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What Fate Had In Store For Me – A Twin Hypnobirthing Birth

What Fate Had In Store For Me – A Twin Hypnobirthing Birth

I married the man of my dreams in 2011. I had been quite sick prior to the wedding and had lost a lot of weight due to my illness (silver lining, I fit in to my wedding dress!). The doctors told me that I probably couldn’t have children and that if I did ever by some miracle get pregnant I have a very high risk of miscarriage.

So my husband and I had a lovely time on honeymoon and we got back filled with love and lust for life. A week later when my period was late and my husband was away I decided I would do a pregnancy test – I was bored and didn’t think for one second that I would be pregnant so when it came out positive I nearly fell off the bed in shock. 

I told him as soon as he was home and after the initial shock (and swearing) he was thrilled (and terrified, cue more swearing). I had quite a few bleeds and decided to go for a scan at six weeks – I thought I was losing the baby and needed confirmation that I was still pregnant. The scan confirmed it and I was over the moon – a healthy little heartbeat!

Another 3 weeks later – another bleed – again I needed to know so I went with my best friend to see what fate had in store for me. I was not expecting the answer…TWINS! They had only seen one in the previous scan so this was a complete shock! I called my husband immediately and in the middle of his office he swore at the top of his voice. To this day I don’t know if it was “happy” swearing or “terrified, my life” is over kind of swearing. 

Fast forward five months and my twins were born very prematurely at 26 weeks. 

This shock is one we are still recovering from but one that has changed my path in life forever.

I thank my lucky stars every day that I had been teaching Hypnobirthing for years prior to the birth of my twins – I used my tools and techniques throughout the birth to birth them safely and naturally. Passing through the birth canal offers so much goodness to preemies that can set them up for life and I’m pretty sure it has led to their health they show today.

Premature labours are often more intense than full term labours as the body goes into over drive so there’s a lot more sensation to deal with. As my surges got closer and closer and more and more intense, I went fully in to my hypnobirthing state, eyes closed, deep breathing, my husband gently speaking in to my ear, blocking out the frenzy around me. I was in my own special place – I imagined being in my water pool, dim lighting and gentle sounds soothing my surges.

I remember the doctor shouting loudly to “check mum’s pulse!” I was so deep in to my own zone that it looked like I was sleeping or had passed out! I birthed my first little one, Xander completely naturally with three big, deep, birthing breaths. Joey on the other hand enjoyed all the space his brother had left behind and turned transverse. After a threat of c-section, internal turning and then me telling them all to back off, a team of three managed to shift him in to vertex position externally. He started to play ball and he was born assisted breach again, completely naturally.

I wasn’t able to hold my boys until three days after they were born as they were so little and struggling with their early entrance in to life but they are now thriving and amaze me every day with their strength and love.

My birth was the absolute opposite of what I had imagined, but thanks to using hypnobirthing and my husband’s support throughout the birth I am able to look back and be thankful that I did my best. It was an incredibly positive experience and one that I am really proud of. I am now even more inspired than ever to teach hypnobirthing and help mums enjoy their special day no matter what path our little monkeys decide to take to enter the world. Birth is never perfect but it can be positive. Mine definitely was.

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Sophie Englefield

Birth and Children Are Not All Balloons and Roses

Birth and Children Are Not All Balloons and Roses

My twin girls were born early at 30 weeks and five days. Yesterday I saw a friend posted on Instagram, the birth of his beautiful baby girl. The pictures were incredible. His wife delivered naturally, he got to help in the delivery of his baby, and immediately after, they put their first child on her chest. Both parents were able to cherish that moment, in what seemed like a magazine article on the picture perfect child birth.

I burst out crying.

Selfishly, I was NOT crying out of happiness for them, I was crying out of sadness for myself. I had an unplanned C-section, and upon delivery my babies were immediately taken to the NICU after I had just barely had a glimpse of them. As I looked at these pictures on Instagram of my friend’s perfect birth, I realized I would never have that experience. No vaginal birth, no holding my baby and I didn’t have that immediate feeling of “LOVE like you’ve never felt before,” you know the thing that all parents talk about when they first have their child.

Instead, I spent the first 24 hours after my babies were born feeling completely disconnected as if I was watching someone else’s life happen. I didn’t feel like a mom or have an overwhelming love and connection. Instead, I felt the complete opposite. I was scared, filled with anxiety and freaking out that this is not the way I am supposed to feel after the birth of my children.

My parenting comparison had already started. I questioned everything. Asking myself, “is this how I am supposed to feel? I’ve only ever heard about the overwhelming love and joy. What is wrong with me? Is this postpartum? Is it because I didn’t do it the right way, should I have pushed more and stayed the course of a vaginal birth?”

I continued with the self-shame: I will never get the experience of holding my newborn after delivery. Will this affect them and me for the rest of our lives? What does this scar mean and how will it affect my body? How long will they be in the NICU, did I do something to make them come early… Am I going crazy?

How come no one talks about this stuff? The doubt, the unstoppable crying, the night sweats. OMG, the night sweats. After 48 hours of pure anxiety, I woke up and realized something…..

