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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Infertility, Twins, and Family {I Am Strong}

Infertility, Twins, and Family {I Am Strong}

I am strong because I went through 4 years of infertility, the last 2 of those years were filled with fertility treatments.

I am strong because on one of my first fertility treatments I saw the much anticipated faint pink line. I am strong because on the same day that I saw and photographed this line I lost my hope for that baby but kept fighting.

I am strong because on my last fertility treatment (IVF) I had 15 minutes to make a choice on the size of my potential family.

I am strong because my bravery to choose to have two embryos put back paid off and I became pregnant with twins.

I am strong because at our 20 week anomaly scan it was thought that our baby girl had a problem with her heart. I am strong because we had to wait a week to find out that she didn’t.

I am strong because at 32 weeks and 2 days pregnant I had a bleed which resulted in a two night stay in hospital so I could have steroid injections as it was thought they wouldn’t stay in much longer.

I am strong because at 33 weeks and 2 days my waters went and I began contracting.

I am strong because I contracted for 31 hours before I was ready to push.

I am strong because I pushed for 3 hours 16 minutes before my son arrived. He weighed 4lbs 5oz. I am strong because I didn’t hear him cry or see him or cuddle him. I am strong because when I was able to kiss his head as he was taken to scbu I didn’t breakdown at the sight of my son with a breathing tube in.

I am strong because I lay for an hour with midwives holding my daughter in position from the outside so she didn’t turn from head down to breech. I am strong because after the hour I was rushed to theatre to have a c-section. I had been talked out of having a section at the start of my labour as I was afraid of giving birth to one baby and then having a section for the second. I am strong because I was given one last try to push my daughter out before they preformed the c section and I was able to get her moving. I am strong because 2 hours and 6 minutes after my son was born my daughter was born using forceps after getting stuck on the last bend. She came out screaming and weighed 4lbs 3oz.

I am strong because I didn’t get to cuddle my daughter either. I was able to give her a quick kiss before she too was taken to scbu.

I am strong because their placentas became stuck when my uterus grew tired and they had to be manually extracted. I am strong because that procedure was hands down more painful than birthing twins.

I am strong because I lost 2 litres of blood during my labour and needed 3 blood transfusions to bring it up to a level that the doctors still weren’t overly happy with.

I am strong because at 28 hours old it was discovered my daughter had been born without a bottom hole and would need to be moved to a hospital 100 miles away for an operation.

I am strong because at two days old my daughter and my husband went to Bristol hospital while I had to stay with my son in our local hospital due to a lack of space for us and the fact I was still too poorly to be discharged.

I am strong because my daughter had an operation at 4 days old and now less than 4lbs to give her a life saving colostomy. I was not there for her.

twins birth without fear

I am strong because it took a week to get space for my son and I to go to the same hospital as my daughter. I am strong because being in Bristol hospital was traumatising for me and I am still unable to visit without having panic attacks.

I am strong because I learnt how to care for my daughter and her colostomy despite being terrified of it.

I am strong because I had to be for my daughter and her subsequent 2 operations, one of which was to reverse her colostomy.

I am strong because my son had to wear a helmet at 8 months to help fix his severe plagiocephaly. We all took this in our stride.

I am strong because even after nearly 3 years I have to regularly explain to people about my daughters condition and how she will never be “all better”.

I am strong because I have battled with post natal depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

I am strong because my family needs me to be.

I am strong because my children and my amazing husband help me stay strong.


i am strong

Journey to a Peaceful Planned C-section {Twin Girls}

Journey to a Peaceful Planned C-section {Twin Girls}

My story begins when I was just a child. Ever since I can remember, the one thing I wanted to be was a mother. Sure, I had other dreams and aspirations as well – but, while my idea of the perfect career and life was constantly changing, my goal of becoming a mother never once faltered or waned. That dream, however, would come true too soon when I became pregnant at the age of nineteen by a man I’d only been dating for a month. It was bad timing, and there were a lot of struggles – but in my heart I was overwhelmed with happiness. I was growing life! What could possibly be better than that? But, as time wore on, my happiness began to be whittled away by the stress and terror of being a young mom in a new relationship. I spent the majority of my pregnancy alone while my partner worked out of town. I had no vehicle, no friends – I didn’t even have cable TV or the internet to help me pass the time. I was constantly lonely and afraid. And, during the times that my partner was at home, he was cold and aloof – dealing with the stress of the pregnancy in the only way he knew how.

