Twin Homebirth

The Decision

Photo © Robin Elise Weiss

Ah, where do we begin along this wild road? Maybe it's when I came to realize that my period was actually late. Though I didn't really believe it was possible for me to be pregnant, I thoroughly enjoyed teasing my husband about it. He was calm, cool and collected. I finally broke down and bought a pregnancy test, just to tease him. (Honestly!)

So, as I took the test, I just knew it was going to be negative.

I remember running out to show the test to Kevin. He was on the phone with his mother. I'm waving two fingers in the air and screaming, as quietly as possible, "There are two lines!"

Kevin swears he knew what it would show. I was totally shocked. I couldn't be pregnant yet!

So we did what every parent of four other children does upon hearing number five is expected - we ignored it! Finally around week seven we decided to go in for our ultrasound to rule out ectopic pregnancy. After several previous pregnancy losses, including one that cost us my left fallopian tube, we wanted some reassurance all would be well.

The ultrasound showed a fetal pole, no heartbeat and an area of bleeding. A week later, at a follow up, we saw our baby's beating heart and were thrilled! Then I said that the bleed looked bigger. Kevin and I looked at each other and exclaimed, "It's another heartbeat!" And so this pregnancy began…

Our last three children had been born at home with midwives. We had a lot of questions about this with twins, including would it even be a possibility. There were so many variables. Could we go full term? What positions would be safe to attempt a vaginal birth? How big would the babies be? How would I feel, physically?

Mentally? Emotionally?

We eventually decided to seek dual care. We saw our homebirth midwife just as often as if she were our only practitioner. And we saw a doctor the same amount of visits. We had ultrasounds galore to track their growth. We even had a short scare for preterm labor.

In the end, it was decided; homebirth would be our safest choice.

The weeks immediately preceding the birth were filled with holiday happenings and wonder. We had spent so much time being told that twins were always early, that we began to believe it ourselves. Though we laughed and told people that meant I'd go to 40 weeks, at least. I was always late.

The first baby, Baby A (Owl) was head down, vertex. The second baby, Baby B (Nose) was breech. Because I'd had previous babies, and Nose was not first, it was safe to attempt a vaginal, homebirth.

I'd spent many a night trying to figure out all of the possibilities of potential complications. I weighed risks and benefits. I plotted and planned. I worried. Eventually I simply prayed that there would be a clear sign that I would know where I was meant to give birth. I'd have to trust my body, my babies and my team.

About 2 weeks before my due date a few friends organized an awesome Blessingway for me. It was so empowering. I really needed to feel the uplifting strength of my friends and other women. They even gave me a great necklace with beads that each told a story of a baby.

At 38 weeks and 5 days, I started having contractions. They were painful and I had to work with them, but I knew it wasn't time to call everyone. I called our head midwife, who had a drive ahead of her and I called Denay, our doula for the children to help with them. All night long, Kevin and I worked with the contractions.

The next day, no real progress and the contractions ceased. I was horribly disappointed.

The midwife said she'd go with me to my last scheduled ultrasound. Kevin was actually going to go as well. Denay took the kids to school so we could all do this. When we got there, it was the surprise of our life.

Our first miracle - baby Nose (B) has turned head down! Those contractions had been helping the baby turn! We were all on cloud nine.

All was quiet, except my horrible cough, until my due date. Again, contractions started in the middle of the evening. We called the midwife and her assistant. They both came and stayed the night along with my sister. Once again, morning light brought an end to the contractions. I couldn't even face work again. I stayed home.

The midwife and my sister joked that they were moving in until the end. I just smiled and wondered if there would ever be an end. I was not as calm and peaceful about being over due as I had been with Lilah, nor as calm as I desired to be.

My sister took the kids under her wings and let Kevin and I go out alone. The midwife went shopping and to the movies. Kevin and I went to the office holiday party. Have you ever tried to attend a holiday party overdue with twins, when you work with a group of OBs? Let me tell you, it was an interesting night.

They were all so thoughtful and sweet. It's nice to have people care.

We told them it couldn't be that much longer…

Amanda (my sister) and I went out later to the bad end of town to pick up a game table for her kids that they had on hold. I drug my body back to the house exhausted and discouraged. Another usual night - up and down to the bathroom. Left hip, right hip, laying on the pillows - just a few positions I'd try every night. It was while I was laying over my pillows that I awoke to the feeling of water pouring between my legs.

