Traumatic First Birth Followed by an Empowered Surrogacy Birth of Twins

Birth of My Daughter

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had an insatiable appetite for natural birthing information.  I thought that seeing a CNM for prenatal care would balance out my ex-husband’s request that I birth in the hospital.  I thought wrong!

I went into labor at 36 weeks and 6 days exactly, and a few hours later we were off to the hospital. I was checked and found to be 3cm and about 70% effaced, but there was no change after an hour so I was sent home. My contractions spaced out in the hospital, but amped back up as soon as we were home again. This went on for 2 days with checks in the hospital, and being sent back home for no change. I knew something wasn’t right with her positioning due to the intense back labor and tried every trick in the book to get her to shift. I was told that she probably wasn’t posterior like I thought, that I had a low tolerance for pain, and that I wasn’t in labor because I didn’t fit the textbook definition.

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.

In the morning I was 6cm and completely effaced. Relief washed over me until the day nurse kept mentioning an epidural which I finally gave into. As soon as it was in place, she said the Pitocin was on its way up.  When I refused it, I was told they didn’t want me to suffer any longer, and that once they placed the order for it they couldn’t take it back so I had to have it. My brain to mouth connection seemed to be severed as my screaming thoughts came out as a defeated “OK”.

My daughter was born 2 hours later, after 30 minutes of pushing on August 31, 2008 at 37 weeks and 2 days. She was 6lbs 11oz, 20 ¼” tall, and not only posterior, but came out with her brow presenting! The CNM told me if they would have known they would have sectioned me for sure and that it was probably something wrong with my pelvis; that all of my babies would be malpositioned.  I was thankful to have my daughter, but felt like a broken woman. I swore I would never step foot in a hospital to give birth ever again.

Path to Surrogacy

Surrogacy had always been something I was interested in, and after my daughter’s birth that interest bloomed into a deep desire to help.  I found a couple through mutual friends and offered to carry for them.  We started our journey after my daughter self-weaned at just shy of 3 years old, and our first IVF attempt was successful in August. I was pregnant with twins!

I was instantly nervous about having to not only birth in a hospital again, but have the odds of having them vaginally stacked against me. I threw myself into twin birth research. I religiously did yoga and exercises from the spinning babies website to insure good positioning. Everything was perfect the entire pregnancy. I felt great, and more importantly, confident in myself.

I started feeling crampy at a couple days shy of 35 weeks. It was more of a nagging discomfort at the peak of each contraction, but I knew by their regularity what they were. Since the intended parents lived 5 hours away, I decided I’d rather be safe than sorry since we would need to travel to the hospital 45 minutes away with a NICU being less than 36 weeks pregnant.

I was found to be 4cm and completely effaced with a bulging bag. The local hospital wanted to send me to the other hospital via ambulance slightly inverted with a magnesium drip.  I slept the whole way there, and only had a few contractions en route. I didn’t even open my eyes during them, but would still moan and tilt my hips as I remained curled up on my side.

When we got there I was 8cm with baby A’s bag still bulging. The OB and nurses there instantly wanted to give me an epidural and tried to discuss a C-section with me. I suggested an undosed epidural catheter so it was there in the case of an emergency after they kept pushing one.

The parents were still 3 hours away and I started to get nervous they wouldn’t make it. I was on the phone with them, talking to nurses, and signing forms between contractions. I would close my eyes and drift away during them, but my body was relaxed and I felt fully in control, visualizing having the parents be there to hear their babies’ first cries.

I had to fight for them to unhook me from the wires and monitors so I could do what I my body needed without being restrained.  I felt powerful and seemed to travel outside of myself with each contraction. It was amazing, spiritual, and I loved it! Contractions stayed spaced about 3 minutes apart and I was very present until I got a text that the parents were parking and on their way up.

The next contraction hit me and dropped me into a deep squat. They came into the room to say hello and another one hit me. I wanted everyone to leave me alone and I wanted to rip off the annoying gown. As the intensity built up I found myself grunting and bearing down as I bounced in my deep squat while pushing my forehead into the bed. I kept telling myself “the contractions are not stronger than you because they ARE you” which reminded me to relax and go with it.

