**It is safe to say that basically my entire pregnancy was spent in labor. I was first treated in L&D at 16 weeks, told to take it easy and put on pelvic rest. Things calmed down and I went on as normal until a routine check at 24 weeks determined I was in preterm labor. Contractions started at 25 weeks and continued until I delivered at 31 weeks, 6 days. This is an excerpt from my private blog written a few days after Natalie and Sophia were born**
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
At some point during the week, after discussing all of my questions and concerns, my doctor and I decided that we were now at the point in pregnancy where my condition was stable enough to no longer need the 24 hour monitoring of hospital bed rest. To be fair, it was actually the insurance company that began to question the need for me to still be under hospital care and there was only so much stalling my doctor could do.
I understood the concern and made all the arrangements to make sure that I stuck to my bed only once I got home. Saturday was the day. I’d be 32 weeks along. I’d get another round of steroid shots (one shot Friday morning followed by the second booster 24 hours later on Saturday morning) before leaving and out the door I’d go.
I was extremely nervous but also really excited. I just had to make it 4 more weeks at home before bed rest was going to be lifted completely! Jeremy had to bring me back once a week for monitoring, non-stress tests, ultrasounds, etc. They promised me they’d combine everything I needed into one day’s worth of visits since the hospital is 35 minutes away.
So, Friday morning my doctor checked in with me. I was surprisingly in really good spirits. I had been having rough nights the few nights before, having over a dozen contractions an hour for a few hours before bed, calming down only once I got to sleep on a heating pad. I cried Thursday night. I didn’t think I was strong enough to keep doing this. The contractions were getting painful, taking my breath away. I was scared. The residents kept telling me the contractions were just irritability but how was I supposed to know? How was I going to go home and tell the difference?
Jeremy assured me that we’d be okay. He missed me. Lily missed me. And I missed them so much. It had been 8 weeks since I lived at home. By Friday morning, I was ready and I told my doctor that. She told me my schedule for the day and made sure I knew she was on call for the night/weekend. She switched things around to make sure she was there when I was discharged.
Around 11 a.m. I had my first steroid shot. My nurse told me I was next to go down to the perinatal center so even though I hadn’t showered yet or ordered lunch, I flipped on the Price is Right and just tried to rest. After almost 45 minutes, I went ahead and ordered lunch. I was used to the perinatal center and their lack of promptness. I didn’t want to miss out on lunch being stuck downstairs. I always ordered cold lunches so I wasn’t worried about it sitting around waiting for me to get back. I still didn’t shower though. I knew if transport came for me when I wasn’t available, my turn would get skipped and I’d have to wait even longer.
By this point in the afternoon, I was already anxiety ridden. I was really run down, feeling much lazier today than I had in weeks. My stomach was upset and my body was definitely trying to empty everything out. I should have known this was a sign but I ignored it and played it off as another uncomfortable part of having twins.
Around 1:30 or so, I noticed a very light leak but thought it was simply discharge from not having showered. I felt so gross but I was desperate to get through these tests. Finally, around 2 p.m. transport came to get me. We chatted lightly as it had been awhile since I had seen her. I told her they were trying to send me home and she joked that it wouldn’t happen that no one was having any luck down in peri today. They were backed up so I ended up waiting another 30 minutes or so for a nurse to get me hooked up for my non-stress test.
It was pretty boring after that for awhile. I flipped on the TV, Let’s Make a Deal was on, and just rested in my chair. Sophia was putting a lot of pressure on my ribcage so it was pretty uncomfortable and I wanted to move around but couldn’t. The nurse came in midway and said that Sophia had already passed but that Natalie hadn’t done much moving. She had me drink some apple juice and chew on some ice chips. She also asked how I was feeling and said they were picking up contractions every 3 minutes. I was shocked to hear this. I told her I was uncomfortable from the position I was in and Sophia’s movement but that I didn’t think I was contracting. She accepted that answer and left me for a few more minutes.
