The Birth of My Twins, Sunny and Jova
On December 5th, 2010, I woke up at 3:00 AM not feeling too great. It seemed like I had a bug, or food poisoning...or something. I certainly didn't think it might be anything else. But it was not pretty, I was throwing up out of both ends all day. I spent the entire day sitting forward on my couch and having some painful stomach (not uterine) cramps. I lost several large globs of mucus plug throughout the day, which I didn't think anything of, since that was pretty normal after sex, which I had the night before. That night I was getting some contractions that were close together when I was finally able to put my feet up, but nothing painful, and I didn't bother timing them because they stopped not long after they started. I joked with Jason (my partner) that I'd be mad if I went into labor when I was that sick...I was so exhausted from lack of sleep and hadn't eaten anything all day, just drank water. In any case, I was able to sleep all night and I felt sooo much better.
On December 6th, I was able to eat all day, and I drank lots of fluids to help me feel better. I also took a really nice evening nap on our sofa. After I got up from my nap, I continued to sit on the couch for a bit, then I got up to go get something to eat. As I was standing and eyeing our food stash, I noticed I felt kind of...wet. I felt myself and I thought, am I leaking amniotic fluid? I went to the bathroom to check it out. Sure enough, my underwear were certainly more wet than normal, and seemed to have a bit of mucusy fluid pooled in them a bit. I sat on the toilet and peed, and right away there was a small *pop*, and a little bit of fluid (that didn't feel like urination) trickled out. I literally felt my babies move down. Still not quite believing it, I continued to sit on the toilet to see if I still leaked after I wiped. Yep. I happily informed Jason that my water had broken, I was almost sure of it. I later proved it to him by dribbling it all over the carpet...oops. It was about 8:40 PM when my water broke.
While still on the toilet, I started to feel crampy right away, and it felt good to lean back, so I did so, and I called my mom to tell her my water had broken, since she requested to be informed when I went into labor. I had a gut feeling I would not be in labor long, so I didn't waste much time and just called her anyway. Right when I started talking to her, I started to get all shaky and anxious...and I realized that I didn't really feel like calling or talking to anyone while I was in labor. So I told her I'd just call her back. I think I may have called my friend that I wanted there, Debbie, but also told her I'd call her back. I just wasn't sure when I should have people come over, and at the time I just felt like I wanted to be alone to get in my zone and focus on my labor starting. After getting off the phone, I took all of my clothes off, wrapped my favorite towel around me, and went out into the livingroom.
While Jason was inflating my birth pool, my brother (who lived with us at the time) took his kids to their mom's house. Once alone, I turned up the heat a little, folded my towel and put it on the couch to sit on and catch amniotic fluid (which periodically gushed out, little by little). As I was waiting for my birth pool to fill, contractions started to pick up, and it was not long into my labor that I couldn't talk through them, so Jason began answering my phone for me, at my request. Though it was just my mom and my friend calling me back, I did not want to talk to anyone, and as I went further into labor land, I had made the decision that I would not be inviting anyone over, I knew it would only hinder my birth.
Once the pool was full, I tried to get in, and I took one contraction in the pool. My contractions were too close together to get comfortable, and I felt a loss of control. I hated it, and I never got back in the pool. I decided that sitting on the couch (leaning back, I had the opposite of back labor you could say, though I can't imagine it was quite as painful) was the best way for me to labor, and it made the contractions more bearable. At about 11:30, after we had stopped answering the phone, there was a knock on the back door. Jason went to look and informed me it was my mother, but did not open the door for her. I breathlessly told Jason to tell her to go home between contractions. I was really starting to have to concentrate. Throughout most of my labor, contractions were less than two minutes apart. Though sometimes I got lucky and I'd get a lighter contraction after a particularly gripping one.
Before Jason could open the door, my mother let herself in. Jason argued with her in the back entryway (where she couldn't really see me). She was telling him basically about how stupid we are for not going to the hospital and tried to scare him by saying things like "the cord could be wrapped around the neck since her water broke." He just gently told her that I needed to be left alone, that I was in my own world and I didn't want any distractions. She was pissed, but she left. The entire time she was there, I could not concentrate on my labor. I felt stressed and tense, and my contractions slowed.
As soon as my mom left, contractions came back, full force. I had to really concentrate through them, and I began moaning through them, and even yelling through some (at a somewhat low volume, I guess). I rocked my hips from side to side, and it felt great. It felt the best to lean back through each one especially, slightly to my right, propping myself with my hands and elbows, still sitting on the couch. Through many contractions, I could not get comfortable and would just kind of flail or wiggle around. Between each contraction (from the start of my labor, in fact), I took a sip of bottled water. Not only did I feel a need for water, but this was my coping mechanism. Somewhere along the line, I kept feeling nauseous with each contraction. The water helped. I'm not sure if I just drank too much, or if I was in transition (it didn't feel like it, I guess), because I randomly threw up a little bit of it on the towel/carpet in front of me, which made me sheepishly turn to Jason (who was quietly observing from the loveseat next to me) and say, "Sorry," and "Can you clean that up a bit?"
