My twin boys just turned 2 today, and it felt like the right time to share my twin birth story.
This is the twin birth story of Sebastian Charles and Maximus James.
When I found out I was pregnant in Early 2017, I was so excited to plan a totally natural water birth. My natural birth plans were thwarted with my first birth when it took forever and a day, ending me up with a hospital birth.
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But at our 20-week ultrasound, that plan was AGAIN tossed out.
As soon as the ultrasound tech put the wand down on my belly, my husband made a comment that there was a lot of stuff in there! A few seconds later she clicked the button next to fetuses with the number 2 and said: “there’s two in there!”
I was simultaneously shocked and not surprised at all. Maybe a little voice spoke to me or maybe it was my mother’s intuition, but I knew there were two babies. I even told my mom to expect twins before the ultrasound. And I also wasn’t surprised when we found out both were boys. I knew they would be.
But even though in my heart I knew it, it’s a totally surreal experience to have those hunches confirmed.
It did mean a change of birth plans though. The midwifery and OB/GYN I go to only does twin births in the hospital, and the actual birth takes place in an operating room.
Not exactly the relaxed water birth I hoped for, but I was happy with the practice and didn’t want to change providers, so we agreed to hospital birth in the OR. Not my intended birth story, but c’est la vie, I was thrilled to be having TWO babies.
This was my second birth using Hypnobabies (a form of hypnosis used for comfortable childbirth click here to learn more), and in my first, I had used the Hypnobabies techniques to stay pretty comfortable for most of my birthing time, which was very long as I had prodromal birthing time stretching out over a week.
I planned on a birth center water birth for that one too, but I did end up consenting to both an epidural and pitocin at the hospital in the end because I was exhausted. Luckily when it came time to push, that part went smoothly!
My recovery from that birth was easy and quick, but since that birth didn’t go as planned, I wanted to do everything I could to try to make my twin birth as close to natural as possible.
Beyond research I’ve done that shows the risks involved with epidurals, I also know people who have had very bad experiences with them. So even though it worked totally fine for my first birth, I was hoping to avoid one for the twin birth.
I had an extensive list of birth preferences and newborn care preferences because I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I am a big advocate for having a thoroughly researched birth plan that you discuss with your birth team. There might always be a change of plans, but ideally a birth plan helps you think through those twists and turns too, so you can give birth as stress-free as possible.
With a few fairly minor changes, my doctor and midwives were on board with my plans.
I simplified my birth preferences when discussing it with nurses at the hospital to just a few basic goals though:
- These babies come out of my vagina
- No epidural or other medication that isn’t necessary for medical reasons
- Delayed cord clamping
- Skin to skin and breastfeeding for the first hour (at least)
If I was able to accomplish these four things I would feel like it was an awesome birth. And guess what… I did them all!
The toughest decision I had to make during the pregnancy was whether or not to induce.
Some studies show an increased risk of stillbirth after 38 weeks with twins. The risk is not huge, but my doctor felt it was greater than risks of induction. My midwives were kind of on the fence but wouldn’t go against the doctor’s recommendation.
I did eventually agree to induction, but pushed it to the end of the 38 weeks and scheduled it for October, Friday the 13th. (Lucky, right? lol.)
When that day actually came I was pretty surprised I was still pregnant! In the days leading up to it, I had tried tons of natural and at-home methods of inducing, even two rounds of castor oil. Plus I had been having early birthing signs for weeks!
But my boys were way to cozy to come out.
So at 9:52am on the 13th I was at the hospital with an IV of pitocin.
When I arrived I was at 2cm and 70-80% effaced. We didn’t do a foley bulb or any addition medication. Just the pitocin with fluids. Within a few hours I was on the maximum dose of pitocin.
During this time I alternated between hypnobabies tracks (which are kind of like guided meditations) and napping. Over the course of that day and night I had a few times where I felt like I was heading into my active birthing time (in case your wondering… I like using “birthing time” because it’s in line with Hypnobabies teachings, which were sooo helpful for me), but each time it fizzled out.
The good news was I was very comfortable this whole time. In fact the most uncomfortable part was my monitors on my belly kept falling off or stopped picking up two babies and would both pick up one. So every 20-30 minutes or whenever I moved the nurses would have to come adjust them, which took 10-20 minutes each time.
But all of them were amazed at how calm and relaxed I was even with all the poking and proding plus pitocin.
At one point I had a doctor doing an ultrasound plus 4 nurses trying to get the monitors on my properly. A lot of the time I would just tell them I was going to listen to my tracks and would be asleep, but do what they needed to do. So I didn’t even really notice them.
The other difficult part of this for me was not being able to eat. The hospital policy was only clear liquids, and while I may have bent those rules a little, I didn’t want to overdo it. So I was really hungry half the time.
Once we got to 6am Saturday morning (nearly 24 hours later), I asked if we could take a break from the pitocin so I could eat, take a shower and rest for an hour or so. The midwife was fine with that because as long as it wasn’t TOO long we could pick right back up with the pitocin.
