Freya and Archer’s Birth Story: Part 2

**WARNING!! This post includes scientifically accurate words for all female reproductive body parts, as well as honest and detailed descriptions of what happens during inductions and childbirth. So if you’re not into reading about my vagina, cervix, etc, and all the horrible, graphic things that happened to them over the two days it took to convince the twins to exit my body, then this post probably isn’t for you**

***And this second half of the story is where that disclaimer is really warranted, lol***

Okay. So. We left off with my (spoiler!) first epidural being placed (that’s right, my first epidural of the evening), and the Pitocin being turned up pretty well to the max dosage, even for someone not trying for a VBAC. The reason they went so much higher with the dose than my doctor had previously approved was that up to this point, the babies and I were handling the induction better than anyone could have ever hoped. Like I mentioned in Part 1, the contractions caused by Pitocin come on stronger and faster than contractions tend to do during naturally occurring labour, and that can cause a lot of stress for the babies. Because they get squeezed so tightly, it can actually compress the umbilical cord and cause their heart rate to drop with each contraction, or for the baby to get insufficient oxygen. That’s why once you start Pitocin the baby has to be constantly monitored because you never know when this might happen, and some babies handle it worse than others.

Not my babies, though! Even in the early hours of my induction, Freya and Archer were already being referred to as rock stars, because their heart rates were absolutely perfect. Every time a new nurse would check their read-out they’d be a bit surprised and say, “Oh! This is great!” So, thanks kids, because the most common reason for an induction to turn into a c-section is “The babies aren’t handling it well”.

Unfortunately for me though, the second most common reason is “You aren’t progressing quickly enough”, which was definitely the case for me. By the time they administered the epidural at 8pm, we were 28 hours into the induction, and my water had been broken (well, Baby A’s anyway) for 12 hours… Which meant I had 12 more hours until the hospital would want to start talking c-section because that’s when the risks of uterine infection start to creep up.

The first hour or so of the epidural was fine. It seemed to be working well enough, I wasn’t feeling much pain, just pressure and tightness. All totally normal. Then suddenly I started having more and more pain in the right side of my lower back. At first I didn’t think much of it, like “Oh, maybe Ive got a muscle cramp from laying in this same position for so long”, except I wasn’t supposed to be feeling pain, and I realized that what I was feeling was coinciding with my contractions. It started off slowly, and then built to a point where we let the nurses know that I was feeling more pain that we thought I should. Their response was to play a fun game where they put ice on my face, then on my lower back, abdomen, etc, and asked if it felt the same as it did on my face, which… I had a hard time with because cold and pain aren’t the same, and it did honestly feel different all over (and is it really surprising that cold would feel different on your face than on your back? I have questions about this method). I also found it hard to concentrate on how the ice felt when I was having awful, searing pain in my back every 2 minutes. And for anyone who doesn’t know (I sure didn’t!) that doesn’t mean there’s a 2 minute break between contractions, the timer begins a the start of one, and goes to the start of the next; and since mine were lasting about 1 minute each, I was only getting a 60 second break from the most excruciating pain I’d ever felt (including during my first pregnancy when they tried to turn Luna from breech to vertex, and the doctor actually thought he broke my rib during that procedure). And because all the pain was all localized to one spot, it felt so much more intense. After about an hour of this, the pain started wrapping around the front of my belly, and the nurses started to really believe I really was feeling more than I should so they gave me a bolus, which is basically an extra injection of meds into the epidural line thats meant to bump up it’s effectiveness. Half an hour later, they put in another bolus. Still nothing. Except not nothing, the opposite of nothing, because the pain had gotten so bad that I started losing track of time and I wouldn’t let Adam touch me. This was when the nurse told me that if I did need a c-section (and I could tell she thought I’d need one) I’d have to be put under because the epidural wasn’t numbing me enough for the surgery, which was the exact opposite thing I needed to hear right then. I remember turning on my side and sobbing into my pillow for what felt like forever. I was trying so hard to breathe through the contractions, but they were becoming so overwhelming that my moans were turning screams muffled by the pillow. I started hyperventilating and crying “What was I thinking? Why didn’t I just have a c-section? I can’t do this!!” I felt so defeated and like I’d made the wrong decision. What if I completely missed the babies being born, and exposed them to all the possible complications that come with general anesthesia, and all because I’d been hell bent on having a vaginal birth which was seeming less and less likely anyway? What if I was just one of those women who couldn’t give birth naturally and I was putting us all at risk?? Adam tried to pet my hair and hold my hand to comfort me, but I cringed and shouted at him to stop; my nerves were so overloaded with the pain that anything or anyone touching me caused a strong visceral reaction, and made everything feel worse.

*Can we take a quick break and discuss how very not cool it is that women’s pain is often downplayed or disbelieved?? Before things got really bad and I was still able to speak normally, I was told that I couldn’t be in that much pain because I was laughing at Adam’s jokes while breathing through contractions, because I was still saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, because I was able to smile in between. Seriously?! So what, if I’d been a grouchy bitch and treated my nurses like shit, maybe they would have tried to help me sooner? How messed up is that? Because I have a high pain tolerance, try to manage difficult situations with humour and positivity, and try to be as polite as possible, I must not be feeling what I say I am?? Just because I was tolerating the pain for a while doesn’t mean I wasn’t feeling it, and doesn’t mean I should have had to suffer through it when there was supposed to be perfectly good pain meds going DIRECTLY INTO MY SPINAL COLUMN.

End rant. For now.*

I don’t know for sure how long the screaming phase went on, maybe an hour? I do know that at one point I looked up into the room and there were a bunch of people there I hadn’t seen before. Apparently my nurses had started taking breaks and switching off with other nurses because they were finding it difficult to watch me suffer the way I was with no way to help me. Epidurals are effective about 98% of the time, and people don’t labour with Pitocin this high without one, so this wasn’t something most of them had seen to this degree. Adam had been standing next to my bed the whole time and as far as I know was holding it together pretty well. All I was allowing him to do was hold my water cup and pass me tissues. My wonderful doctor had been called in by this point and was questioning the nurses, since the last time she’d seen me I was smiling and positive, feeling pain but working through it, and about to get my epidural. Now I was suffering so much that I hadn’t even seen her come in the room; my voice was hoarse, my eyes were red and swollen, and Adam was obviously distraught. By this time, the epidural wasn’t working at all and the pain was everywhere.

One of my main nurses (the same one who had told me that Baby A would definitely be going to the NICU) made a comment about the epidural not numbing pressure, and was I sure it was pain and not pressure I was feeling? Dr. P answered for me with, “If she was just feeling pressure, she wouldn’t be screaming like this”. Goodness, I love that woman. Somehow the babies were still doing just beautifully and none of my stress or pain was effecting them, so it was decided I’d get a second epidural, but it took nearly another hour for the anesthesiologist to be available again.

It was the same anesthesiologist as before, but this time he was a bit kinder. He examined the epidural placement, and the looked over my chart. “The placement was perfect” he said, “I’m afraid it may just be your anatomy, but we’ll try again a bit higher up.” He also told us that what I’d been having was ‘hot spots’, which is when the medicine doesn’t reach certain nerve roots in the epidural space, so your brain never gets the message to turn off those pain receptors. He was hopeful that putting in a new line in a slightly different spot would fix it. He still had waayyyy less patience than he should have while actually placing it though, and I of course found it even harder this time to get into the position he wanted and to stay still while I was there.

This time he also stuck around for a bit after the line was in. Everyone waited, watching me, to see if there would be any change, and within minutes I could feel the warmth and numbness washing over me again. It was working and there was no reason to believe that the first time hadn’t just been a fluke. All the extra staff left, Adam and I had a long hug, and I took a minute to catch my breath. Dr. P was finally able to check me, and you’d think that several hours of insanely intense contractions would have helped me to dilate, right? Wrong! I’d been in so much pain, and my body had been so tense that there was no progress at all, and I was still at 5cm. Not only that, but although Baby A was nice and low with their head right on my cervix, they were turned sideways which would make it really hard for me to push them out. So they brought in this peanut shaped exercise ball, and had me lie on my side with that between my knees. This apparently helps keep your pelvis opened up, and the hope was that the baby would shift on their own as I slept, and we could avoid having to manipulate them and potentially stress them out.

