Thursday, December 30, 2010

Twins Birth Story, Part 3

My favorite midwife broke my water.  I looked again. It was still 5:10 p.m.

Encouraged that both babies were still in head-down position, I was still trembling because I did not feel emotionally ready. I braced myself as the contractions began hard and fast.  It was so odd to be so quickly in the heat of hard labor without the gradual build-up, that I was a little out-of-sorts. I was not convinced that my endorphin level was up to the same level as the contractions, because the labor was agonizing. In my mind I was still expecting the same type labor to which I was accustomed. I was not factoring in starting labor at 5 cm. dilation.

The room was filling rapidly. Sitting upright at the very end of the bed, I leaned back against Phil's chest, holding onto his legs for support. Sitting on mot much more than my tailbone, I felt that I was falling during the whole labor. Surrounding us were my two midwives, a nurse and a sweet lady OB who just stood there as backup, smiling and nodding approvingly. I wondered how she could smile at a time like this. The perimeter of the room was a stadium. There were nurses for each baby, an anesthesiologist-all there 'just in case'- and  other nurses who had heard what was happening and just wanted to watch. Normally a prude, I did not care that they were spectating.

I prayed with every breath. I was in my own world of pain and toil - no one else seemed to notice. The eyes around me were not reading the physical suffering inside. I wanted...needed...someone to do something. Couldn't anyone do anything to make this easier? Can't they see what's happening? An earthquake is happening inside me and no one is panicking. I was too deep into my labor to be able to communicate how much I needed help. In the midst of all these people, I was alone with my God. Every drop of air inhaled, every draft breathed out was a crying out to my Father. I lost track of whether I prayed aloud or silently, but I could hear Phil whispering prayer in my ear, in Hebrew, in English, in Hebrew, in English. The midwives kept speaking to me, but I no longer heard anything but Phil's voice. I must not have been completely silent, because I could see tears in the eyes of some of the spectators. Natural childbirth is unusual at this hospital, so they aren't used to seeing the pain of childbirth so raw.

"All-Compassionate One, shorten my suffering..."

Almost instantly I was in transition. No one checked, I just knew. My faith in myself was failing. I could not do this...what had I gotten myself into? Suffering had taken me to that beautiful place of surrender where I knew the only way I would survive was if my Father carried me through. Transition indeed.

I began pushing out the first baby. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. Normally encouraged and strengthened by the thought that, "This is almost over", I had to force myself not to think about having to do this again momentarily. Blessedly, the pushing was uneventful. Digging deep to pull up strength greater than what you have...the ring of fire...the relief! Baby A was a girl!

The contractions stopped cold immediately. Baby A was whisked off to the other side of the room. She was beautiful and fat from afar. Six pounds, 12 ounces was incredible for a twin. I was relieved. The room was eerily still as we waited to see what would happen with Baby B. Second twins are famous for flipping freely once they have so much room in the womb, and becoming breech. Not a flicker of a contraction...not a word. After catching my breath from pushing, I looked around at the eyes. Meeting my midwife's eyes, she whispered, "Just rest", and smiled at me. After seven or eight minutes went by, the contractions began anew.

These contractions were harder. Baby B was not low in the womb like Baby A was. I had to work to get her into position, then to push her out. The pushing was easier...another girl! Seven pounds, six ounces...even better weight, and just as beautiful.

Twenty-three minutes had elapsed between Baby A and Baby B being born.

In the pause waiting for the contractions for the placentas to begin, we were all overwhelmed by the perfect, textbook twin birth. Relaxing some, I turned to the wall-sized window and noticed that it was darker. Well before sundown, I strained to see without my glasses that it was raining. Placid, rhythmic rain was the ending blessing on a beautiful birth. My midwife and I both produced a few tears. Even in the hospital, even in the crowd, peace was there because YHWH's spirit was there.

I sighed and muttered praise to my Father. It had been intense, but it was over. Really over. I had done it.  Both babies were head down, both babies were fat. I carried twins to full term and delivered them naturally. YHWH had been faithful to me.

I looked at the clock. It read 6:20 p.m. Seventy minutes ago I was convinced I was not in labor.

"All-Compassionate One, shorten my suffering..."

Faithful indeed.

This is Part 3 of a 3-part series.

You may read Part 2 here.

Part 1 is here.

I will be posting one more installment in this story to help other twin Mommas find information and to give the advice I wish I had been given - a sort of 'moral to the story' post.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Twins Birth Story, Part 2

The miracle was that I made it through the week. It was a blur of resting and counting contractions, fighting for any minutes of sleep around the clock. The dress washing-cycle also continued. For months I was down to two outfits that fit, one to wash and one to wear, over and over. Friday arrived again, with Phil home and another midwife appointment looming.

Unsure of whether I was more frightened at the prospect of beginning labor so fatigued or having to continue carrying these babes another day, we headed to town. Again I planned to not return home until I had my babes in arms. I just hoped my midwife would be in agreement.

At the 11:00 a.m. appointment I was found to be 5 cm. dilated, reconfirming my assessment that some of those contractions with which I had been dealing all month were not-your-average-false-labor-contractions. Deep relief filled me as my midwife assured me that I could not go "all the way home" in this condition, and that my babies would be born today. She stripped my membranes, gave me specific instructions for black cohosh dosage over the next few hours, then sent Phil and I out shopping to keep me walking while waiting for labor to begin. In what I discovered later to be foreshadowing, we were strictly instructed not to go more than 10 minutes from the hospital. If nothing was happening, we were to report back to her at 4:00 p.m.

