The Twins: A Birth Story (Part I)

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord."  ~1 Samuel 1:27-28

This is Caden and Brooklyn's story.

At 6:30 I had just sat down with a second helping of dinner (baked fish with roasted potatoes) when I heard/felt a popping noise.  Almost immediately there was sensation...that I couldn't control.  I got up from the table and dashed to the toilet.  Just the previous day I had been reading online about people describing how it had felt when their water broke...the same pop sound, the same sensations...and the whole time I was thinking, "yeah right, I couldn't be so lucky that going into labor would be so obvious".  Yet here I was, with my water breaking just as conspicuously as it did in the movies or on TV.

I called for Tyson (he was still sitting oblivious at the table, the novelty of me suddenly getting up to go to the bathroom having worn off some months ago).  He came in and I told him that my water broke.  Later he told me that he knew what I was going to say before I even said it, just because of the way I had called his name.  It was so after all these months of thinking and wondering what going into labor would feel like, wondering how I would know if it was the "real thing", not to mention when I would go into labor...all of a sudden there it was.  It was strange to think that this was really happening.  Although it would have been much easier to romanticize the moment if I hadn't been trapped on the toilet.

I was stuck there first because of the water that began gushing out of me even more furiously every time I would try to stand up.  And then because of the contractions.  Oh, the contractions. I hadn't had any contractions at all during this pregnancy, Braxton-Hicks or otherwise, and yet here they were coming only three to five minutes apart (I didn't actually time them, but thinking back on it later they were definitely that close together).  I also got to fully appreciate the term "mucous plug".  Tip: don't Google it.  

Tyson began to pack last-minute items and to clean up from dinner.  I had a bag packed, but hadn't bothered with things like my deodorant and shampoo and other everyday items, thinking that I would have plenty of time between when I first started going into labor and when we needed to leave for the hospital.  I had all of these stories in my head from people who went for walks, cooked meals, ran errands after their labor started.  Mine...was not like that.  Let's just say that next time, I am buying extras of EVERYTHING and having it all ready and packed.

Tyson and I got out of our apartment by 7:30, and he had called the hospital to let them know we were on our way.  Getting to the hospital and checking in (like so much of what went on that night) is somewhat of a blur.  I do remember being given a room and told to go to the bathroom and change into a gown...I remember no sooner being in the bathroom before throwing up all of my dinner into the toilet...and I remember laying in bed where I was hooked up with monitors to the baby's hearts and something to measure my contractions.

Those no time at all I was having contractions every 1-1 1/2 minutes.  1-1 1/2 minutes between the peak of each contraction.  There was almost literally no break with the time actually in-between contractions.  No sooner did one wave fade away that the next one began. All I could do was lay in bed and hang on to Tyson as they came again...and again...and again.  I had no idea what to rate my pain.  I think I told them it was a five only because I figured it was going to get much worse later.  They checked my cervix again after being in the hospital for just a couple of hours, and found me dilated to eight centimeters. Yup.  Eight centimeters after just a couple of hours of being in labor.  (I found some notes from our labor and delivery class yesterday that said the first phase of labor usually takes at least ten hours...uh...yeah, no.)  I should have told the doctors and nurses that my pain was a freaking nine from the start.  Thankfully being suddenly dilated to eight centimeters gets you an epidural pretty fast.

Now this is more what I thought labor would be.  Before the epidural, I couldn't talk, couldn't focus, couldn't do anything but try to work my way through each contraction.  I had brought my Nook to read, had a playlist ready to go on my phone, but never used any of it, since I couldn't concentrate on anything but surviving each contraction.  But after the epidural, I felt human again.  Tyson and I could actually talk and have a conversation (as opposed to me just yelling at the poor guy), and talk about how crazy this all was, and how excited we were, and even get a couple of pictures.

Glamour Shots this isn't, but I felt so.  much.  better.  

At least for awhile.

Within another hour I was fully dilated.  Within another hour of that I was actively pushing.

And pushing.

And pushing,

And pushing.

Three hours of pushing.

We asked before I started pushing how long it usually takes for first time moms to push, and were told it was typically about two hours.  So an hour went by...two hours went by...two and a half hours went by...

I'll say this about pushing.  It's exhausting.  I almost wanted the painful contractions back again.

After two and a half hours the doctor came back to check on me again.  She told us that Baby A had made virtually no progress.  A little, but not enough to justify two and a half hours of pushing.  They told me that I was doing everything correctly, but Twin A just wasn't budging.  She told us that we didn't have to decide right that moment, but it was time to start considering a C-section.  At this point, I was emotionally and physically drained.  I was all about a C-section.  Tyson wasn't so sure, and thought "we" should push for a little bit longer (yeah...easy for him to say).  We asked how long it should typically take to see acceptable progress of the baby through the birth canal, and the doctor said two to three hours.  We decided to push for another half hour and make it to the full three hours.