It was now 1am, and we were finally going to be able to get some rest. Adam tried to sleep on the reclining chair in the corner, and I chatted with the nurses while they fed me ice chips and popsicles until about 2:30am. I wanted to sleep, but I was so happy to feel well enough to ‘eat’ something, and I was honestly still terrified that the pain would come back and just couldn’t relax. My nurses were wonderful, even (especially) the one who I’d disliked during the day. They took turns sitting next to my bed all night, chatting me with, keeping a close eye on the babies heart rates, taking my temperature and blood pressure, and making sure I wasn’t feeling anything I shouldn’t be. I was finally able to fall asleep.

When I woke up the next day around 7am there was a change in nurses, and they checked me for any progress, the good news was that I’d dilated to 8cm, and the baby had turned!! I was allowed to sit up, and try to let gravity help a bit. Adam and I started talking about what songs we should play while I pushed, and after a long and scary night we were getting excited again. It seemed like we were back on track for a vaginal birth! Around 8am a nurse popped her head in and said my dad was there, and would I like to see him? This was super weird because we were always really clear about no one coming to the hospital until we were ready, and that I didn’t want anyone waiting around while I laboured. Plus if I had to bet on just one person who would absolutely respect my wishes, it’s my dad. But (fair enough) I guess we’d really freaked my family out, because I’d been updating them pretty regularly up until I got my epidural, (plus I’m almost never without my phone and hadn’t answered any calls or texts either) then they didn’t hear anything for 12 hours and were starting to worry. We explained what had been going on, and since (in his words that I wasn’t supposed to hear) I looked like I’d been “dragged down the road”, I think he understood that we’d been through an ordeal and truly just hadn’t had the time or the wherewithal to fill anyone in (and Adam did apologize later to him and my mom for worrying them, which I thought was really sweet).

Nothing else eventful happened until 10:30am when Holly, our favourite nurse, came to check me and found that I was at 9cm! Normally they make you wait until 10cm to push, but she said we could give it a try since Dr. P was only meant to be at the hospital until 12pm, not to mention my water had now been broken for nearly 27 hours, which is 3 hours past the normal cut off. I could also feel my body pushing on it’s own with each contraction. She had me do a ‘practice push’ to see if I understood how to do it, and said I was very ‘competent’ pusher. I felt in control, and confident, and pushing really was the most enjoyable part of the whole experience for me. I pushed for about half an hour before Dr P came to join us, and they brought in a mirror so I could see the progress I was making (which I never thought I’d want to do, but it was really cool!). Someone once told me they thought I’d like the pushing phase because it’s almost like an endurance sport, and they were right! It was like the ultimate physical challenge, I got a rush from being able to push more times and for longer then they asked me to in one contraction After 2 hours I was finally at 10cm, and the baby was getting close to crowning. We could see their little head appear and disappear at the height of each push now, and we were getting really close to a successful VBAC for at least one baby.

Just before pushing
Right before starting to push! SO ready to finally meet our babies.

But, as you can imagine, this was all really hard work and I was starting to tire out. My contractions had slowed down a bit through the night, but were still 2-3 minutes apart.
For anyone who hasn’t witnessed a vaginal birth, every time a contraction begins, they have you pull your legs up to your chest and pick up your head so you’re kind of curled in a ball on your back. You inhale as deeply as you can, then push for a count of ten while holding your breath so that all your energy is going into the push. Adam was practically sprinting back and forth to the ice machine every 15 minutes or so because I was taking long drinks between push cycles, alternating between ice, water, and ginger ale. Somewhere around the 1 hour mark, Dr. P told me it was important that I tell her when I was ready for ‘help’ with pushing, and that’s when we would move to the operating room (which was always where the babies were going to be delivered, just to be on the safe side) so we could use the ‘good’ stirrups. Everyone assured me I was doing a fantastic job, but the concern was that I’d use up all my energy on Baby A and then need a c-section if I was to tired to push out Baby B.

They covered me up, wheeled me next door to the OR, and moved me to the operating table where the stirrups were indeed much better, haha. They were way more comfortable and made it easier to keep my legs where they needed to be. Why aren’t they like this in every delivery room? By this point Dr. P had to go back to work at the clinic so the delivery was taken over by Dr. H, the head of OB. He was great, and while I didn’t have the same rapport with him as I did with my own Dr, I think he got a good grasp of my personality pretty quickly when he said something about the risk of uterine rupture and I quipped “Nah, that’s ok. You can have my uterus after this, I don’t want it anymore. Burn it all down.” He chuckled and said “Well they do uterine transplants now, you could always donate it”, and I came back with “Yeah, no, I don’t think anyone wants my scarred up, stretched out uterus”.

I had all the same nurses as in my birthing suite, but they were now joined by few more, as well as an anesthesiologist monitoring my epidural, a pediatrician, and a whole bunch of extra people who were pretty much just there to watch. I’ve always heard that mothers don’t end up caring who’s in the room by the end but I never, ever thought that would be me! It was true though, I had long stopped caring who was there, and I honestly think that your belly being in the way of everything that’s happening helps you forget that you’re completely naked from the waist down, probably pooping (no one said I did, but I mean, come on), and leaking various fluids. Not including Adam and myself, there were 18 (EIGHTEEN) people in the room while I gave birth, and there were more in the grand total because I found out later that a few of the staff traded places a couple of times since there were more people interested in being present than were allowed in the operating room. I had become a bit of a spectacle, but in the best way. Everyone was so supportive and respectful, by this time I’d been in the process of trying to have these babies for 21 hours. That meant we were on our 4th set of nurses, some of whom were now on their second shift with us, and it really made it feel like everyone was pulling for me at this point and felt invested in the outcome. It was wonderful to see a nurse light up and say “Oh, I’m so glad I get to be here when you have the babies after all!” We’d been introduced to two different pediatricians who would care for our babies, a few different NICU charge nurses who would handle their care if necessary.  And most importantly, the new anesthesiologist.

He had a much better bedside manner, and since he was there the entire last two hours of my labour it meant he got to know me, and his entire focus was keeping me comfortable and safe. By this time though, the second epidural was beginning to fade. I was ok with that because it meant pushing had gotten easier for me to control and I could feel where Baby A was. However after another hour and a half or so of pushing in the OR, I was still struggling to get the baby past crowning. I would get her head just starting to exit then when I relaxed after pushing she’d pop back in (what a disturbing visual, I’m sure she didn’t exactly ‘pop’ but it’s the least icky word I can think of to describe it). We were now three and a half hours into pushing, and I was already SO tired. I had to have a nurse hold my head up for me during each pushing phase because my neck hurt so badly from pulling my chin to my chest, and I had broken blood vessels around my eyes from the pressure of pushing (it felt like my eyes were going to pop right out of their sockets each time, to be honest, and Adam said they were looking pretty bulgy). And since my pain was returning more and more with each push, Dr. H said he thought we should move to a vacuum assisted birth. This meant an episiotomy, and Adam said “Wait! I though you definitely didn’t want that.” (seriously though, bless this man for listening to and caring about everything I have ever said in regards to giving birth), I thanked him but told him that at this point it was an episiotomy, or a c-section, so I didn’t really have a choice.

This was when it became super, duper clear to everyone that, yeah, I really could feel everything again. Because as the episiotomy was performed I told Holly that I was feeling way too much, why did it still hurt so much, why can’t they give me more medicine?? Dr. H assured me that I was just feeling the pressure of what he was doing, and I said “No. I can feel you cutting me. You just cut me diagonally from left to right.” That’s when there was a definite shift in the energy in the OR. Because I’d already completely maxed out on what they could give me through my epidural line, I’d been given all that I could safely have according to my height and weight. This wasn’t just ‘hot spots’ anymore, my body was metabolizing the drugs much more quickly than normal (which is apparently something that’s common with redheads), and I was now receiving zero pain relief. 

With the vacuum now attached we got Freya out in just a couple of pushes and everyone gave a little cheer as she came out screaming. And, Oh. My goodness. It was everything I’d ever expected it to be. The sensation of her leaving my body; using all of my effort, willpower, and strength to give birth to her was the single most empowering thing I’ve ever done. I felt like a forking super hero, and I kept saying “I did it!” Adam had the honour of telling me she was a girl, and I could not have been more full of joy and triumph.

