On Saturday evening, June 21st, I got up from putting my son to bed and felt a rush of fluid (about 8:45 pm). I went to the bathroom and chalked it up to two babies squishing my bladder and went on with my evening. A while later, I took my shower and as I was drying felt another gush of fluid and a bit of mucus with it. As I sat on the toilet, I still felt more fluid and voided and was able to stop the stream of urine, but obviously not able to stop the flow of amniotic fluid… I had essentially been having ‘Braxton Hicks’ since 28 weeks or so, so now I was looking at these ‘Braxton Hicks’ as contractions. This was it! I was 36 weeks in the morning and that was our cut off for a home birth, we were staying home!! I was excited to meet my new little loves. I called my mom and the midwives and they came right over. My contractions were all over the place (they had also been for my last two births.) Anywhere from every 2 to every 8 minutes apart. After about an hour midwife #1 got a call from another Mommy who was also in labor! Half and hour later that Momma called again, midwife #1 had to go, she was feeling the baby come! She made a mad dash and unfortunately missed the birth. She walked them through it via the phone. The family was thrilled to have an unassisted homebirth and everything was perfect for them… Finally about midnight we all went to bed and the excitement winded down. May as well rest things are slow and there will be work ahead of me.
I woke up to large pink mucous and spaced out contractions. I tried walking up and down the driveway, vacuuming the house, nothing helped get it going. Everyone went home… I was put on the ‘pelvic protocol’ with hysterical hygiene. This entailed; nothing in the vagina, no sitting in water (baths), wash with Hibaclense, sterilize the toilet paper and keep it just for my use in a bag, washing my hands before and after using the toilet, checking my temperature and the babies heart rates, changing the pad every time I void and most difficult – not leaving the house.
Regardless to say, it was a long week. The following day, I went crazy trying to get things to pick up; pumping – 45 minutes, evening primrose oil (5000mg!). Things did get going, for about 5 or 6 hours a day, and then they would stop again! Then I lightened up about trying to get things going after a conversation with midwife #3. She told me that induced labors, even if naturally induced decrease my chance at a home delivery to 86% from 94% (statistics somewhere around there) if started naturally. All week I was wondering, do I call, or is it going to stop again? Babies’ heart rates were fine and my temperature was fine. Thursday morning I did leave the house for a biophysical profile, they were perfect, both 8/8. Everyone was relieved. Obviously my body is making enough fluid to compensate for the gushes and loss of amniotic fluid a few times a day.
It was Sunday morning June 22 (eight days after my water broke!). I again started laboring. No big deal I thought, been doing this all week! So I stayed in bed from about 12:45am – 4am. Contractions were consistently 6-11 minutes apart. Again I called my Mom and midwife #1, they came and midwife #2 came too. Things were consistent, but not progressing. After looking back at the way things were going, they called my labor acynclitic labor. Essentially both babies were coming down on my cervix at slightly an angle, therefore not effectively dilating my cervix. It was disheartening! I felt like I was getting no where, and wondered if I would ever deliver these babies. I was 37 weeks today but knowing my membranes had been ruptured eight days, made the situation more pressing to me. I wouldn’t mind waiting if the small chance of infection weren’t lurking in the back of my head.
My husband got up with my son and daughter and packed them up and took them to a friends house for the day. I had thought when preparing for the birth I would want them home, and had a friend lined up to come over and tend to them. But once I was in labor, I wanted peace in the house without the distraction. My mind did wonder about them all day, especially as it was a gray stormy day and the thunder was loud at times.
I tried pumping, I took cotton root, we worked on my acupressure points, I pumped again. We even tried 2 enemas – definitely not a pleasant experience. Things were just not progressing. I was definitely having contractions, they were definitely uncomfortable, I was passing loads of pink mucus and having plenty of stools. But we weren’t progressing! So then we decided to ‘check.’ It was a tough decision. Knowing the risk of introducing infection and then having the pressure to ‘have to’ deliver… Plus I was feeling ‘pushy’ I just didn’t have enough consistent contractions to be able to push. So we checked and I was 10cm dilated and +1 station! Midwife #1 couldn’t believe it. She was surprised my baby wasn’t coming out! I was thankful I wasn’t only 3cm dilated. So, we decided to go after it and do it! Midwives #1 & 2 went to CVS, made me a lovely castor oil drink, and I drank it.
Then we had the most wild hail storm. We had golf ball sized hail balls pelting at the house. The power went out briefly and then it calmed. In the calm, we saw our own private rainbow over our pumping well out front. That was God’s promise to me that these babies were going to be born today! Thank you God!!
Then the castor oil kicked in. This was a noxious experience. Things really got going and it was insanely intense for me. It was the most overwhelming experience in my life. Now on top of labor I was having intense diarrhea as well. It was so much so, my butt was sore and burning – not where I had been anticipating the burning to be that day! Of course the vomiting set in as well. I felt out of control in every way.
