Can you ever prepare for a Twin birth?

Okay, so where we left off I was lamenting about the surprise news that I was expecting twins. I freaked out, panicked and then finally came around to the idea, (not that I had a choice in the matter ). So as much as the pregnancy was a lot to mentally process and physically handle, the birth was a whole new ballgame. While pregnant I read as many books as possible, scoured the internet for twin birth stories (thank you Nesting Story for sharing yours) and talked to several twin moms. What I came to realize is that everyone had different experiences, but a common thread was that multiples usually came before 38 weeks, a twin birth likely takes place in the operating room, with a team of people are present at the birth, and that I should expect the babies to spend some time in the nursery and potentially the NICU. This was a lot to process considering I had my first child two years prior in what I like to think of as a peaceful setting, still in the hospital, but with only my midwives present as the sun came up in the early morning hours.

First moments of skin to skin with my first born
First moments of skin to skin with my first born

Due to low water levels in one of the baby’s sac’s I was told that I would be induced at 36 weeks. The boys were measuring well, they were both head down and there seemed to be no other complications. I was extremely happy to have been given a date as I was physically tapped out. I was scheduled to be induced on a Sunday in January and thankfully we had arranged family members to come stay with our daughter. I also was very lucky as I was able to be followed by midwives, one of whom had been a part of my first pregnancy, and a doctor to do the actual delivery. So the idea of having a date and a plan gave me some relief.   

Can you ever prepare for a twin birth? - Fallon Melander for Nesting Story
35 weeks pregnant with the twins and ready to pop

That morning we went into the hospital very anxious and excited. I was planning on a vaginal delivery with both twins as they were in the perfect position. However, I knew that there was a chance that I would need a C-section if any complications arose. Luckily I had the full support of my midwives and doctor to try this route for a twin birth instead of just scheduling a C-section. After settling in I was hooked up to the monitors we were told that they were going to begin the inducement by administering oxytocin. Needless to say I was ready to evict these twins out of my broken body. About an hour later I was informed that the one anestheologist on duty was in a surgery and would not be able to give me an epidural until he was finished, which happened to take a couple hours.

Things progressed very slowly all day. I was only receiving a small amount of oxytocin as the delivery doctor and the anestheologist were both called into another emergency surgery. Being bed bound I began to get bored and frustrated. I could hear women in the rooms next to me bringing new life into the world, I was on my second shift of nurses, and the Women’s network movies were beginning to repeat themselves. After 12 hours of being bed bound I was just plain pissed. In my fit of anger I began to feel some discomfort down below – burning pain that I thought maybe was my catheter. After a few nurses came and left my husband turned to me and said are you ok? I started to say yes while spontaneously crying from searing pain. He ran to get the nurses and I struggled to keep myself from breaking the guard rail off of the bed.

I was rushed to the operating room and transferred to the cold table while also feeling every inch of pain – which is when I realized that the epidural was not working from my hips down. When everyone was in place, about 13 of us in total, I was told to push and after a few pushes Baby A was out and whisked away immediately to the warming table and a team of nurses to be inspected. I was worried about Baby A, but I also remembered that I had to still give birth to another baby. At this point all I could think was “I have to do that all over again!” This is when I really cursed the fact that the epidural was not working.

The next thing I knew an ultrasound machine was on my stomach to locate Baby B. Turns out he had flipped sideways when his brother left the womb and was no longer head down. Of course I did not know this at the time and with my mind still on Baby A and preparing myself for another birth. It felt like mere seconds had passed when the doctor told me to push gently (is there such a thing?) and the next thing I knew Baby B was out and also whisked away to the adjacent warmer. At this point I looked over to my husband who looked in shock and the doctor who still had not said a word but was covered in blood. My husband then told me that Baby B had come out feet first and our ever stoic doctor looked like he had been in a scene of the Walking Dead.

This is when I started to panic about the health of both babies, especially Baby B who had made his appearance into the world at 9:31pm, 9 minutes after his brother in an unforgettable way. Thankfully my midwives were there are kept us informed and told us that both babies were having difficulty breathing and needed to be taken to the NICU. All of a sudden we heard a long deep beeping noise and I looked at my husband wild eyed. It sounded like the unthinkable but my midwife ran over to me and told me that it was just the battery on one of the warmers that had been unplugged that was making the noise.

