In advance to sharing this story I want to thank my husband, without you and your love I could have never made it through this. You’re truly my rock, the love of my life. My parents, for your unending and limitless love and support, my sisters for their also unequaled love and support and being my cheerleaders. Tria, for the meals and foot rubs, and Hayley, for photographing this truly once in a lifetime event. I am so blessed. I may give birth again, but (thankfully) it will never again be my first time.
Giving birth to my twins has without question been the single most remarkable event in my life. Writing this post was undeniably difficult, where to begin, what to include?! Sharing my birth story is like pouring out my raw beating heart for all to see, while I am proud of this story it is hands down the most personal event I have ever shared. Bringing my twins into this world is the greatest honor I have ever been given, and I hope to do justice to the day they came earthside in sharing our story. One thing I have promised to always do in sharing my motherhood journey is to be honest. I hope with all my heart in sharing my stories that I can touch and encourage the hearts of every woman in their own journeys. This will be Part One of our tale of birth. So, without further ado, I present, the Birth Story of Harry and Arabella.
Everyone always told me that as my pregnancy neared its end I would be ready to do anything to get those babies out. They were right. Towards the end I became so uncomfortable, I couldn’t eat, drink, sit, lie down, or pee. EVERYTHING was just plain frustrating. My belly was a constantly moving soup of sharp elbows and knees, and I was astonished anew every day that they hadn’t actually punctured my bladder with their tiny limbs. I had been having Braxton Hicks periodically for what felt like forever, and my loving husband was always quick to pop me in a warm bath if I felt things were getting too intense. I worked literally up until the day before I went to the hospital, no I do not recommend that. My hearts desire had been to give birth at the lovely birth center we lived nearby, but thanks to Colorado law I had to give birth at a hospital as multiple births are not legal in birth centers. For my next one, I want to do either home birth or birth center, but these being my first and being twins my husband and I prayed and determined to go the hospital route. I firmly believe that birth is as much about the baby’s journey entering this world as the mama’s, and I knew that the best choice for them was to do the hospital this time, even if it meant giving birth in a sterile cold operating room (more lovely laws).
We had determined to be surprised at birth as to what the babies genders were, and managed to not find out until the week before they arrived when a heartless nurse spilled the beans. (I say heartless because after she blew the big reveal to me without my husband even being there, she laughed and said ‘oops’). Don’t ever blow something like that to a very pregnant, hormonally charged exhausted woman and then simply laugh it off, it’s a very, very bad idea. I was so upset I made my husband call and inform them I never wanted to see that nurse again. They actually kept her away from me from there on out. (Maybe I was scarier than I thought).
My doctor had informed us early on that if the twins didn’t come before 38 weeks they would induce, and as we arrived at the weekend before the big 38, I told my body the time had come. The Friday before the twins arrived, they informed me at my OB appointment that I was nearly 5 cm dilated. Halfway there?! Whoa, was all I could think. The next day, Saturday, we took a walk around our neighborhood and I finally felt no fear as my contractions began to increase in regularity. I still felt little pain, but I could tell things were speeding up and my husband called our doctor to see if they thought I should head in to the hospital yet. Due to me being so dilated, they answered with a big fat yes and suddenly things started to feel more real. We called my parents and told them it was time, and once they arrived we loaded into our cars and headed to the hospital. We had packed our hospital bag earlier that week, and I felt like I should be doing more/feel more ready, but there was nothing to be done. My contractions kept petering out and I tried all manner of things to ensure they kept accelerating. I knew one thing, I did NOT want an induction if at all possible.
We arrived at the hospital and checked in, I was hooked up to the contraction monitoring device and atttempted to relax on the very uncomfortable bed. I had the absolutely most LOVELY nurses on my delivery team, I know God sent them to me. Wherever you are ladies, know you’re in my heart and prayers for always. I was far too excited and nervous to sleep, and they sent in the nurse to discuss the plans for the following morning. They suggested pitocin but I was very against that (and very thankful later that I hadn’t!). The other option was to break my water if it hadn’t by morning to get things moving. After prayer and discussion, my husband and I decided that we would do that if it hadn’t broken by the morning. At first, the doctor wanted to wake me at 4:30am to break my water but my amazing nurse reminded me this was MY labor and I chose how it would go. So I chose that if we did break the water it wouldn’t be until after 6am. 6:00 came and went and my contractions were still the same so we did break my water, and it was very hard to break I will add. (Ouch!)