No position would find me a reprieve. I was getting frantic as the intensity rose as my energy depleted. I couldn’t find enough prayers within me. I needed strength from God to help through the experience. There was no way I was going to be able to do this alone. The prayers kept my mind from my own awareness of my fatigue. My mind wandered… maybe I wasn’t going to be able to birth these babies, maybe we would be going to the hospital. I longed for an escape from the pain. When my mind would wander and I couldn’t mentally pray anymore, I asked my mom and husband to pray for me. This helped me refocus and renewed my mental fatigue and frustration.
Now the contractions were coming regularly. Our other obstacle was that all the positions I was laboring in were not effectively moving Baby ‘A’ down. I tended to lean over things, my husband, the sink, etc. However, the babies were being pulled by gravity into the sag of my belly. They tried holding my belly up during contractions, but after a while I couldn’t tolerate being touched at all. They tried different positions; on my side, on my back to pull the baby out of my belly sag into the line of the cervix. I absolutely couldn’t tolerate being on my back and, furthermore, when on my back, my urge to push was very weak and it felt so ineffective to push this way.
I felt as if I was frantically moving all around trying to find my sanity, trying to find a position that helped me and helped my babies descend. Finally I started using the supported squat. I started with one arm around my husband’s neck and one arm around midwife #1. Each contraction we would squat together – they were holding my weight as I was pushing. It again was so different for me as with my prior two births. My other births my body essentially pushed the babies down, I had very little pushing to do to move them. In fact I had to stop pushing because I was pushing too fast. This time around I had to really work for it. I had to work hard. On top of being physically weak from slowing down so much at the end of my pregnancy and loosing so much strength that way, I was also weak from being up for the past 19 hours with little rest all day. Labor would slow so much when I rested we tried to minimize my time lying down all day to keep things progressing.
Pushing was work and I could feel my baby inside of me descending. It just felt as though my hardest efforts weren’t bringing him down as fast as I wanted him to. It was a strong sensation of baby within me – a very full feeling that forced me to push and keep working. Then at 7:44pm, after pushing in the supported squat for about 32 minutes, our son Declan Steven was born in the caul! Midwife #2 caught him, removed the caul and passed him up to me where I placed him on the bed in front of me to dry him and clamp the cord. My husband then cut the cord and I was then able to bring him up to me, hold him close and kiss my precious son!
I had always thought when visualizing the birth that after the birth of my first twin I would have a rest before the birth of my second. How wrong I was! I passed Declan on as midwife #2 suggested I sit down, but again nothing was comfortable. So I stood back up. They wanted to check the position of baby ‘B’ but I was ready to push again and get this done! No one was checking anything.
This time I was in a supported squat with my husband and midwife #2 as midwife #1 was catching. It didn’t take much work to get baby ‘B’ out; about 2 minutes! So 18 minutes later at 8:02pm, our daughter Vivien Noel was born. She was also born in the caul! I think once she started coming, I pushed her out in a single push, perhaps two. I felt the ring of fire with her as she came out of me very quickly! Midwife #1 removed her caul, unwound her cord from behind her neck and around her shoulder, and passed her through my legs to me on the bed. Vivien needed a bit of stimulation to get going. I remember midwife #1 telling me to talk to her as I was stimulating her back and drying her. It almost felt as if I were outside of myself momentarily. I didn’t feel as if I could function effectively. I was completely spent with nothing left at all in me. As a result, I didn’t feel like I was doing enough to help my daughter. I know it was less than moments, but it felt like an eternity. I felt as if I was functioning in slow motion. I heard my husband talking to her and she did start breathing, we gave her a bit of blow by oxygen and she was all set. She sounded wet, but that resolved quickly, within a few hours.
This day was by far the most difficult day of my life. I felt challenged emotionally, mentally and physically. I am so grateful I was able to be home. I know if I had to be in the hospital, I would have had interventions I did not want. There is no way I would have birthed my twins without the support of my husband, my Mom and my midwives. None of them ever doubted my ability to do this. Knowing they were confident in me was a source of strength for me throughout the experience.
Then, what I had been waiting for all day long: I crawled into bed and held my precious babies. What amazing miracles. Thank you God! What an awesome thing that my body can grow two babies at once! They are absolutely beautiful babies too! I am in state of such wonder looking at them both, that they grew together inside of me. Declan was 6 pounds 8 ounces, 19.5 inches long and Vivien was 6 pounds 7.5 ounces, 19 inches long. Now I am in awe when they nurse together that my body can perfectly provide warm milk for two with such ease. The first time I effectively latched them both on together and tandem nursed, my emotions swept me away! (Granted it was day 3 and my hormones were surging!) I felt so overcome with love and amazement yet so incredibly tired too! And this is just the beginning… I am already so in love with these precious babies and pray God will give me the grace to mother them with compassion, energy, endless patience and love.