The boys were rushed out to the NICU and a very nice Resident doctor wearing a clear face shield (straight out of a SWAT movie) did the rest of the delivery – the placenta. I don’t know if she put it on as a precaution after she saw the doctor pull Baby B out and the aftermath that covered the doctor, or if that is standard practice. The whole time however my mind was on the babies and I had no idea what was happening to them. It was quite a whirlwind and once I was back in the delivery room my husband went with the nurse to see the babies. Meanwhile we had been getting updates from my midwife and she told us that they were stable but needed help breathing. I was being monitored and after I was cleared a few hours later I was able to go see the babies, who were still known as Baby A and B at this point.

Baby A was a vaginal twin birth
Baby A

Both babies were hooked up to the CPAP machine and other than difficulty breathing everything else seemed to be okay. One of the biggest surprises to me was how big they were, measuring at 6.4lbs and 6.1lbs. I couldn’t believe that I had been carrying over 12lbs of baby! To be honest at this point I was utterly exhausted and still was not processing everything that had happened – a faulty epidural, a breach baby birth, two babies on respiratory support, and a twin birth that did not require stitches! My midwife told me that I was a freaking unicorn, but I felt like I was in a foggy dream.

Baby B was a breach baby birth
Baby B

We still had a journey to overcome in the following days of our NICU stay and bringing home the twins but I think I will end the story here for now. Needless to say I am thankful that I have two healthy, strong twin toddlers who despite a rocky start are doing amazing.

Melander twins taking a sink bath at 1 year old

I hope this has helped some of you who may be expecting multiples to put your mind at ease and to know that there are some things you cannot control. I have talked to many twin moms about their pregnancy and birth journey and I have learned how unique each one is, and also how strong both babies and mothers truly are. This may seem like the ultimate test, but it’s the beginning of your story and what I hope is an amazing journey.

What I remember about my C-Section

This post was created in partnership with Huggies.

When I think back on that day, almost three years ago now, I remember snippets. It plays like a dramatic movie in my head. Detailed scenes fading to black, skipping beats in time.

I am standing in our home whispering softly to not wake our sleeping children upstairs, as my husband, Mike takes some last twin belly photos for me.

pregnant with twins

Fade to black.

I am at the hospital registering. My hands are cold and my heart is fast. Adrenaline has taken over my body and I have Mike speak for me as my mind is foggy and I can’t recall answers to the questions being asked.

Fade to black.

I am in a hospital bed, an IV in my arm, and people are buzzing quietly around me. Mike is on his phone slowly swaying in a rocking chair. He looks up at me with kind eyes.

husband waiting during c section

Teams of doctors and nurses introduce themselves, telling me their roles and which team they are on… baby A, or baby B. I nod in disbelief, thinking, “is this a dream?”

Fade to black.

I am walking into the operating room. The lights are bright, but something has caught my eye, which makes the rest of the room fade away. Two warming beds, ominously waiting for their soon-to-be tenants.

I climb up onto the table as instructed, and with a nurse in front, coaching me to curl my back, while attempting small talk, a team of people place an epidural into my spine.

I don’t feel much. I realize that my mind is disassociating itself from my body. A tactic I mastered years ago when I had my thyroid removed. I am going through the motions, moving like I am in water.

Fade to black.

I am lying on the table, warm, feeling safe, but only half present. Mike arrives beside me. The doctor performing my C-Section keeps trying to make small talk and ask me questions. “Why so many questions?” I think to myself. I eventually hear her say that I am not paying attention, and she begins to chat with Mike instead.

I turn my head to my right, and decide to focus on the warming beds.

Fade to back.

A baby is being held up in the air. She’s crying. I comment on how round her face is… like mine.

Fade to black.
There is pulling, and tilting. Another baby is held up in the air. She is longer, with darker hair and I notice she is a little more squished than her sister.

Fade to black.

“She is having a hard time breathing, we will be taking her to the NICU.” Says a nurse about baby B. There are so many people gathered around her warming bed, that I can’t see her. I notice that baby A is on her own, in her warming bed, content and quiet.

newborn twins

Mike turns to me, and before he can get the words out of his mouth, I say, “go! Stay with baby B.” They leave.

Fade to black.

