Ali and Sam’s birth story doesn’t start out with a ton of excitement. Once I hit 35 weeks discussions of when to induce began. Honestly, I didn’t want to be induced. I’ve heard that being induced makes birth harder, and of course I have heard that as soon as you start adding interventions you get closer to a c-section. Now, I am not judging or saying anything bad about c-sections. But I knew I did not want one. That is a major surgery. After the girls were born I would have two newborns and a two year old to care for. Recovering from major abdominal surgery on top of that sounded absolutely awful. So avoiding a c-section was a big deal for me. Yes, I understood that with twins it was a distinct possibility, but I didn’t have to add to reasons why it would have to happen.
All that being said, twins, especially identical twins, are considered full term at 37 weeks. As I’ve mentioned in past updates the big concern with identical twins is that they share a placenta. The reason babies are induced if they go too far past their due date is that the placenta starts to lose optimal function. With two babies and one placenta obviously the placenta feels this strain earlier. My doctors and I went back and forth about when to induce a couple of times. I wanted it pushed back as far as possible to give the girls the most time in the womb as possible. I wanted to make sure their lungs were developed enough. I wanted to make sure they could swallow and eat on their own. Overall, I just wanted to make sure they were ready for life on the outside. Understandably my doctors wanted to get the girls out before any problems could arise. Fortunately my doctor was pretty understanding of my concerns and talked to me about the of inducing when we did. Pat and I discussed it, and we decided to go for it at about 36 and a half weeks. We could have waited another week, but the risks to the girls outweighed any benefits of waiting longer. While it seems like the girls were early compared to a single baby, they were basically a few days before the actual full term time period. That sounded perfect to us.
Of course the days leading up to delivery day I did try a few things to kick start my body to go into labor on its own. I tried walking a lot. Ben and I wandered around different stores to try to get things moving. I did squats and tried bouncing around as much as I could with a giant belly. I did try to eat spicy food. This was a tough one as I HATE spicy food. But I had some hot wings. Okay, they were hot to me. Other people probably would have thought nothing of them, so they might not have been spicy enough to do anything. And if the girls are anything like their brother they will love spicy food and probably were thrilled to finally have something tasty. 😉 We even tried to plan on going out to dinner, which is what caused Ben to finally come. Nothing worked. So that led us to Thursday, induction day.
It honestly worked out for the best, despite my concerns. We took Ben over to Meo and Omi’s house the night before. We all had dinner together and Pat and I were able to put him to bed there. The next morning Pat and I got up early to head over to the hospital. Unfortunately for Pat he did not get to experience the rush of getting us to the hospital quickly. It was a nice quiet morning. I missed Ben, but it was way easier on him and Meo and Omi to already be at their house. We checked into the hospital and got ready to get things going!
Everything actually got started a lot sooner than I thought it would. When Ben was born, I was group B positive. My water broke to start things off, so we headed to the hospital right away. Labor hadn’t really started up yet, so while we headed straight there Pat again missed out on the exciting husband job of driving his wife to the hospital while in labor. Once we got there it took some time to check in and really was over an hour until we got into a labor and delivery room. With the girls it took about 10 minutes as they were ready for us. I was group B positive again, so we started the antibiotics right away. Group B isn’t a big deal as long as you can get the penicillin prior to delivery. They prefer two doses, and they wanted one fully complete before even starting the induction. The IV penicillin can sometimes burn for some people as it is delivered, and sadly I am one of those people. We ended up having to wait a long time for the full dose to keep it from hurting. Pat and I didn’t mind though, it was better than having my arm on fire while it was given. Pat and I just kind of chilled and watched morning tv while this was going on. A nice part about being induced was that we were both reasonably well rested. I went into labor with Ben in the evening, so a good part of it was overnight. The night before I didn’t have the best sleep of my life. It was kind of a cross between trying to sleep the night before Christmas and the day before a really big test. I was so excited to finally meet the girls, but I was also nervous about all the complications that could arise. Most of the time in life I think we don’t get to see the moment everything changes before it is upon us. Even with babies, rarely do we know the exact day the baby will be born. But the night before we induced I knew that tomorrow everything would be different. I would have three children. Ben wouldn’t be an only child anymore. I would never be pregnant again. It was an interesting experience to know we stood on the edge of so many changes, and we were letting it happen. But even with that, it was a way better rest than being in labor overnight. 😉