Tiny Freya. Just 5lbs 12 oz, she looked like a perfect little doll from the very start. Dainty and feminine, but strong and loud, and perfectly healthy. We had a few names at the top of our list, but as soon as I saw her she was Freya to me. They cleaned her up and I was able to hold her for a few minutes on my chest, and it was just as amazing as the first time I’d held Luna. I think every second-time parent wonders if they can really love another baby the way they love their first. Your love for your child is so all encompassing, that it’s just so hard to imagine feeling that way towards more than one person. But the cheesy saying is true, and your love does somehow multiply and there’s more than enough for everyone.

Freya post birth (1)
Meeting Freya

 

Freya post birth (2)Freya post birth (3)

 

After about 10 minutes they wanted to get going with Baby B’s arrival, so some of the nurses who were watching off to the side took Freya and cuddled and fawned over her. This made me feel so much better, that she wasn’t just in the warmer, and she was getting lots of attention and love, because I needed Adam to focus on me again.

They broke baby B’s water, and they didn’t tell me right away but their was meconium (baby’s first bowel movement, which can cause a dangerous infection of they swallow it or inhale it) in the fluid. This meant there wasn’t any time to waste in getting the second baby out, since he might need extra medical attention. Unfortunately though, the baby wasn’t taking advantage of his sister being out in the world, and even though he now had tons of room he was still staying way up by my ribcage. He was still head down he was over to one side and facing sideways too, which meant there was no way I could deliver him on my own in a time frame that anyone was comfortable with. We decided that using the vacuum again was the best option, except it proved to be difficult to place it just right without being able to see the baby’s head. Since a newborn’s skull is made up of floating bone plates with soft spots in between, it’s important that the vacuum is placed just right, or it can cause bleeding, a skull fracture, or even brain damage. Since the baby was still nowhere near my birth canal, Dr. H was attempting to do this by feel, which. Yeah. Involved having his arm nearly up to the elbow inside me. Without pain medication.

I started begging them to give me more drugs, and Dr. H kept asking “What else can you do for her?” but the anesthesiologist gave the same response each time, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing else I can do”, and eventually out of frustration he said “If I give her anymore it could effect her ability to breathe”… which stopped the asking. At that point, it was go on with no drugs, or have a c-section completely unconscious, but there was no way in hell I was consenting to that so I told them I could keep going. After a short discussion they decided they could give me a small shot of morphine to help with the vacuum assist, and it dulled the pain a bit. For a while.

Dr. H wasn’t having any luck getting the vacuum in the right spot, and the next 5 minutes felt like an eternity. He said it was time to think about moving forward with a c-section for Baby B. Thank goodness, this was when they decided to call Dr. P back. In her infinite wisdom, she had asked them not to make any big decisions without consulting her first so she came up from the clinic and got a quick update on what had happened so far. When Dr. H told her he couldn’t reach the baby to properly place the vacuum (despite now having my entire uterus to themselves, Baby B was still hanging out under my ribcage) she shrugged said “Well, I have smaller hands, let me try”. Super calm, no big deal. One of the things I love about Dr. P is how casual she is about pregnancy and childbirth. She’s so confident in her skills, and she never let on that she was worried about anything, or that anyone was in any danger. She acted quickly and gave me her honest opinion on how we should proceed, but without scaring me or threatening me with the worst case scenario. Sure enough, she was able to get the vacuum in place on the first attempt, and pulled Baby B down into my birth canal so I could start pushing again.

I only had to push for about 10 minutes this time. I was so tired that I was losing control over how long I could push for though, and it was felt like my muscles would suddenly lose the signal they were getting from my brain even though I was still trying to push as hard as I could. Knowing that we were getting to the point where I wouldn’t be able to push at all, Dr. P began pulling even harder with the vacuum during each contraction, and suddenly there was a loud POP! and the vacuum flew back. There was a moment of terrifying silence where I thought “Oh my God, they broke the baby’s neck” (and Adam apparently thought for a spilt second that the baby’s head had popped right off, haha). Then Dr. P quietly laughed and said “Well that’s a first”, and assured us that everything was fine, the vacuum had just lost it’s perfect seal on the baby’s head as they descended. She reattached it easily this time, since the baby was crowning, and in a few more agonizing pushes, 28 minutes after his sister,  Archer was born!

There wasn’t a cheer from our audience just yet though. Because he was silent. Which was terrifying. I found out later that there was meconium in his mouth and nose, so it’s actually a good thing that he didn’t take his first breath right away. They quickly scooped it out of his mouth and he finally took a big breath and began to cry. It was less than a minute, but it felt like forever. Everyone relaxed and congratulated me. I did the damn thing!

My boy. Archer was my first choice for a boy’s name since before I was even pregnant with Luna, so there was no question that it was his name. He looked like a boy from the start, and looked much more like a typical newborn than his sister, all swollen and puffy, and red. My memories of Archer that day are limited so it’s difficult for me to talk about him right after he was born. It’s hard because I can’t remember. I had so little time with him during his first 30 hours of life (and none at all for the first 12 or so), and honestly there were times in my post-partum haze and exhaustion that I’d forget we even had a second baby in another part of the hospital, and I feel so much guilt over all of that even though it was beyond my control. It took me a long time to get past that, and I still get emotional when I think about it.

Archer post birth (1)
Trying to get Archer’s oxygen levels up
Archer post birth (2)
Meeting Archer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twins post birth
Holding both babies for the first time
Twin post birth (drinking)
Sweet, sweet hospital ice water

 

I do know that after working on Archer for a minute, they brought both babies to me and I got to hold them together for the first time. It wasn’t long, and I didn’t feel like I could really take it all in because this was also when they were stitching up my episiotomy and checking my cervix for any tears (this can happen with a vacuum assisted birth). I have a short video of that moment and you can see how much pain I’m in because I don’t even my eyes open to look at the babies, and I say “I kind of want to squeeze you, but I WON’T”. After a couple of minutes they said they had to take Archer to the NICU, just to monitor him for a while. He had a mild injury on his head from the vacuum (it looked kind of like a large swollen bruise) and his oxygen levels weren’t where they wanted them to be yet.

Once I’d been thoroughly checked over for additional injuries, they took Freya and I back to the room I’d been labouring in, where I was meant to stay for just a few hours to make sure there were no post-delivery complications. In the end though, I had to stay put for another full day.

Freya post feeding
Freya

Freya in bassinet

 

 

Oh yes, there’s so much more to this story. Tricked you! And me! See, I thought having to labour and push two babies out of my body with all the risks that come with having twins on top of having a VBAC, would be the scariest part of this whole experience… boy was I wrong.

To quote the movie we watched during my induction: Hold onto your butts.

 

 

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Freya and Archer’s Birth Story (part 1)

**WARNING!! This post includes scientifically accurate words for all female reproductive body parts, as well as honest and detailed descriptions of what happens during inductions and childbirth. So if you’re not into reading about my vagina, cervix, etc, and all the horrible, graphic things that happened to them over the two days it took to convince the twins to exit my body, then this post probably isn’t for you**

 

To recap: I was scheduled to go in to L&D at 38 weeks and 2 days to get my induction started. The problem was that I was barely dilated. Like, not even one centimetre. Take a look at the top of your pinkie finger and that’s wider than the opening of my cervix was at that point. Which is just straight up craziness because, as we’d learn a few days later, there was 12.9lbs of baby chillin’ in my uterus, not to mention 3lbs of placenta and all their other accessories. Plus Freya was so low down that our ultrasound tech remarked “Baby A is basically already in your vagina!” which yeah, I could have told you based on how uncomfortable walking had become. All that, plus I was the gestational equivalent of being over 41 weeks pregnant with one baby, and still my body was NOT giving up the goods. Which of course is a wonderful thing, and I do know how incredibly lucky I am to have a body that both gets pregnant and carries babies to term with relative ease, but still… we were getting to the point that every day I stayed pregnant was raising the risk of complications, and of course we were still worried that if Archer got too much bigger than Freya I would end up needing a c-section. Or worse, that I’d be able to deliver her but then need a c-section for Archer and have to recover from both forms of childbirth. No thank you.

