Apparently, I have an addiction to babies. When Melanie was one I started longing for another baby, actually two. I was praying for twins! No, twins don’t run in the family. I had about a 1 in 85 chance of conceiving twins, but that didn’t stop me from praying. Soon I was expecting again.
Only a few days after we found out that I was pregnant, a woman stood up in church and announced that she was expecting twins. I felt very disappointed. I was the one that wanted twins and surely there couldn’t be two women expecting twins in our small congregation.
We had moved and for the first time it looked like we would be able to have a home birth. I was very much looking forward to this birth. We wouldn’t need to leave home like with the other births and I had learned that I could trust God and that He would work all things out.
I was measuring big again this pregnancy and our midwife brought up the possibility of twins. I told her that this had happened in the previous pregnancy. I asked her if she thought there might be twins, but she felt that I didn’t seem as wide as would be expected for twins and I put the idea out of my head.
One night, when I was about 20 weeks along, I had my hands on my belly feeling the rolling and kicking within. Suddenly, I was startled with the realization that I could feel two heads. Twins! I was so excited that I had a hard time falling back to sleep.
By morning I was doubting my experience in the night. I scheduled an ultra-sound and waited. Two weeks later I was laying on the ultra-sound table. I waited. Minutes passed and she didn’t say anything. I figured there must only be one baby. “We thought there might be twins,” I finally said. “Well, you were right to think so!” she announced. “There’s definitely two babies.” I wept tears of joy through the rest of the examination and felt like I was floating on clouds during the drive home.
I was soon to learn though, that a “high-risk” pregnancy would be very different then my previous pregnancies and our midwife would not be allowed to attend a homebirth. Also, we would need to see an obstetrician.
At about 30 weeks we had our first appointment with the obstetrician. He told us that he would perform a c-section at 38 weeks as one of the twins was in breech position. We left feeling very anxious. Our midwife informed us that there was another obstetrician that would be more favourable to delivering a breech birth naturally. Unfortunately, I went into labour before that appointment arrived.
I began having braxton hicks contractions very frequently. These were often quite strong, and we were concerned about the possibility of pre-term labour. One of the biggest risks with a twin pregnancy is delivering too early. If I went into labour before 32 weeks, I would need to be flown to Vancouver. It was easy to worry.
I also worried that I wouldn’t have the time to do everything that would need to be done after the twins were born. I started filling up my freezer with dinners. I regret this. I should have been resting, not cooking up a storm!
One day, I decided to make pizzas for the freezer, not 1 or 2, but 6 or 8. It took me all day. I had to cook the meat, chop all the toppings, grate the cheese, knead the dough, make the pizza sauce. The worst was rolling out the dough. The braxton-hicks contractions came back to back and very strong. I would lay down for 15 min and try to roll out the dough for 5. I was deeply regretting ever starting this project and I just wanted it to be over!
I fell into bed that night exhausted, but after sleeping for only 30 min, my water broke. I was trembling and crying. I was only 34 weeks, and I felt afraid for the babies. It wasn’t time yet, and I felt that I had brought on labour by all the work I had done that day. Kevin prayed with me, and I felt better, reminding myself that God was in control.
I hadn’t had any contractions yet, but I phoned the midwife to let her know that my water had broke. She knew that my other labours had been fast and wanted me at the hospital right away. I phoned a friend and asked her to meet us at the hospital. She would look after our 2 daughters. It was only a 20 min drive to the hospital. I had my first contraction on the way there and it was very strong.
The obstetrician checked my cervix and did an ultrasound. One of the babies was coming out foot first; a footling breech. She told me that they needed to perform an emergency c-section. We talked to our midwife and she recommended going ahead with the c-section, as a footling breech birth is a higher risk than a full breech. One of the dangers is that the cord can prolapse and then get pinched off. Another problem is that the baby can descend into the birth canal before the cervix is fully dilated and then get stuck at the head.
It seemed like everyone was panicking at this point. I had only had 2 or 3 contractions, but I was already 6 cm dilated. They felt the need to do the c-section immediately. The anaesthesiologist came in and told me that they were going to put me under general anaesthetic. This is quite rare now. There is a higher risk for mothers and babies than with a local anaesthetic, and it is very disturbing for women to be asleep while their babies are being born.
I told the anaesthsiologist that it was very important for me to be awake and that I declined the general anaesthetic. He told me that they would go ahead with it anyway. I couldn’t believe my ears. I knew that I had the right of refusal; the right to refuse any medical treatment. I told him this too, but he said that the need for immediate action overrode my right of refusal.
I felt very alone and afraid. Things were happening so fast (we’d only been at the hospital about 20 min), and I didn’t know what to do.
The anaesthesiologist and the obstetrician talked quickly and I was relieved that we were going ahead with an epidural. They had an awful time getting in an IV. They tried in both hands and both arms. They talked of trying my feet and legs. Tension was building. There was more trouble with the epidural; I couldn’t bend enough. I was short and carrying twins, so I really stuck out in the front and didn’t have much room to bend. Also the contractions were back to back and it was very difficult for me to bend while my uterus was so tight.
Finally, the epidural had started. The doctor asked if I had any feeling in my abdomen, which I did. He asked if it hurt as he grabbed my abdomen with tongs. I said it didn’t really hurt, but I could feel it. They decided to go ahead with the surgery. As it turned out, the anaesthetic didn’t really work and I had a lot of pain during the surgery.
It didn’t take long for the babies to be delivered. I had 2 little boys! Ethan was delivered first. He was bigger and stronger at 5 lbs. 15 oz. Owen was smaller at 4 lbs. 14 oz. and took much longer to start breathing. I only saw them briefly before they were whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
It was after Kevin and the boys left, that the surgery became very painful. Everything needed to be put back into place and both my uterus and abdomen needed to be stitched. It was a very strange pain. I tried not to make a sound because I knew they would give me a general.
