Did you have a birth plan when you were pregnant? I didn’t have a formal one for my twin birth but I definitely had specific things in my head that I wanted to happen (skin on skin immediately, breast feeding, etc.). I filled out a sheet at my OB’s office about my birth wishes and we talked about it a few times. My biggest wish was for my birthing experience to be safe for my babies (I had a lot of fears and anxiety around it).
Twin Birth Preparation
The OBs and NPs that I saw on a regular basis prepared me for what could happen in my different twin birth scenarios. I wasn’t opposed to a c-section if that was what was safest! What I didn’t want was to have a natural birth with Baby A and an emergent c-section with Baby B; that seemed traumatizing. Throughout the third trimester and beginning of labor Baby A was head down and Baby B was transverse; they talked to me about the possibility of Baby B flipping and changing positions after Baby A came out. It was a lot of information and I realized I was going to have to be flexible when it came to my birthing preferences.
I will also say that as a first time mom I feel that I left a lot of decisions up to the professionals; a “they know best” kind of attitude. Under the circumstances of having a high risk multiples pregnancy I understand that some things can’t be planned and you kind of have to go with the flow, but I feel I should have advocated for myself more (I’ll get more detailed later on in this post). I want to share my twin birth story with other twin moms so that you can hear a first hand experience (the good and bad). When I was pregnant I scoured the internet for birth stories to learn and be prepared, so if I can help someone by sharing mine that makes me happy!
Twin Birth: The Beginning Of Contractions
In the evening on March 6th 2018 I started to have strong contractions: I was up pretty late timing them and wondering if this was it. My OB had advised me that since I’m a high risk multiples pregnancy, live 45 minutes away and it’s winter in Maine not to take any chances. She wanted me to call as soon as anything started happening. So I called and spoke with the Nurse Practitioner on call and we decided I should go in and be checked. I woke Jesse up out of a dead sleep and told him we needed to go, grabbed my bag and we were out the door. I was pretty impressed with him because he is a heavy sleeper and usually takes 15 minutes to wake up; he jumped right out of bed and was ready to go!
Our First Hospital Visit And False Labor
They checked me in at 1 am to the OB/GYN unit where we made ourselves comfortable. I got hooked up to the fetal monitors and an IV (which took 3-4 tries and I remember it being quite painful for some reason). The nurse checked my cervix and I was dilated 2 cm. I continued to have contractions throughout the night and wasn’t able to sleep at all. Hours later they rechecked my cervix and there was no progress so they decided to have me go home and wait it out.
We went home in the morning of March 7th and Jesse had to go into work (he only got a week off for paternity leave and didn’t want to waste a day). I spoke with my OB on the phone and he told me that we should think about staying at a hotel in town because there was a huge snow storm looming and he didn’t want us to take any chances. We totally agreed with him and booked two nights at our favorite hotel. That evening when Jesse was out of work we headed back to the city. I remember the car ride to be extremely uncomfortable; every bump felt like I was going to pop.
The first night at the hotel was uneventful thankfully; it had started snowing already so we were happy to be safe and sound near a hospital! I can’t imagine if we had been 45 minutes away, going into labor and having to drive that far (which would probably take much longer in the snow)! That night I didn’t sleep well but that was to be expected. I continued to have strong contractions throughout the night. The next day, March 8, Jesse had to work from his computer most of the morning and afternoon. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel (waffles!) that morning. Throughout the day I watched some movies and just tried to relax. I was extremely uncomfortable and my contractions continued to be quite strong and painful.
Is It False Labor Or The Real Thing?
The evening of March 8 I started to have even stronger contractions that were progressively getting worse. The pain was all in my back which felt unbearable (back labor is not something I had researched prior, ouch). I remember getting in and out of the shower a hundred times, cranking it up as hot as it would go and putting a hot towel on my back and letting the water hit it. Over and over; it was the only thing that made me feel somewhat better. I finally called my OB again and he wasn’t convinced it was time yet (he really wanted those babies to stay in me until 37 weeks which is considered full term for twins and at the time I was 36 weeks 5 days); he offered to write me a prescription for a medication to slow preterm labor. Jesse headed out into the snowstorm to pick up the medication from the pharmacy and I just prayed nothing happened while he was gone. He must’ve been gone 30 minutes to go 2 miles that seemed like eternity.