A half hour later and still nothing.  No progress.  At this point the doctor strongly recommended a C-section.  She explained that Twin A had still not moved, and was too far up for any assistance from them (i.e. by using forceps or a vacuum).  She also explained that since Twin B had moved from a head-down position, they no longer felt comfortable delivering B in a breech position because of the way my labor was progressing (or not progressing...).  If B didn't flip after A was born, I would have to have a C-section anyway.  And in general, it was getting to a critical point to get the babies out.  Earlier I had also been told that I most likely had a bacterial infection that they called Chorio, which, among other things, gave me a fever and high blood pressure, and could also potentially affect the babies.  Not only was I hooked up to antibiotics for the entire labor, but both babies would need to be immediately taken to the NICU for some antibiotics themselves.  And besides all of this, I was just plain tired.  We had been there all night, and I was coming up on 24 hours without sleep.  And who knew what would happen if I tried to keep pushing...what if I pushed for another hour or two, still made no progress, and was that much more tired and still in need of a C-section?

I looked at Tyson and we both knew that the best choice for me and for our babies was to get them out sooner than later.  I immediately began to be prepped for surgery.  I was wheeled away, Tyson was taken to a room to get scrubbed in, and I was put in the OR to finish being prepped.

And then.

After being given local anesthesia and waiting for Tyson to join me, a nurse literally ran into our room and said that everyone in my OR was needed next door for an emergency C-section.  I overheard that it was a woman who didn't know she was pregnant, had a partial breech delivery, and that it was possibly twins.  

It was at this point that I began to feel like I was on some TV medical drama.

Everyone but my nurse left the OR to tend to the situation next door.  Thankfully someone went and got Tyson so he could stay with me, too.  It was about 5:00 am.  I had been in labor since 6:30 the previous evening.  At one point things had been progressing so quickly we had actually been joking about delivering one baby before midnight and the other baby after.  Now here I was, virtually all alone (Tyson had fallen asleep in a chair beside me, and I really couldn't blame him) in a bright, cold, insensitive OR.  The next hour was the longest hour I have ever spent doing anything ever.  I was literally thisclose to meeting my babies.  And while it was nobody's fault, and any doctors and nurses who came by my OR during this time apologized profusely, and I was just glad to not be a crazy emergency case, it was so, so frustrating.  Especially towards the end of the hour when my anesthesia wore off and I started to feel the contractions again.  I was getting close to my breaking point, and laying there watching the clock was not helping.

Finally my team came back, and they resumed prepping me.  I was re-anesthetized, a blue curtain was draped just in front of my head, Tyson was beside me, and they went to work. I was finally going to be able to meet my babies.  I felt all sorts of pulling and tugging and even cutting down below, and I could tell when they were pulling out the babies, but it was in this detached, pain-free sort of way.

Cliche as it might sound, there aren't really words to describe the experience.  In the end it was amazing.  They held up each baby briefly over the curtain for me to see after it was delivered, and Tyson stood up to look at them and tell me who they were.  I saw Caden for only a moment as Tyson told me it was a boy...our son.  Then just two minutes later they held up Brooklyn.  Tyson at first thought she was another boy, and I have to admit that my heart dropped for a moment, since I had been so sure it was a boy and a girl.  I was actually relieved when they corrected him and he told me that we also had a daughter...our Brooklyn.

They took the babies over to the NICU team (I couldn't see where exactly, because the curtain was in the way), but Tyson was crying and holding my hand and looking from me, to where our babies were, kissing me and telling me over and over that he loved me and that I had done a good job.  This was probably the best part of the whole experience, even though I was sad that I didn't get to see and hold my babies right away.  It was such a feeling of togetherness with Tyson, and emotional in the best way possible.  He was crying and I think I was crying, but it might have just been his own tears falling onto my face.  It was happy and overwhelming and exhilarating and exhausting and relief-inducing all at once.

They took the babies up to the NICU for their antibiotics, finished stitching me up, and wheeled me to the recovery area.  My mom came back to visit me for a bit, but I don't remember too much about being in recovery besides being tired.  Tyson stayed with me for an hour or so, before one of the NICU nurses came down to see if he wanted to visit our babies.  I was exhausted, and wanted him to be with them, so I told him to go while I napped for awhile.

The BEST surprise (y'know...besides the babies being born and all) came about twenty minutes later when Tyson came back.  I heard him say, "Shannon?  I have a surprise for you..." and wheeled Brooklyn in to me.  I was so thrilled to see even just one of my babies, and I got to feed her right then and there.  She was a champ and latched on right away, and ate for a solid half hour.  While she was feeding I was let out of the recovery area, and was wheeled up to the NICU to say hello to Caden, too.  He wasn't ready to eat, but I did get to hold him for awhile.  After our visit, I was brought to my room, there to await the arrival of our babies once they were done in the NICU.

Caden was discharged first, around noon, and I was finally able to cuddle and smell and kiss him as much as I wanted.

Brooklyn came a few hours later, and I was able to give her the same treatment.

We were all here together...a family of four...

Our own families came in the room, and everyone was just as smitten as we were with the two of them.

After some visiting and cuddles all around, our families left so we could try to get some rest.  I really don't remember much about them being there or what happened after I got to my room in general.  I was so overwhelmed and numb and exhausted in every sense of the word.  I couldn't tell you what my nurse's name was, or anything she said to me (I remember her giving me a lot of instructions and orientating me to the room, and the whole time I was thinking, "Do you really think I'm going to remember any of this later, lady?  I'm not even paying attention to you right now.")  I do remember being glad that Tyson and my babies were there, but not much else.

And with that, our new adventure in life was just beginning...

Oh, and the emergency C-section lady?  I later heard that two of the three things were true: she didn't know she was pregnant, it was a breech delivery, but it was not twins.  She couldn't be so lucky.