I learned I was due to have baby number six on Christmas Day, 2008. I wrapped the pregnancy test stick (yes, I cleaned it, first) in shiny, red paper with a white bow and gave it to my husband. He rejoiced! I was dumbstruck.
At twelve weeks I went to our family doctor for a first-time heart beat. She poked at my bulging belly and remarked that she was being “kicked” but could not find a heart beat. We laughed about it, I said so very hopefully, “Perhaps I’m further along!” She laughed, also, and then said, “Let’s see.”
I was in the ultrasound and x-ray wing of the hospital, joking with the tech about how my husband has triplet sisters and brother and how my great grandma was a twin out of three sets of twins when it happened to me. She plopped the ultrasound paddle on what appeared to be my too-large, ample belly and immediately, no-bones-about-it, stated, “You are having twins. See?”
The screen was turned my direction. In slow-motion I can still remember it, she was smiling, I felt cold everywhere, and there it was. The black-and-white screen showing two round, white balls in an ocean of blackness. I was once more dumbfounded!
When I returned home to my husband and five children I handed him the scroll of ultrasounds, camera phone in hand, to watch the faces of those dear to me. I couldn’t believe how odd I felt. I felt unattached, anticipating the next single moment, one second at a time. It lasted forever, the walk back to the elevator, the total strangers who I decided to tell, first, their foul remark, the cold chill in the spring air. All of it had been slow. But now, as Dave, my dear husband unrolled the scroll and looked it over, with what he hails a clinical eye, it was moving too quickly! I was SO nauseous all the time (unlike all my other pregnancies) and right then, I thought I was going to toss my cookies for sure.
Dave began to shout, “There’s two babies!” over and over again, to the sudden jumping joy of the kids, not believing what Daddy was singing, to my dumbfounded-soon-becoming warmed and alive heart. He would love them. The kids would love them. I would love them! This was something I never expected in all the thirty-six years of my life!
Then, the visits to the OB, the ultrasounds, the eating and eating, oh joys! And the dead stop of pigging out when I found out I had Gestational Diabetes. I was thrown for loop after loop, but I believe this was preparing me for all that was to come. There were no complications in my pregnancy other than the Gestationa Diabetes, which was managed well with diet and walking or swimming. I drank copious amounts of water, Dave even bought me a $20 water bottle to “make sure my twins are healthy.”
I was pampered in this pregnancy like no other! My kids told everyone about the twins we were going to have, they helped me out non-stop. It was lovely. I read every piece of literature on twin and multiple pregnancies, never bored with the favorite book from Dr. Barbara Luke, When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, Quads ... .
Then came the puffed feet and ankles at thirty-six weeks. I’d never seen feet like that on myself nor had I felt the pain of my skin stretching so far, not even my belly felt that taut! Oh, and did I mention that I fretted night and day over the thought of having one baby born vaginally only to be told the second had to be removed via C-Section? I worried about my weight gain, because I hadn’t gained anymore than forty pounds by week thirty-six. I worried about my sleep, or lack thereof. I worried about diapers. I worried about names. I worried about my two year old losing out on a childhood. I worried about EVERYTHING!
A calm did come, though. Right before I went into the hospital for labor and delivery at thirty-nine weeks, a few calms came: I was packed and ready, the babies’ nursery area was designated and ready, the diaper bag arrived in the mail, and the cloth diaper supply of forty-eight came.
At the hospital another calm came: I was there, no going back now so just relax and deal with it.
More calms followed: the epidural was uncomfortable but wow, did it remove all contraction pains. I was able to labor like no other labor, in calm and even humor! I had gained forty-three pounds, that was right in the area I had hoped for. My two year old had kissed my belly goodbye with joy and bounced away to say, “I love you!” which left a lingering sweetness to my mind and soul. She’d be just fine, like our other children. And soon, I reminded myself, I’d be able to stretch out on my back and sleep once more, my feet would stop being so swollen, and I wouldn’t have to count carbs any more! Ahhh, relax ... but wait, what about the possibility of a cesarean???
I went into transition nearly seven hours after entering the birthing center. My doctor, doula, husband and on-call OB (whom I now have a love for and will never see another OB again!) were all around me, the bag of waters had ruptured. They were wheeling me to the Operating Room (hospital rules) one floor down, asking me not to push. The epidural made that possible, otherwise, I know I’d have told them to forget it. I breathed slow, long breaths out through the mouth, in through the nose. We rode in an elevator the size of my husband’s Chevy Aveo 5!
I was transferred to an operating table swiftly. The room was full of people, bright, clean, and so shiny. I pushed once, then heard my OB say, “ten more seconds and we’re going to have a baby here” warningly to the nurses, so I let go and pushed that baby right out. She was perfect. Perfect, I tell you, and I think all mothers would agree; their babies are perfect.
But then it actually did happen. I was pushing, bearing down, hoping to get this second baby out with all of my heart but she just couldn’t do it. My uterus had contracted upon her, pulling her up underneath my left ribcage. The OB tried everything (and I mean everything) she could to free Baby B, but after too many minutes of not being able to find a heartbeat, she grew quite rigid with worry and apologized to me but, I would need a cesarean.
Like I’ve said before, I read up on every shred of writing on multiple births. I begged for her to just wait, just a few more minutes, please? I prayed the entire time, begging God to just help this child come down, naturally, so I could just as easily push her out, please? But it was not His will, nor was it my uterus’ will.
I was soon drifting off to dark-land—but not before quipping to the surgeon, “Hey, while you’re at it, why don’t you do a tummy tuck, huh?” That seemed to make the room giggle a bit, like I liked it, but my tears continued to flow; in fear as I went to sleep.
When I awoke I was tired, yes, and it had only been two and a half hours since my first child was born. Back in my Labor room husband and doula were rocking and trying to comfort two perfect, 9.9 Apgar babies, hoping to coax them to realize cuddles were just as fulfilling as momma’s milk, but they weren’t buying it!
Soon I was wheeled to the, to meet my Baby B and hold them, nurse them both! Perfection!
Such a deep sigh of relief!
And since their delivery, two weeks ago yesterday, I’ve healed well, haven’t had much more discomfort from having “A Double Whammy” other than some bothersome gas and bowel irritations, but that comes with the game. Throughout my hospital stay I hoped and prayed that the new nurse would over-look my status so I wouldn’t hear, “Oh, you poor thing. You’ve been put through the wringer.” I just wanted compassion and kindness.
I’ve gained two perfectly beautiful angelic daughters, my wounds are healing, and I’ve survived! With my dear God’s help, the love of my family, and the companionship of my doula, I have survived and you know what? It wasn’t so bad!
Honestly? I think the worrying was worse.