I feel like I can’t start this story without mentioning Eloise’s birth. The two feel very connected to me, a continuation of sorts. It was through her birth that I had come to meet my midwives and this story would have been completely different without them. I also feel that Ella’s birth happened the way it did so that this birth could have the ending it does. Onward to the story of the boys…..
When I found out I was pregnant I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Eloise was just over a year old and I was still nursing her and hadn’t planned on weaning anytime soon. I knew we wanted to grow our family in the future but I wasn’t quite ready just yet. I made an appointment at the birth center and hoped that my midwives would agree to do another homebirth. When I arrived at the birth center R was out so I got to see and talk to S. It was really good to see her and chat about everything. When I was getting ready to leave I asked if we could listen for the heartbeat but S realized that she and R had both left their dopplers elsewhere and she asked if I wanted her to do a quick check with their ultrasound machine. I remember laughing about how high tech they had become and quickly agreed because I wanted the reassurance. She put the wand on my belly and paused, I asked if everything was ok and she quickly assured me that it was but wanted to know if I was positive about my dates. I was and then she showed me how thought she could see TWO heartbeats.
I was in disbelief. I convinced myself that the machine was old and that they were mirror images. A million thoughts were racing through my head but the thing that stuck out the most was that I was going to have to give up on a homebirth. I was going to have to take a million steps backwards and do something that I said I would never ever do again and resign to a hospital birth. I was scared. I set up an appointment for the imaging center to get a better ultrasound and spent the night and the next day studying ultrasounds of twins online. The next afternoon my husband took me to the imaging center to confirm what I already knew in my heart. We were pregnant with twins. We were told that they were likely identical and most likely monochorionic and diamniotic, which meant nothing to me at the time. I also got my first dose at how this pregnancy would be viewed by others when the radiologist came in to tell me how I was “too small to carry twins, they would be early, and I would be closely monitored throughout.” I was pissed. I didn’t want to be pregnant and I sure didn’t want to be pregnant with twins. I walked out of those doors and was instantly labeled “high risk”.
R and I talked and I told her that I still wanted to birth at home and she agreed as long as Jason and I were well informed, that I could secure co-care, and that she could get the right birth team in place. Things came together and we were on track for our home birth.
It’s strange for me to reflect back on the weeks that followed from there. I was seen (a lot!) by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists at St. Lukes. I was told over and over how no one ever carries twins to term. I was badgered about tests that I didn’t want and ultrasounds that seemed excessive. I was told my babies had Down’s Syndrome first and then Trisomy. I was told heartlesslessly how they would not care for the babies but leave them to die when they were born. I carried on with the appointments meeting with R and S to decompress and go over things that I should be asking at my appointments. Each ultrasound confirmed that the boys were healthy and growing well. I prayed each time that the boys and I would be well.
An amazing thing happened in the midst of all of the craziness that was swirling around me. For the first time in my entire life I actually heard God talking to me. I have always been intrigued when people have told me that they had heard God’s voice; I’m not sure I actually believed them but this was undeniable and calming. I knew in my heart my boys were fine, and I knew I was going to have them at home just as I had wanted. Throughout the weeks my strength was tested as was my patience and determination.
Let me just say that twin pregnancy is different, very different. It is such an emotional and physical roller coaster. There were many times that I felt like I could go on no longer. I didn’t want any more children and I didn’t want to birth two babies. I was having a hard time juggling the two children I had and Jason and I were struggling to get along. It seemed that everytime I hit one of my many walls there would be something to carry me through. I clung to the many times in the bible that read “do not fear”, I adopted the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” as my mantra, I prayed, and I took a lot of showers because that seemed to be the only place I could find quiet. Week by week went by and I got bigger and more uncomfortable but I was almost there. I had so much support and I could feel myself being surrounded by love. I wasn’t the only one who wanted this pregnancy to go well. As the final weeks started closing in I also started closing in. I shut people out, quit going to events. I was so uncomfortable and just emotionally and physically worn out.
I knew that the MFM wanted the boys born at 38 weeks and I knew I would be getting “the talk”. It’s a very odd place to be in to hear a doctor tell you that your babies will be stillborn when you know in your heart that that is so far fetched. I stood my ground declining the induction and letting them know that I was well informed of my risks. Everytime I left that place I was sure it was going to be the last time I set foot in there but my boys had other plans. At my 39 week appointment I conceded and let them put me on the induction schedule for the Monday after my due date, February 25. I still had no intention of showing up to the induction and I was positive I would go into labor on my own before then.
I really started feeling the pressure to get the boys out after that appointment had been made. R and I discussed an herbal induction, I started walking like crazy and looking up all of the natural induction methods I could find. Induction felt wrong but there was a huge snowstorm coming and I was terrified of being stranded without anyone able to get to me. I called R to get her advice and see how she was feeling and we decided that if I went into labor during the storm we would call an ambulance and she would travel with me to the hospital.
I would NOT be going into that hospital unless my labor had started on it’s own. I told R hopefully I wouldn’t be calling her for a couple of days and said goodbye. Turns out I would be calling her later that evening.