I became bitter; angry. I’d always suffered from anxiety and depression, but now it was out of control. I went days without getting out of bed. I had always wanted to have a baby, but my fairy tale was turning into a nightmare. I felt useless, unwanted, ugly, and broken. Weren’t pregnant women supposed to feel gorgeous and glowing? Weren’t their partners supposed to adore them, support them, and tell them how amazing they were? I felt cheated out of something I had looked forward to since childhood. I was terrified that my child would become tainted in my womb, malformed because of all the fear and hate that I held in my heart.

And then there was the traumatic birth. The only research I had done while I was pregnant included reading a book that my mother gave me and watching reruns of “A Baby Story” on TLC. I had no idea what birth really was – I truly believed that the doctor and nurses had my best interest in mind and would take good care of me. I went into “preterm labor” three times the month before my due date – each time my labor was stopped and I was sent home after one night’s stay in the hospital. Looking back, I am certain that my child and my body knew that we were ready to deliver at that time.

May 14, 2006 – Mother’s Day. My water broke as I was getting ready to go to bed for the night. We immediately went to the hospital, and I was given pitocin to “help things along.” I wasn’t contracting at all, and still didn’t even after they began the pitocin. I slept that night, with my partner and my mom taking shifts watching me. In the morning I was beginning to have some contractions, but nothing regular or painful. Months after my birth, we found out that the hospital had received a “faulty” batch of pitocin at the time of my delivery, so it’s definitely possible that I was given bad drugs.

Later on, sometime early afternoon, my contractions finally started to kick in – but they were far from normal. I would have four or five contractions back to back, and then I would have ten or fifteen minutes of nothing in between. It only took a few hours of this before I became exhausted. I’d previously requested to not have an epidural – but after some “convincing” from the nurses, I finally agreed to have one put in. By the time the anesthesiologist made it to my room, however, I was past the point of being able to have one. At that point, in the middle of a cluster of contractions, the nurses convinced me it’d be best if they gave me a dose of stadol. I don’t remember agreeing, but I must have – because the next thing I knew I was woozy and out of it and I didn’t even know my own name. The next few hours were a blurry haze. I remember being told to push. I remember pushing, and being yelled at to push harder, and crying, and being yelled at, and feeling like I wasn’t good enough or strong enough to have this baby. At one point I looked over at my partner and my mom and begged them to make it stop. Shortly after, consent forms for a C-section were being shoved in my face. I signed them. I just wanted it to be over.

The C-section was probably very normal, as far as sections go. I was terrified of being cut open, but after the spinal took the pain away I was in such a state of relieved bliss (part of this was probably the drugs) that I didn’t mind. My partner stayed by my head while our baby was being delivered – a baby that was so stuck in my pelvis that the doctor was out of breath after tugging and yanking and pushing him out. I remember the doctor saying, “Well, no wonder. This baby is way too big; he never would have come naturally.”

It was late at night, and by the time I went into recovery most of the hospital was shut down. So I lay in a bed, by myself, in near darkness (apparently they didn’t want to turn on more lights than they had to), for over an hour. I remember hearing the doctors and nurses complain about having to come in at 7pm on a Monday to perform an emergency section. I felt like a failure and inconvenience. I ended up shaking more than the nurses were comfortable with, so they gave me a drug to help, which also meant I had to wait longer to see my baby. By the time I got out of recovery, the nurses had convinced my partner and mom that they should go against my wishes to exclusively breastfeed my baby because I was “taking too long to recover” and my baby would “starve” if they didn’t give him formula.

But then I saw my son, and got to hold him for the first time, and suddenly everything else didn’t seem so bad. I was elated and giddy with happiness – I had a son! He was perfect and gorgeous and the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Unfortunately, that feeling of peace and happiness was extremely short lived.

