Warning: I go into quite a bit of detail about my labour/birth experience here, read on at your own risk
Let’s get right to it shall we.
After waiting like what seems an eternity for a free bed so I can go in for my induction, I’d all but given up for the call when my phone rang. 10.00pm that night and I was in with the midwife, she examines me to see which method they can use, ideally they’d go with the balloon as it’s non-hormonal and as I have twins with my twin one having tailed off slightly in growth, she says they’d rather not mess with the pessary method. It’s uncomfortable, REALLY uncomfortable. A tad painful even. Yet it’s good news. It’s rare that, in a first pregnancy, they can use the balloon because usually the cervix is too tight, firm and long. My midwife that night however, was just able to touch twin ones head.. just. No wonder it was painful! Next was the painful task of inserting the balloon, which my lovely midwife warned, she would try and do it herself but may need to get a doctor as it would be quite tricky with my current condition..
Gas and air for this bit? Yes please!
Another very uncomfortable experience later and I’m left, in a temporarily permanent state of discomfort and a tube I need to tuck between two pairs of knickers. Once you’re in the realms of labour, you have absolutely zero dignity.
Next, cue another long wait. I’m told by one of the night staff that they will break my waters after 12 hours which will jump start labour.. however it seems the combination of October and a full moon leads to EVERY MUM TO BE EVER going into labour as the delivery suit is rammed. They will now be waiting the full 24 hours before looking at going any further. I’m stuck in a terrible limbo. I’m unable to get any decent amount of sleep. My hospital bed is the 4th in the room, it seems painfully small and boring. There’s not much else I can do other than read, watch youtube, listen to music and waddle around uncomfortably. The tightenings I had been feeling in the first 12 hours seemed to have subsided and mentally it felt like I’d be trapped in here forever.
As the day drew towards prevening, the nurses were becoming increasingly concerned with twin ones heartbeat each time they came to monitor the twins. It seemed twin one kept having ‘decels’,- dips in their heartrate as I was having tightenings. Could it be that I was just dehydrated? They weren’t sure and took my blood at various points to test. As the time went on and I was on the monitors for longer and longer each time I was getting worried, tired and fed up. I’d been led to believe things would progress a lot faster than they were. I understood why this was the case, but it the empty promises of moving things along sooner rather than later had got my hopes up and now they were crushed.
I can’t quite recall what time they sent me down to the delivery ward for closer monitoring, but it was pretty dark outside by then. I was now fully strapped up for monitoring. I also became quite the pin cushion 2 failed attempts and 1 success at hooking me up to put me on fluids and then another cannula in my other hand to get blood from me easier. By this point I was distraught. I’d been poked and prodded, constantly hooked up to monitors, trapped in bed whilst being monitored and blindly waiting an eternity while being told there may or may not be something wrong with twin one. The doctor from that dayshift saw me and informed me they we calling in a midwife just for me, and she would then be with me until my babies were born.
At last the end of the 24 hours came. Time to remove the balloon. I had been on the monitors for hours but finally I was let loose for 20mins to walk around. At the end of this blissful break I feel a sudden gush. Had I peed myself? Surely I hadn’t lost that much bladder control in the past 2 hours!? It was of course my water breaking. Finally! This meant things were progressing! My midwife exams me, she’s pretty sure I have a second water still intact. I'm hooked up to the monitors once more and another waiting game began.
Some bad news has come in from my blood test, I have a low platelet count.. this means that unless it improves, I will not be having an epidural due to the risk of me bleeding into my spine.. Ok. I can deal with that..
As I was having twins, we needed to wait for a whole theatre team to be available and ideally their one big twin delivery room, which was currently occupied.
