When I was asked to write my birth stories, I thought nobody would give a sh*t. But then I remembered I had giant-sized twins, and that’s kind of interesting to some – if only to make them wince.
Plus I’m a blogger, and we like to overshare.
People are always surprised when I tell them giving birth to twins was WAY easier than just one baby, but it’s totally true. If I had to do it again (WHICH WILL NOT EVER HAPPEN!), I’d do the twins’ birth 10 times over so long as I didn’t have to do the first one again.
I know lots of people don’t have ‘positive’ births and really struggle afterwards, and some people have wonderful experiences. I don’t think I was in either category. It’s birth after all. Is it supposed to be wonderful? I just felt like it was something you had to get on with.
I’ve never particularly thought about it positively or negatively really. It was just something that had to happen to welcome your baby into the world. It’s not like you have much option – they have to come out at some point!
So when I was asked by fellow blogger Caroline at One Blogged Every Minute to write my birth stories, it actually made me think about them properly – and try to remember the details! Mother Nature definitely has it nailed on that front by blocking half of it from your memory.
When I was pregnant with my first child, Thomas, I used to think about the impending birth now and again, watch One Born Every Minute (like every pregnant woman does – although I’ve not seen a single episode ever since!) and hear all sorts of different stories from people I knew. Good ones, bad ones, amazing ones and horrific ones.
I think come the end I decided there was no point in worrying too much about it, and I just had to get on with it.
I was never one of these people that HAD to have a certain type of birth. There was no way I fancied a home birth – I wanted to be where the medical expertise was in case of an emergency, and I’d heard of many people desperate to have one only to be rushed into hospital at the last minute and then be gutted it hadn’t gone to plan.
I didn’t see the point in setting my heart on something I had no control over. I wasn’t about to ‘breathe’ my baby out with hypnobirthing, and if I had to have a C section or assisted birth, that was how it was going to happen as far as I was concerned. Same with drugs, I had no problem with having as few or as many as I needed. After all, there are no medals for doing it drug-free! So long as I had a healthy baby at the end of it (what a cliche!) I was just going to do what I had to do.
These stories won’t be full of gorey or empowering details, mainly because I don’t remember them, even though the first was only three years ago. I’ve had three boys in three years – there are other more important things taking up my brain space right now!
I had a relatively straightforward pregnancy with Thomas and he was born at 40+4 weighing 8lbs 11oz. Or was it 9oz? I honestly don’t remember – he was sizeable, put it that way. It’s not like it makes a difference now he’s three.
My contractions started about 3am and by 10am, when they were about every 7 minutes I was in a fair bit of pain. But like all first time mums, I had nothing to compare it to, so had no idea what was normal. We dutifully rang the hospital and were told to stay at home and have a bath. I just did what I was told with the addition of a TENS machine. Wasn’t too keen on the bath mind, the second a contraction hit, I involuntarily flipped onto all fours – I couldn’t stand to be on my back or even sitting down. I must have looked ridiculous!
The drive to the hospital was much the same – I remember wondering what the bloke in the car next to me at the traffic lights must have thought when I was contorting my body into all sorts of weird positions to get off the chair but still be strapped in! And that’s how it continued – I couldn’t even lie on the bed to be examined. God knows what was going on in there, clearly the baby’s position was causing me pain somehow.
Over the next five hours the contractions came and went, and so did my sense of humour. I had gas and air but it made me sick, I then had diamorphine, but it wore off relatively quickly (or so it felt at the time) and after several examinations I was ‘ready to push’ at about 5pm. Whatever that meant. I basically just shut my eyes, held my breath, and hoped for the best. The next hour is all a bit blurry!
Turns out I still couldn’t lie or sit down during a contraction so I was trying all the positions I vaguely remembered from the NCT classes, and wishing I’d have practised squatting had I known that was how I’d end up spending half my time – getting excruciating cramp in my calves was not exactly what I was expecting during birth. Husband massaging one, midwife massaging the other. All very surreal.
I asked on numerous occasions for an epidural (not for the cramp, honest, although it would have helped!) but I was constantly told the anaesthetist was in theatre and by the time they were out my baby would be here. I felt totally fobbed off and gutted. At the time it felt like those of us ‘out there’ on the ward trying to give birth vaginally were less important than those in theatre. But I just got on with it, as I didn’t want to make a fuss. What an idiot I was.
