5 Things Thursday: The Birth Story

A couple of quick things:

1) I know I’m only barely posting this on a Thursday. That’s how we roll around here in Twinsville.

2) There will be no Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL this week (see item 1 about how we roll). But we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week.

Warning: World’s longest post (I decided to go with the long version so I’d have it written down for posterity, as well as you guys; feel free to skim/skip the slow parts).

I’ve been writing snippets of this story in my head since last Thursday, so…a week ago, right?

{I think it’s an indication of my level of sleep-deprivation that I had to glance at the words “5 Things Thursday” and then do a finger count to make sure I was posting on the right day just to verify that a) today is Thursday, and b) yes, that would make last Thursday a week ago. Good grief}.

The problem was, the ending of the story kept changing on me.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Today the commonality for my 5 Things Thursday theme is: days…5 of them to be exact.

Because that’s how long it took the twins to come out (unless you count the other 273 days of pregnancy; but who’s doing that?).

So, let’s just start at the very beginning (if for no other reason than that Julie Andrews says it’s a very good place to start).

Day 1

Around 11 AM, I’m woken up from a nap by mild contractions.

They start really small, getting a teensy bit more intense as they wrap around from my back to my lower abdomen, tighten just a bit more, then release, the entire process taking maybe 30 seconds.

I lie there, alternating between tingles of excitement and twinges of doubt.

After all, after two late babies and 5,676,889 Braxton Hicks contractions literally under my belt, I’m kind of a false labor expert, and I know not to get my hopes up until I’m panting through the pain and can hardly stand up (which is a very strange time to feel hopeful when you think about it).

So, feeling cautiously optimistic, I continue throughout my day….contracting.

I pick the boys up from school (I’ll tell you more about that soon)…contracting.

I make dinner…contracting.

My husband and I get the kids in bed and watch an episode of Sherlock…all while I continue to contract.

Now, obviously, if I’m able to do all that for a good 12 hours, then I’m not in real labor, and I know this.

But I do tend to have long warm-up labor periods, so I call my midwife and give her a heads-up that if things were to suddenly round a painful corner, then she might want to have her bags packed (she lives over an hour from my house).

I also text a few key people to please pray that the annoying squeezes turn into something real very soon.

Day 2

I wake up early, having continued to contract all night, which resulted in rather fitful sleep and some really weird dreams (there might have been a boa constrictor involved).

By now, my contractions have all but stopped, with an occasional Braxton Hicks sneaking up on me to mess with my brain.

We take the kids to my mom’s early in the day in a presumptuous and foolhardy attempt to assure the contractions that it’s okay to come back now.

Then, we head to “town” (can you tell we’re country folk?) to run various and sundry errands, including picking up a few last-minute labor “essentials” (as if these babies weren’t going to come out until I’d bought some lanolin).

We go home, take a nap, and when I wake up, the contractions are back…

…except this time, they’re stronger, they’re coming 6 minutes apart, and lasting more like 45 seconds.

PROGRESS!

Such an exciting word when you’re hoping to expel a human being (or two) from your body.

Within two hours, they are down to 4 1/2 minutes apart and slightly stronger, so I call my midwife again and say to at least know where her car keys are…although I’m still skeptical.

An hour and a few hicuppy double contractions later, they stop.

I’m disappointed, obviously, but not too surprised.

Thus ends a pathetically uneventful Day 2.

Day 3

I wake up even earlier than the day before after an even worse night’s sleep (the contractions never went away 100%…just lost their pattern), feeling crummy, and head to the living room downstairs, where I attempt to find comfort in the Psalms.

Problem is, I keep picking all the ones that go a little something like: ‘Why, Oh Lord, have you forsaken me? Why do you turn your face from me and refuse to heed my cries? Why must my enemies triumph against me?” and on and on.

After some time spent in (very whiny) prayer (“Lord?? Seriously? This is supposed to be a natural process. It shouldn’t be this complicated. Please, I’m begging you…just let them out!!), I turn to trusty old Facebook for distraction.

And I spot this video on a friend’s wall:

Parents rap about maintaining their household by videosonlytube

All through my Psalms-reading + whining praying, I’d been fighting the urge to cry, partly out of self-pity and frustration, partly because I really didn’t feel well physically.

Well, this happy, snappy vid was doing wonders for my mood…

Until it wasn’t.

No joke, I went from grinning at the upbeat parental rhymes to convulsive sobbing in .03 seconds.

(If you watch it—which I recommend—I think it was the part where the mom hauls off her fighting children…but I don’t think that has any real-life or subconscious significance).

