Sunday, September 23, 2012
Our twins arrived safe and sound at 2:39 and 2:46 a.m. Tuesday, September 11th, 2012.
I haven't had much time to sit at the computer since then, so it took me a while to get this first draft of their birth story together. Overall, it was a wonderful and amazing experience. I was so grateful to be able to have them born at home with no complications and with David and my midwife and her assistants. It seems that standard practice for twin births in the hospital is for the mom to deliver in an operating room just in case the need arises for a C-section. It was great to feel safe and secure with my choice to homebirth, knowing that my midwife was both confident and competent.
Here's the story of my twins' homebirth:
My midwife came at about 3:00 Monday afternoon, September 10th, and we started a homeopathic labor induction. We had tried on the previous Thursday, and the contractions just never got regular enough for it to proceed. I was a bit nervous that the same thing would happen Monday, but kept telling myself that if it was meant to be, it would happen, and tried to keep the "What if it doesn't?" thoughts out of my mind.
After she applied the various oils and such to both my cervix and my belly, I had to lay on my side for 45 minutes before moving around. The oils on my belly, Clary Sage and Sweet Fennel, really smelled so wonderful and soothing. Honestly, while I knew she had used these same things to start other women's labors, including my own sister's twin birth almost 11 years ago, i still had to squelch some thoughts of "Is this really going to work?" I think I remember that she said they will only work if your body is ready to get going anyways and just needs a jumpstart.
I should add here that on the previous Thursday I had been dilated to a "tight three" at the beginning, and was only to a loose three and a half by the end, even though I did have some quite good contractions. That was a bit disappointing. On Monday when she arrived and checked, I was still at 3.5/4, and was kind of disappointed that all of my bouncing on the birth ball, walking heavily up and down the stairs, and bounce-walking around on the trampoline seemed to have been of no appreciable effect!
After the 45 minutes were up, I was supposed to alternate rocking on the rocking chair and sitting on the birthing stool. So I did. David brought up one of the monitors and we watched some Battlestar Galactica off his laptop. I was using a contraction app on my phone to keep a rough idea of the frequency and length, and they were variable, about a minute long and between 5-10 minutes apart. Melody left, then returned at about 6 p.m. when she checked and I was about a 5. She had me taking different supplements every hour, so I was still doing that, and she might have reapplied the oils and whatnot. (I'm writing this 9 days after the birth, but some of these early details likely wouldn't have stayed in my mind even if I'd written this the day after..it's been eclipsed)
Melody left again and we continued hanging out, waiting for things to really get going. The contractions kept coming, which was promising. David's sister Cristina took the kids for a while and brought them back around 8:30 and got them ready for bed. Between 9:30 and 10 p.m. the contractions started taking some real focus to get through. I was listening in one ear to the Hypnobabies track on "Easy First Stage." I really liked listening to the track as it helped me having something to focus on going through each contraction.
I spent a while by myself in the bathroom as I found it helpful to be able to lean on the sink counter or brace myself against the walls during contractions. Also, there wasn't much for David to do at this point, and he was playing games on his phone, which I found kind of distracting. I liked having heating pads on my lower back and a cool washcloth on my neck. By the time Melody came back around 9:30, it really seemed that labor was picking up speed. She checked and I was at an 8. Whoo hoo! I was really excited and felt that we were for sure on track now. She called the other midwife, Roxanna, and the attendants. I'm not sure what time they arrived, but happily Sonya was able to be here again. She was at both Clive and Leif's births and I really loved how comforting and encouraging she was. She also has strong hands and arms and was great at applying counter pressure to my back during contractions.
I was in the bathroom leaning against the counter again and Melody checked and she thought maybe I'd end up having the babies in the bathroom. At that time I realized I was tired of standing and she suggested I come sit on the birthing stool. I didn't really want to, I think mostly because I had associations of Clive's birth and the trauma of pushing him out while sitting on the stool, and I didn't feel ready for pushing. I really had no trouble with the contractions, but was feeling pretty worried about pushing. I'd been reading about different approaches to pushing, and tried to stay calm and feel like my body was strong enough to handle it. When the urges to push started, I tried hard to follow the breathing coaching of Sonya (and probably others there) and David. It was crazy intense, but I didn't feel like I was overwhelmed until it was right up to the time of pushing. With the births of the other kids, I always felt like I was force pushing more than following my body's natural urges to push. Melody and crew were all excited because the bag of waters was bulging out ahead of Baby A, and they said I should reach down and feel it. I've actually never wanted to reach down and feel anything during the births, not even the babies heads, as I've felt like it would distract me from the effort of pushing, so I declined. Melody ruptured the bag and Baby A slid right into place. I really don't know how long I pushed…it was so intense and the pressure was incredible. Moreso than with any of the other births, though, I was really aware of everything and I did feel like I was working with my body instead of trying to escape from it. The pushing felt like it was out of my control, but I would "bear down" as much as I could to help it along. My bearing down seemed like such a pitiful contribution, but I trusted Melody that it was helping. When Mali's head came out, it was such a relief of pressure, and I only had another couple pushes (I think) to get her body out.
The moment she came out they handed her up to me as they dried her off. She had her eyes open right away and was just looking around so curiously, taking everything in. I was overcome with emotion and gratitude to have her here, and healthy and whole and everything. I wondered how much of a break I would get before it was time to push Baby B out. Pushing Mali out had taken so much, and she was born at 2:39 a.m., so it had been a long time since I'd slept. After about five minutes, during which time I had a couple of contractions, I started feeling the urge to push and Max was born in two pushes. It was almost a push and a half, as his head was out in one and his body only seemed to take half of another push. Relief washed over me. They were both out. I did it!
Max was a little bit blue and the midwives seemed to have trouble getting him to pink up. I was holding Mali and all I could say was, "Is he ok? Is he ok?" They were rubbing him vigorously and turning him around, and encouraging him and Mali, who had been quietly looking around, let out a single loud wail, as if to rouse him. They got him under the oxygen for a bit and cleaned out some mucus from his nose and mouth. It was only a short time before I was holding him, too, but the fear I felt seeing his little blue body held by the midwife won't soon be forgotten. He was born at 2:46 a.m.
Not too long thereafter we were all curled up in bed together. I was so glad to have my little ones here. The anxiety of the past few months was gone, replaced by joy and relief. Nothing had gone wrong. The babies were here and they were healthy.
Just a few minutes after they were born, David went down the hall to wake up the kids to come meet their new brother and sister. I was really glad that it worked out for them to be close by, even though they were sleeping, during the birth, as I'd wanted them to come in very soon after the babies' arrival. They were all quite sleepy but so sweet and excited about the babies. Leif asked some questions and gave me a snuggle hug. After a few minutes Zion asked if they could go back to bed. It was about 3 in the morning, after all!
After a while we got around to weighing them. Mali was weighed first and I was quite surprised to see her weigh in at 7 lb 12 oz. As soon as Max was born, we could tell he was bigger and chubbier than his sister, so we wondered how big he would be. Unbelievably, he was 9 lbs even! The midwives and attendants were all impressed, and my first thought was that I couldn't believe that my "little" babies were still so big. I was already "the lady who has giant babies," but now I was going to be "the lady who has giant twins." I really thought I'd get a couple of seven-ish pounders. Oh well! Better big than small, really.
Other things of note:
Max's cord was about 2x as long as Mali's.
The placentas had fused together, though they were linked with blood vessels or anything.