Turns out Thomas didn’t want to make an appearance just yet, and after an hour of pushing I was told it wasn’t safe for the baby to keep going without medical assistance. Time for the heavies to come in!
I was pretty upset. I felt that had I been given an epidural two hours ago when I’d desperately asked, I’d have been able to do this whole birth thing, and he’d have been here by now. And there wouldn’t be a consultant all gowned up wheeling in a scary looking vacuum, which turned out to be a ventouse machine.
But as I said before, what would be would be. As the nice doctor got the sink plunger thing ready he suggested I might want to use a bit more gas and air – you’re not kidding mate. Luckily it only took a couple more pushes/pulls and Thomas was here safe and sound, if a little cone-headed. Sadly, my bits weren’t in quite such good shape. I’d torn and had had an episiotomy. The midwife stitched me up there and then, but it wasn’t working, so the consultant took over – unpicking what was already done and starting again. Nice! I remember him suggesting I might want to use some more gas and air at that point! In the end he said it was too tricky to do there and then, and that I’d need to go to theatre to be put back together.
So less than an hour after giving birth I left Thomas with a very bewildered looking husband and off I went to theatre. They tried a spinal to numb me from the waist down but it wasn’t working in one of my legs, despite tipping the bed in various directions to get it to ‘run down’. Then there was talk of a general anaesthetic. I was exhausted and started to get panicky. What the hell were they talking about, a general anaesthetic? I just needed a few stitches? The worst bit (getting the baby out!) was done, just stitch me up and let me go and see him! How had it got to that?
Luckily the spinal worked eventually, and I was so knackered I fell asleep whilst they attempted to return my bits to their former glory. After two hours in theatre I was back with my newborn. Not sure they ever returned to their former glory though.
Everything was relatively fine after that with both Thomas and I (although nobody mention breastfeeding), and we were discharged the next day. But no wonder I couldn’t sit down for nearly a week!
Exactly two years on pretty much to the day, and I was doing it all again But this time it was a whole different ball game. There were two babies to give birth to. Twins! WTF??
Obviously this time round the pregnancy wasn’t quite as simple. It was a massive pain in the arse if I’m honest. Although I was one of the lucky ones and my two boys (I’d found out the sex at the 20 week scan to get my head round the fact I was going to have three children under the age of 2.5) happily stayed in there until I was full term, which is 37 weeks for twins. In fact they were so comfy in there they ended up not coming until 38+1.
If you’ve read my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee blogpost about the run up to D-Day, you’ll already know I was due to be induced at 37 weeks but had picked up a stomach bug from Thomas and was basically attached to the toilet for days. This wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind – my fear of doing a poo during birth was amplified 100-fold when I had the sh*ts. I was mortified at the thought. Can you seriously imagine pushing out two babies with diarrhoea.
Second time round the thought of giving birth is a funny thing. First time I didn’t know what to expect so was just keen to get on with whatever I had to do. Second time round I knew what was coming, and how it wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience. Well mine wasn’t, at least.
Having said that the best bit about this time round was that, okay I had to give birth to two babies, but I also had every man and his dog in with me for support. That might be a slight exaggeration, but I remember there being seven or eight medical professionals in the massive room with us. Twin births are much more risky so they don’t take any chances and this made me feel so much better straight away.
Everyone (including me) assumes you’ll automatically have a C Section when you’re pregnant with twins, but that’s not the case in Plymouth. The consultant I was under was really keen for you to give birth vaginally if possible. And it’s all down to the position of the babies – something that changes week to week so you have no way of knowing until the last minute how it’s going to go. I wanted to give birth vaginally (despite the carnage left of my bits from last time), as I didn’t want the recovery time from a section when I had a two year old to look after. But as I said, the decision was taken out of my hands, and in true ‘get on with it’ form, I was just going to do whatever had to be done. I wasn’t about to kick up a stink.
I imagine some of you wondering why I didn’t want more of an input into it all, where was the ownership? It was MY birth after all? Why was I prepared to just let it happen TO me? In answer, I just wasn’t that bothered about the ‘experience’ of it all. I had two massive babies in there who had to get out safely. I’m not an expert on the best way to get them out, and I placed more importance on them being safe and well, than how I felt about the whole thing. 15 months on and I still feel the same. Everyone is different, I suppose.
