Posted on Friday 29th January 2021 in Birth Stories…
Grace and Dillon: Twins, Naturally
It wasn’t until a scan at around 16 weeks that I was at first stunned, already being a single mother of a toddler, then surprised, then ecstatic to discover I was expecting twins. My pregnancy progressed well. I felt healthy and managed to practise yoga everyday. I visited a few twins clubs to do some personal research on the birthing process. Although there are generally more Caesarean sections than for single babies, I felt confident of a natural vaginal delivery.
Before she went on holiday, my consultant obstetrician had left instructions for me to be induced at 37 weeks. I managed to wheedle my way out of it then and on the few other subsequent occasions her stand-ins tried to persuade me, though I had taken some professional advice and felt comfortable with my decision and I agreed to be scanned more regularly to check that the babies were progressing healthily.
“The hottest thing on the menu was a scrumptious Schezuan Prawn, which, I like to believe, had the desired effect!”
My yoga teacher gave me special instruction for practising with twins. For example, she encouraged me to practice techniques to expand my chest, increase my breathing capacity and strengthen the vertical muscles in my abdomen. As well as attending classes at least twice a week I maintained a regular home practice which evolved in line with my pregnancy. Yoga bestowed on me an awareness which enabled me to appreciate the constant subtle changes initiated by my two evolving babies.
I was almost 41 weeks when I went to the local park and found it a struggle to walk 200 yards to the ladies. It was only then that my extensive bump was starting to hinder most movements. Finding a comfortable position for sleeping was particularly difficult. I was researching natural ways to encourage the onset of labour. Homeopathy and reflexology having been unsuccessful, so too champagne, pineapple and dark chocolate, I was stepping up my activity rate as much possible under the strain.
After a day at the park I then went to the local noodle bar. I was keen for a curry, but the hottest thing on the menu was a scrumptious Schezuan Prawn, which, I like to believe, had the desired effect. At my hospital appointment the next morning a contraction was recorded.
About seven weeks previously my consultant told me the first baby was breech and it would not now change position. I felt my left side baby turn a somersault before the scan and low and behold the baby was now head down, cephalic. As I toddled home from the hospital a Rastafarian I waddled past couldn’t believe his eyes at my expansive belly and felt compelled to comment, ‘Hey lady, any minute now you’re going to pop’. He put a smile on my face and gave me hope.
So after struggling to the bus stop and standing all the way on the packed bus (not through choice), I proceeded to the supermarket. My contractions were getting a bit more frequent now and I used the trolley handle as a support to ‘experience the sensations’. My Mother and young daughter took it all in their stride. I was quietly excited.
We carried the shopping home where normal life continued. Later in the evening I contacted the hospital to inform them of the state of my contractions and they urged me to come in. I never had a show nor did my waters break. An African midwife said my daughter was born in her ‘cauls’ which she considered to be particularly lucky. The new consultant midwife at the hospital had been super cooperative and ordered me a pool for the delivery room. Unfortunately it had not arrived in time, but she arranged for the water birth suite to be available. Niamh, my midwife, read my birth plan and was more than willing to help facilitate my active birth type demands by, for example, placing a few soft gym-style mats on the floor.
My whole time was taken with yoga techniques. During contractions I visualised a train arriving and leaving whilst using specific sounds breathing. I adopted a range of positions from semi-crouching against a wall or hand basin to all fours on the floor with circling movements.
“During contractions I visualised a train arriving and leaving whilst using specific sounds breathing.”
I was able to get through each contraction with no more than a few breaths. I never felt the need for pain relief, but after a few hours I was keen to get into the pool.
Eventually I was wheeled to the pool room and as I entered the atmosphere in the room itself lulled me into an immediate state of relaxation, any sensations of discomfort slipped away. The father, however, thought the room rather dark so without hesitation pulled the nearest chord which, being the emergency buzzer brought a state of panic to the immediate vicinity. Fortunately that was soon sorted and I was able to enter the pool, possibly the most pleasing moment in my life. My time in the lovely pool flew like an arrow. I was 5 cm when I entered at 1.45am, 6cm at 3.30 and 9cm at 3.45 when I told Niamh I really felt like a poo, which she rightly read as the urge to push. She asked me to get out of the pool as she was concerned that I might give birth there and then and it was against the rules.
I was wheeled back to the delivery suite, on the journey back a male doctor lingering at the reception commented, ‘that woman won’t be delivering for a few hours yet,’ I smiled and felt in a suitable position to reply that I considered his professional opinion to be wrong on this occasion, but not in so many words! Niamh, too, assured him things would be happening imminently. The teams, however, were still not ready and it was necessary to delay the onset of the second stage by adopting a couple of yoga techniques. I assumed a partially inverted posture and transferred my breathing awareness from my lower abdomen to my thoracic area. By the time everyone arrived I was more than ready to push and my lovely daughter arrived in one breath via a technique I had learned from my teacher.
The obstetrician was worried about the readings for the second baby and told me to deliver on my back. I refused and Niamh backed me up and supported my move onto all fours on the bed, hands holding the headboard. The doctor was encouraging me to push but the contractions had subsided so I felt I must wait for nature to take its course. Soon enough my contractions became strong enough to push and on about the second reasonable one I pushed out my son. Unfortunately he was not breathing and he was rushed to be resuscitated. Niamh let me know that the second midwife assigned to twin 2 had not checked the chord properly. I would have preferred Niamh to have delivered the second baby, too, considering she had been with me for hours and we had gotten to know each other very intimately if only on a primitive level. She said she would have been only too pleased to oblige had she known.
My son was soon resuscitated and eventually I found myself sitting on the bed in a quagmire of labour remnants. Everyone left and I was alone with my sleeping babies. After 5 minutes I was desperate to pee, there was nobody around so eventually I had to relieve myself in the bed. It made no difference to the puddle already present. My daughter had been delivered with the waters in tact and the membranes had been artificially ruptured for my son, so I was floating in a sea of fluids. The only intervention I had compromised on was sintometrine to help deliver the placentas. Fortunately this was all that was needed and soon after the injection a bucketful of gubbins was delivered. The whole process felt like one of the most natural feats I had ever performed.
It seemed ages before I was wheeled to a room with small ensuite and TV. I was in a state of ecstasy, being on a high with a pair of gorgeous babies. The twins were in separate cots, which I pushed close together even though they were asleep. I didn’t want them separated after they had spent their lives so close together so far. No one bothered me for hours, but when they did it was an issue that the babes had not yet fed. I was happy for them to sleep, as we were all tired after the experience.
It was over eight hours before they woke to feed, but fortunately the staff had forgotten about me in my little side room, and I breast-fed them when they awoke simultaneously. I had acquired a twin-feeding cushion, so though it took a strategic positioning approach, with some small but well planned movements I could position both of them on the cushion without danger of tumbling. I had looked after my nipples beforehand so it was as easy and natural as…….breastfeeding.
There was no hurry to discharge me and Mum was minding my daughter. My son needed to wait a few days for a scan for a congenital kidney problem, so I managed to stay for five days in the peaceful haven and relax with and get to know the twins.
It was only from then on that the harsh reality of caring for two babies hit me!