The Homebirth of My Twins

I woke up the morning following the Blessingway my friends had thrown for me around 6am as my husband was getting up to leave for work. He had tried to arrange a trade for that day since a few nights prior I really felt as though, had he been home, I would have gone into labor, but he was unable to find anyone to take his place at work. “Don’t have the babies today” he said as he kissed me goodbye and left for work. I laughed and said I’d try then I quickly went back to sleep.

I was awoken again just after 8am by the sounds of my 2 girls (5 and 2 years old at the time) coming into my bedroom. I looked at the clock and realized I had better get up and make them breakfast. I think it was 8:08am at that time. I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. At this late point of my pregnancy it had become quite difficult to effectively empty my bladder so I’d have to sit there and kind of try to pee some more. I was able to get a little more out and then suddenly it felt as though a gas bubble lodged itself into my vagina – a very odd sensation – and then more fluid came out of me. I really wasn’t sure at all if it had been more urine or possible water from the amniotic sac breaking. I sat there a minute thinking what to do next then asked my 5 year old daughter (who was standing there the whole time) to bring me the phone and the piece of paper next to it (our phone list for labor). She asked why, of course, and I told her that I didn’t know but I might be having the babies that day. Well that did it – she became so excited! She started jumping all over the place saying that I was going to have the babies today and she was going to get to meet her little brothers and/or sisters. It was honestly the cutest and sweetest thing I had ever seen. I really hoped for her sake that this was it!

8:25ish: I called my husband at work. I let him know what was going on – that basically I didn’t know what was going on, but that this could potentially be it. I wasn’t having any contractions aside from the usual Braxton-Hicks at this time so I simply had no clue if this was leading to labor or not. I think I also had a couple loose bowel movements at this time, but nothing like what I’d had leading into my prior births. It was all very uncertain to me, but being home alone like that we both thought it was best that I call our midwife and have her head out, just in case. My husband said he’d try to find someone to come in to cover for him so he could go home.

8:40am – I called our midwife (I’ll refer to her as midwife #1) and let her know what was going on. She asked if it was okay for her to come now, check things out, and she said she’d leave our house and just hang around nearby if nothing was happening (this was out of respect for my wish to give birth virtually unassisted – she wanted to afford me as much privacy as possible). I thought that was incredibly thoughtful, although I didn’t feel the need to have her leave the house if that was the case, so I told her to go ahead and come over. She asked if it was okay if she called the other midwife (her business partner) and had her come as well and I said of course. I also called my good friend at this time (our designated childcare person for the girls). She wanted to know if she should come right away or in a bit when I knew if this was labor and I asked that she come immediately. I honestly didn’t know if there would be time for anyone else to make it should this actually be it so she hung up and headed over (my prior birth was only 90 minutes long, start to finish, which the midwife missed by about 10 minutes). My friend arrived just a few minutes later.

By 8:50am she and I decided that I must actually be in labor as I was now having contractions. They were strong and demanded my attention but I was still moving around throughout them, getting the blinds open to let some light in, showing her where the breakfast stuff was so she could make food for the kids, etc. It was all very surreal. Here I was in labor, but my husband wasn’t home yet, my midwives weren’t there yet, and I wasn’t going to let these babies be born until they were. I did however take her into our room which we had setup for the birth to show her where all the birth supplies were – all just in case she had to be the one to help me through it. She helped me put on the necklace that my dear friends had assembled for me just the day before at my Blessingway. I wore it all throughout my labor.

8:59am – Midwife #1 calls me just to see if anything has changed. She said she was on the freeway and would be there soon. She wanted to know if the fluid (which I still wasn’t convinced was amniotic fluid) was clear or not. I sat down on the toilet to check and promptly got back up. I told her, “I don’t think it’s such a good idea for me to sit on the toilet right now! I feel lots of pressure when I do that.” The fluid was clear though so I just went about laboring, being sure not to squat like that again for I was sure that a baby would be born immediately if I did.

9:10am – I decided to call my husband back at work to let him know that this was it and that he’d better hurry home but they said that he had already left. I was so relieved to hear that! I then tried his cell phone and he said that he was only about 10 minutes from home (and driving about 90mph the whole way)! I had my friend take a few final pictures of my belly while I was on the phone with him.

Midwife #1 arrived just minutes after this, although I’m not sure exactly what time. She asked how I was doing and I let her know that this was definitely it. She asked if I wanted to get in the tub and I said no, that if I did I was sure to give birth right away and I wanted to wait for my husband to get home. She thought this was sweet because she repeated it to him when he got home (that I had waited for him). He arrived a few minutes later at around 9:20am.

