This blog series is a compilation of amazing birth stories that I have come across along my journey as a doula and beyond. Here is my recent twin birth story.
This birth taught me a very important lesson: A Birth Plan is not really a plan – it is a preference list. Babies are going to arrive however they wish – they are the ones in charge.
Entering this birth, I felt confident and empowered. I knew a lot about birth from doula training and personal research. During my last birth, I did not feel very informed or included in the majority of the decision making, but nonetheless, it was a wonderful and healthy birth. This time, I wanted autonomy. I wanted to be able to make informed decisions and to be in control of my body and my experience. Although this birth did not go exactly as planned, it was incredibly empowering and really changed my view on birth forever.
Like many pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic, I had limited access to prenatal care, and did not actually find out we were having twins until our 20-week ultrasound. We already had a midwife, and now needed an OBGYN to be a part of our team since twin births are classified as a “high risk pregnancy”. The midwives were absolutely amazing and offered a nurturing, holistic and feminine approach to our prenatal care. Our OBGYN was incredible – he was extremely caring and warm, and felt like a best friend. Once we knew it was twins, we had multiple prenatal visits a month between the OBGYN, Midwives and ultrasound unit,. Each appointment we felt heard and understood. Each provider listened to our questions and concerns, and made sure that they prioritized what was important to us in our “Birth Plan”.
After weighing out the risks and benefits with our midwives and OBGYN, we agreed to an induction for about the 38th week of pregnancy (this is considered full term for twins and is the equivalent of 40 weeks for a singleton). We had an extensive birth plan that we made sure every person that would be present at our birth had a copy of.
I was willing to be flexible on a few things.... but the one thing I was adamant about was that I definitely wanted an epidural. The idea of an unmedicated birth was intriguing, however I decided I may try it another time –not with a twin vaginal birth, and definitely not where one of the babies were breech. I had an epidural for my last birth, and knew what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to labour naturally for as long as possible, and requested an epidural once I reached 6cm dilated and no sooner.....
A vaginal birth was also very important to me. Our healthcare providers made us aware of the risks and let us know that often times, twins come via C-section due to some sort of event during the birthing process. Breech births also have added risks and some doctors choose not to do it. All of this was at the forefront of my mind, and really made a great case and further validated my decision for an epidural. In case plans went off track and we needed an emergency C-section (which was a possibility), the epidural would already be ready to go. Our OBGYN was comfortable delivering our breech baby, as long as our first baby remained head down.
Our determined and independent baby girl, who was second in line, kept doing flip flops. Her brother, who was first in line to pave the way into the world, had been snuggly nestled into his head down position and stayed that way until birth. Our goal was to have a vaginal delivery with both babies head down. We tried everything – yoga, acupuncture, chiropractors, moxibustion and even some weird positions on the exercise ball. One week, baby girl would be head down; but the next week, she would flip again and be feet to feet with her brother. We really didn’t know how she would end up at delivery time, but we just had to wait to find out.
At 7am on October 3rd, 2020, at 38 weeks and 6 days, my partner and I arrived to the hospital for our induction. We had luggage for days – several days’ worth of necessities for me, my partner, and two brand new babies. Most importantly, we had hard copies of our birth plan for everyone to study.
My cervix was checked the day before, and I was 3cm dilated without even needing to do anything. I did not feel any pain at all. Baby girl was still breech, and our plan was to continue moving forward as planned. The nurses strapped me to several monitors to keep track of the babies’ heartbeats, and when the Pitocin started through the IV, the wave of excitement hit us both. We practiced everything we learned from our prenatal classes and doula training to keep me comfortable during the contractions, and we were doing really well. It was slightly uncomfortable, but my partner was rubbing my back and I was breathing through each contraction.
Things were moving a little slowly, but eventually the contractions started getting a bit stronger. We were doing a great job managing the pain and continuing to push through to our 6cm goal. To pass the time, we took little videos, chatted with the staff and I tried collecting some colostrum for the babies.
Hours and hours passed and the contractions were getting much stronger and closer together. I was breathing heavily each contraction until it passed. A doctor came in to check how far along I was (which was extremely uncomfortable) however, I was only 4 cm dilated! I was frustrated that I only dilated an extra centimeter in all those hours, and the pain was getting very intense. Still, I was determined to make it to 6cm without an epidural.
