Our twins just turned one year old. I guess it’s about time that I write down and process their birth and surrounding events. This is the next part in the series. Here is the link if you want to start at Part I or Part II. This part is a little more graphic than the rest. Fair warning.
It was about halfway through my pregnancy that my doctor started talking to me about delivering twins. Apparently really crazy things can go down. One can be born vaginally and then all of a sudden the second baby could be in trouble and need to be delivered through C-section. Sometimes, even if both babies are head down, the second baby can flip after the first is born because there is so much more room. In this case, my doctor said I shouldn’t worry because he could just reach in and turn the baby to get them head down again, or he could deliver the second one breech. Now I’m all for natural birth. I had both Lina and Teresa without any pain meds and Olivia I had with one dose of IV pain meds which didn’t do a darn thing. So I know the pros of natural child birth, but there was no freakin’ way he was going to “reach in and turn the baby” without me having an epidural.
Planning on having an epidural really changed my mindset throughout the whole labor. Labor with an epidural is still hard and is still work but it’s completely different. When you go in planning on a natural childbirth you basically are walking in ready to do war. Or at least that’s how I feel. You’ve got to be prepared mentally for the pain and you really have to bring your A game when it comes to concentration. It just takes a lot of getting yourself psyched up and ready.
I found I spent most of those first hours in the hospital wondering when I should get the epidural. I’m not in that much pain, should I do it now? Should I wait until I’m further along? What if I’m in too much pain to sit still when they’re putting it in?
I waited until I was about 6cm dilated. I asked the nurse to call the anesthesiologist. He was really great and friendly and put me at ease. I am terrified of needles so I told him under no circumstance whatsoever could he show me that needle. He laughed and complied. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was strange feeling but it was fine. One leg pretty much went dead and I wouldn’t be able to lift it at all for the next 24 hours but the rest of me was numb enough. I could feel the contractions a little bit but no pain at all.
We probably still had about 4 more hours to go before the babies came and I found myself not knowing what to do. I may have slept a bit. I kept wondering if we should just turn on the tv to pass the time but that seemed wrong for some reason. Kraft and I started ordering all the things we needed on Amazon and he passed the time reading me things from Facebook. It almost felt like we were on a date sitting around talking after a meal or something. Except for the constant beeping of the monitors and the nurse coming in and out.
Because the twins were going to be born at 34 weeks and 5 days, this earned them a pass straight to the NICU. A NICU nurse had come down earlier to talk to us about what we should be ready for. I honestly can’t remember anything that woman said. I was still in denial that these babies were coming so early. Our nurse tried to gauge whether or not I understood what they were telling us but I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to hold my babies. I didn’t want to think of them being taken away from me.
Every one of our kids has been born in 12 hours from the time my water breaks. My body is amazingly predictable in this way. Kraft says he remembers looking at the clock and thinking that 12 hours would be here in half an hour so he was sure it wasn’t going to happen with the twins. Wrong. I alerted the nurse that I was pretty sure I wanted to push. She said ok and started getting everything ready. I had to deliver in the OR so she let the surgical staff know I was coming. The doctor had been hanging around for the last couple hours knowing that when these babies came, they were going to come quick.
They wheeled my bed over to the OR. It was bright and scary. It was exactly like TV. Like in ER when they are shooting from the patient’s perspective. That is dead on. You’re blinded by the lights and everyone is moving around you fast and you don’t really know what is happening. Modesty is out the window because you have to be in a surgical gown and they have to scrub you down. At this point I couldn’t have cared less how many people were in that room, I was just getting more and more nervous. Kraft was standing by in scrubs squeezing my hand.
My doctor is one of the most gentle and kind souls I’ve ever met. Very patient and a good listener. I’d never seen the side of him I saw in that room. He was in control of that room. You could tell he took this very seriously and wanted to be ready for anything. It was really amazing to see him command the room. It made me feel safe and confident in his abilities. Not that I wasn’t before but I was scared and that made me less so.
