Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Twin's Birth Story.

This is the story of how Ruby Kay and Nora Verlee entered the world.

After weeks of deliberation and discussion, Josh and I decided to follow our doctor's recommendations and induce labor at 37 weeks.  I did as much research as I could leading up to that decision, and felt at peace with it when the time came.  

We checked into the hospital at 9:30pm on the 29th to begin the induction.  They put the labor-inducing medicine in place at midnight and offered me an Ambien to get some sleep for the night.  It might sound contradictory, but I chose not to take the sleep-aid because I wanted as few drugs as possible in my body.  I had a hard enough time ever even taking a tylenol when I got a headache this pregnancy, so I wasn't about to take a sleep aid for no real reason.  

Wellllllllll, that destined me for a night of nearly zero sleep.  As it turned out, the induction drugs worked quite quickly, and by 4am I was having strong contractions that were requiring me to use some pain management techniques.  The nurses checked me and reported that I was dilated to 4cm. I was having contractions very close together, so the doctor on call made the decision to remove the Cervadil as it had done its job.  We called our doula to come down because it appeared we would be delivering within a few hours, and waited for things to continue progressing. 

....except they didn't.  They almost completely stopped.  You would think this meant I finally got some sleep, but the twin's heartbeats had to be monitored the entire time, and that is - apparently - really, really difficult to do. The nurses struggled literally all night and all morning with it.  The itchy elastic bands chaffed and the nurses had me turning and turning and turning trying to find their heartbeats.  I think the longest they were ever continuously "on" was about 10 minutes and then a nurse would have to come back and adjust it.  It was really frustrating and exhausting and in hindsight, since my labor had almost completely stopped progressing, unnecessary. (In MY mind ;-) )

Also, I suppose I should mention that the doctors and nurses on staff were heavily pushing an epidural during this entire time.  Baby A (Ruby) was head down, but Baby B (Nora) was breech.  The risks of a breech birth going wrong and an emergency c-section taking place were high, and in the event that my doctor had to manually go 'in' and turn the baby... they felt I really needed an epidural.  I was desiring a drug-free birth, so I held out and did not receive the epidural until much later.

Around 7am my doctor came in to see me.  We decided to break my water to get things moving.  It took a couple of hours, but it worked and I began to labor pretty intensely.

Eventually, I agreed to the epidural.  The constant reminders of the risks were enough for me to finally decide that I had nothing to prove, and an epidural would be fine.  Receiving an epidural was a  really difficult decision for me.  I had wanted and hoped and prayed for a natural delivery, but finally realized I just wanted safe and healthy babies.  Even now as I write, I'm not 100% sure what made me finally decide to get the epidural.  I think it must have been all of the warnings and risks being described to me in the moment.  My doctor was rather stern about it and the nurses were flaunting it like some kind of vacation and I was pretty sure they would also be bringing me a margarita when it came they were selling it so hard.  I realized, also, that I was genuinely afraid of labor interventions.  It wasn't that I didn't want an epidural, I was genuinely fearful of it.  The doctor came in and as they were administering it I just sat on the edge of my bed crying and crying and telling Josh how scared I was.  It wasn't my best moment, but it also wasn't close to my worst for the day!

I must also say that I spent most of the morning quite angry.  I was so angry at the hospital for pushing the epidural on me. I was angry that things weren't going as I wanted them to. I was angry that they had me come in the night before and that I had gotten zero sleep. I was angry that I couldn't eat and give my sleep-deprived body energy through food. (Although I did sneak a granola bar in the morning. Take THAT!) I felt that I was set up for failure. That it was never going to be a natural birth and I was the only one who didn't know.  I just kept telling Josh all morning how mad I was, and I am certain I gave the stink eye to the nurses every time they walked in. (Here's looking at you, Nurse Jill!)  Even now, as I write, I am feeling irritated. How sad :(....

Ok so anyway, I got the epidural, but I still had pain! If I wasn't angry before the epidural, I was livid after.  I kept saying, "If I'm going to get the effing epidural, why do I still feel pain? What the hell!".  (Sidenote: I process pain in two ways: humor and swearing. So... there's that.) Because I was still feeling so much pain and pressure, the nurses decided to check me only to discover that I was fully dilated and that Baby A's head was about to crown. Not even 10 minutes after the epidural was over! I was so frustrated and still consider that I labored almost to a 10 all by myself. (Thank you very much!)  We waited for my doctor to arrive, and they wheeled me to the operating room (just incase). After 10ish minutes of pushing, Ruby Kay was born at 1:28 and placed immediately on my chest. Bliss! Sweet bliss! It was almost over!