As the hours went on, the pain kept intensifying. Our nurse could tell I was getting extremely uncomfortable and decided to call our midwife to let her know she should make her way to us. She arrived just before 8pm, and at this point, the contractions were extremely intense. I began wailing through them and only had very small breaks in between.
Even though I was now wailing and grunting through contractions, I still refused the epidural. I wanted to wait to reach my magic number. I figured if I had only dilated one centimeter in all those hours, we still had many more hours to go...
Our nurse could tell by the sounds I was making that we were getting close. She called the anesthesiologist and let them know that they should make their way to us. When my midwife arrived, she could tell my pain was intense. We were trying everything to manage it – laughing gas, massage, bouncing, walking, kneeling on all fours, rocking - everything we could think of to work through the contractions. I remember saying to my midwife, “I don’t think I will be able to sit still enough for this epidural needle.”
She calmly said, “you will be able to do it.”
I felt so much pressure on my bowels and bladder, like something heavy was pushing down on all of the contents inside of my pelvis. It was a strange and uncomfortable feeling - I am not used to feeling a heavy weight in there. I could not move or sit still - everything was uncomfortable and nothing eased the pressure. The nurse suggested I go use the washroom, so my partner helped to walk me there. I was waddling, hunched over, groaning, grunting and panting. I held on to the sink while he helped change my undergarments. The nurse tried to encourage me to use toilet but I knew I couldn’t – whatever was being held in my pelvis would definitely have dropped out.
We tried to walk back to the bed, and I felt a huge shift. It felt like something dropped into my vagina and butt, and it was heavy as hell. I shrieked loudly and so much water gushed and I screamed, “I’M PEEING!”.
This is the moment where everything went from zero to one hundred.
Everyone started rushing around me.
This is the moment where I felt what they call, the ring of fire.
I screamed like I never screamed before. I think I even have looked around to see where the scream was coming from. I honestly had never heard a scream like this in my life. I did not even know I had that vocal range.
Within seconds, there was a whole new team of nurses and doctors around me with a brand new wheeled bed. My screams were so wild, I thought it would have scared everyone away. Everyone knew it was time. We never actually saw 6cm – we just went from 4 to 10. I began regretting my decision to wait so long for the epidural. I was leaned over the side of bed and remember people rushing in.
I began yelling for the epidural, but the team said we needed to go to the O.R.
Fear began to take over – which dramatically intensified the pain.
What if I needed an emergency C-section?
What about my breech baby?
What if there were complications and interventions were needed?
Would they cut me without any pain medication?
It was not in my birth plan to deliver the twins un-medicated. I knew the risks involved, and the additional risks of having one of the babies breech made the risks even riskier. I had never even heard of anyone doing either of these things, EVER. I started screaming louder for the epidural. The team said I needed to transfer to the new bed, but I couldn't move. I was in so much pain. I was thinking to myself, “how could they be asking me to move?” I recognized my OBYGN on the team, which brought me a millisecond of comfort. I was still screaming but I could hear his calm voice saying “we can’t have these babies on the floor, Mama. You need to transfer to the bed so we could go to the O.R.” The next small break I had between contractions, I quickly jumped on the new bed.
The team wheeled me to the OR on all fours, still screaming bloody murder. I had no idea who was around me or pushing me, but I remember screaming out to my partner because I did not know where he was. He was walking right next to me and I could hear his comforting voice say, “I’m here Konjo” which means "beautiful" in my language. I was so grateful to have him there. I can only imagine how scared he must have been in that moment, too. They took him to another room to change, and in 2 seconds he met me in the O.R, where I was still screaming and asking for something for the pain.
I realized later that I wasn’t actually screaming so erratically because of the pain. I had managed the pain the entire time quite well. I was screaming because of the fear, and for being completely out of control of the situation. This fear intensified the pain a million times more.
The team then told me I had to move from the table I was on, to the O.R table. I thought to myself, "are you kidding me right now? What part of pain don’t you get!" This was the point where I began cussing everyone out. I just screamed "F*** YOU" to everyone that was there. I think all of us laughed for a second. They were all a part of my prenatal care, and knew me as this calm, sweet, cool, collected person - definitely not a person who cursed, ever. But in this moment, I was mad, frustrated, in pain and could not move.