Once contractions started to become really strong and unbearable (and I began to think that I NEVER, EVER wanted to do this again), I decided I needed a better coping method. I began to visualize what was happening with my body and at the same time I totally relaxed my uterus, cervix, and vagina while I was getting these huge contractions. I closed my eyes and breathed. It actually started to feel much better, and I could now feel my first baby moving down and eventually her head descending into the birth canal instead of just the crampy pain I was feeling before. Because I was sitting on the couch, I knew I couldn't push a baby out with the way I was sitting. So every now and then, I'd stand up and maybe squat a bit, to see how far the baby's head was down. Each time I did that, I felt more pushy each time. Then the last time I stood up, my body pushed, and I knew it was time to stop sitting on my butt.
I flipped over so I was on my knees on the couch, my butt hanging off and me clutching the back cushion, to which my body responded with a crazy contraction or two and made me start to push. I grasped the fabric of the sofa very tightly and began groaning loudly as baby number one began her journey through my birth canal. Jason responded by coming over to take a look, and asked if he should go get some towels (he wasn't sure if I was about to give birth or not), and I said yes. He asked which ones. "Doesn't matter." He laid towels under me, and once he realized I was indeed pushing, he asked me if I wanted any sort of perineal support. I told him no. After a few pushes he goes, "Omg, I see the head!" So I thought I might stick my hand down and have a feel, and sure enough, she was crowning.
It was really funny, because Jason kept asking me for direction, and since all I could really do was PUSH, I told him, you'll be fine, you'll do great. I continued pushing (and felt my perineum stretch, which was much less painful than I was expecting) until half of the head was out, had a sense of relief when I pushed out what felt like her entire head, and then one more push, and her body shot out of me. I immediately heard this tiny little being cry, and it made me so happy. I heard Jason talking behind me, saying things like, "OMG!," and "What do I do?" and he was just in awe of the whole thing but he did such a great job.
He said something about the cord being tangled...I wasn't sure what he meant (she was still behind me), but I told him to unwrap it. He untangled the cord from her body and passed her under my legs to me, and I pulled her to my chest and kneeled on the towels in front of the couch. We took a look at our new baby girl and ooh'd and aww'd at her. I was surprised at her size and said, "You're SO tiny!" and I figured that she was Jova Lynn (aka Baby B), but only the birth of the other baby would tell! She was so alert, too, just looking around and around, and pinked up so fast! I also remember Jason asking me if the blood that had come out after her was normal, and I looked at it and told him reassuringly, yes, it's fine.
Not long after Jova was born, I began rocking my hips back and forth and up and down, to help move the second baby down. I didn't plan to do this, it just felt like the thing to do. Soon enough, I got another one or two contractions, and *pop* went her water. I then immediately felt the urge to push, and began groaning and pushing her out, while still cradling Jova against my chest. Jason started getting anxious because I was only a few inches from the ground, and he asked me if I could move up, to which I replied with a, "No." Lol. But as soon as I felt her crowning, I instinctively moved up, and pushed her head out into his hands. For some reason, it felt like more of her had come out, and I was confused as to why she wasn't sliding out of me as quickly as Jova did, so I reached down and discovered that only her head was out. Annoyed, I said, "Fuck," and leaned forward and gave another few pushes, and my baby Sunny Jay (aka Baby A) slid out into Daddy's arms crying, along with a shower of amniotic fluid, which made Jason exclaim in surprise. I did sustain a tear on my vagina and labia due to pushing her shoulders out with such force. I knew she was Sunny when I saw how much bigger she was than her sister! Both babies were born within 5 minutes or less of each other, around 12:40 a.m. on December 7th.
I then stood up and swung my leg over the cord, and I sat on the end of the couch on a towel, with babies on my chest, covered in a towel. It was so great. Sunny was so cheesy with vernix, and I remember laughing and telling her how gross she looked, kissing her at the same time. We took a look at both babies, and they were pinking up so great. Then Jason asked about the placenta, and I just said it would come soon enough, and I asked him to go rinse out the placenta bowl. As he went to do that, I squatted on the towels on the floor to let gravity help ease it out. Then I realized that it was already coming out...without any help. I ended up having to hold my placenta in (as well as I could, anyway), and told Jason to hurry up! He ran over just in time to catch it in the bowl, with a bunch of blood. Ugh, that would have sucked to have dropped it on the towels. It was huge, thick, and slippery. It later weighed in at 2.5 lbs!
Since Sunny and Jova's cords were so short, I had quite a time juggling babies and placenta, and so we decided to cut the cords (which I don't think were even pulsating when the babies were born). Jason sterlized some scissors and we clamped and cut them, and then we wrapped the babies in some blankets. Before we did this, we had called our friends Dustin and Rhoda and told them to come over - we had babies!
