Birth of the Womb Raiders: Words and Video.
Sometimes in life you are blessed with things you don’t ask for and never thought you would want.
I distinctly remember telling my mother that discovering I was pregnant with twins would be one of my worst nightmares. Two babies at once, no freaking way I would want that to happen!
And of course about a week after that I discovered I was pregnant with twins.
I spent weeks, yes weeks, crying in horror.
Not because I didn’t already love both of my babies, but because the idea of having two babies was unfathomable. I wanted one snuggly infant to enjoy, one last pregnancy and one last lovely home birth.
The reality of twins was too harsh. Two babies means the birth isn’t as straightforward. How would I nurse two babies? Snuggle two babies and babywear them? Nothing could be the same with two, and there was (and still is) quite a bit of mourning over that realization.
Two babies. Scary prospect, too much unknown.
Many people (strangers, mostly) love to tell me how they wish they could have twins, or how jealous they are that I get a two for one deal.
Whoa buddy, let me tell you–there is nothing *two for one* about twin pregnancy. My entire life basically shut down due to nausea and vomiting, and then as the pregnancy progressed and my belly got larger I became more and more immobile due to the strain on my body and the heavy weight of my front end.
Yes, I also felt and still feel a bit guilty over being horrified at twin pregnancy while so many women are infertile and would die to have one baby, let alone two. But I also can’t help the way I feel. After talking to other twin mothers I began to realize that the feelings of terror and being overwhelmed, and the mourning of the loss of a simple singleton baby experience isn’t abnormal.
I am not alone, I am not some kind of horrible twin hating monster. What a relief to know that.
The entire twin pregnancy experience has been a new journey. One I didn’t ask for, one I didn’t think I wanted, but one that I’ve found has changed me in a lot of ways. Everything is different from what I planned and what I expected. Everything is more challenging. I know I said this before–the entire pregnancy has been like climbing Mt. Everest in high heels.
And the birth–oh how I mourned the loss of the birth I had dreamed of. I debated over how to go about their birth. Home birth was sort of an option, but both money and gut feelings got in in the way.
However the alternative was a hospital birth. The last time I birthed in a hospital in 2006 I left swearing I would never again subject myself to being poked, prodded, belittled, and bullied while giving birth. Never, ever again–which is why my next two children were born at home. I loved my home births so very much!
I was absolutely terrified to have a hospital birth. And with twins! They wanted to do so many things to my body.
First, Baby B was breech. That’s grounds for a c-section, which I did not want at all.
I managed to arrange for doctors who were comfortable with breech birth to attend, but it could only be guaranteed that they would be on call if I got induced.
Being induced sounded awful. That was not the natural birth I had envisioned.
As I got closer to the 38 week goal and became subsequently more miserable the idea of induction began to sound more and more reasonable. There was only so much misery my body could endure, and also only so much neglect my family and home could endure while I lay on the couch half alive for weeks on end drowning my sorrows in Zofran and crushed ice.
So, I agreed to be induced, and then I lay on the couch day and night panicking for several weeks.
Finally 11/30, the induction date, arrived.
We got to the hospital and they decided that since I have partial selective IgA deficiency they needed to have IgA free blood ready for me in the blood bank in case of emergency. For some reason this would take overnight to procure.
I lay in the hospital bed (which caused extreme pain in my super sore pubic bone!) and waited. And waited. And waited more.
Longest night ever!
During this time they did an ultrasound and we discovered that Baby B had decided to turn head down!
At 6 a.m. they had everything ready and the nurse came in and started the terrifying pitocin.
It turns out this was not as terrible or terrifying as I had read or imagined. I had some period-like cramps. The world did not end.
Then another one of my dreaded scary things had to happen–in case of twin emergency they wanted me to have an epidural.
I’ve had three other births with no epidural and been fine. I was scared to death of having it inserted, and very nervous about the loss of control that came along with it. But by this point I had accepted that this was a very different experience from my other births, and I decided to just relax and go along with the ride. So, an epidural I got.
Having it put in was weird. It didn’t so much hurt as it felt…gross. It felt like the sound a baked chicken makes when you break the legs and wings away from the body while carving it. That’s the only way I can describe it.
A resident put the epidural in while being verbally guided by the anesthesiologist. I don’t really mind, I was at a teaching hospital, but listening to the anesthesiologist correct her while they poked sharp objects into my spine did not help my anxiety level very much.
Finally it was in, and then something sort of crazy happened.
I felt nothing. No more pain. My lower half was sort of numb, like when your legs first start to fall asleep, but I could still move them. And they gave me a button to push! These people told me that I shouldn’t have to feel a single thing and to just push the button if it hurt. If the button didn’t fix the pain they would come back in and make the dose higher.
