Compared to the other ladies at HDYDI, I’d say my birth story is, well..a bit boring. Not that the birth of our sons, Finn and Reid, were anything but boring. Because it was, hands down, the most memorable day in my life thus far. But, there were no surprises on their actual birth day. We came into the hospital that afternoon knowing full well that births (especially multiple births) rarely go as planned. But, to our surprise…there were no surprises! I arrived on time, the doctors arrived on time, the C-section went without a hitch, and the boys did just as well as our OB hoped they’d do. I’d even scored the room on the Mother/Baby Unit that the nurses, for the past 4 months, had been saying they’d save for their “twin mama”.
However, in the spirit of Birth Story Week here at HDYDI, I’ll tell you the nitty gritty. Even though I really think that it could just be summed up like this: “Two babies. Bothbreech. One diagnosed with IUGR. Two Grade 3 placentas. One scheduled C-section. Two happy parents.” But, that wouldn’t be as much fun, now would it? After all…who doesn’t like telling the story about the day that changed your life forever and made your heart swell with love, joy and pride?
Some background info
Both of the boys had been in a breech position since week 28. At the 32 week mark, my OB said that the likelihood of Baby A transitioning into a vertex position was very low. It was then that he dropped the C-bomb. I had been planning a natural delivery since Day 1…no drugs, lots of deep breathing, visualizations, peaceful music, a belly dancer (kidding on that one)…you know, the whole nine yards. Well, that went right out the window during the office visit. It took some time and contemplation to come to terms with the surgery, but I eventually took comfort in the fact that I knew (approximately) when these babies were going to be born (my OB would not let me go into hard labor). I was especially glad to know that I would most definitely not be pregnant forever. As much as I didn’t believe it.
At week 34, a 25% discrepancy in weight between Baby A and Baby B was found. It was decided that we’d wait another week and, if the weights didn’t equalize, the boys were going to be born no later than 36 weeks. Another issue that was uncovered at the 34-week mark was the deterioration of my placentas. It was determined that both placentas had enough calcification to be deemed Grade 3. There was certainly time, but not much, before these puppies were going to cease supplying nutrients to our babes. Not a good thing.
At 35 weeks, there was still a weight discrepancy, and Baby B (Reid) was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), so we knew that they were going to be born one week from that day. However, I wanted to deliver at a hospital that was not equipped to handle babies with major breathing issues. So, I was required to have an amniocentesis to determine lung maturity. This was scheduled for January 25th at 8:00am. My due date was February 26th, 2007. Finn and Reid were born on January 26th, 2007…exactly 36 weeks.
I know this is a ‘birth story’ and not a ‘pre-birth story’, but I must mention something about the amnio. It was beyond strange! The only way I can describe it would be the sensation of being uncorked. I felt like a bottle of wine that someone was decorking. The pressure was intense, but the feeling was just plain weird.
Regardless, after delivering the test tube of fluid in which surrounded my children to the laboratory, I was driven to the hospital to undergo my daily Non-Stress Test. I was having some serious contractions, so they checked me. I was still holding steady (from the morning ‘check’) at 2cm and 75% effacement so they released me after a couple of hours. When a baby (or babies) is breech, there is risk of a prolapsed umbilical cord. This is a obstetric emergency with a 11-17% mortality rate. High enough that you don’t want to chance it. And the more I was dilated, the more dangerous it was to send me home. But fortunately, I hadn’t had any cervical change in almost 3 days. Either way, I was to spend the next 36 hours doing nothing. This was no easy task for someone who hates sitting still and furthermore, had a lot of stuff to do before becoming a parent!
Fast forward to Friday, January 26that 3pm. I showed up at the hospital, thirsty and starving, wearing the one and only outfit that still fit. My husband and I were loaded down with our backpacks, pillows, Boppy, breast pump and diaper bag. I got dressed in the hospital gown, took a dose of some crazy concoction to settle my stomach, got my IV and was hooked up to the fetal monitors. The boys were very active and I was having some wicked contractions. I think the boys knew that something was up because they were more active than they’d ever been. Either way, after experiencing the contractions I was more than a little relieved that I had an automatic ‘out’ for having to deliver naturally. Let’s just say I was very happy when the anesthesiologist strolled in.
After signing my life away on stacks and stacks of paper work, I had my father-in-law take a few pictures, one of which highlighted my cankles. I felt like a big water-logged rubber ducky. And, you can see by the extremely unflattering photographs, that I also looked like one. After a few camera clicks, the nurses asked everyone to leave the room (including my husband, which I was surprised by). I was asked if I needed something for anxiety (I declined, surprising even myself) and then told that it was time to be shaved. For some reason, I didn’t even think that they would have to shave me. Down There. But, I guess it does make sense, after all. :) The shaving experience reminded me of the time when I had the not-so-good idea to dry-shave my under arms one morning in 10th grade because I really wanted to wear my favorite tank top to show off my tan. Yah. Bad idea. If I could do it again, I think I’d get a Brazilian wax done beforehand and call it a day. It’s not comfortable and the nurses are anything but careful.
