This is incredible! We are so happy to share this twin birth story. While many mothers probably cannot relate to the exact details of this birth, many can understand the frustration of not having the labor and birth support that they needed.
Trigger Warning: Traumatic birth
OLIVER AND PARKER BIRTH STORY-TWINS BORN 3 DAYS APART
My whole pregnancy with the twins was spent as a high risk patient, always on high alert. They were conceived before I was even six weeks postpartum with Cora, who was a preemie at 35 weeks. At around ten weeks pregnant I had just given Cora her bath. I had sat down on the bed to put her in her night-clothes when all of a sudden I felt a warm gush. I stood up and was terrified to see bright red blood on the sheet where I was sitting. I looked up, tears about to spill down my cheeks, and told Matt to come see. I just knew that I had miscarried one of them (common in early twin pregnancies) or even worse, both of them. We rushed to the emergency room. Everything was fine. We could breathe. I was ordered to be on strict bed rest until I reached twelve weeks- the safe zone. Looking back, this seemed to have set the tone for the remainder of my pregnancy.
“Me-the Crazy One”
At thirty-three weeks I was huge. I was weak. I was tired. We had moved our bed downstairs to the living room because I could barely get up the steps on my own, much less with a nine month old baby in my arms. I knew the end was near. I sensed it. I wholeheartedly believe that women know their bodies more than they like to give themselves credit for. That week had been the hardest yet. I visited labor and delivery three times insisting that I was feeling contractions in my back. In not so many words, I had earned the reputation as the “crazy woman” in triage. I went in to be sent home each time. The monitors were not picking up on the contractions I was feeling, although I had them timed at about 6-8 minutes apart.
“The OB Who Abandoned Me”
Thursday March 27th I had my routine weekly appointment. I went in prepared to be checked for dilation, to have a discussion with my doctor and get our game plan in order. Both boys were in breech position, so that meant an automatic c-section unless baby A (Oliver) had turned. I assumed we would be addressing all of these details at this appointment. I lied down on the exam table for my ultrasound. Since the pregnancy was high risk I had an ultrasound at every appointment. Still breech. Both babies. My OB mentioned my three trips to labor and delivery and suggested that I not worry, that everything was fine. He also (to my complete surprise!) broke the news that he took another position and would no longer be able to care for me- I was thirty-three weeks along… THIRTY-THREE WEEKS. There was no introducing me to another physician, no official transfer to a new doctor. I was told another OB in the practice would be taking over, but that would be addressed at a later date. At the end when he asked if I had questions or concerns I shyly said, “that I did not feel right. That I have been having contractions.” I told him I felt labor was starting. He smiled and brushed me off like so many doctors do. I did not go to medical school after all. I told him though… I told him.
“My Momma and a Meatball Sandwich”
I was fortunate in that my mother had plans to come to visit me that night and stay for the weekend. She and my stepdad arrived that evening after my appointment from their home five hours away. We were all crammed into my living room, my bed in the middle and my couches on the perimeter. We had Lenny’s Subs for dinner and for some absolutely absurd reason I had a meatball sandwich that gave me horrible heartburn. I did not know that this would be my last meal for nearly four days.
My husband woke at five in the morning for work. He worked over an hour and a half away in Memphis. I remember telling him that I was feeling dizzy and then I went back to sleep. At seven in the morning Cora started to stir and make noises so I knew she would be waking up hungry any second. I had to literally roll out of bed and hold on to the bottom of the platform to pull myself off. I walked to her crib, picked her up and laid her back in my bed. I turned the tv on hoping she would fall back asleep with me because I was exhausted beyond belief. On this day I was thirty-three weeks and four days along. I let out a teeny cough- the kind you make to clear your throat first thing in the morning… “POP!” I soaked the bed. “Was that my water?” I sat there, frozen. I was in too big of shock to move. I was too scared to stand up and look. I called my mother who was asleep in Cora’s nursery upstairs. I told her my water broke or I wet my pants and to come down stairs. I nervously dialed Matt’s number. He had just arrived at work. I told him to come home- that I was right- we were having our twins!