I am in the recovery room, holding a baby. Shivering. I can’t stop shivering.

after c section

Mike arrives and tells me baby B is going to be fine. Almost immediately following Mike, baby B is brought to us. I cradle my two swaddled babies as I shiver.

holding twins after c section

Fade to black.

I have been moved to my maternity room. A kind nurse has instructed eagerly awaiting family and friends to wait outside my room. She undresses my top half, and unswaddles baby A and places her on my chest. She then does the same with baby B. A blanket is pulled up over us.

She tells me that doing skin-to-skin with my twins for a couple hours will stop my shivering and help regulate my small babies’ temperature. My girls immediately fall asleep and almost melt into my body. My shivering stops, and I feel my whole body become warm, as the morning sun streams through the window onto us.

mom with twins

Family and friends are allowed in. They are disappointed that they can’t hold our babies, and instead take turns staring into their tiny faces remarking on how different they look.

family meeting twins

skin to skin

skin to skin

I am in heaven. I spend the next two hours in complete bliss, knowing that this will go down as one of my all time most precious memories.

skin to skin

April is C-Section awareness month and I have partnered with Huggies to share their No Baby Unhugged initiative, aimed at helping parents maximize precious skin-to-skin time and hugs with their newborn baby. They have created the Hug Plan, which acts as an extension of your birth plan, to help plan for hugs during every moment of your birth experience, including C-Sections. You can download the Huggies Hug Plan here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Huggies. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Huggies.

Caesarean Section vs Vaginal Birth: Stories From A Mom Who’s Been Through Both

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Before giving birth to any of my four children, I was always fascinated and curious about the entire process. I would try to fathom the pain, the excitement, the exhaustion, the thrill and the love. I would ponder if I would be able to deliver my kids vaginally, or would I require a Caesarean section?

I would drill my own mother, (also a mother of four), who had all four of her kids vaginally, three of them unmedicated. What did contractions feel like? How do you really know when you are in labour? Would I need an epidural? Would my deliveries be long and drawn out, or quick and dramatic?

Or, would I be heading an entirely different route? Something that my own mother couldn’t prep me for and answer my hundreds of questions. Would I need major surgery to deliver my baby?

It just so happens that I got to experience both.

But unlike many other mothers’ experiences, each of my deliveries were (thankfully) very textbook, uneventful births. Well, other than the fact that I had twins. But even their delivery was as best case scenario as it comes.

So, vaginal birth vs Caesarean section. Is one better than the other? What are the perks and disadvantages of each? Here is a breakdown according to my personal experience…

Preparation leading up to delivery

Vaginal Birth: With each of my two babies that I delivered vaginally, I was full of anticipation, anxiety and wondering if every minute could be the moment I went into active labor. With my first, I took a parenting class, but failed to really prepare myself for the actual labor. With my second, I hired a doula and had her coach me on how to deal with the pain, which made a huge difference. My bags were packed weeks before giving birth, and even though I went into labor at 39 weeks for each of them, I was very impatient and it felt like I had been pregnant for 40 + weeks. Each of them moved into a head-down position fairly early on, so I knew I would be having them vaginally, as long as everything went as planned.

ready to have a baby

39 weeks pregnant with my first, and VERY ready to pop

Caesarean section: Although I had really wanted to deliver my twins vaginally as well, baby A decided to plug the exit with her bum, while baby B settled herself so high inside my ribs, that my OB was a little nervous about getting her our even via C section.

Once I knew that I was headed for a C section, I made the decision to really accept this, and prepare myself as much as possible. I asked my friends and family about their experiences and had them each walk me through explicit detail as to what to expect.

Leading up to my C section, I was surprisingly calm. I just wanted my babies to arrive safely. I was able to plan everything I needed in advance, including babysitters for my older kids, which really relaxed me.

The hours leading up to giving birth

Vaginal birth: Although each of my vaginal deliveries were almost identical experiences, the way my labor started was very different with each. With my first, I started into early labor weeks before I actually delivered my son, with back pain and dialation. I lost my mucus plug a week before I went into active labor and I didn’t start having contractions until 20 minutes after my water broke, no I should say exploded, during the night.  I woke up and thought I had peed a little. I stood up and it was like someone poured a vase of water on the floor. Very dramatic!