As Ruby and I bonded, my doctor excitedly reported that Nora had moved head down and into position. Hooray! What a relief! They began an ultrasound to make sure she was in a good position, and it turns out.. she wasn't.  She was sort of in a "pike" position. So, yes, she was head down... but her feet were next to her head and her arms were above her head as well.  So we waited.  and we waited.  My doctor manipulated my stomach from the outside for a couple of hours, doing everything she could to help Nora reposition herself.  My labor began to slow and - eventually - stop.  No more contractions.  No more progress.  One baby in - one baby out.

They were monitoring Nora's heart rate the entire time, and she was doing fine.  So after a couple hours of trying to get her to switch positions, they wheeled me back to my room.  Ruby and I spent some special time bonding and attempting to nurse and it was really quite odd, you know?  Giving birth to a baby and still being pregnant.

Eventually I got a little bit of rest in, but they kept their continuing monitoring going which prevented me from really sleeping.  I didn't mind this monitoring because obviously it was crucial to know how Nora was doing.  Around 5:00 my water broke again.  The clock was ticking, and she wasn't switching positions. My doctor eventually came in, sat down, and explained to me that she felt very strongly that I would need a c-section.  She said we could try a breech delivery, but that the risks were very high. (My doula agreed that there were a lot of risks.)  Her cord was possibly presenting first, her arms were above her head and could "lock her in" as she was coming out, and basically, the safest scenario was to have a c-section.

Through tears, I finally said yes and agreed to a c-section; something I feared more than the epidural.  What a colossal disappointment.  I had completely failed at my goal of a natural delivery. I mean, COMPLETELY.

I don't know what time it was when they wheeled me back for the c-section, but I know that one of the nurses was my old cheerleading coach and she was so sweet and friendly and encouraging during a time when I was feeling more defeated than I had ever felt in my entire life.  Josh was there, holding Ruby.  They began the procedure and, well, I just started sobbing. and sobbing. and sobbing. The parts of my body that weren't numb from the anesthesia were shaking uncontrollably and I was just.... crying. Even as I write this I'm fighting off tears remembering the experience.  Finally, my doctor turned to the anesthesiologist and cheerfully said something along the lines of, "Hey Dr. So-and-so, do we have something that can maybe help Leslie to relax?".  Mercifully he did have something, and my memory is a little foggy after that point.

I remember being able to feel them shifting and moving things around inside of me.  I couldn't feel pain, of course, but I could feel that they were in my body.  I remember seeing Nora walked past me to be cleaned off. She was born at 7:28pm... exactly six hours after her sister Ruby. I remember hearing her cry and the immense relief that came with that.  I remember Josh putting her as close to me as possible.  I remember the nurses suggesting Nora be taken away because I was just a littttttle too loopy to be responsible for holding or supporting her in any way. I remember falling asleep as they sewed me back up.  I remember just wanting my mom and for that horrible, no good, rotten day to be over.

(As it turns out, Nora was caught up in both umbilical cords.  They weren't around her neck, but they were wrapped around her arm and shoulder, preventing her from changing positions.)

So there you have it! My birth story. It is not what I wanted, nor is it what I expected.  Throughout my entire pregnancy I prepared myself for the possibilities that might come with a twin delivery.  There were so many factors and variables that would come into play, and I knew that.  I tried to hold onto my expectations and hopes with an open hand; knowing that the ultimate goal was healthy babies and a healthy self.  Still, the entire day was personally quite traumatic for me.  No, I didn't almost die, nor did the girls, but it was the exact opposite of what I wanted to have happen.  It was the lowest and weakest I have ever felt in my entire life.  Where my natural birth with Piper was empowering and inspiring, this one was defeating.

The tone of this birth story probably implies that I haven't come to terms with all that occurred, but I really do feel like I have.  I am so thankful for my two healthy baby girls.  I am so thankful that they didn't need any NICU time.  My body was aching and miserable and is now permanently scarred from the events of that day, but I am so thankful that I had the struggle and the pain and the recovery, and not my girls.  I have learned not to live in the land of "What if?", ("What if I had waited and hadn't gotten induced?") and to embrace that Josh and I made the best decisions at the time with the options and information that were presented to us.  It is even easy to think, "What if we had just tried the breech delivery?" but the truth is that the risks were too great and I was unwilling to take them.

It was a day I'll never forget. It was simultaneously one of the worst days of my life and one of the best.  It was a day of difficulty and disappointments but also a day of joy and thanksgiving.  It was the day my twin girls were born!


  1. Oh, Les, you know how much I admire you for your diligence in approaching this with "an open hand." From the moment you found out you were expecting Piper, you've been committed to doing the very best for your kids, and you have... so marvelously and honestly and more bravely than I think you realize. All your girls are so beautiful! I love you and am proud of you, friend.

    And I'm a In Pain-Curser too. So... there's that. ;)

  2. You are a strong, courageous Momma! Love you and your beautiful babies!

  3. Love this story! Thank you for sharing it, and being so real about it. Your girls are beautiful, and lucky to have you as their momma! Hope things are settling in nicely for you all!!