For about a week or so, I was having on again off again contractions. Nothing really consistent or intense, but it was getting me anxious.
I woke up to some mild contractions on Tuesday Oct 23 around 4am. I was 38 weeks 1 day at this point. I just figured it was what I had already been dealing with, so I tried to go back to sleep. Then I got another one, and it seemed like they were coming every 10 minutes consistently. So I got up and started tracking them. Since they didn’t seem to be subsiding, I woke Darius up around 6am to let him know I might be in labor. I called my midwife and told her and I also called up our labor doula.
We got out of bed and went downstairs to have some breakfast. I continued timing the contractions and they were slowly getting closer together, but not too intense yet. I sat on the labor ball and watched some TV. The day progressed. We decided to go walk around outside (it was an unseasonably warm day) to get the contractions to pick up. Then we came back inside and ate some lunch. I called my midwife and doula again to give them an update. I then took a shower (I actually even shaved my legs LOL). Our labor doula came over around 3pm. We walked outside some more. Some of my neighbors were out and couldn’t believe I was walking around and in labor. They were very excited for us and wished us well.
We came back inside and I continued sitting on the ball. Our doula used different aromatherapy oils and massage to relax me. In the late afternoon, we spoke to our midwife and she informed us that the labor/delivery rooms at the hospital were full. So she told us to just stay home and she would call us when a room opened up. At this point my contractions were consistently 3-5 minutes apart. It was a little nerve-wracking to think there wasn’t room, but I didn’t feel like I was getting close to wanting to push, so I tried not to worry. My sister in law arrived from Greenville. She was our ‘back up’ person while we had the babies to help take care of Vytas.
I wanted to make sure I ate a good meal before leaving for the hospital, so we had dinner around 7pm. My mother in law was visiting us too, so she and sister in law helped with Vytas and meals while I labored. We spoke to our midwife after we ate and she said there was a room being held for us, so we decided to head on over.
We got to the hospital a little after 8pm. I changed into a gown and my midwife did a quick cervical check. I was 6 cm and she said she could stretch it to 8cm. She also did a quick scan with an ultrasound to confirm the babies’ positions. Both were head down. The nurse assigned to us then hooked me up to a monitor to do a quick strip of the babies’ heartbeats and my contractions. After about 20 minutes, the monitors were removed and I was able to move freely. My midwife realized at this point that we had never done the Group B Strep test, so our midwife called our pediatrician to let her know and see what she would recommend. As a precaution she advised that I get the IV antibiotics. We consented because the last thing I needed was for any little thing after birth to happen to the babies and the nurses would sweep them away. So I would be hooked up to an IV every 4 hours. But thankfully the unit was on wheels and I was able to walk and move around.
I continued laboring that night, with the nurse checking in on me and the babies heartbeats every 30 minutes with a doppler. I slept a little. I walked around freely and my contractions were getting more intense.
The morning brought about a shift change with our nurse. It was around 7am and the new nurse that was assigned to us came in and wanted to do a strip of the babies’ heartbeats. She had a difficult time getting a good tracing of both babies. She even went and got another nurse to help her. After an hour of trying to get the monitors in place, they pulled out the ultrasound machine to see how the babies were laying in order to position the monitors on my belly. They finally got consistent tracing after an hour and a half of when she initially started. So I ask her how long I have to lay there in bed. She tells me my doctor wants me monitored with a heartbeat tracing every hour. Then she goes on and on about how I am high risk because of the twins, etc… I got very upset at this point, but tried to just ignore her.
My midwife came in to check on me. She had office hours, so she was heading to work but would come check back in that afternoon. I continued dealing with the IV every 4 hours and the monitoring. It would take the nurse so much time to get the heartbeats each time, which I felt like I was laying in bed that whole morning and afternoon. My contractions basically stopped. I tried as often as I could to pull all the monitors off and go bathroom or walk around, but I couldn’t get my contractions back into a regular pattern. Having been with us for almost 24 hours, our doula left to go home and shower. She lives fairly close by and was back pretty quick.
My midwife came by early that afternoon and did another check; I was a good 8 cm – almost 9cm. Each time she checked me was extremely uncomfortable as she was trying to stretch my cervix and pull it forward. She had to go to a clinical, but would be back after 4pm. I wasn’t having any good or consistent contractions. Despite that – I was declared as being in active labor by the nurses which meant I would *have* to be constantly monitored (per hospital ‘policy’). So instead of being able to get off the monitors, I had to keep them strapped on all the time. The monitors keep slipping off, not picking up the heartbeats, etc… My contractions completely stopped. I tried sitting on the labor ball while holding up the monitors to keep the nurse ‘happy’. My doula rubbed my back and used some oil to help stimulate contractions (clary sage I believe was one of the oils). I also did some nipple stimulation. These helped bring on contractions, though as soon as I stopped the contractions stopped.
