I'm kind of shy, so this is my first time posting here. I feel that it is important for me to share my birth story, though, because I searched this forum endlessly when I was pregnant to see if there were others in my situation that were still choosing to birth naturally. So, thank you to everyone else here who has already shared their stories, and here is mine:
When I found out that I was pregnant with my first back in September (2006), there was no question in my mind that I would give birth naturally and out-of-hospital. I really can't imagine wanting to do it any other way, because I whole-heartedly believe that nature has perfected the birthing process far more over the course of hundreds and thousands of millennia than our doctors have in the past century or two. It did take me a while to convince my husband of that, but eventually we found a nice birthing center and a very experienced midwife that we were both comfortable with.
I didn't want to have any ultrasounds done, since I think they are generally unhelpful and tend to lead to extra worry and more testing, but when the midwife said that she thought it might be twins at about 31 or 32 weeks, she and my husband ultimately convinced me to get one done. Ok. So, I had the ultrasound somewhere around 34 weeks...and, I was indeed carrying twins! Great! I was really excited about the new development! Even when the midwife called me the next day to discuss the results, I wasn't really concerned. However, the midwife had some major concerns. The ultrasound had shown that both babies were in breech positions, and twin A was actually footling. That was worrisome, since I knew that it would therefore be a more difficult birth, but I still felt confident that a natural birth was not only be possible, but it was also the very best way for the babies to come into the world. Unfortunately, the midwife didn't agree. She asked my husband and I to come in as soon as possible to discuss transferring our care to a nearby hospital with a NICU, where I would be scheduled for a cesarean section. Even though I was adamantly opposed to this, I felt like I had all the cards stacked against me - this was my first time being pregnant, it was twins, they were breech, the midwife didn't want to continue our care, my husband and his whole family were against a natural birth at this point, as were my sister (a Johns Hopkins trained doctor) and my entire family. I was definitely feeling very alone and unsupported, not to mention majorly STRESSED, since everyone kept telling me that twins usually come early, and I was already about 35 weeks along.
This was when I started doing all the research I could regarding the safety of birthing twins and/or breech babies naturally versus by cesarean section, which is really the only option I would be given if I transferred my care to the hospital. After a week of digging and reading through every study I could find in all of the medical journals I could access and hanging around in the forums to see if anyone else was 'crazy' enough to birth breech twins out of hospital, I felt like I had enough information to support my gut feeling that I was doing the right thing. Eventually, my husband also came around to a (mostly) supportive position. The rest of our families were still worried to death about my safety and the babies' safety, but with him on my side it was enough.
Our next challenge was to find a midwife who would help us. I called all over town, and finally we were fortunate enough to find a WONDERFUL birthing center (Andaluz Waterbirth Center in Portland, Oregon) with 4 FABULOUS midwives who were very positive about our birth. Here in Oregon it is against the law to birth twins or breech babies at a birthing center, so instead we planned to have our birth at my dance studio where I teach pole-dancing classes because it was much closer to a good hospital with a NICU than our home was, just in case of an actual honest-to-god emergency. Everything went smoothly for the next few weeks. I had another ultrasound (which I also did NOT want to have), and it showed the babies to be healthy, although twin A (whom I will henceforth refer to as Critter) was a bit smaller than twin B (aka Varmint) and Critter was also still breech, but frank now instead of footling. That was somewhere around 38 or 39 weeks, I think. This whole time, we were thinking 'it could be any day now'. Then my due date came, May 25th, and still no babies. A week later we started thinking, 'man, these babies are NEVER coming out!'. We tried all kinds of natural inducements - sex, stripping the membranes, evening primrose oil, walking, etc. But nothing seemed to work. To take our minds off of everything and to give ourselves something to do, we began hiking to waterfalls. The first one we did was Multnomah Falls on June 1st, a good mile hike up to the top (the falls are 620 feet high). I was exhausted when we finally got to the top! A couple of days later we went to Bridal Veil, and then Latourelle, then Horsetail and Ponytail, and Oneonta and Triple, and about 5 or 6 others over the next two weeks. At some point I just decided to stop acting pregnant and just hike, instead of concentrating on the stupid BH contractions. It was really nice for my poor swollen legs to get the blood pumping and wade around in the cold water.
During this time, we kept having our prenatal appointments with the midwives. We were all getting pretty worried as I went one week overdue, and then two weeks overdue... My husband and I sat down with a calendar and double-checked the dates, and we came to the conclusion that the due date we had originally been given was totally off. I had just been getting off the pill when I got pregnant, and my husband (sneakily) planned to avoid having sex during the time he thought I would be ovulating. Ha! That backfired, because I must have ovulated late and with two eggs.