Once the antibiotic was done they started off the pitocin. I was worried about that part. I heard it makes contractions super hard and makes them come super fast. I was pleasantly surprised when, well, I didn’t really feel anything. Pat and I continued to kind of just hang out. They had to monitor the twins the whole time, which was kind of annoying. You would think for how full my belly was with baby it would be easy to keep tabs on the two of them. Not so. Any time they moved the monitors had to be adjusted. The monitors meant I had to stay in bed, so again it was actually kind of boring. My mom came in the room to hang out with us a bit. That was nice because Pat was able to go get some lunch. Yes, we had hit afternoon by this point. It was nice to have my mom there to hang out and talk with. Daytime tv is not exciting, so there wasn’t anything good to watch. (Random info, we had Law and Order on all day on mute. So maybe the girls will be inspired to become lawyers or something.) While Pat was grabbing some food my doctor decided to break the first water to really get things moving. That’s when things started kind of happening I bit. Contractions started, but weren’t too bad yet. It was actually good to feel things happening.
After Pat made it back to the room things started picking up a bit. My mom nicely headed out to the waiting room to let Pat and I proceed alone. Contractions started really coming a little after 1. Fortunately relaxing through them was a bit easier for me than it was with Ben. I’m not sure if this was because I had been through labor before and knew what to expect, or because the time was shorter, or just because I had built up how painful it would be to undergo induction that I thought it would be worse than it was. But it really wasn’t too bad. Pat was very helpful during the hard contractions though. I don’t like to be touched during them, but I want him right next to me. So poor guy has to kind of stand there because I want him right there. He was able to talk to me while I had a few seconds between contractions. He also helped keep me cool as I got really hot during this time.
After a little bit I did get some of the iv painkillers. Unfortunately for me I waited to long to ask for them and only got a half dose. It was still nice though. They don’t stop the pain really, but they do make you care about it less. Pat was very helpful during this time too, as people kept asking me questions and I wasn’t able to answer most of them. This was also the time the anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself. Now, this was a slightly better introduction than when I met one while in labor with Ben. (With Ben we didn’t have plans for an epidural, but a doctor came in to talk about it anyway. I remember kind of telling him to just get out of the room, and Pat realized the doctor had indeed come to the wrong room. Poor guy probably got yelled at twice for that. Once by me telling him to leave and then again by the poor woman waiting on him in the next room.) While I didn’t yell at anyone, I really wasn’t answering any questions. In general it was more of a nod and a dismissive wave. But what can you expect when you come to talk to a laboring woman? I didn’t have an epidural for the girls. That was a bit of a discussion with my doctor as well. With twins the chances of needing an c-section rise dramatically. Generally they want you to get the epidural so if needed they can just get right to a c-section if needed and you can be awake for it. Without the epidural I would be knocked out completely if an emergency arose. That would mean I wouldn’t see the babies right away, and it would mean that Pat wouldn’t be allowed in the room while they were born. Pat and I had a few conversations about this, and he was very supportive of my decision. The girls were both head down and I was reasonably confident things would work out.
After the anesthesiologist introduced himself several other people came in the room. My doctor was there of course, along with another doctor from the practice to be ready just in case, well, in case two were needed I guess. Each baby had a nurse ready to go as well. I was supposed to deliver in an operating room. This is normal for most twin births these days. Pat got to dress in a super cute coverall outfit to go in with me. Sadly we did not get a picture of him wearing it. I wanted to, but was really in no condition to take a picture. Plus, as we were getting all set to wheel to the OR things got interesting.