Once I got to the hospital, I was a hot mess. I couldn’t handle the pain of my contractions that were less than two minutes apart. I hadn’t prepared for what felt like someone was snapping my pelvis like a wishbone. I opted for the epidural, and although it helped, it was spotty and was too strong. I started vomiting and felt drunk. When I arrived at the hospital, I was 5 cm dilated and I quickly jumped to 10 cm within a couple of hours.

sick after epidural

My husband kept calling me a pirate, because I couldn’t open up one eye, my epidural was so strong

With my second, I had just been recovering from having the flu. Although it felt like I had been pregnant forever, I needed a couple more day to rest. But one night I started cramping, (the exact time my water broke with my son). My pain was so all over the map that I kept brushing it off as nothing. I would try to sleep, then take a bath, then try to sleep again. Finally, my husband called my mom and said, “you better get over here, Joanna is in labor and she is in denial.” I think I was waiting for my water to break, like it had with my first.

in labor

In complete denial that I was in active labor

When my mother arrived, I was doubled over the counter. It was time to go. I was able to manage the pain more with my daughter, because I had prepared myself ahead of time. But because I was going to have an IV because I tested positive for Group Strep B Streptococcus Infection, I decided to opt for the epidural again. This time, I knew to get an anti-nauseant. This epidural was bliss. In fact, my husband and I felt like we were on a date. Maybe that was because it was so rare we were away from our son. Like my first, I jumped from 5 to 10 cm within a couple hours.

happy with an epidural

High on the best epidural ever administered and loving life

Caesarean section: The hours leading up to my scheduled C section were very different. There was no drama, no pain involved and no wondering “am I really in labor?” We left our house at 5 AM, to get prepped from my 8 AM C section. Tip: if you are getting a C section, try to get the earliest slot in the day possible. You will less likely be bumped. 

twin belly

One last twin pregnancy belly shot before heading to the hospital

Once arriving at the hospital, I registered, changed into a hospital gown, got my IV and was groomed down below, (yes they do that). Eventually the nurses and doctors started arriving and introducing themselves. Keep in mind I was delivering twins, so there was probably more introductions involved than a singleton C section, including who was on team baby A and team baby B. My husband was waiting in his scrubs and finally a nurse ushered me in.

I had been surprisingly calm up until this point. Yes, I had adrenaline flowing through me, but I was just ready to do this. It wasn’t until I walked into the operating room that I started to freak out. It was scary! It was then that it really sunk in that this was major surgery. I think the fact that everyone was in full scrubs and masks, plus that there were TWO warming beds, made the whole environment very surreal.

I turned my panic inward and used every tactic I could to keep myself from falling apart. I had a great nurse stand in front of me while I got my epidural and chat and distract me. It was showtime.

The birth

Vaginal birth: This is where my first two deliveries were eerily similar. I was in the bed, with my epidural and was told that I was 10 cm, but my baby was sunny side up, so we would hold on a little longer to let them turn. Remember that pelvis pain I felt? This explained it. Each of my babies did turn and within 15 minutes of pushing they arrived.

I panicked a bit with my first before pushing. I got really scared. But I had decided to turn down my epidural so I could feel just enough pain to push effectively, and it worked. Knowing this, I chose to do the same thing with my daughter, which resulted in a short amount of pushing. With both of my vaginal deliveries I received only a couple of stitches. Very lucky!

The entire experience was exciting and a bit of blur. I just held our son after he was born. He was all wrapped up and I didn’t think to ask to do skin to skin. I tried to breastfeed him and failed. I was in awe.

With my daughter, I had skin to skin and breastfed her right away. It was such a simple and beautiful moment.

skin to skin after vaginal delivery

Breastfeeding my daughter right after she was born

Caesarean section: This birth is still very vivid. The doctor started opening me up before my husband came in, I asked for him just as he was walking in the door. There was a lot of pushing and pulling involved. I didn’t feel any pain, until I got a sharp pain in my shoulder. This was normal, I was told, and it soon passed. I just focused on breathing in and out. The OB finally gave up having small talk with me because I kept forgetting to respond. “Breathe,” I thought, “breathe.”

Suddenly, a round faced baby was held up in the air. “She looks just like you!” My husband yelled. Seeing my daughter, twin A, snapped me out of my trance and reminded me why going through this was so worth it. Soon after, baby B was held up, looking exactly like my husband.

