This twin birth story is a detailed account of the amazing process that was bringing our twins to life. It was the most incredible, taxing, tiring, and rewarding thing I've ever done. I am so thankful to have had the support from my husband, midwife and midwife-apprentice during the whole experience; not to mention my far-away family and friends.
Without further ado let's get right down to it. The date is February
9th. We live far away in Nevada. It's a Wednesday and the boys aren't
due until one month from today, March 9th...
I woke up this morning feeling groggy and "strange" -- it's not a very descriptive way to put it, but it's hard to put into words. I just felt different. After explaining to Bob how I felt he offered me to call into work. My reply was "I haven't called in because of this pregnancy yet, I can get through this day." So I went.
I arrived at work at 9:00 am like usual. Typically I was serving food in
the restaurant but since I was SO HUGE and could hardly walk or fit in
to any clothes, they agreed to let me roll silverware in the back, to
avoid an early maternity leave. I made it through one hour and 34
minutes of work before "SPLOOOOSH!!" My jaw hit the floor. It felt like a
giant water balloon had just exploded inside of me. I was SOAKED from
the waist down. It was time to go.
I called to my manager who came running, face pale, and offered to call me an ambulance. I felt embarrassed and began crying saying "no, no, I just need to go home, I'm sorry... I'm sorry..." He sent over two women who work in the back, both of whom started speaking instructions to me in Spanish (I do not speak Spanish.) One of the ladies, Aracely, was nice enough to walk me to my car, past the Health Inspector who was doing a Quality Assurance Inspection (needless to say that with a giant puddle of amniotic fluid on the ground in the kitchen we didn't score well.)
I made it to the car, dripping wet, and lined the seat with whatever I could find -- I'm pretty sure it was reusable Babies-R-Us totes. I called my husband "Bob, my water broke. I'm coming home" I said through sobs. He assured me he would call our midwife, Diane, and find out what to do next. Luckily we only lived a short 5-minute-drive from where I was working.
I tried to steady my nerves as I drove, but as I was exiting the highway
I remembered that I hadn't clocked out at work. I quickly called my
manager while sitting at a red light. His response was "you didn't have
to call me, kiddo." -- Phew! --
By the time I got home it was nearing 11:00 am. I remember the first thing I did was sit on the toilet and try to clean up. I can hear Bob on the phone with Diane, he put it on speaker-phone so I could hear, too. She says she's on her way, first stopping by her office to pick up the birthing tub and then will be at our home, 15 minutes. She tells us Liz (her apprentice) will get their first. Still sitting on the toilet I ask Bob, somehow still not sure, "Are we having a baby today?" (I cried then and I'm crying now reliving the feeling.) Through watery eyes he said "yes".
I remember Liz arriving at the house, but I don't remember exactly what was said. As soon as Diane arrived she, Liz and Bob unloaded the supplies. The birthing tub and hoses, surgical gloves, a scale for the babies and two baby packages complete with nose-suckers, homemade hats and a sharpie for marking one baby "A" and one "B". Not to mention tons of pads for lining the bed and floor.
Diane checked me when everything settled down. By now I was wearing a loose
pink summer nightgown and Bob's flip-flops, since my feet were too
swollen to wear anything I owned. I was about 2 cm dilated and 50%
effaced- which was great! I was having pretty regular contractions,
about 5 minutes apart each and lasting anywhere from 20 seconds to one
minute. Bob and I decided to take a walk to help speed things up. I put
on a coat and we strolled around the block, stopping every couple of
feet for me to catch my breath or breathe through a contraction. One
house we stopped in front of had an older man outside with his wife. He
said "I think today's the day!" To which we replied "you're right, it
is!" We all smiled at each other and then Bob and I continued on. When
we made it back to the house Diane offered me something to eat but I had
By this time I was starting to get quite uncomfortable due to the growing amount of pressure on my back during contractions. I asked if we could begin filling the birthing tub, and we did. Of course by "we" I mean everyone but me. :) I'm glad that I asked because it was only a matter of minutes before I felt desperate for that hot water on my body. I remember snottily demanding that I was getting into the tub, despite it being only half-full. In order to fill the tub Bob was working very hard with 4-5 pots of water on the stove, running up and down the stairs with them full, after the water heater had done all it could do through the sink.
