In this special contribution to The Twin Source, twin mom Maria shares her birth story. Her story is somewhat rare because she delivered her twins vaginally. In fact, she insisted on it. All of our regular Twin Mom contributors delivered via C-section, which isn't surprising: Many doctors today insist on surgical delivery of multiples, and most expectant mothers follow doctor's orders. Maria wanted to share her unique story with The Twin Source community, and we are thrilled to provide this different labor perspective.
It was 11:00 p.m. a few days after Thanksgiving, and my husband and I were rushing to the hospital. No, labor hadn't started on its own; rather, I had made an appointment to meet my twins.
Less than a week earlier, I had canceled my scheduled C-section after my stubborn little girl decided to turn from breech (feet first) to vertex (head down). I anxiously visited the acupuncturist and chiropractor in the weeks leading up to my due date with the hope she would turn head down. On the day of my last ultrasound, we discovered how full of surprises this little girl was: She had turned vertex, and I was elated.
Once that happened, I made the decision to attempt a vaginal delivery. My doctor would be out of town and I didn't want to leave my birth attendant to chance, so I decided to schedule an induction with a different doctor who was comfortable delivering breech babies. The main concern was whether my son would flip back into the breech position after I delivered my daughter and whether he could safely fit through the vagina. After discussing the risks with my doctor, we scheduled the induction for the following week.
After being admitted to the hospital, I tried to get some sleep. Any twin mom knows it's nearly impossible to sleep with two fetal monitors attached to your huge belly and with nurses coming in every few minutes to readjust the monitors. Still, I did manage to get a bit of shut-eye before morning.
My labor was induced with medication (Cytotec to soften and ripen my cervix, and Pitocin to induce contractions) and a foley bulb (a catheter filled with sterile water and inserted into the cervix to cause it to dilate).
After I was induced, I spent most of the day chatting with my labor support team—two midwives who are friends, my husband, and another friend—as well as my co-workers, who are also nurses. I sat on the birth ball, walked around the hospital, took a shower, rocked in the rocking chair, and squatted during contractions to help ease the pain.
It took over 12 hours for active labor to start. Once the "real" contractions started, I was in agony. Pitocin, unlike the body's natural Oxytocin, causes horribly painful contractions that are hard to relax through.
My provider kept urging me to get an epidural, but I wanted to hold out as long as possible so that I could have as "natural" of a birth possible. Most providers know that although the evidence might be anecdotal, epidurals can slow down your labor. I wanted to avoid this and all of the other interventions that come with a more technological birth. I'd asked for a "light" epidural, one with less anesthesia and narcotics so I could feel what was going on and better direct my pushing when the time came.
Eventually, after receiving my epidural, I was relaxed and calm again. I sat high in my labor bed and chatted through the contractions, which now felt like pressure in my bottom. It took a couple of hours to become fully dilated. About 20 hours after the induction started, I was ready to push. I don't know why they say epidurals relieve pain because I felt everything during my delivery, and boy was it painful.
Olivia Leonor was born 20 minutes after I started pushing. She came out screaming and was given a quick assessment while I geared up for the task of pushing out my son. Right after Olivia was born, the doctor broke my second bag of water. We knew ahead of time that because my son had a lot of fluid, there was a risk that he might flip back into the breech position, which he did. Next thing I heard was my doctor telling me she felt a foot. I felt Lucas Matthew's feet, then body, then arms come out of my body, but he became stuck when they tried to pull out his head.
Things got very quiet for me then. While I am not a religious person, I am very spiritual. It was in this moment that I called to my higher power to please deliver my son safely. The doctor knew exactly what to do. Within a moment, she had delivered him with a special pair of forceps designed for this exact type of delivery. He came out limp but began crying right away.
Once both babies had been looked over, they were placed skin-to-skin on my chest and I immediately began to breast-feed both of them. Lucas looked intently into my eyes as I fed him, and we formed a very deep connection within his first few moments of life. Olivia and I later bonded as she happily fed on the other side. She was later placed skin-to-skin with her dad so she could also bond with him. It's no wonder she is a daddy's girl today.
While I started out wanting a natural home birth, I can't complain about the birth experience I shared with my husband, friends, and colleagues. It was one of the most amazing days of my life, and in the end I had two healthy babies. What more could you ask for, really? Every day since has been pure chaos—is life anything less with multiples?—but I am grateful to have been chosen for this very special journey.
Maria Mayzel, RN, BSN, MPIA, SNM, is a labor and delivery nurse and student midwife located in Baltimore, Maryland. Read more about Maria's insights on midwifery in her interview with Twin Mom Carrie.