On June 6th, 2007 we found out we had been doubly blessed. My husband had to pour concrete that morning and wasn’t able to go with me to our 18 week ultrasound. It was too bad he missed it. I nearly fell off the table when Dr. L said, “Do you see that? Here’s a head….and here’s another head.”
I had been seeing a midwife and was planning my first homebirth. We had only ever heard one heartbeat, though my fundal height was measuring bigger; I could feel my uterus at my belly button at 14 weeks. I remember mentioning to a few people (jokingly) that I thought we might be having twins, though I wasn’t really convinced. I also had all day sickness from 6-14 weeks which was a new experience since I’d never felt ill during pregnancy. I thought it was God’s way of reassuring me that this baby (babies!) was doing ok since I was really apprehensive after miscarrying a few months prior.
We had to cancel our homebirth plans (my midwife won’t do twin homebirths) and we met with Dr. Lr (and Dr. H-female resident that I LOVED) the next week to learn how being pregnant with twins was going to change my prenatal care. He explained that I would have to meet with a perinatologist for a level II ultrasound and check of my cervical length. We were hoping that I would only have to see the perinatologist once or twice. Dr. L also said that I had to make it to 35 weeks to be able to deliver with him at our local hospital.
First perinatologist appointment was at 23 weeks. We decided that we wanted to find out the sex of the babies. We usually don’t but felt that we wanted to be as prepared as possible. We found out we were having monozygotic twin girls (identical) as they shared a chorion and a placenta. This meant they were at risk for TTTS and would have to be monitored closely for growth. They wanted to see me again in 4 weeks for another growth scan/cervical length check.
At 27 weeks the perinatologist put me on modified bed rest due to cervical shortening. Growth scan was good. Another appointment in 2 weeks.
At 30 weeks my cervical length was worse and I was put on strict bed rest. (Not easy with a 3 year old and 2 year old at home. This would’ve been SO much harder if we hadn’t had so much help from our family!) Girls were still looking great and measuring right on track.
At 33 weeks I had my last perinatologist appointment. Girls were still looking great and I was told that bed rest could end at 34 weeks. At this point, as it had been for many weeks, Hazel was presenting and vertex and Lucy was breech.
We were so relieved when 35 weeks rolled around. That was our first goal, and we made it! We could now deliver with our doctor at our hospital. Praise God! Then the weeks kept ticking by and it seemed like they were never going to come out. I was so big and so uncomfortable. I knew that the longer they waited to be on the outside, the better, but it was hard.
Since Dr. L is a Family Practice doc, there has to be an OB on call at the hospital during a birth “just in case”. I met with that OB, Dr. Meyer, to discuss our upcoming birth with him. He was supportive of a breech vaginal birth so long as everything was going smoothly with Lucy’s heart rate, etc.
I was doing non-stress tests twice a week and Hazel and Lucy kept passing with flying colors. At 38 weeks, we had another ultrasound and everything was still looking great. Dr. L and Dr. H said they’re not totally comfortable with letting twins go much past 39 weeks (growth restrictions, etc). I told them the thought of pitocin, being induced before the babies were ready, etc, scared me and I wanted to think about things before I agreed to a date.
I had an appointment Thursday morning, October 25th (38 weeks 3 days) and Dr. H stripped my membranes. She said I was a good 4 cm. I came home and took castor oil. I had done this to get labor going with my 2nd daughter and it worked, so in order to avoid induction, I tried it again. The induction date was set for October 30 and I was praying they came on their own before that.
I started having contractions every 5 minutes or so along with lots of diarrhea (thank you, castor oil!) They would start and stop throughout the afternoon and evening, but weren’t what I’d call “serious” labor, I didn’t really have to focus to get through them. When my husband and I went to bed that night, I lay there and started to cry. I told him I felt like the entire afternoon was a big joke, that labor was never going to start, that I’d be pregnant forever, and have to be induced.
At 11PM, our son came in and said he needed to potty. I took him to the bathroom, tucked him back in, and went back to bed. At 12AM I woke up to a contraction that took my breath away. I nearly bolted (hahah…not really, at my size) out of bed and headed for the bathroom. I sat on the toilet moaning and groaning, feeling like I had to poop but couldn’t. Then it was over, so I sat there and waited. Two and a half minutes later another hit and it was just as bad as the first one. I was out of my mind, confused, and didn’t really think it was labor but I knew it HURT. I undressed, got into the tub on my knees, and held the shower head directly on my belly and moaned through a few more contractions. I’m still not sure what to think so I go wake up my husband. I tell him, “It feels like the end did with our daughter!” I was feeling tons of pressure and started crying, asking him, “Why did I want to do this? Why did I think I could handle this again?” He smartly said that it was time to head to the hospital. He called his mom and I threw on some clothes and stuffed the last minute items into my hospital bag. I went to the living room and sat on the birth ball.
