After having a wonderful, unmedicated birth with our first baby, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to give my twins the same experience.
Twins do not run in my family. When Johnpaul and I started talking about having another baby, we tried to schedule exactly when I should get pregnant to accommodate our work schedules and social events we had on the calendar. By the time we found an ideal time to have a baby, it was a VERY SPECIFIC window of time – at which point we immediately just threw out the list and said “we’ll just let it happen.” Because I had a huge event at work (that was almost entirely my responsibility to plan and execute, NBD) in August, I was wary to start trying for #2 as early as we did, but Johnpaul reminded me that even though I got pregnant very fast with our first, who knew how long it would take for the second? Best to start trying in case it doesn’t go as we hoped.
Fast forward to me, in our bathroom, staring at a very positive pregnancy test less than 3 weeks after we started trying for another baby. It was very exciting and, purely from a work standpoint, very inconvenient. But yay! A new baby!
For years, Johnpaul has said how much he wanted twins and would joke about us having twins in the future. When I started showing at 9 weeks pregnant, Johnpaul couldn’t stop saying that he thought I was pregnant with twins. At our 10 week doctor appointment to confirm my pregnancy, Johnpaul jokingly mentioned his theory to our midwife. She said that she had no reason to think I was having twins and that it was normal for a second pregnancy to show early than the first but offered to get us in for an ultrasound at 12 weeks (as opposed to the usual 20) anyway.
On the day we went in for the ultrasound, I asked Johnpaul what percentage of him actually thought we were having twins. He said 30%, I said 10%. You can imagine our surprise when the ultrasound technician – without any enthusiasm and fanfare – announced “well, there they are,” at which point our jaws hit the floor…and stayed there. Twins? In MY belly? It was (and continues to be) totally baffling to me that we made two humans.
Besides some extreme nausea in the early weeks (and extreme discomfort due to my g.i.a.n.t. belly in the later weeks), my pregnancy was wonderful. I was so worried that I would experience complications as many twin moms do because, from everything I read online, Preeclampsia, Gestational Diabetes, bed rest, and preterm labor seemed like a given for a twin pregnancy. But I didn’t! I wish I had enjoyed the pregnancy a bit more rather than worrying, but there really was so much to worry about. Beyond my own health, I had TWO separate babies whose health I also worried about. Would they be healthy? Would they stay in my belly long enough?
As we neared the end of the pregnancy, I went from worrying that the babies would come too early to hoping they’d come ASAP – before induction was necessary. Because of the type of twins I was having, my doctors didn’t want me going past 38 weeks pregnant. Because of this, we started doing everything we could do to kick start labor starting at 36 weeks. At the end of my 36th week, though, I was still 0cm dilated with no indication that labor was coming. We stripped my membranes and at my next appointment at 37 weeks 3 days (my scheduled induction day), I was 4cm dilated. Another membrane strip put me into very, very, very early labor and I was hopeful that when I arrived at the hospital at 4pm later that day, I could bypass any artificial means of inducing labor and that I would end up in full blown labor.
We tearfully dropped Wilder – our older daughter – off at her daycare that day, knowing that the next time we saw her, she wouldn’t be an only child anymore and that her whole world would be turned upside down (SOB). We spent the rest of the day tying up loose ends, picking up snacks for the hospital, and eating burgers before heading to the hospital, where I was 5cm dilated but still not in active labor.
My goal was to do everything as naturally as possible, so we started the induction process with the foley bulb. Getting the bulb in was extremely uncomfortable…and once it was in, it promptly fell out because I was already too dilated for it. I was not thrilled that we couldn’t have determined that before the extremely painful insertion, but whatever. My midwife agreed to let my slow-going labor continue on its own for a bit to see if I’d make any progress.
I didn’t. At about 2:30am, my midwife and my doula advised me to start Pitocin to get things moving. We started the Pitocin and things started happening very quickly. With my first labor, I was able to be very mobile (and labor in the tub), both of which were tremendously helpful with the pain of each contraction. Because I had twins, though, both babies needed to be continually monitored. This proved to be extremely difficult because the monitor kept slipping off one of the babies – and when they did pick up her heart rate, it was always very high. I was relegated to laying in one position for a lot of my labor, which really sucks when you don’t have any pain medicine.
After about an hour of laboring this way, making some progress but not enough progress, we decided to break my water to get things moving along even faster and so that one of the babies could be internally monitored. We did this at 3:30am and within the hour, I went from 7cm – 10cm and was ready to push. At one point (the part we all reach during a natural labor: the point of desperation), I asked my midwife about what getting an epidural might look like, but ultimately I was able to push past the pain and labor naturally once again.
The pushing process took two. long. hours. My midwife had me in all kinds of (very painful) positions trying to get the first baby past a part of my cervix that was blocking her way out. Even though my labor really only got going going at 2:30am, I’d been slowly laboring since 4pm the previous day – nearly 13 hours prior. I was tired and, to be honest, the pushing was excruciating. I remember thinking that I wished they’d just put my under and cut the babies out of me – the exact scenario I most feared during my pregnancy.
At that moment, I remembered that Nitrous Oxide was something my hospital started offering after my first delivery. Where can I buy stock in this stuff?? It was AMAZING! For me, it didn’t affect the pain but helped with the anxiety surrounding the pain, which I find to be the most difficult part of pushing. Once the fear of the pain was out of the way, I swear I turned into The Hulk and within 15 minutes pushed out both twins and my placenta. I was so committed to the Nitrous Oxide that my nose was bruised the next day after how hard I had it pressed to my face, ha!
Harlow came out first at 6lb 12oz and was perfect. Navy came out 7 minutes later and was a different story. At 5lb 12oz, she was almost colorless, limp, and took several minutes to cry. I didn’t really notice any of this in the aftermath of my labor, but the room took on a very different tone when she was born and she was quickly taken from me so the NICU doctors could get her stable. Happily, she started improving quickly but still spent 24 hours in the NICU for monitoring. My heart goes out to anyone who has to watch their baby hooked up to those monitors for weeks (or months). It is heartbreaking. I was conflicted about inducing labor when the babies didn’t tell my body they were ready to move out, but after seeing Navy, I feel like we did the right thing and have no regrets about delivering when I did.
I am incredibly proud of my birth story. As soon as I found out I was having twins, I was told that I’d have to deliver in the operating room and that I’d have to give up seeing my beloved midwives and would only be seen by an OB instead. I was told that a c-section was likely and that a natural delivery would be difficult. In the end, I was able to have the unmedicated delivery I wanted: in a delivery room with my midwife, doula, husband, and my two new babies.