When My Water Broke
AS SOON as he got back (I’m talking when he stepped inside the room), I was laying on the bed and I just felt this huge gush of water soak me and the bed. This was it! My water broke and it was time to go! We let my OB know my water broke and we were heading to the hospital; he called and let them know we were coming. By the way, nothing prepared me for what my water breaking would feel like; it was SO weird! Also, a reminder that with twins I had TWO amniotic sacs filled with fluid so it was A LOT of fluid. Before we left I changed into new sweatpants and slipped on my snow boots. The entire time I was walking down the hall, into the elevator and into the car, I was leaking fluids (I know TMI right?). It was literally filling my snow boots! The drive to the hospital was intense, every bump and turn was agony! My contractions were all in my back still and it felt like my spine was going to burst open; there was so much pressure.
At The Hospital
We got checked into labor and delivery and we walked up (still leaking fluid here guys) to our room. We got ahold of our parents and they rushed to get to the hospital. Jesse’s parents drove through the worst of the snow storm and my Mom had to book a flight from Florida so my Dad could pick her up the next morning. I finally got the time to change out of my sloshy snow boots and drenched sweatpants and into one of those fabulous hospital gowns. I got all hooked up to my IVs, fetal monitors and then waited for the nurse. She checked my cervix and I was only dilated 2.5 cm (basically no progress here since my last hospital visit). We waited for the OB to get there and he gave us all the scenarios if we were to decide to wait for dilation for a natural birth. We pretty quickly and collectively decided on a c-section being the safest option.
The Operating Room, Spinal Anesthesia And Surgery
I was wheeled into the OR which felt like it was -50 degrees (especially with my wet hair from the repeated showers). We had quite a team of people in there including nurses, anesthesiologist, OB and NICU people just in case. They prepped me for my spinal anesthesia which took two tries and I’m not going to lie, it was painful (and left a giant bruise). I was also extremely cold and shaking uncontrollably at this point; the nurse was doing her best to help me out while they gave me the spinal but it was not a fun process.
Spinal Side Effects
Once they got it they positioned me on the table and explained to me what was going to happen; the c-section would take about an hour. Once I was laying down the spinal made my blood pressure drop so they administered a medication to bring it back up which gave me an instant migraine. I literally couldn’t focus on anything other than how bad my head was hurting. I remember asking the anesthesiologist (who was hovering over my head) if it was normal to have such a bad migraine at this point. I was also still shaking and feeling so cold. They wrapped my upper half with heated blankets which helped a little. At this point I can’t feel anything below my waist and they’ve got the drapes up. Jesse was in his PPE and waiting in the OR hallway. Once he was let in, we were ready to go.
I remember hearing the doctor tell Jesse not to tell me what he sees and hearing all of the surgical tools clanking around (which gave me a little anxiety to be honest). They didn’t want him to look either in case he couldn’t handle it. Us having a medical background though, he couldn’t resist. He to this day, loves talking about everything he saw. In the moment I definitely didn’t want to see or know what was happening but I would love to see a video after the fact! During the operation I didn’t feel anything except pressure here and there (the pain relief was so amazing).
The Twins Are Here
Once they took Baby A (Charlotte) out at 10:23 pm I felt this immediate and complete pressure relief; it was unreal! The pressure on my ribs and diaphragm was gone and no more of that dreaded heartburn! Baby B (Isabelle) came out next at 10:24 pm (barely 1 minute difference here, it’s more like a few seconds) and they both cried, I cried and all was okay; it was such a rush of relief, feeling of happiness and love!