Here are these two girls who were just brought into the world who know nothing but how to wiggle their toes, while they are trying to figure out how to breathe. I am already putting the pressure on them and myself on having the perfect birth. This is how parenting shaming starts, and this is how we create unrealistic expectations for ourselves and our children. Seriously think about it, our kids start out perfectly innocent, knowing nothing. With no standard on how they are supposed to look, dress or how they were meant to be born they are just working on staying alive at this point.

A lot of us are following a program to what our life is supposed to look like and to be honest; it’s a false program. We think if we just do it right, always give 100% and make it look like it’s supposed to look, then we are successful. The fact is, no one can give 100% a 100% of the time, it’s impossible. So why are we trying so damn hard to be perfect, to one-up each other? The expectations we have accepted from what society puts on us are FALSE expectations, and we have to stop.

Birth and children are not all balloons and roses. I don’t even have my girls home, and I’m already feeling the pressure of what’s right and wrong and what feelings I’m supposed to be feeling. What about being present in the moment my girls are alive and thriving. All they need right now is support and love. They don’t care if I cry or second guess myself they care I am here holding them, reading to them, kissing them and everything else is B.S.

I am committing to a platform of raw, open and real honesty. I have done this on all my other blogs about body image, food, and alcohol and I am committing to it as a parent. I will be honest about ALL the stuff. The good, the bad and the worse because I believe as parents and as a society, we need to talk more about the hard stuff, so we know we are not alone. We have to remind each other that the “perfect family” on Facebook is NOT real life.

If we want the best for our children it has to start with us, the parents. We would never want to pass our insecurities onto our children: our body issues, food issues, and low self-esteem issues. It all starts with us leading by example, and working on our comparisons of ourselves to others.

I want to change the message. Here are three things that hit me like a ton of bricks after childbirth:

Not everyone has the initial, “love like you’ve never felt before” immediately after childbirth, and that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. However your babies came to you and however, you feel is exactly how it is supposed to be for YOU.

Comparisons, guilt, shame, anxiety, and uncertainty all are REAL. We all have negative thoughts. Don’t keep them inside. Find a tribe or one person to talk to, or even this blog to leave a comment on. You are not alone in how you’re feeling, let it out and let’s support one another.

No one and I mean NO ONE has a grip on parenting. The person you think has it all together could be a complete mess and just scared to share the struggle. It’s time we talk about the struggle.

My birth plan was NOTHING that I thought it was going to be and you know what? It’s OK. Every day is a rollercoaster but I’m on it, embracing it and I’m mentally committing to being present in it, ALL OF IT. Even the dark stuff.

To any parent out there struggling, to anyone, anywhere struggling, with or without kids, you are not alone! I am here for you. We NEED to be here for each other. Let’s talk about the REAL stuff, let’s stop judging one another and come together. It’s time we teach the younger generation and each other that self-worth comes from what we think of ourselves, not what society has put on us. It’s time to change the conversation and lead by example.

I love you thank you for letting me continue to be honest, real, raw and open with you. Thank you for allowing me to continue to tell my story. I love each and every one of you, we are in this together!

Birth experience and photographs submitted by Jenny Schatzle

5 Twin Birth Stories – Variations of Normal

5 Twin Birth Stories – Variations of Normal

A Birth Story of Twins {IVF}

The first week was hospital bed rest and I begged to go home. Around then is when my husband was able to feel the boys kick, so it was then more early tracking to be told that the hospital doubted I would be carrying them past 22 weeks. Well, they sent me home on strict bed rest and had to make appointments with my MFM to see him once a week. We lived 45-50 minutes from the MFM and the hospital we were planning on delivering at.

Twins Born at 27 Weeks {A Mother’s Story of the NICU and Coping}

I had a doctor appointment that morning. I was so excited because it was an ultrasound appointment and I was going to get to see my little boogers. I met with the doctor after the appointment and he kept me a little longer because he was afraid that I had twin to twin transfusion. They tried to hook me up to heart rate monitors but said I wasn’t far enough along for them to work…. So he sent me on my way and made an appointment for the following week.

C-Section for High-Risk Twins

There are many aspects of my pregnancy which I did not share because I was scared to do so. I did not want to fall apart every time someone asked me about it. There were only a few people who knew what we were going through, not even all of our families knew.

Simple Hospital Birth of Twins

Today is officially my due date so I thought… no better time to post my birth story. It’s taken me a while to get into a groove and to be honest, it’s taken me even longer to wrap my brain around all the events that transpired. Alas, here it is…

Traumatic First Birth Followed by an Empowered Surrogacy Birth of Twins

I was scared, I was tired, and I felt like I was drowning. I sobbed and begged to be admitted. I had hardly slept in days and wanted something to take the edge off. They agreed to keep me over night and give me a dose of Stadol. After it wore off, I danced, rocked on all fours in the shower and I vocalized with determination in the dark until sunrise.

