Continued from My Twin Birth Story – Part 1, here
I made it to 34 weeks.
34 weeks came on Friday and I anticipated being induced that morning as planned. What I now know about inductions (and what I wish I had known then…) is that they do not always happen as scheduled. Emergency cases can come in at any time and you will (understandably) be bumped down the list. Induction is something the doctors can control and so emergency arrivals will mean that the continuation of your induction gets pushed back.
And so it was Saturday that I had a pessary inserted to try to start labour. I was to be examined again a few hours later and was told to keep mobile and bounce on a birthing ball to try to get contractions to start. Nothing really came of the pessary and it wasn’t until after another restless night on the ward (and another small bleed) that I was finally moved to the delivery suite to start the hormone drip.
Once we were settled into our room on delivery suite, it finally began to feel as if we were close to meeting our babies. We had a lovely big room with a pool (shame I couldn’t use it), a shared en suite and our fantastic midwife, V, who had looked after me when I came into triage two weeks beforehand.
I knew from the start I would be delivering the babies in theatre in case either/both needed to be delivered by Caesarean Section in an emergency. This meant I was strongly advised to have an epidural in place. I was a little nervous about this but happy to go ahead as I knew it would be for the best. At around 11:30am a lovely anaesthetist arrived with the consultant and they offered to administer the epidural before they started the drip. I hunched over a pillow, keeping completely still until he had finished and barely felt a thing, just a few small electric shock sensations.
Throughout the afternoon I sat quite happily on my bed while babies and contractions were monitored. It was amazing to feel slight tightenings but absolutely no pain! I just watched the monitor in fascination as the lines peaked and troughed.
Later in the afternoon, Twin 1’s fore waters were broken manually and this took things up a notch. The contractions became stronger and more regular, but still I felt comfortable. At around 8:15pm I was examined and found to be 5cm dilated, the doctor was pleased with the progress and said she would examine again in 4 hours at around 12:30am.
However, at around midnight I began to feel some strong pains. Not contractions but an extremely painful pressure with each wave, which I had to work hard to breathe through. I felt sure that I was at least close to being fully dilated, so asked if I could be examined sooner. When the doctor checked me, she said I was indeed 10cm dilated and just needed a little time for Twin 1’s head to descend. (The pain was his head turning, apparently!)
Soon it was discovered that I had a fever (apparently common with epidurals), which hurried things along. I was wheeled to theatre quite swiftly. I remember it feeling disorientating being pushed along on the bed, fluorescent lights flashing by above me. Before I knew it I was being transferred onto the table in theatre and my legs placed in stirrups. Midwives, doctors and theatre staff filled the room. My husband returned in theatre scrubs and took his place at my side, holding my hand. The anaesthetist introduced herself and topped up the epidural.
Time to start pushing
One of the midwives placed her hand on my bump to feel for a contraction. With all my might I pushed, but it was such a strange feeling trying to force something with no sensation – I just hoped I was doing it right. After a few pushes, the doctor said I was doing well, but she needed to perform an episiotomy to allow her to use forceps and help guide Twin 1 out. At 1:29am, Twin 1 was born, looking pink and with good muscle tone. He was placed on my tummy briefly. I remember the warm, slippery feel of his vernix-covered head as I said ‘Hello baby’ and shed a few tears. Quickly though, he was wrapped in towels and taken away to be checked over. As joyous as we were at his arrival, it wasn’t over yet!
The doctor broke the second twin’s waters and then, as he was lying transverse, the consultant performed an Internal Podalic Version. This means reaching inside to manually turn the baby. He told the doctor who was assisting to be quick, and she pulled the baby out by his ankles. Twin 2 was not in such great condition and I only remember seeing his floppy, lifeless form very briefly before he was whisked away to the paediatricians in the next room. This was upsetting but I knew his birth had been the more traumatic, and that he was in good hands.
Being tilted on the bed at quite an angle and numb from the chest down, I was unaware of much of what was going on at the bottom of the table. Maybe had I known I would not have been able to remain so calm throughout! It was only much later on (long after I had recovered) that my husband filled in some of the blanks. As the doctor worked on stitching me up afterwards, he remembers just seeing blood pooling on the floor. I only narrowly avoided needing a blood transfusion. During the stitching, he went to be with the babies.
After what seemed like an eternity, I was wheeled into recovery. Soon John came back and was able to show me pictures of the babies on the phone. Two beautiful boys. Twin 1 with eyes wide open, looking so alert, and like his daddy. Twin 2 more subdued, lying prone, more like me.
A few hours later I was finally able to meet my babies in the neonatal unit. At last they were here, and we had all made it through.