The feeling from the water was INSTANT relief. It didn't make things
100% better but once I was in, there was no getting out. And after
having that experience I think it will be a staple in any future
pregnancies. When I first got into the water I was wearing a nursing bra
for "privacy" but all of my cares about being even somewhat discrete
went out the window as the pain increased. I was soon in the nude, and
much more comfortable.
During this time of water laboring I was very quiet. When Bob and I attended our home-birth-birthing-class I didn't know what pain management techniques I would utilize, but thinking back I should have known that I would be a silent sufferer. Bob was very kind and encouraging and brought me a juice box and some ice chips. Occasionally he would rub my back or bring in a cold towel for my head, too. I remember Liz taking photos of us together, looking into each others eyes, and how I felt the pain leave me when I could focus on him. Then another time I remember feeling like a rat in a cage with all eyes on me and so angrily I said "please stop watching me." Everyone quickly faced away.
What I remember next was that I decided I was going to get out of the tub. Immediately I regretted it but I decided to try to go to the bathroom since I was out, and I felt I had to go. I squatted over the toilet and... "AHHHHHHH!" I let out a giant wail - I was not ready for the sensation it had created. Diane and Bob asked me what was going on. I said that I had felt the urge to poop but when I squatted I felt so much painful pressure! I saw Diane give a knowing look to Liz and I felt relief. She had me lie down in order to check my progress. Sure enough I was at 8 cm. and nearly 100% effaced. It wouldn't be long now before I was pushing!
Amped up by the good news I decided to be done with the birthing tub and stay upright in order to assist gravity in pulling the baby down onto my cervix. We knew from previous ultrasounds and check-ups with Diane that baby A was going to be breech, and therefore I might be in labor longer than most. I never asked what time it was, I felt like it had only been an hour. I swayed my hips back and forth and squatted as far as I could with my giant 58 cm. around belly. (I'm not sure what you know about pregnancy but most women with singleton babies grow to be about 40 cm. around- one cm. for every week of pregnancy. I clearly was enormous!)
Soon I had this unmistakable feeling. I said to Diane "I'm either going
to poop, or push." She told me it was time to lie down, and I was
ecstatic! The moment I had been waiting for! I was going to meet my
first baby, and soon! Liz checked mine and the baby's vitals-- all
looked well and we were ready for a wave of contractions to lead us
through the first push. Diane and Liz held my feet on their thighs and
stood at the side of the bed with instructions. Bob was cradling my head
and neck beside me and I was holding his arm for support. I told Diane I
was ready and PUUUUSHED as hard as I could. She told me I had done a
good job and that with every push we were going to check both babies'
heart rates to make sure no one was in distress. Everything was fine and
with the next contraction came a huge PUUUUSH. I could literally feel
Baby A moving underneath my pelvic bone, I was so impressed with myself!
(I call him Baby A now because at this point we haven't told anyone his
name- we decided late (literally days before they arrived) and wanted
to announce their names as they entered the world.)
I don't remember exactly how many times I pushed, but I do know that it only lasted 50 minutes. I could feel the babies little butt slide out with a "POP" and Liz held up a mirror and took some pictures to show me for encouragement. I didn't know exactly what I was looking at at first but I knew we were all doing well! Not to mention pooping ;) When I knew it was only his head left to come out I was very encouraged and bore down with all my might. One giant push and I could see my baby boy! His umbilical cord was only 6 inches long and so as soon as it stopped pulsing with blood, Bob cut it and he was brought up to my chest. I remember saying "Oh my God, Oh my God, He's not attached to me anymore?" His hands were folded and his eyes were wide-open. He was looking around curiously, covered in vernix and lanugo, very purple and cone-headed. It was 6:30 pm and I was in love.