The hours crawled by and by 2am my midwife had guided us to a singleton delivery room. We were coming closer to the inevitable birth and she wanted to get me settled before active labour hit. About half an hour later we’re told that the twin room is now available, they just need to clean and prep it. More waiting. We try to catch some sleep, which Jordan manages a slithering of. Yet it’s impossible for me. I cannot get comfortable in the slightest as I’ve been lying in hospital beds for the majority of the past 28 hours, I'm aching no matter what position I get myself in and overtired. I hear excruciating painful screams coming through the walls, another fellow pregnantee is transitioning into motherhood. One last scream, a short pin drop silence and then high pitched yells from a fresh, small set of lungs. A beautiful sound to hear at this time.
Finally we move into the twin delivery room. At last, things are going to progress. A little more time passed before my midwife came in, we had been doing nothing but waiting on this and waiting on that it seemed and she was eager, for my sake, to get things going. So she says she's going to break my other waters which should hopefully kick start active labour and really get this show on the road. I lie back and she does the deed, very uncomfortable and then in a gush I feel a wave of pain.
"Jordan... you see that yellow button behind Steph's bed? Can you press it for me?..."
She hasn't moved her hand, her tone of voice is calm but serious, we both know there's something that's gone wrong. In quiet sleep deprived panic Jordan looks for the button, for a while he cannot find it..
"It's ok, I just can't move because I've lost twin 1s heartbeat"
.. My world was crashing down..
I looked into Jordan's eyes and knew he had the same gut wrenching fear as me. As the day had gone on I had built up worries for twin 1 with the decels, but was trusting God that everything was going to work out ok. Now.. hearing that...
A mass of people entered the room, it was all at action stations as my midwife told them what was going on. She explained they were going to attach a clip to twin 1s head which would be able to read the heartbeat better than the monitor. (FYI normal monitoring of a babies heartbeat during pregnancy is done using sensors strapped to the mothers belly and positioned to get the best reading, it will also pick up the noises of the baby moving around and kicking and the baby may well move away from the sensor meaning it you lose the signal).
More pain. I was starting active labour so a painful contraction topped them squeezing a clip in to attach to twin 1s head.
At first the heartbeat was erratic, my midwife explained that it would take a while to settle and read a steady beat. I heard the 'Thwadumb, thwadumb, thwadum' steady a bit. At last my midwife could move from her position, which was a little relief, although having the clip now in place meant I was sure to not get any real break of comfort down there.
Some time is spent still monitoring both babies heartbeats as I'm having full blown contractions coming thick and fast. I'm not sure how much time has passed. I hadn't actually managed to get to any classes about active labour and specifically how to manage your way through contractions, but I knew about breathing techniques so did my best to breathe through the surge of pain each one gave, letting out a controlled groan as the intensity increased.
I think they were still waiting for my blood results, hoping it would come back better.. at some point my midwife comes back with another nurse as says she's just going to see how far along I am. The nurse asks if I'd like some gas & air for the examination. "YES please!"
Once again a new source of discomfort joins the party.
"Wow, I'm impressed, you're half way there! 5 cm dilated."
Half way there... or at least, half way towards the NEXT stage..
I turn to look at the nurse who gave me the gas & air, "can I keep this?"
"Of course you can"
"Thank you.." I manage as another surge of pain comes in and I breathe in deeply.
More time passes. I continue to breathe in as deep as I can on the gas through my contractions. Later, Jordan told me he couldn't help but have a little giggle to himself as apparently I sounded distinctly like Chewbaka as I exhaled and moaned out my pain.
The registrar comes back in. My bloods have no improved. Twin 1 is still having decels during contractions. I have two options going forward at this point:
Continue to let things happen as naturally as we have been and see how things unfold
Get sliced in an emergency c-section.
I was so tired. I was in so much pain. Twin 1 having decels was not a good sign and my fear about losing one or both of my babies ruled my mind. I was almost at the end of my tether to what I could withstand after this whole ordeal..
"..section, let's just get it done."
She then leaves the room again to instruct the team to get themselves and the theatre prepped. She returns with a consent form. I had not considered this formal and very legal stage.
She reads out all the risks of the upcoming major surgery to me, she has to as she must make sure I'm fully informed before signing it.
