Leo and Asa’s birth story. (annotated by Kai)
I had an uneventful weekly appointment Wednesday and felt pretty good Thursday and Friday but hadn’t slept well either night. My mom had been here for a little over a week helping us get everything ready and making it easier for us to go to the many baby appointments but she was needed back home for a family emergency. We weren’t worried, Kai’s mom was planning on coming the following week and we were pretty sure nothing was going to happen over the weekend since the twins were both breech and I had no signs of labor. Of course they had other ideas!
I woke up to use the restroom at 5 am on Saturday the 25th and as soon as I laid back down to try to get back to sleep my water broke. Like with Gus, we weren’t sure I hadn’t just peed myself so I laid back down to try to rest a few more minutes. I had a contraction very soon after and lost more fluid (it was a pretty significant gush, like really a lot, and we were sure at that point that her water had broken). The contractions seemed to be about 15-20ish minutes apart and not very difficult to handle. We called Kai’s mom to drive out. We knew it would take about 3.5 hours but weren’t too worried about her making it in time for us to go to the hospital based on my previous labor experiences.
By 6 am (an hour later) the contractions were starting to feel pretty difficult to manage but not super regular. I decided to take a shower at this point and turned on some music to try to help distract me while we got things together and took care of last minute things. (The major last minute thing that Rachel stressed was most important was to get the sheets changed out on the bed for my mom. So, I set to work stripping the bed and taking the sheets down to get washed. I didn’t manage to finish making the bed until the day we got home from the hospital.)
By 7 am (2 hours after my water broke) the contractions were definitely difficult and 4-5 minutes apart moving quickly closer together. (Since the contractions had started I always asked Rachel a couple of questions while they were happening. This may seem like kind of a dick move to make her talk to me through a contraction, but I knew that once labor had progressed to really serious she wouldn’t be able to talk through them anymore. It was around this time that I was asking Rachel about the contractions when she said, “Stop asking me all these questions I know you’re trying to see if I can still talk during contractions, but it’s getting really annoying!”)
The kids started waking up around this time and Kai was getting breakfast for them and helping me finish packing and cleaning up.
I was starting to get really nervous at how difficult the contractions were getting and how close together but at the same time I felt like labor couldn’t possibly be very far progressed.
By 7:30 I really had to focus and started vocalizing (moaning, groaning) to get through the contractions which were now 2-5 minutes apart. I had been thinking maybe it just felt more intense because it was twins this time but I had to acknowledge that we were a lot further along than I’d realized. During this time Kai was supporting me through each contraction and still getting things ready and the kids taken care of. I knew Jacquie wouldn’t make it in time so Kai ran over to our neighbors to have them hang out with the big kids until Jacquie got to town and we left for the hospital.
(I’ll just jump in here as I remember this a little differently than Rachel. There comes a point in any labor when there is a distinct change in the sounds the laboring woman makes. I call this the sh** just got real sound. This happened with Gus while I was on the phone with our doula AJ and she could tell just from hearing Rachel in the background that it was go time. I was getting breakfast on the table for the kids when I heard it and was headed for the door to get the neighbors when Rachel came out of the bedroom and said it was time to go.)
7:44 am We arrived at hospital and Kai knew by the car ride that I was definitely pretty far into labor. They took me to triage and tried to check me but I couldn’t lay down because the contractions were so intense and close together.
(I’ll jump back in again to fill this out a little more as I doubt Rachel remembers any of this part. We live about 7 minutes from the hospital and by the time we were on our way the contractions were right on top of one another. What was more concerning was that for each contraction Rachel would sort of blank out and vocalize through them. This told me that she was pretty far along and that labor was moving very quickly.
When we arrived at the hospital I had to park in the patient’s garage and get her halfway across the sprawling hospital complex to the L&D ward. I helped her out of the car and walked he over toward the elevators, stopping every minute or so to have a contraction. Some nice person from the hospital was returning a wheelchair from the parking lot and asked if we needed help and I said yeah we should probably take the wheelchair. Now it should be known that Rachel and I have, in the past, shown some disdain for the way labors are portrayed in movies, but running through the hospital with Rachel in the wheelchair laboring was pretty much exactly like how those go in the movies.)
During this time I started panicking a little. I was obviously in the transition stage of labor and everything in the room was moving very quickly. I was overwhelmed by the chaos and started feeling very scared about the precipitous labor but wasn’t able to talk because I was so focused on each contraction. Since my doctor wasn’t there yet Kai spoke to the staff and alerted them to some of my triggers from being a rape and trauma survivor. The entire tone of the room changed and everything slowed down a little and people began speaking to me instead of about me and they assigned a nurse to let me know everything that was happening before or as it was happening, especially anytime someone needed to touch me. I’m so thankful Kai knew how and what to tell them while still comforting me physically and emotionally that entire time. (I’m pretty proud of this. I wasn’t able to be her labor support for very long, but I’m glad I could support Rachel so well.)