They were here. I did it. I was so in tune with every word spoken and every action taken at that point by the nurses, and was acutely aware of what was going on when my husband told me that baby B was having difficulty breathing and had to be rushed to the NICU. I sent him to be with her, while I focused on staying calm and watching my other baby being examined. The entire time this was going on, I was being stitched up, stapled and cleaned up. I still couldn’t feel a thing and can’t remember any of that process.

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Baby A and baby B

You can read a more detailed post about my twins’ birth here: Giving birth to twins and what a C section is really like

The first two hours after giving birth

Vaginal birth: Almost immediately after having my son, visitors poured into my room and started passing him around. He was born on a Friday in June, which increased the number of visitors that came to the hospital. I was so excited to show him off, I didn’t think about the repercussions. I should have been focusing on the two of us, and trying to breastfeed. I do think that because I had had such an easy delivery, the nurses were very relaxed about visitors. I continued to push myself, walking around, and entertaining all of my guests.

vistors holding a new baby

Guests holding my new baby

With my daughter, who was born on a Monday in February, I only got one immediate visitor, my father-in-law. Everyone was either working, or sick. My husband and I didn’t mind one bit. After mastering breastfeeding with her, I started getting nauseous. I passed my daughter to my husband and began vomiting. Finally after a few popsicles, I felt better.

After an hour in the labor and delivery room, I was asked to walk to my shared room in the maternity ward.

Caesarean section: After being wheeled out of the operating room and into recovery, I began shaking, and I couldn’t stop. The nurse passed baby A to me, and I clumsily held her and tried to breastfeed, but eventually passed her to my husband.

C section birth

Trying to find a comfortable way to hold my baby while violently shivering

Finally, baby B reunited with us, breathing well at this point and I stared at both girls in awe.

Holding newborn twins

In shock that I just gave birth to twins

Once the nurses had taken my blood pressure, I was given both babies and my hospital bed was pushed down the hall, through the waiting room, to my private room in the maternity ward. As I was pushed down the hall, I somewhat remember hearing squeals of “look twins” and seeing my mother-in-law’s excited face as she got a glimpse of her twin granddaughters.

Once arriving in my room, my fantastic nurse made sure no one could come visit until my babies each laid skin to skin on me. The warmth finally stopped my shivering and shaking. This was the most incredible two hours. I was still so numb and was completely fine with laying in one spot.

Finally visitors were allowed to trickle in, but to their disappointment, and my glee, they were only allowed to look, not hold my babies.

The first few days

Vaginal birth: The first few days with my son were a mix of feeling excited and terrified. I had a terrible time getting him to latch, and shared are room with a mother who snored VERY loud. I was desperate to hit the 24 hours mark and head home, but he had to breastfeed successfully before we could be discharged. Finally by the 23rd hour, he latched and we left the hospital. I had my husband sleep the previous night in the fold out chair, while I laid awake staring at my baby the entire night.

The days following were very stressful. I was trying to navigate motherhood and breastfeeding, my ankles swelled because I hadn’t put my feet up enough, we had busloads of visitors, and we weren’t sleeping at all because our son kept gagging, (he still had amniotic fluid in his lungs, a side-effect from coming out so fast and not enough pushes to get the fluid out). I melted down many times that first week, and it took me a long time to really find my rhythm.

a new mom

A terrified and exhausted new mother

With my daughter, I had learned from my previous mistakes. I sent my husband home that night to get some rest, while I soaked up every bonding minute with my little girl. I mastered breastfeeding her, and was ready to go at the 24 hour mark, because my poor roommate had a baby who wouldn’t stop crying.

Going home this time was a little different. I had a toddler as well and pretty much had to jump into everyday life. With both deliveries, my recovery was not bad at all.

mom of two

Trying to figure out how to parent TWO kids

Caesarean section: I spent 5 days in the hospital with my twins. The extra two days were to keep an eye on baby B. I can honestly say, I had a great time during that hospital stay. I enjoyed having visitors, including friends who stayed and laughed with me while passing around babies way beyond visiting hours. I took advantage of all of the support I was given by the nursing staff, even mastering tandem breastfeeding.

recovering from a c section in hospital

Sleeping in the hospital as much as I can before heading home

The biggest advantage of a C section, to me, was spending those first few scary days, in a hospital with help. By the time I was discharged, I knew each baby so well, and wasn’t scared. My pain was managed really well, and the biggest discomfort I experienced was trying to lay down while my organs moved back into place, (the most suffocating and bizarre pain I have ever felt). This, of course was more to do with having twins than having a C section.