After my water broke (holy Toledo is that liquid HOT) my labor changed instantaneously. In a matter of moments I went from having contractions to HAVING CONTRACTIONS. Everything smelled bad including my poor husbands coffee which he hastily disposed of. I threw up into every nearby receptacle and refused to allow my patient spouse into the bathroom with me (labor is not exactly a dignified affair but I was not about to let him see me do anything nasty that I could avoid). I was hooked up to what felt like a million devices and couldn’t move much if I had wanted to. Also to my surprise I wanted silence, none of the calming music I had spent hours compiling for my labor. A nurse came in to check me and announced I was fully dilated and ready to push. And suddenly I was not ready to do this, not ready to push or to have my babies born yet at all for that matter. My surreal little bubble of expectant joy popped and I was reeling in very unexpected terror. My husband was by my side the whole time, encouraging me, holding my hand or hair back as need be, and I vaguely remember telling him repeatedly I couldn’t do this. Y’all, transition is no joke. My loving family was there too and I also remember being worried sick that I was going to scare my poor sisters out of ever having children. My plan had been to have an all natural birth, we had practiced and taken all natural childbirth classes and I had watched countless birth videos in joyous wistful tears. I thought I was prepared for birth. I was not. But the thing about birth, there are no take backs. Ready or not, that baby/babies are going to come out of you one way or the other.
So there I was, the room spinning around me and the nurse came in to talk to me about an epidural. I thought you could only have those before you were ready to push but apparently not. Baby B was still transverse, and the nurse gently explained to me that while the baby could turn while Baby A was being born, if they did not the doctor would have to reach up and manually turn her if possible (at which point she said I would be feeling that death was a good option) or they would have to put me under emergency general anesthesia and I would miss Baby B’s birth entirely. I talked to my husband and we determined to do the epidural. I was in full blown ready to push mode at this point, so let me tell you sitting still while having a needle placed in my spine was anything but enjoyable. Different hospital staff kept trying to talk to me to my immense irritation, at this point I was barely holding on and the last thing I wanted to do was think let alone answer a question. Sorry if I was a jerk guys…(my husband insists I wasn’t, but he loves me). Eventually the epidural was placed and began to take effect. Dear kind anesthesiologist, I appreciated you, your respect and your gentleness to me that day more than you could know.
I was wheeled into the cold and extremely bright operating room, husband at my side. Leaving the rest of my family behind was scarier than I thought it would be as I headed into the unknown. During birth I wanted my mom there and my immediate family so badly it hurt. Thank God for my supportive husband, he was like a rock every moment. We wheeled into the OR and my team transferred me to a cold steel bed under some enormous bright lights, I vaguely remember noting the large group of masked people (18 to be exact!). There was my team, a team for each baby, and apparently some medical students as well. My dear nurse was by my side holding my hand and she prayed with me. Someone said it was going to be okay and asked if I was ready and she said ‘it’s going to be great! We prayed!’
The team I had was amazing, knowing my disappointment over having the gender surprise ruined to make up for it they took bets on who would come out first, boy or girl. My husband was assigned the task of counting my pushes, and I began to push. And I pushed and pushed. They had me feel Baby A’s head as he crowned and it was so wrinkly I was highly alarmed. They reassured me it was absolutely normal. Apparently I pushed for an hour, and then the doctor told me she was going to give me one last chance to push before she did an episiotomy as Baby A’s head was stuck. I remember thinking, oh eff no, that baby is coming out NOW. And come out he did! The doctor proclaimed him to be the boy, I remember hearing him cry and saying ‘oh he’s crying that’s a good sign!’ They immediately began to check for Baby B and determined not only was she still transverse but she was going into distress. I am so thankful for my doctor, she remained calm and even delayed Baby A’s cord clamping as much as physically possible per my request. She did have to manually turn Baby B, I remember seeing her hand move around on the inside as I looked at the outside of my stomach, talk about weird. There was shouting, the doctor asking ‘what’s in my hand what am I grabbing’ to the person running the ultrasound machine. It was determined she had grabbed a head and she pulled that baby down and I pushed her out. What felt like a lifetime was two minutes. My son, Harry James, was born November 8th at 12:00pm weighing in at exactly 6 pounds and my daughter, Arabella Rose, was born at 12:02pm weighing exactly 5 pounds. I was very foggy by this point and don’t remember much but my doctor saying ‘sorry mama’ as she scrubbed me out and stitched me up. (I’m thankful for that scrubbing, I avoided any uterine infections!)
They wiped my babies down (I had requested no baths, save that vernix!) wrapped them and put them on my chest. I know I was crying but I still felt so numb, so surreal. There were tiny humans on my chest?! Where did they come from?! And I became SO COLD. I was shaking like I’ve never shaken before. They wheeled me back to my room where my babies were put back on my chest and what felt like millions of hot towels and blankets were piled on me, and lots of other family came in. I love family, but was I thankful my nurse kicked them out. Next time I give birth I have determined to allow myself a little bit to adjust before company. I remember being so overwhelmed and just wanting to sleep (thanks a lot epidural). I do know however that I made the right choice. Thanks to the epidural I may have been foggy but I was AWAKE for my little girls birth. I still have a goal of going all natural next time, but I still believe that what’s important is babies arriving safely and mama surviving.
I did eventually warm up and stop shaking, the rest of the day was a daze of looking at these two tiny doll like figures with piercing beady black eyes. My perfect little babies.
To be continued…Part Two of our birth story will be up on the blog Thursday!