So we spent our day getting things ready, Adam of course cleaned the house from top to bottom, and did a lot of stress pacing while I made some last minute adjustments to my hospital bag. I’d originally packed some things in case I went into pre-term labour and had to be admitted on bedrest, or if the babies came early and had to be in the NICU for a couple of weeks, so I was able to take a lot of stuff out that I knew I wouldn’t need for a standard hospital stay. I’m a serious over packer at the best of times, and that gets dialled up to 11 when there are babies involved (I’m planning a separate post all about what I did end up packing, and what was or wasn’t useful), so even with my last minute edits I still had a pretty full suitcase. I also showered and did my hair and makeup, and tried to soak up the last few hours of having the twins inside me. Hahaha, they weren’t leaving any time soon, but at this point I still really believed that we’d have two new babies in 24hrs or less. Then we got Luna off the school bus, had some cuddles and explained where we were going, and took her to my mom’s house where she’d stay until we came home with the babies. Then we were off! I can’t remember any other car ride in my life being filled with so much excitement. The day leading up to Luna’s delivery was just complete sadness and disappointment, so this was a nice change.

We got to the hospital just before 5pm, which is apparently when they schedule all the inductions, because there were three other couples there with the same jittery, joyful excitement on their faces that we were feeling. Because I was somehow just 1cm dilated and a VBAC patient, the only safe way to start out my induction was with a Foley bulb. This involves a large catheter tube with a deflated balloon on the end being inserted past the cervix, then the balloon gets inflated with saline solution and left in over night until the weight of the full ballon dilates the cervix to about 4cm and it falls out on it’s own. Super fun. AND I had the pleasure of having this procedure done by a doctor I’ve recently learned has the nickname ‘sausage fingers’ (honestly), so it was mildly painful, extremely uncomfortable, and the pressure I felt while they were inflating the balloon was a lot more than I’d expected. In addition to the balloon helping you to dilate, the inflation also separates the amniotic sac from the your cervix and uterus which just feels… icky, for lack of a better word. The whole process gave me the urge to gag a little, while squirming away from what was happening, except I couldn’t because, you know,  it was happening inside of my body, and I was stuck there with my legs in stirrups. Again, super fun. After that they monitored the babies for a bit to make sure they were handling the induction well, and sent us on our way.

induction day 1
Resting and listening to them monitor the babies after having the Foley Bulb put in.

Fun Fact about the Foley bulb: I guess I hadn’t really thought about it, but the catheter has to stay in because it’s attached to the balloon. Not sure what I’d thought would happen, but I did not think I’d be walking out of the hospital with the catheter taped to the inside of my thigh. And I didn’t! I straight up waddled out of there, because the nurse hadn’t left me quite enough slack to take a decent step, and each small shuffle I did take would tug on the balloon (which felt fabulous, let me tell you). We had planned on going out for one last pre-twins dinner just the two of us while the balloon worked it’s magic, but hahaha, no. I was going nowhere but my couch at that point.

foley bulb
Foley bulb and catheter, for reference. NOT mine! Haha, I did take a picture of it once it was out, but I though that might be a bit much to post here.

The good news was (or so we thought), we only got about 15 minutes away from the hospital before contractions started! They seemed pretty legit; they were 5-10 minutes apart right from the get-go, and painful enough that I was getting worried about having to labour in the car for the 40 minute ride back to the hospital, because nothing makes that kind of pain worse than being stuck in an uncomfortable position and strapped into a seat. My OB had told us that the Foley bulb could send me right into labour without needing to do anything else, so we started to think we might be one of those couples who gets all the way home just in time to turn around and head straight back to the hospital. No such luck.

Since our dinner plans were squashed and we needed to wait either for the contractions to last longer, or for the Foley bulb to fall out, Adam got me my favourite meal from a local Greek restaurant for dinner, and I tried to get comfortable on the couch (NO WAY was I attempting the stairs to our bedroom with that damn catheter on my leg). The Foley had been in for about 2 hours at this point and my contractions were becoming more sporadic, but I was becoming less comfortable by the minute. While the contractions seemed to be getting farther apart, I started having a constant cramping feeling, as well as nausea. I barely ate any of my dinner, and tried instead to relax and get comfortable enough to sleep.

It was a long night, and I barely slept (neither did Adam, since he slept on the other couch and jumped up every time I made a noise, or tried to change positions), but when I got up to pee at 6am the balloon came out! It was a super weird feeling, but I was immediately so much more comfortable (kind of like a mini childbirth, lol). My contractions had stopped in the night, but I figured I had to be at least 4cm dilated and it was time to head to the hospital and have my water broken. Real labour was about to start!

Hahaha, no. Again.

We got to the hospital a bit early and waited for Dr. Pakenham to come on call at 8am. She checked me and found I was only 3cm dilated. “Seriously?” The balloon is supposed to take you to 4cm, but apparently my body is too stubborn for normal medical parameters to apply. She then broke my water (hooray for comfy, mesh hospital panties! boo for the giant diaper-like pad that accompanies them) and told us she thought I could potentially be ready to push by noon!

on route to hospital
About to leave for the hospital!
induction day 2 (pre water break)
Waiting for the Doctor.
induction day 2 (post water break)
After having my water broken, listening to the babies heart rates.
induction day 2 (post water break 2)
Waiting for the OK to move to the birthing suite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Except noon came and went and nothing was happening. Adam had gotten us some breakfast from the cafeteria, and we watched Jurassic Park on my iPad while I did squats,  paced the room, danced a bit, and leaked everywhere. I’d imagined us doing laps of the L&D ward to get things going, but once I realized I was leaking so much I had to change my lady diaper every 20 minutes or so, I decided I’d rather keep to my room.

(Check out my Instagram for a video of me dancing in labour @_kay_lan)

Fun Fact about having your water broken: there is SO MUCH fluid in there! And they only broke Freya’s sac, so you’d think it would be fairly limited due to the space restrictions, but nope! The initial gush was pretty shocking, and they do it while you’re laying in bed, so it basically feels like you wet yourself. And then again with each contraction. And anytime you change positions, Basically it feels like you’re peeing your pants from that point until you have the baby (which for me was another 30+hours away). It also puts you on the clock because the longer the amniotic sac is broken, the higher the risk on an infection setting in. Also, the fluid keeps regenerating even once the amniotic sac is broken, so it really is never-ending.

I was having some mild contractions, but nothing as strong as the night before and I wasn’t any more dilated than I’d been that morning. So now we’d exhausted all of the non-medicinal forms of induction, which really sucked because with every new intervention we tried, the odds I’d need a c-section went up. It also meant we had to move on to Pitocin (artificial oxytocin that works by forcing your uterus to contract), which a lot of women find really awful for a few reasons… which I’ve put into a handy list!

  1. It means that instead of just checking on the babies heart rates every so often you need you be continuously monitored, which entails having these round devices the shape and size of a donut attached to your abdomen; one unit for each baby to track their heart rate, and one to track any contractions you’re having. They keep these on you with glorified tensor bandages, and they slip around pretty much any time you move, which stinks because changing positions is pretty essential when working through the contractions, and then an alarm goes off when it’s not reading a heart beat so the nurses have to keep coming back to fix them.
  2. The contractions. It’s pretty much agreed upon that the contractions caused by Pitocin are worse than ‘normal’ contractions. A huge part of this is because Pitocin causes your body to bypass a lot of the early labour stages and throws you straight into full on, hard labour. You don’t get the build up of contractions slowly getting more painful and closer together, it’s more of a zero to sixty situation, so neither your brain or your body have time to adjust the way they usually do during natural labour. This is a lot harder on you AND the baby, and can cause the baby’s heart rate to start doing funky things, which one of the biggest reasons Pitocin leads to c-sections. The contractions themselves also just hurt more, it seems. Which leads right into the next problem…
  3. You’re probably going to need an epidural. For some women this isn’t an issue, especially if you’d planned on getting an epidural as soon as you were allowed anyway, but for people like me who want to hold off on pain medication as long as possible (or were hoping to avoid it altogether), this sucks. Part of the reason I wanted to avoid it was once you get the epidural, you also get a catheter, and are pretty much stuck in the bed for the remainder of your labour.
  4. It means you’re also attached to an IV pole, which again, makes moving around a lot more difficult, and it means they start pumping you up with fluids which of course makes you all puffy and swollen. It can also lead to issues with breastfeeding (being over-hydrated is a problem, believe it or not!), and to the baby’s birth weight being inflated since they’re getting all those extra fluids too. This is a problem because it can make it seem like your baby has lost too much weight in the first few days and lead your doctor to insist that you supplement with formula, when really the baby is just dropping the extra water weight.