After the shave, it was time to head into the OR. I did a few stretches because I knew that I wouldn’t be on my feet for quite a few hours.
As I exited my room, I was greeted by my regular OB, my mom (she’d flown in from Oregon that morning), my in-laws and my husband. I gave them all one last pre-motherhood hug and told them that I’d see them in a few. Brook would follow me into the OR once my spinal was in place.
It seemed that from the moment I entered the OR, I just could not stop shivering. I know this is normally a side effect of the anesthesia, but I hadn’t even got up on the table yet. I think it was just my nerves. The thought of me being cut open (while awake!) was a bit much for me at that point in time. I kept shivering and my teeth kept chattering as I laid on the table. The anesthesiologist told me that I was going to have to stop shivering before he could put the spinal in–you know, that whole ‘precision’ thing. I tried, but I couldn’t, so one of the lovely nurses gave me a warm blanket and that did the trick.
The anesthesiologist sat me up and explained the procedure. A nurse was in front of me to lean on as I hunched over and she also helped to quell my nervousness witha hand massage. It would have been nice to have my husband there during the spinal, but I realize this isn’t procedure. As the anesthesia entered my body, it felt as if someone dripped a cool, thick liquid slowly down my back. By the time she laid me back down, I was numb. The feeling of knowing that your body IS there, but not having any control of it from the sternum down, is classified as ‘creepy’ in my book. Just for fun, I tried to pick my leg up, asking a nurse if, indeed, I had picked it up (she said, “nada!”), and then laughing because of the weird-ness of it all.
When I was fully numb and settled, they let my husband into the room. He was told to sit to my left. I remember him holding my hand, being comforted by his touch, and thinking, that in a few minutes, we were going to be responsible for two tiny little human beings when I barely even felt grown up myself.
Let the show begin
With all 10 ‘team members’ in place, my OB said they were going to go nice and slow…that they weren’t in a hurry, so to just relax. All I was concentrating on was whether or not I heard a baby crying. I made him promise to clearly tell me when each baby was out.
At 4:01 pm, they broke Baby A’s (Finn) amniotic sac. On the video my husband shot it took precisely 1 minute and 11 seconds of tugging to get Finn out. His brother and he were wedged in there. Tight. I don’t have to go over the, ummm, pressure that you feel as one surgeon is pulling a kid out, while the assisting surgeon is pushing on your stomach like he’s kneading a huge hunk of bread dough, because that was already covered in the other HDYDI birth stories. But I will reiterate that, yes. It is in.freaking.tense. I found myself making grunting noises as I was being pulled and pushed around.
At 4:02pm, Finn Andrew finallyenters the world, feet first (weighing 5 lbs, 6 oz.), after what seems like eons of them pulling, poking, tugging and pushing to get him lodged out from underneath his bro. “Baby A, 4:02pm”, my OB says. He doesn’t cry. They suction him. He still doesn’t cry. The OB cuts the cord, hands him quickly to the nurse, who wraps him in a towel and gives me a very quick half-second glimpse of my first born son, and then hands him through a window that lead into the NICU. I was scared to death that he wasn’t crying. I’d watched enough Discovery Health to know that you want a baby to cry. Crying is good. Crying means the baby is breathing. Finn was not crying. I tried to stay calm, with the help and reassurance of Brook and the anesthesiologist, because I still had one baby left inside of me.
At 4:03pm, they break Baby B’s (Reid) amniotic sac and he pops right out feet first…screaming!! It was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. I cried and laughed all at the same time. For whatever reason though, they didn’t let me see the little guy. He was the one they were worried about (though he was a plump 4 lbs, 11 oz.), so he was quickly wrapped and shoved into the NICUwindow with Brook on the nurses heals. Once I heard Reid cry and then about 30 seconds later, the distant cry of Finn (finally!), I relaxed and settled into a post-birth happy/exhausted state as my OB started singing something in Russian. I drifted in and out of this state of mind as Brook snapped a few photos and some video and came back to show me our new sons. I asked him if they were okay about 1,000 times, in between gushing over the pictures and videos that were taken minutes before. But truth be told, I really, really, just wanted a nap.
I was given a shot of Demerol and, man, did this make me loopy! The next thing I know, I’m in the recovery room being handed a cell phone. It was my dad. I really just wanted him to be there. I didn’t want to talk to him on the cell phone. I wanted him by my bedside, so he could give me a hug and tell me that I was going to be okay at this whole mom-thing.
I was a mess. I felt drunk. I felt stoned. I felt…not like a mom should feel. I kept questioning my ability to care for two newborns. Telling myself that I was already a bad mom. It was horrid. The nurses assured me that this was just a side effect of the Demerol and that I should just try to sleep. I tried, but I couldn’t. I was too full of emotion and, being that I had not drank anything for nearly 13 hours, I was exceptionally thirsty. I begged the nurse for some ice chips. When she brought me the cup full of icy bliss, I instantly felt better and my spirits were lifted.
