(Jason and I decided to write this entry together so that we could capture both of our perspectives on the most important day of our lives. Jason's contributions are in italics.)
Happy Birthday, Miles and Vivienne! This morning our babies are a week old already. I cannot believe they are already a week old. It has been a wonderful, challenging, amazing, overwhelming week. I never knew that I could love anyone this much. I wanted to celebrate this week mile marker by typing out our birthing story. I should also give a warning that this may have more details than some of you may want to read. =)
Last Sunday, around 1:45 AM, my water broke. Jason had started sleeping in the guest bedroom a few days beforehand, because I was getting out of bed and rolling over so frequently that it was preventing him from having a good night's sleep. When my water broke, it wasn't a lot of fluid, so I wasn't even sure that it was my water breaking. Regardless, I woke Jason up and we talked about it and it soon became clear that this was my water breaking (because it was constantly leaking, though slowly). At this point, I had not had any contractions.
Leslie didn't want to be seen as one of those patients that called the OB for every little issue during her pregnancy. So true to form, she wasn't even sure if we should call the OB. Contractions hadn't started, and there wasn't a lot of fluid so we weren't 100% sure her water had even broke. But I was fairly certain that this is exactly the type of issue for which we should call ... so call we did.
We called the OB office to talk to them and find out whether they wanted us to go to the hospital. With twins, they generally tell you to go to the hospital earlier than with singletons. The midwife said that we should go ahead into the hospital, but that we didn't need to go "with sirens blaring" because we probably still had plenty of time (since my contractions had not started).
Around 2:15, I started feeling mild contractions. I got in the shower, and Jason prepared the cats and the thermostat and we packed our bag together. The contractions quickly got much stronger - strong enough that I had to stop moving and just take them in until they subsided. They basically felt like very, very bad menstrual cramps.
Even though contractions had started and we were fairly certain that labor was beginning, we didn't panic and we didn't rush. We both took showers, and I made a good breakfast (for me ... Leslie didn't feel like eating and/or she wasn't sure she should eat). The bag wasn't pre-packed, but we did have a complete list of things to pack and details to attend to. It was exciting to be in this moment and realize that we would soon be meeting our babies.
We took some last belly pictures before leaving the house around 3 o'clock. We knew this would be our last chance to capture the wonder of my belly with the babies on the inside.
We arrived at the hospital, which is only about 10 minutes from our house. After registering and getting my hospital bracelet, we walked to the Labor and Delivery room. Our first nurse, Anne, came in and took my vital signs. She checked me, and I was 4 cm dilated. Anne was extremely kind and reassuring during the entire process. She hooked up 3 monitors to my belly - one for each baby (heart rates) and then another one that monitored my contractions.
She got things in order for me to have my epidural. I was planning on having an epidural because they recommend that for twins (especially with the likelihood of a last-minute Caesarian), but honestly after the contractions started to get much and much worse, I think I would have opted for the epidural either way. I'm not sure if things were more intense because I had twice the baby or if I just have a low pain tolerance, but it was pretty intense.
If you know Lesle, you know she has a fear of needles. It is almost like a reflex. Once the needle is in the room, her breath quickens and she enters a near panic-like state. With all the pricks and pokes she had to endure over the course of this pregnancy, she became much better at managing this fear. So much so, that on this day she did not shed a single tear due to needles. I was very proud of her!
It was difficult to see Leslie experiencing this intense pain and knowing there was nothing much I could do to ease it. But she handled it well, and we were both glad when the epidural was in place.
Around 6 AM, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural. I had to sit up in bed in order for him to insert the epidural catheter. After sitting up (but before the epidural), I realized that the pain was much more manageable. I wish I had figured that out sooner and I would have sat up instead of lying there in pain for 3 hours. After the epidural was inserted, the pain of the contractions was immediately eased. (God bless that doctor.) I could still feel them happening, but the pain was no longer as intense and I could relax through them.
At 7 AM, the nurses changed shifts, and we got a new nurse named Courtney. She saw us through the rest of the process, including the delivery. She inserted my urinary catheter, which honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Something about a urinary catheter just sounds incredibly uncomfortable, but the epidural made it very manageable.