When my mom and partner left for the night, I was left alone with a newborn who didn’t want to latch on because he’d already experienced the easiness of eating from a bottle. He cried, I cried, and we continued on this way for nine months. He was an extremely colicky baby, and I had no idea how to handle it. I remember staring at him and feeling like the worst mother on the face of the planet – because I didn’t know how to make my son stop screaming. He screamed nearly every second he was awake, and every time he screamed I cried. That, along with the PPD that kicked in about a week after he was born, made my life as a new mom worse than any hell I could possibly imagine. I hated myself. I couldn’t bond with my son – and I hated myself even more because of it. And so began my three year stretch of just barely scraping by on a day to day basis.

When my son was three, I made the hard choice to leave my boyfriend and start a new life on my own. I didn’t have a job, a place to stay, and no money – but I knew in my heart that I needed a fresh start. I built myself up from nothing and, with the help of my parents; I succeeded in securing a decent life for me and my son. It wasn’t ideal – but it worked for us. I finally faced my issues with depression and anxiety, and for the first time in forever I felt like I was regaining some control over my life.

Fast forward a couple years – a couple jobs, a couple boyfriends, and a couple stressful situations later. I’d grown remarkably as a person, as a woman, and as a mother. I felt in control and happy. I had a great job and a new boyfriend that I adored. I wasn’t on birth control because my previous partner had a vasectomy, and I was looking into getting an IUD. And then I found out I was pregnant.

Fear. Panic. Denial. Was this really happening to me again? How could I be so reckless and stupid? I was terrified of going through another traumatic pregnancy and birth. Luckily, my boyfriend turned out to be an amazing source of support – he showered me with love and affection from the moment the test came up positive, and every time I panicked and tried to push him away he would stand strong and stay by my side. But I was still scared of everything to come – what if I had another child that I couldn’t bond with? What if I lost everything I’d worked so hard to achieve? I couldn’t stand the thought of going through what I went through with my son, even if everything did turn out okay in the end.

But then, the most amazing thing happened. When I was ten weeks along, I went in with a bit of spotting and had a precautionary ultrasound. What we found was a completely healthy TWIN pregnancy. I was having two babies! I don’t know why, but as soon as I saw my two little angels on that ultrasound screen, everything suddenly clicked into place. I was at peace with myself and this pregnancy. A couple months later we found out that we were having girls, and the joy grew even more. I was having daughters. I felt like everything was finally falling into place. This is what I was MEANT to do – this was the life I was meant to have.

But, slowly, a new type of fear kicked in. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be terrifying for a pregnant woman – especially a woman with a “high risk” pregnancy. I read horror stories about TTTS and Vanishing Twin Syndrome. I’d never worried about my son while I was pregnant with him. I didn’t realize how many things could go wrong. So, while I was finally enjoying a joyful pregnancy with a wonderfully supportive partner, I was constantly terrified of something horrible happening. When we found out that our twins were sharing a placenta, the fear got worse. And when I showed signs of my cervix shortening and was put on bed rest at home, the panic truly reached its peak. I spent every waking moment terrified that my water would break and my babies would die, that something beyond my control would come and take my precious girls away.

When I was put on bed rest, a friend of mine who was training to be a doula sent me some information about the effects of bed rest on pregnant mothers. I began to realize that women had been birthing babies since the beginning of time, and that a mother has the ability to know her own body better than any doctor ever could. I did more research – and that’s when I found your blog.

I spent days going through your site. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of babies and birth. It all made so much sense. I read countless stories about beautiful, brave mothers who listened to their own bodies and had wonderful, peaceful births. The new awareness that dawned on me changed me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. For the first time I began to realize how much damage my first pregnancy and birth had done. I began to understand the resentment and guilt that I still carried from it. I began to acknowledge the fear and pain I’d been holding onto since then. I realized that I had spent the last seven years feeling like a failure as a mother, and I saw how that negativity had infected every aspect of my life. And, even more remarkably, I began to forgive and let go. I cried for days. Afterward, I felt like a new person. I felt strong, capable, and informed. I felt peace. I felt joy. I felt the beauty of the lives growing inside of me, and for the first time in my life I felt capable of being the mother my son and girls deserved.

