mother of three.I have twin boys. It’s funny what went through my head. The thing that I was really fixated on was whether I would be able to tell them apart. I was pretty sure they were fraternal, but still! How embarrassing would that be if their own mother couldn’t tell them apart! There’s a knock on the door and a nursery nurse is there wheeling in two isolettes. The boys have arrived!