I wrote this version for a more mainstream message board, so some of the explanation is more in depth than most of you need - sorry it's SO long!!! Apparently, I was very passionate and wordy when it came to preserving the memory of these births!
Friday morning, Senator and I headed to the birth center for yet another nst and check-up. All week, I'd been having signs of labor (losing my mucus plug, regular weak contractions, lower back pain, etc) but couldn't quite seem to get things really going. By Thursday night, I was even desperate enough to try castor oil which is supposed to help induce labor, but also gives you horrible diarrhea... it didn't do either for me! It didn't do anything!!! I was starting to feel really discouraged, thinking my body just didn't know how to go into labor. I mean, there I was, three days away from my due date with twins that we'd been trying to coax out for weeks!
At my appt, both girls looked great on the nst as always but my bp was on the rise again. I was right on the borderline of being hypertensive, but the swelling in my legs was getting to be out of control. My feet were even worse than the photo I posted and the swelling had come all the way up my calves and thighs too. We knew that my bp would only get worse from here and cause more problems, so we opted to go ahead and let Jean break my water that afternoon, so that we still had a chance to deliver at the birth center and have a relatively intervention-free birth. (The deal was that if I progressed fast enough, we'd stay there, but if labor stalled or didn't pick up enough speed, then I'd have to transfer to the hospital and continue with Pitocin.) She stripped my membranes again - I was at 3 cm this time - in the hopes that my body would work on getting started again before we came back in the afternoon. We left to get lunch and pick up the things we'd need for the birth, and to let everyone know that babies were on the way!
We went back to the birth center and waited around for Jean to finish seeing all of her patients for the day. She wanted to be able to focus on us completely before getting anything started, which I really appreciated. (She planned to keep a close watch on my blood pressure, as well as the babies' heartrates throughout. But since she wasn't doing other things, I didn't need to be attached to a monitor, instead she was able to use a handheld Doppler every 15 minutes or so.) We sat on the porch swing out front and enjoyed the rainy weather, while talking about the past nine months and how strange it would be to not be pregnant anymore. Finally, Jean finished with her patients around 5:00. By then, my best friend Jessica had shown up to be with us. (She has a son that she delivered at home, and I knew she'd be great labor support for me.) Jean started an iv port in my hand, since we'd discussed the likelihood of me needing fluids and some pitocin immediately after I delivered to help stop any excessive bleeding which is common with twins. The iv wasn't connected to anything, it was just ready for when we needed it. It was my first iv and I was more scared of it than anything else! I was suprised though, it really wasn't that bad, and I didn't even notice it was there after a couple of hours. Next, we got ready for Jean to break my water. They spread out absorbent pads on the bed and Jean checked my cervix one last time - I was at 4 cm! So my body was really getting ready on its own too, which I knew would be helpful. At about 5:30. we jumpstarted my labor with a splash. Senator jumped, which made me laugh, which made more fluid gush out... all such weird feelings. But it was a great start, all of us laughing hysterically.
Some extra helpers started to arrive after that. Betty and Amy, two other midwives, came along to give Jean some extra hands. We also had Lynn, the birth assistant, Anna, a summer intern at the center, and eventually Dr. Cummings, our back up ob. Amy was the only person I'd never met, and I knew the others all very well, so it was a cozy little group of friends anxiously awaiting these stubborn little girls. Contractions picked up in regularity - we timed them to be about a minute long and five minutes apart, but they weren't all that strong yet. No one in the room ever knew I was having one unless I said so. I spent a lot of time sitting on the birth ball (an exercise ball) b/c it was the most comfortable place in general, but especially during contractions. With Glory so low in my pelvis, it really helped take some of that pressure off. The next time Jean checked me, I was at 5 cm and she suggested I try using the breast pump to stimulate more contractions. The pump was being super tricky, and I was getting frustrated, so instead I got into a warm shower and did some manual stimulation for a while. I felt like things were starting to pick up a bit - contractions were more and more regular and each one required more of my attention. My lower back hurt a lot, so I sat on birth ball and Senator would massage my lower back between contractions, and put counterpressure on my tailbone during them. It was really helpful. All of this was doing good, the next time Jean checked me I was at 7 cm. So we kept doing more of the same, assuming that my progress would continue to be good, but two hours later I was shocked to hear that I was still at 7 cm!