Born En Caul, Twins in NICU, Hugs, & a Happy Baby

Born En Caul, Twins in NICU, Hugs, & a Happy Baby

In case you missed the Birth Without Fear Instagram this past week…

Two Mamas, Don’t Forget Dads, and Pooping Without Fear

Two Mamas, Don’t Forget Dads, and Pooping Without Fear

In case you missed Birth Without Fear on Instagram this past week…

💩 #birthwithoutfear #postpartumwithoutfear #variationsofnormal #poopwithoutfear

A post shared by birthwithoutfear (@birthwithoutfear) on

A Fight for a Twin VBA2C Birth in the Hospital!

A Fight for a Twin VBA2C Birth in the Hospital!

I had my first son at age 18 and he was delivered by an old school OB who told me I wasn’t trying hard enough to push him out. He didn’t exactly offer a forceps or vacuum extraction because he told me these interventions were not designed to do 100% of the work. After a total of twelve hours in labor and pushing with an extremely strong epidural for two hours I was told “It’s time” and he discussed how he had tickets to a golf opening later that day while he operated on me. I was told I had a narrow pelvis and the baby never would have come out. My second birth was another scheduled cesarean due to me “not being a good candidate for VBAC” without reviewing my surgical report, just based on what I was verbally told was the reason I had a cesarean. With my third baby I put my foot down, found birth without fear, my local ICAN chapter, and found a lovely midwifery practice that actually reviewed my report and discovered the first doctor had noted “failure to progress” as the reason for my cesarean. I had a lovely and successful hospital VBAC at 40 weeks and 5 days.

My husband and I had three lovely boys but we decided to give it one more shot to get a baby girl, and if it ended up being another boy we would know what God was trying to tell us. Seventeen months after the birth of our third, and just one week after I stopped nursing him, we were pregnant. I knew the day I took the test it was twins. We told all our friends and family it was twins. At the 8 week ultrasound I asked my husband if he was nervous to see how many babies there were and he said no. The moment the wand hit my belly, there they were and all I said was, “I knew it”. Unfortunately the midwives that had helped me achieve VBA2C with our third were leaving the practice to start their own birth center, one that could not deliver twins. So I left the practice at sixteen weeks and moved to another midwives’ office that came highly recommended by my previous midwives. The new office was fantastic, very supportive and my pregnancy progressed beautifully. At each appointment I was given encouragement that I was perfectly capable of birthing these babies vaginally, and My OB Dr G. went over scenarios with me to explain all the risks associated with twin pregnancies but all of my options as well. I felt very well informed. I hired a doula, and set up a birth photographer and waited for the babies to be ready.

I had an appointment November 28th and had an ultrasound and confirmed baby A (a girl!) was head down while baby B (little brother!) was transverse. I was 35 weeks and 2 days pregnant. As previously discussed with Dr. G and all my midwives this was an acceptable situation to proceed with a vaginal delivery. Dr. G would even have been comfortable with Baby A being in a breech position but he warned me the other doctors on call in the practice would be uncomfortable. That night around 7 pm I started getting the all too familiar cramps and I started timing them. They were bearable and consistently 10 minutes apart. I texted my doula and she told me to try and sleep but to call her if they became unbearable or if my water broke. All of the sudden I started second guessing myself because it seemed like the contractions had skipped from 10 minutes apart to 4 minutes apart. I began to wonder if these were contractions at all or if I was just having stomach cramps. We called our doula and told her we were headed to the hospital to determine if I was even in labor or not and we would text her with an update. This was at 10:00 pm. My dad came to pick up the baby (the big boys were already at my parents’ house) and we were off.

The thirty minute car ride was unbearable and I just wanted to lay down in the seat because everything else hurt so badly! We got checked into the hospital and into triage and I let the admitting nurse check me for dilation expecting to be told I was 1-3cm and I could go home or walk around. Nope. 8cm dilated already. My husband was frantic and just texted the doula “8cm” she told me later she read the text and shot out of bed like a cartoon character.

In triage I was greeted by one of the OBs from my midwife’s office from a different office location (they all share the on call schedule) Dr. K and she told me she needed to have an ultrasound completed to confirm the position of the babies but that if baby B was still transverse it was going to depend on the way his spine was facing, up towards my face or down towards his exit, if it was whichever direction she didn’t favor, she would recommend a C-section. Dr. G had never mentioned spinal positioning of Baby B so I had a feeling already a fight was coming. The ultrasound confirmed baby A was head down and very low and baby B was transverse, and I never got a clear answer on which way his spine was facing only that she recommended a cesarean and she left to give my husband and I time to think about it. My doula arrived shortly after and we told her the situation and the doula asked if we wanted to pray about it. I said I didn’t need to because my husband and I both knew what we wanted to do.