While my friend fed the girls, the 3 of us headed to my birth room. I got in the tub and had them start the video camera. I believe my husband got in with me at that time, once he got the digital camera working (we had it setup on a tripod with an interval timer set to take still shots). I was in there only a few minutes when I said, “I’m sure I’m pushing…” and then, “Get the kids!” And somebody – it must have been my midwife because my husband was in the tub with me by that time – ran out and told my friend to bring the girls in. The girls came running in, my friend ran back for our other digital camera, and made it back just as the first baby was born. It all happened so fast! I didn’t have to try to push – my body just did it. There was barely a pause between the birth of the head and the body. It was intense and I didn’t like the sensation of pushing one bit (I never have) but honestly the labor part wasn’t that bad. My last birth, which had been very fast but twice as long as this one, hurt much much worse for the labor part. Strange how it can be so different! It was a boy! My son was born into the water at 9:31am, just 41 minutes from when my contractions had begun.

My husband caught him and lifted him to my chest but his cord was quite short and it was a bit difficult to keep his mouth out of the water. He cried vigorously from the start and was just beautiful, with sweet, pouty little lips which I adore to this day. We decided to allow my midwife to clamp the cord (which my husband then cut) after 4 minutes simply because I was having such a hard time keeping his face above water. She used the scissor style clamp on the placenta side of the cord and that was a big mistake because my body ended up pulling the cord back up into my vagina and this caused a fair amount of pain. I eventually insisted she find a way to clamp it with a plastic clamp and remove the scissor style clamp, which she did (although it did not feel great having that done).

I think I then had a bit of a break between labors. Not a long one but maybe 10 or 15 minutes of which I enjoyed my new son. During this time the other midwife (midwife #2) and their apprentice midwife arrived.

After this point my labor started back up. Midwife #1 asked if she could check me (I hadn’t had any vaginal exams up until this point). She wanted to be sure there wasn’t a prolapsed cord, as this is a particular risk with the second baby in a twin birth (although not a risk until the bag of waters has broken, which we did not know whether or not it had). I was fine with that – she checked and said she could feel a bulging bag and that my cervix had shut back down to about 8cm. I knew this was a possibility so it didn’t bother me. I stayed in the tub for quite awhile. I wanted the second baby to be born there and thought that if I got out the birth would happen out of the tub before I could get back in. But things took longer than I expected and to me felt as though they just went on and on and on (and on).

10:22am – I breastfed my new baby boy for the first time. I believe this was done while I was in the birth tub, with midwife #2 holding him for me just outside the tub as I leaned my breast over the edge to him. I had hoped this would help the other baby be born but it wasn’t enough. I got out of the tub at one point (I felt baby B hiccuping during this time) and labored briefly on the toilet. It just hurt too much though and I knew the water was there just waiting to make me feel better so I got back in. By this point I was experiencing full blown back labor. I had had back labor with my first child but it was very different – it didn’t hurt all that much! This back labor felt the way I’d heard it described so many times before – horrendous! It honestly felt as though there were a couple of small animals with razor sharp claws inside my lower back (one on each side) trying to claw their way out of me. I got back in the tub and my husband got in behind me and tried to apply counter pressure to my lower back. This just made me float to the top of the water and wasn’t effective at all. It hurt and I was annoyed. Why was it taking so long??? It felt as though this baby was transverse. I could feel the head and the butt in the same place I had felt during the pregnancy – on the left & right side of my belly. Midwife #1 checked me again and told me that she could feel either a head or a butt there behind the bag of waters. I simply wasn’t convinced (and still am not) – I’m sure of what I felt. Thoughts started creeping into my head that I might have to transfer for a c-section. I thought to myself that at least I gave birth to one of them vaginally, then I tried to push those thoughts away. She asked if I could feel the bag of waters – I reached in and found it. What a strange sensation! It felt so much stronger then I anticipated. I guess I thought it would feel thin – ready to burst. But it felt so strong.

I got whiny during this time – just kind of bitching that things were taking too long and I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to hold my first baby and enjoy him and this labor thing was a major annoyance standing in my way. I knew in my mind that the only way this child was coming out anytime soon was if I allowed it to hurt more. I had realized this for quite some time but it was so hard to make myself submit to it. My contractions were feeling pushy at their peak so I began to try pushing with them, hoping that my water would break and the baby would come flying out. Pushing hurt though, so again, it was hard to get into it. I kept thinking to myself that I can understand why women request or submit to having their bag of waters broken. I felt like telling my midwife to do it but I knew it wasn’t in anyone’s best interest and honestly I doubt she would have agreed since it would have significantly increased the risk of a cord prolapse. Finally I decided to just go for it, so I got out of the tub and moved to my bed.