And that’s how I ended up here, 30w2d along with my Mo/Di girls, and confident in my own strength as a woman and a mother. I’ll be having a repeat C-section this pregnancy – the hospital here doesn’t even consider VBAC and pushes for sections with every case of twins. But I’m at peace with it, and I don’t feel forced or taken advantage of in any way. I feel informed, capable, and like I’m choosing the option that’s best for me and my babies – not like I’m a passenger along on a ride that I can’t control. So, even though I’ll never get the dream birth that I’ve always wanted, I know in my heart that the resentment and guilt I felt with my first C-section won’t be an issue this time around. I feel beautiful, strong, and calm. And I feel immensely grateful to you and the wonderful women of BWF for opening my eyes and sparking my healing process. Thank you, you beautiful souls.

The first picture is of me and my son, who is now seven. The next three are me and my girls at fourteen weeks, twenty-eight weeks, and thirty weeks. Hopefully in a couple months I’ll have more pictures and a second, happier birth story to share.



A Journey to Conception {IVF, Twins, and a Naturally-Minded OB and Midwife Group}

A Journey to Conception {IVF, Twins, and a Naturally-Minded OB and Midwife Group}

When we decided to get married, we knew we wanted to wait a few years to begin having children.  Doug didn’t want to rush into things, and I wanted to accomplish a few goals and take time to enjoy life as a family of two.

We traveled to Germany, I completed my Masters Degree in Special Education, we hiked mountains with elevation over 14,000 feet, enjoyed weekends in the mountains, bought a house, celebrated with many friends as they began having children, I engulfed myself in teaching, my husband faced many ups and downs in his job, we taught ski lessons at National Sports Center for the Disabled, and generally lived an exciting and spontaneous lifestyle.

Meanwhile, around 2007, we decided it was time to begin trying to get pregnant.  After a year of trying, I started to become discouraged and wondered if it was time to see a fertility specialist.  Almost three years later, we still had not become pregnant and finally sought help.

We contacted the local fertility clinic that has a reputation as a world leader.  We were reluctant, but hopeful.  When we first walked into the clinic, I had a grateful attitude towards the people inside those doors who were going to help bring us closer to our goal of having children. The clinic ran some tests, and after the first of many very long waits, called us in to deliver our results.

Unfortunately, the office would not give us any information to help us prepare for our appointment. We walked blindly into the office, where the doctor delivered a devastating blow.  He informed us that we would not likely be able to have children without a $25,000 procedure called in vitro fertilization.  He made a crude joke about not needing to worry about unplanned pregnancy anymore.  We walked out of his office devastated.  Feeling completely lost, hopeless, sad, alone, and frustrated, we went home to gather our thoughts.

Ultimately, we had three choices: 1) Have no children 2) Pay $25,000 for an adoption or 3) Spend $25,000 for IVF which is known to have a 30-50% chance of working.  I made the executive decision that we would be having children, so we knew we were a long way away from having the money we would need, and that we had some difficult decisions to make.  Doug still wasn’t sold on adoption, and I really wanted to experience pregnancy, but IVF was a real financial risk. We were nervous about the possibility of a failed attempt.  So many thoughts flooded into our minds.  “What if this doesn’t work?”  “If we try IVF and it fails, we most likely won’t be able to afford another round of IVF or adoption.” “It is a very real possibility that we won’t ever reach our dreams of having children.”  We were in a very dark place in our lives.

We decided the next step was to find a new doctor for a second opinion.  His diagnosis was the same, and he agreed that IVF was most likely the only way we had a chance of becoming pregnant.  Instead of making sex jokes, his comment was ‘I’m confident this will work for you and I’m saving a place on my wall for a photo of your baby.’”

This was exactly what we needed to hear. The idea of having kids became a real possibility again.

After the appointment with the second doctor, Doug and I went to an adoption class, and he decided that he still wasn’t ready for adoption.  So, without much discussion, we decided to start saving for IVF. I had been desperately awaiting pregnancy for quite a long time.  I didn’t know how I would possibly wait any longer, but didn’t have a choice.  We put together a budget, limited our spending, and off we went. We would need to save a lot of money before beginning treatment.

It seemed that the decision was meant to be, as money seemed to just fall into our laps over the next months.  Doug received a nice bonus at work, I was able to have a payroll error corrected, and tax refunds were in our favor.

Waiting was agonizing, so to pass the time, I decided to tackle another life goal: running a marathon.  I began training in December 2010, with a goal of running the LA Marathon in March.

