The Unassisted Birth of Twins: Miriam & Shira
(more of a novel than a story
My DH and I decided after the homebirth of our 2nd child that the next birth would be an unassisted birth. I was pregnant again, doing my own prenatal care. By 10 wk, I knew something was different. I had 2x the nausea and fatigue, and my uterus was bigger than it should be, even for a 3rd pregnancy. I decided at 12 wk to see my OB for a quick U/S to see if my guess about twins was correct. Sure enough, there were two little babies in there!
Everything changed at that moment. There were so many questions. I worked through my fears, realizing that my pregnancy and the birth would be the safest with minimal professional care. Some kinds of twins had more risks, but mine did not, so I continued to do most my own prenatal care.
At 20 wk, I went in for a quick U/S to check on the babies and found out we were having girls. At 28 wk, I established care with a hospital around the corner in case of transfer. At 34 wk, I reestablished care with my OB. He said both babies had to be vertex for him to “allow” a vaginal delivery. Baby A was breech and B vertex. At 36 wk, I went to see him again and both babies were vertex. But the OB, while outwardly in agreement, did not give me the reassurance that he was not planning on forcing a C-section anyway. This OB is the least interventive in town, yet even he was questionable. So, because both babies were vertex, I had good iron levels, I’d gained enough weight, felt so healthy, and had made it to full term, my husband and I decided we would continue with our original plan: unassisted birth at home.
By 37 weeks
I was miserable. The stories of premature twins that worried me earlier now made me wonder, “Why did I worry, now they’re on time.” I had experienced contractions on and off for a couple of weeks, but nothing that made me think the birth was coming any day soon. The day before the birth, I had a few contrax but just figured it was the same as usual. That evening the “Braxton Hicks” contrax (well, I assumed they still were), got regular, 3 to 4 minutes apart. I thought nothing of it because I’d had them like that for hours every night for up to 2 weeks before the births of my other two children.
The contrax were a little uncomfortable, so I timed them for a while. But at 2:30am, I figured they were going away and went to bed. At 5am they woke me up, and I knew from what I told my childbirth classes: If you can’t sleep through them, then you’re probably in labor. They were still 3 - 4 minutes apart but very uncomfortable. I had no idea how dilated I was or how long the birth would take. But I knew from previous experience that from the time I felt the way I was now feeling until I usually birthed a baby was maybe 3 hours.
At 6am, my husband called my friend “M” who was going to help me with labor support, childcare, or whatever I needed. He also called “J” who was going to take pictures. Here’s where it was helpful that M took notes. I must say that I felt totally in control of the labor the whole time. I was in my “labor bubble” yet still able to communicate exactly what I wanted.
At 7am, the contrax were getting stronger and coming every 3 minutes. Sometimes a small one and then a big one. I knew this labor could take a lot longer with an over-stretched uterus so figured I was progressing slowly since I was handling the contrax so well. DH told me later that I may have not felt they were very strong or long enough, but it was obvious that I was in heavy labor. During the contrax, I did a variety of things: stand, sit on the birth ball or toilet, sit on the edge of the bed. I used combs in my hands for acupressure. DH and M did knee presses or foot massage. I know that having good labor support is what really helped me get through the birth. I wasn’t scared, but I needed the people around me! At about 8:30 am, the contrax were so painful. My son’s birth had been almost painless, so this time I was telling myself, just one more, just one more. I was falling asleep sitting up between contrax, still not realizing that at this point I was in transition. My sense of timing was that the contrax still weren’t painful enough, close enough, or long enough.
At about 9am, I felt myself snapping out of “labor land” and more chatty, excited, etc. That usually happens when I’m out of transition and ready to push. But I felt no urge to push though the contrax were continuing. I decided that after the next one, I’d go to the toilet, pee, and see if I could reach inside and feel anything. Sure enough, way up high, there was a hard little head! I went back to the bedroom and labored more. I tried pushing with some of them but they never felt right. I did not want my cervix to swell, so I asked for some arnica. I checked the progress every few contrax and realized that I was feeling the amniotic sac bulging and that it was preventing me from getting the head down with the small pushes.