At one point Darius called home to check in on Vytas and give an update to MIL and SIL. I heard Vytas’ voice on the phone and I just started hysterically crying. I wanted to go home so bad. I truly felt I was not in labor and no where near having these babies. Even though I was 8 cm dilated – I no longer believed I was in labor. How could I be with no contractions? Darius just held me while I sobbed into a pillow. I felt hopeless. I was stuck at the hospital. There was no way they’d release a mom pregnant with twins at 8 cm.
My MIL came by with some food, so when the nurses weren’t in the room – I ate as much as I could to keep my energy up. At this point I had enough. I pulled all the monitors off and walked the halls with my doula. She kept encouraging me. I began crying again because I missed Vytas so much and just felt trapped. We went back into the room and my doula encouraged me to take a shower. While I was showering, there was another shift change of nurses. So my midwife and the new nurse came in to check on me and found me in the shower. Thankfully the nurse didn’t freak out. My doula was very familiar with this nurse and told me I was in good hands. I told my midwife I was being a rebel because I couldn’t take all this ‘policy’ crap.
Once I got out of the shower, the nurse and my midwife hooked me up to the monitors to check on the babies. They both held the monitors to get a good tracing because otherwise the monitors would keep slipping off. So I was sitting on the labor ball, with the nurse on one side monitoring Baby A and my midwife sitting on the other side monitoring Baby B. I have the IV hooked into my left arm. My doula was rubbing my back and I was resting my head in Darius’ lap. This was around maybe 8 or 9 pm Wednesday night. Still no consistent contractions.
At this point, I had been in labor for over 40 hours. My midwife suggested starting pitocin in the IV to get the contractions going again. She felt it was better than breaking the bag of water, as pitocin could be stopped but once the water breaks I’d be on a time clock. So we consented to the pitocin. She started it at the lowest dose possible. It took about half and hour, but the contractions began picking back up. I still was lying in bed with monitors, but I frequently took them off so I could use the bathroom, pulling the IV cart along with me. During a few of these bathroom visits, I lost my mucous plug. I also noticed my feet and legs had swollen a ton. It was extremely uncomfortable.
At some point, I can not recall now whether it was before or after the pitocin was started – the new nurse took it upon herself to tell me about previous twin births she had attended. She told me sometimes the doctor has to reach up into the mom to pull the baby out. And she also proceeded to tell me that “In this day and age, it is absolutely barbaric to deliver twins without anesthesia”. I just stared at her in disbelief. I couldn’t believe she just said that to me. Darius had been in the bathroom and came out just as she was saying that and I think he wanted to punch the wall, he was so upset that she was saying unsolicited things to me. Turns out, the anesthesiologist was in Labor/Delivery giving another mom an epidural, so I guess the nurse decided she’d try to get me to want one to save the Dr a trip or something. We did ask to speak with him because there were questions and concerns we had should a c-section happen.
The anesthesiologist came into the room. He was extremely nice and very thoroughly answered all our questions. He said if I were one of his family, he would highly recommend I at least get an epidural catheter inserted but not dosed, that way should an emergency occur he would be able to dose it quickly and I would avoid having to go under a general anesthesia. He had me fill out some consent forms – this was around 11:45pm Wednesday night. He then left us alone to talk. Darius and I decided to go ahead with the catheter because the risk of going under a general was too much for us. My midwife suggested we break Baby A’s bag of water, but we wanted to get the catheter put in first. So we had the nurse get the anesthesiologist to put the catheter in. I guess she misunderstood us because we repeated when he came in what we wanted and she commented “Oh, you don’t want the meds? You are a braver woman than I”.
The Dr checked over my chart and noticed that my blood platelet level was on the low end. It was 93. There is more risk with epidurals and low platelet counts. He explained it all to us very thoroughly. Since my blood had been checked when I initially came to the hospital 2 days prior, he requested another blood draw to check the level before he would insert the epidural. He had to go tend to other patients, so he told the nurse to let him know the lab results. The nurse called someone to come and draw some blood. It didn’t take too long and the result came back as 89. The anesthesiologist wasn’t available as he was with someone in the OR.
I started to worry about whether he would get the catheter in before I had to push. I was in the bathroom when he came back to my room. I think this was around midnight. I heard him talking to the nurse and midwife. He said even though the level is low, it is still within range of being safe. He said he wouldn’t put an epidural in anyone with a level lower than 75, but he was comfortable giving one to me. Since I was still on the pitocin, my contractions had been getting really intense and uncomfortable. I sat on the edge of the bed, hunched over breathing through contractions while he placed the epidural catheter. He put a small test dose in the tubing to make sure it was properly inserted – so I had about 5 minutes of pain relief LOL.
After this, my midwife broke Baby A’s water. The fluid was clear. I continued to lie in bed with the monitors and IV in my arm, breathing through the contractions. My doula encouraged me to do deep moans with the contractions, so I started doing that and it helped a little. I tried to get up as often as I could to use the bathroom and walk around the room.