Because I’d had a c-section with Luna, they needed to be very careful when administering the Pitocin. Since it causes such immediately intense contractions, it increases the risk of uterine rupture, and a VBAC patient already has a weak spot where their previous incision was, making that risk even greater. Some doctors won’t give it to VBAC patients at all, because in the late 80’s and early 90’s when they started using Pitocin on a regular basis, lot of women died or had serious complications before they realized that it couldn’t be used in the same way as it could with women who’d never had a c-section.

Side note: isn’t “uterine rupture” a horrifying term? I’d always pictured the uterus exploding like a popped balloon, but apparently it’s more like a small tear… which is still terrifying because it means you start to bleed internally, sometimes for quite a while before anyone realizes. It doesn’t happen as often anymore now that we know what the risk factors are, but when it does it’s very dangerous and can lead to either the mother or the baby passing away, or in the mother needing an emergency c-section and hysterectomy. Maybe not as visually graphic as a balloon popping, but still very scary.

So they got me hooked up to all the things, and started the Pitocin out at the lowest level possible. They started me out at a 2 I think, and Dr. P said the highest they’d go was 12, which was a meaningless dosage amount to me because it was never really explained, but it at least gave me a mental picture of how close we were to maxing out on the medicine. At this point we’d switched from Jurassic Park to re-watching Friends (something I think most Millenials find comforting), and I kept pacing and squatting, trying to help my cervix to dilate. This is also about when Adam started his constant trips to the ice machine, carefully timing his runs between contractions (and his bathroom breaks, poor guy got yelled at at least twice because THIS ISN’T A GOOD TIME FOR YOU TO PEE). I wasn’t allowed to eat anymore after they started the Pitocin, but I was allowed water, ice chips, and popsicles, and I was downing that ice water like there was no tomorrow. When I had Luna I wasn’t allowed anything, not even the ice chips, for over 6 hours while I waited for my c-section, so I think I was afraid they would change their minds and take them away.

This was also around the time that the nurse who was with us at the time told me that baby A was likely going to have to go to the NICU after they were born, and that they probably wouldn’t be able to latch or breastfeed due to being so small. I asked her why she thought that since none of my doctor had ever brought it up, and she said, “Well baby A only weighs 5lbs”. Apparently the staff were all operating on our last ultrasound weight estimates, but that had been over 2 weeks ago! The babies had been gaining 1/2 a pound a week up until then, so it seemed silly to me to expect that they hadn’t gained any weight at all between 36-38 weeks, but our nurse seemed to hold hard and fast to those numbers, and kept bringing up how concerning it was that baby A was “so much smaller” than baby B. So that was some fun added stress I hadn’t had before.

Every two hours they’d turn up the Pitocin, and by the time we got to 10 they decided I should get my epidural because the contractions were getting really painful. Just breathing through them hadn’t been cutting it for a while now; I was alternating between hanging off of Adam like we were slow dancing at grade 8 graduation, and leaning over the bed swaying back and forth while he pressed on my lower back for counter pressure. The contractions were coming every 5 minutes or so, and I’d gone from just exhaling through them, to exhaling while moaning, which is always a sign to the nurses that things are getting real. They also checked me and found that I was still only dilated to 5cm. FIVE.

“Seriously?!” I said that a lot during this process.

Remember earlier, when my Dr said that she thought I could be ready to push by noon? Well you have to be at 10cm to start pushing. It was now 7pm and I was only halfway there. The hope was that I’d get my epidural and it would dull the pain, so I’d be able to relax a bit and my body could dilate more easily. I’d have a little nap, and hopefully in a couple of hours we’d be in pushing territory. Hahahahaha. No. Add that thought to the list of things that did not go as planned.

The anesthesiologist came in at 8pm and placed the epidural. This involves you sitting on the hospital bed and hunching over to make your spine nice and round, so they can easily use a giant needle to place the catheter into just the right spot. This particular anesthesiologist likes you to not only hunch over, but sit in a straddle position and hold the other side of the bed. Now normally that would be child’s play for me, flexibility wise, but with my giant twin belly in the way, and having a short torso, this was practically impossible. I said something like “I’m not sure I can reach” to which he answered, “if you want the epidural you’ll do it, everybody does it”, and his tone was not nice. Like dude, you know I have two freaking babies in my way, right? I don’t think he did know that to be honest, but regardless, you’d think he’d have better bedside manner for someone who went into a career involving pain management and deals with labouring mothers on the regular. I wanted to say something clever about MOST women not having TWO babies in between them and the bed, but I was in a whole lot of pain that made it hard to stay still, and I didn’t want to get accidentally paralyzed so I focused all my energy on just breathing and not moving.

Once the epidural was in and the medicine was flowing, they put a catheter in to keep my bladder continuously empty (this helps your uterus contract more efficiently without anything extra in the way, and I also wasn’t going to be getting out of the bed anytime soon, so no more bathroom trips). They asked if the epidural was numbing the pain at all, and as far as I could tell it was, so they went ahead and put the Pitocin up to 16 to get things really going.  Now remember, the limit they’d told me earlier was 12, but since the babies were handling the induction perfectly, my blood pressure and everything was stable, and things were taking longer than anyone had planned, they decided that turning it up was worth the risk at this point. Plus I wouldn’t feel any pain from the contractions now, right? After an hour things were still good, so they turned it up to 18.

And that my friends, is when everything went to shit.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

Freya & Archer

I just realized that some of my readers don’t know me in real life, so I really ought to introduce the babies!!

We had a boy and a girl! Just like Luna told us we would before we even knew we were having twins, haha. I actually knew that from about 31 weeks when I found out accidentally by looking at one of my charts (the doctor said the info wasn’t on there, she was wrong), but I kept it to myself so as not to spoil the surprise.

announcement

Their names are Freya Lindsay Bowrin (5lbs12oz), and Archer Peter Bowrin (6lbs8oz). Lindsay is my last name, and Peter is my dad’s name. It was important to me that all our babies have something from my side of the family in their names, since they have Adam’s last name and thankfully he agreed with me, so that’s one less thing to argue about.

We struggled a bit to come up with a short list of agreed upon names because we both have very strong opinions, and consider naming your kids to be one of the most important first decisions you make for them. It’s essentially giving them a label; assigning them the first impression they’ll make on most of the world. So many people hear or read your name before they ever meet you, and we’ve always wanted our kids to have unique names, but ones that are fairly easy to spell and don’t make you stop and say “what were their parents thinking?”

Not to mention we had to come up with a set of names for each possible gender combination! We never did find two girl names that we really loved together, which would have really stressed me out if I hadn’t secretly known what we were having. Of course I did have to pretend to be worried about it, to keep adam from guessing that I knew, which caused a different kind of stress. Totally worth it to keep the surprise alive for him though.

Freya was very nearly called Scout, instead. To be honest that was my favourite of our girl names, and if we have another someday I may still want to use it. But as it usually turns out when naming babies, I can’t imagine calling Freya anything else now, the name is just so perfectly her. I love that it’s feminine but also strong, and it certainly stands out.

Archer was always Archer, as far as I was concerned. Link was our second choice (although I think it became Adam’s favourite near the end), and while I did love it, I felt like there were too many little boys called Lincoln who go by Link, making it a more common choice than I was comfortable with. Of course, now that the newest royal baby is named Archie, I can imagine that Archer will have a steep jump in popularity for those who don’t want to use the nickname on it’s own… hopefully it won’t be too crazy. The definition of a First World Problem, for sure, but that would make me sad.

They’re both doing amazingly well, and have gained just over a pound and a half each in 8 weeks. Now that I’ve resigned myself to writing from my phone there will be much more regular posts both about them and our new life as a family of five!

Next up is their birth story, and that’s going to take me several days to write. Which make sense I suppose since the story itself take place over a few days.