His name is Taylen. We came up with it based on my first and middle
names: Crista Lynn. Bob and I took turns holding him, kissing him, and
just taking in the beauty of our new family. I knew my work wasn't done,
after all there was still Baby B inside of me, needing to come out, but
I enjoyed some time with Taylen before getting back to business. Diane
and Liz weighed him in our room. He was a little bitty 5 lbs. and 1 oz.
and 18 inches long. We didn't have any clothes that fit him snug so he
wore a "nightie" from my friend Jackie. His head was adorned with a
homemade hat from Diane and his foot was marked with an "A" so we
wouldn't confuse him and his brother once there were two.
He is one of the lights of my life, but I do have more than one. I love him more than words can describe.
This has been the story of bringing Taylen to Life.
So we're up to the point where Taylen has arrived and Baby B is still
inside. I wasn't scared at the time, but looking back I had an umbilical
cord hanging out of me and really was prone to some major infections
After some loving on Taylen, okay about an hour's worth, Diane told us
it was time to start getting mentally prepared for Baby B to arrive. My
body was so tired from all the work it did with Taylen that I didn't
know how I could do it at that point. I didn't feel any contractions,
though, and so I knew I had some time. Our midwife-apprentice, Liz, was
feeling a little sick and so she decided to head home for some rest and
we were to call her when contractions started. Diane had brought a
pillow and some pajamas to bunker down for the night with us.
I tried to nurse Taylen. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but also because we thought it might stimulate contractions to start. Well, he would not nurse. At midnight I was feeling exhausted from the work, emotions, and conversations with family far away (remember we're in Nevada but our family is in Michigan). Diane told us to try to get some sleep and wake her if anything happened. I slept like a rock, Taylen right next to me. Bob, on the other hand, did not. He stayed up almost the entire night checking to make sure Taylen was okay, still breathing, and loving him. What an awesome dad!
In the morning I still felt nothing. We moved on to some other methods to get the ball rolling. At this point is was about 10:00 am and it had been 16 hours since Taylen had arrived. I drank Castor oil and juice, we mixed it in some eggs, I tried nipple stimulation, going to the bathroom, eating spicy food. You name it- I tried it. And nothing.
Diane told us to think seriously about heading to the Hospital. I was
crushed. I felt like such a failure. What else could I try? She said she
would never force us to go, especially since both Baby B and I were
fine, but she was opening the door for exploration. At 12:30, after two
and a half more hours of waiting, we decided it was time to go.
But what about Taylen? We couldn't take our newborn son, in perfect health, to the Hospital. There'd be no one to care for him, not to mention the chaos we'd cause walking in with a twin born at home. We decided it was best to leave him with a certified Doula recommended to us by Diane. Her name was Rachel. She was so kind. She walked me through nursing before we left and told us we were in good hands. We believed her. I know it sounds crazy. How could we leave our brand new son? Looking back I am so thankful things worked out well. We didn't have a choice, and I didn't have time to worry.
By 2:00 we were on our way to the hospital. I had time to take a quick shower while Bob called family to update them. I finished phone calls in the car and we were checked into the Prenatal/Surgical unit by 2:30. They were shocked by our story and we received a less than warm welcome. Diane had asked us earlier if we were okay with telling the Hospital staff that Taylen had actually been born at 6:30 that morning instead of his real birth time 12 hours prior. We were fine with that, we wanted Diane to stay with us and not be reprimanded by hospital staff. It didn't make a difference to us. We knew we had done the best thing for us. We just wanted to be treated well but even when we lied... we were not.
The minute the doctor arrived, Dr. Santa Maria Torres, she started in on Diane, of course outside of the room so I couldn't hear. She said that I could have died and that my blood pressure was that of someone with preeclampsia. It was 180/110, which was scary high, but in my defense I was scared out of my mind to go into surgery, which is what I knew they'd make me do. Plus Diane had checked me every hour since the birth of Baby A. It was the Hospital making me sick. Modern Western medicine does not allow a woman to try to birth twins naturally, let alone breech twins, or one that's been waiting more than 20 hours after the first one to arrive. Our path was laid out for us. Baby B would be born via Cesarean Section nearly 22 hours after his brother. I was prepped immediately for surgery. Shaved, dressed, and scolded.