My poor husband came pounding down the stairs, eyes barely open, sleep creases on his face, and probably little drool in his beard (sorry, baby; I think it’s cute, promise)—convinced that something was terribly wrong.

Problem was, I couldn’t even stop blubbering long enough to articulate why I was bawling other than to flap my hand at my computer screen where I’d paused the video, and all that did was confuse him.

Once I’d finally calmed down enough to assure him that I wasn’t dying and there was nothing wrong with the babies, I proceeded to have a full-on pity-party into his shoulder.

Then I went upstairs and took a bath AND a shower.

By this point, I had to admit to myself that what I was feeling wasn’t just wound-up nerves + not much sleep.

There was something wrong.

I couldn’t get warm, but my face was on fire.

And everything ached.

And I couldn’t breathe out of my nose.

Yep.

I was sick.

And contracting (because, of course, they decided that then would be a good time to come back).

I lay down and called my midwife to ask whether she thought I might have some kind of infection, but when Shaun took my temp, it was only 99.

I took a battery of vitamins + some Tylenol and buried myself under a down comforter to get warm.

Miraculously, 30 minutes later, I felt so. much. better.

Better enough to leave the house even (I had been dragging my legs around like an invalid all morning because they felt so heavy/weak).

So off we went to town again for another round of distraction essential errand-running, during the entirety of which my contractions settled into a steady, though hardly impressive rhythm of 1 every 8-10 minutes, lasting at least a minute each.

Some were more “real” seeming than others, but for the most part, they didn’t progress.

And they kept going for hours.

My midwife kept calling to check on my temp and the contractions, but all I could report was that, while I often felt warm to the touch, every time I took my temp, it was normal, and the contractions weren’t doing diddly.

We got home, and I opted for yet another nap, since that had helped get things going the other two days.

But this time, it had the opposite effect and managed to effectively silence even the piddliest contraction.

I woke up in a very bad state of mind. Whinier than ever. More frustrated than ever. Sick of contractions. Sick of being pregnant. Sick of this ridiculous, obviously malfunctioning body of mine. And mad at God.

After all, hadn’t I prayed (wholeheartedly) that this pregnancy and delivery would bring glory to Him?

And how was that going to happen if the twins NEVER. CAME. OUT?? (dramatic, much?)

I tried to keep myself busy, but finally I just sat down beside my (extremely patient) husband on the couch and cried again…angry tears this time.

Now, I’m usually not a meltdown kind of girl, and I realize that, just reading this big long description of  Day 3, with my grand agenda of: contract, take naps, go run kidless errands with my husband, repeat…doesn’t sound like too hard of a life I’m having.

And it wasn’t. I knew that.

But there are fewer things more maddening (at least to my personality) than waiting around for a baby to come out and finally getting to that irrational moment of, “Never mind. They’re obviously staying in there forever. I quit.”

It’s mentally exhausting.

And I’m a wimp, apparently.

Fortunately for me, I have a wise husband, who assured me that my body was obviously trying to do something and that we would very soon have twin girls who would immediately curtail our ability to go on dates for quite some time.

So, why not attempt to fit in one last one?—no baby-related errands, no contraction timing allowed..

I can get stubborn and fairly resistant to cheering up, but, thankfully, I had the sense to recognize that offers of dinner and a movie from a handsome man who happens to love me to distraction even when I’m being difficult aren’t exactly worth passing up in favor of wallowing in hissy fits.

So, off we went to one of our favorite restaurants.

Yes, the contractions kicked back in on the way.

And yes, they were yet again a little stronger than the time before.

But I didn’t care.

In fact, we were joking about how the real contractions better not even try to show up and ruin our date night.

After a yummy dinner, we decided to skip the movie and head to Mandy’s house, since she had been one of the few receiving regular text updates and knew I needed some bucking up.

Not long into our time there, I started feeling feverish, achy, and chilled again—with a lovely new addition: uncontrollable shakes.

I pretty much had most symptoms of transition in labor, except that the contractions weren’t strong or patterned enough to be anything like real labor.

Fortunately, Mandy’s house is only 2 minutes from my midwife’s birth center, and Thalia {midwife} drove all the way in to meet me to do one last prenatal exam and check me for dilation. At 11 PM. On a Saturday. Because she’s awesome like that.

The shakes had let up by this point, but I was still really warm and flushed. Even so, my temp was a measly 98.4.

Thalia had no explanation for my symptoms other than an overwrought nervous system, shot adrenal glands, and a combination of too many contractions and too little sleep.

And the physical exam revealed that I was only dilated to a 2. (I would have been happy with a 1, honestly; I could tell nothing was happening).

And thus ended a rather odd, frustrating, and, at times, enjoyable 3rd day.

