This whirlwind story is subject to our limited perspectives and memories of what was happening around us. Everything happened very quickly and all we really know is that it was an incredible experience and God was good to us. For more back story, see part one. This post may contain affiliate links.
I was exactly 38 weeks pregnant with my fraternal Twins (a girl and a boy) and things were looking good for a regular birth. Baby A was head-down, and my doctor had agreed to turn Baby B (as he and his colleagues had successfully done many times before) immediately after his sister was born.
My labor had progressed well so far and my epidural was in place. The nurse verified that it was just about time to push and let the doctor know I was ready as they arranged to send me to the operating room to push. Delivering in the operating room was hospital policy for twins, just in case of emergency.
For the most part our spirits were high as they wheeled me in. I laughed as I tried unsuccessfully to help while they transferred me from the bed onto the flat operating table. Thanks to the epidural, I still couldn’t feel or move the lower half of my body at all.
I laid there as they lifted my feet into loops hanging from the ceiling (a bit different and higher than the normal bed setup). It definitely wasn’t the most comfortable position, but again, thankfully I couldn’t feel much.
They instructed me to try to push and see how close my baby girl was. I tried, but their reactions to my effort showed it wasn’t very impressive. “I’m so numb, I don’t think I remember how to push,” I said. “I think you’ll have to give me some pointers.”
With the nurse’s tips I tried again. “Oh, there we go!” She exclaimed this time. “That was a good one, you’re actually pretty close!” I anticipated meeting my daughter in a few more pushes, as I had with my older son, but suddenly, there was a bustle and everything stopped.
“An emergency patient is coming in an ambulance,” I heard. The other mother was not as far along as I was, but was bleeding and needed the operating room, possibly for an emergency delivery. There was a second operating room available, but only one anesthesiologist present, so he had to leave me and go to the other patient.
“My patient is ready to deliver, are we really just going to tell her to stop?! This is unacceptable.” My doctor was frustrated and wanted to continue, but it was against hospital policy to do it without an anesthesiologist. I didn’t mind since I couldn’t feel much anyway, and it sounded like the other woman was in greater need.
We waited. To the best of my knowledge, she and her baby were fine, and in the mean time the hospital called in another anesthesiologist. But finally, we were ready to go again. I was ready to do this.
After a few short pushes, I watched as my beautiful, bright pink, squirming daughter entered the room. My little girl! I was overcome with emotion and excitement at the sight and sound of her girly, higher-pitched cry.
I don’t think I got to hold her yet, but I rejoiced at a distance as they took her to the warming bed (my husband followed). With effort I shifted my focus to praying for my little boy as the doctor and nurses immediately got to work turning him.
I was glad I couldn’t feel a thing as they worked on the outside of my belly, pushing and holding, pushing and holding, as if turning the hands of a clock. The doctor was watching the ultrasound machine, and I think the clock and heart monitor as well, while he instructed the two nurses who helped with the turning. Believe it or not, he had done this successfully many times before! It took effort and no short amount of time, but at last he seemed triumphant.
“Time to break the water sac,” he said, as he did one last check. But then, his face registered surprise. “There’s a foot,” he said, frowning quietly in thought as his ninja-hands worked and he glanced at the monitor. “This might be a C,” he began. “But let me try one more thing.” My heart fell a bit but I kept praying. Come on, little boy.
Monitors started beeping–my baby’s heart rate was dropping. “Yep,” he announced, “Cesarian.” At first it seemed as though the anesthesiologist and I were the only ones who recognized his decision. The heart rate monitor was beeping loudly.
“C Section! Stat! Stat!” He repeated louder, and the room came alive. He grabbed my husband by the shoulder and marched him to the door without a word, as the nurses snatched up supplies and ripped open bags. Someone mentioned general anesthesia but it didn’t happen.
It seemed a mere moment from when the doctor made the final call before he nodded to the anesthesiologist and nurses and began the cut. I held my breath, but thankfully, I still felt nothing. This was a greater blessing than I realized before. In most quick emergency situations like this one, I would have been breathing anesthesia to knock me out by now. In fact, most of the nurses thought that this was the plan.
