Double Joy: Embracing the Journey of Vaginal Delivery for Twins - My Story of Double Blessings

Double Joy: Embracing the Journey of Vaginal Delivery for Twins – My Story of Double Blessings

 

 

 Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

This is the story of how I got from the first photo to the second …

Everything was going pretty well in the pregnancy (except for being unbelievably uncomfortable) until our last ultrasound at 36 weeks. In the lead up to this ultrasound I was so big and so uncomfortable and really just quite miserable – and honestly I was just waiting for the doctors to announce an induction date. I was pretty convinced I’d be pregnant forever, but also on constant alert for pre-term labour. It was a very confusing time.

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

So the ultrasound goes ahead, Twin A was doing really well and her estimated weight was about 2.7 kgs (awesome!)

But we discover that Twin B is still really small, and we suddenly realise why she had been small through out the pregnancy.

Twin B had a minor chord insertion, which basically meant that her umbilical chord was attached at the very end of the placenta instead of in the centre.

So we spoke with the obstetrician and the midwife, and we agreed to set an induction date for the next week. Which would make the girls 37 weeks.

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

I was very relieved, to finally have an end point was a huge weight off my shoulders. We were very excited – except for the fact that this was the middle of winter in Canberra … which means one thing.

And because it was a twin pregnancy there was a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, so we were already on alert for any of the symptoms.

Blurred vision or seeing stars, swelling of feet and hands, high blood pressure, protein in urine, pain just under the ribs and a headache.

So Dave encouraged me to call my midwife, and she agreed that I should get checked out. (Such great timing …with Bradley just going down for a sleep)

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

Thank god for my Mom, who immediately came over to watch our sleeping boy while we hurried off to the hospital.

Once we got to the hospital, I was strapped into a CTG machine – which straps around your tummy to monitor the babies heart beats and the uterus.

The girls were doing really well …. I was not.

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

I had very high blood pressure, there was protein in my urine and I was already so swollen – definitely pre-eclampsia. I was scared, I’ve never had any serious medical issues so this was pretty scary for me.

But everyone was very calm, and that kept me calm. Its always through these stressful events in our lives that I am so glad I have Dave. He is such a good person to have around when everything falls apart. He’s really a fantastic birth partner …

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

Anyway, the next step was to draw some blood to see how extensive the situation was. In the mean time I was given a tablet to lower my blood pressure, which cleared my vision.

We were in the hospital until 6pm (having arrived at 1pm) and finally we were given a plan. Basically the plan was to keep my blood pressure down until my induction date 4 days away. (this was because the babies were doing well, I think it would of been a different situation if all three of us were wobbly)

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

So I had to come in every day until the induction date to do all the tests again. Sunday everything was going well, my blood pressure was stable and the girls heart beats were great!

Monday was when all hell broke loose.

Not only was my blood pressure higher than it was on Saturday, but Twin B’s heart rate had started to become erratic.

Once again all of my people (Dave, Midwives, Obstetrician) were very calm – which kept me from freaking out. But if I said I wasn’t scared I would be lying. I was so uncomfortable.

Turns out I was already 3 centimeters dilated. It appeared my body had decided it was done. So it was game plan time, and my doctor basically said I wasn’t leaving the hospital until the babies were born. But I had a decision to make.

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

God I hate making decisions … especially when I’m not an expert on the topic. I could choose to be admitted now, and they would monitor me overnight until I was induced the next day.

Or

Whenever I’m presented with these kind of choices, my first instinct is to look to Dave for help. He’s my person, my voice of reason and my rock.

So I look at him, hoping he can give me some sort of assistance in this choice and bless him he found the words I was looking for.

“What would you do” he says to the doctor.

She says that right now we know Twin B was stable, but that might not be the case tomorrow morning.

Dave and I go quiet – but I’m pretty sure we had both made the decision already. I’d never live with myself if we lost a baby, or she had problems later in life just because we wanted an extra nights sleep.

