“They never go as planned.” Or “Wow…” These are the most common phrases everyone loved to respond with when I said I was planning a natural birth with my twins. I did it with Aspen, so why couldn’t I do it again?
Tuesday, June 5, exactly 37 weeks pregnant:
9:45am Monitoring: Boys look good, twin B is breech still. He flipped three days ago despite my multiple weekly trips to the chiropractor to preform the Webster Technique (a proven technique to often help babies be head down). Very few contractions.
11:50am Doctor appointment: 5cm dilated. Induction discussed. I feel awful about inducing my babies before they are ready but I can’t argue the facts that stillborn rates rise in twins after 38 weeks pregnant so I have 4 days to have them as we are set to induce for Saturday. We discuss how my doctor will try to perform an external version to flip Baby B after A is born and if it doesn’t work (50/50 chance), I will try to deliver him breech. I realize I can have an emergency C section if this doesn’t work and for me this means going under general anesthesia because I will not have an epidural placed. My doctor strips my membranes to (hopefully) jump start labor (this didn’t work 5 days prior).
1pm: Contractions becoming regular as I eat a pizza famous in St Louis for “putting women into labor” – I’ll try anything!
2pm: My chiropractor comes by to preform labor acupuncture and also try the Webster Technique again to flip Baby B (he’s flipped every week since week 28!).
4:30pm: Contractions have picked up to a labor pattern, but I can tell I’m not in active labor. I have Jimmy take me to the hospital with all my bags packed.
8pm: My doctor comes by, I’m 6cm dilated, she said there’s no leaving the hospital at this point! We discuss her breaking my water.
9pm: My doctor breaks my water. I could feel it right away as a small gush, I tell her she broke it, she leaves to let me labor.
9:05pm: First massive contraction comes and breaks my water the rest of the way. This is it!
(Side story: My stepson, Landon, called at the same moment to FaceTime my husband and heard my first big contraction. He also told my husband he likes the name Hayes which we had decided against. Jimmy hangs up the phone and tells me Landon wants to name a baby “Hayes” and so Jimmy now wants to as well.)
A few minutes later I ask them to start the nitrous oxide aka what I call The Placebo. This doesn’t take away the pain but it helps me focus on deep breathing (it’s supposed to take my mind off the pain of the contraction, yeah that doesn’t work!) I have some nice breaks between contractions and my husband is helping me. My sister and mom were also in the room with my midwife. It was dark and calm.
10:00pm: I can tell that I’ve entered the transition point of labor and I will soon need to push. My doctor wants me to deliver Baby A in the OR and then discuss moving back to a regular room. She checks my cervix and I’m at 9cm. I have also agreed to let them place a hep lock in my arm in case of emergency and so I hold my sister’s hand as it’s placed (she shares my fear of needles). I don’t look at my arm again after this! I watch as everyone puts on their OR gear: masks and gowns. I don’t like watching this, it’s scary and intimidating. I focus instead on my contractions and breathing and picture what is happening inside my body as I feel each contraction: dilating my cervix, moving my babies closer to the exit. I do not want to let my anxiety of the OR prep slow down my labor. As we enter the OR it’s freezing cold, someone is playing awful music and it’s bright. They turned off the music and put warm blankets on me. I close my eyes and focus on breathing again as I thank my doctor for letting me stay on the hospital bed with wheels so I can grip the handles (that are non existent on an OR bed). It’s time to push, I can feel it!
10:48pm: Baby A is born. I pushed him out in about 20 minutes. I felt the ring of fire as his head crowned and it was the most beautiful feeling of painful relief I’ve experienced all labor. I welcome the second ring of fire as I pushed his shoulders out. He is held by a resident as a team of four begins the external version to rotate Baby B head down: one to perform a sonogram, my doctor manipulates the baby, someone else to monitor heart tones, and one to hold the baby in place. I close my eyes and focus on getting a break while I’ve just delivered a healthy baby. It is painful and peaceful at the same time, but I’m not experiencing contractions. The version works! I hold Baby A and after 5 minutes of crying I cut his cord myself with my husband by my side. I watch as the team works on getting him cleaned up and his oxygen slowly dips, I see it says 80-something on the monitor, I’m not worried. I say he looks like my husband and Aspen, so beautiful and perfect! I say this over and over. He’s weighed and I’m so proud to have birthed a 6 lb 15 oz baby, 4 oz bigger than Aspen! My doctor then tells me Baby B’s heart rate is dropping and it’s go time!
11:32pm: Baby B is born. I wasn’t ready to push out another baby, I was borderline dreading it! My body hurt and I was exhausted. My husband was my cheerleader and really helped me get the willpower to power through. I knew I could do it I just didn’t want to. At this point if I needed an emergency C-section I probably would’ve been happy because that meant I could nap! I had enjoyed about 15 minutes free of contractions and I knew I had to go right back into transition and pushing as my cervix had shrunk up to 8cm. But with Baby B’s lowered heart rate it was time to get serious. She broke his water and I breathed through some intense contractions (again I had nice breaks of about 30 seconds that I embraced, I don’t remember breaks with Aspen) until I felt the urge to push. It’s such a beautiful and empowering feeling knowing that you can tell your doctor when you’re going to push because you know you’re at 10cm, she didn’t even check me. Again, I pushed for about 20 minutes as his heart rate stabilizes into a normal pushing pattern. I’m so tired I can cry but then I feel that simultaneously painful and lovely ring of fire and I know I’m so close. I push until I feel the blood vessels popping in my eyes and then I realize that won’t look good for pictures (I swear I thought this!); I push until there is no air left in my body. Jimmy helped me SO MUCH during pushing! Baby B emerges with a beautifully shaped skull and his cord wrapped around head AND body! We delay his cord clamping for a full 7 minutes before I cut his as well, covered in tears of joy.
Fast forward: Delivering the placenta was no fun but I did it! I then let my doctor use my hep-lock to administer pitocin so ensure that I pass the entire placenta. After I had Aspen I hemorrhaged two weeks later due to not all of the placenta being passed. I don’t want that to happen again. So after a medicine-free labor I endure terrible contractions from the pitocin! So ironic! And cruel!
I hold my babies and Baby B latches on my breast right away. A is taking some work.
Overall I had a beautiful labor almost exactly as I envisioned. I am so blessed to have had a natural, vaginal labor. I was incredibly conscious of everything happening to my body, I knew what to expect during each stage, I felt present, awake, and enlightened. It was incredibly painful but I enjoyed my breaks between contractions. I feel so powerful.
We take a couple days to name them. We are between the names Hart, Hayes, Haze, and Lake. Inside of me Baby A was active and I thought Hart was a good name for an active baby and Hayes or Lake would be better for my Baby B, my chill baby. But on the outside, Baby B is active and Baby A is chill! Three days later after much thinking we name Baby A Hayes and Baby B Hart. Both are family names: Hayes (who looks like Jimmy) is Jimmy’s great-grandma’s maiden name, Hart (who looks like me) is my great-great-great grandpa’s first name. King is a given for their middle names. Our family is now completely complete.