I was barely 18 when I discovered I was expecting. Living in motels and a car my boyfriend and I had bought together so we’d have somewhere to stay when we had no money, to say I was unable to handle much more is an incredible understatement. I bounced from job to job, not able or willing to hold down a steady job because I was an immature kid. My boyfriend had been at the same job for 4 years and took an additional one to help, but it was still not nearly enough to help us afford a place and the car payment.
Upon discovery of our impending arrival, I was scheduled to have an u/s since we had no idea how far along I was. A friend drove me to the hospital and we arrived a few minutes late and my boyfriend met us there. My friend left and my boyfriend and I entered the room and I was told to lie down on the table and lift my shirt. I remember the u/s screen, what looked like a weird computer, was up behind my head so that I had to angle my head and neck just right to see but not turn so much that the technician couldn’t see the baby.
The next exchange changed my life more than I ever could have imagined.
“Oh look at that! There’s two,” said the ultrasound technician in a monotone voice that was not worthy of what she’d just said.
I flipped around so I could see better, “You’re joking right?!”
“No, no. See..” she said as she pointed out two beating hearts. “One, two.”
My heart sank. Two. Not one. The technician looked at me quizzically and I tried to feign happiness. I shot a glance at my boyfriend who nervously eyed the ground. “Oh God,” I thought, “He’s going to leave me for sure now.”
Somehow I made it through those first few months of pregnancy. I held on the best I could to my sanity and managed to alienate my boyfriend at the same time. I look back now and think I was doing it on purpose. I was protecting myself and giving him the pass to go if he wanted. I am nobody’s obligation.
During my 4th month of pregnancy, my boyfriend finally worked up the courage to tell me he’d joined the military. And he was leaving for boot camp the following day. He was not leaving ME, he insisted. After finding out I was pregnant, I finagled us both into my dad’s house. It was temporary. Very temporary. But S, my boyfriend, felt he wouldn’t kick me out if he left. He felt sure of it. And he felt positive he could not raise two babies on his meager income.
I was angry and felt betrayed. Feeling broken and full of rage, I spit venom filled words at him and then begged him with my whole heart to stay. I willed him to stay with everything in me, but the next morning he kissed me goodbye and drove away. He said it was for the best.
A few weeks later, at my appointment with my perinatologist (specialized doctor in high risk pregnancies), I discovered that my cervix was not doing it’s job. It’s was very short and ready to begin dilation. I was approaching 5 months pregnant and it was way too early to deliver the babies safely. I was placed on strict bedrest, had to quit my job, and was only allowed to sit up to eat or go to the bathroom. I was also told baby B had short limbs and may be a little person. The terror I felt upon realization that I was pregnant with twins could never compare to how devastated I felt about the possibility of losing my babies or one having some sort of developmental problem.
So I laid around watching television and reading books for the next 4 months. I watched a lot of A Baby Story and Birth Day from TLC and Discovery. My view of what a “normal” birth was was terribly skewed. At the time I was also living with my step-mom. She is a NICU charge nurse and has been for many years. I remember bringing up home birth once because a water birth (something I’d seen in a rare, HAPPY home birth show on Discovery) made me interested and she replied with something like, “People that have babies at home are stupid. They are risking their babies lives!” I never asked about it again. And I began to believe the same.
Throughout my pregnancy, I was prepared for the possibility of a cesarean. I was scared of one, but not because I was concerned about risks to the babies or myself. I had no idea. I blindly believed it was just as safe, if not safer than a vaginal delivery. I just didn’t like the idea of being cut open.
At my last doctor’s appointment, I was told my blood pressure was high (how high? I can’t answer that. I never asked.) and that there was protein in my urine. I was so swollen there was a stretch mark on one of my ankles and I had developed this weird, hanging belly underneath my pregnant belly. I remember being totally grossed out by it. My doctor offered to induce the same day, but I remember thinking I needed to prepare myself (like, shave) and asked to wait a day. She agreed and told me to arrive at 7am the following morning.
I don’t think I slept at all that night. The next morning we were on the road at 6am. The hospital was 45 minutes away. I was so nervous and yet so excited to just get them OUT! I was miserable and angry that I’d had to lay in bed for all that time. I was so selfish. I remember starving, but not eating anything. I assumed I could eat at the hospital.