Final thoughts on a Caesarean section vs a vaginal birth…

After being through each birthing scenario, I would say that each have their perks and their negatives. A C section is major surgery, and kind of scary, but there is definitely a lot more time to prepare for a C section, and a lot more care and attention given to your recovery after.

A vaginal birth is a much faster, unpredictable and not as much attention is given to your recovery. You are sent off into the world, trying to recover, while figuring out your baby from day two on.

Looking back on each birth, I can see how a series of circumstances impacted each outcome. My own preparation also had an affect, to a point.

But I am so grateful that regardless of how my four babies arrived into this world, they were healthy, and I will cherish every memory for the rest of my life.

four kids

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Bottom photo by Sarah Martin Photography

What To Wear After A C-Section

What Clothing to wear after a C sectionAt first, after a C-section, you will look like this. Sporting hospital gowns and baggy draw-string pajama pants. Eventually you will want to put real clothes on.

When our twin’s C-section fate was finally sealed when Mia (Twin A) plugged the exit with her bum, I had a million questions about what a C-section would be like. After having two easy vaginal deliveries, I wanted to know every gritty detail so I could prepare myself as much as possible. One topic I grilled my C-section-veteran-friends on was “what do you wear after a C-section?” Since the incision is made just above your pubic bone, (in your pubic area), your regular pants would rub and irritate the fresh incision. So what post C-section attire is best to pack for the hospital and heading home? Here are a couple great options (NOT a sponsored post):

Lululemon Relaxed Fit Pants: Any draw-string pant would work really well after a C-section because you can control the tightness and where it sits on your waist. My Lululemon Relaxed Fit Pants were my go to after C-section pants. In fact, if you showed up at my house today, there is about a 99% chance that I would answer my door wearing a pair of these. At $98.00 CAN , this is an investment piece that is well worth it! The fit and the quality are incredible. Guess what, there’s more. These pants were my favourite pair of maternity pants too! Whaaaaat????? You heard me, the genius who designed these must have been a woman. The waistband of the pants even folds over with extra holes for the draw-string on the inside so you can make them low waisted. These would be one of the items I would take with me onto a deserted island. Okay, I am finished gushing now!

Lululemon Relaxed Fit Pants

Strapless Maxi Dress: Another great post C-section clothing option is a strapless maxi dress. If you are going to give birth during a heat wave, (which was me, two out of three times), you will most likely want to go for a flowy, airy option that you can easily breast feed in. This Tube Maxi Dress from Old Navy, $34.94 CAN, is a great option, complete with the key to after C-Section comfort: a draw-string!

Old Navy C Section Dress

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Giving Birth To Twins And What A C-Section Is REALLY Like

collage final fixThroughout my twin pregnancy I was very hopeful that I would be able to have a vaginal delivery like I had with my two previous children.  My OB said she would give me the green light as long as baby A was head down.  Because I had a “proven pelvis” it didn’t matter what position baby B was.  Going to my ultrasounds week after week both girls were doing a lot of gymnastics.  In fact almost every one of my ultrasound technicians commented on how unusually active they were especially when they each moved from head down to up to down again all during one ultrasound.  In the end Baby A decided to plug the exit with her bum and their fate was sealed… a c-section it was.

Although I always knew that I had a much higher chance of having a c-section with twins, to actually wrap my head around it was a different story.  I had seen many shows on TV where they show a birth via c-section but to keep it entertaining they always skipped the mundane and icky details building up to the doctor holding this pink baby in the air like Simba from The Lion King announcing their arrival.  That’s when a million questions about logistics, timing and surroundings started swirling around in my head.  I went to two of my best friends who had had c-sections and asked them to walk me through every tiny detail even having them back up when I felt they missed a part.  Knowing all of these intricate details helped me immensely but to actually deliver two babies instead of one like each of my friends had put a slightly more dramatic twist on the big event.