Well that was a world away from home birth.
It was very strange to lay there and just…relax. No birthing vibes, no going deep within yourself, no overwhelming power coming through your body in the form of pressure waves.
In some ways it felt like I was cheating the birthing process. I’m glad I had “normal” births prior to this because I would never have wanted to miss out on feeling actual birth–those were life changing experiences for me.
As I lay there in labor feeling nothing I realized it was ok for this birth to be different. The entire pregnancy was difficult, like one long labor in which I had to dig deep within myself to survive. I had already come to the other side of that labyrinth by surviving nine months of hell.
So I relaxed, and I waited, and I hit the damn button a lot of times.
At noon, six hours into the induction, I was only 5cm dilated.
I began to panic a little bit, worrying that the epidural would make my labor too slow, that I’d need a c-section, that the infamous cascade of interventions was going to play out right before my eyes.
At 12:45 I turned to Tyler and told him I wanted to put in my contacts and put on make-up because I felt no labor pains, why not put on make-up like it was an ordinary day. Who knew how long this was going to take, anyway.
But then before he handed me my contact case and make-up bag I felt something strange.
It was a familiar feeling from my other births.
Pressure on my tailbone, like the biggest log of poo to ever exist was trying to make an emergency exit.
I pondered this for several painless squeezing contractions and then hit the epidural button again to see what would happen.
Then I felt the pressure again and decided that I may not have time to take off my much hated glasses and put in contacts because it kind of felt like a baby was about to fall out. Either that or I was going to poop in the bed, which after taking very constipating Zofran for nine months was a distinct possibility.
I decided I’d better hit the nurse call button so they could see what was up because the epidural button didn’t take away this pressure.
I told the voice on the intercom that I felt some pressure in my tailbone.
Within 30 seconds a team of people burst into the room. The OB appeared, took one quick check and announced I was fully dilated, and then we zoomed off to the OR.
Giving birth vaginally in the OR was something else that I was dreading. Talk about interfering with a sacred birthing space!
Well, it turns out this wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I had anticipated. The hardest part of the whole thing was moving from the hospital bed onto the OR bed because my butt was numb from the epidural. Plus, pregnant with twins–moving my body anywhere wasn’t easy to begin with!
It only took them a couple minutes to get me set up on the new bed.
Then they told me to push with the pressure, and out flew a baby in one single push.
A real baby, as in this was *actually* happening.
After that I was again nervous about what they would do with Baby B. They had talked about all kinds of interventions and problems that could arise with the second baby. But, all was well and I cuddled Baby A for seven whole minutes while waiting for Baby B to move into position and come out.
Baby B was posterior–that is, face up–so she took about three pushes to come out. And then before I really knew what was happening I had two babies on my chest, and an entirely new journey was beginning.
The whole birth experience was amazing, just in a completely different way than my home births were. The hospital staff respected all of my wishes and treated me with dignity, which was one of my top concerns after how poorly I was treated with my first birth at the hospital eleven years ago back in Kentucky. Thankfully this hospital experience was absolutely *nothing* like that one.
The recovery from this birth has been a breeze. I had one tiny tear that has caused me almost no pain. I had no swelling, very little bleeding during the birth and only mild bleeding after. Very reasonable after pains. It’s like a dream.
My friend Rixa shared the following quote from Cherokee midwife Sister Morningstar towards the end of my pregnancy and I read it almost daily up until the birth. It seems only appropriate to share it here.
How does the false queen take the throne?
She betrays herself.
She tells lies to herself: I am too fat. I can’t do this. I am not allowed to do that.
Then she tells these lies to her subjects. You are too fat. You can’t do this. You aren’t allowed.
How does the true queen take back the throne?
She is true to herself. She becomes a Wild Woman again. She names the lies she told herself and discards them.
She might give birth to a breech baby vaginally in an area where 100% of breech babies are born by cesarean.
She might have a VBAC.
She might be a first-time mother catching her own baby.
She takes her self-doubts, her flaws, all those things that are too big, too wild, too much, and she reframes them in power.
Tyler made a video of the birth and I finally got a chance to edit it over the past few days. It’s not extremely graphic, there’s no blatant nudity and only a bit of birth goo, plus a glimpse of their placenta. (It had fused into one!)
The whole experience after we got home from the hospital has been completely different than any of my singleton babies’ postpartum times. I’m not surprised at this point–everything about twins is different and more difficult, it seems. But that’s a story for another day…
In the end I’ve got two absolutely gorgeous, unique baby girls and, stress/anxiety/terror/fear aside, I cannot believe how lucky I am.