I had a smooth pregnancy. So smooth, in fact, I was never one to brag when asked how miserable I was because I wasn’t. There was no point where I emphatically cried or wanted my body back. I was content keeping the twins safely inside of me and having babies with my husband has been fun. I was preparing to vaginally push out two humans. I felt like I have been healthy- working out, eating good, very limited issues and low risk. I should be able to get them here naturally and on my own. My birth plan had always been to have a vaginal birth with no drugs. I told myself the first two weeks I would exclusively breastfeed, and no way was I giving into the pacifier life.
I am a therapist- I can teach my babies how to self soothe. One of my good friends would be my doula and my husband had the essential oils and possible playlist ready. The great thing about my doula is that she also serves as a labor and delivery nurse as her job, so I had no worries on her abilities to offer the support emotionally and professionally that we would need.
My birth plan had always been to have a vaginal birth with no drugs.
It is rare that you carry twins all the way to 40 weeks. Ideally, my twins would come at 37-38 weeks. As I slid through 37 weeks, an induction date was set for August 13th – my husband’s birthday.
I had questions as a new mom about how I would know it was time and I kept getting the same answers – you will know! It was a Thursday night and we had a serious scare of contractions. My mom came down and everyone was in a panic but it was a false alarm. I went through another week of work and my mom and grandma came just so no one would miss the action.
13 August 2018
My induction day arrives and I was so nervous I couldn’t eat. I had the hospital bag all ready to go (at the last minute) and everyone cleared their schedule with the thought that we would soon meet the twins. There were no “labor signs”– I actually went for a one mile run two days prior, I had sex and ate spicy foods! All the old tricks that was supposed to induce pregnancy.
Upon arrival to the hospital, my cervix was checked and I was closed. I was given Cervidil to soften my cervix and start contractions. We all waited for something to happen and I was put on a clear diet. Hours later, there was still no sign of babies and some of my friends began to go home. As I started to have contractions, the Cervidil was taken out and I was given Pitocin. This was given via an IV in an attempt to speed along the process but I had to be bedridden and continuously monitoring the fetuses to make sure they were not too reactive. Sleep was elusive but I had hope. My mom rescheduled her trip home to Wednesday because she could not dare miss the birth of her grand kids. That night my doctor came onto her shift, checked my cervix and I was only half a centimeter.
14 August 2018
My doctor arrived Monday night and spoke in a calm, pragmatic way that soothed me. She was concerned that nothing had happened and made a plan to rupture my bag. At the time, I didn’t think to ask both bags or just one. She checked to see if I was dilated and I was barely one centimeter dilated! Although I was very much against help for pain, the staff repeatedly suggested I get an epidural, telling me it would help with the bag rupture, cervical checks and pretty regular contractions. They also warned that if an emergency arose I would have to be put under because I waited so late to get an epidural. I am practical and would rather be proactive than reactive so I took the epidural. Again, friends came and went and everyone just knew the babies would be there that night. With the epidural and increase in Pitocin, I had dilated to 4 cm.
15 August 2018
Day 3 of sitting in a bed and on a liquid diet. I am not one to sit still and I was over the constant pain and not being able to move. It was a day of turning from side to side with the peanut ball between my thighs. I could not wait to get checked because she too was sure the twins would arrive. When she checked me that morning I was finally at 6cm and the optimism increased. There was a point during the day that she was so busy I kept the same position for 3 hours. I was frustrated– my mom had flown back thinking it was done. One of the nurses came in and notified me that it was time to push. I was at 9.5 centimeters dilated! I was ecstatic, I am fit, pushing should be a breeze.
With my husband on the left and my doula on the right- the nurse in front, we pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed. I kept checking their faces for progress and her glasses for a reflection of a head; one of my babies had been head down for over two weeks, hanging out in the birth canal– ready. My doula and the nurse looked positive but my husband pensive. I heard one of the nurses mention that the tape on my epidural was messed up. As the evening came with no changes I needed a break.
I was tired and uneasy. I had never heard of a 3- day induction with no results, 3 induction methods and 4 hours of pushing with no baby. We reconvened when a new doctor came in and he expressed his concerns. After checking my cervix, I realized I could feel everything. I cried as I spoke with my husband and the current nurse about options. I had a feeling that a vaginal birth was out of the question and I had blocked the thought of a cesarean from my mind so I knew nothing about it. The nurse was direct, you can push for some more hours but if no results the doctor would not allow it to continue, there would need to be a cesarean, or just do it and get it out of the way.
My epidural had fallen out which is why I was in pain, I had closed back up and my vagina was swollen from the pushing. This was all surreal but my husband and I long ago decided that the safety of the twins came first. As we made the decision to have a cesarean, my doula asked that we all say a prayer. In the smallest corner of my mind I thought about black women who often never recover from child birthing experiences and wondered would I make it to see my twins.
I was not hysterical but I was terrified. I read about women who didn’t feel like a “real mom” due to cesareans and thought briefly about all the changes I made to my original plans. The dangers of a spinal epidural twice in one week concerned me, I had so many questions but I had to stay focused on that the longer we waited my twins were in limbo. The surgery is major and took place in the OR where only my husband could come. They put up a curtain so I would not see but it was fairly quick. We waited to know the genders so the team was excited and wanted my husband to shout the genders as each twin was extracted.
My son came first, my husband was ecstatic but they did not show me him and I listened out for a cry that never came. Next up was a girl, and I thought God keeps blessing us amidst the storms. They showed me her and she looked like the both of us, covered in birth fluid. Even though no one would say, there was clearly something happening with my son, he was rushed to the NICU but we were headed to a postpartum room and our daughter would be there with us.
In the smallest corner of my mind I thought about black women who often never recover from child birthing experiences and wondered would I make it to see my twins.
It is now day 7 and we are still in the hospital. My son was still in the NICU due to low blood sugar. We later found out that when his sac was ruptured, he had a bowel movement and he inhaled the meconium and had to be intubated. Due to his lower birth weight, he was struggling with maintaining his body temperature and regulating his blood sugar levels. Prior to discharge he had to maintain them. During our time in the NICU, we have had to supplement their food with Similac, using a bottle and pacify them, as they had pretty traumatic entrances into the world and although they spent 9 months together in the womb have yet to meet in the outside world.
My husband and I often talk about the various hurdles we have overcome in a short amount of time. From our whirlwind romance to surprise wedding to surprise you are having twins and oh surprise, there are major health risks happening right now. There is no way to predict the future or to prepare for what may occur. We can plan and have back up plans but honestly listening to yourself, working through with your partner and your god are the most reliable ways. I cannot fathom preparing for the gamut of emotions those past 7 days or the tears or the prayers. Nothing had been the way I thought it would be but as I type this thing out in cathartic form- I am still grateful. To those trying to get pregnant, or already pregnant keep listening to your body, trust yourself, have a good support system and know that we can do some amazing things.
About the author: Alicia is a mental health therapist located in Charlotte, NC and teaches Social Work at the Bachelor and Master’s level. She co-hosts a podcast and enjoys reading, running, and writing. As she is a new multiple mom- she is looking forward to all of growth soon to take place!