As she runs through the list I feel myself giving in to whatever the future held for me. At the end of the list.. "...risk of death to yourself..."
I cannot remember the statistic she said. I simply do not recall the numbers. All I remember is that that was the moment I gave up completely. I had battled and struggled through the whole way, staying mentally strong all up until this point, this defining second.
I closed my eyes, nodded, took the pen and quite literally signed my life away.
This was it. My life, and the life of my unborn children were in Gods hands now. Could this really be the end? Would this be my last few moments?
My midwife took Jordan to get scrubbed up and I let silent tears roll down my face as I continued breathing through my contractions. When he came back, he was pale. I remember him telling my midwife that he was feeling faint. She was rather concerned. They couldn't have him fainting in theatre during the procedure.
"Are you sure it's a good idea for him to come in the theatre" she asks me, after she'd conversed with Jordan about her concerns.
All I knew is that I did NOT want to be in that room on my own.
"I want him there, he will be ok I'm sure"..
They agreed that Jordan would come in and take a seat at out of the way and remain seated. If he felt like he was going to faint or that he needed to leave for some air, he was to tell one of the team.
Now that that had been sorted I was carted off to theatre.
Once we were in the room, there was no dilly-dallying. It ran smooth as clockwork. Everyone had their job and their station. They were talking me through what they were doing and I even managed to crack out one or two jokes, not that I can remember them now!
I had to sit upright and as still as possible while they injected the anesthetic into my lower back. Everything waste down slowly went numb. I was lying on my back now, screen up, Jordan appeared next to my head, still quite pale and inside his fears. I can't remember what it was that caused it exactly, but I knew it was coming.
"Jordan, I'm going to throw up.."
This was all that he needed to bring himself back into the room and focus. You could see his adrenaline kicked in as he instructed the team around us that he needed a bowl.
I'm not sure what amount of time passed. Jordan held my hand and we looked into each other as he distracted me from the tugs and sounds. What did we talk about? I cannot recall, but it doesn't matter. It made the time pass and for a little while I let go of my worries.
"Ok, here we are... congratulations it's a... BOY!!!"
A boy?! Amazing! A few moments passed before we heard the cries of life. A great wave of emotion ran through us both, Jordan released all that he'd bottled up in that moment.
Yet I could not, not yet. We weren't in the clear yet.
Once again we were waiting, and it seemed like another eternity was passing.
"Ok guys what do we think this one is?"
I should interject here that we had been waiting until birth to find out the sex of the twins. They are non-identical which means that each outcome is a 1 in 3 rather than 50/50 possibility. Every single person working in the hospital who we'd come into contact with were so excited for us and impressed that we had made it all the way up to the end to find out. I remember one of the nurses saying it just makes it that little bit more special for everyone involved.
Me and Jordan look at each other, no idea.. "umm I don't know, a girl?" Jordan guessed.
"..it's ANOTHER BOY!!"
And with that, a new voice screamed life into the room.
My heart melted, at last I let go of my emotions. My babies, my twin boys were delivered into this world, they were alive and safe and that was all I could ever wish for.
One of the team took Jordan across the room to where they had cleaned up twin 1 for him to hold. He had stopped crying and was already opening his eyes to look up at his father.
Another member of the team asked me if I wanted to hold twin 2. What kind of a silly question is that!? Within moments I had my second born lying on my chest, breathing gently with eyes firmly shut but content as I repeatedly kissed his forehead.
Another half hour or so must have passed while they pieced me back together, but I couldn't have noticed if it were hours. I had my boys, all 3 of my boys with me.
Later, I found out that not one but BOTH boys had managed to get their cords wrapped around their necks! Blimey! I had definitely made the right decision.
My experience was long and pretty traumatic. I was all set and ready for a natural birth, and quite frankly nothing went to plan. But regardless of the experience leading up to the point, by 6.30am on 16th October, I had two beautiful newborn boys in my arms with Jordan by my side, and I can quite assuredly say that is the happiest moment of my life.