My Twin birth story - Welcome to the world Ava Elizabeth and Riley Grace.
I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to have a vaginal delivery with my twin baby girls and thought I would share with you my experience. For all those mums out there expecting twins and wondering if they can do it, I hope this gives you the extra motivation to give it a try, provided your doctor supports your decision and it's a decision you are comfortable with.
I knew from the outset that I wanted to have a natural delivery and I broached the subject early with my Obstetrician, she gave me a simple answer, "It's definitely possible but not something we will discuss until it is time to deliver them due to all the variables." I thought this was a fair statement which I took on board and from then on tried not to think too much about it. I actually surprised myself how nervous I felt making the decision when the time actually came.
I had a relatively easy pregnancy that seemed to fly by at lightening speed. I definitely felt different to my previous pregnancy in that I was exhausted. My morning sickness was minimal but the fatigue was unbearable. I was very active in my first pregnancy, I jogged at a slow pace up until 20 weeks, regularly attended the gym, and later on would swim endless laps in the local pool, but about a week after finding out I was pregnant for the second time I could barely get through each day let alone work out. The day I found out I was pregnant with twins, which was at my 12 week scan, I felt instantly justified for the exhaustion I had been feeling.
We decided not to find out the sex of the babies, this did not bother me one bit as I knew it wouldn’t take long for everything to come together when they arrived. As long as they were clothed and fed nothing else mattered. I had an inkling though throughout the pregnancy that we were having a boy and a girl.
I progressed without incident to 34 weeks when one of the many scans i had throughout the course of the pregnancy showed my cervix had opened. As as a result, I saw my obstetrician that same night. The exhaustion I felt in the first trimester had resurfaced and I was starting to get some pretty bad headaches. My blood pressure was also high. My obstetrician sent me straight to the hospital to have steroid injections to develop the babies lungs in case of an early arrival as well as to have some blood tests. A few days later I was told I had developed pre-eclampsia.
My obstetrician advised that if I didn’t go into labour naturally over the weekend, I would be induced on the Monday. Monday the 19th January was our eldest daughter Maddison’s 3rd birthday, so we agreed on Tuesday the 20th. She also asked me to attend the hospital on the Sunday to get my blood pressure checked and the babies’ heart rates monitored.
We then discussed my delivery options. My amazing obstetrician (who, admittedly missed the second baby at our dating scan) told me she thought there was no reason why I couldn’t have a vaginal delivery. Her reasons for the positive push towards this was because they were both head down and I had had a natural delivery with Maddison, 3 years and 1 day earlier and the twins were guaranteed to be much smaller than she was. I was induced with Maddison at 40 +4 weeks, she was overdue and my blood pressure was rising. At birth she weighed 3.975kg's (8lb 12.214oz) and was 51cm long.
I was over the moon with this recommendation as I really didn’t want to have a cesarean if I didn’t have to but at the same time, scared as hell to have to push out two babies one after the other! My biggest concern was I would deliver the first vaginally and then due to complications I would have to have a cesarean for the second. I imagined the recovery with the twins and a toddler would be so much more difficult with a cesarean so I decided to push my fears aside and at least try to deliver them naturally. My obstetrician asked that I have an epidural so that in the event of an emergency cesarean, I would be ready to go straight into theatre. I didnt have an epidural with Maddison however, I didn’t argue. I was quite happy to go with whatever she felt was best for me and the babies and I was ecstatic (and nervous as hell) at the thought of delivering them naturally.
That Saturday night and all through the early hours of Sunday morning I started having contractions, I was unsure though as they were staggered in both the intensity and time in between. As I was induced with Maddison I had nothing to compare them to. Ben and I decided to pretend it was Maddison’s birthday a day early in the event I was in hospital for her actual birthday
After Maddi’s fake birthday breakfast I dragged myself up to the hospital whilst family prepared for her small birthday party that afternoon. I collapsed in a bed in the labour ward and told the midwife that I was up all night having contractions, After she attached the monitors she confirmed I was having mild contractions and told me I was fine to go but to come straight back if they intensified as the labour could progress quite quickly. I was exhausted and the air conditioning and peacefulness of the hospital was bliss. I begged her to admit me. She laughed and told me I was welcome to stay and relax for as long as I liked but the thought of missing my beautiful little girls party was tugging at my heart. I dragged myself home and got through that afternoon, and the next two nights!
Game day couldn’t have rolled around any slower, I continued to have mild contractions lasting all up 72 hours. I was nervous, excited and anxious all at once. We were set up in a labour suite and shortly after my Obstetrician walked in, she checked my cervix and I was 5cm dilated. Happy Days!! She then broke my waters and my cervix instantly expanded to 7cm. The anaesthetist arrived and inserted the epidural, for reasons I still can’t explain I just didn’t feel comfortable with the whole epidural thing. I have nothing against them and was thankful for it after though, in fact all I could think to myself was "Why in god's name didn’t I get one of those when Maddi was born??!!”