Around 3:30am Thursday morning, my midwife checked me and said I was complete. I had no urge to push, but she wanted to get the OR prepped and ready. So around 3:45am, I was wheeled in the labor bed over to the OR, while Darius and my doula put on scrubs. I felt like I was entering the twilight zone upon entrance into the OR. I had never been in one before, but it was just like I had seen on TV – big overhead lights, equipment everywhere, people in gowns and masks. I saw 2 baby isolates in the corner. There were 4 nurses from the nursery/NICU – 2 for each baby. The anestheisiologist was there, the nurse, a few surgery assistants, my midwife, and then the OB came in (looking back now, I realize I don’t think he ever said Hi to me or anything). They had me move from the labor bed onto the OR table. It was this small hard table. I had no clue what was happening, I was just doing as they told me and trying my best to stay calm and not totally freak out. Darius and our doula came into the room in their scrubs. Then the OB has the assistants put these funky leg support/stirrup things on the surgery table. I still had the monitors and IV strapped to me. They had me scoot down as far as I could to the end of the table. The OB used the ultrasound machine to check the babies’ positions – both still head down.
The midwife was at the foot of the table, my doula was holding my right leg, the anesthesiologist was at the head of the bed, Darius was supported my head and back, and the nurse was holding my left leg. I could hear the clangs of the metal c-section tools being prepped behind me. This was maybe around 4:15am. My midwife told me to push with each contraction. I had NO URGE to push. This was the hardest thing to push without an urge. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my midwife and the babies and block everything else out. I could feel the contractions coming on, so I just pushed with each one. I honestly felt like nothing was happening and was afraid it would end in surgery. Darius whispered in my ear that I could do it, my doula was encouraging me, and I just kept pushing.
I heard the midwife (I think) say she saw the head. This got me to push even harder. As the baby was crowning, my natural pushing instinct finally kicked in and I pushed him out at 4:30am Thursday October 25. They placed him on my chest and Darius cut the cord. But he didn’t get to stay for long because Baby B needed to be checked for position. So they brought him to the nurses and Darius went to that side of the room. Baby B was still head down, so my midwife then broke his bag of water and I pushed him out at 4:36am. They put him on my chest and he stayed longer than Baby A had. Darius came over to cut the cord. I tried to nurse the baby, but he wasn’t interested so I just kept him next to me breast. Then the nurses came over to check Baby B. I was shown Baby A again and he and Darius went to the nursery. Baby B had some fluid in his lungs, so they cleared him out there in the OR. Then I held him again before they brought him back to the nursery. I had a very small tear, but my midwife said it wasn’t enough for any stitches.
Finally, all the monitors and the epidural catheter were removed. The nurse brought me a clean gown and the labor bed was brought back into the OR. I scooted off the OR table and onto the bed and was wheeled back into my room. I was given more pitocin to prevent hemorrhaging (I had severe blood loss after my first son was born, so I requested it this time to prevent any issues). I was also given a shot in my hip of methergine. The nurse massaged my abdomen to check my uterus. My doula then massaged my feet/legs and hands/arms. My midwife came in and we spoke briefly while she filled out some paper work. She thanked me for the experience, told me she’d be back that afternoon to check in on me and gave me a hug before leaving. Just after 5am, I used my doula’s cell phone to call my mom to let her know I had the babies and was okay. She couldn’t believe I was calling her 30 minutes after giving birth!
The nurse then had me get up and try to use the bathroom, which I did. This is still the same nurse who made all those comments to me. She had one last comment – she told me that was the most beautiful vaginal twin birth she had ever seen. My doula gathered up all of our stuff from the room and moved it to my postpartum room, while the nurse wheeled me over. Darius and the babies were already in the room waiting for me. Both babies were brought to me and I tried to nurse them. Baby B latched on right away, but Baby A was not too interested. I just stared at them both. I couldn’t believe I had done it, despite all the intervention and restrictions. I felt like I was in heaven! I had so much energy and was just so excited.
Looking back, many things were done that I had been previously told would happen otherwise. When we found out at around 19 weeks that we were expecting twins, I interviewed several care providers to find one that would honor our requests and desires to have a natural birth. I had a water birth with my first son, so I believed in my ability to birth the twins naturally. One of the biggest things that still annoys me, is that I was told by the OB that if both babies were head down, I’d be able to deliver in the LDR room. However, once it came down to it – I was whisked off to the OR to have the babies – even though they were both still head down. Also, the constant monitoring was also something I had not expected to deal with. Thankfully, I am strong willed enough to have put up with it and fought where I could.
So even though I didn’t have the birth experience I wanted, I did ultimately get the birth I wanted. I have 2 healthy babies and I am doing very well.
Baby A - Andrius Edward
430am Oct 25
6 lbs 9 oz
20 inches long
13.5 in head
13.5 in chest
Baby B - Erik Alexander
436am Oct 25
7 lbs 1.4 oz
19.25 inches long
13.75 in head
13 in chest
Christine - mama to my 4 boys