So this is how I created my first-time mother, drug-free vaginal twin birth.
I guess it starts with my prenatals. I understand and even accept that twin births can simply go the wrong direction in a very short amount of time. Once I found out at 20 weeks I was having twins, I chose to give up my homebirth plans and deal with the medical world.
I guess my attitude was, if it ain’t broke, don’t touch me. The nearest hospital to me only does c-sections for twins, so we went an extra 40 minutes away to one that would be open to vaginal delivery. I was recommended a doctor who also has experience and was willing to deliver the second twin vaginally even if breech. We got along alright, but every time I saw him, he brought up an epidural, even after I said the subject was no longer allowed to be discussed.
I switched to another doctor at 32 weeks in the same clinic who had a much less Type A personality and also was willing to catch my babies in a position other than flat on my back on the skinny metal nonnegotiable OR table. Fast forward to 35 weeks, 5 days. My homebirth midwife was now my doula and advocate. We had planned to drive the 1 1/2 hours to the hospital and check into a Comfort Suites with jacuzzi and I would labor there. She would meet us at the hospital when things were really going. But instead, my waters
broke at home at 5 in the morning. Jacuzzi plans were gone. Instead, I just called her on the phone and we went for plan B, which was to labor at home for awhile, eat, and then get to the hospital hopefully later than sooner.
I found the idea of being continually monitored and not allowed to eat offensive and wanted to delay it as long as possible. I also was using the Hypnobabies program in hopes of having a pain-free birthing. It’s hard for me to say what parts of it worked. I know I did not have a pain-free birthing! But time was in a warp speed all day and I was very calm and fearless the whole time. The first-stage was so easy! It was as bad as kind of annoying menstrual cramps. My husband and I used the Contraction Master and just packed and prepared. My water wouldn’t stop leaking though and it eventually started to show bloody show. That was good news that this was the real thing and would mean less interference from the docs.
The ride in the car wasn’t that great. I tried to relax and listen to my Hypnobabies tapes, but I had to keep my muscles tight for all the moving the car was doing while on my hands and knees in the back seat. I gave up and just focused through the contractions. They were getting more intense, but quickly went away.
We got to the hospital at 1:30 pm and were astonished to find we were at 5 centimeters! I lied to them about when my water broke and said 11 am knowing they put you ‘on the clock’. My midwife/doula was called and showed up at 3:00 pm. All the while, I just would look at the pretty black spruce out the window of the LDR room during a contraction and breathe through it. Even though we had progressed beyond annoying menstrual cramps to more of a seizing clamping down pain, it was easy to get through them and afterwards I’d just pick up my conversation where it left off.
Eventually I started to feel pushy. My body was doing it, not me! My midwife was surprised, but thought we should get checked and it turned out I was over 9 centimeters by 5:00 pm! This is when the coolest thing happened. The L&D nurse on hand informed me she would now wheel me down to OR in the birthing bed. My jaw dropped and I said, “Really??? I fought with two different doctors over this subject!” She said, “Your doctor didn’t forbid it, did he?” I thought quickly and carefully carved my sentence, “No. He forbade doing a C-section on a birth bed. He said it was too unsafe.” (He actually said he has no problem with birth beds, but the chance of c-section means they can’t be used.) She relaxed and said, “Oh, that would never happen. We have an OR table on standby we put you in.” I remember thanking her right after the birth saying getting the birth bed was just like Christmas.
Anyway, we get to the OR room and it’s time to push. I definitely had the urge to push with the contractions, but there were always only two at a time. It took me an awful long time to figure out how to make the most out of them. My husband and my doula were amazing, especially since L&D nurse wanted me to go into the infamous knees to your ears position for pushing. I looked at her like she was on crack and my doula, who’s helped over 1,800 babies birth in their own homes, knew she had to advocate for me. She convinced L&D nurse to let me try turning over and doing some bearing down to a squat position. This helped me find the ‘sweet spot’ for pushing and some progress was made. Unfortunately there was always this sense of urgency about the situation. Outside the OR room were about 13 staff waiting to ‘save me’ from myself and deliver my baby for me. Or, to be fair, to whisk in and save lives if an emergency arose. My doula has seen too many ‘failure to progress’ hospital interventions and would urge me to really make each push count or I would lose my birth.
Was that really true? I’m not sure. My doc said it wasn’t. He told me after that every time he wanted to swoop in and help me along, he’d leave the room and go do something else. He even delivered another baby during that time! All I know is that my husband brought his camera and there are an awful lot of pictures of men with their arms folded, standing around. But eventually L&D nurse got impatient and brought up the ol’ knees in ears thing again. Instead, my doula and my husband each supported a leg and gave me their hand. I was to pull on the hand, bearing the energy down and out. They provided tension against my legs and feet that made the pushes work.
The other thing I finally surrendered to was one thing that had been bothering me all along. I had read so often in natural birth advice to never hold your breath while pushing. You should ‘breathe the baby out’. Also that my body would push for me if I would just let it.
NOT. Only when I started doing the work of pushing and forcing a third push off of my two contractions while holding my breath and then taking a quick one in between, did the baby descend more efficiently. Doc came in to catch. His idea of perineal support was inserting his finger in the opening and swooping it around the head. OUCH. Now that hurt! I wanted him to stop so badly I pushed that much harder to just get his finger out from an already very stretched area!
And thus Baby A, Sean Edward, was born at 6 lbs 2 oz, 19 inches. Apgar 8 then 9 at 7:13 P.M. after 2 hours of pushing. Once Sean was out, they put him on my chest while the entourage came pouring into the room. I was told to push NOW! and said, but I don’t have any contractions yet. They didn’t care. PUSH NOW! I firmly kept my hand pressing in the new cavity where Baby A had been while my doula held her hand firmly at the base so we could keep Baby B in exactly the position he had been in. If he went transverse, everything would go south – C-section for me. Breech or vertex – no problem.
So I summoned some extra determination and just bore down. Seth Thomas was easily born 7 minutes after his brother; it was made especially easy by the fact he was a whole pound smaller, 4 lb 15 oz! Apgar 8 then 9.
The thing that surprised me was how alert I was during the whole thing. While I did mentally shut out the extra people in the room, I never went away to Laborland or even lost my ability to make calculated decisions. I’m glad because I had so many odds not in my favor allowing a twin birth to simply be a normal birth. Luckily my homework and choices for providers and a little luck from a couple of baby boys who politely kept their arms tucked in and positions ideal all came together to create the best birth I could ask for in a hospital setting with twins. And all the memory of any pain was erased within a week.
Funny last note. There was a surreal thing that happened while I was being wheeled out of the OR back to the LDR room. Right outside the door was an entire Lamaze class. Here I am, a sight after birthing, holding my two vernix covered babies in my arms, and there’s all these strangers staring at me. When I was told it was a class I instantly went into teacher mode and proclaimed, “A twin birth vaginally with no meds! You can do it!!!!!!!! It’s totally possible!!” Everyone laughed. My husband heard the next day that another lady who birthed that evening after me used me for inspiration to get her through. Woo-hoo!