We called Dr. K back in and explained we would like to try a vaginal delivery and that Dr. G and midwives had told us during our pregnancy this was an option as long as baby A was head down. I also had mentioned I did not want an epidural and should I need a cesarean for baby B I was willing to risk having to go under general anesthesia. Dr. K dropped open her mouth and asked if I understood her medical opinion was that I have a cesarean. I said yes but Dr. G had assured me this situation did not warrant an automatic cesarean. She told me Dr. G was not the one on call, and that he should have explained I have to listen to all the providers. I assured her I was listening, but asked if that means I do not get to make my own informed decision? She called me crazy, said she did not understand me and told me not a lot of doctors would even allow a woman who had two previous cesareans even attempt to deliver vaginally. I said I understood this and that is why I sought out this practice and my doctor specifically. She then told me I was risking baby B’s life and if I would need a cesarean it could take her as long as 10 minutes to get him out depending on the amount of scar tissue I had and that if his cord were to prolapse baby would be without oxygen and he would likely die, or be permanently brain damaged or have cerebral palsy. I knew cord prolapse and shoulder first presentation were only some of the possible outcomes and not guaranteed so I again said I understood and I still wanted to move forward with a vaginal birth. She asked me to repeat what it was that I understood because she wanted to hear me tell her I was ok with the risk of baby B dying. I looked her square in the eyes mid contraction and said, “I’m ok with the risk of baby B dying”, knowing full well it was a small risk and she was just trying to be a bully. She threw the consent form at me that I needed to sign showing she wasn’t liable if baby B died and I looked around and said loudly, “does anyone have a pen?” Dr. K also informed me that after baby A was born she was likely going to have to internally manipulate baby B and I was not allowed to retract from her or move up the table to get away from her. I said I understood and she again asked me to explain what I understood and I said “I’m not getting the epidural, you’re going to put your arm in me and it’s going to hurt like a bitch”.

After Dr. K stormed off the nurse asked if I needed anything so I said “Yeah, can I have a new doctor?!” I was half joking but she said I absolutely could, and she went to get the doctor on call from my previous practice that delivered baby 3. Dr. S. very calmly explained the risks and where doctor K was coming from but she admitted it was also possible that baby would turn head down perfectly fine. She suggested however I get an epidural port placed in case I need an internal version or if I need a cesarean that way the baby wouldn’t have the anesthesia in his system. I agreed to have the port placed and Dr. S. let me know she was going to attend the birth alongside Dr. K which I found to be pleasing. Scrubs were administered, apparently we were going straight to the OR for delivery, no time for an L&D room!

I asked for some scrubs for my doula and birth photographer and was informed they were not permitted in the OR. My doula has attended three twin births at this hospital and was allowed in the OR for all of them so it’s not hospital policy so I asked them to confirm this with the charge nurse and it turns out it’s up to the anesthesiologist so they wheeled me in and the anesthesiologist said my doula could come in but she needed scrubs. Dr. K loudly interrupted and said my doula could absolutely not come in there were far too many people in the room. I argued that my OB and all the midwives had assured me my doula was perfectly welcome in the OR but I was again shut down with an impatient firm glare from Dr. K. It was clear she was trying her best to control my birth anyway she could. They shut the door on my lovely doula and photographer and started helping me onto the table.

The anesthesiologist placed the port and then asked about administering the medication and myself as well as Dr. S informed him I wanted no medication just the port placed. Dr. K loudly exclaimed of course I needed the medication administered why else would I be getting the port. I was pouting at this point and just furrowed my brows looked straight ahead and said fine. The anesthesiologist said quietly to me that no, he would not just administer the epidural if I didn’t want it, I was the one that got to make the decision. Bless this man. I told him Dr. K was being a very insistent bully so we agreed together that I received just a small dose of medication to make sure it was properly placed. I was checked for dilation and was told it was a good time to start pushing now, so when I had contractions I could start pushing. I pushed two or three times and I hear Dr. K ask for a hook for AROM and I shot my head up and said wait what are you doing?! She said “Oh, did you not want me to do that?” I said, “UH NO!” But a few more pushes later and Dr. S explained if I let them break my water she would likely come right out. So I conceded and pop went the water and out came the head. 3:13 am my beautiful baby Girl Brinley Harper was born. She didn’t cry right away but when she did it was loud and she was pink. 9/9 Apgar scores and she weighed a whopping 5lbs 7oz. Dad was not asked if he wanted to cut the cord (which he did).

As soon as baby A was delivered Dr. K was elbow deep in my business and grabbing baby B’s head while Dr. S pushed from the outside to get babies body to turn. I heard Dr. K call for the anesthesiologist because they needed to “section” me open but Dr. S asked for the ultrasound to determine position. After about fifteen minutes of scanning and waiting not at all patiently, baby B was finally in position head down and ready. No cesarean needed, but he was still very high up so I needed to push him down and I had to somehow do this without the assistance of gravity.