It was after 3 p.m. when she came back because Dr. Phil was on the TV now. I paid very little attention to it though as she was very concerned when she returned. Natalie had picked up her movement and passed the NST but my contractions had picked up too. They had me empty my bladder and then rest in my wheelchair waiting for the on-call MFM to look at my strips. Dr. M (my least favorite MFM) said my cervix needed to be checked right away. They needed to still do an ultrasound to check the girls’ positions and their fluid levels as well so I waited around for what seemed like forever waiting for a room for all that to happen (everything else was just curtained off corners and they wanted to give me more privacy.)
I joked with transport who was waiting to take me back because they’d called her when my NST was done not realizing I wasn’t going anywhere. She’d brought down another patient from the antepartum floor so we all chatted for awhile. I figured at this point I wasn’t going to be going home but still never imagined how the night would go.Dr. M got a hold of my doctor once the checks were done. Surprise! I was 2 cm dilated. I was 80% effaced. Natalie (my presenting twin; baby A) was head down finally but Sophia was footling breech. Both girls had a good amount of fluid though (this relieved me as I was still a little unsure about my discharge.)
My doctor was really concerned that the contractions were starting to make more progress again so she admitted me to Labor & Delivery. I was still very relaxed about all this. I figured they’d do some monitoring and I was just hoping I’d get back upstairs to my room to shower and sleep that night and not have to stay over. This was my fourth stint in L&D in just a few months so I was use to it and didn’t suspect anything, especially since I was still comfortable. They were quite booked so after some shuffling around of rooms, told me I’d be in room 16.
I overheard the nurses talking about who was going in what room because there was three of us being admitted at once. One of the nurses made the statement “No, she needs to be in 16, she’s really in labor” I didn’t think anything of it until I was the one being put into room 16! (They have observation rooms in L&D as well as actual delivery rooms.) I got settled in around 4 p.m.I called Jeremy who was still at work. I told him I wasn’t quite sure what was happening yet so he just stayed where he was. He was closer to me at work than if he’d be at home and I didn’t want him stressing out over being with me all night. My mom had already taken Lily home from school coincidentally because Lil wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t call her right away because I didn’t want everyone worrying about me.
By around 5 p.m. I was still showing contractions every 1-2 minutes, normally not a big deal (in my mind) but they were picking up because I was starting to feel some cramping. My doctor came in and checked my cervix again, I was still only 2 cm but I was nearly 90% effaced. Since it seemed like labor was progressing, I called Jeremy, told him to pick up some dinner for himself and to come here. My doctor had already taken me off food and drinks until we knew what was happening. I was so hungry and really dehydrated. I always brought my water with me to the perinatal center but didn’t this time for some reason so I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since that apple juice. I called my mom finally who was in just about as much shock as I was! She had a bunch of questions but I simply had no answers at that point.
Since I was progressing, they wanted to try to delay the labor at least another 18 hours so the girls could get the benefit of the steroids I’d had earlier in the day. Since I was already on Procardia, it was unlikely that taking any more of it would have an impact. I had had terbutaline several weeks prior that had little affect so my doctor wanted something fast and strong. Her choice was a magnesium sulfate drip. I had been on bed rest this whole time telling myself every day that I didn’t care what it took, as long as I didn’t get put on mag. The side effects are miserable from the stories I’d heard. At this point though, I was very accepting of anything they needed to do.
I still didn’t feel like I was in true labor, I simply thought they were doing this to stop the contractions. After 4 attempts, they got my IV started and hooked me up to a 20 minute bolster of mag. This was about the point that I finally started feeling pain. On the 2nd attempt, they blew a vein. By the 4th, I was practically holding my breath and clenching. This really made the contractions noticeable. I was surprised by how little the side effects of the mag affected me though. I was expecting to feel sick and dizzy but I mostly just felt flushed and tired.
