A fellow twin momma friend of mine, who among many things, happens to be a doula. April is Cesarean Awareness month and in honor of that, she asked for my birth story knowing that I gave birth to my twins via cesarean section almost four years ago.
I’ve never told my story in a public way, nor did I ever think it was of any importance to anyone. That was until I realized how empowering it is to read and hear about others’ experience with their own births. Not one is ever the same. Even with striking similarities, there will never be anyone that will understand it from your point of view.
My friend Jenn over at Asana Doula Services has been running a series on her Facebook page to celebrate Cesarean Awareness month with cesarean birth stories of all sorts, including her own. The purpose of this month is to raise awareness to help prevent unnecessary cesarean births and to advocate for VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).
Here is my story:
My husband and I had been trying for just over five years to get pregnant. We knew right off the back we’d need help. So five years of off and on fertility treatments went by with one pregnancy that I miscarried just days after positive bloodwork.
The day of our last shot at getting pregnant was like any other time we tried. My husband and I would drive to the reproductive laboratory located away from the hospital, where he would leave me alone in a waiting room with a television and some hot apple cider to go and “do his thing.” I never saw another person in that waiting room the entire time we were there. We had to wait about an hour for the lab to do what they needed to do, after which, I would leave the lab with a tiny vial tucked between my boobs to transport it to the hospital where the fertility clinic was located. On this particular morning, my husband and I drove to the laboratory separately because he was not following me to the hospital. It was not a big deal to me at this point since we were already in the state of mind where we thought that this was never going to work. All I was doing at the hospital was laying on my back for 30 minutes after they turkey basted me with that vial I was holding between my boobs. We like to joke that my doctor got me pregnant while my husband was at work. This being our last shot at getting pregnant (hubby had already started the adoption research), we went all ‘balls to the wall’ in.
You have to wait an incredibly long time between the procedure and getting confirmation whether you were pregnant or not. At least it felt like an incredibly long time. Two weeks. Two weeks is a long time when you’re in this sort of situation. I wasn’t careful for those two weeks between treatment and bloodwork this last time–I did everything they tell you not to do when you’re pregnant or hope to be pregnant like I had listened to for the last five years. Low and behold, I received a call the same day as my bloodwork and I was pregnant! Yay! 24 hours later I had to go in and have my hormone levels checked again to make sure they were multiplying the way they should. I got a phone call before I even got home from the fertility clinic saying that my levels were terrific and a bit…er…high. I needed to schedule an ultrasound in two weeks so we could “figure out who all was in there and how many of them there were” (famous words from my fertility specialist). Levels are supposed to double every 72 hours, and mine had more than tripled, which is usually an indicator of more than one baby. For two weeks, my husband and I were shitting bricks and trying to figure out what we would do if we had quadruplets (it was a possibility). Anyway, we found out we were having twins.
Even though I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, I still had OB visits every week until the end, when I was there at least twice a week. This was because of my past history and difficulties with getting pregnant. My husband left for a deployment when I was 17 weeks pregnant, just days before my anatomy (and gender) scan with a perinatologist. At 26 weeks, I was ordered to cut down my work days to half days (I was a preschool teacher and play therapist). Somewhere around 30 weeks, my doctors and I started talking about labor and delivery. I don’t really recall receiving any clear options or information about birthing plans (which is something I didn’t really know about until it was too late). By now both of my babies were breech where they proceeded to sit for the remainder of my pregnancy. My doctors planned a Cesarean section for me at 38 weeks because they said they wouldn’t let me go beyond that for the health of myself and my babies, though my doctor said he doubted I’d ever make it that far along because of my height and how far out I was already carrying my babies. I can’t say my uneducated-self disagreed with him there.
At 31 (and again at 33) weeks, I was admitted to Labor and Delivery (L&D) after a check-up because my contractions were too frequent for my doc’s liking. Thankfully they were able to slow them down without meds and sent me home both times. Lucky for me, my husband was sent home from his deployment mid-tour at 32 weeks to attend a school located near us because it coincided with the babies’ birth. I was lucky to have him home because I don’t know how I would have survived with him gone those last few weeks. I didn’t know how much help I really needed until he came home. Somewhere around my 32 or 33 week appointments, my doctor saw me standing up (he usually only saw me on the table, so this was a bit different) and he jokingly teased me in his thick Southern accent saying, “My, you’re just about round as you are tall.” Standing at only five feet tall, it was entirely possible. I later went home and measured myself, and sure enough, I was more around that I was tall at that point. My last day of work was Monday, April 30 (34 weeks) but I had been miserable for about a week before that.