Ugh, I thought, more coughing leads to more peeing on myself!

Then I looked at the clock - 4:30 a.m. Deep down I knew it was my water breaking and I felt relieved. I laid there a minute and got up to go to the bathroom. Everything I did pointed to it being my waters. Finally I looked in the toilet and saw a few chunks of vernix - definitely not my bladder!

"My water broke," I told Kevin. "That's nice," he said as he rolled back over. I went to my sister's room, "My water broke, but I don't need you yet, just wanted to let you know." I went downstairs. "My water broke," I told my midwife. "Are you having any contractions?" "Not yet," I replied.

She suggested we go up and listen to the babies to see how they were doing. She said she'd meet me up in my room after brushing her teeth. I had a few minor contractions as I made my way around upstairs in the dark. I went back to the bathroom to change my pad.

The midwife listened to the babies and they sounded good. I had her confirm that they were both still head down. She said she was going to wake my sister and make the bed for the birth. She also suggested we call everyone and get the kids up.

By now I was having a couple of contractions that hurt much like Lilah's labor.

I was fearful for a minute. Kevin had gotten up while we listened to the babies; he came over and calmed me down. He reassured me that I'd do a great job and that I shouldn't fear labor.

I really went inside myself at this point. I was aware that there was a flurry of people being called and arriving. I was asked to make a couple of decisions, like should we awaken the kids. I was feeling a lot of pressure with the contractions and figured that, like Lilah's birth, once I really started pushing that would be all she wrote - it would be over soon.

The bed was made and I assumed my position that I usually assumed. After testing around the pushing sensations, I said to the midwives, "Maybe you should check me. While it feels better to push than not push, I could still be three centimeters." (Sounds really level headed and cool, huh?) They agreed. But, as luck would have it, I was 9 centimeters dilated, 100% effaced, and baby Owl was at -2 station.

I remember feeling smugness at this point. It was almost over.

I'd give little pushes through a few contractions. The lip of cervix would disappear and soon, I'd be holding the babies. Ha! About 15 minutes later (near 6 a.m.), I asked them to see if the lip was gone. A different midwife checked and said, nope, it was still there and felt like more than a lip. My spirits sank. (Edited to add: Read the labor record, vaginal exam was actually at 6:15 a.m.)

I wanted to know if we could be aggressive about the lip and move it. They said sure thing, whatever I wanted. One midwife suggested a position change. I knew she meant hands and knees, but I just didn't see myself moving in that position, given how my body felt size wise and mobility wise. I opted to push with someone else pushing on the lip. A few pushes later it was gone.

Now for the show! Once again, I was wrong. I pushed for about 15 minutes semi-sitting on my bed. I was being praised and told that it was bringing the baby down, but where in the heck was the baby?!?!? I'd never pushed this long. I finally opted to move to the side of my bed and sit on my aerobics step.

During my pregnancy as I'd tried to imagine giving birth to two babies, I'd often imagined using the stool on the side of the bed. Mainly I choose this image because I kept thinking I'd be having a breech baby and need to squat or stand for that birth. So it felt instinctively right to go there.

As I got down on the floor, I noticed Isaac and Lilah asleep on a couch pillow in the corner of the room. I saw that my friends, family and support team was all gathered. I'd really been oblivious to them before. Everyone was sitting quietly on the floor waiting, even the kids.

In previous labors the kids had always come and gone. This time they actually stayed for the entire birth. They were very quiet and well behaved.

They even had their own doula, Denay. I told someone to wake them up, probably around the time of the vaginal exam. My friend Kim went to wake Isaac up. She said, "Get up, the babies are coming!" He replied in a sleepy voice, "I'll see them in the morning…" She made him come into our room anyway.

Because of the slower pushing phase, I was actually able to really feel the progress of the baby. It was really neat. I felt when baby A slipped right under the pubic bone and stayed. I was very aware of my body. Kevin and one of the midwives were sitting by my feet, awaiting the arrival of the first baby. We had hoped Kevin would be able to help catch this baby as he had Lilah.

After the head was under the pubic bone it was just a few more pushes and the baby was born very quickly, probably due to her small size in comparison to my other kids (Owl weighed 8 lbs.). Kevin handed the baby to me and I started crying right away.

We turned the baby over to see if it was a boy or a girl. It was Isaac's job to tell us, he just stared at the baby. He finally said, "It's a boy." The midwife said, "Are you sure?" "No it's a girl!"