So to tide you over until then, baby pictures!

first time together
First time I was able to hold them both, 36 hours old
proud daddy
Proud Daddy! Freshly home from the hospital
first night snuggle
Cuddle puddle! First night at home (A left, F right)
first home bath
First bath at home, 1 week old (F left, A right)
2 weeks
2 weeks old (A left, F right)
first market
First walk in the stroller, 3 weeks old.
luna freya
Luna loves her little sister so much.
Freya1st smiles
Learning to smile!
handsome archer
My handsome boy.
snuggle:stretch
Archer is such a snuggler, and Freya always wants to stretch. 8 weeks old.
If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, head on over! I’m able to post a lot more frequently there 🙂

 

The end of (pregnancy) Times

*Well that was much longer writing hiatus than I’d intended to take. It turns out finding time to sit down at the computer (my preferred my to write) is pretty damn difficult with two babies that pretty much want to be held or nursed 24/7. I’ve been writing this same post for literally 5 weeks now, lol. Every time I sit down to write, I get about a paragraph done before I have to pick a baby back up; so I’ve resigned to posting from my phone for now, even though that doesn’t feel like ‘writing’ to me, for some reason. But at least I’ll be able to start blogging again, even if it is one handed.*

Those last few weeks of pregnancy were a bit stressful, and exhausting, and I genuinely couldn’t being myself to sit down and commit to writing anything here. Which is ridiculous since I know that writing or talking always help with things I’m feeling anxious about; but I also tend to withdraw and become a bit reclusive when I’m suffering from anxiety, which is the opposite of helpful.

But yes! The babies are here! All is well, and we’re all safe and sound… and I’ll save the details of their very eventful entry into our lives for a separate post.

So, those last two weeks of my twin pregnancy. Those were a doozy. Sleep was incredibly evasive, I had seemingly constant acid reflux, and everything started to swell. Just as I’d guessed in my last post, every week (heck, every day) was somehow harder and more uncomfortable than the one before.

Plus I started having stretch and sweeps shortly after my last post. And holy forking shirtballs that first one hurt SO badly. That day I was seeing one of the secondary doctors at the practice who didn’t know me as well, so maybe she didn’t know my history well enough to know that I’d never had one in my first pregnancy, but whether she’d known or not most doctors with a good bedside manner generally give you a bit of warning before they put an entire hand inside you. I didn’t get a warning, and she was not gentle. Granted I was only 1/2 a centimeter dilated, so it couldn’t have been easy, but the 3 other sweeps (oh yes, I had FOUR sweeps done… most people need one or maybe two) I had were not nearly as painful, and each time I was given a much better heads up of when they were starting and what they were doing. My beloved Dr. Pakenham even managed to hold my hand to during one when Adam couldn’t be there.

At that 36 week appointment the doctor I saw also pushed me into scheduling an induction for 38 weeks on the dot because she’d be on call, despite the fact that we’d all previously agreed that the best chance I had at a vbac involved me going into labour on my own. AND she warned me that some of the doctors at the hospital don’t agree with inducing VBAC patients, so I might have to advocate for myself during the pregnancy-induction the night before since it would be a different doctor on call. I was plenty ready to stand up for what I wanted if I needed to once labour began, but really? Right from the get-go, even though this had been my and my doctors’ plan right from the beginning?? But she was being a bit pushy, so we put it on the books with the knowledge that we could cancel any time if I changed my mind.

Which was about 15 minutes later. It took no time at all once we got in the car to decide that it wasn’t a plan I was comfortable with at all! Never mind that up until that appointment, an induction wasn’t even something we’d really discussed (apparently no one expected the tiny lady with twins to actually make it to 38 weeks, go figure), I really wanted Dr. P to be there when I delivered if at all possible. Thankfully at my next appointment a few days later I was able to go over it with her, and we decided that while yes, me going into labor naturally was the best option, I was starting to get really stressed about the possibility of another doctor potentially being on call when I showed up. Some doctors just aren’t comfortable with VBACs, and not all of them have twin experience obviously. So because of that, my gestational diabetes, and the amount of pain I was starting to feel every day just from carrying these babies around (plus the fact that baby B was still a fair amount bigger than baby A), we scheduled my induction for the day I’d be 38w2d pregnant. I’d go in that night to start the induction, and then go back the next day to deliver when Dr. Pakenham was on call. Or at least that was the plan.

That is… not what happened.

To be continued!!

 

 

36 Weeks

Today may be the day I give up wearing shirts around the house. Having anything touch the skin around my belly button is SO painful, and it’s not as though any of my shirts cover my stomach anyway at this point. I’m officially too big to wear any of the maternity clothes I wore at the end of my first pregnancy (actually as far as pants go, I just wore my regular high-waisted Lululemons right until the end… the thought of trying to pull those up over my belly is laughable this time), and it doesn’t seem to make sense to buy anything new, so I’m making due with the three maternity tees I bought from The Gap a few months ago (I’m a huge fan of their Blackout maternity leggings, and Pure Body maternity tees), and those I save for doctors appointments and trips to the grocery store. I do have a few dressier tops that still fit, but they aren’t really necessary or appropriate for my current sedentary lifestyle.

36 weeks 2
How I’m pretty much guaranteed to look if you pop by unannounced.

Omg the belly button pain. It actually feels like my skin might just rip right open if it has to stretch out any further. And yes I’ve been putting on lotion several times a day for about 6 months now, and I also drink a literal gallon of water everyday. I’m sitting with an icepack on it right now, and that feels freaking wonderful, but I don’t think it’s a viable long term solution.

Aaaand Luna just stole my ice pack because apparently her belly hurts too. She’s been mimicking the pregnancy a lot the past few days, which has been adorable. Until now. Now she’s the only thing standing between me and some semblance of comfort. Now I’d rather her go back to wanting nothing to do with my belly and complaining that it’s in her way.

I took it back and she’s crying real tears because “her belly with her babies needs it”, and apparently our smaller ice pack just won’t do. So that’s how my night’s going.

The pretending to be pregnant has been really sweet though. Yesterday she put her Anna and Elsa dolls in her shirt and held and rubbed her ‘belly’ all night, while explaining to her other toys that she’d be having two babies soon. She refused to change out of her shirt at bedtime because then her babies would “fall out” and they “weren’t ready to be borned” yet.

Luna 'pregnant' 2
Shortly after this her babies started ‘hatching’ which led to a whole other conversation.

Now she says she needs my ice pack for her foot which has magically gotten hurt while sitting on the couch with me. Not a chance, kiddo.

Yesterday I finally got around to having my maternity pictures done with the incredibly talented Vicki at Centreline Design, and I can’t recommend her enough! She made me feel completely comfortable, and she knew exactly what she was doing. Vicki edited and posted a couple of images for me last night, and oh my goodness I love them! I didn’t have any professional pictures taken when I was expecting Lu, and I always regretted it. I love the way I look when I’m pregnant; I feel so much more confident and beautiful in such a natural way. I will wear things and post pictures of myself when very pregnant that I’d never dream of wearing or posting when I’m just my normal self. I also don’t have to think about sucking in my stomach, or planning my outfits to hide my self perceived imperfections, which is so freeing. This whole experience has just flown by, and I’m so happy I’ll have these pictures to look back on in the future.

Maternity 1

And holy crap am I glad we did it yesterday and not a moment later. Today has been rough Everything is getting harder. You should probably expect me to say that again. And again. I keep thinking I’ve hit the wall with this pregnancy, and then the universe laughs and says “you know nothing Jon Snow” and it gets worse. Kind of like that time I thought I was so ready to get pregnant again and add another kid to our family. After all, my first pregnancy was relatively easy and I really enjoyed it. And our first kid was such a gem! So well behaved, and clever, surely we knew what we were doing, having one more would be a piece of cake. And the universe laughed, and laughed…

give that cocky one twins

There’s the stretching of the skin of course, but in addition to my belly being extra sensitive, it’s also growing so quickly that I don’t have a handle on how far it sticks out so I keep bumping into the corners of tables and counter tops, and knocking my kid in the wall. Seriously, that last one has happened twice this week. I’ve got a mystery scratch on one side that’s so deep it was bleeding, but I can only see it in the mirror so I have no idea which collision it came from. The babies movements are starting to hurt, which really sucks. I’m not sure if it’s because my uterus is over-stretched and tender, or because they’re running out of space, or if it’s just par for the course when there are two whole other human beings living inside of you. I’m actually happy now that their placentas are across the front, I can’t imagine how much more I’d be feeling if there wasn’t that extra barrier between them and my skin.

crooked belly
Somebody stretching themselves out. My belly stayed like this for a good 10 minutes before mystery baby went back to their normal spot and my belly went back to it’s regular shape.

