There Aren’t Enough Positive Birth Stories, So Here is Mine

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When I was pregnant with my twins, I was pretty nervous. I scoured the internet for stories that would help me put everything in perspective – stories of triumph, positivity, hope, and light. But what I found were primarily stories of sadness and loss.

As my twins are about to turn five this year, I realized that there aren’t enough positive birth stories, especially for parents of multiples.

I’m not discounting that loss and sadness regarding pregnancy and birth are real. And I can only feel for how devastating these experiences have been for my many friends and acquaintances who have walked through the unimaginable. I’ve hesitated to write about my positive birth experience before this because I was afraid it would be construed as bragging.

I do believe, however, that we need to speak about our positive birth stories without fear of judgment.

In the past, I’ve written about my identical twin pregnancy experience. And although there were some “hurdles” to leap over regarding the birth of my twins, it was largely a positive experience. I won’t go into all of the nitty-gritty that was my two days being induced, but know that it is possible to get to 37 weeks with identical twins and have to go through induction at all.

Because my pregnancy had been generally healthy (except for gestational diabetes and a severe case of PUPPP), I felt pretty confident going into the induction in late April of 2017. I had chosen my provider based on his experience, his ability to provide me with his knowledge of delivering twins vaginally (as well as in the case if Baby B was to turn breech), as well as his quiet confidence and his support of me in respecting how I wanted to deliver these babies.

His support and knowledge in the field were paramount to this birth’s success.

I had encountered providers in the past who wouldn’t even hear of me having these babies vaginally. But based on science and the health of both the twins and myself, there was absolutely no reason not to try.

This provider let me be in charge of this journey, with his support, long career, and medical knowledge to guide me.

I was admitted into the hospital after basically badgering the admitting staff once an hour until they let me come in. Time was of the essence as my maternal-fetal medicine provider said 37 weeks was my deadline. I also needed to begin labor, so my chosen provider could help me deliver the twins. Once I was settled in my room, the nurse started the cervadil, and my husband went home to stay the night with our older child.

As I lay in the hospital room cramping up a storm, I didn’t sleep very well that night. I was nervous (primarily because of the horror stories I’d been hearing about twin births). But at the same time, I was excited to meet these little nuggets we had been waiting for.

The next day, without needing any Pitocin, my labor took on a life of its own. My body knew how to do this.

After weighing my options (and already having had the experience of an unmedicated birth four years before), I opted for an epidural. The reason for the epidural was two-fold: I had already been awake with no solid food for 48 hours, so I was pretty tired. I’m also a realist, and I knew that there was a slim possibility that after I delivered Twin A, Twin B would require a c-section.

If that happened and I didn’t have the epidural already placed, I would have to be put under general anesthesia, which would mean that neither my husband nor I would be able to see Twin B born. That wasn’t a risk I was willing to take, so in the epidural went.

An epidural is an amazing thing. It gave me the gift of rest. I was able to sleep for the first time in two days while my body continued to prepare for delivery. It was a welcome few hours, especially knowing what the unmedicated side of things was like for me the first time around. I think getting that rest set the stage for the marathon I was about to be in a few hours later.

My doctor came to check me after I woke up. I had gone from 4cm to 8cm in a matter of two hours, and I hadn’t even realized I was now in transition. He asked me if he could break Twin A’s water to move things along a little faster, and I agreed. He said he would be back in an hour to check again. But my body (and baby A) had other plans.

About 30 minutes later, I felt the pressure. Baby A was coming. I told my husband to get the doctor because we needed to move to the operating room fast.

If I was planning on a vaginal delivery, why were we going to the operating room? All twins born in the hospital are born in the operating room, just in case a c-section is needed. The hospital staff started coming in and out of our room, grabbing baby warmers, supplies, etc., that would be necessary when I delivered.

The doctor rechecked me, confirmed I was at 10cm, and I was wheeled down to the OR. Of course, in true Charity-fashion, there had to be a kink in the line somewhere: The regular OR was under construction.

I was going to the “spare” OR, which doubled as a storage room. With all of the maternity supplies, a complete set-up for a twin birth, two full NICU teams (just in case), medical students, residents, my husband, and me, it was a pretty packed room. I guess potential vaginal twin births aren’t all that common at this hospital, and everyone wanted in on the action.

