Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Twin birth story **Part 1**

I only halfway apologize for the length of this, but it’s necessary as this birth story started the day I found out I was carrying twins. This would be one very, very long post if I put it all here at once, so I'm going to break it up.

If you'd like to see the photos from the birth, you can click here.


Joe and I had gone in for our usual 9 week ultrasound, and were shocked to hear Dr. Wasserman say, “Congratulations, you’re having twins.” He knew our midwife, and knew she didn’t catch twins at home, so he also said, “You’re having a hospital birth.” Anyone who knows the details of my birth history will understand why that was a punch to the gut. To summarize for those who don’t know, I had severe PTSD and PPD after my C-section 10 years earlier. Hospitals traumatize me, and I have a serious distrust of medical professionals as a whole. I had happily homebirthed my last three children.

Joe and I were both in shock, and I asked our OB to give me a couple minutes to get dressed and to wrap my brain around the fact I was carrying two babies. He left the room, and Joe stood in front of me and said, “I don’t know if I should hug you or not!”  I said, “Neither do I!”  When we went into the OB’s office to continue our conversation, I was very nearly in tears when I told him that birthing in a hospital was “going to be a problem.” I don’t think at that point he really understood what I meant, given that he was not privy to all of my history. 

After we had a few days to wrap our heads around it, I started researching. I was carrying “di/di” twins which meant they each had their own placenta and amniotic sac. This is the safest kind of twin to have, and can be safely caught at home. We found a midwife who was willing to attend us and who seemed to be a good fit. However, neither Joe nor I were 100% sure about having the babies at home. Despite having had three uncomplicated homebirths, this was uncharted territory for us, and given we were 40 minutes (in perfect traffic) from our OB of choice, we were leery about staying home.

The compromise we came up with was to have the babies at a birth center that had just opened up about halfway between our house and the hospital where our OB was at. The birth center was beautiful, and I was thrilled to have found a way to have these babies out of the hospital. At our next prenatal appointment I gave our OB a letter I had written explaining my history, and why the hospital route was not a viable option for me. We informed our OB of our plans for the birth center, and that we would continue care with him in case any complications developed, and I needed to be in the hospital. He wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but really, there wasn’t much he could do about it. :o)

Now what?

My pregnancy progressed with no issues at all, outside of “irritable uterus” which translates to “contractions all the time, but they don’t really mean anything, they’re just annoying.” When I was around 23 weeks, I got an email from our midwife that she was no longer available for March, and we would have to find someone else. We still don’t know exactly what happened, and why she backed out on us, but this was devastating, as she knew full well she was our only viable option for me staying out of the hospital. I say “viable” option because the alternatives we were left with were staying home with midwives with experience levels we weren’t 100% comfortable with, or traveling two hours to another birth center. After several days of upset and anger, we made the very tough decision that we had to go to the hospital.

My focus now had to shift on dealing with essentially being forced into being somehwere I hated, and how I could make it the best experience possible. I was literally having nightmares and flashback, so I started seeing the therapist I saw after my miscarriage several years ago. We used a process called EMDR to lessen my stress responses, and I worked very hard to get to a point where I could accept being in the hospital, and I had to work very, very hard on my trust issues with medical professionals.

The hospital policy for every hospital in our area except one (which I’ll get back to later) is that twin moms are allowed to labor in a regular room, but when they get to 10cm, they are moved into an operating room. They are “wired up” as if they are going to possibly have surgery, and are expected to birth their babies virtually flat on their backs on a very small OR table while in stirrups. Once the first baby is out (Baby A), their cord is immediately clamped and cut, and they are handed off to the neonatology team to be assessed. The OB then sticks his hand (and potentially) forearm up into the mother’s body and finds the second baby (Baby B). If B is head down, everyone stands around and waits for mom to push that baby out. If baby is breech, the OB will do what is called a breech extraction, and pull the baby out by their feet. That baby gets to be put on mom’s belly to wait for the cord to stop pulsing. There would be between 7-11 staff members in the room literally within five feet of the OR table, so in my mind, I would be on display like an animal in a zoo.

Having wonderful midwives in my past who had caught twins at home, I KNEW none of that was necessary with di/di twins, and some of it could be downright harmful. I could not imagine trying to push out a baby flat (or nearly flat) on my back. I was not willing to let my Twin A lose their cord blood, nor was there any reason why, if the baby was “vigorous” (hospital term for “just fine”), they couldn’t be put on me while we waited for the second baby. Given my history of trauma, the idea of someone shoving their arm into my body was utterly horrifying. As I birth without an epidural, I could only imagine how painful that would be as well. I need privacy and control of my environment, so the spectator sport I was being told my birth would be was unacceptable. The best way to put it, is none of that was going to work for me. However, figuring out how to avoid all that was going to be a challenge.

Click here for Part 2.

Skip to Part 3
Skip to Part 4

No comments: