Friday evening began like all of the others for the last two weeks. It seemed that around 5 every night contractions would begin and continue on until midnight or so. I wrongly assumed at 38 weeks this meant that surely babies were only hours...at the very most, days....away. But as two weeks passed and this became a very established pattern it didn't take long to assess that each night as prodromal labor...or "preparatory" labor....continued on that I would wake up still heavily pregnant the next morning.
Dear friend flew in Friday afternoon on a spontaneous whim in hopes that we might time it right for babies' arrivals. I told her it was a long shot but we could try. Kitchen loving husband fixed an elaborate meal while she loved on children and I readied everybody for bed. Not many contractions through this time. I think the excitement of the day held them at bay throughout the evening. At 9 after kids were in bed the familiar "false labor" routine started. Not once did I ever even consider it being the real thing or that we'd even come close to having babies that night. Contractions were inconsistent and uncomfortable but far from painful....the usual. They continued on in that pattern from 9:00 to 11:00 pm. It most definitely was not even remotely close to real labor so we talked, laughed and watched a movie knowing this night was no different than any other. At 11:00 or so I began to notice that contractions were becoming much more consistent...though I never did bother to time them or mess with how patterned they were....or were not....since I had no desire to depress myself. There was some discomfort involved by this point, now 11, but I still was very far from being convinced this was anywhere near producing babies. By 11:30 or so the movie wasn't so funny anymore and I was becoming a bit down, having convinced myself this was not the real deal either. I left the movie party to head for the shower and see if I could get the heat of the water to relax it all enough to stop and provide relief until it all quit. It took forever to even make it to the shower due to the discomfort that was still far from real labor. Somehow I had assessed that I was somewhere around the 2 cm mark and still had a very long way to go. So, I relaxed in the shower and prayed that the night of yet more prodromal labor would get me closer so that when real labor finally did kick in I'd only have around 5 or so cm to go.
By the end of the shower I was still convinced this was not anywhere near the real thing since there was nothing that was overwhelming or labor like. I told dh, who was also thinking this would go nowhere, to go ahead and inflate the pool since I was tired of cramping and so tired of doing this every night. I figured if I was going to be massively uncomfortable I might as well do it in the pool and then it'd be already blown up and ready for the day I finally did have babies, since we were looking at probably a week at the most. He busied himself blowing it up while friend straightened the room and got it ready for the "just in case" scenario....none of us really thinking this was it. I just kept thinking that it wasn't nearly painful enough to go anywhere. And in dealing with the contractions I had somehow convinced the two of them it wasn't going anywhere by the fact I was just more restless than in pain. Sweet friend quietly excused herself to leave dh and I alone since I was a bit down at this point that we did this routine every night and it never resulted in babies. With the pool only 1/4 of the way filled I clamoured in over the side of it in my whale like state. It was much softer and much deeper than the bathtub so I figured the relief it provided was worth it all......at the same time trying to keep my mind from wandering to what an expensive "bath" I was taking or the painstaking efforts dh was going to for my nightly discomfort. It was now about 12:30 am though I had no real grasp on time at that point. I just knew prodromal labor was becoming more and more unfun as each night just progressively made it worse but never produced any babies. After about 3 contractions in the tub I finally told dh to call my mom and tell her I might be in labor but we weren't sure. There was no need to come get children since they were all sleeping peacefully and this probably would not go anywhere......but, just in case it did, to stay within ear shot of her phone. He stepped outside of the room to make the call and I had 2 more contractions alone. I prayed aloud through them and discovered I was still very much able to talk very well through contractions. The hope of babies that night seemed to fade.