I’m also having painful contractions throughout the day and night, which puts me on edge every time because is labour starting? Do I need to start timing? Where’s my phone? Why won’t the timing app open? Never mind, my belly isn’t even hard. Then why does it hurt? Is it placental abruption? Never mind, now it’s all tense.  Shit, maybe I should have timed it.

I’ve given up calling them Braxton Hicks, because these are for real. The pain wraps around to my back, and I’m still getting stabby pains in my cervix that take my breath away. It’s definitely something, just not labour quite yet.

But it could be! Because we have officially beat the odds! As I’ve said a dozen times already, I’m sure, 50% of twins are born before 36 weeks, and we hit that milestone today!! If I can keep these babies gestating for another 6 days, they won’t even be considered premature anymore, which would be so amazing. Even if they were to come in the next few days there’s a real chance that they could room-in with me at the hospital and that we could all come home together, with no NICU stay or time away from each other.

This week our Dr. will check to see if I’ve started dilating at all, and if I have, they’ll start doing cervical sweeps (where they try to gently separate baby A’s amniotic sac from my cervix, which can kick start the hormones needed to get labour going). I’ve heard it’s painful, and it won’t do anything if my body isn’t ready to go into labour, but my doctors and I agree that anything we can do to get me to go into labour naturally is worth it. Since our ultimate goal is a VBAC, the fewer induction methods we rely on, the better, since they tend to have a snowball effect.

For instance if I need Pitocin to get contractions started, then I’ll have to wear a heart rate monitor for each baby during my entire labour. This would limit my freedom of movement, and would mean more nurses coming in and out to fix the monitors when they eventually shift. Pitocin also throws you straight into intense, painful contractions without the gradual build up you have with naturally occurring labour. This leads to a higher rate of epidural use, and can cause the babies’ heart rates to drop. All of these things increase the chances of needing a c-section.

But. Regardless of how labour ends up going down, I feel so much more prepared for every outcome this time. I’ll do everything within my power to deliver these babies naturally, and I will be really upset if that doesn’t happen because I’m not planning on having any more children… but at least this time I know what to expect with a c-section, and the policies at the Peterborough hospital are so much better. When Luna was born I didn’t get to hold her until she was two hours old. With the twins I can hold them as soon as I’m closed up, and Adam will be waiting with them in the next room. The nurses will help me to nurse them immediately, whereas with Luna it was over 3 hours before that became a priority, and by then she was too drowsy to latch. I’ll also have access to lactation consultants in the hospital who have experience with multiples and who will make sure I’m comfortable with nursing both babies before I’m discharged.

And the babies are doing so, so well. At our last ultrasound they were estimated at 4lbs 14oz (baby A), and 5lbs 8oz (baby B), which a full pound of growth each in two weeks and the perfect amount for each of them. This week they should be around 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 pounds respectively, and we’ve seen them practicing their breathing, sucking, and swallowing skills which are three of the main things they need to be able to do at birth. The only other thing is being able to keep their body temperatures and blood sugar levels regulated on their own, and their weights suggest that shouldn’t be a problem.

So I’m worried, and I’m anxious, and I’m afraid of what labour will be like. I’m terrified that my postpartum depression will come back, and oh my god I am so scared about Luna feeling left out or unimportant in any way… but I’m also excited. I am so damn excited to meet these two little souls that have been growing inside of me. To see what colour their eyes are, and let them hold my finger with their whole hand; to sing to them and hope they recognize my lullabies; to hold them on my chest while they sleep, and smell that delicious new baby smell.

There are two people about to be on this earth who only exist because Adam and I love each other, and wanted to add another awesome little being to our family.

And also because we drank a lot of beer during the World Cup semi-finals while we were in England, and were somehow given a two-for-one special when I distinctly remember only requesting the one healthy baby.

The March of the Babies

Okay. So. We have bought the carseats, the stroller and adapters, some newborn pjs, and a top of the line breast pump. All the baby clothes up to 3 months have been washed and put away, and the dresser in my room has been turned into a change table. 3 weeks ago we got our new van (a Honda Odyssey , which we love!) so we can actually fit all of our many children in our vehicle at the same time, and my hospital bag is packed.

And it is March.

This is the month the babies will be born.

April 1st I’d be into my 40th week of pregnancy, and the odds of me still actually being pregnant at that point are astronomically low. As I’ve said before, 50% of twins are born before 36 weeks, 63% before 37 weeks. Unfortunately there aren’t really any accurate statistics after that, because a lot of doctors insist on delivering twins at 37 weeks, 38 at maximum. But these are generally induced labours, or scheduled c-sections due to the fear of complications increasing after that point. I very much disagree with this practice.

From what I’ve read and heard from other twin moms, they aren’t really given an option, and are just told that the odds of stillbirth are higher after 37 weeks. They’re often told that the risks ‘greatly’ increase or that they’re ‘significantly’ higher, but this is incredibly misleading. Yes the odds do go up quite a bit, because they were so extremely low to begin with… but much like a the risk go up to about 1% after 42 weeks with a single baby, the odds go up to about 1% after 36 weeks with identical twins, and 38 weeks with fraternal twins. But when you hear ‘the odds increase significantly’ you think the worst and a lot of people just go along with it, leading to the elective delivery of otherwise healthy premature babies who end up needing NICU time and interventions that could have been avoided.

Today I’m 35 weeks which blows my forking mind. March was always a big goal for Adam and I, and it alway seemed so very far away. Obviously the longer they can stay all cozied up inside me, the better, but after being immersed in the online world of twins for the past 7 months… 35 weeks doesn’t even feel that early to give birth to me anymore. Which is nuts since with a normal pregnancy that would be over a month early, and it’s definitely still premature. We also wanted them to be born in March so they’d have their own birth month; there’s a two week period from January 29th to February 14th during which we have Adam’s birthday, our anniversary, Adam’s mom’s birthday, and my birthday which happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. We really, super did not want to add two more birthdays into that time frame. Small potatoes, I know, but it’s one less thing to worry about.

I’m officially and completely done working now, which has been wonderful. I worried about being bored, or the time passing too slowly but so far the opposite has been true. As soon as I wrap my head around the week of development that we’re in, it’s Saturday again and it’s a whole new week. Between all the washing, and sorting of baby clothes, narrowing down shopping and do to lists, napping, cooking diabetes friendly food, exhaustively researching twin specific newborn tips and tricks (I’ve yet to find anything I haven’t already read, but you never know, right?), and multiple pre-natal appointments, I don’t seem to have a whole lot of time to get bored before it’s time to get Luna from the bus.

Which is the hardest part of my day, not because Luna is difficult by any means, but because I have none of the energy for any of the things, and I really can’t run around or get up and down to play the way she wants. And I feel exceptionally guilty when she asks me to carry her somewhere because I really shouldn’t, but sometimes I do and I usually regret it (although it’s hilarious when she tells people that she has her “very own seat” when I carry her now, and “I’m sitting on the babies!”). Goodness knows we’re lucky to have a very independent, well behaved, compassionate little girl, but there are only so many rounds of ‘Mama’s trapped on the couch because the floor is the ocean and she’s surrounded by sharks’ type games a four year old will put up with before she announces “this is borrrrring”.

Today when she got off the bus she said “Oh, I didn’t think you’d be here!”, and when I asked why she said “I thought you’d be having the babies”. She asks all the time when they’re coming, and says she’s excited to share her toys with them. We often talk about what her ‘big sister jobs’ will be, and today we went over the importance keeping little toys put away, and although it’s a lovely idea she absolutely cannot share her new legos with the babies. For the rest of the night she asked about different toys, and if those were things the babies could choke on. I told her we didn’t need to worry about that for a while, “Yes we do, its very important.” she answered very seriously. If she’s half as good at being a big sister as she acts now, then these are some lucky little babies, I tell you.