At 10am, J goes to get coffee for everyone. (And almost misses the birth… only time to grab the camera and not set up the video camera). I started pushing more, feeling the progress. It helped to touch the head and feel it descend. I had planned on moving to the living room to birth over a mat on the floor but sitting on the toilet helped with the pushes. Finally, I gave one big push and the water broke… (hey it is less messy birthing over the toilet)! I yelled, here comes the first baby, and my mom and kids ran in and sat on the edge of the bed and watched. One minute later I feel a head and DH helps catch the rest of the baby.
10:33am, Miriam Joy
was born. She cried immediately and was totally covered in vernix. She was breathing well, but her cord was short so we did as planned and clamped and cut the cord so that we’d be able to focus on the birth of the second baby. The cord was barely clamped and cut in time. I felt a huge contrax and pushed with it though I couldn’t feel the head of the next baby. With the next contrax was a sharp pain on the nerves of my spine. Ouch that hurt! Then a huge bulge appeared. At first it was so big I thought that baby had flipped breech. But nope, it was the amniotic sac, and it was fully intact. DH said, “Here’s the head.” I pushed very hard and out came the baby with the bag breaking as the feet came free. Born "in the caul"
10:41am, Shira Faith
was born. She came out in a direct posterior position still in her sac. DH cleared the sac off of her face he turned her over. A little grunt and then a big cry! She was also covered in vernix
. Two cheesy looking little babies! I sat there on the toilet just amazed looking at this little baby. One labor but two babies. I started feeling contrax again so asked for the baby’s cord to be clamped and cut. One more contrax, and at 10:51am, the placenta plops out into a big bowl. It was huge!! Not sure if it was one shared placenta or two that merged together.
I started getting a woozy and said I was going to pass out. Not a surprise because it happened at my previous birth. I just made myself slide off the toilet to sit on the floor so I wouldn’t fall over and hurt myself. DH and M splashed my face with water and talked to me and I woke up in a couple minutes. My blood pressure had dropped and I hadn’t eaten in hours. The mat that I’d planned to birth on was dragged into the bedroom between the bed and bathroom floor, so all I had to do was crawl to the mat. They handed the first baby to me and I tried to nurse her. By 11:30, I was resting and M and my mom weighed the babies.
Miriam Joy was 6lb 14oz (3.1kg) and Shira Faith was 6lb 8oz (2.9kg).
God’s protection and timing were completely in this birth. We knew that we wanted an unassisted birth with no interventions. We wanted a family event. We wanted a safe birth. All of the little details, leading up to the birth and for the birth, were perfectly in place, better than we could have hoped for.
Now at almost a week old, we really wonder if they are identical or not. We’d been told fraternal, but we’re still wondering. Miriam is a half pound bigger and if Shira had her sister’s chubby cheeks, they’d look even more alike! They have matching little hats but we’ve had to pin a pink diaper pin and pink cord tie on Shira and a purple pin and tie on Miriam for quick ID! Both are nursing wonderfully and though life is going to be crazy for the next few months, we are so excited to be starting this new adventure!Big sister and brother watch3 days oldUpdate Dec. 07
FYI. The names/weights are backwards in the story! When I wrote it out 2days after the birth, I assumed the bigger baby had come first because she was presenting first a few days prior to labor. But after reading the birth notes, the smaller baby was first, so Shira is actually the first twin. And when going back and looking at the pics, it's definitely Shira that was first. How funny!
Also, we just found out after DNA testing that they are identical, even though they had their own amniotic sacs.
Here's a pic taken at 4mo old
And here's a 7mo old
I can hardly believe a year has flown by!
They're 1 year old
now and still breastfed
all day and night!And now they're TWO!
Here they are on their second birthday
when we were in Indonesia. And they're still breastfed
... never a bottle!And here they are at THREE!
On their 3rd birthday
... the hairstyles changed a month or so later when they took turns cutting each others hair! Still nursing away too