The twins - a birth story (LONG! BE WARNED!)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Well, 8ish weeks later and I'm finally getting around to writing the twins' birth story.  Not that I'm going to forget it...  I feel like I still remember every detail of when John Paul and Cecilia were born, but some day I'm sure this will all start to fade.

I suppose it really started back when we found out we were having twins.  Yeah, most people find out a little earlier than 30 weeks along that the are TWO babies gestating inside them.  But I swear, I wasn't that big!  I mean, I was certainly measuring a few weeks ahead, but I didn't suspect twins.

So suddenly I had to start doing my twin research (and BOY did I research - this is what I do because I'm paranoid, I probably read a million internet posts and half a million books on the topic).  I was terrified that they would arrive TOO early and have to spend time in the NICU.  Every week that passed was exciting because the babies had a better chance of arriving healthy.  And when I found out around 35 weeks that they were both head-down I was SO happy!  Now it was pretty likely I'd be able to deliver both babies vaginally!

Big as a whale on Halloween, two weeks before the twins were born

I had extra doctor's appointments, and had to start having NSTs (non-stress tests) every week in a horribly uncomfortable chair.  So here I am at 36 weeks 4 days (technically 37 weeks - I fudged my LMP by a few days to give a little leeway on due date calculations) going in for a NST and a sono.  I sat on the table afterwards waiting for the doctor, who came in and showed me that Baby A (Elizabeth) was showing some decelerations during my contractions. 

Now, I'd been having Braxton Hicks contraction since the early 2nd trimester, and while they were getting more frequent and painful, they were NOTHING like any of the contraction I'd experienced with John Paul and Cecilia.  So I assumed we were getting closer, but not in the home stretch by any means.  But then I remembered reading that since the uterus is so stretched out, contraction are often not as strong and twin moms frequently don't recognize labor until it's almost too late! 

Then the doctor told me that my contractions were getting frequent and stronger.  Still I didn't recognize where this was leading.  He said, "I think you need to go to the hospital for some extra monitoring."  I thought, "Well, I'll go for a little while and go home, I guess."  I seriously considered not going at all.  Then he said, "You're in early labor.  Congratulations!  You're going to have these babies soon!"

Oh.  Wait.  Really?  Already?  We have nothing ready!

Seriously, almost all our diapers and baby clothes were still lent out.  Our co-sleeper was still lent out.  The swing wasn't set up, the glider was in storage, we only had one car seat, the changing table was covered with clothes in John Paul & Cecilia's room, and you can bet there was no bag packed for us!

Don't they look excited to have two new baby sisters?

So I walked out, kind of in a daze.  I sat in the car for a while calling Andrew, the babysitter, my mom, and my sister.  Thankfully the babysitter had to stay late that day anyway, my mom made the 2-hour drive at the drop of a hat (seriously, how awesome is she?) to watch the kids that night, and my sister (who was on her way from Atlanta?) ended up getting to our house around midnight to help watch the big kids. 

I had wanted to make it to the end of that day so I could get to enough of my teaching recertification classes to get the points I needed!  So I decided that since I was so close to the school, I'd just pop over there with my assignment and drop it off in the room on the way to the hospital (I wish I had also gone to Wendy's - I got HUNGRY in that hospital room!).  I walked into the office to ask if it was okay for me to drop it off in the music room and got the usual, "Oh, when are you due, etc." questions, to which I answered, "Uh...  Right now?  I'm actually on my way to the hospital..."  So she offered to take my assignment there for me!

Andrew and I got to the hospital and didn't have to wait in triage at all, which was nice.  But I had to get hooked up to monitors immediately, which was not so nice :(  Elizabeth was still having heart rate decelerations with every contraction, but nothing that required intervention.  Turns out she was *so* low and engaged that every contraction compressed her head slightly, which wasn't really concerning, but just needed extra monitoring.

The problem with all that darned double monitoring was that they *really* didn't want me getting up and walking around or changing position, since it was so hard to place the monitors accurately.  I still had some hope that we'd be going home that night, until I started feeling SERIOUS low pressure and the urge to push.  I turned to the nurse and told her about that saying, "So...  There's no way we're going home tonight, right?"  She laughed and said, "Absolutely not!  You're having these babies tonight!"

Who wouldn't want two more just like this?

I'll admit, I was pretty intervention-friendly at this point.  I was TIRED of having these babies inside of me, and all the sonograms showed that they were healthy and would likely have no complications being born this early (after all, they were full-term already).  My contractions weren't very close together, but I was already 5 cm dilated, so I didn't argue when they started me on pitocin.  The contractions got closer together but still not very painful.  Honestly, the most painful thing was not being able to move much or get out of bed.  My tailbone was KILLING me!

Things were going pretty slowly still - we watched some TV, checked facebook (of course!), ate popsicles, craved cheeseburgers...  I honestly can't remember when they broke my water (it seems that even with twins, my water doesn't break on its own) or when I got the epidural - I knew that if I *didn't* get one and there were complications with delivery, I'd have to get knocked out for any emergency surgery and I didn't want that!  So I got a really awesome epidural (if you can use that term to describe getting pumped full of drugs) - no pain, plenty of sensation, just the right placement and dosage.

Eventually I started really feeling the urge to push and tried a couple for practice.  It wasn't like with Cecilia - Elizabeth wasn't falling out already, thank goodness!  At this point I had been noticeably in labor for about 12 hours.  So they checked me and saw that, hey, these babies were ready to come out!