Ah yes, the babies. The not so little, little babies. Two weeks ago they were estimated to be 4lbs 2oz (A), and 4lbs 11oz(B), and they were still both head down with baby A resting their head directly on my cervix, which is fantastic for labour if it stays that way! Not fantastic for my comfort level, but if it helps increase my odds of a successful vbac then I’ll put up with the occasional feeling of a baby trying to claw their way into my vagina for a few more weeks.

Because there’s been some slight concern about baby A not growing at quite the same rate as baby B, we’ve been going for weekly Non Stress Tests (NSTs) at the Peterborough hospital. They set me up with three monitors on my belly, one to track any contractions I’m having, and one for each babies heart rate; they get a baseline of each heart rate, and then want to see it go at least 15 beats above and below that baseline over the 20 minutes. They also give me a button to push every time I feel a baby move. This will hopefully help to catch any issues with blood flow or oxygen supply in time to safely deliver both babies if the need arises, and they also take my blood pressure and check my urine to make sure my kidneys are working as they should and that I’m not showing any sings of pre-eclampsia (extremely high blood pressure which can be very dangerous during pregnancy). It’s been a bit of a pain to drive 40 minutes each way for a 20 minute test once, and sometimes twice a week (depending when all the different appointments fall), but we kew this would happen eventually. This week we also start having weekly ultrasounds and Dr’s appointments, so we’ll have more frequent updates on their growth and position, which is exciting.

Plus watching them interact in there, and seeing how they change in between appointments never gets old. At the last scan we could see how chubby baby B’s cheeks were! We’ve been able to see them both taking practice breaths too, which is extra cool since the tech told us they only do it a few times a day for about 30 seconds; so we’re lucky to have caught it. Baby A seems to like to sleep with their hands up over their head just like Luna and I do, and baby B is always holding something, like their foot, their other hand, and last time they were holding and sucking on their umbilical cord. Which was both adorable and kind of icky to think about, but apparently it’s something most babies do in utero. I can’t wait to see if any of these habits stay for long after they’re born.

We can often see them moving from the outside too which is fascinating. It kind of makes Adam want to throw up (not because he thinks it’s gross, but because imagining how it must feel is a bit too much for him, and apparently it looks painful), but we love watching their little feet push and slide around at the top of my stomach. It’s getting to be uncomfortable sometimes, because they are big enough to give a solid kick or push, but it isn’t usually painful. The ones I hate are when I can feel their fingers fiddling around at the bottom of my uterus or on my cervix. Not a nice feeling.

And I am huge. I’ve only gained about 31lbs, which is either right on track or a bit less than I’d gained with Luna at this same point of pregnancy, but my belly is ginormous. I need to take a proper picture this week so I can do a side-by-side comparison, but I’m absolutely sure I’m the same size or larger when I delivered Luna at 41 weeks. Which would make sense since she only (hahaha, only) weighed 8lbs 5oz at birth, and the twins  are currently sitting around 10lbs, never mind the fact that there’s a whole extra placenta in there. I feel pretty medium overall, and I know it could definitely be worse. There’s a lot of pressure and pain in my pelvis from the weight of the babies and their positions, I feel like I’ll never be able to drink enough water, and I get incredibly stiff when I stay still for more than 20 minutes. The good news is that the gestational diabetes isn’t causing any complications, and I can still do small bouts of physical activity before I have to sit and catch my breath. A lot of women are on bed rest by this point in a twin pregnancy (or have already delivered!), so I know I’m lucky to be doing as well as I am. I don’t know if it’s genetics, or because I was so physically active for the first 7 months, or a combination of both, but whatever the reason, I’m glad for it.

 

34w3d belly
34 weeks 3 days. Yes, I’m in my underwear, no I don’t care.

Sunday will be my final test of endurance because I’m going to spend the day in Peterborough watching the girls I’ve coached all year compete in their second gymnastics meet of the year. I’ll mostly be sitting, but it will be a long day away from my couch, and I’m sure it will be draining. It’s the last thing I have planned though, so after that the babies can come any time. I really hope they don’t. But they can. I guess…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0/10 – Do Not Recommend

Shortly after I published my last post, Luna got sick. So shortly after, in fact, that I was still in the process of posting it when she began complaining of a tummy ache. I brushed her off (in hindsight I feel reeeaaaaallly guilty about that), telling her she was probably just hungry for dinner, and that I was going to get it for her as soon as I finished my ‘work’. The complaining continued, complete with dramatic rolling around on the couch. “No, it actually hurts” she kept saying “in real life”.

So while I got our dinner ready, I told her to try going to the bathroom, and this seemed like it could be the solution until I heard her little voice shout “I have to throw up!!” Thankfully the downstairs bathroom is right off of the kitchen, so I got there in time to help her, but oh did I ever feel awful for not really believing she wasn’t feeling well.

I layered her bed with sheets and towels (definitely the best illness related parenting hack I’ve learned so far! That way if they get sick in the bed you can  just peel back a layer or two and let them go back to sleep without having to completely remake the bed), and she was out almost immediately. Now came my dilemma of getting myself dinner. I was only a day and a half into my gestational diabetes diet and meal schedule, I had just hit the two hour mark where I could eat again, and I was starving. But. This was not my first rodeo, and I knew Lu was going to be sick again sometime in the next 10-20 minutes, so I didn’t really want to leave her alone, especially asleep. I ran downstairs and added some things to a bagged salad as quickly as I could, but on my way back up the stairs I heard the saddest little “I didn’t make it…”

Poor lovey had tried her best to get to the bathroom, but only made it as far as her giant stuffed dog, so not only was that covered in vomit, somehow so was Lu’s hair. After a bath in the sink, a change of clothes, and a top knot, I got her back into bed but she wasn’t going to fall asleep so easily this time. I brought my laptop in, set up a makeshift table out of an old pull-up box, and asked if she wanted to watch a something. “Cooking show, Mama?” That’s my girl.

15 hours, an entire season of Sugar Rush, and not enough sleep later, she seemed over the worst of it, and wanted breakfast. Hahaha, no.

I went to work and by the time I got home she seemed just about better. She got sick one more time, but was in a great mood and thank goodness no one else seemed to be coming down with it. We had a lazy night in, and the next day had a wonderful dinner at the Little Schnitzel House for Adam’s birthday. All was well.

I should have known better.

I started having bad stomach pain as I was falling asleep that night, and immediately panicked that I was having contractions. It took me about 15 minutes to fully wake up and realize that my belly wasn’t tensing up, so they weren’t contractions. Phew.

Except. That meant… No, no, no, no, no…

Oh. But yes. All night long.

We were supposed to have a Dr’s appointment and hospital tour the next day, so I called the office in the morning to cancel and get some advice, since I couldn’t keep water down and had already lost 4.5lbs since the day before (all water weight I know, but the babies are kind of living in fluid a the moment) and they recommended I go to the ER to get re-hydrated.

Of course they made me wait until they’d done nearly an hour observation on the babies,  and the nurse I dealt with was less than kind. “Why are you crying?” she barked as Adam helped me out of my wheelchair and onto the exam table. Oh I don’t know, maybe because I haven’t slept in 24 hours, I’m nearly 8 months pregnant with twins, my stomach is constantly cramping from nausea and dehydration, and I’ve been throwing up so hard that I have burst blood vessels in both my eyeballs. Then she got snarky about the fact that I’m not delivering the babies in Lindsay. Never mind that she’s giving me attitude instead of compassion (similar to the care I received there after Luna’s birth, actually), the Lindsay hospital doesn’t have a NICU or a paediatric centre, my pregnancy is considered high risk, AND my family doctor and midwives recommended that I deliver in Peterborough instead.

She softened a bit and finally showed some concern after I got sick in front of her. “Are you throwing up that much liquid every time?”

YES. THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN TELLING YOU.

Then magically I had an IV with fluids and Gravol flowing through it. And since Gravol and I are not the best of friends – in that it makes me pretty stoned – I had a two hour nap. And when I woke up it felt like all my freckles were dancing on my skin. But at least I wasn’t throwing up anymore! It was a day and a half before I could eat anything other than saltines and gatorade, and a good 4 days before I felt back to normal. Luna was off for a total of 24 hours, then completely fine, and happy, and eating up a storm.

So yeah, I do not recommend getting any kind of stomach bug while pregnant.