We had surprise twins last year. I know I talk about that a lot, but having two babies at the same time takes up a lot of brain space. They are nine months old and I’ve been reflecting lately on the fact that they have lived outside of me for about the same amount of time that they gestated. So as I sit on the couch on this mild and cloudy day in September with two sleeping babies across my lap, it’s time I write my version of how they were born. My husband, Tommy, wrote a version in the first weeks after the birth, but it’s been tough for me to find the right words to describe the experience.
December 1, 2013
I tell myself that I’m not being a baby if I have to call my mom for help. Everyone is sick. Tommy has been laid up for the last 2 days. Fever, cough, body aches. Grace, Ava, and I now have it too. I haven’t had my protein smoothie yet, and I’m out of protein powder. I call mama and she asks what she can do. She says she will run to the health food store for me. When she arrives that afternoon, Tommy, Grace, Ava, my huge belly, and I are all on the couch looking forlorn and bedraggled. She says to call if I need anything.
By 8 pm we are all in bed. I start feeling menstrual like cramping and I tell the baby the same thing I’ve been telling the baby for weeks. “Come when you need to come.” But this time I added a little something extra. “But if you can wait till I’m well, that would be better for me.” For good measure I posted on facebook that I was getting in the tub to try and stop contractions (a watched woman never goes into labor…Right?!). So I soaked in the tub, felt my body relax, and then climbed into our queen sized bed with both girls and Tommy. For some reason I was on Tommy’s side of the bed. As was usual for this pregnancy I perched myself at a 45 degree angle using a mountain of pillows.
That night was full of restless dreams, groans, coughing, and discomfort to the core of my bones. At 4 AM I woke and realized that I had been cramping for a while. I rolled all the way onto my side and pushed myself slowly to a sitting position. My feet were flat on the warm wood floor and I thought “I don’t have the energy to push these babies out today.”
I chuckled to myself at that thought. We had explored the possibility of twins using Doppler several times and only found a second heartbeat once. However, the beats matched exactly, so we chalked it up to the baby moving position. Also, I had consistently measured large for dates, but not as large as a friend of mine who was pregnant with confirmed twins. My amniotic fluid levels were high, and my uterus clamped down in a contraction every time our midwife tried to do any deep palpation. So I had been left with a choice. Do I find out for certain, or not?
This pregnancy had been an exercise in trusting my body. Countless times I talked to Tommy at night before bed. “Feel this.” I’d say “That is definitely a butt….but so is this.” He would feel my belly, and say he felt something, but he couldn’t tell what it was. I would say “I think it’s twins.” He would shrug and tell me to ask the midwife. I would ask him if we should go ahead and go in for an ultra sound and he’d again suggest talking to the midwife about it. At our appointments I was disappointed because I could never find the second butt to point out. We talked about the possibility of an ultrasound to find out about possible birth defects or twins or the hundred other scenarios that had run through my mind. The best idea that our midwife gave me was to sit quietly with myself and determine what I really needed. So that’s what I did. Every night I asked my baby if he or she was okay.
The answer was yes. There is no other way to describe it, but I just knew that everything was okay. I knew that there was a mystery to this pregnancy, and I certainly suspected twins, but with no concrete evidence I thought it was wishful thinking…or maybe I didn’t want to know because the idea of twins scared me as much as it thrilled me.
Anyway, back to my first thought upon awakening. I didn’t have enough energy to push these babies out. So I trudged back to the bathroom and ran another bath for myself. I eased back into the water and closed my eyes. I waited in the water to see what my body would do. Contractions were coming about every five minutes. Every time a contraction came I imagined I was filling a large vase with air as I inhaled. Then I would let all the air back out. An hour passed this way.
I called to Tommy from the bath tub. He didn’t hear me so I called a little louder. He still did not stir. I banged on the wall and called for him. He finally awoke and slowly shuffled to the bathroom. He blinked in the bright light. “What’s up?” he said yawning.
“My contractions are coming every 5 minutes.”
Two phone calls later I had called Mama and my midwife. Mama said that she would be waiting for the call to come over. She was going to assist with the birth. Our midwife had just returned from an all night labor. I explained that I was still sick, and really didn’t want to have a baby today. She suggested that I have a little talk with the baby and ask if we could postpone. So as soon as we got off the phone, I talked aloud to the baby and asked if we could wait at least a day. In response I had two strong contractions back to back. I called our midwife back and told her that we had gotten our answer. She laughed and said she would gather her things and get on the road. She lives an hour away. I then called my mom back and she said she was going to get ready for the day and then make the three minute drive to our home.
One or two contractions later, I was feeling uncomfortable in the bathtub. Tommy held my hands and steadied me as I navigated my large heavy belly around the shower door. I decided to try and use the toilet to…ahem clean myself out… for the work ahead. As I sat on the toilet a strange burning sensation came from my groin. I reached down and could feel a ping pong ball sized amount of amniotic sac protruding.
I squealed with excitement knowing that we truly would meet our baby today. The next contraction brought a ring of fire sensation, and there was now a water balloon sized portion of the amniotic sac protruding. Tommy could now see it. I stood up and decided I needed to get to wherever I was going to birth as quickly as possible. I looked into our bedroom where both girls lay fast asleep, and decided that I could make it down the stairs to the guest bedroom, that I had prepared with the help of my mother for the birth.
Tommy walked backwards down the stairs in front of me as I held the bulging sac of waters with my hand and descended to the main level of our house. As I reached the bottom of the stairs another contraction pushed the bag out even further and I let go making my way to the bedroom as quickly as I could. In the hallway I felt a huge splash and a gush of hot fluid come out. The water was clear. A great sign.
After my water broke, I felt a great relief from the pressure and felt elated that we would be meeting our baby today. Tommy got towels and cleaned up the floor in the hall. I stood in the birth room next to the waist height dresser with a vanity and smiled at myself in the mirror. This was no false alarm. Labor was here. Mama arrived moments later, and the three of us laughed and joked between contractions. During contractions I danced. I leaned on the top of the dresser and swayed my hips.
Just as the sky started to lighten, our midwife arrived. I was relieved when she walked through the door. I had had a vivid birth dream during my pregnancy that I would give birth squatting on the floor all by myself. The dream was empowering and I did feel that my body was very capable of this birth, but having the wisdom and presence of our midwife was a huge comfort to me. I felt strong; and ready for the challenge ahead.
This concludes part one of the twins’ birth story. I’m not sure how many installments this will take, but I’m very much enjoying the process and hope my readers are enjoying it too.
This story that you are in the middle of reading is really just the final step for me in my birth journey. I compiled a list of resources that helped me get to this point. I hope these books and videos help you as much as they helped me. This will also subscribe you for updates on my upcoming birth book. Conscious Birth Resources