But somehow, I wasn’t. It seemed that my last-minute anesthesiologist was anticipating what was about to happen. As far as we remember or know, when the doctor first mentioned anesthesia, he insisted we were good to go as is. So thanks to his quick preparation, I would be awake for the birth of my son.
The only problem was, nobody else seemed to realize this.
A sheet or drape blocked my view, as everyone focused on their jobs rescuing my little one, and no one really talked to me. I vaguely felt the doctor rummaging in my open abdomen (it definitely took longer than I expected, I believe my baby b was still a bit stuck) and heard everyone bustling around. NICU staff was waiting and ready in case my son had to go there while I recovered from anesthesia.
Eventually, I heard a cry, but I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t my little girl. I prayed nervously, afraid to know what I wasn’t seeing. I I finally attempted to talk with the anesthesiologist who sat next to my head, monitoring me. “Is he out? Is everything ok?” He nodded. But still it seemed a long wait. I heard people counting from one to nine, but I didn’t know why. I hoped it wasn’t some emergency procedure.
Finally a nurse came to talk to me. She told me that my husband was in a room nearby and that he got overwhelmed and left (not quite true) but was doing better and that she would go bring him back. I hadn’t even realized what had happened with him–I assumed he was quiet in a corner somewhere out of my view.
It was true that he was a bit overwhelmed with uncertainty and fear being away from us, but he left by the doctor’s insistence, not of his own accord. He was in a room where a nurse had taken him, praying hard for us. He had just asked the nurse to call our families to join him when another nurse came and told him that our son was born.
My husband came in and immediately saw our two babies in the bassinet on the other side of the room. He greeted me with a grin as he passed to go meet our youngest, who he immediately thought looked a lot like our first son had as a baby.
Also by the grace of God, our whole ordeal took place during shift change, so there were plenty of extra hands around to help. (“Things got a bit scary,” another nurse we knew later told us, shaking her head, “but…” she pointed upwards toward heaven meaningfully).
My husband and a nurse brought the babies to my bedside as the rest worked on finishing the surgery and closing things up. I was so happy to see my babies up close, but I was feeling more and more miserable with the strong numbing drugs and laying very flat on my back on the table. It felt hard to breathe or speak, but I knew this was just because I could not feel my chest normally. I was very nauseated, too.
I just wanted to lean up out of this uncomfortable flat position and go recover in my room with my babies! But, I suppose all the careful stitching takes longer than the cutting.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. The counting never got past ten, and finally I learned why. The gauze “sponges” used during surgery came in sets of ten, but they could only account for nine. They told me they’d have to bring down an X-ray machine to make sure it hadn’t been left inside me. More waiting! But the X-ray was clear, and finally we could go to our recovery room.
Again, the rest was mostly a blur. I remember the slightly overwhelming feeling of having both babies on my chest and worrying that I would drop them, and wondering how they fit in my belly just a few hours ago. My legs slowly regained feeling in again, and I marveled at my deflated-feeling belly.
I remember seeing my family, and my older son’s little face as he became a proud big brother looking over “his babies.” I even remember my husband getting that stomach bug too and losing his In N Out burger in the hospital bathroom while my brother changed one of the twins’ diapers.
Most of those first moments, and days (and weeks and months) are a bit of a blur now.
However, I do want to make a few things clear. First, we are very thankful. For our babies, our doctor and nurses, our family, and friends who supported us in prayer and otherwise. We are thankful to be twin parents, and for our story, however crazy and unpredictable it may have been.
And truly, I was thankful for the chance to try for a “normal” vaginal birth with my twins, even though it didn’t go quite as I hoped. I would absolutely make that decision again, and would tell any friend in my position the same. According to statistics, having both a regular birth and a C-section only happens in about 2% of twin births.
Non-cesarean twin births may not be the most common, but they are not rare either. If you have the right set of factors, including a willing, skilled, and experienced doctor, it’s totally doable.
To answer the more specific question I know is in your mind…. No, I do not regret that I had to “heal in two places” or from both types of birth. At under seven pounds, my daughter was small enough that her birth was easy with no tearing, so that part of it was actually pretty unnoticeable. Yes, c section recovery was difficult and painful (just recovering from twin pregnancy and birth was no small feat, actually), but I would have had to deal with that regardless.