My twin pregnancy was a long and arduous journey, and tested all of my physical and mental limits. It was with some relief that I noted my mucus plug at week 35, on a Monday; I was a little bit nervous at how 'early' this sign of impending labour was for the babies’ sake, but I trusted my body and knew the babies would come when they were ready. I also knew it could still be days or weeks, so I didn't let my hopes get too high.
When I woke on the Friday morning at 35w4d, I was trying to heave myself out of bed to tend to my son when I felt a small pop, and some water splashed to the floor. Again I was excited but not convinced labour was imminent.... After all, when my waters had 'broken' in my first pregnancy, nothing had happened for a week. I called my husband Stuart and midwife Jane to let them know what was happening and that I'd keep them posted.
I lost a lot of water throughout the course of the day, but was still experiencing no contractions by afternoon. We decided to go to the hospital to check in on the babies via CTG. Before we left, I'd been relaxing on the couch when my son came to me, climbed up on my belly and fell asleep. He hadn't fallen asleep on me in the longest time, and it was beautiful... I wondered if he was perceiving a change coming. I relished every moment of the last time it would be just the two of us.
The drive to the hospital was awful.... It was a scorcher in Sydney at 48 degrees, and difficult to breathe even for the non-pregnant! We arrived at the hospital, checked in and set ourselves up. The belts were awfully uncomfortable around my distended, itching belly, even for a few minutes, which only reinforced my resolve to refuse CFM in labour.
Andrew, our obstetrician, came by and we chatted about PROM and the good chance of going into labour, despite the notion I had in my head that it wasn't happening. He did notice a tightening when he felt my belt, but it was only barely uncomfortable for me, and I was able to sit through it. I'd been having these silent tightenings throughout the day but wrote them all off as Braxtons, as they weren't anywhere near as uncomfortable as my huge belly itself! I spent most of the evening at home giving myself clary sage massages, burning clary sage oil and breastfeeding my son to his heart's content (something I'd been avoiding for weeks due to the nipple pain and Braxton pain!).
Stuart and I sat down to have some dinner while our son fell asleep on the couch (it was so strange for him to fall asleep in the daytime twice in one day! Although, with the air conditioning running at full speed, it was still around 30 degrees inside the house!) We left Knox to sleep on the couch and headed to bed. Not long after Stuart fell asleep, I began to experience some tightenings, and noted that there had been about 4 within an hour. My son wandered in to our bed and snuggled in next to us. I texted Jane at around 10.30 to let her know that I was going to start timing them, and she advised I ignore them until they take my attention. At this point I realised it was on, as I knew they were definitely taking my attention!
I started timing the contractions at about half past 11. They were coming about 6-8 minutes apart and lasting around 45 seconds to a minute. I texted the midwife again at midnight after an extremely intense 2 minute contraction to let her know I was really needing to breathe through them now, and was laying on my side trying to rest. I was so exhausted I did manage to sleep between a few of them between 12 and 1am, waking up with the phone timer still going in my hand for the start of the next one.
The point soon came when I couldn't lay down anymore, so I decided to get into the shower for some heat relief at around 1am. The contractions had become very intense, very quickly I was moaning through the contractions in the hot shower and realised I should get to the hospital before the pain became any more intense. I woke up Stuart, called Jane and my mother in law, and started getting ready to go between contractions. I made poor Stuart pack just about everything bar the kitchen sink, expecting another long labour!; Blankets, oils, clothes, a million comfort items to set up my 'homebirth in hospital'.
MIL arrived to witness a strong contraction. They were coming fast now, super intense, long and strong. I went to the bedroom just before leaving to kiss my baby's cheek as he slept peacefully, excited that I would be bringing his siblings soon and bidding farewell to our time together alone.
I made it down the stairs just as another contraction started, which I walked through as Stuart started the car. I climbed into the front seat (the backseat of course being full of car seats!!), and knelt, absolutely unable to sit through the intense contractions. I'd never been so grateful for how close we lived to the hospital, because I experienced about 4 or 5 super intense contractions during the 5 minute drive. I was begging Stuart to keep a hand on me through them, despite his having to drive us there as quickly and safely as possible!
There was barely a break between contractions now, less than a minute, and I began to have one as I got out of the car, so the people in the hospital carpark got to hear the loud harmonies of my birth song. The front door was locked so the staff had to buzz us in. The staff, hearing the noises I was making, mentioned she would get a wheelchair, as 'babies had been born in the foyer before'! I didn't think I could sit in a wheelchair but I couldn't walk anymore either, so thankfully the wheelchair was wide enough that I could sit on my hip and not directly down.