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

So, we decided to be induced right then and there. Immediately the adrenaline kicked in, this was it – Cue nervous vomit.

It was finally time to be done with the hell that was carrying two babies at the same time – I could of cried out of happiness. Because there really was a time where I thought I’d be pregnant forever, or the babies wouldn’t last the entire pregnancy.

So off to the birthing suite we go, and because I was already 3 centimeters all they needed to do was break my waters. So that labour could start.

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

That sounds pretty simple right … after all when waters break spontaneously its pretty simple with no pain. (I know because it happened with Bradley, I just thought I was peeing)

Ha ha ha (that’s me laughing at myself for thinking it would be an easy process)

My midwife (who is amazing and quite honestly I would have never got through the next few hours without her) pulls out a huge crochet hook … Yep you read that right, a giantic crochet hook… Which she shoved up my cervix and hooked Twin A’s amniotic sac.

I have never experienced pain like that before – and keep in mind that I have birth to Bradley without pain killers. (not bragging just trying to explain where my pain threshold sits)

This. Was. Worse! Holy god … The pain.

But then came immediate relief when the water finally broke.

Except now I was wet!

Ew …

And then it was a waiting game to see if contractions would start on their own.

In the mean time, the room was starting to be prepared for the girls to arrive. Two newborn checking stations were brought in and an ultrasound machine to check Twin B once Twin A was born.

You see that’s the real problem with birthing twins, once the first one is born the second one can flip sideways or transverse if you want to be technical. If that happens they need to manipulate the baby around … by shoving their hands up there!!!

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

Which is why they recommend you have an epidural so don’t feel them sticking their hands up your hoo ha!

Contractions were starting but not quite as quickly as we would of liked, so they gave me Oxycontin in a drip to get the contractions to start coming more regularly.

We had agreed to the epidural a few weeks earlier, but I was super scared of it. I was more scared of it than actually giving birth to the twins. It was probably the fear of the unknown, the fear of all the things that can go wrong.

Now I don’t know if all doctors do this, but the doctor who gave me my epidural started the whole thing off by telling me all the ways it could go wrong …. from an incurable headache to paralysis ….

Good god, Good god, Good god!

Then he jumped straight into prepping me for it …. I was terrifiedScariest half an hour of my life … curled over a pillow trying to hold my breath so the needle wouldn’t puncture anything.

But I must say, it wasn’t nearly has painful as I was expecting, just uncomfortable pressure – and I think that was my mind making me uncomfortable (because I kept thinking about what he was doing which was threading a damn tube in my back!)

 

 

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

*Shudder*

I actually have pictures of the whole process, and I haven’t been able to look at them until now – my body just wasn’t ready.

 

Epidurals are fun once they are in, they give you a button and you’re allowed to press it 4 times an hour to up your dosage … very handy.

It’s handy because I could make it so I could still feel contractions if I wanted to … an I wanted to. Because it meant I was in control, which was really good. It also meant I didn’t need to feel the unbearable pain that is someone checking your cervix to see how far along you are.

Seriously, I’m never going to stop saying how painful it is – biggest shock of my life.

So we were ready, contractions were regular, the epidural was in and now all we had to do was wait for Twin A to make her arrival.

Now do you remember at the beginning of this painfully long story I told you I had a horrible cough?

A really bad cough. A really bad no good cough! Do you know how hard it is to be in labour with a cough. Really freaking hard. Although I’m pretty sure my Midwives would say it actually helped labour.

Once I had the epidural in everything went calm, which was super weird considering how chaotic Bradley’s labour was. But of course the calm didn’t last very long (or maybe it did … I was high hahahhah)

But suddenly it was go time, I was told to let the epidural wear off so I could feel the urge to push. Everything happened very quickly after that. Twin A was very easy to push out … sorry I mean cough out!

In fact it happened so quickly that the obstetrician almost missed it. You see they had to be there as soon as the first baby was born so they could grab onto the second baby to stop her from flipping sideways.