We arrived right on time and they got me changed into one of those awful gowns and with no back. I climbed into the bed and they inserted an IV right away. The nurse who inserted it apparently did not know what she was doing and when she tried to place the needle, blood shot out of my wrist and onto her and me. She flipped out, dropped my hand and nearly ran away, but my step-mom was there and she stepped forward and the nurse regained composure and corrected her mistake. Cold fluids went into my arm and all I couild think was how badly it burned. I hated that stupid IV. More than a few times I thought about trying to take it out, but I knew I couldn’t accomplish it without someone noticing. Just as I got used to the fluids they were pushing, they added pitocin to the mix. Magnesium sulfate, pitocin, and saline.
Aside from the coldness flowing into my arm, I felt fine. They said I was having regular contractions, but I don’t recall really feeling them. I remember feeling like I needed to poop, but that was it. No pain.
When I was 4 centimeters, the nurse mentioned whenever I wanted the epidural I could have it. I hadn’t given much thought to this. What kind of brave soul has a baby without an epidural!?? I wasn’t feeling any pain and I thought I really didn’t want to so I opted for the epidural immediately. About 45 minutes later, still feeling no pain, the anesthesiologist arrived to place the epidural. They had me sit up, turn to the side of the bed with my feet hanging down and put my head down. I remember him telling me to be very still. He said it like 8 times. Then he said if I wasn’t, he could really injure me. I began to rethink my decision, but it felt too late to say anything. As he placed the catheter, I burst into tears. Sobbing uncontrollably into my step-mom’s shoulder, I remember thinking how sad it was that my boyfriend was not there for the birth of his children. I also remember saying aloud, “I don’t even know why I’m crying,” and feeling so embarrassed.
The epidural did it’s job mostly, but I remember feeling some in my bottom. I could feel the contractions down there, but no where else. I remember feeling a lot of pressure. It was so boring, laying there with nothing to do and waiting to be dilated enough to push the babies out. It was not at all like you see in the movies or on TV. It was not chaos and screaming, but nor was it calm and peaceful. I felt so anxious. I hated the whole experience and I wanted it to end.
Finally I was complete. My doctor and a team of nurses and technicians wheeled me into the OR, just in case. I remembered seeing a birth on TV where the mother pushed one baby out vaginally, but then had a cesarean for the other baby. I was so scared of the same happening to me.
Once in the OR, they placed another IV in my hand, just in case. Everyone got into scrubs and face masks, just in case. They got out all the equipment and the scalpel tray, just in case. The placed an oxygen mask, just in case. My doctor began instructing me to push and I did just as I was asked. She sounded so proud of me, “Great job! You can do it! Keep going!” and so I did. I could sort of feel things, but not completely so I only had her count and timing to guide me.
My first baby slid out, a baby boy, C. He was shown to me for a millisecond and then whisked away to be cleaned up and wrapped like a burrito. My doctor instructed me not to push in what sounded like a worried tone and then said quietly to someone else,”She’s bleeding way too much.” She explained that I’d torn “a little bit” and that I needed to stop pushing and wait for her to stich me up. Baby B up until this point had been breech, but quickly flipped around once her brother was safely out.
With stiching over for now, I was told to begin pushing again. I did and just a few pushes later D was born, a little girl. Once again they showed her to me and then whisked her off for the same treatment her brother had received. My doctor exclaimed, “Well that was the perfect twin birth,” looking very pleased with herself.
They placed both babies on my chest, but laying flat on my back, legs spread eagle getting stiched again, and beyond exhausted and numb from the waist down I barely mustered the strength to lift my head and stroke their heads. We were moved to Mother and Baby.
My step-mom wanted to be the first to bathe them and I honestly didn’t care. I kind of wanted them to take the babies and let me sleep. They tried to get me to breastfeed, but I and both babies were so out of it it wasn’t successful. They finally left and I was allowed to sleep.
C weighed 6lbs 10oz and was 20inches long. D weighed 5lbs 15oz and was 19 inches long. Both perfect.
I am sure there is much more I don’t recall. At the end of it all, the only thing I clearly remember was wanting sleep and a willingness to do anything to get it. I regret that induction so much. I regret not asking more questions, not spending those months on bedrest learning about pregnancy and childbirth with forms of information that weren’t medically slanted. Once I was fully alert and felt back to myself again, I knew with every part of my being that I NEVER wanted to do birth that way ever again.
Their father finally met them when they were 2.5 months old, after successfully completing boot camp. We married shortly after and have been together ever since.