Both babies were head down. Baby A came. One of the nurses told me when to push, or maybe it was my doctor. Someone did. And so I pushed and everyone was like, Whoa! Hey, slow down, not so fast. I guess delivering small babies doesn’t take as much pushing as an 8 lb baby. Ana was born after one push. I didn’t hear her cry. I don’t remember holding her. Both twins each had a full neonatal team in the room ready to check them out. Ana got whisked away to another room so they could check her vitals. It was only minutes between the babies being born but I remember I started to panic. Where is she? Why isn’t she crying? Why can’t I hear her? I can’t see her. I’m sure the doctor and nurses were reassuring but I was having a hard time concentrating. Then they told me to start pushing again. Baby B was still head down (thank God!). Again, I pushed too fast and when Dorothy came out she kicked the clamp off of Ana’s umbilical cord. The doctor delivered Dorothy and immediately placed her on my chest. She was covered in blood which did not seem right. I really started to panic and asked if she was ok. Why was there so much blood? For the few seconds it took them to figure out where the blood was coming from, everyone thought I was hemorrhaging. It was just the umbilical cord and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Then Dorothy’s team took her away.
I know I was on the table for a while after that. I’m pretty sure they were telling me what was happening with the babies but I can’t remember much of it. They told me they were 5lbs and 5lbs 9oz. I could hear myself asking, begging really, if they could please just let the babies stay with me. They are 5lbs. That’s big. Please let them stay. Just let us try. If there are any problems then we can take them to the NICU. I’m sure I sounded crazy. The babbling of an exhausted mother but it seemed so logical to me at the time.
The whole time I was in labor I kept praying they would be at least 5lbs. I thought that it would be our golden ticket. They would for sure let us keep them in our postpartum room if they were just that big. I remember I kept telling my L&D nurse that and she kept telling me it wouldn’t happen. These kids are going to the NICU no matter what. It’s policy. Any baby born before 35 weeks is sent there immediately. But I was convinced I could reason with the neonatologists. I was sure they would see I was right.
Nope. The babies were taken straight to the NICU. Kraft got to go with them. I was wheeled back into my L&D room where I sat for hours. Apparently when you deliver twins there is a much greater likelihood of bleeding too much. My nurse was there with me, but like I said before, she wasn’t chatty and I had long since stopped trying to get her to chitchat. I asked a question every now and again but I was in shock that my babies were now in the NICU. I knew they were early and my whole labor was full of medical professionals trying to prep me for that reality but it didn’t sink in until I sat in that room alone knowing that even when I was taken to my postpartum room, I still wouldn’t be with my babies. I felt really numb. I was back in that surreal world I was in when we left our house. But I wouldn’t be able to stay there too long. Pretty soon I would have to jump into the postpartum world of NICU babies with all the pumping and talking to doctors and nurses that comes with it.
That is how Ana and Dorothy came into this world 3:32 and 3:37pm. I’ve read this over and over and tried to make it sound more happy and upbeat. Or at least draw some meaning from the sadness and numbness that overcame me for a good long while after the babies were born. But I can’t. That just wasn’t my experience. And while we never ever lost perspective and knew we were so so lucky to have babies that really were never in any danger and were really low-needs NICU patients, it was still hard. It was hard to wrap my mind around how different this was from my previous pregnancies and births.
My parents were superstars and took care of our three older girls for weeks while we were lucky enough to stay at Seton. Our friends were so lovely and supportive and brought us food and came to visit and keep us company. We had an amazing support network that I will always be eternally grateful for. But that’s another story for another day that I’ll write soon.
For now, I am grateful for the amazing care we received from the Seton staff and my OBGYN during labor and delivery. And I’m grateful for the year we’ve spent with our fiesty twins who, although on the small side and a little behind, amaze me everyday and add more joy to our life than I thought would ever be possible during those dark days we spent in the NICU.
Thanks for reading.