The other reason I was happy to go along with what the medics said was that they ‘highly recommended’ having an epidural with twins. After practically begging for one last time and not getting it, this was quite frankly the BEST NEWS EVER. It also meant any worries I did have, were eased instantly.
The consultant told me they like to give epidurals to twin mums in case there is a problem once the first baby is born. There’s suddenly plenty of room in there for the second baby to start doing back flips and get themselves into trouble, and if necessary, a doctor would literally put a hand up inside me and ‘grab whatever limb’ they could reach. That was how the consultant put it to me on our first meeting, although I’m sure there’s a more technical medical term. He was totally just trying to freak me out. It was also in case the first twin came out vaginally, and the second one needed an emergency section. Epidural, you say? YES PLEASE!!
I was due to be induced at 37+2, but the stomach bug ended up putting a spanner in the works. Obviously the hospital didn’t want someone with D&V in there, so eventually it was booked for the Thursday, which was 37+5, whether I was still poorly or not. Basically despite having to keep the twins in for as long as possible, it had now reached slightly dodgy ground and they needed to come out before there were complications. And they just ran out of room!
Just to add insult to injury, I ended up with an incredibly painful infected cyst on my bikini line of all places and was put on antibiotics the day before the induction – which made my sh*ts a whole load worse. Great!
I was admitted to Derriford Hospital on the Thursday and given my own room due to the bug (I was not so secretly DELIGHTED about this!), the pessary went in, and we waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing at all happened, apart from me making good use of the en suite, and after the full 37 hours it’s allowed, we were back to square one.
There were eight women on the ward waiting to be induced, and all of them overtook me in the queue, being sent down to labour ward one by one around the clock. I was only allowed to have my waters broken during ‘daylight hours’ so they could get the whole team together, so I spent the next TWO DAYS slowly going out of my mind, getting more and more tired, pissed off and annoyed at being apart from Thomas for what seemed like no reason.
Finally on the Sunday morning at 10.30am, four days after first having the pessary, it was all systems go – they had a slot, they had the team together, they were good to go!
After such a long and frustrating wait, the actual birth seemed totally straightforward. They started the hormone drip to start the induction before giving me the epidural so they could see how painful any initial contractions were and determine the level of pain relief I needed. It all started pretty slowly, and by the time I was having back pain, they gave me the epidural. It seemed such a ridiculous thing to be so relieved about, first time round I was practically begging for one and didn’t get it. This time round it was part and parcel of a twin birth – unless I’d refused it of course. Which clearly was never going to happen.
I don’t have a perfect recollection of what happened next, other than how different it was from last time round. The contractions came thick and fast for the following few hours, and I remember it being an odd situation not having a clue when I was having one because of the epidural, and of course no pain. Winner!
Everything was so relaxed. We were chatting to the anaesthetists and midwives about boxsets and house-buying in between contractions, it was like we were sat in a pub with old friends!
Eventually it was time to push – another bizarre feeling when you don’t even know you’re having a contraction – and after about 10 minutes Toby was here and snuggled on my chest. It was weird to think only half the job was done at that point. It was then that the pros showed me what they were made of, at the crucial moment when things could have gone sour. Two midwives held my stomach, keeping Twin Two in place and stopping him from wriggling or doing anything dangerous, whilst others did checks on how he was doing on the monitor.
I thought he would be out soon after – weren’t twins born, like four minutes apart? But we had to wait for the contractions to start all over again, all the while having my stomach firmly held. FORTY THREE minutes later Isaac was born. Making his own special entrance as he burst his waters all over the midwife and floor on the way out. She was drenched – telling me the next day even her shoes were filled with it! Oops.
They were both here, safe and well. And for twins, they were bloody massive. Toby was 7lb 1.5oz and Isaac was 7lb 8.5oz. I have friends whose single babies were smaller than that! Combine that with two placentas and no wonder the skin on my stomach will never be the same again.
I needed stitches but there was nowhere near as much damage as last time, thank goodness.
People think it’s strange when I say giving birth to twins was so much easier than having just one baby. I had a lot more medical input because it was classed as a high risk birth, and the epidural made the world of difference. There’s no way I could have done two lots of what I did with Thomas. For a start my calves wouldn’t have survived the cramps!
It’s a shame looking after newborn twins wasn’t quite as straightforward as looking after one baby…
How was your birth?
To read more birth stories, logon to One Blogged Every Minute.