An hour and a half it took to push him down all the while Dr. K is trying to break my water. They call it “membranes of steel” I tell them all it was my high protein diet. A nurse to my left shifts on her feet and repositions herself and I remember turning to her and asking if she’s alright or if she needs a break so clearly I am full of jokes. I can see baby girl in the warmer to my right and she’s just quietly looking in my direction. I am tired of pushing and just want to hold my babies so I announce I am done pushing and want the cesarean. Everyone thinks I am not serious. Another contraction comes and I do not make a sound, no one realizes it is happening. I am so clever I think. Someone sees it and says “hey a contraction! Push!” “NO” I shout. At this point I am so parched I am dying for water. I asked them to wheel me out of the OR so I can have a drink then they can wheel me back so I don’t contaminate their precious sterile environment they are forcing me to deliver in. I’m brought a wash cloth and told I can wipe my mouth out, I am not pleased. Then someone tells me baby B is almost there, I call them liars. Dr. K finally is able to break his waters and I give a mighty push roaring with intensity and my sheer will to make my baby appear. Someone tells me not to make noises with my pushes, I shout “I WILL MAKE NOISES IF I WANT TO!” And out baby B comes. They place him on my belly and dad gets to cut the cord. Despite having an arm inside and two babies coming out, I am intact. Thank you tiny baby Jesus. Declan Oliver is born at 4:47 am weighing 5lbs 3oz. Dr. K walks over to my bedside takes a long look at me and says “good job” I take a long look at her and say “thanks for not cutting me open even though I asked you to.”

Both babies got to come home with us three days later. I hear now from my OB that I am an inspirational story for the practice, and that he is so proud of me for being able to stand my ground and make sure I was a part of the birthing process. And I’m proud of myself as well. I honestly hope maybe my success story will help give Dr. K more positive personal experiences to draw from when she’s delivering future babies and dishing out her personal statistics. And with that, my birthing career is complete and my family is whole!

Story submitted by Stephanie Shuman. 

Photographs by Hillarie Laver.

Surprise! It’s Twins!

Surprise! It’s Twins!

Lindi shares with us the story of the birth of her twins.

Surprise! It’s twins.

With my first child I was pushed into an induction. First child; I had no idea. I’m a go-with-the-flow gal when it comes to labor. I was told my baby was very big and if I waited I might not be able to have a vaginal birth. I was induced after my OB lied on the paperwork saying I had high blood pressure; I never have. I didn’t know who I could trust and I wanted to walk out of there right then; but I ended up with a healthy baby boy at 8.1lbs. It was a fairly easy induction and I thank God everything went well. That being said, I wanted an OB who I could trust.

We moved to Virginia, and I went on to have two more scheduled inductions after 40 weeks (my choice) that went very quickly and easily, as I was already 3-4cm. I found an amazing OB who respected my birth choices and whom I loved. I had epidurals with my first three children. By the third kiddo, my labor moved so quickly that the epidural never really worked.

When I found myself pregnant with my fourth, I didn’t want any pain meds. I had the most amazing birth in the hospital with my favorite OB. What a way to end having kids, I thought.

We were done. We were blessed with four amazing kiddos—two boys and two girls. On our way home from our beach vacation, I found myself nauseous. I waited another day and the same thing. I just knew. I didn’t want to take a test. I knew. All I could think about was that I had hit rock bottom after my fourth child while suffering from PPD. I never wanted to return there. I was terrified for myself and my marriage. But I took a test, because you just have to see that line; and I most definitely did ­­– I saw a line so dark that it scared me.

1

My hubby couldn’t make it to a dating ultrasound at around 11 weeks. It was then I found out we were expecting twins. I was terrified, scared, excited… you name it. I felt it all and was speechless. My husband didn’t believe me.

I struggled to accept the pregnancy for several months. We didn’t say a word to anyone. We were expecting Mono-di twins, which added in further possible complications. I knew of the birth I wanted, but knew it would be an uphill battle to get it.

My OB committed to being at my birth, which eased my worries immensely. I wanted a non-medicated, vaginal delivery, which is quite unheard of with multiples; but so doable. The only thing my OB insisted on was delivering in the OR and the baby presenting needed to be head-down, which was fine by me. I tend to tune everything out and forget where I am while laboring. My ONLY hurdle was coming to grips with a possible internal version without meds.

With monochorionic twins we didn’t want to wait too long between deliveries. So worst case, he would go in and get the other. While I prayed over my birth, my pregnancy went amazingly well. My girls were always within an ounce or two of each other and looked healthy as can be.

2

I expected to carry to at least 38 weeks, as I had gone over with all my other kids. I was shocked and scared when my water broke at around 12 one night at 36.3 weeks. Contractions started fairly quickly, and we went in at about 4 a.m. I was only at about a 4. Contractions felt different. They were strong, but they were not doing the job that they usually did with one baby. I think it had to do with the positioning of the both of them in there.

I was still on the fence about meds, but my OB said to me, “You’ve known exactly what you want from the beginning. Go with it.” I had to accept that if I didn’t get an epidural and they had to do an emergency section for baby 2, I would be quickly put under anesthesia and not awake for my second girl. It wasn’t something I wanted, but I wanted my birth more.

I did everything I could to get the contractions that were helping me progress. Sadly that was not on my ball, but on the toilet. Ugh. Labor went quickly, and at around 9:30 I knew I was in transition and got up on the bed. The nurse was called, and scrubs were thrown at my husband. It was baby time. Baby was coming fast and I had to get onto the OR table while trying to keep this babe inside.

The OR table was hard as a rock and about the width of my behind… it was insane. My doc barely had time to get his gloves on before Amelia Grace was born. She had an amazing apgar, and was 6.7lbs.