Andrew got scrubbed up for the OR (hospital policy, in case something went wrong with Baby B and they needed to do emergency surgery) and they wheeled me over.  I was able to lift myself pretty well onto the table and lie there for a while as they fumbled with stirrups, until everyone was eventually ready for me to push. 

Now this is gross.  Don't read this if you're going to get grossed out.  Seriously.  Stop reading now.

I felt like I had to puke.  And I TOLD them I was going to puke (apparently not very coherently, according to Andrew.  But I thought I was obvious!).  Then I turned my head to the side and started puking.  At which point Andrew said, "SHE'S THROWING UP.  GET HER SOMETHING!"  So they ran to get me a vomit bag and ta-da, those few heaves and Elizabeth was born without me even having to push!  3:06 AM, one baby down, one to go!

Gross, right?  Andrew says that's why she pukes so much now...

But wait, there was still another baby inside!  The doctor pummeled my stomach and ribcage from the outside (THIS SERIOUSLY HURT) to push Mary Claire back towards the exit, since she had decided to shoot up into my ribs once Elizabeth was born.  Eventually it was time to push with her too, and it took maybe 4 pushes?  3:17, no more babies in utero!

Here they are, Elizabeth on the left at 5 lbs 8 oz, Mary Claire on the right at 6 lbs 2 oz

We were extremely blessed that both babies had great Apgar scores and no need for any NICU intervention. 

But we still hadn't decided on names.  And Andrew refused to post our update on facebook until we picked names!  We argued over Agnes and Agatha, Perpetua and Scholastica (none of these were okay by me!) and finally decided on Mary Claire and Elizabeth Anna.

It was tricky to get them both nursing, but eventually we got them latched and headed home about 36 hours later.

Imagine these two babies in my stomach upside down.  Can YOU figure out how there was room in my 5'2" frame?

Sleeping simultaneously, an unusual occurrence these days.


  1. When I was in labor with Louis, the nurse checked my dilation and then started to walk out of the room...without telling me how far I was! I stopped her and she said, "Oh, yeah, when you throw up and have a bowel movement at the same time, you're ready to have a baby." That didn't go into my official labor story, because I didn't really want anyone thinking about me doing both of those things at the same time...but yeah. I'll never forget that. :)

  2. What a great story! You are a rockstar--twins at 37 weeks, amazing!

  3. Anna, I know! Isn't Rosie awesome???

    LOVE the story, Rosie! There were parts I hadn't heard before, and I loved getting more of it!


  4. Yay!!!!! I love this!!!!!! (Btw, replied to your comment on my blog before I read this :)

    First of all, you didn't know twins until 30 weeks?!?! Ahhhhhh holy smokes!!!! And I know I've said this before but it's totally amazing that you 1) carried TWO to term with such ease 2) fit 2 such healthy sized babies in your tiny body and 3) delivered them vaginally!!!! Just like the breech, it seems like people don't deliver that way often nowadays...

    PS thanks for the epidural tip...I think if I have another breech I'd try to do vaginal again with the epidural in case of an emergency c-section!!

    1. Statistics made me pretty confident - 50% of twins are born via section, 40% vaginally, and 10% both (yikes - imagine that recovery!). And when they both ended up turning head down, I KNEW I could do it - much smaller babies than my first two + successful deliveries before. I was kind of excited to go into labor because it felt a little bit like I was "winning" because I delivered them vaginally :P Just like you totally win for delivering a frank breech baby!!!

  5. I know it was about a million years ago, but my mother tells me that both my sister and I were breech, and we were both born vaginally with no complications that my mother has ever mentioned. None of mine were breech, thank God!

  6. Wow. It's really heartening to read this. Word on the street is you MUST have a c-section for twins. I'm so happy to find it's not true. I haven't had to have a c-section yet, thanks be, but I've always worried that if twins came along my streak would necessarily be broken.

    Good job!

    I had a similar sent-to-the-hospital-from-an-OB-visit experience with number 3. That's how I learned that I don't feel the first stage of labor, which would explain how I only just barely made it to the hospital in time with both of my first two!

    1. Yeah lots of people don't question it when their doctors tell them they need a c-section for twins - no way was I going to consent to unnecessary abdominal surgery! I have a feeling it's easier to have them vaginally when the conception occurs naturally - if I can conceive twins naturally, clearly my body is capable of birthing them!

  7. Holy moly, this was such an amazing story to read!
    They are so beautiful and you are a rock star!!

  8. I am 50 this year. I am an identical twin. My mother, like you, was also 5'2" But she didn't know she was having twins until l I was being born! I think, at that time, her doctor was a GP, and he suspected, but never said. They couldn't find another heartbeat. Your girls are lovely and so big. My sister and I came in at about 5 lbs each.


    1. What a surprise that must have been for your mother!

  9. I loved reading this, Rosie! What a great birth story! I would be tickled to be so blessed with a story like yours. Now I'm wondering how you recovered from not having your nest set up as you wished beforehand. I guess I'll just have to keep reading your previous posts... ;)

  10. So nice you were able to deliver vaginally. I really wanted to with my twins but neither of them cooperated - both were heads up. Plus, here in Brazil c-sections are the go to method even for singleton pregnancies. Still, very glad to have healthy babies who required no NICU stay.

  11. You puked a baby out! You are a birthing rock star!!


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