There were no candles. There was no soft music. No hopping from the bath to birthing ball. No pushing. No pulling a messy baby onto my chest… In fact, I wasn’t even the first to touch them. It was nothing like my beautiful home birth with Ames. It was nothing like I’d planned.
And still, the sisters came.
And it was beautiful.
Aside from the glaring obvious – twins, hospital, c-section…
I expected to find other, more subtle, differences with this birth.
I thought I might feel less (well, duh).
I thought I might connect less, enjoy the experience less, maybe even love less.
They are a different gender. There are two of them. And it wasn’t my ideal birth plan.
I was prepared to fight hard to soak it up.
As it turns out, I didn’t have to fight at all.
Sitting here now, staring at them, I think I may actually feel more.
There’s a chance I am more connected, and that I love them more wholeheartedly.
I had to work really hard with Ames, to soak it up and enjoy these first few days.
I’m only seventeen months older… but I feel this time I’m more mature, more prepared.
These girls have been graciously simple thus far. I am so in love.
I was still contracting every few minutes when April 6th rolled around. My OB was on-call at the hospital and told me to come in. We got there around breakfast time and enjoyed one last visit to the all-too-familiar triage room. A midwife checked me for dilation (3cm), we gazed at the sisters’ heart rates on the monitor, and I breathed quietly through contractions. We also confirmed via one final ultrasound that the girls were both still frank breech. When the doctor came in, he shook my hand and told me that today was the day. The nurse took us to our room and went through all of the necessary paperwork.
At 11:30am, I found myself being wheeled back to the operating room. Chris waited outside while they got my spinal block in place, which hurt far less than I anticipated. Everyone already knew that I work as a nurse at the hospital, which sort of embarrassed me. I know nothing about this sort of thing! Turns out, they don’t know a lot about my scope, either, so there was a mutual comfort & respect throughout our entire hospital stay.
They got me situated and brought Chris in. The anesthesiologist and CRNA were awesome, sitting at my head and talking me through everything. At one point, I felt the spinal head towards my shoulders. It freaked me out, and they showed me how to put my hand on my chest (I wasn’t tied down) and feel myself breathe. Right before they got to work, I heard, “Hey, Rachael” and looked over to see the nurse manager. She had come in for the section. She dropped the drape after each baby’s exit and made sure the staff brought them to me right away. She stayed the whole time and kept asking what she could do for me. It was so supportive – almost surreal.
Isaiah Jane was born first, at 12:06pm. She came out butt-first. She weighed 5lb8oz and made herself known, just as she did in the womb.
Honor Rose was wedged up near my ribs and kept trying to present with awkward body parts. The doctor pulled her out by her feet at 12:07pm. Fitting, as she didn’t move much in utero and never showed her face during ultrasound. She weighed 5lb6oz – our “runt.”
Chris got the whole thing on video. At first I was unsure about that, but now I am thankful. I’ve watched it several times. It’s sort of a sisters-only thing, because we didn’t capture Ames’ birth on film. The entire staff was super supportive and interactive, and I’m glad I got to be a part of the birth in a visual way.
The girls were stable enough to ride back to our room with me. The nurses got them both skin-to-skin on my chest and wheeled us back to my room. My home birth midwife and my mom came into our room soon after we got settled. They helped pull off all of the monitors and got the babies to latch and breastfeed a bit. I was so thankful for that. The girls were rockstars. In fact, the only issue either of them had was a low first blood sugar for Honor, due to her weight. She underwent frequent blood sugar checks during the first several hours as a result. We got a bit of donor milk from a friend and fed it to Honor via syringe. That got her sugar up.
Chris stayed with me the first night, so that we could get through the blood sugar issues with lots of skin-to-skin time. Neither of us slept much. My mom stayed with me the second night – girls’ sleepover! We all got several hours of rest in three-hour chunks. Praise the Lord! In actuality, the sisters never left my sight throughout entire stay. What a blessing.
The staff was amazing. They were respectful of all of our wishes. They didn’t even flinch when I asked them not to bathe the sisters (we probably need to get on that soon), or when we refused the standard newborn vaccines, etc. One nurse even stopped what she was doing to ask if I minded the sugary water they put on the babies’ lips during the newborn screen. I was very impressed. I also had a personal friend as my nurse for my first night. She babied me and encouraged me in a way that was nothing short of angelic. I am so thankful for her. And the nurse manager personally delivered the girls’ placenta(s) to my room, which made everyone laugh. I appreciated their accommodating that request.
The Lord surpassed all of my requests with these girls. Not only did they avoid the NICU, but we all went home a day early. Not only did my milk come in on time, but it came earlier than expected! Not only did they weigh 5lbs a piece, but they surpassed it enough at birth to be able to leave without dropping below!
My recovery has been slow & painful, but so was the first little bit after Ames’ birth. This just hurts in different places, and I’m giving myself grace. I’m asking for help when I need it, which is often. I’ve stayed in bed more, only getting up to walk the hallway upstairs once or twice a day. I know that the day will soon come when I can snuggle my toddler again. I’m also trying to keep a healthy perspective on the engorgement issues. I might be sore & dripping, but at least I have enough milk to feed these girls!
So there it is. One journey has ended, another begun. A bit overwhelmed and a lot excited, I cannot wait to start life with the sisters.