Baby 2 would not descend and we both knew she needed to come out – so in went my OB, up to his elbow. It was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. Unfortunately, while trying to turn her, my water broke and legs and arms went flying inside. The first thing he was able to grab were feet, so a breech birth it was going to be.

I have never pushed so hard in my life. I believe a baby is designed to come out head-first for a reason. Getting Estelle’s head out was very difficult. I was exhausted. I pulled all the muscles down the right side of my back from pushing. Finally she was out, and was doing well. Estelle Hope was born 4 minutes after her sister, and weighed 6.5lbs.

3

I had done it. I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing and terrifying all at the same time. If I had to do it again, I would.

My girls came home with me, and we were in awe. My kids adored them and we were so grateful for these two new blessings. Unfortunately, I hemorrhaged two weeks later at midnight, called 911 and ended up with an emergency hysterectomy after bleeding out during a routine D&C. It took many months to recover.

4

I am thankful for my life and have had the best infant experience out of all my children. We are ever so grateful for hospitals, emergency personnel, OBs, family and friends. It truly takes a village and I thank God every day for all He’s given me.

Elena and Tobias Come Home: A Twin Birth Story

Elena and Tobias Come Home: A Twin Birth Story

Jennifer McLennan shares with us the beautiful story of her twins’ birth in 2015. 

As I sit down to finally write into words the story of my twins’ birth, I am watching them sleep in their bed from my desk. They are about to turn one. They are strong and healthy and not a day goes by that I don’t send out a mental thank-you note to the universe for their vitality.  So, it’s obvious that this story has a happy ending, but to tell their story I need to backtrack to a not-so-happy time.

Between the birth of my son, Caio, in 2011, and the birth of the twins in 2015, I experienced two pregnancy losses; one at 13 weeks, and one at 7 weeks. The depth of grief I experienced completely blind-sided me. My world view and self perception were shaken, my confidence plummeted and my marriage was challenged. I felt guilty, lost and out of control. I turned inward for healing and really took the time to examine my reasons for wanting another child. I consulted with a trusted fertility specialist who suggested taking progesterone during early pregnancy if we wanted to try again. I did a lot of self work to arrive at a centered and healthy place, and as a family we decided to try one more time.

In March 2015 I took a home pregnancy test, and those two little pink lines showed up right away. Pregnancy after loss is such a cacophony of emotion: the excitement and joy is all mixed up with a lot of fear. I decided early on that I was going to focus on the things I could control, and do the best I could to let the rest go. I talked to that little being in my belly every day, and the thing I said most often was, “I love you already. Please stay if you can, but I understand if you have to go.” I created a small altar out of objects that were meaningful for me and tried to sit there for a few moments each day. As each week passed safely I added a new rock, shell or other item that felt right. We chose not to share this pregnancy with many people early on, but those in my intimate circle also gave me little things to place on the altar. This process was so empowering as it reminded me of all the support I had and helped me to stay centered through those passing early weeks. I tried to remember to just enjoy each moment with my baby, even if our time together was to be short. In keeping with the feeling of needing to stay very internal with this pregnancy, I did consult my midwife but chose to decline an early ultrasound.

The weeks went by; my altar grew, and so did my belly! A lot! By 10 weeks I was starting to get some raised eyebrows and sideways glances. When we did finally start to share the news, there was much whooping and cheering and hugging and people asking, “Wait…are you SURE about your dates??” By 16 weeks, our midwife did recommend that we go for an ultrasound as my uterus was measuring large (I was very sure of my dates!), to check for excess fluid or MULTIPLES. I have no family history of twins so I honestly didn’t think about the possibility very seriously.

As we entered the ultrasound office, my heart was in my throat. I was so excited to see this little one, and desperately wanted everything to be normal and healthy. The moment that his wand touched my belly, the technician said, “Oh look…twins!!!” I started to laugh and cry at the same time and my partner Julio was speechless, pale, and had to sit down. We got to see their beautiful spines and perfect limbs and Caio (then 3) asked again and again…two babies?? There are two babies in mamas belly?? I felt about the same level of incredulity.  When asked if we wanted to know the sexes we said, “Yes yes yes please” and discovered that I was carrying one boy and one girl. Walking out the office beaming and beaming, I couldn’t help but think: they came back. Two gone and two returned. An unforgettable day.

Knowing that this was now a multiple pregnancy, the focus of my meditations changed. I asked friends and family around the world to join me in holding the intention of full-term, healthy babies. I had to move through a lot of fear around the idea of having premature babies, and I was honestly terrified of a Caesarean section. Having had a beautiful experience with the home birth of my first son, I had assumed that a natural birth would be possible again this time around. The C-section rate with twins is extremely high here in Costa Rica where we live – around 98%. Working closely with my midwife (who had been with me for Cai’s birth), we decided against a home birth for the twins. After interviewing several OBs, we found a fantastic one who was willing to attend at a fully equipped birthing center, and to work with my midwife as co-caregivers. By this time I had come to a place where I was honestly fine with however these babies needed to come into the world. We made a plan for a respectful and loving caesarean, and a plan for a peaceful, natural birth. Whatever needed to happen for them to come earthside safely, that’s what we would do. I asked the babies to show us, when the time came, how they needed to be born. I learned so much from this process of birth plan re-creation. My belief in my right to choose a birth team of individuals with whom I felt safe, supported and listened to was reaffirmed, and my mind was opened to the potential beauty of Caesarean birth.