And there she was, our little Penny – born at 11:39pm weighing 2.6kgs and named Penelope Ellen Smith.

Dave actually caught her and handed her to me, all slimy and perfect and looking exactly like Bradley did.

Immediately my midwife grabbed hold of Twin B … which meant putting her hands either side of my ribs, and this started the longest hour and half of my life…

(Which is always terrifying no matter how many times you get handed a slimy fresh baby! They are so slippery and you can feel all the bones in their back).

She looked just like Bradley did when he was born, she was smooshy and tiny and perfect. But of course I wasn’t done, a midwife immediately grabbed Baby B by putting her hands either side of my ribs and holding on.

This was to stop the baby from flipping sideways … which just sounds terrifying … and painful … and wow. We knew from about 20 weeks that Baby B was breech (bottom down instead of head down)

But they needed to make sure, so they pulled out the ultrasound machine to check. Meanwhile I’m still holding Penny to my chest, trying to give her as much skin to skin as I could before I needed to start pushing again.

Baby B was still breech, and because she was the second twin I was able to attempt to give birth to her naturally.

But there was a problem … her amniotic sac was still really high up in my uterus. Which explains why Baby B was basically in my ribs the entire pregnancy.

Suddenly I look up and the room is FULL of people …. 3 midwives, 2 NICU nurses (one for each baby), 2 Obstetricians and a midwifery student.

One of the obstetricians took control, she sat in my eye line … right down the barrel of the gun (if you get my drift). She’s super calm and in control, she says to me,

“Right, Kirsten the sac is too high to break. If we broke it now we risk just one foot coming out or the baby flipping … so with every contraction you need to push the sac down.”…..Uhhhhhhhhh ….. sure I think to myself, only problem is, I can’t feel the sac. When you’re pushing a baby out the sac is broken so you can kinda feel where it is … you know … through all the screaming.

But I could not feel where the sac was. So I just give it a red hot go and start pushing.

and pushing …

and pushing.

On and on it goes.

The midwives were on rotation to hold Baby B in place, their arms were getting sore … that’s how long this was going on for. I was trying man … I was trying .. but every time I tried to push I just couldn’t get it to move.

Moooooovvveeeee … that’s all I wanted. The damn thing to move.

And in between every contraction there was silence, weird eerie silence … as everyone waited. Silence … and then some giggling.

OK a lot of giggling …. from me and then from Dave.

This was by far the weirdest situation I have ever been in, 9 people just staring at my hoo ha waiting for something to come out.

This broke the tension, got everyone to immediately relax and start talking. Which made me feel a whole lot better.

But I was getting tired, sore … and horse because I kept vocalising while pushing and pushing … sweet lord it seemed to go on forever and because I had no idea how I was going or how much longer I had to go. I was starting to wane. It felt too impossible, It felt like I couldn’t do it.

I felt like I was failing. A lot. My doctor in my eye line was still very calm – I still had midwives holding onto Baby B.

Finally I managed to push the sac down far enough that they didn’t have to hold on to me anymore. And suddenly I realised why I was struggling to push, I couldn’t fill my lungs because they were being squashed by the midwives hands.

So once they weren’t holding me anymore, things moved! Well, the sac moved. So it was time to break Baby B’s amniotic sac. Which shot across the room with such force it almost touched the other wall.

Wait … splashed …. it splashed across the room. JUST missing my doctor who managed to jump away at the right moment. (clearly she had done that many times before).

Things happened a lot quicker after that, Baby B moved down and out came her butt and legs. Then the worst, weirdest most annoying thing happened.

The longest gap between contractions, such a long weird silence. While Baby B’s legs and tiny butt was hanging out of me – just odd silence.

And then finally, finally I could push the little smoosh out.

And there she was, Elizabeth Emma Smith (Lizzy) born at 12:53 am, weighing 2.1kgs. Our teeny tiny daughter, My first words when she was born were …

“Oh my god her face is so different!”