During the training and saving period, we kept in contact with the Reproductive Medicine office.  I had so many questions, and the nurse was so easy to reach and extremely helpful.  She was also a runner, so she also had running advice and tips for me through the training process.  Everything about working with the new doctor’s office was great.  The relationship with the nurse really helped through this difficult time.

I ran and completed the marathon in late March 2010. One month later, we began the IVF process.

Physically, the process wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t as bad as we feared.  Emotionally, however, it was far harder than we anticipated.  It seemed that every time we turned around, there was another roadblock that raised fear, doubt, and sadness.  In the beginning, I was actually excited to get started with the shots, because that meant being one step closer to the dream.

I should give a quick explanation of the IVF process here for anyone who doesn’t know how it works.  It’s an amazing process, just one that I wish no one ever had to endure.  Initially, you are put on birth control (cruel, right?!) and begin giving yourself shots to shut down your body’s natural ovulation process.  Next, you begin another shot to ramp up the body’s production of follicles (inside each is an egg). In a typical pregnancy, the body only releases one mature egg (from one follicle).  In IVF, the goal is to have the body produce just under 20 mature follicles. Throughout this phase of IVF, you go into the doctor’s office about every other day for a blood test and trans-vaginal ultrasound. The doctors use the numbers from the blood test and the information from the ultrasound to determine whether to change the medication dosage.  Once enough of the follicles reach maturity, you give yourself another shot that makes your body prepare to ovulate all the mature eggs.  Just before the eggs would naturally be released, they use what I have dubbed the “giant-ass needle” to retrieve the eggs from your ovaries.  This needle goes through your vagina and straight up into the ovaries.  Meanwhile, a sperm sample is collected, or prepared in the event of sperm donation.  Depending on the cause of the infertility, the eggs and sperm are either placed in a “dish” to find one another, or in some cases, the sperm are inserted into the eggs.  The embryos are then turned over to an embryologist for observation. Typically, most, but not all of the eggs retrieved will be fertilized. Each day, the embryologist will call to give an update of how many are still alive and dividing.  It is typical for several to stop dividing each day.  This goes on for 3-5 days.  The longer the better, but if the embryos are not doing well outside the body, they will move ahead at day 3.

The final process is the transfer of usually one to three embryos into the woman’s uterus.  The woman gives herself another round of shots to prepare her body for pregnancy.  Again, depending on how well the embryos are doing, the transfer will happen on day three or five after the retrieval.  They choose the best embryo(s) to transfer.    They use a tiny flexible tube and ultrasound to place the tiny embryos into the uterus.  If there are any embryos still alive and dividing the following day, they will be frozen and stored and can then be used for another attempt later on.  After the transfer, you just wait…and wait…and wait for a pregnancy test that happens two weeks post-transfer.

So, with that knowledge, I will return you to my story.

Throughout the process, I had to go to the doctor several times for blood tests to determine the effectiveness of the medication.  The first major roadblock came when the results revealed that my body wasn’t responding as quickly as they hoped to the dose, and the round might need to be cancelled.  When you have come so far and gone through so much just to get to this point, the news is devastating, not to mention my hormones were all sky high from the medications.

With an adjustment in medication, things began to respond, and we were back on track, and just a few days behind schedule.  This is not a big deal, but in the moment, and after waiting so long, it was heartbreaking. We continued as planned, and eventually came time for retrieval.  This went great, and we had a large number of eggs to work with.  Even better news was that the next day, all but one was alive and beginning to divide.  The next two days saw a positive report each day.  Only two more stopped dividing by day 4.  On day 5, we went in for the big transfer.  We had decided to transfer 2 embryos, no matter what.  Although the doctors were very clear that the goal was to have only one baby, our goal was to have twins. As I was being prepared for the procedure, the embryologist came in and said, “I have good news and bad news.”  We couldn’t imagine what the bad news could be.  Just yesterday they assured us we would easily have 2 embryos to transfer and probably 6-7 to freeze.  “The good news is you have one perfect embryo,” said the embryologist.  “The bad news is that there is only one other even worth transferring.  The rest aren’t doing well.”