Diane said goodbye and went to get a bite to eat. She said she'd see me
on the other side of surgery and kissed me and wished me well. Bob was
told to wait while I got a spinal; apparently too many men faint at the
sight of the needle. Little did they know that this was not Bob's first
birth! He's the oldest of 8 children and had seen three of his own
children born before. It would have been nice support for me to have him
by my side since I was a big ball of nerves, but c'est la vie I
suppose. Beside that I was in no mood to fight, I already felt defeated.
Inside the operating room I was amazed. So many bright lights and noises. Most people are asleep during surgery and the plan was for me to be awake - that's sort of neat! I wasn't having a typical epidural because I wasn't in labor. I was instead having a spinal block. The difference is that the needle comes out with a spinal block, but you are completely numb whereas an epidural you may have some sensations. Well the anesthesiologist tried two times to insert my spinal block, unsuccessfully. Each time I was receiving an electrical shock down my leg- talk about painful and scary! I was told that on the third try if the anesthesiologist was unsuccessful that I would have to be put to sleep. The pressure was on. I was determined to be successful. I bore down, squeezed Robin (the nurse) tight and did my best (you try holding still when you know a giant needle is being inserted into your back, there's a chance you'll be paralyzed, and there's a school of students watching your bare ass from behind!) I did it! I was finally completely numb from the mid-spine down.
Bob came into the room and I asked him to take as many pictures as he could because they wouldn't allow me to see beyond the blue screen hanging over my belly. He said he would do his best. It was quiet in the room and I wasn't sure what was going on. I asked the anesthesiologist if I was open and he replied "Oh, yeah. You've been open. I can see your baby." Ahh! I was so excited! Bob said he could see right into me. I wanted him to take a picture but he said I wouldn't want to see. I took his word for it.
At 4:28 pm Dayr Hebel was born. He was 6 lbs. 2.5 oz. and 19 inches long. He had a full head of dark hair, his arms were outstretched and he was gasping for air. He was not okay. The Doctor asked if I wanted to see him, of course I said yes, but they were panicking and I only got a view of his toes. Bob went silent as we waited for him to make a noise. I puked. My mind started racing with thoughts like: "he wasn't ready to come out, we should have waited" and "what if this had happened at home"?
Bob stopped taking pictures and they wheeled Dayr past me, stopping only
long enough for me to glance in his direction. He had a breathing
helmet on and was already receiving oxygen. He was on his way to the
Nursery and I was on my way to recovery.
When I got to recovery the nurse came in to tell us Dayr had gotten worse and was being taken to the NICU. I couldn't wait for Bob to go and be with him. Having no family nearby and not many friends I called one of the only people I felt I could, my friend and co-worker Courtney, to come and sit with me while Bob visited Dayr.
The next sequence of events is blurry. I'll have to have Bob fill in the cracks. Somewhere along the line the next hour Bob drove home, had help from Rachel installing two car seats, brought Taylen to the Hospital, and he joined us as a "Well Baby Companion" for the remainder of my stay.
It wasn't until 3 days later, when I was finally able to get out of bed, that I got to visit Dayr. It was a very emotional time for us as a family. We wanted to celebrate Taylen's arrival but felt incomplete without Dayr. Bob went to visit him as often as he could in the NICU, and he spent the night with me and Taylen in one of the Hospital's nicest rooms overlooking the mountains.
We were treated well during our stay and after the weekend (Dayr was
born on a Thursday) we went home ... without him. Dayr stayed in the
NICU for 9 days until he was strong enough to come home. Here they are,
on that first day, together at last.
About the author:
Please take a moment to check out Crista's blog, Hands and Heart More Than Full where you can read more about her and find some helpful product reviews!
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