It was mid-August, the temperature was in the upper 90's, and the humidity was 85% even though it had not rained in weeks. We dropped by my favorite thrift store, ran a few errands, then went to lunch at one of those fancy grocery store cafes. Far too many choices at the grocery store left me walking lumbering around in circles. I kept stopping because the contractions were too difficult to walk through. This was the same type contraction I had been having for a month; they felt the same, acted the same, lasted as long. Even though I was used to folks looking at me too much  (because I had been e-nor-mous for months), as discreet as I was trying to be, it was still drawing too much attention in the form of weird looks from other shoppers. I was convinced by the contractions that I was not yet in labor, but the emotional signposts were concerning me. (My midwives had taught me during other births to read those as much as the physical symptoms.) I was at that point where I did not want anyone looking at me anymore. I wanted to be alone.

After taking our sweet time sitting to eat - I was stalling because I did not want to have to walk anymore - we opted to go back to see the midwife again, an hour earlier than she had instructed. Still at 5 cm., she stripped my membranes one more time, then left me with instructions to take a nap while she went to a phone conference. I 'rested' as best a whale could atop a doctor's exam table with slippery paper with nary a contraction for an hour. I prayed as much as I could remember of The Childbirth Prayer, reciting especially the line, "All-Compassionate One, shorten my suffering."

After the meeting, both midwives were able to give me their full attention, and not wanting to miss a chance at adding another twin birth to their experience, stayed with me. I continued to argue that I was not in labor because I only had contractions if I was sitting in a certain upright position. I could get them to stop by lying down, which had always been a test of true labor in all my experience before. They all, both midwives and Phil, encouraged me to go to Labor & Delivery and allow them to break my water so we could meet these babies. My fear was beginning a long labor as drained as I was.  Exhausted, I gave in.

In the delivery room, I asked for a few minutes of privacy so Phil and I could pray alone together. Phil prayed over me, I took a deep breath, and the midwives came in. I glanced at the wall clock which would dishearten and encourage me in turns. It read 5:10 p.m.

You may read Part 1 here.

Part 3 is here.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twins Birth Story, Part 1

I had seven children when an unusually early positive pregnancy test led me to discover I was expecting again. These pregnancies were closer together than the last few had been, so we were surprised. Extreme morning sickness did not give it away, but my measuring exceptionally large for dates led us to an ultrasound at twenty weeks. Earlier parts of the story are chronicled here, here, here and here.

From the time we knew we were expecting twins, my midwife and OB told me that our ultimate goal was to keep these babies in the womb until 37 weeks gestation. Our first goal was to make it to 32 weeks, then "we would be grateful for every extra week".

I made it. It was early on a Friday morning, Mr. Visionary's day to work at home. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and was prepared to go to my midwife appointment and hear her say that it was "time".  At the appointment, she said that I was fully effaced and measuring 4 cm. dilation. I was prepared for a little herbal cocktail and possibly having her strip my membranes to get labor going. I fully expected to not return home until I had two babes-in-arms, but it was not to be. My midwife did not have a peace about beginning labor yet, so I was sent home to wait, "but I expect those babies to come this weekend".

I called my Mom, who hoped be around when I had the babies and told her to listen out for a call. She lives eight hours away, so instead of waiting, she secretly hopped in the car.

My hormone levels had to be off the charts, as I could hardly go an hour without crying. Miserably uncomfortable in any possible position (my fundal height was measuring 53 cm.), I could not sleep. The disappointment of waiting for the big day to come only to have to wait longer was more than I could bear. I was a basket case. I spent the afternoon crying and trying to nap until my midwife called. Phil must have told her how I was doing, because she tenderly gave me "permission" to have my babies whenever I was ready. She let me know that I had done well - that I could now let my body do whatever it needed to without worrying that it was too soon. She reassured me by mentioning who was on call that weekend, and simply spoke comfortingly to me.

I hadn't realized that I wanted "permission", but I relaxed greatly after hearing it.  If you have never experienced the care of a midwife before, you do not know what you are missing. They truly understand the whole picture of a pregnant woman and can minister more effectively by taking emotions and family dynamics into account in a way that an OB simply does not even have time for. I was blessed by her call.

The Wallers were in town, staying at my girlfriend's farm and having a Rosh Chodesh gathering that night. I had made no plans to go, thinking I'd be in labor, but somehow I was talked into getting some food together and going. Ugh. It was a hot, sticky August night in the South. We sat around a pond where I fretted all night about my one-year-old getting too close to the water while I was too whale-like to run after her. I was so hot, uncomfortable and downright miserable I cried the whole way home.

I spent the next day, Sabbath, praying for a way to be able to make it with Phil at work the next week and begging Phil to help me find a way. I was thinking I could go into labor at any moment, but that if I did not, there was no way I was going to be able to care for the children and myself alone. I was already fretting about how I was going to get to the hospital in time and get someone here to be with the children. I have a history of precipitous labors, and we live 40 minutes from the hospital, so to this day I still believe some of the fretting was valid.

My Mom was in town for my seventh birth (she even got to be at the birth), but had to leave that day. She had never been around for a birth before that, so I was not expecting any miracles on that front, but one came anyway. Monday morning she came over to be with the children and me and stayed the whole week! I believed my Heavenly Father pulled that one out of thin air because it was not even a remote hope of mine. I was so relieved!

Late Monday night when Mr. Visionary brought in the mail, there was a letter from a lady who had read in the Samaritan Ministries Prayer Guide that we were expecting twins this month. After reading that she had twins herself that she (no doubt to encourage me) conspicuously mentioned carrying to 41 weeks, I broke down in loud, heaving sobs and eventually cried myself to sleep.

You may read Part 2 here.

Part 3 is here