We had really mixed emotions.  We were excited to finally have arrived at this moment.  We were devastated, yet again, that there would not be any left to freeze.  All along, we kept reassuring ourselves that it would be OK if the first round didn’t take, as long as we had several left to freeze.  Our safety net was ripped right out from under us, but without anything we could do about it, we carried on.  Through the entire journey we just kept carrying on.  They sent us home with advice to rest and take it a little bit easy over the next two weeks – that and return on May 5, 2011 for our pregnancy test.

The next two weeks went surprisingly fast, and of course had both ups and downs.  Most of the time, I didn’t feel a thing, but one day I had two strong twinges in my abdomen.   This was extremely exciting, as it was possible that I was feeling the embryos attach to the uterine wall.  Several days later, I had a migraine which sent me spiraling into a deep dark despair.  See, each month for three years, having a migraine was a sign that I was not pregnant.  A migraine always proceeded my period by three days. By having this migraine, I was certain that she was not pregnant.  Three days later, May 5th arrived.

Knowing how anxious we would be waiting for the pregnancy test results, we had taken the day off work to await the news. We had been told we would get the results by the end of the business day, so we were surprised to get a call from our nurse at 9 a.m.  I, afraid to hear the news, made small talk and asked her how she was doing.  Politely, she replied that she was doing well, and asked me how I was doing.  I replied, “I don’t know, you tell me.”

On the other end of the receiver, I heard her voice deliver the incredible news: “Well, you’re pregnant!”

Despite the odds, we were pregnant!!

 I just broke down.  Doug was crying, too. I can’t describe how I felt.  I cried and cried tears of joy

Although Colleen, our nurse, was ready with information to prepare us for pregnancy, we were unable to comprehend anything more.  I asked her to call back in a little while once I had calmed down.

jamie's IVF story

The moment we heard Colleen deliver the news will go down as one of the happiest moments of our lives.  From that day on, the process got better and better.  Four weeks later we found out we were having twins! Eight weeks after that we found out we were having a boy and a girl.  Each appointment after that we were able to see that they were healthy and very active.  After a long road with so many roadblocks, detours, pitfalls, and devastations, it was amazing have smooth sailing and positive news the rest of the journey.  The pregnancy was difficult for me, but the babies did great the entire time.

We were working with a combination of midwives and an OB, since we were having twins.  We had planned to birth our baby at an independent birthing center with only a midwife, but that was not possible once we found out we were having twins.  The nice thing about working with an OB who routinely works with midwives is that he is open to a more natural approach.  At 38 weeks, when they would typically induce twins, our babies still had not arrived.  He allowed us to wait another week.  Also, despite having a marginal placenta previa, he was willing to let me attempt a vaginal delivery. By the time we were almost to 39 weeks, it became clear that it was no longer in my or the babies best interest to continue the pregnancy.  Our goal was to slowly induce, but ended up that didn’t work.  We had to start with a cervical ripener, which did nothing in terms of kick-starting labor.  As my pre-eclampsia set in, we veered farther from my birth plan by starting Pitocin.  Ultimately I ended up having an emergency c-section because of bleeding from the previa.

All in all, my babies arrived, and that is all that mattered in the end.  I was sad about loosing my dream birth, and I had to grieve it.  Ultimately, however, I believe we only did interventions that were medically necessary, and am happy with the outcome.  My long-shot dream had come true.  We had not only one baby, but two!

The process of IVF and infertility in general is excruciating.  My lasting wish is that people understand that.  I want the general public to understand that by asking if twins are “natural” they are asking a deeply personal question that often brings up trauma and grief.  Thanks for taking the time to understand this process and my journey.

IVF story

Birthing My Beautiful Twin Girls {Premature Cesarean Birth}

Birthing My Beautiful Twin Girls {Premature Cesarean Birth}

My name is Katherine and this is my story of birthing my beautiful twin girls.

I was only 18 a month before I fell pregnant with them. From 2 weeks on I was horrendously sick, right up until I was roughly 24 weeks.

When I was 28 weeks pregnant with them, I was diagnosed with Cholostasis. They put me on the Urso (a medication) but the itching was horrible. Then when I went in for my 30 week scan I was told pretty much then and there that my little Sophie was breech and she was at the bottom and unless they changed I wouldn’t have a hope in having a natural. That same day I was told neither of them were growing… in fact, losing weight.