I had to move myself over to the operating table. Not an easy thing when you’ve got 30 extra pounds, tubes, fetal monitors, and an epidural on board.

I laughed when they told me I had to get myself on that bed but scooped myself on over and got settled with the nurse’s help.

I had Twin A out in about two pushes. It was surreal to have a birth experience that required two pushes rather than two hours of pushing! Again, I need to sing the epidural’s praises because although it dulled the pain, the pressure remained, letting me know exactly where I needed to put my energy to get her out. It was 11:13 p.m.

I wanted to hold her, considering I didn’t get to hold my first after his birth either, but I could feel Twin B moving into position to get herself on her way. It didn’t feel safe to hold Twin A at that time. I was afraid I would drop her.

I couldn’t believe I had just pushed one baby out, and I had to do it all again.

I felt Baby B moving around. She had always been a little squished, and she suddenly had a ton of room. It wasn’t surprising that she got a little disoriented on where she was supposed to be. On the next contraction, I pushed, and nothing happened. This went on for a while. I was pushing; she wasn’t budging. My OB realized the resident needed some assistance and asked her to step aside while he took over. It turns out my little Twin B was forehead first. Not ideal, but not impossible.

Our vitals were good, and neither my doctor nor I were ready to stop. He had seen this before, and we were going to push through, no pun intended, as long as it continued to be safe.

He trusted me and my conviction to do everything I could to get this baby out the way I wanted to. This made me trust him all the more. We would have changed course if baby or I were starting to decline, but we were good for now.

It was nearing midnight, and I was about 45 minutes into pushing. I was getting exhausted, and Twin B was not moving into a position where I could get her out on my own. We began to discuss the potential of vacuum extraction. It also looked like these girls wouldn’t be born on the same day.

I wanted to wait a little longer and see if my doctor could help get her out without using the vacuum. I honestly wasn’t sure what it would do, how it would feel if it would hurt her. He told me exactly what he would do and showed me what it looked like. I imagined something akin to the vacuum you use to clean your carpet (don’t’ judge…I was tired, haha!). When I saw what it was and he explained how it would work, I decided that we would try it. It was after midnight at this point, and I was ready to meet this baby (as well as hold my other newborn!).

It took a while for my doctor to get the vacuum onto the correct position on her head, but once it was set, I gave one final huge push, and she was out! It was 12:26 a.m.

Bruised and swollen, that little girl was placed in my arms. We locked eyes, and I started to sob. She is my third child and the only one I’ve gotten to hold immediately after birth. The feeling was like none other I have ever felt, and I will never feel again because she is my last baby.

Not too long after that, the nurse gave me Twin A, and I held both babies for the first time Earthside. It was surreal. These twins, who started as one egg just nine months ago, were placed in my arms. I delivered them the way I wanted to with the help and support of my medical provider.

Several factors came into play to help this birth experience be the positive one that it was—first, choosing a medical provider who acknowledged and embraced my thoughts on birth and who treated me as part of the team, not as a patient. Second, I am open to accepting medication (i.e., epidural) and other help (i.e., vacuum extraction) when I need it. Third, confidence that my body was made to do this, and I was a strong person, no matter the way these babies came into the world. And finally, being open to the experience and always expecting plans to change.

I’m not saying my pregnancy or birth experience was all unicorns and rainbows, but it was light years better than my first. This was the positive birth experience I had always hoped to have. But the most important thing was that we added two babies to our family that night. Yes, there were difficulties, and they were born on two different days.

Things don’t always turn out the way you plan…sometimes, they turn out better.

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Charity is originally from CT, but grew up in New Hampshire. She returned to CT in 2000 for college, and currently resides in Monroe with her husband (married in 2011) and three children (A son born in 2012 and identical twin daughters born in 2017). Charity works part time as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the CT Birth to Three system. She thinks it's the best of both worlds because she gets to work in a job she loves (and needs to pay off those hefty grad school loans!) and be home a few days a week with her children. Charity enjoys theatre, and brings her son often. This past year, she discovered her gifts as an intuitive medium. You can visit her personal website at: www.charityferrisintuitivemedium.mypixieset.com.

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