Jesse went right over with the nurses while they did their physical exams, vitals and cleaning up of the babies. We were impressed with how much room they had and how organized the staff was to get the babies what they needed quickly. They let Jesse cut both umbilical cords and took photos for us. Charlotte was 5 lbs, 18.3 inches and Isabelle was 5 lbs 3 oz, 19.5 inches. They were just peanuts but they were healthy and didn’t need any NICU time! Meanwhile I was still on the table freezing, with a migraine and pretty out of it honestly. I didn’t mention it in my pregnancy post (oops) but the only issue I had throughout was being anemic. After birth I was even more anemic and I think it sent me for a loop.
Once the cords were cut and the babies had their vitals taken they were brought over to me one by one. I was still covered with heated blankets and the babies were swaddled; I held them and couldn’t believe how little they were. I was so happy that they were healthy and that we made it to this point. I cried some more. Both babies had low temperatures and had to be taken to the nursery to warm up. Sadly I didn’t get any skin to skin time like I had wanted; this is one of the scenarios where I probably should have spoken up but I was quite overwhelmed. I’m not sure if I could have changed anything even if I did speak up or question things but I do regret not doing so. Jesse went with the babies to the nursery but had to wait outside. Because there were a ton of babies there that night, our two shared a warmer. He was able to go in after a while and watch while the nurse gave them a bath and got them all cleaned up. I wish I had pictures of this!
C-Section Recovery Room
In the meantime, they closed me up in the OR and wheeled me down the hallway in bed. I remember having a big white bucket at my feet and asking what it was; they said it was my placenta and they send it out for testing. They brought me to a recovery room where I continued to ask the nurses tons of questions; I seriously had no idea where the babies or Jesse were at this point. My legs were still numb from the spinal and I had two automatic compression boots on. I took a sip of water and immediately started vomiting; the nurse did warn me to take it easy beforehand but I was so thirsty.
Eventually, Jesse came back alone and he says that I was really yellow and out of it. I’m chalking it up to being so anemic. I remember my nurse that night teaching me how to hand express colostrum and use an electric breast pump. At some point 4-5 hours after my c-section they brought the babies back to us. This is another time when I wish I had spoken up, 4-5 hours is SO long to be separated from your new babies. I hadn’t even had a chance to properly hold one, let alone both! I finally got to really hold them and it was magical. Two babies! I really couldn’t believe they were both ours. They were so beautiful and perfect!
Jesse’s parents, who had been waiting hours, were allowed “7 minutes” to visit per our nurse because it was way past visiting hours. Seriously, she said 7 minutes! They came in to see us and the babies quickly and we said our goodbyes for the night. We started to try breastfeeding that night which was very difficult and mostly unsuccessful. It was okay though because we had gotten a few drops of colostrum that we gave to them. That night the nurses took the babies to the nursery because apparently I needed to rest (I’m really foggy on the first day of all of this). I don’t remember sleeping but I do remember them bringing the babies back in for feedings where we continued to attempt breastfeeding.
Day Two In The Hospital Post Twin Birth
The next day, March 9, we changed rooms to where we would stay the next two nights. The rooms at the hospital were really nice! Jesse sprawled out on the couch by the window, the babies in between us and me in my hospital bed. My legs were still a little tingly at this point and I still had on my automatic compression boots. This is also the moment I realized I had a catheter in and that I was SUPER swollen all over; the nurse said they pumped me full of fluids and they would get the IV out soon. The catheter would also come out later.
Getting out of bed for the first time was VERY difficult and painful. The nurse had to assist me to the edge of the bed (modA for all you medical people) and she and another nurse walked me to the bathroom and helped me clean up (what an experience by the way, I’m usually on the other end of it when working). I’m a pretty modest person so I was definitely uncomfortable; they were super professional though. They set me up with all of my supplies for the next few days: giant pads, mesh undies, wipes and an abdominal binder.
I took the advice of my friend who worked at the hospital and started a take-home stash that the nurses gladly added to everyday! The one piece of advice I had learned from ALL the moms was take as many mesh undies as you can, haha! The abdominal binder was SO important to my recovery; it wrapped around my abdomen (stretchy material) and was secured with velcro. Wearing this all day helped ease my incision pain and made moving around a little easier. I wore my binder for weeks! It was the best thing ever; I highly recommend wearing one!
