Some decisions are simultaneously stupid and wise. An unmedicated twin VBAC is one of them.
The delivering doctor called it the best twin delivery he’d seen. The nurse assigned to me all day said I was one of her favorite patients ever. She kept telling me “You’re a rockstar.” Around centimeters 7-10 I whined to her “I don’t want to be a rockstar anymore.” The nurse offered to have anesthesiology come by, but I figured that was the one thing I could do that was dumber than what I was already doing.
The boring part
The morning had started early when Jeff and I stumbled to our Suburban before dawn. We arrived 35 minutes later at the hospital for my scheduled induction around 38 weeks, 5 days gestation. I waddled the endless nearly empty corridors to L&D while he walked. The environment would have been creepy out of context.
Once at L&D, it was the usual hospital admission stuff–go to room, answer questions, get stuck with an IV needle repeatedly until someone gets it properly in a blood vessel, and watch the clock. I was impatient to get started since I knew what was coming. I intended to deliver these babies vaginally with no epidural, just as I had done with my first set of twins. I knew labor was going to hurt worse than anything else I’ve experienced.
The nurse–my very own dedicated nurse since I was considered high risk doing a twin VBAC at 33 years old–started pitocin and IV fluids. In contrast to the hospital where I delivered my first two sets of twins, this hospital allowed a clear liquid diet during labor. Jello and water made me so happy! The last hospital only allowed a tiny green sponge on a stick that was completely ineffective in keeping my mouth from sticking together, just in case I needed surgery. Contractions on a low level of pitocin are more annoying than painful.
When it starts to get interesting
Sometime mid-morning, they broke baby A’s amniotic sac. This also happened sooner than during my first labor. It’s the point of no return and the point at which my body grudgingly agrees that the babies should be evicted. The contractions started to come more regularly and got progressively more uncomfortable throughout the afternoon. Still entirely manageable.
Sometime around 5 pm, give or take a bit, things changed. I started to feel really stupid and wondered if the manufacturers of the bed had laboring women in mind when they tested the integrity of all possible handholds. (I forgot to ask the nurse.) I considered that the bed was probably lucky that I hadn’t gotten a good weightlifting workout for nine months. Labor hurts, in case no one mentioned that before. I have nothing to compare it to because nothing in my life even comes close. I can’t say it’s the best management tactic, but my MO seemed to be take out my pain on whatever part of the bed I can grab. I’m open to better ideas next time.
The delivery team wheeled me to the OR around 6:45 pm. All twin deliveries are required to happen in an operating room at hospitals just in case a c-section is required for one or both twins. Just like the first time, the delivery team was surprised when I wiggled my way over to the OR bed. They’re accustomed to team lifting women with epidurals from one bed to the other.
When it could have gone wrong, it didn’t
The OR bed had black knee stirrup things that they wanted me to put my legs in. Okay, I’ll try it, I thought. As a contraction started I felt pain radiate through my left hip. Nope, nope, no good, gotta move.
Wait, they’re strapping my legs to the black things? I don’t remember this happening before. “Why are you strapping my legs down?!?” I was the closest I had been to panicking during labor ever. I think that was also the longest sentence ever spoke during labor. I guess fear is inspirational. I do *not* like being confined and I couldn’t move to alleviate the pain in my hip
“So you don’t kick anyone, ma’am.”
“I’m not going to kick you.” I desperately hoped they’d believe me. Back in the labor room when the nurse was going to do something annoying in the middle of a contraction I gently pushed her aside with a knee and let her do it after the contraction had passed. I’d even let the doctor do a cervical check in the middle of a contraction! Cervical checks and contractions suck on their own and the pain of both together is at least additive. If I didn’t kick anyone then, I’m not going to start during delivery. Well, unless they do something *really* dumb to earn it, but Jeff would probably get to them first in that case.
Maybe Jeff or my nurse stepped in, maybe they believed me, or maybe they had a backup plan in case I was bluffing so it wasn’t essential to strap my legs down because they let me go.
I imagine that a singleton vaginal birth is more comfortable simply because the bed is bigger. Those OR beds are hard and barely wide enough to lie on. There is no option but to lie down. No hands and knees, no squatting. Maybe I could turn on my side, but even that would be hard. Jeff was the only thing that kept me from rolling off the bed if I rolled onto my side.
The OR was not welcoming or comforting at all. It was stark white and gray with bright lights everywhere and lots of intimidating equipment and people covered head to toe in surgical garb. I think I remember at least 8-10 medical staff plus Jeff. By that time, though, my surroundings were irrelevant. All focus was on getting through contractions and getting babies out. After labor, delivery is a relief. I find it less painful, maybe because I have some control, I have a goal, and I know that the entire ordeal is nearing its end.
I can’t tell you how many contractions or how many times I pushed to get these babies out. All I know is I pulled on my knees and tried to poop like my life depended on it.The “ring of fire” thing that people talk about during delivery? Who cares as long as it makes labor contractions stop. Straining every muscle in my body pushing out a couple of small bowling balls? Who cares as long as it makes labor contractions stop.Mischa arrived at 7:19 pm, screaming his fuzzy little head off. Like the first delivery, contractions slowed. The resident attending the birth checked Gabe’s position to make sure he was head down and I swear the guy stuck half his arm in to check. I much prefer that women do all internal checks, by the way. Not because they are women, but because their arms and hands tend to be smaller.
When it could have gone wrong again, Jeff made sure it didn’t
A mask lowered over my face. I assumed there was a good reason for it, like they wanted to give me oxygen or something. Jeff later told me there was a miscommunication and I was moments from being put under. Eeek! That would have ended all hope of delivering Gabe vaginally. I am very thankful that Jeff recognized what was happening and clarified to the anesthesiologist that Gabe *was* head down. Inexplicably, at least to me, the mask lifted.For the first time ever, I felt like the babies I’d just delivered were *my* babies.Gabe arrived at 7:39 pm. Mischa measured 6 lbs 8 oz and Gabe was 6 lbs 14 oz. The medical staff later guessed that Gabe was closer to 6 lbs 8 oz. His second weighing indicated an impossible amount of weight loss three hours after delivery and it was similar to Mischa’s weight, so we’re assuming they were about the same size and someone forgot to calibrate one of the scales in the OR.
I was exhausted and relieved (see photo above). I had accomplished what I wanted: an unmedicated VBAC of twins. Everyone was healthy. For the first time ever, I felt like the babies I’d just delivered were *my* babies. It wasn’t the overwhelming sense of love some people describe, but it was a far cry from the disconnect I felt for at least a couple of months after Rory and Ginny were born.
A successful delivery set me up to have the best postpartum thus far, too. It started with a chicken quesadilla and endless yogurt parfaits.
Again, special thanks to Jeff. This delivery was not the first time he straightened things out with the medical staff for me. One of my top pieces of advice for childbirth: make sure you have an advocate with you.