Welcome to the 9th post in a series of birth stories that will run from August through September, Birth Story Celebration. Keep checking back on Tuesdays and Fridays for new, awesome stories of the miracle that makes us parents! Today our featured story is from Lori.
Lori is a mom of 3 girls, two being twins, and she blogs about their lives over at The Next Step.
When I found out I was having twins, it was the shock of my life. Thankfully I was blessed with this phenomenon in 2009, and not forty years ago when the shock would have come as the doctor was elbow-deep in my hoo-hah muttering something about “another head in there.”
At 30 weeks, I was scheduled for weekly non-stress tests to be performed at the hospital where they had more than one fetal-heart monitor. I was admitted to the hospital each time, dressed up in the finest fanny-flashing gown they had, and strapped into all kinds of devices. They hooked up two fetal-heart monitors to my giant belly to measure the heart rates of the twins at rest over a 20 minute period, and a device I liked to call The Seismograph to measure whether or not I was having contractions.
For a couple of weeks I had been having severe discomfort that felt like one of the twins was stretching to her full height pushing her feet against my lungs and jamming her head into my cervix. During the second non-stress tests, this happened three times and I tried to explain it away as one of the twins stretching, but the nurse monitoring the earthquake going on in my belly suspected pre-term labor.
All manor of violations were done to measure stuff in centimeters, first by the nurse, then by my doctor, who declared me in labor and told me to expect to spend the night. They got busy shooting steroids into my ass and pumping multiple layers of labor-stopping fluids into my arms, while I made frantic phone calls to my husband. He came running with a bag full of essentials like phone charger, laptop, and barrettes to keep the hair out of my eyes, but he didn’t bring the camera because we were NOT having the babies that day.
But every time the OB came to check on me, she looked more and more prepped for surgery. First she was in street clothes and white coat, then she was in scrubs and sneakers, and the next time I saw her she had on the paper hat and booties to match! She claimed it was because she was currently juggling me and a couple other scheduled c-sections.
As 3 different methods of stopping the labor failed, the true fear set in.
What if they came today? Is it too early? The due date is still 7 weeks away! Will those steroids do anything to help develop the babies’ lungs? What if something is wrong with them? What if…
While my husband argued with the neonatalogist on the fine points of the medical releases needed to perform radical procedures on the babies should the need arise, my OB said, “Could you take this in another room? She’s progressing like a freight train and we need to get to the OR right now!”
Oddly enough, I laughed at the “freight train” comment and felt like I was in good hands. Humor has always been my fall-back when I am scared, nervous, or feeling like I need a pick me up. So when they wheeled my freight train self into the OR and jammed more people in there than in a clown car, I started the nervous joking. It helped that they started pumping me full of drugs to prepare for the c-section – then I was SUPER hilarious.
It started with me asking “What’s with the condom?” and pointing to a rubber sheath someone had put on a large phallic handle on the giant operating lamp that hung over me. Several people laughed and informed me that was to keep everything sterile. I couldn’t help but laugh at the “condom” and “sterility” combo platter that was just served up to me. Could be it was just the drugs that made it funny.
When the fanny-flashing gown was all but tossed aside for the c-section to begin, someone noticed a small VT tattoo on my left hip (that stands for Virginia Tech, not Vermont) and asked for clarification that I was indeed a Hokie. “Yeah!” I said throwing my fist in the air, at which point the doctor with the scalpel in her hand announced she had gone to University of Virginia, (our arch in-state rival) for undergrad and Duke for medical school. I told her I wouldn’t hold that against her, and to please not hold it against me that my team had beat hers in football 10 of the last 11 times they met on the gridiron. She laughed, and I swear held that scalpel just a little higher to let it glint in the light from that giant OR lamp.
Another person on the delivery team chimed in that they went to the University of Maryland, and yet another announced their alma mater was Boston College. At which point I assured my husband that everything would be fine because we had “the ACC teams in the house!” And they all cheered. And commented that this was already the most fun they had ever had in an emergency c-section.
The chatter died down as incisions were made and Baby A popped out so fast the doctor said, “Whoa! I think she JUMPED out of there – it was all I could do to catch her!” (Years later after the twins personalities developed, our theory is that Baby B actually PUSHED her out.)
A mere 20 seconds later and Baby B is handed off to the neonatalogist and his team.
As my doctor struggles with my leftovers, all the pressure on my stomach sends up something for my husband to catch. Thankfully this is a common enough thing that they had set him up in advance with a barf bag, and clean up was minimal. I had terrific aim, even under the influence of morphine, and I shout “Nailed it!” after I finish heaving. Everyone laughs again. I think, “I’m on a roll! I’m HILARIOUS!” (again, could have been the drugs.)
My doctor commenced closing me up, and our attentions were turned to the twins and their vital statistics and Apgar scores. Both girls weighed in at over 5 pounds each – which is a pretty terrific thing when they are 7 weeks early and had been sharing nutrition for so many months. The doctors all exclaimed what a great job I had done in getting their birth weight up (the number one thing that helps premies avoid birth complications is a high birth weight).
I put one hand in the air, waved it like Miss America, and said in my best Oscar-winners voice, “I’d like to thank Ben and Jerry for this accomplishment.” Which put the delivery team in stitches again, and made me smile and relax for the first time since being told I was definitely in labor.
We got a quick glimpse of the girls before they were whisked off for their mandatory stay in the NICU until they reach 35 weeks gestational age. No breathing problems, no heart problems, no eating problems – my girls rocked their NICU stay! I was able to breathe easy myself, enjoy the pain meds, and joke with the nurses about not checking out until I pooped. (Motherhood is glamorous, right?)