Anyways, we told the midwives, who then calculated a new due date for us, or rather, a range of due dates. It could be anywhere from June 6th, which had also already come and gone, to June 10th. Well, at least that meant I wasn't three weeks overdue! Our midwives did suggest that we go get a biophysical profile done, to check on the health of the babies and the placentas and see if there was enough fluid. The doctor that we went to, though, was so biased against a natural birth in my situation that he purposefully gave them poor scores so the midwives would risk me out. He later admitted to one of the midwives that he really couldn't tell how much fluid they had, and he gave Critter a 0 on breathing even though I had told him that I could feel Critter hiccoughing a lot. Having poor scores on the biophysical was a huge problem for the midwives from a legal perspective, because it would be impossible for them to justify assisting my birth, looking at all of the factors (first-time mother, twins, breech, overdue, poor biophysical). In the end, I had to handwrite another waiver (I had already written several) saying that I was aware of the possibilities of brain damage or death, theirs and mine, and that I still refused to transfer my care to a hospital and would do it unassisted if forced to. I probably wouldn't have done it unassisted, but they needed it written down in order to attend my birth. Oh, my, that was a lot of stress!
Finally, finally, finally, at about 9:00 p.m. on Thursday the 14th of June I started having contractions. We were out at a restaurant when they started, so we went home, gathered up our things for the labor, and called my mom to drive up and dog-sit while I was in labor. Down at the dance studio, one midwife showed up around midnight, and my contractions progressed regularly for 8 hours or so. They were pretty painful, like horrible menstrual cramps, but bearable. I threw up a few times and during the last time, my water broke. I could feel Critter was waaay down in my pelvis, so I concentrated really hard on NOT pushing because of the breech positioning, and I'd been told to wait as long as possible and then push the baby out as quickly as I could. So that's just what I did. When I couldn't keep myself from pushing any longer I sat on the birthing stool and gave a couple of good hard pushes. Then, bam, he was out! The most perfect little boy in the world! I think it only took like 15 seconds from when his little butt was showing until he was totally out. And he was in such great shape already! Full scores on his Apgars! They said he looked a bit overdue, with the wrinkly little hands, and he had a bit of IUGR going on so he was pretty skinny, but I loved, loved, loved him immediately. He weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces, and we named him Lyric Taliesin. The time was 9:12 a.m.
I felt great, so I started working on nursing him while I was waiting for Varmint to be ready to come out. Little did I know that I'd have a while to wait. My contractions slowed down until I was having maybe one or two an hour. I slept for a while. The midwives slept for a while...then they played on the poles...then they slept some more...and ate lunch...and dinner. We kept checking Varmint's heartbeat to make sure everything was ok in there, which it was. At last, around 9:00 that night my contractions started up again. They gradually built up until about midnight, at which point I tried to start pushing again. Unfortunately, by this time, some 15 hours after Lyric's birth, my cervix and everything else was pretty swollen, and I was tired because I hadn't eaten anything in over 24 hours. I wished I could vomit, since that was what got Critter going on his way out. I kept pushing for, I don't know, maybe 45 minutes before I actually felt like Varmint was anywhere close to coming out. That was definitely a PAINFUL 45 minutes, and so frustrating, because it seemed like it wasn't working. I kept at it, though, and the whole building rang with my yelling and screaming. At long last, I felt Varmint's head crowning. Now my midwives were telling me to go as slowly as possible, to avoid tearing myself. I tried to go slowly, but I just wanted, no, NEEDED, to get this baby out! I was so ready to be done! So, after a few minutes of that, my little baby girl was born, perfect in every way. It was around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, and we named her Cadence Maeve. She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces. She was so beautiful, and I...was...exhausted. A lot of blood came out when Cadence was born, and she had had a really short cord. The midwives thought that the placenta might have been partially pulled off the uterine wall, so they gave me a shot of Pitocin (or whatever it was, I wasn't really paying attention at that point) just to be safe, so I wouldn't hemorrhage too badly. I think they let me rest for a while after that, and then we got to go home! One of the midwives even came home with us to make sure we got settled in all right. She helped me take a bath (oh, that was heaven), and made me some breakfast, and then left us to our family.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. There were some tense moments, but everyone came out of it healthy and happy...and I believe that had we done it in a hospital, that would not have been the case. A c-section would definitely have been traumatic for me, probably for the babies, too, especially Critter since he was so low in my pelvis and small. I think they would have been in the NICU for several days, and I would have been stuck in the hospital for days or weeks, too. Now, it's 4 months later and both of them are thriving solely on breastmilk. At their last well-baby check-up (2 months ago), Lyric weighed over 13 pounds and Cadence was just a little less. I wouldn't necessarily suggest that all women carrying twins and/or breech babies should do things the way I did, but for us it was the right way, the only way.