Feeding And Lactation Consultant
During the day we saw a lactation consultant who tried to help us breastfeed; she said the girls were having a hard time latching because they were so small. We tried many different methods of feeding during our hospital stay: tandem breastfeeding, single breastfeeding, using a gavage while trying breastfeeding and syringe drops. Check out my “Exclusively Pumping For Twins” post for an in depth look at our feeding journey. I was very frustrated because I WANTED so badly to successfully breastfeed them but every 2-3 hours when it was time it took us SO long and was usually not effective.
Over the course of the few days we were there, the girls lost enough weight where we had to give them formula (which was fine, just not what I planned). We did that and continued to try all of our feeding methods. After each feeding I also used the double electric breast pump for 30 minutes (usually by the time I was done, unhooked, pump parts washed, it was time for the next feeding). I was so tired.
Meeting All The Grandparents
Jesse’s parents and sister came back to visit that morning. Everyone got to hold the babies and take photos. One of my girlfriends who worked at the hospital also got to come up and visit all of us. Later on in the day my parents arrived. They were just as excited to meet the babies, hold them and take photos. They also were lifesavers because at this point I had run out of clean clothes for the girls (so much poop) and none of the clothes I had fit the babies anyway; the hospital provided us with one preemie outfit each but they were already dirty. My parents ran to the store and bought up the whole preemie section because I also didn’t have ANY preemie clothes at home. By the way, I’m supposed to be the queen of being prepared and somehow it had escaped me that I might need preemie clothing!
Day Three In The Hospital Post Twin Birth
My parents were also around the next day, March 10. I remember after another long, sleepless night of feedings and pumping, everyone tried to get me to take a nap (which didn’t happen). I was VERY tired, swollen and sore but I couldn’t bare to miss a moment. I’m not sure if it’s that twin mom energy kicking in but I felt the need to do it all. I did get to take my first shower while my parents were there to help out; it felt SO good to clean up completely, although it was VERY difficult! Bending over was so painful so it was more like a curtsy.
This is also the point when the nurses told me that the girls had lost too much weight, still had low blood sugars and we needed to supplement with formula until my milk came in. The girls took to formula quite easily with no reactions so the transition was fine. We also stocked up on the hospital provided formula to take home; they were so generous to us.
Hospital Birth Photographer
The hospital birth photographer came around this day (after I turned her down 3 other times because we were so busy) and took beautiful photos of the girls. I bought them all and they are my favorite photos. She was the best! I highly recommend those fresh newborn photos, they are so worth the expense.
The Last Night: Car Seat And Hearing Tests
That last night we were in the hospital the nurses took the babies for their carseat tolerance tests (90 minutes in the carseats having to maintain oxygen saturations, breathing rates and heart rates). They both passed and Isabelle had a blow out in her carseat (they cleaned it up for me thankfully). They also had their hearing tests which they both failed one side; we ended up following up a few weeks later and they passed. I think I got a little sleep that night while the babies were doing all their testing!
Day Four In The Hospital Post Twin Birth
The next day was discharge day! We had a visit from the pediatrician and my OB. I was healing well and the babies were healthy so we were in the clear to go home! We got all of our stuff packed up, the nurses helped us get the babies into their car seat for the first time correctly and off we went! I sat in the back and made Jesse go about 40 MPH on the interstate on the way home; I was SO nervous, worried and over-protective. We made it home (to Jesse’s parents at the time) and all of our parents were waiting for us to lend helping hands. It was quite the experience, but only just the beginning!
I hope that I gave you some useful information in my birth story! It wasn’t picture perfect but we made it through and everyone was happy and healthy. The main point I want you to take away from this is: have a birth plan, discuss it with your provider, be flexible but advocate for your needs and wants! Have your partner be on the same page as you and advocate for you as well. It goes by VERY quickly, there is a ton of information and then you’re sent out on your own with TWO BABIES. Take it all in and enjoy your precious bundles of joy! Oh and like I said in my last post, GET A JOURNAL! Write it all down. You’ll look back at it and want to relive every single detail!