At about 7:30, Dr. Vulgaropulos (Dr. V), our OB, came in to check me again. He said that I was "a good 6 centimeters". He also broke my water a bit more, though I had already lost a lot of it with the initial leak earlier in the morning. It was Baby A's (Miles') water that had broken. Vivienne had a separate amniotic sac, and hers was still intact.
After that, things began to move very, very quickly. The contractions started to get much, much stronger. I started feeling a very strong urge to push. Around 9:30, Courtney checked me again and I was at 9 cm and fully effaced. She prompted us to start practicing pushing. Honestly, I was a little scared to push, because the contractions felt so strong that I was scared the babies would come out sooner than they were supposed to. (Because we had twins, I knew that they would be moving us down to the Operating Room for the delivery. I wanted to be sure we had time to get there.)
Pushing was very, very interesting. Jason would hold one leg and Courtney would hold the other leg. During the contractions, I would put my hands under my knees and push for 10 seconds, holding my breath, then take another breath, then do that 2 more times. Then we would wait for another contraction and start again. Jason could see Miles' head when we were still in the L and D room. He has a beautiful head full of dark, gorgeous hair.
I was very surprised to have such an active role in the pushing. It caught me off guard to be drafted as a leg holder. I had a front row seat to all the action. It took a few pushes for me to get used to watching "down there", but I was glad I did. It was surreal to see Miles' head of hair a full 20 minutes before he was born.
Not surprisingly, Jason was the perfect labor coach. He took wonderful care of me. When we were pushing, he kept reminding me to push, to push harder, to keep going, that I was doing a great job. Just the sound of his voice and the touch of his hand gave me so much more strength to keep going. It reminds me now of our first half marathon together with him encouraging me all the way to the finish line.
Around 10:30, they moved us down to the OR. Jason went to put on his scrubs. There were at least 7 people in the OR besides me and Jason, many of them nurses and other personnel to help with the babies. There was a Nurse Practitioner anesthesiologist in the hall in case we needed him. There were also people in a room across the hall who were the "receivers" of the babies once they came.
At 10:51 AM, Miles Vincent Fox was born. They put him on my stomach, and I remember just being completely overwhelmed by the moment. Here we were, 9 months into this pregnancy and 9 hours into my labor, and I finally had my beautiful, screaming baby boy (with a head full of hair) lying on my stomach. I cried and touched his face and cried some more.
I didn't want to completely lose it, though, because I knew that I had another baby to deliver. They took him away fairly quickly across the hall to the other room and I started concentrating on Vivienne.
It did all happen very quickly once we went to the OR. I continued in my leg holding position until a contraction or two before Miles was born. At that point, I moved up beside Leslie and got ready with the camera. The doctor offered me a position beside him, but I passed. I wanted to be closer to Leslie, and if all went well I was considering his offer while Vivienne was born (but she came so quickly that I didn't have a chance to move). Leslie did such an amazing job at pushing and was handling the whole process very very well. All the nurses kept commenting at how well she was doing. And once Miles came out, everyone was very pleased with how smoothly the first baby was born.
Dr. V broke Vivienne's bag of water. Jason said that he could see a gush of water when that happened. With the next contraction, I pushed about 3 times, and Vivienne came right on out. She was screaming up a storm as they placed her on my belly and I started crying again. Within about a minute, they swept her across the hall to the other room. Jason went to see them get weighed and cleaned up.
I left the OR after Vivienne was born and spent a few minutes as they examined Miles and Vivienne and calculated their Apgar scores. Miles was 5 and 5 (4 - 6 is considered fairly low and 7 - 10 is considered normal) after 1 and 5 minutes respectively. Vivienne was thriving better and managed an 8 and 9. Round one of many future competitions goes to Vivienne :)
The afterbirth process wasn't exactly fun, but it wasn't horrible. It took a little longer than I thought. I only had a 2nd degree tear, so I'm very thankful for that. After being stitched up, they took us back to the L and D room to recover.
They are both just the most beautiful babies I have ever seen (not that I'm the least bit biased). Each of them is the perfect combination of Jason and I. I cannot believe how blessed we are to have them in our lives.
I agree that they are the most precious babies ever. It was such a huge relief that labor and delivery went off essentially without a hitch. It was very encouraging to hear all the nurses reiterate how impressed they were of Leslie for vaginally delivering two healthy babies. I could not have been more proud of her. Her strength and courage allowed her to thrive throughout the entire process.