I stood up. Blood trickled down my leg onto the stained concrete floors of our apartment. Contractions immediately took off. The pain was excruciating. My mom drove swiftly to the hospital, with me still in my maternity nightgown. We arrived at eight o’ clock exactly (less than one hour after my water broke). I could not breathe. I could not sit up in the seat of the car. I felt what I thought were feet dangling between my legs… FEET! I felt like I was going to break my baby in half. I just wanted to stand. There was no time. We pulled up at the very front entrance. The guard was so flustered at the site of a woman in full-blown, screaming labor. He ran and fumbled his way to a wheelchair. The poor guy asked me “how my morning was going”?! Mom wheeled me up to labor and delivery. The nurses knew me by name (of course). The head nurse saw me come through the elevators, tears streaming down my face. She slammed the button to open the glass doors to let me through. “This is Emilee, she is 33 weeks and 4 days pregnant with twin boys… both breech… prep an OR and page the doctor!” I can remember every word to this day.
They had me step into a room to put on a gown and to see how dilated I was. My mom dressed me and as she tied the back of the gown, a second bag of water (the boys were MO/DI identical twins meaning, separate inner sacs, one shared outer sac, and one shared placenta. The first gush at home was the outer sac and the second at the hospital was twin A’s) fell to the floor splashing both our feet. The nurses and my mother had to force me to get into the bed. Have you ever seen the exorcist? That is how I looked. Twisting and contourting my body in every position possible to relieve the pain. Screaming and squeezing the arms of whomever was near. The on-call doctor popped her head in. That is when I heard the nurse who checking my cervix say, “I only feel feet!” The doctor came over to check for herself. She leaned toward the door, her hand still inside of me and shouted, “I need all hands on deck! We are having this baby now! Forget the OR!” Oliver was born at 8:15am, breech, no medication, and immediately rushed to the NICU. Matt missed the birth of his first son and it would be 3 long days before I would even meet him. Had my beautiful mother not been at my house, I likely would have delivered Oliver on the side of the road, with Cora in the back seat.
“The Longest Three Days of My Life”
I sat there breathing, processing what had just happened… my head spinning. The doctor sat down on the couch beside my bed, in silence, doing the same. I may be mistaken, but I believe that was her first breech birth. The real craziness was about to begin. I was so unaware and oblivious as to what was to come. It was assumed that Parker was on his way. That in any second I would feel the desire to push. Several minutes passed. Nothing. At this point shift change had already come and gone. I was at the mercy of whomever was on-call next. A new nurse was ordered to check my cervix. To our surprise it had closed completely…labor seemed to have stopped. Now remember, my doctor abandoned me just the day before, so I had to see all on-call doctors that weekend. No one could agree on what to do with me. The hospital had never been put in this situation. The on-call doctor that Friday didn’t want to do a c- section and go ahead deliver baby B because he was premature (although his twin, who had already been born was doing great and needed no oxygen. He was a feed/grower and was learning to maintain his temperature). Instead, I was strapped down to the bed (with the monitors). I wasn’t allowed food or water in case a c-section was necessary. I was given no medication, or epidural because they did not want to sedate the baby. I was not given a catheter due to the risk of infection. I wasn’t allowed to even stand at the risk of my water breaking. They clamped baby Oliver’s umbilical cord in-between my legs. Since the boys shared a placenta, they obviously couldn’t deliver the after-birth yet. Every time I had to go to the bathroom I had to lift up my aching, contracting, body and use a bed pan. I’d have to ask nurses, my husband, my mom, even my grandma to help me use the bathroom. It was humiliating. They say you lose all modesty during childbirth but I was quite modest during all three pregnancies. Each time the bed pan was used Oliver’s clamped umbilical cord would run through the pan and my waste. It was so unsanitary. I got to the point where I made Matt wrap it in paper towels periodically to keep it clean. Do you remember the vending machines at restaurants where you would put in your quarter and the prize was a sticky hand that you could throw against the wall? That is what the cord felt like- cold,wet, sticky- for days between my legs.
For three never-ending horrible days, I was on magnesium, steroids, penicillin, and a whole cocktail of other antibiotics to combat potential infection. I, once again, was experiencing excruciating back labor that started about and hour after Oliver was born. I begged and pleaded with the doctors- telling them I was in active labor- and they kept telling me that I wasn’t, because their monitors weren’t picking them up all the way in my back. They wouldn’t even check my cervix to see if I started dilating again because they didn’t want to “disturb” anything. I don’t know if you know much about magnesium but it’s horrible. It sets your veins on fire and you feel like you’re burning from the inside out. It gives you flu-like symptoms and chills. I had my room set to 50 degrees with the windows wide open. It was a very cold, very windy, and very wet week for March. Everyone who entered my room had on jackets. Matt, who never left my side, was so uncomfortable and could not sleep.