I remember needing to pee (after 2 full bags of IV fluids) and waiting miserably for a bedside commode. They wouldn’t let me walk the 4 feet to the private bathroom claiming my balance would be too off. The commode finally came and I emptied my bladder, better than I’d been able to in months. In fact, there was so much output, the commode wasn’t big enough. As if being in labor wasn’t gross enough already, right?Once I got through the bolster, they hooked up a larger bag to give the mag continually over a long time. By this time, the bolster should have settled things down but instead I was feeling more and more of the contractions. And rather than just feeling them as contractions, they were really moving together and feeling more like labor. I was so tired from the mag and even though the contractions were really intense, I just melted into the bed and had a hard time keeping my eyes open. The monitors that I had on kept sending alarms to the nurses’ station because there was some glitch that wasn’t picking up what I was feeling.
I told my nurse that I was concerned by my discharge and by how intense the pain was. I asked her how likely it was that they’d stop the labor. I was ready for an epidural at this point. I knew I’d be getting one regardless as a precaution from being pregnant with twins (in case an emergency c-section ended up being needed). She said the plan was still to stop labor and they wouldn’t do the epi until my chart was changed from “stop labor” to “in labor.”
She offered a painkiller by IV but I declined. Jeremy held my hand and felt horrible that he couldn’t do more. The resident came in to check me while my doctor tended to some other patients (or maybe she was sleeping in the on-call room, who knows?) I was glad to see a friendly face. She was the same resident that saved me from my Labor & Delivery hell when I was 25 weeks along. I wasn’t completely sure that she remembered me but I didn’t really care. It was about 9 p.m. at this point. I was fully effaced and 4-5 cm dilated.
We asked the resident what was going to happen. It was getting late and my mom was anxiously waiting for an update. Lily had already gone to bed and my mom was exhausted and just hanging out on our couch. Jeremy really wanted to go home. If they were just going to stop my labor, there was no reason for him to still be around. She looked at us both and as calmly but seriously as possible advised Jeremy to not go anywhere. I think this was the point where I finally realized we were having babies.
I just focused on breathing. I wasn’t sure what happened next. I knew it would be a long night. She said she had to check with my doctor but that we would be proceeding with delivery. They reviewed the images of the girls’ positions and it turned out Sophia’s cord was near her knees. Natalie could likely make it out safely but if Sophia didn’t turn head down, or if she caught her cord with her feet down, we could have been dealing with a cord prolapsed, a very scary emergency situation that could kill both her and me.
My doctor came in to discuss, checked me again to confirm and said I was actually close to 6 cm. The girls were estimated to be so small that 6 cm was plenty big enough to start feeling the urge to push. Natalie was already in position and descending more and more. There was no longer time to wait, a c-section was going to happen and it was going to happen immediately.
We only had a few second to process the news as I rested quietly while breathing through the contractions. At 10:22 p.m. I was wheeled to the O.R. My anesthesiologist was amazing. He explained that he had stat orders for an epidural and spinal for a c-section. I was in a complete whirlwind. Before I knew it, a NICU doctor was explaining what to expect with the girls. I recognized my doctor and I think that’s when everything hit me. I wanted to cry but I was afraid of appearing weak. I kept looking around for faces that I knew because there was simply too much going on.It’s one thing to prepare yourself for a c-section, it’s another to be admitted not feeling contractions at all and just 5 hours later trying to comprehend everything going on so quickly around you.
It scared me that they had everything right there to put my completely under in a matter of seconds. They were so worried about Sophia’s position but did a good job of hiding it from me. The epidural was to help with my pain management after the c-section and over the next couple of days but the spinal made me numb immediately.
