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!