I was so discouraged, and Jean said she'd check again in a half hour and if I hadn't made anymore progress, we'd head to the hospital. I was so scared at that point of going in for pitocin, considering the contractions I already had were pretty intense, I didn't know if I could handle much more. So I set my heart and mind on getting things rolling and went to work. First, Senator and I started pacing the birth suite, hoping to intensify the contractions. It was helping a little, but not as much as I wanted. Then I remembered squatting! I hadn't done any squats at all yet, so we figured I'd give it a try. Senator and I stood facing each other and I'd use his arms for support as I squatted down as low as I could. I could really feel this bringing Glory down and helping to stretch my cervix. So as much as they hurt and wore me out, we spent the better part of that half hour doing 15-30 second squats. And wouldn't you know - when Jean checked me... I was at 8 cm!
I took a good break from squats after that to time the contractions and make sure they were still steady and regular. But it was by then that I started to realize "labor is hard work" and that it wouldn't all necessarily just happen on its own. I was ready to take things into my own hands. (Up until this point, I'd had a really mellow playlist of music on softly and the lights dimmed - but then I had Senator put on my Panic! at the Disco album and turn it up.) So we went back to squatting, and in about 45 minutes, I'd gone from 8 to 9.5 cm - almost ready to start pushing! What happened between then and when I actually did start pushing is a blur - I can't really remember it. (This is when Dr. Cummings showed up and took a seat on the couch, where he would remain until her left after the girls were born. It was such a great thing of him to come and be on call if needed, but to leave us completely undisturbed otherwise.) Jean asked what position I thought I'd like to push in and I didn't have any strong urges to use any particular position. She suggested starting out laying on my side, with my upper leg raised. In one way, this worked well, b/c my contractions were esp. intense that way, but I didn't feel like I had much strength behind my pushing. The contractions were getting too painful without enough rest for me to try to push effectively so I rolled onto my back and started pushing in a reclined position. This worked much better. I remember getting encouraged and then discouraged by constantly hearing everyone talk about seeing her head during pushes, and then in between Jean would report to Dr. Cummings about how much was still visible between pushes. (It's normal for the baby to move back up inside in between each push.) I had been pushing for close to an hour when Jean finally suggested an episiotomy. Midwives tend to avoid that sort of thing if at all possible, and I really trusted Jean's judgement. I knew that if she was even bringing it up that it was going to be a huge help, if not totally necessary. Still, she left the decision totally up to me. So, I let her cut me.
She numbed me a bit and with my next contraction and push, she made a small incision. Within another 10 minutes, Glory was born! I believe it was about 5:08 am. I have to say that feeling a baby actually come out of you is one of the most unique and amazing things I've ever experienced on so many levels. They laid her on my chest immediately and I remember saying "It's a baby! And it's mine!" I had been so caught up in the work of labor that I'd almost forgotten what I was doing it for. But it wasn't long before I had to focus on the baby still inside and getting her out. They tried to leave Glory with me for as long as possible, but I realized I couldn't do the work I needed to do and have her with me. So I asked someone to take her from me and we went back to work.