My anesthesiologist talked me through the entire thing. I just kept looking at Jeremy and listening for what was going on. I could feel some pushing and pulling but not much of anything else. Before I knew it, a baby was whisked past me. I immediately freaked because there wasn’t any crying like I imagined. And she was tiny. I didn’t even know which baby it was at that point. It seemed like forever for them to get the 2nd girl out but in reality, she was born just 1 minute after her sister. 10:36 and 10:37 p.m.Jeremy looked panicked for awhile. He didn’t know if he should stay with me or go with them. They were right in the O.R. with us but with a whole team of nurses and doctors, I couldn’t see much. I told him to go with them and to take pictures. It was kind of fate that he even had his camera with him. He’d taken it to work that day to show a buddy his new lens so it just so happened to be in his car. I heard bits and pieces of cries and whimpers. The nurses would come over to me continually to tell me how great the girls were. I never heard them cry. And they were pale, blue even. There were masks and tubes. I didn’t get to hold them, could only see them by straining my neck. And then they were gone. I don’t remember a lot of what happened next.
I know I asked which was born first and baby A was rightfully born first, our Natalie Marie. Baby B was right behind her, with only a tiny delay as her waters were not broken yet, our Sophia Lea. (It turns out that Natalie’s water had in fact broken, likely the cause of my discharge that day and possibly what started my labor as well.)
I remember feeling extremely dizzy. I whispered it to Jeremy because he said I looked really pale. The anesthesiologist must have heard because within seconds, I felt coolness in my IV and the dizziness had worn off. Shortly after, I thought I was going to throw up and he quickly turned my head for me and held a cup to my mouth. After several burps, I felt better. He told me the air from the c-section would likely cause that to continue and to just speak up if I had any discomfort at all, even if it was just an itch.
When they moved me from the operating table to the recovery bed, I remember being really amazed by how swift the process was. They knew exactly what they were doing and I felt like I just floated from one bed to the other. (When I later was moved to my post partum bed, the transition was much worse as they made me crab walk across the mattress and I had absolutely no strength and was in a lot of pain!) I even remember hearing someone comment on how light I was. That made me feel good.I was shaking uncontrollably as the spinal wore off. I wasn’t in any pain but the shaking was intense. They quickly got me into recovery and told me over and over again how great it all went. It wasn’t until hours later that I really felt upset about having a c-section. I knew it was the best and safest thing but I played too many what ifs and constantly wondered what I could have done to keep the girls in longer or not have to be cut open. Did I ask enough questions? Did we use every option first?
I tried to rest as I waited to be moved to my postpartum room but I could not stop shaking. It got so bad I felt like I was gasping for air. My mouth was dry and was filling with phlegm and I felt dizzy and nauseated. I started worrying nonstop about the babies and about Lily and I started having a panic attack over being a mom of 3 and recovering from this major surgery.
My nurse quickly called the doctor who sent up a dose of Demoral. It took just a few minutes but I finally stopped shaking and was able to fall asleep. It was well after midnight at this point. Jeremy was back with me. He left the O.R. with the babies. I couldn’t bear the thought of them being alone. We were both ready to pass out but were so filled with adrenaline at the same time.Finally, just after 1 a.m., they wheeled me into the NICU to see my girls. They were admitted into separate rooms until they were considered stable. They were given surfactant right away, and then put on cpap until they could breathe on their own. They did a bunch of lab work. I got to reach into their beds and touch their toes. I just couldn’t get over how tiny they were.
Just before 3 a.m, they finally had me settled into my postpartum room. I was mostly exhausted that first night and by morning, I really had no idea what had happened. They woke me for vitals every 2 hours. And I kept waking up from panic attacks. I constantly felt like I was falling out of bed even though I wasn’t moving at all. The pain killers left me disoriented. I barely even remembered that babies came out of me. All I could think of was simply how much I hurt.
I only saw the girls 4 times (maybe an hour total) in the entire 96 hour stay after my c-section. It’s one thing to have this birth experience and have your baby room in with you but mine were 3 floors away, in a different wing of the hospital. I cried day in and day out, unable to control my emotions. I was so upset by how the nurses treated me. I hated that I couldn’t get out of bed to share my birth with my antepartum nurses. I hated that I couldn’t see or hold my babies when I wanted to. Everything about my experience sucked.
We have a bit of a journey ahead of us but we are strong and ready to see what happens!
Let’s connect on social media too:
Tags: birth story