On Wednesday, May 2, my husband came home from school that day and jokingly said he wanted to take me to the gym and walk a couple miles on the treadmill because he really didn’t want to go on a long run that was scheduled the next day. Well, at midnight that night I had to call my OB because my contractions were less than 15 minutes apart. I went into L&D at midnight (so now it’s May 3). By the time we got there, my contractions were closer to five minutes apart. After four hours of trying to get the contractions to slow down, they only sped up to three minutes apart. I wasn’t dilated but a smidge either. At about 4:30am my anesthesiologist came in and gave me the run down on what was going to happen just in case we went in to deliver that morning. He said it would all happen quickly with quite a few people around and he wanted me to be prepared and to be able to answer any questions I had then. He was a sweet man, but that’s all I remember about him.
When my doc finally made the call that we were going to go forward and have me some babies that day, it all went by in a blur. I was given some meds to relax me because I was starting to panic and freak out a little bit. Man, that was some good stuff…I was completely awake, just relaxed. I should say here that I wanted to have my babies vaginally, but both babies were breech. I would have been able to deliver them vaginally if baby A had been head down, but such was not the case. I remember being wheeled into the Operating Room (OR) without my husband who was in the waiting room waiting for the nurse to come and get him when they were ready for him to be in the OR. I moved myself onto the table and gave my nurse a big hug while the anesthesiologist gave me my spinal block. I squeezed the crap out of her and she was so nice about it. I recall apologizing profusely for squeezing so hard. While I was laying down waiting while they prepped, I remember the doctor yelling “Get the husband! Get the husband!” He almost missed it and had to run with the nurse through the hallway while putting on his gown and hat. Between getting my spinal and delivering the babies, it all happened so fast and with the meds they had given me, the actual delivery is a blur.
At 6:59am May 3, T and E were born at 34.5 weeks. T was 5 pounds 2 ounces, and E was 4 pounds 4.5 ounces. I couldn’t see what was going on because I had a screen blocking me from seeing my belly, but they brought T over to me and gave him to my husband. I got to smell his head and give him a nuzzle. E was whisked away to the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) after being shown to me briefly. My husband followed her down to make sure everything was okay. Other than being little, she was perfect. I remember not getting to touch either one of them because my hands were strapped down sticking out from my body like I was on a crucifix.
Once I was in the recovery room, my husband was able to come in with T. I was still shaky and numb from the anesthesia wearing off so I was afraid to hold him, so my husband held him for me so I could nuzzle him. Soon I was in my room with T bedside. As soon as I could feel my legs, I was able to shuffle myself into a wheelchair, and go down to the NICU to see E. She was the happiest little baby. She was tiny, but one of the bigger babies down there (she missed the regular nursery by just a few ounces). And she was so happy. She smiled as soon as I picked her up and spoke to her. The hardest part of the delivery was having my babies in two separate places. Neither could go see each other, and wouldn’t see each other until they were 10 days old when E was finally released from the NICU. On my very first Mother’s Day, E came home and I was able to hold both my babies together for the first time ever.
My story is not very detailed and without feelings or emotions because that’s kinda how I see their birth. It was so sterile and without much emotion until it caught up with me a bit later. I kinda got swept away by the doctors and was lost. I didn’t know about doulas, and now that I do, I realize I really could have used one there with me. I didn’t know there were things I could do–to advocate for myself and my babies. I thought, ‘Well, the doctors know what’s best, so why would I question it?’ It’s a very naive way to think, but I had done so much research on how to get pregnant and stay pregnant, I thought I had 4 more weeks to prepare on how to approach the delivery. I feel robbed of the clarity that I seek from their birth now just like the feeling in the pit of my stomach I get when I think about how I couldn’t handle breastfeeding my twins alone (my husband had to go back to finish his deployment before the babies were a month old).
For the longest time as a brand new mom, I felt judged for this and as though I never “fit” with the different types of moms. I wasn’t crunchy enough to friend the hardcore crunchy moms because I had a c-section and *GASP*…I formula fed, and because I had twins, many of the people I met didn’t understand what that meant. I felt alone in the beginning. Gradually things got better and I met some lovely moms that I talk to nearly every day. Now I realize that it doesn’t matter how my children were born, only that we were all safe and healthy, and that I played a role in making that happen. That makes me strong.
Check out this link to see my story where it was originally posted.