The pregnancy proceeded very normally. I followed the Brewers Diet for Twins (high protein, low sugar) hoping to avoid Gestational Diabetes. GD is common in multiple pregnancies, but never did develop in mine. I knew that position-wise the best chance for a natural birth would be to have both babies head-down. I added that request to our daily chats and meditations, and at each and every ultrasound, sure enough, both babies were head down. The weeks seemed to fly by, and pretty soon my belly was a party of bumpy knees and elbows. As huge as I was, I so so so loved feeling them dance around with each other. I truly felt my network of friends of family hold me and the babies up as we got closer and closer to full-term—36 weeks for twins.

We passed our full-term milestone and headed into week 37. My mum arrived from Canada, and it was such a relief to have her help. Then came week 38. I was overjoyed that they were now big, healthy babies, but things were starting to get really shockingly enormous and uncomfortable! At my appointment on Monday, November 30th, at 38 weeks 4 days, there was good news and bad news. Babies were in great shape, both still head-down with lots of water, and I was 1 cm dilated with a nice soft cervix! The bad news was that my blood pressure had started to climb. It was still in the safe zone, but needed to be watched closely. We had daily check-ups from then on, and every Braxton Hicks sent me into major excitement mode. I was so ready to meet these people already! Sleep was just not happening by that point, so at night I would get up and waddle around (and eat! I was starving ALL the time!) until I was tired enough to lie back down.

When we checked in with our OB on Friday (39 weeks 1 day) I was 3 cm dilated, well effaced but still no contractions! This was incredible for me as during my first child’s birth I had worked for about 10 hours of HARD labor to get to 3 cm. My blood pressure was still creeping up so it was time to make some choices. My OB explained that my body and the babies were all giving thumbs up signals for birth. He felt that for safety’s sake we would need to induce labor Saturday afternoon if things hadn’t started up on their own by then. I remember him saying that “It seems like those babies are listening to you so tell them it’s go time!”  He also offered me the option of a stretch and sweep in addition to the homeopathics we were already working with to give the babes one more nudge towards the exit. I accepted the stretch and sweep and while not exactly comfortable, it did let me practice breathing to stay relaxed.

We left the office around 2 p.m. and went straight home. I grabbed my iPod and climbed straight into a hammock. I know, I know… an almost-40-weeks-pregnant-with-twins mama does not just nimbly hop into hammock: it was a bit of a struggle, but so worth it! Through the whole pregnancy, hammock time had helped take pressure off my back and really relaxed me. After about half an hour of rocking and some gentle Braxton Hicks, I noticed that the contractions were getting more intense, becoming a tightening all across my lower belly. They also started to get closer together. I didn’t want to sound a premature alarm and I was really comfortable where I was, so I stayed rocking, listening to music and breathing deeply through each wave of sensation. Time started to warp so I’m not sure exactly how long I stayed like that, but soon the downward pressure in my pelvis was getting intense and I wanted to walk around. I ate a huge bowl of pineapple and told Julio that I thought things were happening but it would be a while. He left me on the patio dancing with my belly with instructions to call him the next time I felt a wave.

About 30 seconds later, I was yelling for him and he came rushing out with the phone ready to call the midwife! I told him I thought it would be a long while yet but to call her to let her know what was going on. I got on the phone with her and she asked to hear me breathe through a wave. I breathed, she listened, and promptly told us to meet her at the birthing center with no waiting around! I spent a few more waves outside watching the sunset (It was about 5:30 p.m. by now), sent a few messages to let our closest friends know what happening, then we kissed my mum and our son and were on our way to the center. It was about an 8-minute drive and I remember a song on the radio with the words “just breathe”. I breathed through the waves rolling through me and still didn’t believe we would be holding babes any time soon.

We arrived at the center just ahead of our OB, and got settled in as he gave me a check. The babies were doing great and I was 6cm dilated! I was SO delighted and amazed, and felt a new surge of excitement and energy lift me up. Our doc left to give us privacy and I walked around the room and danced and rocked to our birthing playlist, joking around with my partner. I set up a mini version of my home altar, and lit some birthday candles for the babies. About an hour later our midwife (who had been stuck in traffic) made it and could take over checks. She had brought her birthing stool with her and we got it ready in case that felt right for me when the time came. I was getting very pacey and she suggested some time in the shower. I took off my dress and getting under that hot water felt absolutely divine. I turned my face into a corner, pressed my forehead against the tile and got deep into my birthing rhythm. I rocked my hips, tapped one hand against the wall and vocalized with mmmm and ahhhhh. I can’t say why that felt right but it just did and I really got into the pleasure of this experience, the sensuality and the intimacy of birth. I felt tightening and loosening of my muscles and just tried to keep my mouth soft as I visualized baby A getting lower and lower.