One nurse finally said, “You are not getting the epidural - We are too far along and you have to push theses babies out.” I don’t know why, but I needed to hear this. This brought me back to reality. I knew at this point that an epidural was not going to be an option. My mode switched from “I need help” to “I need to help myself”. I knew I needed to get back some control to deliver my babies safely. So, in the brief second between the next contractions, I hopped on to the other bed.
I still couldn’t believe what was happening and I felt out of body. My adrenaline was so high that I was about to pass out. A nurse noticed this and quickly gave me an O2 mask. There was still a lot of pressure, pain and burning between my legs, and it was getting more intense. I remember someone saying they could see the head.
My OBGYN was standing next to me and calmly said "the babies are almost here and you need to start pushing." I just grabbed him as tightly as I could and wouldn’t let go. He gently said he would stay with me, and asked the midwife could deliver the first baby.
Everyone around me was saying I could do it. They said they could see the head, and I could hear their excitement. I knew this was it.
This moment I honestly felt like I was in the twilight zone. Sounds and vision blurred. I was laser focused on delivering my babies.
The midwife stood at my feet to deliver the baby. The ring of fire burned so intensely that I was actually pushing my body away from the table. My partner had to hold my head and shoulders down while the team held on to my legs (check out my superhuman strength, I know.) When I began pushing, I felt a relief from pain. I felt like I was doing something to help myself, and i was back in control of the situation. I felt a burst of strength, courage, and excitement to see my babies. This made me push so much harder and faster that midwife had to tell me to slow down.
Our baby boy was out in 3 pushes at 8:23PM. They brought him up so I could see him and hold him for a brief moment of skin to skin. I cried right away and sobbed at how much he looked like his father. They gave our baby boy right to my partner next. I had a brief pocket of relief before contractions started again, but this time it was better. Even though delivering breech was more intense physically, I felt stronger and in control, which lessened the pain. I knew what to expect and what to do, and I believed I could do it.
Everyone switched places – my OBGYN went to catch our baby girl and my partner came to my side for me to hold. After 3 pushes, she was out at 8:28am. I cried a lot, and she was brought up to me to see and hold.
Everyone kept congratulating me and saying how amazing I was. I was just in shock - overwhelmed and crying. The OBGYN asked if I wanted to cut the cord, and I said no, in an "are you kidding me?" kind of way. They had already asked me to do enough! He said, "you just delivered these babies - I think you can cut the cord." He was right. I cried and cut the cord. I am so glad I got to add that to the experience.
Both babies were brought to me for skin to skin which calmed my shaking body down immediately. I was so happy and in disbelief. I delivered both babies vaginally, unmedicated, with our baby girl breech - 5 minutes apart, and with no complications at all. Still crying and in shock, I held both babies in my arms. I couldn’t believe the power of what I had just done. The OB congratulated me and told me I was made to have babies – I took this is the highest compliment.
Although birthing was painful, I truly understand now the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is much more tolerable and manageable. The perceived suffering was caused by the fear, and made me feel so out of control. I was really attached to my birth plan and wanting the autonomy, so having to detour made me feel extremely vulnerable. Being in control, or at least feeling like you are in control, changes everything.
Even though I knew intellectually that birth can happen anytime and anywhere, the idea of epidurals, hospitals, and controlled environments still seemed like the safest option. I’m extremely grateful that I was in the hospital surrounded by an amazing team, and that it was safe and healthy birth, but it just showed me personally that there is so much more to this. What I had just accomplished was incredible to me. Amazing. By far, the most powerful thing I have ever done. I am so in awe, mostly because I thought I could never do it. I wanted to hear more stories about the different ways women are experiencing birth. I wanted to share these stories, and hopefully lessen the fear and open up the possibilities for other women as well.
Birth is a natural, powerful and healing experience..... it connects us to a divine portal of life and creation.
Our bodies are built to do this, and we have it in us even if we don’t always know it.
Would I do it again? Without hesitation... stay tuned.
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Thank you for reading!