Contractions were coming steady at 2.5 minutes apart, lasting a minute. I was hanging on my husband or getting on my hands and knees and rocking to get through them. I called my doula, Jennifer, to tell her it was time and she said she’d meet us there. This was 1:02AM. I also called my good friend to let her know it was time. She reassured me that I could do it when I was saying I didn’t think I could. My mother in law arrived to stay with the kids and we were off.
The drive wasn’t as bad as I was expecting and I handled the contractions by squeezing my husband’s hand and breathing. We pulled into the hospital parking lot at 1:45AM and Jennifer helped me out of the van while my husband grabbed our things. Thankfully, when Jennifer arrived (before us) she thought we were already there so she went up to the birth center. They told her we weren’t there, she told them we were on our way and they began getting the room set up and calling Dr. L and Dr. H. (It was a full moon and they were busy and short staffed, so they were thankful for the early notice that we were on our way.)
When we got up to the birth center, I was thrilled to see Lisa was my nurse. She was the nurse I had when our son was born, and is also a good friend of one of my husband’s aunts. She handed me my gown and my husband helped me into the bathroom. He also pretty much undressed and dressed me because I was focusing so hard to get through the contractions. We came out and Lisa said she wanted to check me and hook up the monitors. She checked me and said, “You’re complete!” She also mentioned that she didn’t feel any water and I told her I thought it broke at home. I never had a big gush, pop, or anything else; just a little extra fluid on my pantiliner when the contractions started at midnight. She got the litmus paper and determined that my water was indeed, broken.
Things really got moving then, the IV was started, monitors hooked up, Dr.’s arriving and asking if they had time to change or did I need to push. I was content to hang out for as long as possible before pushing, I dread pushing. So we all chatted between contractions. Dr. L told us that if there had only been one baby in there, we would’ve never made it to the hospital. He said that pushing Hazel out would be different than pushing out one baby because they kind of get hung up on each other. I voiced my disapproval at that remark and reminded them, yet again, how much I hate pushing. Sometime around this point, Dr. Meyer (OBGYN) arrives and wheels in the ultrasound machine. This is so he can check Lucy’s position after Hazel is born. He asked if I was committed to avoiding a cesarean and wanted to deliver the second baby breech. YES! I asked him if I did end up with a cesarean about how he would stitch me up (double or single) and he really upset me off by saying, “It doesn’t matter. We don’t have a VBAC policy here anyway.” I already knew this and couldn’t argue because it was time to push.
I think I started pushing around 2:15 or so. I’m roaring and Hazel was born at 2:53AM weighing 6 lbs 12 oz, 19.5 inches long. She was born with her arm up by her face, which explains why she was a bit harder to get out (and why her water didn’t gush until I was pushing, it was like a cork). She was gorgeous and covered in vernix. I didn’t get to hold her at all, they took her right over to the warming table (my husband followed, Jennifer stayed with me) and it was time to figure out what Lucy was up to in there.
Dr. Meyer turned on the ultrasound and Lucy was transverse. He tried to turn her externally (and it HURT!) but she wouldn’t budge. Dr. L said to wait and see what she did on her own with the next few contractions. She turned footling breech in 2-3 contractions (that HURT, too!) Dr. Meyer asked me if I was sure I wanted to deliver her breech. I said yes. Dr. Meyer asks Dr. L if he wants to do it or wants him too, Dr. L says he’s confident and will do it. I’m told that once I start pushing I cannot stop, she has to come out quickly due to the risk of cord prolapse. I start pushing with the next contraction as Dr. L grabs Lucy’s foot. Her water breaks all over him and her other foot slips out. He’s holding her by both feet and I’m pushing with everything I’ve got (and really, really roaring). I was so tired by this point and thought that pushing the second baby out would be much easier than pushing out the first. Not so much. Finally, Lucy is born at 3:07AM weighing 7lbs 12oz, 20 inches. She, too, is taken to the warming table right away.
My husband hangs out with the girls and takes pictures while Dr. H and Dr. L wait around on the enormous placenta. It’s delivered at 3:13AM fully intact and HUGE! They check me for tears—all clear! This thrills me as I tore both previous times.
After everyone is looked over and cleaned up, they’re brought to me and they nurse for the first time. Dr. L comes in a few hours later and asks if I got any sleep. I tell him no and asked if he did. He said he was too excited from the birth to sleep. He went on to tell me what a fantastic job I did. He also said it was a good thing Dr. Meyer (the OB) didn’t know that Lucy was a whole pound bigger than Hazel or else he would’ve never let me birth her vaginally. Dr. H came in and echoed how excited she was and how wonderful I did. She said it was the first breech birth at the hospital in about 8 years.