After the epidural had kicked in, I was administered syntocinon, which I also had with Maddison so knew what to expect. Everything moved along relatively quickly and within 2 hours I was ready to push, after 25 minutes of pushing our beautiful 2nd daughter, Ava Elizabeth was born. After a quick cuddle with Ben and acknowledgement it was a girl, my obstetrician said it was time to push again. WHAT!!! ALREADY??? I remember thinking you have got to be F.ING kidding me, don’t I get a break? Lo and behold, 9 minutes later Twin B, our beautiful 3rd daughter, Riley Grace was born.
We gave the girl's a quick cuddle and they were taken away to be checked over in the neonatal intensive care unit. They were born at 35+5 weeks. I then had to deliver my two placentas that had done such a wonderful job developing our babies, with a slight tug they both seemed to just fly right on out. Despite them both looking like prime cuts of meat I chose not to encapsulate them so I could eat them later, I figured a healthy diet would do the job.
After Ben and I had had a moment to ourselves we decided it was more important that he be with our babies in the special care nursery. I hated the thought of them in there without us. One of the midwives told me she would be back in a short while to help me shower and freshen up so I could be with Ben and the girls. Once everyone had left I was laying back taking 5 minutes to regroup when all of a sudden my vision went blurry and I started shaking uncontrollably. An intense feeling of nausea and weakness washed over. I was feeling bloody awful. With barely enough energy to find my buzzer I called the midwifes in. I didn’t have time to say anything, she took one look at me and rushed out the room. A few seconds later three of them ran back in and Midwife Jean told me I was haemorrhaging from where the placentas had been pulled away from the wall of my uterus. They needed to push the clots out away from my uterus before they dried to prevent any infection occurring.
I got back in to a birthing position, FFS I had just pushed out two babies. THIS WAS WORSE THAN THE BIRTH!! The epidural had been removed and the adrenalin that comes with child birth had worn off. It was agony as the midwives pushed down on my abdomen in a sweeping motion to clear the clots. Ben walked in midway through and I instantly saw panic sweep across his face.
I was extremely weak from all the blood loss, about 700mls in total but after a short while I was wheeled in to see the girls and I was given Ava to hold, I had to hand her straight back to Ben as I just didn’t have the energy. Touching both their little faces briefly, I was taken back to my room to recover. Thinking about it now I feel sad that I didn’t have that initial contact but at the time I had nothing left in me to give them. I collapsed numerous times that night and felt really awful for a good 2 days after their birth. I really was just going through the motions. I remember laying in bed whilst a midwife hand expressed colostrum from me and all I wanted to say was would you just piss off and let me rest!! In hindsight, I am forever grateful to those ladies. As the days passed, I started to feel better and the bonding I missed out on initially was quickly made up for.
Ben and I were blessed with two more daughters! Ava Elizabeth and Riley Grace. Ava weighed 2.795kg (6lb 2.5907oz) and was 50cm long. Riley weighed 2.965kg (6lb 8.5873oz) and was 49cm long. What a surprise to find out we had 2 more healthy daughters! I had always hoped for a sister for Maddison but never imagined she would have two.
Both girls spent exactly one week in the special care unit at Kareena Private Hospital Sydney. I was lucky enough to be able to stay in with them this whole time. It was over this week that I learnt to tandem breastfeed my gorgeous new thriving babies. I cannot praise the staff there enough for their help and support during this time. Now, 12 months on I am still breast feeding and have just started the weaning process with cow’s milk.
Thank you for taking the time to read my birth story, I really enjoyed writing it. It was nice to be able to sit back and reflect over such an amazing experience. Giving birth to any baby is truly spectacular and no matter how it is achieved whether it be by cesarean section, vaginally, with drugs, without drugs, at home, in a hospital, 1 baby or 5 babies, every woman is entitled to feel the same sense of achievement as the next woman because without sounding all righteous and self-important, I think that growing and delivering my babies will be one of my biggest achievements in my life. I felt like bloody superwoman after both of my deliveries and my hope is that all women feel the same.
For anyone based in Sydney and looking for an obstetrician in the St George or Sutherland areas I can highly recommend my Obstetrician Dr Ludmilla Collins at Suites 7&8 / 468-472 The Kingsway, Miranda NSW 2228. She is compassionate, experienced, professional, knowledgeable, encouraging and straight to the point. Everything I think is important in an Obstetrician.
Stay tuned for my breastfeeding experience which I will be sharing with you soon.