Pushing Willa out was a much more difficult task. Glory had been so low in my pelvis for days before delivery, so I was used to having that pressure and being able to feel something right down there. I went into labor with her a little lower than 0 station. (The stations are from -4 to +4, maybe 5's? I can't remember... either way +4 or +5 whichever is last is when the baby is crowning.) Willa was all the way up at -3, which meant I couldn't feel her at all in a way that I could push with. We started out trying the same reclined position I'd used with Glory, but I wasn't making much progress. My contractions had slowed way down (normal after the birth of the first baby in twins) and I didn't feel like my pushes were getting me anywhere. We decided to try pushing in a supported squat. This time Senator was behind me, helping to hold me up. I really wish that this would have worked, b/c I'm sure I would have moved her down a lot quicker, but my contractions got even slower this way, and as soon as I mentioned feeling light headed - Jean sent me back to the bed. Just in time too! As soon as I sat down, everything started to sound like it was really far away and I felt like I was going to pass out. When I'd started to regain my strength, I realized that I had to go back to pushing on my side if I wanted to get her out. It was the only way my contractions would stay strong enough at this point.
The rest of that time is a blur in my head. An hour after Glory was born, Willa followed at about 6:06 am. It was just as amazing and relieving as the first time, but I did feel some burning as I tore a little bit in addition to my episiotomy. However, at that point - I had two daughters and was no longer pregnant and beyond that nothing else mattered! Again, they put her right on my chest and I admired her for a bit while they rubbed her with towels to stimulate her and clean her up a bit.
I was almost done... I had someone take Willa this time so that we could get the placenta's delivered and Jean could stitch me up. Neither of those were pleasant experiences so I'll spare you the details. After all of that, I was shaking uncontrollably (a normal post-partum response, though it doesn't happen to everyone). Senator kept trying to get me extra blankets and I kept explaining that I wasn't cold. By now all of my family was at the birth center and the babies were brought out to them in the waiting area while everyone cleaned up the aftermath around me. By the time the bed was changed (with me in it... impressive!) and everything was cleaned, my shaking had subsided and I was ready to see everyone - most importantly my babies!!! Jean did their newborn exam right next to me on the bed with all of my family around us. Our jaws dropped when we heard that "little" Glory, the obviously smaller one of the two, weighed 9lbs 5oz!!! And everyone went "Awwww!" when Jean announced that her collarbone had been broken in delivery. (With a 9lb baby being delivered with her hand on her head... it's no wonder I'd needed an episiotomy!) Sometime in the midst of all of this, I got to nurse each of them. They both latched on like champs right away! It was so amazing to see them instinctively know what to do, even my family was amazed at that. Having been born without any drugs, the babies were so alert for so long - that was one of the big payoffs I'd been looking forward to. It was such a cool bonding time for us. I don't know how many times I've heard Senator say "And when I held her, she looked right at me!" about the first time he held one of them.
The great thing about having twins is that you can be totally greedy with one baby and let the other be passed around for oohing and ahhing. After all of that, there was no way I was going to *not* be holding a baby!
After everyone left, Jean and Amy helped me walk to the bathroom and get set up with ice packs and such. Then Senator and I put the babies in their infant carriers to sleep, while we slept in the birth suite for a few hours. (By then, we'd been up for about 24 hours. I had been so tired, that at one point I was falling asleep sitting up in between contractions, and I was drifting in and out of sleep while Jean was suturing me.) They gave me one more bag of iv fluid and pitocin (I'd already had one or two post partum) to help with the bleeding, even though Jean said that I'd bled much less than she'd expected me to. We napped for a bit and woke up just before noon. Then we packed everything up to head home and sleep some more in the comfort of our own home.
We've been home for a day now and it feels amazing!!! Senator is the most loving and amazing dad I could ever imagine. I'm pretty sure that he's changed more diapers than I have at this point. And the four of us have enjoyed lots of cuddle time in our bed. So far, the girls don't respond to each other in their sleep, which is great! One can be screaming her head off and then other sleeps like an angel just inches away. They are absolutely beautiful and I couldn't have asked for happier, healthier babies or a more fulfilling, empowering birth experience. I've heard it said so many times by other women before, but seriously - if I can do that, I can do anything.http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e1...82/sisters.jpg