I was to go in for an appointment the week after. That appointment was the start of my horrendous last few weeks of pregnancy.

I was admitted to hospital with pre eclampsia and anemia. While anemia is pretty common, I was getting pretty sick with the pre eclampsia. I just wanted to go home. I stayed in for roughly five days when they finally let me go home.

I was home one night… when the next morning I woke up with horrendous back pain and pain across my tummy… I thought I was in labour! So back to the hospital I went. I was readmitted and put on iron tablets, a higher dose of Urso and about 3 different blood pressure medications. I was told I would be in hospital until I gave birth.

As I was having twins and they were quite small, I was told they would be in Neonatal care for a little bit. About a week and a half after being readmitted, I proceeded to have my tour of the neonatal ward. Half way there I collapsed.

I don’t really remember much until I was down in the delivery ward… where they decided they were going to prep me for surgery. They put me on magnesium sulphate through an old drip which was excruciating, some of the worst pain I’ve felt in my life, so they literally had to rip it out and start all over again. They wanted to put a catheter in. I’ve never sobbed so much in my life, at the thought of getting one. Anyone would have thought that I was in natural labour!

Right up until this stage I was alone, all alone. A bit after that, my partners mum walked into the room… I was so terrified. I was so scared of surgery, so scared of anaesthetic … and so, so scared… of finally being a mother.

When all my drips were in, my fluids were up and my catheter inserted they wheeled me down to theatre with my mother in law and father in law.

They attempted to give me an epidural… they missed 8 times and on the ninth, as much as I wanted to be awake, I gave in. My body couldn’t cope… I was a mess… When finally they said, we are going to put you under, I broke down. What if I could feel the surgery? What if something happened? What if I didn’t wake up? As my mother in law was walked in, she and I both in tears as I was laid on the operating table, my arms literally pinned down. I fought the anaesthetic as much as I could. I could feel the burning sensation from the toes up.

I woke up in Intensive Care.

mother after general anesthetic cesarean

It was the scariest thing I’d experienced. All I wanted was to see my babies, but I wasn’t allowed too… I saw photos of my partner’s parent’s phone and even then I vaguely remember them as I was so out of it.

The next day, around lunch time… one of the neonatal nurses brought down four photos of my babies, two of each. My little Sophie and my little Clarabelle.

premmie twin

premmie twin

It was so, so hard, because all I had were pictures. I couldn’t hold them. Later on that night, about 8pm, I was finally being told I was going back to my room in maternity. But I didn’t want that, I WANTED to see my children.

So after much argument that I was way too sick, they wheeled my bed into the Neonatal care centre and brought my tiny babies that were born at 33 weeks and 4 days out to me in their humidity cribs. I was only just barley allowed to touch them. I just wanted to hold them. It hurt so much to yearn for something I wasn’t allowed.

meeting daughter for the first time

mother meets twin daughter

twin cesarean birth

Later on that night, a nurse came into me and told me that if I woke up during the night, buzz them and they would help me hand express. I woke around 3, so I called. The nurse mentioned if I could get out of bed she would take me to them. I was so determined… as much pain as I was in. I was wheeled to them and I finally got to hold them, my little Sophie Anastasia and Clarabelle Maree.

Although they were in hospital for another 23 days, the day I brought them home was the best day of my life…

I hated the way I gave birth… But I’d do it again for my children. Even though it brings tears to my eyes even typing this.

twin girls at hope

{I Am Strong} The Loss of a Twin

{I Am Strong} The Loss of a Twin

*Trigger Warning: This post is about loss*

I am strong because at the age of 32 I became pregnant with twins. I was super excited and scared at the same time. Early in the pregnancy I found out that Baby B wasn’t doing well. As I started getting further along I went to specialist to find more out. My Baby B “girl … Emma Rae” was diagnosed with Fetal Hydrops. I was told she wouldn’t make it past 27 weeks conception.

Baby A, my Boy Noah Braylin, was doing wonderful but keeping close eye on him as well.

Emma lost her heart beat at 21 weeks conception. I was heart broken. But I was strong because I knew I had a healthy baby boy still growing inside me.