On Sunday, I had awoken and had a really strong desire to go to church service. I hadn’t been in weeks because the thought of walking across the parking lot and sitting in the wooden pew for an hour was not appealing at all. I felt like I needed some quiet time and was hoping that I could find some peace there. I left the kids at home and headed out. The rest of the day was filled with errand running and grocery shopping to prepare for the coming snow. I had been having contractions on and off all day but that always happened when I was on my feet. We were getting ready for bed when I thought perhaps I had lost part of my mucus plug. I kind of ignored it and went to bed. I told Jason that I wasn’t sure he would be headed to work in the morning and he just said “yeah right”.
When I laid down the contractions didn’t stop. They weren’t painful but they were enough to make me take notice. Around 10 pm I felt a small gush of water and I knew that it was real and the boys were on their way. I told Jason and called R. She was at another birth and asked me to take my temperature, lay down for 45 minutes, and then give her a call back. So I did that but only laid down for about 30 minutes when I felt a big gush of water. I called her back and told her that I’d rather not be by myself just in case they came fast so she called S.
And so it begins……
By the time S arrived the contractions were coming fast but not lasting too long. She called R and got her stuff set up. Jason worked on filling up the pool. It’s such a weird feeling to be that large, I wanted to move but the weight of my belly was telling me otherwise. I wanted in the pool but S didn’t want me there until R arrived because try were afraid I would have a baby soon after I got in the water. She checked me and took my blood pressure and then agreed that I could get in. I remember asking if R was coming a couple of times. She arrived and I don’t really know what was going on around me at that point. I think I felt like I could birth now because everyone I needed was there.
The contractions stayed close together and short and I could feel my body moving babe down. At some point A and D arrived and it was like I had known them forever. They were a comforting presense and I could hear D praying beside me. A hep-lock was placed at some point but I really couldn’t tell you when. R and I had discussed placing it just in case we needed it and I was more than ok with it. The birth felt pretty calm until he was crowning and then I really just wanted him out. He was squirming around and I remember asking him to stop and to be gentle. He was born into the water shortly after that and I pulled him up to my chest. He was so tiny, his cord was cut right away because of the worry that baby b could bleed out.
I really didn’t get to see him for long because the contractions started up again and I needed to pass him off. I knew I would feel that way, I had no desire to hold him or nurse him until his brother was out. I needed the second baby out before I could relax. The contractions slowed a bit and they were still short. I could feel him moving down and I asked to see my baby a few times.
I wanted to look at him and I think I needed to see that he was ok. I was finally feeling some strong urges to push and his head was crowning but then things really kind of petered out. My uterus was stretched so far out and had already birthed one baby. His head was out for what felt like forever while we waited for the contractions to pick up. The had me try and pick my feet up so I was more in a squat and I remember asking R repeatedly to just pull him out. She reminded me gently that it just didn’t work that way and when the next few contractions came we worked together to get him out. He was so much bigger than his brother and I got to sit back and enjoy his newness while his cord pulsed, and then after Jason declined to cut the cord R did it. It was such an immense feeling of relief to have them both out. Both born in the very spot their sister was two years earlier and with the very same people.
It was amazing but I was still worried about the placenta and about bleeding. I hadn’t bled at all in the pool. We decided it was time to get out of the water and made our way to the couch where I birthed the placenta and was given a bag of pitocin to help contract my oh so tired uterus. They examined the placenta which appeared to really have been two placentas that fused and then it was over. I had birthed to perfect boys with my two favorite midwives and two awesome midwives that I had never met but felt like I had known a lifetime. We sat and chatted while the girls cleaned up and did the newborn exams. I took turns nursing the boys and just enjoying the people around me.
R had to head back to her other birth and said goodbye while everyone else hung out for awhile. After everything was cleaned up and I had something to eat and drink and had the boys snuggled up next to me everyone headed home. The moment had come, and as they walked out and closed the door behind them they also closed the door on the most stressful and crazy time of my life thus far. It was over and I had been abundantly blessed with the presence of new life, the presence of four of the most loving and caring midwives, and most of all the presence of God who told me all along to just TRUST.
I should say that I believe this story would be much different had R not trusted my body to birth and if she had not agreed to attend this birth. I am eternally grateful to her and I knew the moment she walked in my door the first time that she had been put in my life for a reason. At the time I thought the reason was to help me birth Eloise which was such a healing experience for me but now I truly believe our meeting probably had more to do with this birth.
All of the worry and the feelings that swirled around me in the beginning about not wanting to be the mother of twins have quickly dissipated. These boys are amazing and it feels so right to be a family of six. We are experiencing the whirlwind that twinfants bring with their two-ness but we are for sure doubly blessed. And so begins our new story — the story of the six of us.
Asa William, 6 pounds 9 ounces and 20 inches long, born at 12:40 am
Ezra Lawrence, 8 pounds 4 ounces and 21.5 inches long, born at 1:27 am.