Yesterday I was scrolling through phone photos of the twins those first few days and came across a video I recorded days before their birth. My giant belly fills the screen, my camera-free hand pushes big butts and little limbs from side to side. I’m telling them I just want to meet them, pleading with them to arrive before our Monday induction. It brought back a flood of emotions about the chaos of those final days and the labor that brought these sweet kiddos into the worlds and it seems like a good place to start with remembering their birth story.
The weekend before their birth week I had another heavy round of prodromal labor. (this had been going on since mid-february, with each round of “pre-labor” ramping it up another notch) Drew and I labored throughout the afternoon together, final calling our doulas to help in the early evening once it seemed clear the contractions were progressing. (!) These women were amazing, helping me manage the pain with counter pressure, massage and gentle coaching. Everyone was convinced that this was it and the knowledge we were finally in the home stretch gave me a burst of energy and seemed to escalate the intensity of the contractions. Drew loaded up the car and after a false start to be sure the oven was off, we sped off for the hospital.
When we left for the hospital the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting between 45 and 60 seconds, bringing us to hour 10 of labor. They slowed a little in the car, but were still quite strong and around every 4 minutes when we arrived at the L&D triage. My midwife and her student met us, and I heaved myself onto the bed and got hooked up to my favorite monitors. With some difficulty we found R&E’s heartbeats and then found I was still just 4cm, as I had been for the last two weeks. I remember looking at Drew – he was sitting on a stool in the corner while these four wonderful women were offering suggestions and explanations and trying to help us make a new plan – and I think both of us just wanted to be alone and cry. After another utterly exhausting day, totally giving ourselves over to the physical and emotional work of labor, how could we be in this place again? How could it still be just 4cm after a long 10 hours of labor? What was going on with my body? Was it worth it to keep trying to trigger labor or should we go home and rest in case things kicked in again the next morning? So many questions and emotions. It was so hard to understand how this “natural” process could be so mixed up, how the signals I was supposed to be trusting in my body could be so warped and confused.
We decided to try an hour of walking the halls with the hope that things might move back into the pattern and progression we had at home. But, by 1 am, feeling bewildered, exhausted and frustrated, and without and further progression, we gave up and went home. What a sad sad homecoming, babies still in my belly, knowing the daunting task of labor must be started all over again before we could meet them. We heaved ourselves into bed somewhat resigned about the whole process. I wonder, after reading so many natural childbirth books and birth stories, if hearing about my lack of progress is in part what stalled my labor again. I could fell my body shutting down as I heard the news, all acceptance of the pain and struggle lost in the fear of having to go through it all over again.
So fast forward a few days to a rather depressed almost-mama and her cell phone video. I had imposed strict bed rest on myself because I couldn’t handle the emotional drain of more prodromal labor (which any activity beyond a bathroom trip seemed to trigger). With great effort, we drove back to Oak Park for two more non-stress tests (which involve a very large me on a rather narrow table for the hour + necessary to capture both babies’ heartbeats simultaneously for 5 minutes. Torture!) that week and scheduled the induction for Monday the 7th when I would hit 38 weeks.
The one good part of our hospital visit earlier in the week was that we were able to see the twins’ position on an ultrasound. They had both moved so low that the tech had a hard time finding them, their heads were both crammed in such a way that neither was pressing on my cervix to help it continue dilating. My midwife suggested a chiropractic adjustment might help dislodge Rowan’s skull from my pelvis so Evelyn could move further down. That visit was pretty hilarious, I imagine my chiro had never seen such an enormous belly before! But, with some creative thinking and maneuvering, he managed to arrange my limbs and adjust my spine and hips just a smidge. I noticed an immediate improvement in my back and hip pain – he said my hips had been off by an entire inch! That was a huge relief and helped us get through another weekend, another weekend of waiting.
Monday morning we woke early, trying to be giddy but mostly just grateful it was finally going to be over. We knew we could not be sent home from the hospital without babies in our arms. What a relief!
to be continued…