A 3rd surprisingly overwhelming contraction began to form out of nothingness while I was still alone and suddenly the urge to push came with it. A little panicked I called out for dh and almost instantly both he and friend appeared in the room. I pushed with it expecting a baby's head since the pressure was so great but instead Baby A's water exploded into the pool. That was an entirely new thing to experience in birth. The relief that came with it was amazing. So, I knelt somewhat comfortably and relieved after that knowing babies would surely not be very far behind.....and absolutely in shock I might be at a 6 or 7 already. Friend hurriedly woke oldest daughter and brought her to the room once we all realized we would indeed have babies this night. The next contraction shockingly resulted in another overwhelming urge to push and in just one massive push Baby A slid peacefully out into the water in just one contraction. At this point I had been in the pool only 30 minutes. And 30 minutes ago none of us were even sure I was really in labor. 5 minutes ago we were still doubting! Dh's big hands lifted baby from water at 1:02 am. He handed Baby A to friend as he clamped and cut the cord. Sweet Baby A was toweled off and handed to oldest daughter to hold while we awaited Baby B's arrival. Dh busied himself tending to me and monitoring the situation while daughter and friend stayed occupied with Baby A, who quickly cried upon his arrival and had already hushed and was looking around with huge blue eyes at his sister above him. A few mild contractions tried to build but they would die away before ever peaking so we just waited. Ten minutes after Baby A's arrival the next huge contraction hit and, just as with Baby A, I pushed expecting head but Baby B's water exploded into the water. The next contraction resulted in 2 massive pushes, unlike A's arrival that only required one push....one that birthed his head, the next resulting in his little body....torso, arms and legs peacefully welcomed into a watery world. Dh brought him up out of the water and welcomed Baby B into the world at 1:14 a.m. And the same routine we had just gone through with Baby A was repeated with sweet Baby B. They were tended to and I made the decision just to wait in the pool to finish the whole birth process, as I could move easily within it and it provided some comfort for the cramps that were working on delivering the afterbirth. I went ahead and took Angelica (Don Quai) during this time as a preventative for any bleeding and to help facilitate the delivery of the placenta. A short 15 or 20 minutes later one massive fused placenta came forth and the birth process was complete. After its delivery I drank the Shepherd's Purse as planned to help with any excessive bleeding after the deliver of the placenta. Bleeding was kept to a minimum and was actually much less than with my last 3 births. Amazing husband, who stayed calm and together the entire time, helped me to the shower once more....only 45 minutes after I'd gotten out of the shower very pregnant and was now getting back in shockingly unpregnant. I was absolutely amazed and in awe and chatted happily about the whirlwind that had just taken place. It had been a mere two hours since contractions had even become somewhat consistent. I think I'd had maybe 9 entirely manageable contractions in the water before babies started coming.
Having finally experienced a water birth vs a dry birth I now know why so many women prefer water over land. I could move freely and was never once "paralyzed" in pain. The dreaded pushing phase was intense but the gripping fear of pain and the burning so long associated with it all in my mind was so minimal this time that it was pretty shocking.
It still is all just so surreal to me. Words do not ever seem to adequately convey the experience of giving birth. To have just delivered twins at home seems so entirely natural and makes me a little sad for what we missed in our 1st twin's pregnancy and birth. But how amazing it is to have been given the ability to do this and once again experience a twin birth...so drastically different than the first. How grateful I am for the dr and his willingness to get our 1st set here naturally with a breech Baby B but how absolutely phenomenal it is to have just welcomed two babies into the warmth of our home without the invasiveness and loss of privacy that has been experienced in every hospital and birthing home birth we have had. And how amazing it is to have so peacefully avoided the mandated c/s that our rural town requires of every "high risk" pregnancy.
Nothing really seems to do the whole experience justice. It was a deeply Spiritual experience in which the Lord moved so mightily that it seemed to pause all of life. I stand in absolute awe of the Creator of life itself....the One who gives life, births it and enables that tiny person to take his very first breath. To witness the amazing miracle of a newly born baby take his very first breath and then watch yet another sharing the very same womb emerge and take his first breath is something so life changing that it can never be rivaled. Life is forever altered and one can never be the same after giving birth and watching a new life take its place in the world. There just are no words.
Baby A - 7 lbs 7 ozs 19 1/2 in
Baby B - 7 lbs 5 ozs 19 in