I don’t know how long I labored in bed – long enough to take some beautiful pictures of me laboring while looking at my newborn alone and with my husband and girls beside me. I also remember looking at my profile in the mirror and thinking how strange my belly looked. Still fully pregnant but so much lower than before. It no longer came all the way up to my breasts (there was a slope to my belly now). Anyway, I think I continued to push at the peak of contractions. Midwife #1 monitored the baby’s heartbeat periodically with the Doppler (the only time one was used during my pregnancy was to monitor this second baby after the birth of the first) at the tail end of contractions – the heart rate was always excellent. Finally, boom! My waters broke! Oh thank God! Within moments my body was pushing this baby into the world without my help. Midwife #1 asked if she could check me again and then told me the baby was coming out breech. It did feel different – fuller – and I thought to myself that this is how it feels to give birth to a breech baby. She had her hand at my perineum – not applying pressure or anything, just there – and I told her to keep it there. It somehow felt like a lifeline to me. I can’t explain it except that I did not want her to move. Then I heard her say, “It’s a head!” and I said, “It’s a head?” not sure I had heard correctly and she said, “yes”. Huh! She told me to slow down and instantly – without even trying – I did. The head was born (I was sitting straight upright on my knees) – it looked straight back behind me so everyone could see (we got a fabulous picture of that moment). My husband placed his hand beneath it, the head rotated toward my left thigh and with one final push out came the body. “Oh my God – It’s another boy!” I said surprised and then said, “And he’s peeing on me!” Everyone laughed. It was a beautiful moment. My second son was born into this world in my bed at 12:03pm – 2 hours and 32 minutes after his “older” brother.

He cried immediately but stayed quite purple. He’d periodically stop crying then start up again. Midwife #1 wanted to cut the cord (again it was quite short – I couldn’t lift him to my chest or anything so I stayed on my knees) but I felt it and it was still pulsating so I said no (my wish was to keep it intact until the birth of the placenta). She wanted to use the bulb syringe to suction him out but I said no, just to tip him. We did this as best we could but with the short cord it was difficult. I eventually agreed to let her use the bulb on him and I felt she was very minimal and gentle with it. She also asked if it would be okay to give him some oxygen. I was fine with that – he really was purple for quite a long time, in my opinion. We ran oxygen for several minutes (or at least it felt that way to me). The purple finally turned pink, I pushed out the placentas (which had fused into one) and my husband cut the cord.

At this point I started to bleed – a lot (total blood loss was about 700 cc‘s). The midwives vigorously massaged my uterus which was not pleasant. Midwife #1 asked if she could give me some pitocin and/or methergine to help my uterus contract down. I consented to that – they ended up having to give both (via IM shots in the thigh). The apprentice midwife and I did nipple stimulation to further encourage my uterus to contract (nipple stimulation releases oxytocin which is the hormone which causes the uterus to contract). Midwife #1 said that the bleeding was not to the danger point yet but if it didn’t slow down I’d need to transfer to the hospital. Fortunately it never got to that point. She suggested a bag of IV fluids to make me feel better faster, which I accepted. We hung the IV bag on a nail on the wall normally used to hold a candle sconce and I was able to get settled into bed with both my babies. My husband came over to me shortly after this, kissed me and told me that I did an amazing job. That meant so much to hear! Then he and my daughters presented me with a medal inscribed “Awarded To (my name) World Class Birther” on the back. Incredibly thoughtful of him! Now when the naysayers make their comments about how you don’t get a medal for natural childbirth, I can tell them that they’re wrong because I did.

My husband, daughters, best friend, and midwife were there for my final birth experience. It was beyond my expectations. It didn’t happen just how I imagined but I wouldn’t change a thing, aside from the excessive postpartum bleeding, of course. My daughters handled it so well – I’m so very proud of them, and myself too for preparing them the way I did for it. They never were scared. They were honestly excited and happy to be there. I didn’t trick myself into believing that they’d be okay with it – I didn’t want to be disappointed if they couldn’t handle watching and I didn’t want to pressure them to be there – but they loved it and I know now that they’ve received a very valuable gift that I hope they’ll carry with them through their childbearing years. Oh, and my sons weights & lengths are as follows:

Baby A – 6 pounds 14 ounces & 20 inches long (head circumference of 13 inches)

Baby B – 7 pounds 13 ounces & 21 inches long (head circumference of 13.5 inches)

They were born at 37 weeks & 4 days of pregnancy. It was a beautiful Spring day – a welcomed and fitting break amidst weeks of torrential rain. Shortly after I was all settled into bed with both boys and my husband, the midwives and my daughters came into the room holding a slice of birthday cake they had baked with my friend during my labor and sang Happy Birthday to the babies. It was so incredibly sweet! I love them all so much and couldn’t be happier with my new family.

What was really important to me and has left a lasting impression was how my midwife really respected my wishes. She never told me that anything needed to happen. She suggested and asked all the way through. She knew I had very strong wishes about how I wanted this birth to take place (as naturally and without assistance as was safely possible) and although she had more reservations then I did about the whole thing, she always deferred to me. I know she must have respected me a great deal to do that and for that I’ll always be grateful. Midwife #2 later thanked me for allowing her to be present at the birth – so she could see a truly natural birth of twins. Pretty amazing.

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