I had to carry Emma full term to keep Noah healthy and safe. And on April 23, 2011… 5 1/2 hours of labor out came a healthy baby boy 8 lbs and 21 inches long. My 10 year old daughter was super excited to be a big sister finally!

I am strong because I know God isn’t going to give me nothing I can’t handle. My Baby Girl is cremated and sits high on a shelf. I think about her often, but am very blessed I have her brother here with me today.

loss, stillbirth

I Am Strong {Casey}

I Am Strong {Casey}

[Trigger Warning: This story is about a micro-premmie twin birth and loss.]

I am strong because I knew, at 26 weeks, I needed to go to the hospital despite not feeling a single contraction. When the doctor told me I was 9cm, baby a was stuck in my birth canal, and we needed to get to the OR immediately, I panicked, and went into absolute hysterics. But I’m strong because when the anesthesiologist told me I had to be strong for my babies because they could sense my fear, I immediately calmed myself.

I’m strong because two days after an emergency c-section, I rode 80 miles to be with my girls, despite the pain. I am strong because they showed me an unimaginable strength. Their will to survive was awe inspiring, even with tubes, wires, and a ventilator, they fought.

I am strong because, at 11 days old, our baby B, Alexandra, contracted NEC, and we had to make the unthinkable decision to take her off life support. I am strong because my fiance and I held her and each other for hours, singing to her, loving her, telling her she was beautiful. I am strong, not because my daughter died, but because, for 11 days, she had lived and fought and showed me exactly the kind of person I wanted to be.

I am strong because we made that trip to the hospital for 97 days, fearing the setbacks, but rejoicing in every gram our surviving twin gained. We watched her go from 1lbs 12 oz to 5lb 14oz. We watched her take out her vent tube, her CPAP machine, and her oxygen cannula, on her own, to keep the nurses on their toes, and to show them that she wasn’t giving up her fight.

I am strong because I pumped for 14 weeks to provide my daughter with the best nutrition I could, and when my breasts stopped responding to the pump, I held my head high, knowing I could still be an amazing mom no matter what Samantha ate. I’m strong because I had dreamed about the amazing experience of a natural twin birth, tandem nursing twins, and all the things I would do with them, but I overcame the overwhelming depression and post traumatic stress when things didn’t happen that way.

I am strong because on day 97, I carried my baby out of that hospital knowing she would need a ton of attention and care, knowing that her extreme prematurity may have caused irreversible damage, but giving thanks to a higher power that I could bring her home at all.

I am not always strong, but I am always finding strength in my weaknesses. I am strong because of the fact that I was and am humbled by the absolute strength and determination of two tiny little girls weighing less than 2 lbs a piece. I am strong because I want to be, so that I can be the best mother and person possible for my two living daughters and my angel baby.

The girls




I Am Strong…Twins {Sarah}

I Am Strong…Twins {Sarah}

I am strong because I achieved a natural birth of twin girls at 37 weeks, 5 days, in the OR of a hospital.  My pregnancy was a shock, but I was thrilled that I would finally have the opportunity to have a home birth after two previous hospital births.  When we discovered that it was twins, I learned it was illegal for a midwife in our state to attend a birth of multiples.  I switched doctors numerous times, fought “hospital policy”, scare tactics, constant pushes for intervention, and flat out rudeness and lack of support.

After an 11 hour labor, a labor so much harder and more intense than my others, my girls were born… absolutely surrounded by nurses and doctors, my doula on one side of me and my husband on the other.  At 10:23 p.m., my sweet baby Nora made her appearance, weighing in at 6 lb, 6 oz.  I pulled her up to my chest, and with next to no assistance from me, she latched on to nurse.  Six minutes later, as the doctor mentioned cutting the cord, Molly arrived, my beautiful, tiny girl, weighing 5 lb 1 oz.  I helped pull her up onto my stomach as Nora nursed the whole time!



I was wheeled out of the OR about an hour later with my girls in my arms.  I spent the rest of the hospital stay with nurses coming in to see me over and over, wanting to know if it was true that I had a natural twin birth in the OR.  It wasn’t my ideal birth, but it was a huge victory and I am so proud that I did it.

This picture is of me tandem nursing my girls for the very first time – about an hour and a half after they were born.  
They are now nine months old, sweet as can be, and nursing is still going strong!


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