The date was set and despite me constantly thinking I must be dialating from all of the intense pain I was experiencing my cervix was like fort knox.  Finally 37 weeks rolled around and it was time to evict these darling tenants of mine.  The night before my c-section I was filled with nervous excitement and despite my best efforts I only slept for thirty minutes.  The alarm clock finally went off at 4 AM and it was time to start getting ready to roll.  I wasn’t able to have any food, coffee (my lifeline), or water after 12 AM so I was glad that I was only having to wait until 8 AM for my c-section.  I took one last belly pic; goodbye belly!  My mom arrived to take over watching the older kids and my husband Mike and I were off to the hospital.morningAfter arriving at 5AM as requested by my OB, we registered and were sent over to the pre-op area.  I changed into the hospital gown I was given and Mike had a seat beside me.  The nurses then began prepping me for surgery: inserted my IV (ouch, it took a few tries because I have rolling veins) and prepped the area where the incision would be made.  In case you were wondering, the incision is made below the bikini line, in the pubic area.  So yes, two piece bathing suits can be worn after a c-section… something I didn’t realize before mine.  Here is where things started to differ from what my mommy friends were able to prepare me for.  Nurse after nurse and doctor after doctor came in to introduce themselves.   All of them were on their way into the operating room dressed head to toe for the occasion.  It felt like a scene out of E.T.  These very friendly nurses and doctors (including the anesthesiologist and the male doctor my friends and I call the “the man” who pushes the abdomen to guide the baby toward the incision) began to tell me what team they were on: baby A or baby B and what their role would be.  This team consisted of approximately 10 people.  At this point my heart rate started to pick up a little and I began to think “holy crap, this is really happening!”

collage-3-v2Then the OB doing the c-section entered the room to discuss the day’s events.  Due to some last minute scheduling changes I had to switch from my regular OB to another (both of whom are rockstars).  Following a little small-talk she started to explain that after taking a closer look at my ultrasounds she was a little concerned about how she was going to get baby B out.  You see, baby B had been pushed way up out to the side past my ribs by baby A who decided to get very cozy and take up all of the real-estate.  My OB continued to explain that if the they have exhausted all of the tricks to help get baby B out including using gravity by rotating the hydraulic table to an angle (another thing I had no idea they do) she would have to make an additional vertical incision.  I was also warned that there may be a twenty minute difference between when baby A and baby B came out.  At this point I decided not to freak out and know that the name of the game is about getting both girls out safely.  Any idealistic thoughts I had of delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin did not take precedence anymore.twin's positionOur girl’s positions in the womb, the shape my belly took, ultrasound showing their heads together

At this point I was to temporarily say goodbye to Mike and walk into the operating room pushing my IV along the way.  I have had surgery before and my friends described the operating room to me but I really was not quite prepared for what I walked into.  Massive bright lights, tools layed out covered with small sheets and the biggest thing that took my breath away… an entire area designated for the babies including two warming beds.  Anyone who has ever given birth before can probably relate to that moment when you see the warming bed ready and waiting for your little one while they are still in your belly.  It’s surreal!  To see two warming beds with additional equipment on standby, unlike when I had delivered my older two, shot a rush of adrenaline and put me into this speechless-shocked state.  You know the kind; where you are literally having to remind yourself to breath in and out?  The nurses helped my big belly and I up onto the table and into a sitting position to receive my spinal epidural.  As they curved my spine over and held my shoulders down the nurse in front of me began asking me completely irrelevant questions obviously trying to distract me from the intense situation.  I could barely string together a sentence as my body started shivering.

While all of this preparation was going on, Mike was given his own daddy operating room garb to wear and waiting on pins and needles.  Excitedly he waited for ten minutes before he was ushered into the room by a nurse.


Mike sporting his very fashionable operating room garb and looking super pleased about it!

When my epidural was in place they had me lay down on the table and buckled me in across the thighs, calves, chest and arms (so they could tilt the table).  Then they pinned a sheet up right near my face so I couldn’t see what was about to unfold.  I settled in with my head turned to my right to face where those two empty warming beds sat so ominously while the anesthesiologist sat to my left.  Although I was quite numb at this point I could still feel a little bit which they had told me is normal.  I could feel them rubbing the iodine all over my belly and then I could feel what felt like tiny pokes.  I spoke up letting my OB know that if that was them testing if I was numb enough to start then no, I could still feel a tiny bit.  My OB filled me in that they were already under way, the incision had been made and they were starting to make their way to baby A!!!  This was the point that Mike was ushered in through the back door behind my head to avoid the gore and because he wasn’t sterile.  He was instructed to sit on a stool to the right of my head, near the warming beds. My OB was making small talk and again trying to distract me by asking random questions and after attempting to make small talk back I gave up and zoned out.  I vaguely remember her mentioning that I wasn’t listening anymore and she then switched her attention to Mike and they continued the chit chat.