About ten minutes later, we heard a knock on the door and were expecting our friends, but it turned out it was couple of cops. My mom had called the cops on me. Great! I didn't let them in, because I was still naked and babies were still naked, and we had a big bloody mess in front of me (including my placenta in a bowl, lol). And anyway, I just didn't see a reason to let them in my house (on such a special night!). So Jason handed me the baby he was holding and went out and dealt with them on the porch. They explained to him that we're not in any trouble because we hadn't done anything illegal, but that since they received a call, they had no choice but to check things out and call an ambulance.
A few minutes after the cops left, two EMT's arrived, and I decided to let them in just to humor them, and so that they could see for themselves that the babies and I were just fine. They did look at us (didn't touch us though) and commented that we all three looked great, and one of them commented that homebirth was becoming less uncommon, after they asked us a few questions. They then left, and I thanked them for their help. They were very nice, however, I felt quite robbed. I was dealing with cops and EMT's instead of bonding with my babies. I never got to experience as much skin-to-skin with them as I may have wanted after they were born, and certainly didn't get a chance to allow them to self-attach.
Shortly after that ordeal, our friends Dustin and Rhoda arrived, and Dustin checked the babies over (he has attended many unassisted births). They were both breathing great. They helped us weigh the babies, first Jova, who was a mere 4 lbs, 2 oz., and Sunny weighed in at 5 lbs, 6 oz. They looked so vastly different in size, it's crazy. Even Jova's head was smaller. We also later measured them, and Jova measured about 17 inches, and Sunny about 18 inches. Short babies!
My other friends Debbie and Al arrived soon after Dustin and Rhoda, and Debbie was so nice to give me a bit of a sponge bath. I had blood all over my legs and feet, and she helped clean up my bloody towel mess. Everyone helped hold the babies for me while I recovered. It's a weird feeling to have such a huge uterus, and then suddenly...it's empty! Plus I was still sort of crampy, and breastfeeding made me more crampy (naturally). But it was nice to know that both babies latched on well.
Once I was all comfortable and had things under me to catch blood (I did not hemorrhage at all, btw, I felt great after birth and didn't even nap until 5-6 hours afterwards), and Dustin and Rhoda emptied (with gallon buckets, because my siphon wasn't working, bless them) and deflated my birth pool, everyone decided to go home and get some sleep. I was so grateful to have my friends there to take care of me after the birth, especially since Jason suddenly began feeling ill from all the happenings of the night and had to go to bed.
All in all, it was such an amazing experience. I had such an easy labor and birth, and perfect babies, I could not have asked for more.
Notes about my birth:
- The babies were born at 36 weeks, 3 days and are identical (monochorionic, diamniotic) twins. Exactly a week prior, I somehow knew that my babies' lungs had matured, so I was not worried about delivering them as early as I did. I really had no prodromal labor, or at least none that I noticed. I did feel what must have been my cervix getting ready starting at about 33 weeks, but I am happy to say that I have never had a cervical check. My labor and birth lasted exactly four hours from start to finish.
- I did not take the babies to the hospital after the birth, as they probably would have panicked and wanted to put both babies in the NICU, especially Jova, since she's considered a low birthweight (in fact, she was born the size of an average 32 weeker). Instead, they saw a pediatrician when they were a week old. They had no problems and were quite normal, healthy newborns.
- Because the cops were called, CPS showed up at my house a few days after the birth. In fact, my mom happened to be the one to answer the door, as she was there helping me clean house. After a lot of questioning, they decided that they would leave me alone after I gave them confirmation that the babies had seen the pediatrician.
- My mom has still not apologized to me for how she intervened, even after I asked her to. She absolutely believes she did the right thing, and that it was "better than what could have happened." Here's the thing - the only thing that "went wrong" during my birth was cops and other people I didn't want showing up at my door! Such disrespect I was shown by her.
- I'm not entirely sure, but I have the feeling that I felt I had to get Sunny out so fast because the placenta wasn't hanging on much longer (if at all, Sunny wasn't very alert and fell asleep shortly after birth, but perhaps that was just normal for her). If that were the case, it's a good thing I wasn't in the hospital, because they would have tried to section me, which would have taken longer than it took to bounce around and push her out. Sunny came out quite covered in blood, with a plum sized cap of bloody membrane on her scalp. It didn't wipe off, so we left it there until their first bath a few days later. She also had meconium coming out of her as soon as she was born.
- Jova's head didn't actually fully birth before her body, like I thought it did, when I felt relief on my perineum. Well, the back of it did, but her face was still halfway inside of me. And here's why: she had a nuchial hand. Her hand was on her cheek, so when I paused before pushing her little body out, Jason said you could see the ends of her little fingers poking out against her face. She often had her hands up by her face on ultrasounds and insisted on having her hands on her face in the months that followed her birth, too. So sweet. :)