It was quite nice to be 'alone' in approaching the birth unit - at least I was not aware of any other people around, the usual chaos of hospital life was quiet at this small hour.
It was a sweet relief to see Jane's face as we wheeled into the birth unit, and I was very happy that we'd checked in earlier for the trace so I could go directly to the birth room. I was also happy we were heading to room 12 which I'd visited a few weeks earlier, as I knew it had a nice pool which I was intending to birth in.
I launched out of the chair and directly into the bathroom, and after trying the shower for pain relief decided to get the bath going straight away. I used the toilet (and had to reassure my midwife it was not baby!) before getting into the bath as it filled. I lay a towel over the plug, thinking that if anyone wanted to get me out of the bath I was going to make them work for it, and also to try and get a bit of grip, as the hospital baths are very large.
The water was just reaching my belly as i climbed onto all fours.I started out with hot water but soon realised I couldn't bear the heat, so I cooled it right down.
As the bath filled, my contractions continued powerfully, and I looked to Jane for comfort. I asked Stuart to get into the bath, and as soon as I felt his strong body behind me I felt like I could birth with him to press against. The very next one I felt was a pushing contraction, a long contraction ending in an enormous grunting primal groan, as though the entire inside of my body was trying to come out. I pushed into Stuart, and he pushed back. I could feel the baby moving right down, preparing to come, so powerfully. I felt my perineum, which felt strong and stretched, and this gave me confidence. I was grateful to be in the water to be able to feel myself so easily.
I told Jane I was pushy, but I imagine it was obvious from the sound of my contractions. Once again the deep, overwhelming, powerful pushing urge took over my whole body, and with some choice words ringing around the room I pushed Jude out of my body and felt Jane lift him to my chest. I held him as close as our umbilical cord would allow as the hospital midwife placed a blanket over him to help keep him warm. I thought I'd heard Jane refer to him as 'she', but a quick lift of his tiny leg revealed my first son was born.
My joy and relief were interspersed with disbelief that I would have to do it all again, very soon. It was so wonderful to have my newborn son in my arms and some reprieve from the contractions, and I had no idea what to expect for the second birth. I did have to leave the bath unfortunately, as it was too cool for Jude, so we cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing and moved to the bed.
My second midwife Robyn and Andrew arrived at this point. Andrew kept quietly and observantly beside the bed out of my eyeline, and only spoke to congratulate us on the first birth. Robyn's sweet and calming presence was wonderful and helpful as the contractions began to kick in once more at full speed; I would really need the strength of both my midwives to face the challenge a second time.
I was needing to vocalise loudly to cope with the contractions and felt awful moaning into my sweet new baby's face, so I handed him to Stuart, reluctantly as I felt I needed him for the new round of contractions, but our baby needed him more. I told the midwives I was scared and didn't want to do it again, and they calmly and sweetly reminded me that not only could I do it again, I was doing it again.
We knew that baby 2 was in a breech position, so Andrew asked if he could examine me. I was initially reluctant but eager to make the birth as smooth as possible for the baby and myself, so I decided to go ahead, and thankfully he was as gentle as possible given the ferocity of my contractions.
He established almost instantly that the baby was coming foot first, as the bag of waters was low in my vagina. The contractions were roaring through me and the baby was experiencing increasing decelerations between. Andrew mentioned that if he were to break the waters, the baby would probably come in the next contraction, so after some quick consultation with my midwives and another couple of contractions I decided that would be very nice indeed, and most likely in the baby's best interest, given he had already experienced his brother's birth and was a footling breech.
Andrew broke my waters and grasped baby's foot and I pushed his body down to the neck in the one contraction. Jane told me it was important now to push his whole body out even without a contraction, so I gathered my energy and strength for the last push and birthed Jesse. He was placed up onto my chest, his cord a little shorter than his brothers, but I managed to peek under his leg and confirm that we had another boy. We left his cord to stop pulsing before cutting it.
Both boys took turns being fed and warmed under the heaters in dad's arms, and they weighed in at 2.6 and 2.7kg each. Exhausted beyond belief, I chose to expedite my 3rd stage with a syntocinon injection as I was bleeding quite profusely. The injection was surprisingly painful but the huge fused placentae came without much fuss.
I was beyond relieved to be at the end of this part of the journey, and utterly blesses with two gorgeous, healthy boys.
Melissa with Jude and Jesse (3 months) - baby wearing twin style
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