They stopped trying to get me to lay down and tried to find both babies heart rates and positions with me kneeling on the bed but they couldn’t get a good read. They managed to check my cervix in that position and I was somewhere around 5 cm but it was really hard to tell because I did not tolerate the exam well.
My doctor was on her way to the hospital at this point and speaking to the doctor on call about getting anesthesia in there immediately but we were running out of time to get the spinal.
I had to say goodbye to Kai as we headed to the OR but I knew he’d only be a minute behind me. I was scared to go back alone but we had been prepared for this part at least.
By the time I got to the OR literally a few minutes later I was 10 cm dilated. They told me to try not to push yet because Twin A (Leo) was right there, obviously breech, and my doctor wasn’t there yet. My doctor could deliver both babies breech but the doctor on call was not comfortable with breech twins. I’m not sure of everything going on at this point but there was a high level of concern because of the precipitous labor. There was some discussion of a possible complication that would indicate that one or both babies needed to be out immediately or that I was at risk of something catastrophic.
They advised me that my doctor was in the building and recommended general anesthesia. We had spent quite a lot of time discussing every birth option and possibility with her in our prenatal visits and I knew without any doubt she wouldn’t make that recommendation lightly. That was an absolute last resort for us. I knew that Kai would be coming in after I was out and most likely Twin A would be born before he made it into the OR. I had a weird feeling so I trusted my gut and decided not to wait for my doctor to arrive and told them to go ahead with the preparation for general anesthesia.
I was crying while they prepped me because it was so chaotic and everything was happening so fast. I’d known being under general anesthesia was a possibility but it wasn’t a very likely situation for us. I also knew it was the best decision I could make under the circumstances. I had a flashback to Dex’s birth as I lay on the table feeling pretty vulnerable as everything swirled around me. I knew Kai would be concerned with how I would process all of this and asked them to warn him that I would be under general before he came in and that I was ok with everything happening.
8:19 am – exactly 35 minutes from when we arrived at the hospital and exactly 3 hours after my water broke – I’m told both babies were born by cesarean in the same minute! Leo Ward 5 lb 3 oz, 19 inches and Asa Michael 5 lb 15 oz, 19 inches. My OB made it into the room as both twins were coming out and Kai was allowed in just after. (I was able to be in the room a couple minutes after the twins were born. Everyone was great and talked to me about how the twins and Rachel were doing. They even got a picture of me holding the twins together for the first time. I left the OR when the twins did. Asa had to go to the transition area to get his blood sugar checked again and Leo and I went to the nursery together. After a few minutes with Leo I went to Asa and helped feed him for his blood sugar test. Soon after Rachel was moved from the OR I went back in with her.)
He was able to join me in recovery around 9:30 am and I got to meet and hold Leo for the first time. Asa had low blood sugar so it was a little while longer before I got to meet and hold him. I was exhausted while in the recovery room coming off of the anesthesia and spent a lot of the time dozing. When I was awake in that first couple of hours sometimes it was really overwhelming to think about how everything happened. Everything had gone so quickly it didn’t feel real. I haven’t had any doubt that we made the right decision but it was definitely the last birth experience we were expecting.
Recovery has been both difficult and easy. Breastfeeding started much later than we’d hoped. While in the hospital they also suggested we supplement with donor milk after every feeding since they were a little early they get worn out very quickly. I was able to start pumping early on day 2 and was able to meet the supplementing needs right away with my own colostrum and milk. We’ll be forever grateful for those who supplied donor milk for that first day. I’ve been able to pump enough after each feeding to give them plenty of milk while they still get too tired nursing. (Rachel is a badass please see my post on the matter of breastfeeding and how awesome she is)
I seem to be following the pattern of the other 2 cesareans and I’m having a pretty easy recovery physically. I’ve noticed a bit more pain and tenderness and I’m also much more tired this time but I have to remind myself I’m recovering from surgery and nursing two babies and pumping.
I’m so thankful we knew to leave for the hospital when we did, for being at a hospital that can deliver babies by cesarean within exactly 35 minutes of arrival and have a peds team in place for each baby, an amazing husband who doula’d the heck out of a very intense twin birth and has been so loving and understanding of all the many emotions I’ve had throughout everything, for two amazingly beautiful healthy babies who decided to choose their own birthday and somehow managed to barrel into the world like freight trains in the same minute. I have a feeling that says a lot about their personalities. Dex, Veda, and Gus have been amazing and so helpful. They want to hold and hug and touch the babies as much as they can! And I’m so thankful for our moms Cheryl and Jacquie for going above and beyond in taking care of us before, during, and after and my sisters Jamie and Stephenie, and niece Emily for being amazing support in the weeks after birth as I had a wonderful, restful babymoon.
We’ve made it to 1 month and we’re doing great! Stay tuned for a special Twins: Month One edition of Awkward/Awesome.