DAY 4

I’ll try to do the short version of the day’s proceedings so we can get to the exciting stuff, but the first part of the day consisted of watching a sermon from a former (beloved) pastor on the internet (singing along with the worship was seriously good for my soul).

Then, another (more severe) round of fever-like symptoms, including major tremors.

At this point, I was pretty well hoping not to go into labor because the thought of genuine contractions on top of an aching body and fever was downright scary.

Maybe the weirdest thing about all of this was that I could feel terrible one moment and (relatively) normal the next.

Sure enough, as soon as I managed to get warm, the shakes were gone, and I could walk again.

With the mindset again of ignoring any contractions, we went out for brunch (at 2 PM : )) and even made a pit stop at Lowe’s, where I was cut in line by an elderly fella and told by the guy behind me: “DANG, you’re ready to pop, lady.”

(Getting ready to something, dude; the word “snap,” more than “pop” comes to mind).

However, their combined rudeness managed to get me a sympathy pregnancy markdown (no, I didn’t ask for it) on some already seriously clearanced out curtains (the manager said, “Can you believe those guys?!”), so I guess it worked out fine.

Home we went, with my energy waning with every minute that passed.

By the time I got home, I knew I’d overdone it, and within 5 minutes was in the throes of the worst round of shakes I’d had yet.

They persisted on and off for 2 hours, and I couldn’t (ahem) shake them, even when I tried to cope by using labor breathing—because I couldn’t breath through my nose again.

In fact, the only thing that got them to stop was mentally quoting Scripture.

And that effect was immediate.

And it made me ashamed of how long it took me to go there.

I mean, I’d been praying been pretty much nonstop throughout all of this, but the fact that using the promised power of God’s word to help combat something unhealthy came after mounds of blanket and Lamaze breathing means that I still didn’t get it.

But the minute (the second, really) that I started quoting a paraphrase of some of my favorite Psalms—it went a little something like, “My hope is in you, Lord. Show me your way to do this. Guide me in truth. Let me not be put to shame.”—and Isaiah 26:3, which says, “You will keep him in perfect peace. Whose mind is stayed on you. Because he trusts in you”—the change was palpable.

And I suddenly remembered something.

You see, with Della, the progression of my labor was different (and faster), but the frustration was similar and compounded by the fact that my water broke (or at the very least, I had a very high amniotic fluid leak), which put me on a deadline for when my contractions needed to kick in or I would need to go to the hospital.

Nothing worked.

Not the stomping around the neighborhood back-roads.

Not the herbs that I took.

Not the frantic and demanding whining praying I did (see the, “Lord?? Really?” prayer from above if you care to know the wording).

Nothing I ate, did, or said could get more than a semi-strong contraction every 20ish minutes or so to appear.

Nothing…except utter stillness. My husband literally sat beside me on the bed as I lay in a dark room, and he talked/prayed me through relaxing every muscle in my body down to my pinky toe.

And you know what?

About twenty minutes into it, I felt the faintest tinge of a contraction that was somehow different than all the rest that wouldn’t stick.

I was terrified they would stop.

But I just kept feeling another and another and another.

They kept coming as I sat on a pillow on the floor with my eyes closed and listened to Shaun read the Psalms (the appropriate ones) and then through a variety of other activities until, 8 hours later, I had my sweet little Ladybug, Adelaide, to hold in my arms.

And, yet, knowing all that, I hadn’t bothered to utilize any of that knowledge this time around.

Maybe because I didn’t want to do anything so “drastic” this time?

I just wanted my stubborn body to work, dang it.

And, God, you’re in charge of that department, so chop, chop, please.

In a moment of total clarity, I all but heard the Almighty whisper, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

And I noticed something else too.

I could breathe through my nose again.

I lifted up my head from the couch where I was huddled in misery and asked Shaun to read me some Psalms like he did last time.

He got up immediately and brought me some socks for my feet, which was incredibly sweet of him and very helpful for the little leftover chills but a little confusing as a response to my recent request, especially when he came back without the Bible.

It took me a minute, but finally I said, “Baby, did you hear me say, ‘socks?’ Because I said, ‘Psalms.’ I’m really grateful for the socks, though. They feel great.”

He stared at me in confusion for a second, then headed off to get the Bible, chuckling as he went.

I exaggerate not one tiny bit when I say that it was only 5 minutes after he started reading (probably less) when I felt the faintest tinge of a contraction that was somehow different than all the rest that wouldn’t stick (sound familiar?).

It was around 5 in the evening, which is almost exactly what time it was last time with Adelaide (apparently, I’m a little stupid until that point in the day).