Imagine the worse pain imaginable and multiply it by ten. The contractions felt like someone was twisting my spine the way you’d wring out a wet washcloth. I begged for a c-section, for medication, for someone to stand up for me and listen to me. The doctors had a consult in my room which included the neonatologist in charge of the boy’s care in the NICU. He mentioned that the longer I go with my water broken the more I risk infection. He specifically told the doctors that they were putting me at a higher risk of danger. The hospital I delivered at is a Catholic hospital and they are a “baby first, mother second” hospital. My comfort was second, and rightfully so to my premature baby. However, at this point they were putting both our lives at risk because I had so many doctors with conflicting opinions on my care, instead of my one original doctor.
It was Sunday night. Matt had turned on the Walking Dead season finale on tv. He stood holding my hand and watching at the same time. I was zoning in and out. I started to run fever. I had started to give up. Fever indicated there was an infection setting in. I can still feel the contractions. The cool chill coming through the open windows on my skin. I would shiver with goosebumps while at the same time feeling fire from within because of the magnesium. I can so vividly remember what my night nurses’ perfume smelled like and how its musky aroma turned my stomach in knots. My face burned and was beginning to crack from being so dry. My mouth was like cotton from lack of hydration. The only flavor I had in it was the taste of vomit, and bile, and acid reflux. I was desperate for a drink of water. My back hurt more than anything though. It was so swollen. I hadn’t been able to stand once the entire time. I was strapped to the bed, flat on my back not even able to get on my side.
Three days (78 hours) had gone by. I had not met Oliver or seen Cora, but in passing. In the very early hours of Monday morning I realized my body couldn’t take anymore. I finally told my husband I needed to push. I was giving up. I couldn’t fight anymore. I told him he had better demand someone come in because I was about to unstrap myself and squat and allow my body to take over. He ran out into the hall. I could hear him raise his voice. A nurse checked my cervix and I was completely dilated. The entire time, nurse after nurse, insisted that I was NOT dilated, that I was NOT in active labor. I had told them a million times, I was. This same nurse who discovered I had no cervix remaining was the one who just minutes before told me my contractions were “weak” and not productive. They rushed in an ultrasound machine to discover Parker had flipped horizontally (transverse position) and my body was trying to push him out by his neck and spine for Lord knows how long. I was immediately rushed in to an emergency c-section. When they tried to give me my spinal block, my back was inches too swollen from being strapped down in that bed. They had to put me to sleep which is a lot riskier for the mom. I remember the seconds before falling asleep a nurse saying, “I don’t know what the hell they were thinking.” She couldn’t believe how far the doctors allowed this situation to continue. That is the last thing I remember before going under the knife.
“Breathe sweetie. You have to breathe!”. When I woke up I had an oxygen mask on and a nurse was standing over me making sure I didn’t stop breathing. Machines were beeping like crazy and the lights were so bright. Hours had passed since my c-section. My body was so tired which caused my oxygen to keep dropping and the monitors were going nuts, but baby Parker was born and we were both alive.
Both boys were in the NICU doing well. Oliver stayed two and a half weeks in the NICU as a feed/grower and Parker had been declared “traumatized by his delivery” and stayed three and a half weeks. My placental examination came back and stated that I had developed maternal sepsis in my placenta due to the doctors letting me labor too long and the development of fever.
To this day it haunts me. Bonding with the boys has been harder for me. I suffered from severe postpartum depression and post traumatic stress disorder. I was a mess. That experience stole the opportunity to bond with my boys instantly. To laugh and rejoice and snuggle. Post partum depression hit me hard and is one of the darkest periods of my life. More on that of a later date.
It has been a long journey. They are tough, remarkable little boys! At sixteen months they are the funniest, jolliest, sneakiest , stinkiest, sweethearts with smiles that could melt your heart. I would do it all over again for them any day.
and that, my friends, is how two little twin boys have different birthdays!
About the author:
My name is Emilee and I am the proud wife of an amazing husband and mother of four precious babies (all two and under)! Cora is our oldest who just turned two in June, Oliver and Parker who are identical 15 month old twins (born three days apart), and Rosie who is 10 weeks old. Together we live in our cozy victorican home in a downtown Arkansas city.
I made mommyneedsadrpepper.com after several people suggested I document all of the crazy shenanigans my kiddos get into. I hope to entertain everyone with our everyday moments and stories!