They just started to wheel me towards the OR. I remember not liking the movement of the bed. I was already nauseated, plus you know, in labor. And then I felt it. Yes, someone was coming, right then. I yelled out that something was happening. The nurses told me not to push, to ‘blow out the candle.’ I remember learning about this when we took our birth classes with Ben. I understand that sometimes you need to not push. For instance if the cord is wrapped or something, it gives the doctor a chance to undo it before pushing puts too much tension on it. In this case there was also the issue that the doctors weren’t in the room. My doctor had gone to prep in the OR. Fortunately, the other doctor who was going to be there was just out in the hall. Because no matter how much sense not pushing makes when you think about it with a logical mind, my body had other ideas. Alison was coming at that moment. And she did! Seriously, she came out so quickly. (I think Pat didn’t even see it!) The whole vibe of the room shifted. Instead of moving to the OR they pushed me back and we just went for it right in the labor and delivery room.
Alison was perfect and wonderful. She cried out and I got to hold her. Pat cut the cord and we had our first little girl out. It became pretty clear though that baby B had to get out too. Like, now or it was going to be a c-section. This isn’t that uncommon in twins I’ve been told. The first comes out and it causes major changes to the womb set up, which causes baby B to have some problems. Well, I didn’t make it that far to just get a c-section so we were getting my other baby out. I still had Alison on my chest, so I called out for a nurse to take her. (Seriously, I was worried I would drop her, or squish her somehow.) By this point my doctor had arrived. She quickly broke the other water and told me to push. Pat helped hold my head and I pushed to get my other daughter out. Four minutes after Ali joined us Samantha was born. She too was perfect and wonderful. Pat cut the cord, and I got to hold her.
Both girls were healthy and ready to be in the world. That was a concern we had with inducing. But we didn’t need to be concerned. Both got 9s on their Apgar. Alison was 5 pounds 11 ounces, and Samantha was 5 pounds 12 ounces. They were actually only 30 grams apart. Both were 19 inches long. Because they were born a little early, they had their blood sugars checked right away. I wanted to nurse as soon as possible, so the nurses helped me try to get the girls eating. They both latched on right away. I was so relieved to feel them both sucking. I was very worried they would have a hard time eating, but no. They were able to breath, eat, and do everything just right. I know we made the right call in having them when we did.
After the girls had nursed a bit, the nurses took them to clean them up and do all the afterbirth stuff they needed. Pat took a bunch of pictures, and my mom came in to meet them. The doctors did the afterbirth stuff to me. I remembered to ask to see the placenta this time, which was super cool. Yes, the science geek in me came out, but it was so interesting to see the different sacs and cords! The doctor was sure the girls were identical based on the placenta. (yes, as annoying as it is there is still a small unknown factor on that call) I am so glad I was able to not have an epidural. When I had Ben I felt amazing right after birth. The same was true with the girls. I was elated and so happy to have my girls with us. I have to admit I was proud of Pat and me for getting through another childbirth and having our wonderful children in the world.
After about an hour or so I was able to get up and get some regular clothes on. This was important because Big Brother Ben was on his way to see the babies!! He was super cute running into the room. I know he had a ton of fun with Meo and Omi, but I love that he is still so excited to see Pat and me. He wasn’t sure about the babies. He looked at them, but didn’t want to have too much to do with them. He of course loved running around the room and trying to push buttons. There are a lot of buttons in a hospital room! Fortunately he was pretty good. He charmed the nurses with his jumping and playing as well. This was one of my happiest times. I had my sweet girls, healthy and in the world. I had my wonderful son running around. I had my great husband there by my side. It was a perfect moment.
Meo, Omi, and Ben weren’t able to hang out too long. Ben was ready for dinner, so that crew headed out. It was hard to see Ben go again, but I know he was having fun. It was about 7 then, which is shift change. While that was going on Pat and I got some extra time in the room, just holding the girls while we waited to move to the mother/baby rooms downstairs. It was hard to believe that all the events took place in less than 12 hours. We now had our sweet girls with us and were a family of 5. It felt like the last pieces of our puzzle fit together. Team Cartwright was all accounted for.