I ordered a huge breakfast, had a shower, sent my mom and husband home to shower and rest for a little, and prepared myself to start again.
My midwives were all great about basically leaving me alone and keeping cervical checks to a minimum. I think besides when I first got there I was only checked once more in that 24 hours. They were really following my lead on how I was feeling.
I don’t remember exactly at what time they checked but at some point I was at 4cm. We agreed that once I got to 5-6cm we might break my water if I wasn’t more active by then. It was just kind of a waiting game at that point.
But I never got past 4cm, and around 8-9pm on Saturday my midwife suggested we just go ahead and break the water. I agreed. I was ready to either stop for a while for another break, or move forward with a new plan, a new birth story again.
So I went with the new plan.
Since she was breaking my water anyway, she also attached a monitor to Baby A’s scalp. I thought this would be so uncomfortable, but compared to the belly monitors falling off and having to be readjusted all the time, it was so much better!
It helped me have more freedom of movement.
I was able to really get on the birth ball and walk around to help encourage the baby to get into position. He had so far been floating around in the right area, but not fully engaging. I tried all I could to get him into position before that, even having my chiropractor come to the hospital to adjust me!
Once I did all we could think of to get baby into position, I decided to try to rest.
I’m not sure how long I was laying down, but around midnight or 1am, I started to feel some activity. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but this felt promising!
My mom and doula were with me, but my husband was at home. I had sent him back to get some rest because I didn’t know if anything was going to happen that night. By 2 am I was pretty sure it was the real thing, and I told my mom to call him back.
Things happened quickly then!
It’s so crazy because I’ve read a lot of birth stories, and I have researched a lot about birth, but your rational mind at some point goes into the background.
I started doubting myself and was worried that I was wrong and this wasn’t the real thing. I ended up crying hard for about 15 minutes because I was so emotional, but just letting myself cry between the pressure waves felt good and let me release my fears.
At this point, I thought I was in transformation and would soon be able to push because I wasn’t getting breaks between the waves. I had stopped listening to my Hypnobabies tracks (which isn’t recommended), but was using other self-hypnosis techniques to stay calm and relaxed.
Oddly, I also would sing the first line of the Beatles “Let it Be” in my head through every super intense wave.
I wouldn’t say I felt comfortable during this period of time, but I was calm and felt pretty confident. I felt a lot of pressure and intensity in my back, just like I had with my daughter, who was posterior.
There were times I didn’t know if I could really do it and wanted to ALL the drugs, but I love a good birth story and after reading sooo many, I knew that many times when you feel like you can’t go on is when you’re almost there.
I don’t know at what time exactly but at some point, my midwife said we should move to the OR, but my husband still wasn’t there yet!
He got there just as we were about to get wheeled back!
Having to be on my back on an operating table was the worst part, and by the time we moved over there I had regressed by a cm. So I had to wait for a little to push, and then when I did start my midwife helped me by holding my cervix out of the way.
At the beginning, I could tell I wasn’t really ready to push, but it gave me something to focus on, which helped. I asked my husband to play a playlist of my favorite songs in the OR while I pushed.
I pushed my babies out to the sounds of the Beatles, James Taylor, Van Morrison and others.
After I was pushing for about 30 minutes I actually started feeling the urge to push and could feel that I was making progress. I don’t know exactly how much longer I had to push, but it was less than 30 minutes.
At 4:29am Sebastian Charles (Bash) was born! He was covered in vernix, barely made a peep, but just looked at me intensely and started rooting to nurse almost immediately!
While I was focused on him, the nurse and midwife gently pressed on my belly and guided the next baby into position. I gently pushed at my own pace for a little bit until I felt like I wanted to push him out.
With 2-3 big pushes Maximus James (Max) was born at 4:46am.
Bash was 6lbs15oz and 19in. Max was 7lbs2oz and 19in.
I had only a small 1cm tear that didn’t even need stitches.
The most challenging part was birthing the placenta and then the midwife and nurse pressing on my belly after birth. The risk of hemorrhage is higher with twins so they were pretty aggressive with it. Not gonna lie… that sucked.
It wasn’t the birth story I planned on originally being able to tell, but for having a twin birth induced in a hospital I think it went as perfectly as it possibly could have and I am insanely proud of myself and my little boys.
Postpartum was also an amazing time. I had tons of emotions for the first few days as expected, but it was a much smoother transition than it was with my daughter, even though I had two newborns at home!
Breastfeeding was pretty easy since I was experienced after nursing my daughter for 2.5 years, and I had a ton of support including my husband, mom, mother-in-law, and two postpartum doulas. I was about as spoiled as a new mom could be for the first few weeks.
I also really attribute being able to have a mostly natural twin hospital birth story to using Hypnobabies, and highly recommend them to all expecting moms. (Learn more about Hypnobabies here)
My twin birth story is something I always cherish and remember.
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