A year ago today I was having trouble sleeping because I was so pumped after birthing two of the best mistakes ever. This is the awesome day that Netta and Bailey entered the world and our family and that means it is one of the best days of my life. And for so many reasons. Oh, joy! I am just so grateful for a lot of things. Very blessed and fortunate... and lucky!
A year ago around 6am labor started with a jolt. Like I'd been punched in the cervix (TMI?). The adrenaline started flowing, the water broke and I called my hospital, HCMC. Labor with Lewis was so rapid I did not want to wait around and most importantly I was going for a VBAC with twins. I needed to get into the safety of my midwife team quickly if I wanted to have the best chance!
The nurse answered the phone, I told her I was in labor and she paused. She said, "Well, we're full right now." Full!?!?! But this was a community hospital! How can they be full? They were diverting mothers to Abbot Northwestern. That's where Lewis was born. It's closer to my house but I needed my team! I told her that I was the twin mother who is going for a VBAC. She put me on hold for a few minutes and came back on to tell me they were making room for me. Apparently they had a little huddle while I was on hold. They had already been sending mothers to Abbott but they said, "Oh! We can't send her to Abbot! They'll give her a c-section!"
And so they had a room for us way in the back of the midwife unit. When we got settled I got right on with labor, bellowing out "Yergy flerg!!!!" through my contractions with Ben sitting right there in my face. The midwife came through and assured me with a huge smile that she knew I could do this. When I confessed I hadn't decided about getting an epidural for the birth she seemed confident that if I decided not to get it that I could do it. She was nothing but confidence. Labor was getting harder and harder, but I was still able to laugh in between contractions and grumbling was getting me through it. And where were the nurses? People were barely checking in on us. I hadn't been in any kind of labor class since before Art was born but thankfully things weren't that complicated because we were virtually on our own.
Then Cait got there, my cousin. She had agreed to take pictures of the birth for us. That was awesome. Having my cousin, a woman who I was proud of and proud to have witness my labor was great. I was aware of her being there watching this. I hoped she was being inspired because I was inspired! I was excited and inspired after each contraction that these girls were going to be BORN and that I was DOING IT!
After a while they wheeled us over to Labor and Delivery, the non-midwife unit, since birth of twins had to be in an operating room just in case there were complications. That was a big change. Suddenly I was being told that I would want the epidural because if the second baby was breech they would have to do a "breech extraction" and inject a local anesthetic directly into my cervix. Apparently that was so painful I would want the epidural. And by this point my contractions were getting harder to bare. There was no more laughing between them and I was starting to panic about being on my back, as I was required to be, on a skinny operating table during birth. I ordered the epidural.
Things kept moving along and intensity got super high. I was still aware that Cait was there and still proud, but also terrified. I had never pushed a baby out! These contractions were so close together and so strong! I looked at my midwife, who was still boring into my soul with confidence, and I said, "I want to run away!!!" Finally I was ready to go and try to get the babies out.
The OB nurses seemed a little less lovey-dovey than the midwife unit nurses. As I growled through another contraction, squeezing one nurses hand to death, she seemed almost mad at me for letting my groan get too high, reminding me that it was wasting my energy. I feel like she told me not to make so much noise, too. That I needed to save my energy to get the babies out.
And where was my epidural that I had ordered? Oh, that's right! He never showed up! As I was nearing pushing stage they asked if I wanted to wait for him and I decided to power through . I was already there and so close. I wanted to get this going and it had not gotten any scarier than it had been 1 1/2 centimeters ago. So I was going for it all natural, like I had always hoped to do.
Anyway, soon it was time to push and with four residents standing by the wall in the back of the room, I think two doctors behind my midwife and the midwife waiting for Netta's arrival I pushed and pushed. I called out more than once, between contractions, "I can't believe I have to do this TWICE!" It was crazy. There were nurses to the left, Ben squeezing my hand next to me, a couple more nurses to the right and Cait with her camera. And Ben had a camera... And it was a very bright room. There were a lot of people in there and my midwife kept saying, "You're doing it! Another good one!" Stuff like that.
And eventually Netta came out! She was out!!! I always thought that if I had a chance to be awake for the birth of these babies I would cry when I saw them. I didn't get to see Art or Lewis when they were born. I was asleep during their surgeries. I was sure if I was awake for the girls I would be overwhelmed with emotion and cry. I saw Netta's face, a slimy scrunched and crying baby, and was elated. And the very next thing I said was, "I did it!!!" I looked at Ben and he was smiling so big. "I did it!!!" Then I looked over to Cait and said, "Cait! I did it!!!" I was so proud! And meanwhile they were checking Netta over and making sure all was well with her at one of the two little isolette stations off to the left. And also, meanwhile, some other nurses were checking the position of Bailey with an ultrasound, something I was completely oblivious to as I celebrated my triumph. Bailey was feet first, so they were preparing the needle for the local anesthetic.
So I had the injection that I was supposed to want the epidural for and yes, it was extremely painful. Instead of a groan it called for a string of "Ow owowowowowowowowo owowowowoowow!" and it lasted a good long minute. (If you ever want to know about the syringe or needle ask Ben. And you do not want to know about it if you think you will ever encounter it.)
Then my midwife, Mandy, by the way, stepped aside so the obstetrician could manually extract Bailey by reaching in and grabbing her feet. Yes. That is what she did. I still had to push but with the OB's help she was born, too! All this took place in the very busy seven minutes after Netta was born.
They brought Bailey quickly over to the isolette station #2. She was actually not breathing and no one told me. Ben didn't even say anything, but had looked over and saw them using a balloon to help her breathe and I do have a vague memory of Bailey looking more blue and sedate when they raised her to show me. Mandy tried to assure me that it was common for a breech baby to be a little more... did she say, "startled?". After about four minutes, during which I got a chance to nurse Netta - how magical! Bailey was OK and ready to say hello. Amazing.
And so began this amazing year that has brought to me more challenges than I ever thought I could handle. I have soothed two babies night after night, often one on each shoulder, often with the help of my mom or Cait or another cousin. I have nursed and nursed and nursed and while I watched my boys from the couch. I have wheeled screaming twin girls through Walgreens and the snow. I have learned to get through the grocery store with four young children and still have a week's worth of food at the end.
I have also nursed in the night at my mother's while she lay in hospice in her home. I have endured watching her fade and die and said goodbye to her in her final breaths. I have survived the months since her death and created a distraction for myself out of a burgeoning passion by starting a preschool class at my local park. I have survived the stress of the first month of that class despite not having my mother to confide in, and despite having four young treasures at home who want my attention.
This post is pretty much all about me, not how wonderful the girls are, but in so many ways the birth of Netta and Bailey has been the greatest gift to me. Their birth and the year since then has done so much more than just bring joy and beauty to our family - and it has - but it has really shown me how much more I am capable of than I had ever tried to do before. I hope Netta and Bailey will be able to grow up seeing their mom taking chances and finding joy in her family and the simplicity of the world that surrounds her because I want them to be as proud of themselves as I am of myself right now. We have two beautiful gifts, don't we, Ben? And for so many more reasons than we can number.
Happy birthday, Netta. And happy birthday, Bailey. You are treasures, both of you, and you have brought such joy and fullness to our family. Welcome to your second year!