You see I had completely forgotten that we didn’t know if the girls were identical or fraternal. I don’t know how I had forgotten that, it’s literally the first question anyone asks me when they find out I have twins. So I am handed the tiniest baby I have ever held or seen, and she was simply beautiful.

It wasn’t over yet, they took Lizzy from me to check all her bits. Because I still had to birth 2 placentas – and I swear to everybody out there that is the most painful part of the whole experience.

You see they have to make sure the placentas are birthed in their entirety – if any is left inside it could create an infection. I was also a risk for hemorrhaging – because twins and pre-eclampisa.

If you’re curious, yes contractions continue while you birth the placenta. It hurts – but you mostly aren’t paying attention because you’re holding your brand new baby. So I don’t really remember birthing Bradley’s placenta … but I sure as hell remember the girls’.

*Cue a lot of whining here*

So placentas birthed, blood squashed out of me, (literally squashed, they pushed down on my belly button to push all the blood out) and I was done. The girls each had some colostrum that I had expressed and were alert and perfect and healthy.

The next few days were a lot for me, because I just wanted to go home. But for that to happen all 3 of us had to be healthy.

Immediately after the girls, and the placenta and the blood were born – My body went into shock, it shook … like uncontrollably shook. It shook so much my voice wobbled because of it. I kept trying to hold my body together by tensing my muscles, but nothing was helping. They realised I had a pretty high temperature brought on by the drugs they gave me to prevent a hemorrhage. (that word is so hard to spell.)

So they started to fix that, and I should stop here and say I am still sitting on the delivery bed … with my feet on the stirrups. I felt weak, and empty and ….. raw. And I couldn’t stop shaking!

Things were happening around me, Dave and my Mom each had a baby, I think someone told me I could move to the recovery room once my temp went down … but honestly I was kinda just focused on not feeling like I was going to die.

Finally my temp came down and the scary shaking stopped, so I could stand up for a shower. But I still had the epidural line in the back and the canula and catheter. So I had to navigate all of that on shaky legs to the shower. It’s such a weird feeling standing up after giving birth, you feel shaky, and open and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I can remember it so clearly with Bradley’s birth too. The first shower is an emotional one, its usually the first time you’re alone after giving birth.

So I stood there in the warm water, alone for the first time in hours – still shaky and sore. And I cried – it wasn’t a long cry. I’m not even sure I produced tears. But it was cathartic.

Again things happened quickly and because I was kinda out of it, it’s all a bit fuzzy. But my Mom and Dave helped pack things up and we were moved to the recovery room. Which is a much better bed to sleep on than the delivery one – I didn’t get that the first time around.

Even though it was very deep into the night, I got my first taste as a twin mom. The staring. As we wheeled the girls up the hallway to the lift, we were clocked by a lot of people just in awe of the girls in their bassinets. (it didn’t help that one of the wheels of the cots were super squeaky … so flipping loud)

We spent the next four days in the hospital, which is much longer than I wanted to stay. But it took us a while to stabilize.

At first it was me, my blood pressure just would not go down – apparently my stubbornness runs so deep that even my blood pressure doesn’t cooperate.

Photo credits: Kirsten Gina Smith

Then it was Lizzy, her blood sugar kept dropping. They tested this by doing a heel prick blood test. Every 3 hours. I kept trying to express extra colostrum but it just wasn’t helping her – and her poor feet were so bruised they were completely purple.

So we started giving her some formula after every feed, and thank goodness it started to help! Then it was Penny’s turn, she lost too much weight after birth, so it was her turn to get the formula top ups too.

And then finally we were all healthy enough to go home – greatest day ever. I deal so much better with stressful situations at home, its calm and quiet and sunny and so much more comfortable.

So there we are, after a long week we were finally home with our two new babies. Our lives changed forever – suddenly we were twin parents.

Whaaaaaaaaat?

 

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