I wanted to share my birth story with the twins, just like I did Theodore’s! Here goes:
As soon as I learned I was pregnant with twins, I started researching like crazy–about the birth among countless other things. It seemed like in Denmark at least the protocol was that women carrying twins that share a placenta (as mine did) were generally induced/had a caesarean section planned for 38 weeks, as this type of pregnancy carries more risk than a singleton or fraternal twin pregnancy. Most hospitals recommend a vaginal birth if at least the leading twin is head-down, and there are no other complications. If the leading twin was breech, or there were other risk factors, a c-section was the recommendation.
For most of my pregnancy, I felt a bit in limbo, as I didn’t really know which type of birth I should be preparing for. Finally, towards the end, it seemed that baby A was the leading twin, and both were head-down, so I was all set for a vaginal birth.
With my first pregnancy, I was induced at 42 weeks, so I wasn’t holding out much hope of going into labor on my own, even carrying twins (who are usually born early) although I have to admit, I was hoping a bit. The experience of going into labor is one I had always looked forward to.
However, the weeks passed, and I finally reached the date of my induction, which, coincidentally was also my birthday! We had left Theo with his cousins the night before, and walked into the hospital bright and early at 7:45.
I was checked (four centimeters, and completely effaced–hooray!), was put on monitors for a half an hour, and then was told to sit tight in the waiting room, as there would likely open up a room in the labor ward sometime that morning.
Hours passed, we took a walk around the hospital grounds (finding a four leaf clover!), and had coffee and ice cream at the hospital cafe.
Finally, around 2 pm when no labor room had opened up decided to hang out at the campgrounds nearby with Andreas’s parents who had come to meet the baby girls when they were born.
As a few more hours passed, we decided that 8 pm would be our cut-off. I didn’t want to start an induction being already exhausted, so as no room opened by 8, we decided to stay in a little hut at the campgrounds rather than returning home for the night, with instructions to call again in the morning. I guess the girls just weren’t destined to share my birthday.
Luckily, after a night of traipsing up to the communal toilets several times, they told us to come in at 8 am, so Andreas’s dad drove us to the hospital! They did the monitoring again as soon as I got there, and everything still looked great. Then we got a room right away (hooray!), I was checked (5 centimeters this time) and they broke my water at 9:30 to try to get things going, with an agreement to start pitocin if things didn’t start on their own by 11:30. Nothing happened, so after some yummy brunch at 11, they started pitocin (and strapped on those irritating monitors and put a port in my hand) at 11:30 and contractions started. I rested through the first hour or so, and as the contractions grew stronger, I moved to the birthing ball, or stood and hung onto Andreas through contractions.
One funny thing–I had just read the book The Reluctant Midwife, in which one woman in labor sang through her contractions, so I thought I would try, since I like to sing. I ended up more humming than singing, but it helped me so, so much to get through each contraction. Only a couple of times, I faltered when I couldn’t think of a song quickly enough, and those contractions were much harder to get through.
After a few hours, the midwives started noticing me making “pushy” noises, although I didn’t really register it myself. They asked me to come up on the bed. They checked me and I was at an eight. Contractions were more difficult on the bed, and I can’t really remember why I didn’t get back up…maybe because they said I might be pushing soon? I started using gas and air at this point, which really did help take the edge off, although it did make me “feel funny” as I couldn’t stop telling Andreas, haha! The midwives had a shift change around here as well, which was a bit disappointing. I really loved the midwives I had (one midwife and one student midwife) and I think I would have done better towards the end and during pushing if they had still been with me.
After a while of not much happening, the midwife suggested I get up on my knees and lean against the back of the bed, which I did. Here, things start getting a little fuzzy. I started to lose control a bit. Contractions were coming really, really fast, and they turned off the pitocin completely, but not before I was saying “I think an epidural is a good idea. Yes. Let’s do that.” They told me they would check me again at 5 pm (it was about 4:30 when I changed position) and we could talk about it then. Things started getting very, very painful, and at about 4:45 they said they would check me again, but as I was going from my knees to laying on the bed, my body did a HUGE push, and I think Oona was *right there.*
They called all of the extra people into the room–the head midwife, a doctor and student doctor, two pediatricians, a couple of anaesthesiologists, etc. My body was doing its own thing at this point, and quite honestly I was sort of freaking out. It was all happening so fast, and I had never had a natural birth before! I remember feeling really annoyed, because it felt like the midwife was trying to push the baby back in, and I was trying to push her out, while really she was supporting my perineum, trying to prevent tearing. They invited me to feel the baby’s head, and I reached down, expecting to feel her just starting to crown, but I felt her head about halfway out, and “Holy shit!” flew out of my mouth. Oona arrived at 4:58 pm, and they tried to put her on my chest, but quickly whisked her away, as one of the midwives had to get a death grip on Beatrix in my belly to keep her from somersaulting her way into a breech position.
I was equally annoyed at everyone as I pushed Beatrix out–she arrived at 5:09, and she came up on my chest for a few minutes so I could admire her, as purply-whitish as she was.
However, they were quite anxious to get the placenta out, as I had some retained placenta after my first birth which caused me to bleed. They upped the pitocin to max, and had me pushing–I remember it was stuck about halfway out, and–guys, that thing was HUGE. I never got to see it all the way, but halfway was enough. (I have a picture of this, but I will graciously not post it here.)
The placenta came out in one piece, but I was still bleeding a LOT–my uterus had been so stretched that it couldn’t shrink down on its own, so while one midwife or nurse or someone smashed my stomach down, the doctor was (what felt like) shoving sponges inside. This was 100% the most painful time. They started to wheel me away, and I remember telling Andreas it would be okay, but I was terrified. I became more and more frantic as I was wheeled down the hall to an operating room. I remember they had an oxygen mask on me, and I felt like I couldn’t breath at all–I was flailing and screaming, asking to go to sleep. I thought I might die. Eventually they were able to put me under, get the bleeding under control, and give me a few portions of blood.
I started to come to, but it took a lot of tries before I could open my eyes. When I finally did, Andreas was just arriving–he told me the girls were fine and offered to show me a picture, but I didn’t want the first time I saw them to be a picture, so I decided to wait. Finally, about four hours after they were born, I was wheeled into the girls’ room in the neonatal unit and saw them for the first time.
Oona had had a C-pap for a little while after she was born, as she had inhaled a bit of amniotic fluid, and they both had a feeding tube, as the staff didn’t know when I would be able to come and nurse them.
Oona’s C-pap was off before I even got there, and the girls both pulled out their feedings tubes in the course of the night, and we were moved to the mother-and-baby unit in the morning where we stayed for a few days to get breastfeeding going and recover a bit more. Our time staying at the hospital was nice (when isn’t it nice to not have to cook any meals?!) and we got to show the girls off to Andreas’s family and to Theodore, who we missed so much while we were away.
The girls were born on a Tuesday, and we were on our way home Friday morning.