Shaun fell asleep on the couch after reading, but I just lay there absolutely still on couch and tried not to get too excited by the fact that every 2 1/2 minutes, I would have a little contraction, each one a smidge stronger than the last.

After at least 50 minutes of absolute stillness, I opened up my laptop to Biblegateway.com (one of my favorite ways to read the Bible since you can search for anything) and saw this as the verse of the day:

……………………………………………………………

Romans 5:3-4

New International Version (NIV)

3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

…………………………………………………………..

Now, I’m not much of one to let the Bible fall open, close my eyes, stab my finger at the page, and then claim whatever I see as a “word from the Lord.”

But one of the overwhelming complaints I’d had throughout this long process was this: “Why, Lord? What’s the point? This feels like a bad joke. If you’re going to get the glory, then you’re going to have to speed this process along and claim it. Because I don’t see why it’s gotta be this hard or complicated to get a couple of little girls that need to come out…out.”

The second I read the verse, though, I knew the answer to my complaint.

Suffering (if anything I had “endured” could be categorized as such) produces perseverance (a very necessary trait in labor), perseverance, character (something I’d say I needed a little more of), and character, hope (the very thing that keeps you going when the contractions seem almost unbearable).

I think my mouth fell open a little.

I lay there for 2 hours total, still as could be, reading, praying, and hoping.

And by 7 PM, the contractions were just as close together and 5 times as strong as when they started.

So, I told Shaun we had blast-off, and I called my midwife one more time and told her that she’d finally be needing those bags she’d had packed for 4 days.

She made me do what I was reluctant to do—get up and move—to make sure the contractions didn’t go away.

But they never missed a beat.

By the time she, the second midwife she’d brought like she always does for a twin birth, and their two assistants showed up around 10 PM, the contractions had gotten considerably stronger and longer, but more spaced out, which was fine with me.

Truth to tell, I wasn’t timing, just hoping that every time one ebbed, another would start up again very soon.

And it did.

I absolutely love all 4 ladies that were there that night, and, if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was in labor (hallelujah!), it would have felt a bit like a party to have them all there to chat with.

When Thalia checked me right after she got there, I was hoping for a 4. The contractions were getting stronger, but I didn’t feel any of the pressure on my cervix (TMI?) that I usually experience in labor, so I wasn’t hopeful for great progress.

So, when she informed me that I was almost a 5, I was ecstatic.

These babies were going to be born within a 12 hour timeframe, which, for me, is practically warp speed!

For the next two hours, I continued to contract more and more painfully and steadily (at one point, they were practically on top of each other), but it was still considerably less uncomfortable than anything I’d every experienced before because the pressure still wasn’t there.

I told my midwife this, and she just smiled and said, “Maybe this time, you won’t have to deal with that,” but I could hardly dare to hope.

Between contractions, I felt remarkably relaxed, walked around normally (I started out sitting on the couch, then transitioned to standing and supporting myself with a chair while I did plié squats and breathed through each contraction), drank Vitamin Water, and cracked jokes with the ladies and Shaun.

To call it fun would be taking it too far for sure, but it was the next closest thing given the circumstances.

By midnight (which I was very grateful to see come and go since it meant that my girls would have no chance of a split birthday), Thalia wanted to check me again.

I knew I’d made progress, but without that I’m-going-to-split-in-two pressure that I associate with having babies (it gives me the willies every time I’m facing labor and remember that feeling), I wasn’t counting on being any farther along than a 7.

Imagine my elation, then, when Laura, one of the assistants, told me I was pretty much completely dilated!

All I needed now was the urge to push!

DAY 5

I squatted through several more contractions, with a vague shadow of the pressure that I dreaded beginning to manifest itself. I was grateful for it, though, since it’s pretty darn hard to have a baby without any pressure at all (kind of necessary to get the head out).

But after 45 minutes of really intense contractions without the urge to push, I knew I would have to face my worst fear and really let the pain do its job (the squats were doing a great job of masking it, but they also were controlling it a bit too much as well).

So, I went to pee and continued sitting afterwards while I let the contractions work.

Oy vey!

That was not my favorite, but I knew it was necessary.

After I was gone for 5 minutes, Thalia came and leaned against the door to ask me how it was going.

And I had pretty much just finished telling the Lord, “Maybe one more? I think that’ll do it.”

Sure enough, at the end of that last contraction, there was a huge shift in pressure, and I knew it was show time.

Thalia saw it in my face and said, “Abbie, you need to get up and get back to bed now!!!”

Somehow, I managed to haul myself (half-running, half-hobbling with a baby’s head pressing down on you is not the most fun) back to the bed, where Evangeline Noelle was born a whopping 5 minutes and two pushes later at 1:01 AM.