I sat there and cried and cried over my baby girl. I even said that she was the prettiest baby I'd ever had, which was true.

Kevin cut the cord fairly quickly so that we didn't have to worry about baby B not getting enough blood. It was the first cord he'd ever cut.

After a few minutes I felt like I needed to really focus on the next baby so I handed Owl to my friend Eve, who kept her nice and warm and introduced her to her siblings. I had this strange fear that if I held onto A that I'd crush her while trying to push B out.

The head midwife was now at my feet with Kevin, awaiting baby B. We'd been very glad this baby had turned to the head down position and now we intended to make it stay that way. The baby spent a few minutes on my pubic bone. Another midwife was listening for heart tones. I lifted my now semi-deflated belly up so she could find a good spot. When I did that the baby started to move off my pubic bone. So I kept doing it.

The baby sounded great and there wasn't any real hurry. However, I was starting to get nervous and really wanted to get the baby out so I could stop worrying. All along I knew that there would be more potential problems with baby B.

At one point I heard the midwife ask how long it had been since the birth of A. Another midwife responded that it had been 15 minutes. While this is not a long time, I realized I was beginning to obsess, so I asked to hold Owl again. She was passed to me and I gazed into her eyes and cried some more. I was also coughing a lot still from a nasty ear/throat infection from a few weeks before.

She was so calm and had this amazing effect on me. I'd never really felt as attached to a new baby as I felt with her. The other times I'd been so relieved labor was over, or so in shock. This felt good.

Finally I could feel Nose moving down more and once again I passed Owl off to focus on the next birth. My water broke with a huge explosion! It was worse than famous performance artists and everyone in the front row was definitely covered in amniotic fluid! They were all laughing, the kids really thought it was great. They had to wipe my midwife's face and glasses off. I just said, because we'll all good friends, "Just be glad it's me…"

Finally I felt the baby move to my pubic bone and past. I really wanted it over with to hold Nose. I began pushing with all my might, while belly lifting with one hand and doing fundal pressure with the other. Later someone told me that I said, "Stop it!" Isaac told the midwife, "She said stop!" The midwife said, "Honey, I'm not hurting her, it's the baby she's talking to…" To which Isaac replied, "Nose, stop it!"

There was no ring of fire with the second baby, and the baby went from being partially visible to born in about 20 seconds. Kevin was also able to help catch this baby. It was finally over! Both of my babies were born and doing well!

I'm not sure who said she was a girl, but at first all I could see were feet. Then she was handed to me and I started crying all over again. Another beautiful daughter!

One of the midwives was preparing to give me a routine injection of Pitocin that I had requested during pregnancy to prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. As I looked down and saw the needle I had second thoughts! I asked the primary midwife how my bleeding was and she said fine. I decided to hold off on the injection. I told everyone I hated needles!

Everyone was looking at babies and sitting quietly amazed at what they had all just seen. We took some pictures of two cords hanging out of my body. It was an amazing sight to see, so I'm glad they took photos. Shortly after the birth of baby Nose, the placenta(s) came. We briefly checked to ensure it was all there and then set it aside.

I wanted back in bed! First a quick trip to the bathroom, then I got in bed and held a baby. I tried to nurse and each baby took a turn at nibbling, but no one was really interested. Finally since I was stable and babies were stable, Kevin and I kicked everyone out of the room.

Though first I had the midwives weigh the babies so we could make a few phone calls. Baby Owl weighed in at 8 lbs even and baby Nose weighed 7 lbs 8 ozs. Fine sized twins!

Kevin and I just held a baby and cried and cried. Everything had gone even better than we had imagined and oh so quickly. Baby A was born at 6:57 a.m.

with a short 23 minute break before her sister joined her at 7:20 a.m. By 8 o'clock we were calling relatives to tell them the good news. I also had to call our doctor to tell him that everything was over and fine. He was thrilled and offered to stop by if we needed him. We thanked him for his faith in the process and us and for just doing nothing. He was awesome.

The midwives sat in the hall and came in periodically to check my bleeding or whenever we'd call. That included calls for drinks and breakfast! So not only did I have two great new babies, but a great breakfast in bed.

I don't believe I've ever been as happy as I was that morning. At one point all of my children piled onto our bed, as we loved on our newest family members. It was calm, laid back and peaceful, just as it should have been. I think Lilah sums it up the best, with a huge smile she proclaims with two fingers shown on each hand, "Two babies!"

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