When it finally tapered off, I told the nurse it was go time since we needed to move to the OR just in case. I knelt on all fours rocking and moaning while they pushed the bed there. I laughed when they told me to lie down and put my feet in the stirrups; there was NO WAY I was laying down! They adjusted the table so I could be sitting completely upright and despite my body’s protests against putting any weight on my tailbone, I acquiesced.

Baby A’s water broke and I roared her into the world in a few quick pushes. I felt my hips shifting as she crowned, still kicking within me. Her cord was cut and she was carried over to the warming station in an adjoining room where her parents were waiting, wailing all the way. My body slumped back as relief washed over me until I realized there was another baby to push out! I had about a 7 minute break between contractions, but the one that started baby B’s decent into my pelvis also broke his water and sent him barreling through my pelvis. Two pushes later he slid out and was brought to a warming station near me where his parents met him for the first time not long after.

Baby A was 5lbs 10oz and 17 ¾” long. Baby B was 5lbs9oz and 17 ¾” long. Both babies came out in a perfectly tucked chin anterior position, as well! Baby A was home on day 3, and baby B went him 5 days after his sister. Not too shabby for babies born at 34 weeks and 5 days!

Their birth renewed my trust in my body. That was 2 ½ months ago and I still feel empowered by it!

Pictures: The first is my daughter just minutes old. The second is her a couple months ago at almost 4 years old! And lastly is me, 3 days before the twins were born. I wish I could share pictures of their sweet faces, but the parents have requested I not for the sake of their privacy.


  • jessica lynn

    Here I sit in tear and so excited that you got to birth the twins the way you wanted to. My drs tried to force me into a c-section because my first daughter was so big. I used my voice and refused and I am so thankful I did.

    I wish more women would find their voice when it comes to giving birth. It truly does feel empowering:)

  • Heaven

    This story brought tears to my eyes. Your strength and faith in your body are absolutely inspiring! My first birth was also traumatic, much in the way yours was (no pitocin but the almost forced epidural and I was given an episiotomy without even being warned first, let alone asked so I could give consent. I only found out when my mother said “oh he’s stitching your episiotomy now… I’ve counted at least 12 stitches.” There’s more but I don’t want to turn my comment into more of a novel than it is already going to be). My second was MUCH better but still in a hospital and, as baby came 5 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, my CNM did not arrive until about 15 minutes after baby did. As I pretty much did everything on my own it was a much more empowering experience but there are a couple of things I let happen that if I had known how to handle it prior to birthing I would have spoken out against more than I did. I’ve known since minutes after baby 2 was born that baby 3 and any others will be born at home if there is anything I can do about it. Your story just makes me feel even more confident that we should trust our bodies and I have complete faith that I can do it at home in the future. Thank you for sharing your story and further strengthening my faith in the female body, in my own body, to do what it was made to do 🙂

  • Ann

    So cool!! I’m a surrogate and almost 4 months along…I can’t wait to get them this baby! I’ve wanted to do this since my second was born (he’s 5 now) and we found the perfect baby parents about a year ago. I think growing someone else’s baby is more empowering than making your own…good for you!

    • Courtney

      Ann- it was like time stood still during those surreal moments while I was privileged enough to watch a couple become a family- and know I played such a huge role in that transformation!!!
      I cannot WAIT to do another journey- enjoy yours!

  • Heather

    My first two deliveries almost mirror your first. Scared into an epidural, traumatic, all the things you described. Finally I had my daughter naturally and it was everything I hoped it would be. I always say her birth made up for the birth of my sons. Now I am 36 weeks pregnant with surrogate twin girls. Both stayed head down until last week when Baby B turned breech. Now the doctor wants me to schedule a C-section and if (when) I make it to 38 weeks the doctor wants me induced if baby B cooperates and turns back around. Even though I have found absolutely NO research that says twins must be delivered by 38 weeks. I had two of my kids go to the 42 weeks mark. I have never been induced and don’t want to be. I am finding it harder and harder to fight for what I want in the delivery room. Your story gave me courage to stand up for what I want. Thank you for sharing!!

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