While I was in recovery, Brook was still going back and forth between myself and the NICU…bringing me more photos and videos of the boys. I couldn’t wait to get a good look at them, but I had to keep waiting…not exactly sure what for…but the waiting felt like a lifetime. So, I tried to get a few winks in between the nurses poking and prodding me.
FINALLY! It was time to meet my little ones. The nurses were going to wheel me into the NICU prior to heading to my room in the Mother/Baby Unit. When I was rolled in, they brought Reid over to Finn’s warmer. The two of them together. It was beautiful. It was surreal. I tried to touch them, but I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.
The NICU nurses said that they were doing great and that I’d be able to hold them within the hour. I was then wheeled to my post-partum room where I again nodded off. That was, until my husband decided that what I really could use right then was a stuffed monkey. There were only two monkeys that I wanted to see…and neither of them were stuffed.
At 6:32pm, I was able to hold both of my babies for the first time. It was pure love. Times two.
I managed to breastfeed both of the boys and they seemed to do okay for 36-weekers. It did, however, take forever for them to latch on and, once latched, they immediately fell asleep. This was only the beginning of our breastfeeding saga, but we’ll save that for another day. Although the boys were doing well, they did have a bit of a problem regulating their body heat, so they were constantly being whisked away to the nursery for check-ups. In between check-ups though, we did a lot of staring. Staring in awe of the two little miracles that we had created.
Around 7pm, I was having some very intense pain. I can normally tolerate pain fairly well, but this…this was bad. The nurses figured out that something wasn’t quite right when I answered “11” to their question on my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. I had said it was a “2” less than 20 minutes prior. I was restless and agitated. I kept hitting the button for more morphine, but it clearly was not working. So a call to my OB was made and, within 20 minutes, I was given another (magnificent) cocktail that took my pain level back down to a “2”. After that, it was alllll good.
That night, it was a mix of visitors, phone calls, never-ending breastfeeding and cups and cups of (ahhhh...) water. I felt as if I couldn’t get enough water. And the best part about drinking all of this water was that I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom because I had the catheter! I remember being hungry, but not really wanting to eat. Although, as a side note, this all changed the next morning when I felt as if I would never be able to consume enough food. I would order sandwiches to my room in the middle of the night and check the “hearty” portion on my room service menu. I don’t remember ever being more hungry in my entire life as I was the first two weeks post-partum. I guess making milk (or colostrum, rather) for two babies is hard work!
Something that I was not at all prepared for was the swelling that came post C-section. Admittedly, I gained a lot of weight. More weight than I should have. And for someone who is 5′ 3″ tall (on a good day), add another 70 pounds to your body and it’s bound to protest. My body protested by giving me a horrible case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Throughout my pregnancy, sure, I had my share of uncomfortableness and sleepless nights. But nothing compared to the immense pain, numbness and tingling in my hands. I couldn’t grip a pencil, let alone type on the computer all day for work purposes. The nights were even worse. I’d sleep withbraces on bothwrists and prop them up on pillows. I’d watch what I ate, careful not to consume too much sodium (i.e. my most favorite Mexican food meal…it was a shame), as that just made the water retention even worse, which in turn aggravated the carpal tunnel syndrome. I spent the better half of my pregnancy worrying about whether or not this would disappear after I gave birth.
The night that Finn and Reid were born, I was graced with the worst pain, numbness and tingling I had yet experienced. I felt uncomfortable even holding a baby because I couldn’t feel whether or not I had a good grip on the little guy. Sleeping was out of the question because the medsthat I was taking for the post-surgical pain did not help the least bit withthepainfrom the carpal tunnel syndrome. The nurse promised me that it would be better in the morning, that after the birth of a baby (or two), your body holds onto water like an industrial-strength sponge. It was a rough night, but I made it (thanks to many, many ice packs covering my hands and wrists!). And the next day, after getting up to walk, the swelling was considerably better. However, it wasn’t until 6 weeks post-partum that I had the sensation back in the majority of my fingers again. I am very thankful that I do not live with this on a day-to-day basis anymore.
Walking around the maternity ward, in between breastfeeding sessions, was my saving grace for a fast recovery. Although the nurses and doctors advised me to slow down, I really felt that the more I moved, the better I felt. If I didn’t have one or more kids attached to my boobs, I was out walking laps around the ward…often times pushing a couple of bassinets. I went very, very slowy…but it was movement nonetheless. I found that the Percoset they were giving me (after removing the Morphine drip) was making me tired and unable to focus. I was having such a hard time withbreastfeedingas it was, I didn’t need the added complication of drug side-effects to make it even more difficult. So, I told them to give me half of a dose. I found that this was a good amount to limit my pain, as well as keep me aware of it so that I wouldn’t over-do it when I walked. I was discharged from the hospital with a prescription of Percoset, but I never did end up taking it after the second day of being discharged. I relied on regular doses of Motrin. The twice-daily (very slow) walks around the neighborhood really helped aid in my recovery. It’s important to stay on top of your pain management, but it’s also very helpful to move as soon as you are able.
Wow! For a “boring” birth story, this sure is a lot of writing. And the life that I have right now is certainly anything but boring!