When I felt ready for a change in location I climbed onto the bed and tried a few different positions. What felt right was reclining propped with pillows behind my back, knees bent and soles of feet touching with very open hips, arms at my sides with palms up. I could feel myself starting to resist and tighten as the waves went deeper and deeper and tried to let go, keeping my hands and mouth soft and open as sounds of aahhhhmmmm came through me. I remember dim soft lights, the candles glowing, my music playing. I remember my partner, my OB and my midwife in the room chatting quietly or just sitting respectfully. I remember getting a very strong image in my mind of each and every person in my circle of love holding hands and surrounding me and the babies, each sending me energy and taking a bit of my discomfort for me. I found out later that groups of my loved ones in several different parts of the world were in fact meditating for us at exactly this moment (goosebumps!); I was flooded with such a sense of safety and well-being, seeing all of those loving faces around me. I felt nauseous at one point but didn’t actually vomit (in hindsight, this was transition!). Soon after this I gave permission to be checked, and I was 9 cms at around 9 p.m.

I got up and held Julio’s shoulders as we danced away that last centimeter, and our midwife and OB made final preparations. Some fear was sliding around the edges of my consciousness now as it really hit me that TWO PEOPLE were about to come out of me and I wanted so badly for them to be safe. His confidence in me and the strength of our connection were what grounded me in that moment and sent me forward. As we danced I felt the rhythmic squeezing of my uterus move lower and lower and the waves were right on top of each other. I felt that my body was starting to push on its own and my partner helped me onto the birthing stool. As soon as I sat all the way down, one of the water bags broke and I felt such intense pressure in my vagina, I instantly bore down and pushed with all my might.

Until this point my vocalizations had been soft and low, and my energy had been calm, light and peaceful. The sounds that came out of my mouth now surprised everyone in the room, myself included. It was as if all the despair, the sorrow, the rage and the joy of the last two years came ripping up my throat and out of my mouth. I roared. I howled. It was a wild, raw, almost feral sound. I was so deep inside myself, reaching for the most profound strength I possessed. With my first push, my son’s head crowned. Two pushes later and he was born. I was panting and gasping and kept saying, “He’s here he’s here he’s here!!” My midwife had caught him and as she held him up he immediately opened his huge dark eyes and started looking around, taking it all in.  She handed him up to me and I held him to my heart for a moment before another massive contraction ripped through me, and I passed him to my partner. I could feel baby number 2 moving down very quickly and I remember locking eyes with my midwife and saying, “I can’t do this again!!” She stroked my leg and reassured me, and I remember glancing up at my partner holding our new son, and thinking “Okay, let’s do this. I want those babies in my arms!!”

I closed my eyes and found a reserve of energy and power that I hadn’t realized was in me and pushed my daughter out into the world, just 7 minutes after her brother. Knowing them now, their attitudes at birth fit so perfectly. My son is extremely active, inquisitive and in constant motion. Of course he was born eyes open, ready for adventure! My daughter is a very mellow, easygoing yet cautious person, and she does things when she’s good and ready, including landing earth-side. She was quite blue in her first moments and did not immediately breathe. After a few seconds of rubbing, our midwife leaned in to give a breath into her mouth. Just as panic began to rise in me, my little girl took a huge breath, turned pink and started squaking as she moved her limbs and took in the scene around her. They handed her to me, and I stared down at her, the reality sinking in that we had done it!! The three of us who had shared a body for 9 months had come safely apart. They were here.

I lost a lot of blood during the birth, and needed to get into a prone position to deliver the placentas. My partner and midwife took the babies to be weighed and measured as our OB helped me to birth both placentas, which were intact and, interestingly, fused together by their outer membranes. As exhausted as I was I remember noticing how fantastic those organs were, they really are beautiful. The babies came back just a few minutes later and my partner incredulously told me how much they weighed: our son 7 lbs 4 oz and our daughter 8 lbs 6 oz! Our midwife helped me to get both babies latched on, and they started nursing like old pros. With both babies finally in my arms I kept looking back and forth between them, so overwhelmed with love. Tears streamed down my face, completely overcome with gratitude. The names that we had ready fit them perfectly: Tobias (gift from god) and Elena (light bringer). They were born at 9:28 and 9:35 pm on December 4th, 2015.

We spent the night at the clinic, without much sleep. I couldn’t stop looking at my babies and marveling at their beauty and their perfection. I counted their fingers and toes over and over again. We had breakfast together and a checkup with our OB in the morning. All was well and we left the clinic with many hugs and well wishes from the staff, so looking forward to introducing our babes to their big brother, their Nana and their whole new tribe of loved ones.

Soon we will light those birthday candles again and celebrate the first year of life of these two incredible little people. The experience of carrying and birthing these children has irreversibly changed me. I am more resilient that I ever imagined, more powerful than my mind can understand. I am reminded daily to trust my journey, to let go of my expectations of how things should be, and to simply ride the waves of energy that move through us and around us, always. I am so very honored to be their mother.

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