Thalia had told me that my contractions might pretty much stop altogether and that I could possibly get anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, so I could just hold my firstborn and rest up for a bit before Round 2 started.

Um, not so much, it turns out.

2 minutes after Evy was born, I felt the urge to push again.

They could see Magnolia Claire’s water-bag bulging and assumed the hard thing they could feel behind it was a head.

But when it broke, they discovered not a head at all, but two little feet presenting!

Double. footling. BREACH.

Words to strike fear into any midwife’s heart, and I knew it too.

I lifted my head up, looked hard at Thalia, and said, “What does that mean?”

She looked at me just as calm as you please and said, “Nothing different. It means you push this baby out.”

With double footling breach, there’s always the danger of the baby’s head getting stuck under the pubic bone, but I took her at her word that it would be just like pushing a head out first.

And I started pushing (without a contraction behind it, mind you).

And she came out!

First the feet.

Then half the body (Diane, the other midwife, captured an action shot of it that is part ultra-cool and part, “Where’s the brain-bleach?”).

Then the head.

Total opposite order than “should be,” but it was perfect, and so was my second daughter, Nola, when she emerged at 1:09 AM, only 8 short minutes after her sister.

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Here I am, getting to hold my girls for the first time (and yes, there was plenty of fluid in those water-bags).

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Evy, aka, “The firstborn runt,” getting ready to be weighed and measured.

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She was completely chill the entire time.

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Laura, Thalia’s lovely assistant, who is very close to being a full-fledged midwife herself. She was fabulous.

 

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My incredibly hunky and amazing husband, holding his first twin daughter.

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Nola’s turn!

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She stayed pretty relaxed about it too! (check out those chubby cheeks!)

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Daddy with both his long-awaited twin girlies finally safe in his arms.

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Laura and Melina, the two awesome birth assistants.

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Thalia and Diane, my two amazing midwives.

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And us, in our first family portrait with The Twins.

Praise be to God for great things HE has done!

Sure, it might not have happened in the way I would have done it, but ultimately my prayer that He would get the glory was more than answered, and He was gracious enough to grant the desire of my heart for a quick (for me), easy (relatively), and safe delivery.

Maybe next time (many moons from now, hopefully : )), I’ll remember to fully seek His face before 5 PM on day #4.

Either way, I know one thing for sure:

It is only by God’s grace that I was able to deliver not one but two twin girls with zero complications and full strength after fearing only hours earlier that I wouldn’t be able to walk, much less push two babies out of my body.

He. is. good.

The end. 

The beginning.

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “5 Things Thursday: The Birth Story

  1. Just found your blog and LOVE this post! I have had five singleton home births, each one completely different, each one totally frustrating (also struggled with days of unproductive contractions!) UNTIL I learned to relax in God’s promises, knowing His timing was perfect for the delivery of my newest bundle of joy. I have also written each of their birth stories down in a book I keep, and am thankful to have them to look back on and remember the desperation, and ultimately the DELIVERANCE that followed. (Aside from the Bible, “Childbirth Without Fear” by Dr. Grantly Dick-Read {unfortunate name, I know!} was super helpful with learning how to relax and allow my body to do what was needed to get the baby OUT.)

    I also just realized that at this point, you are nearing the end of another pregnancy and expecting baby #6! Congratulations & blessings to you!!

    Question: what do you do to keep your abdominal muscles healthy between pregnancies? I tend to lose the extra baby weight within about 6 months, but struggle with a persistent diastis separation. :/

  2. Wow, quite the story! You have a way with words! Your babies are gorgeous. I have had 8 myself, all naturally, though no twins!

  3. such an amazing story of a marvellous delivery, my God bless your family. I’ve just discovered your website yesterday and I’m already in love with it.

    ps. you look redicilously beautiful in your pictures for a mother of 5 who had just pushed out 2 babies after a 5 days labor, had to say that! :)

  4. I just bopped on over here from Grasping for Objectivity where you guest-posted today, and WOW! What a story! :-) I love hearing such positive birth experiences. And your girls are beautiful.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! I am expecting twin girls in April, and hoping to have a homebirth as well. I love hearing positive twins at home stories!

  6. My husband and I have finally come to the conclusion that 2013 is the year we begin attempting to expand our family. This story just made my heart burst with happiness. You don’t frequently see home birth stories of twins and this definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities. I’m so looking forward to seeing their nursery reveal soon :)

I love comments so much I'd actually consider making them my sixth kid if I could. Seriously. Love. And I read every single one and will do my darndest to respond, especially if you have a question. So, yeah. Comment away! I'm listening!