Before I spent hours and hours googling how to get more than 2 hours consecutive night time sleep with twins, I spent an equal amount of time obsessing over twin birth stories. I don’t remember doing this in my first two pregnancies, but something about the unknown of birthing two at once was unsettling to me and I found that reading story after story about how it happened for other women was comforting. So for the future pregnant mother of twins, here is my story:
My pregnancy was pretty much as uncomplicated as a twin pregnancy can get. I don’t mean that it was easy – I had far worse back pain, rib pain, nausea, and insomnia. I had all the same symptoms of my previous pregnancies (except swelling) but amplified. Still, I was lucky to make it to full term (37 weeks) with barely a hiccup. If you are attempting to deliver twins vaginally, statistically it is safest to have them around 37 weeks. The risk of complications actually increase after that point, so once you get there, baby evacuation plans begin. At my 37 week appointment, my induction date was set for 38.5 weeks (just in case) and my membranes were stripped for the first time. I think I was 2cm dilated. I had mild cramping that weekend, but no contractions, despite the fact that I walked well over 10 miles between Saturday and Sunday. On Monday (37wks, 2days) I had another appointment for an NST and had my membranes stripped again. I was 3cm dilated and this time she really worked her fingers around up there (OUCH). Three hours later (around 1:30pm) I was sitting on my couch watching Parenthood and I felt the first contraction.
I woke the kids up from their naps shortly thereafter because the contractions seemed to be getting closer together and I still had an errand to run before I could head over to my mom’s house. She lives 5 minutes from the hospital so it was better to labor there than at home. The car ride was uncomfortable and by the time I got to her house at 4pm I definitely should not have been driving. At that point contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart and lasting a minute. They were very painful, but not yet at the level where you literally think you might die. I decided to wait at my mom’s until Eddie got off work and could come take me to the hospital, but by the time he arrived (5:30pm) the contractions had begun to shorten. They were 4-5min apart but were now only 30-40 seconds long. I took a walk outside with my sister to see if I could get things going, but no luck. So we came back to the house, had a glass of wine, and waited. At 7:30pm they were still short (40 seconds) but were increasing in intensity, so I decided to head to the hospital. We checked in at 8pm, I laid down on the bed for them to put on the monitors, and the contractions completely stopped. It was infuriating! I remember feeling complete and utter embarrassment; here I was in my THIRD pregnancy and I couldn’t tell that I was having false labor? Ridiculous. They checked me and I was 4cm., which meant the contractions that day had at least done something, so they told me to walk around and they would check me in another hour. So we walked. Contractions came and went, but nothing horrible or even consistent. An hour later (around 10pm) I was still 4cm. We talked about going home, but I was worriedabout getting all the way there and then having contractions start up again. So we decided to walk a little more. Within 30 minutes, something had changed and the body-wrenching, make-you-wish-you-were-dead contractions began. We weren’t timing anything anymore but clearly I was progressing because I was no longer able to manage the pain without acting like a crazy person. The nurse came back and I asked her to check me again. It had been 45min since I was 4cm and now I was 7cm. GET ME THE EPIDURAL – THIS IS REAL LABOR.
Shortly thereafter, the poorly trained, highly incompetent anesthesiologist arrived and administered the epidural that later caused a spinal headache. (Side note: I wrote a letter to the hospital about how terrible my experience was with the anesthesiologist and the chief doc called a few days later. Turns out it was her FIRST DAY ON THE JOB. Figures.) In any case, for the moment the contraction pain was relieved and I was able to return to my normal, human self. I “labored” through the night, remaining at 7cm but getting progressively stretchier. Around 6am I jumped from 7cm to 10cm in only an hour. I felt ready to push, but decided to hold off until the change of shift when my midwife would be there to deliver (yet another benefit of an epidural).
Around 7:15am we were prepped and ready to be rolled into the Operating Room for delivery. My midwife had told me the chances of me delivering vaginally were very good, but as a hospital policy, all twin births have to be done in the OR in case an emergency c-section becomes necessary. Let me just tell you, this DOES NOT work in your favor if you want to successfully birth vaginally. There is absolutely nothing calming, comforting, or reassuring about the operating room. You are laying on a flat, hard table that’s about 2 inches narrower than the width of your wide, pregnant booty. No one other than your husband is allowed in the room (although an exception was made to allow my mom and sister to watch from the doorway) which leaves your legs in the hold of stirrups that go up to your knees. This is NOT a comfortable position for child birth. There are two MEGA fluorescent lights beaming straight at your vagina so the 6-8 strangers in the room (nurses, doctors, and who knows else) have a prime view. The room is set to 66 degrees but you have no blankets or sheets on the table to keep you from shivering. To top it off, the tools required to complete a c-section are laying on the table right next to you, so while you wait for everyone to get assembled, you can gaze at the scalpel that may or may not be filleting your abdomen if things don’t go as planned. Yes, these are the conditions in which I birthed the babies.
In spite of all that, the actual pushing went relatively smoothly. Mercedes was out in about 7 contractions (7:51am). Her cord was very short, so they had Eddie cut it before laying her on my chest. I held her while they used the ultrasound machine to confirm that Samuel was still head down. My midwife reached up inside to pull him down a bit (three cheers for the epidural!), Mercy was taken away to be monitored and assessed, and it was time to push again. Sam came out in only 3-4 contractions (8:02am). It was difficult and I felt like I had to push harder than I remembered with my last two deliveries, which is odd because they were so much smaller. This time my tear was very, very small (although it did require a stitch), which I assume is because they were smaller babies.
I was able to hold Sam for longer than Mercy since both babies were out and my mom and sister were allowed in the room to come see them. I don’t remember when I was finally able to hold both babies at once… not until the recovery room I think – but in all the chaos no one took any pictures of the 3 of us. Who cares about third and fourth children, right?
I had some moderate bleeding that wouldn’t slow down with Pitocin through the IV, so they gave me a shot of Methergine in the thigh about an hour or so after delivery. I guess that slowed things down to an acceptable flow, but I still noticed far more blood loss in the 5-8 hours after delivery than I had experienced before. I was in recovery for most of the day and got moved up to our room in the late afternoon to kick off the first sleepless night of newbornhood.
So that’s how it went down for me. Two babies, 6lb 11oz and 6lb 7oz,delivered vaginally 11 minutes apart. Thank goodness I only have to do that once.