After the surgery, I went into shock. I began shaking so bad that I thought I would fall off the bed. The nurses covered me with hot sheets. One nurse spoke to me very gently, while stroking my hand. Her kindness made such an impression on me. Actually, she remembered me when we went into to have William even though four and a half years had passed.
Kevin came in and told me that he would be taking our daughters home. For a time, I was alone in that room. It all seemed so very strange. Only a few hours before, I had been asleep in my bed, my babies safely in my womb. Now I was alone, so desperately alone.
I longed to see my babies, but I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the recovery room until I was able to move my legs. I concentrated on my toes. I imagined moving them. I tried and tried to move my legs. The sheet moved! The midwife was very surprised that I had already re-gained movement. She told me that I would need to be bathed before they could take me though. It seems kind of funny now, but at the time I felt quite upset. I felt like yelling, “Please, just take me to my babies!”
Finally, they wheeled the bed out of the room and into the elevator and up to the NICU. They opened the double doors to make room for the bed, and there were my little ones. They were in separate beds with warming lights over them. I wasn’t allowed to hold them, but I talked and talked to them. Eventually I had to leave. I new that the midwife was eager to get home. I said good-night to my precious babies and was wheeled into a room for the rest of the night. A nurse would later tell me that she had been there in the NICU that night and that everyone knew that I didn’t want to leave.
It must have been about 4:00 am when they settled me into the room. The last thing that I wanted to do was sleep. All I wanted to do was hold my babies. I still hadn’t held my babies. I cried and I waited. The dawn slowly arrived and still I waited.
A nurse finally arrived at about 7:00. “Please take me to see my babies,” I pleaded. The nurses were in the middle of a shift change and visitors weren’t normally allowed into the NICU until after 8:00, but an allowance was made for me. She helped me get into the wheel chair and brought me into the nursery.
Ethan and Owen were in separate incubators, in separate rooms. They had tubes in their noses and wires hooked up to their chests and hands. It all seemed very frightening to me. I still couldn’t hold them, but was able to open a little door into the incubator so I could stroke my babies. I would sit by one of my boys and sing and coo at him and then move into the other room and stroke my other little boy.
Kevin brought Myra and Melanie and we spent the day together. After they left, others came and visited. By that evening, I was finally allowed to hold Ethan, but not nurse him. The doctor felt that Owen was too small to leave the incubator.
At 10:30 that night, I was absolutely exhausted. I had only slept 30 min in the past 40 hours and the past 24 hours had been among the most stressful of my entire life. It was at this point that my roommate wanted to talk! She had delivered a baby girl the day before my twins were born. Her little girl was also born by c-section and in the NICU. We got to know one another for a while before she asked me about my faith.
She had noticed my husband and I praying. A pastor friend and his wife had also visited and prayed with me. She had a catholic background, but didn’t know what it was like to have a personal relationship with God. She asked me many questions.
The irony of the situation was that I had been longing for an opportunity like this. I have a sweet relationship with God and love to share my faith with those who are interested. At this point though, I was just hungry for sleep. I finally got to sleep at about 12:30 that night.
Owen was 2 days old before I was allowed to hold him. This was very upsetting to me. He was small, but otherwise healthy. What made the situation especially frustrating, is they had articles on the wall about the wonderful benefits of kangaroo care. Kangaroo care is the term used to describe the practice of keeping the baby next to the mothers (or fathers) skin for extended periods of time. This article explained that babies as young as 28 weeks gestation, fared significantly better when kangaroo care was used. Owen was 34 weeks, but the doctor was concerned that I might tear his skin if I held him!
The following days and nights were a blur. I spent my time nursing the boys, pumping milk and visiting with Kevin and the girls. I felt terribly torn. When I was with Kevin and the girls, I felt separated from the boys. When I was with Ethan and Owen, I felt like I should be with Kevin, Myra and Melanie. I was running dangerously low on sleep too. The boys were on a 3 hour schedule. During the night, I would nurse them and then pump milk and have 1 to 1 ½ hours to sleep before they would need to be fed again.
It took a long time to feed them, as they were very sleepy and consequently not very good at nursing. They had to be weighed before and after nursing to determine how much milk they received and then we would have to feed them the rest of the milk required through the tubes in their noses. And I never slept at all during the day.
We spent 2 weeks at the hospital. More then once I was told to go home and have a shower or a good nights sleep, but I would burst into tears at the thought of going home without my babies. I was overjoyed when the time came to go home. I knew that there would be many trials ahead, but I just wanted to be together as a family again.
I had thought that this would be such an easy pregnancy. I thought that it would be so peaceful. In my first 2 pregnancies I had learned that I could trust God, but God wanted to teach me how to trust Him even when things don’t work out the way that I would have wanted them too.
About 6 weeks after the boys were born, I realized that I was carrying around some resentment and bitterness. During the end of my pregnancy, Kevin and I talked a lot about how we wanted God to be glorified in this birth. We planned on singing the hymn “To God Be the Glory” immediately after the birth. That isn’t how it turned out though.
“To God Be the Glory,” had been one of my favourite songs, but I found I couldn’t sing it anymore. “We wanted to glorify You God, why did you allow things to turn out the way they did?” I prayed. It was then that God opened my eyes. It was if He was saying, “I was glorified.” I realized that people had seen our faith in the midst of a storm. They saw us turning to God for strength when the going was rough.
In the 2 weeks at the hospital, I spent a lot of time talking with the woman that I shared the room with. Our friendship continued even after I’d left the hospital. I got to know all the nurses that worked in the NICU. They saw me loving my babies, praying with them and singing to them. They saw my faith and that is what God had intended all along. To God be the glory!