Suddenly I found myself in agonizing pain in my right shoulder, which couldn’t move because my arms were restrained.  A slight bit of panic began to set in and this was the first time I took my concentration off of those warming beds.  I told the anesthesiologist and he reassured me that “gas pockets” are normal which was the cause of my shoulder pain.  He immediately injected a analgesic (pain killer) into my IV.  That’s when I couldn’t breathe!  It was like whatever he gave me froze my lungs for a moment.  Apparently that is also normal.  That passed quickly and by that point the OB was telling us that baby A was about to make her exit.  At 8:08AM she held up this adorable screaming squishy little baby we proudly named Mia.

MiaMia was passed off to a nurse and unlike my previous deliveries, we were still waiting for another baby!  Mike tried to stand up to catch some of the action and the anesthesiologist firmly put a hand on his shoulder and told him to sit down because if he fainted they would just leave him.  He was the fourth most important person in the room after all!  He quickly complied.  I could feel pushing, pulling and tilting and without making that second incision the OB reached her entire arm up into my abdomen, right up to her shoulder and scooped baby B out of my ribs.  At 8:09AM a squished and screaming sweet little baby was held up and we named her Everly.  As the OB began to close me up I could see some commotion coming from the warming beds and noticed that all of the nurses had left Mia and were gathering around Everly.  I immediately knew something was wrong.  I could hear Mike asking questions and the nurses calmly telling him that she was in-drawing which means she was having trouble breathing and that she would need to head to the NICU.  They then turned to me to fill me in and I quickly stopped them explaining that I heard everything and without hesitation instructed Mike to follow Everly to the NICU.

Mia and EverlyEverly IndrawingWhile Mike was with Everly in the NICU the doctor and nurses finished closing me up, cleaning me up and moved me back to the pre-op room.  About closing me up; there had been a debate with my doctors deciding between staples or stitches.  I had preferred stitches because I had previously had a bad experience with scaring from staples but my OB reassured me that she thought staples were the best route.  In the end I decided to go with what she recommended and I am glad I did.  My incision healed really well and it is just a thin line today.
IMG_0932While shivering and in a bit of a daze a nurse brought Mia over to me to have skin to skin time.  We settled into a wonderful cuddle and she started nursing right away.  During this time Mike came back to tell me that Everly was breathing well on her own and was now just being monitored for a little bit before being brought back to me.  What a relief!  My shivering intensified and it started to become almost impossible to take my blood pressure which ended up delaying my move to the maternity ward by over an hour.

Everly was eventually brought to me and although I was over the moon holding my precious daughters I was still finding it difficult to recover from the shock and shivering.  I couldn’t stop starting at their tiny faces studying their perfect but very different features.  Although Everly came out very squished looking (which is VERY common with twins) she was quickly rounding out into this adorable little baby!  I was eventually wheeled in my hospital bed to the maternity ward holding my two new bundles proudly attempting a smile through shivers as people ohhh’d and awww’d over our twins.
IMG_0943Thanks to the most incredible nurse ever I was quickly warmed up by her enveloping me in a pile of warm blankets and because our girls were having a hard time regulating their body temperature we were instructed to have skin to skin time… for the most perfect cozy three hours of my life!IMG_5398As a parade of visitors flowed into the room to meet the two new additions of our family my very protective nurse made sure that my girls stayed put on me much to my delight and the disappointment of their grandparents!  During that three hours this incredible bond formed between the three of us as my girls cuddled and hugged themselves into my body.  This was it, the result of those agonizing eight and a half months of hard work and determination.  The prize could not have been sweeter!  skin to skinIt was so important for me to write this blog post with as much detail as possible. When I knew that I was going to be having a c-section I looked high and low for as much information I could find on what to expect.  Although this story is specific to our experience I hope that my journey with our girls can help other mamas to prepare for what’s ahead. Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have in the comments section below and I would love to hear YOUR birth stories!  I will be blogging soon about the days following the birth of our twins and all about the recovery of a c-section so please don’t forget to subscribe to Nesting Story and follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so you don’t miss it!