birth story part three: everything’s different

Thank you all so much for helping me through this storm. I’d love to invite you lovely people over for coffee. The kind where we can say everything, but don’t need to say anything. Because you understand.

It’s been four weeks since our girls came and went. I still cannot believe it.

When the doctor said that she hoped I’d deliver before the next morning, I had gotten a bit scared. How long could this take? The birth of C had been so easy, most of it must have happened in my sleep, and given her tiny size it hadn’t even been painful. Now, I was waiting for the drugs to work, with no idea of what would happen and when. There was no monitoring, other than nurse M coming in to check on me every now and then. They didn’t want to rush anything as long as I was stable and not bleeding. They even let me drink and eat, and I seized the chance as I was still as hungry as ever in this twin pregnancy, and I thought I’d need lots of energy to make it through the day. The doctor had said that the placenta “sticking” to the uterus was something they were concerned about, apparently this happened more frequently in (very) preterm deliveries*.

The local pain – diagonally from my sides towards my vagina – intensified rather quickly. So much that, when H texted me from home to ask if he could have lunch, I told him to rather come back as I wanted him to be there for A’s birth.

H was completely devastated. He’d written me some more texts while on the way – on the shuttle, luckily, driving might not have been safe. I was getting so busy with the physical aspects that I didn’t have the energy to be as miserable. (I’m not sure if this makes sense, but it seems the best way to describe it.)

Soon after he came back I asked the doctor to check me, as instructed, before going to the bathroom. The contractions were getting even stronger, and now they weren’t just local. She thought I was dilated enough to break A’s waters to get things moving faster. This must have been 3-4h after I got the drugs. From what I read later, it usually takes around 15h until delivery with this medication and dose, so either I respond very well to them or my body was on the way to labor already anyway.

Breaking the bag was harder than expected, especially after we had experienced the spontaneous rupture of C’s bag. It was one of those moments where we wondered if we were really doing the right thing…

Contractions picked up another notch once the fluid was out. I asked for some mild pain medication to take off the edge – it was very important to me that I stay conscious for delivery, but it just seemed pointless to endure extra physical pain. The effect was almost instantaneous and made me slightly dizzy. The doctor was sitting on one side of my bed, and a midwife came in and sat down on the other. H was standing next to the bed, holding my hand, sometimes stroking my hair. We hadn’t really talked about birth yet, and he later said that he hadn’t really known what to do, how to help me, but honestly I think he did the best thing he could – being with me, holding my hand.

They told me to “push into the pain”, but I never had the impression I made any progress with this. I was lying on my back at an angle, which gave me back pain, enough to bother me between contractions. Gravity had helped me to deliver C, so I asked to move the bed into more of a sitting position. I put one leg over the doctor’s legs and the other over the midwife’s legs – for a moment I thought this was weird, but mostly I was too busy to care much, and they were trying to do everything they could to help me through this birth and telling me I was doing great, while I still didn’t feel like I was making any progress. But after a couple more pushes, A was there. Her delivery hadn’t taken long after all – I’d say half an hour of pushing, but then, I had no grasp on time at all.

They asked H if he wanted to cut the cord, but he declined. After they’d cut it, nurse M immediately took A, wrapped her into a baby blanket and placed her in my arms. Between taking care of me she also found the time to get little C and place her next to her sister, so that I had both my daughters in my arms. Surprisingly, A was much bigger than C – we didn’t weigh them so I cannot tell you how much, but just seeing the difference was striking. The midwife said she had come out “bum first”, so those two factors might explain why it had been harder and more painful to birth her.

They set up a pitocin drip to help my uterus contract and the placentas deliver, however they came out by themselves before the drip was started, moments after doctor and midwife had left the room. Nurse M told me to not push but it was too late for that. Doctor and midwife quickly came back, examined the placentas and me for tears or other damage, but declared that everything was fine. My uterus was massaged to further contract and reduce bleeding.

For my husband, the moments directly after A’s birth must have been the strangest part of the whole experience: I was, there is no other way to say it, happy. I had just given birth to my baby, wasn’t that amazing? In part I’m sure I was glad the physical pain was over.** He sat next to me, miserable, and probably bewildered. Of course I knew, somewhere in the back of my head, that something was wrong, but the oxytocin was stronger.

Suddenly I felt a jerk. A was trying to breathe. It was heartbreaking all over again.

This happened once or twice more, with minutes in between. I have no idea how she found the energy. It was just so hard to see this, to see how strong she was, to think if only we had been able to buy her more time…

We stayed in the delivery room for a few more hours. A family of four, somehow, saying hello and saying goodbye.


* I don’t know if this had anything to do with me later having to go back twice for a tiny bit of what seemed to be leftover placenta or membranes.
** I’m sure a full-term vaginal birth is much more painful, but this was painful enough.

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21 thoughts on “birth story part three: everything’s different

  1. Thinking of you often. I think its completely okay for you to find joy or happiness at any moment. Even when you are happy it doesn’t minimize the love you felt for your babies or the loss you experienced. Happy, hopeful or peaceful moments provide a small respite for the overwhelming feelings of loss I kind of think.

  2. Thinking of you. Happiness is allowed at anytime. No one can expect to be so sad at every moment even with this tremendous loss. We need moments of respite even at the oddest times. Hoping for more peaceful moments ahead.

  3. My heart just breaks with you. I’m reminded so much of my delivery of Oscar and Bella. Not as much by the specific details, but simply flashbacks of the doctor sitting on the bed, the nurse on my left and husband on my right. I’m fairly certain that Jon didn’t know what to do, in those moment, either. And the feeling happy and sad and everything all in the same moment..oh, yes.

  4. I wish I knew what to say to make you feel even the tiniest bit better. I don’t, but just wanted you to know that I’m here reading, following your journey, and thinking of you often.

  5. I’m so sorry your beautiful girls couldn’t stay. I first saw your blog a few weeks ago and whenever I glance up into a starry night and see their constellations I think of them. Wishing you peace in the difficult days x

  6. I saw your comment on my blog and wandered over to yours. I wish I could give you a big, huge hug right now. I am so sorry! Your twin baby girls are absolutely beautiful!! My heart aches for you. I will be praying for you to receive peace, comfort, and healing. Please know that you are not alone! Hugs! xoxo

  7. Oh A. My heart goes out to your husband, and yet I find myself feeling grateful that you were so busy with the physical side, and that the oxytocin and adrenaline gave you that sense of happiness. It seems like a tiny gift from biology in the middle of an unthinkable biological tragedy. When you wrote about feeling your daughter trying to breathe… I feel like every time I think you’ve described the most heartbreaking moment that could possibly exist, there’s another one. And maybe that’s what it’s like to experience this, a series of the greatest heartbreaks ever.

    I’m so grateful you got to have your girls in your arms, together again.

    1. Thanks Bunny! I’m grateful for that respite biology gave me. And your observation on the heartbreaks is very true – I couldn’t even say which moment was the most heartbreaking for me. There’s just too many of them, each painful in its own way.

  8. I just can’t even begin to imagine what that must have been like for you. It’s my worst fear, only it came true for you and I am so incredibly sorry and heartbroken for you. I also very much admire you for how you have handled everything with so much grace. Hugs to you!

  9. I just wanted to say how incredibly sorry I am for the loss of your two precious daughters. You wrote on my blog earlier (babytoberman.blogspot.com) and I wanted to let you know how much that meant to me. If you would ever like to talk to someone, feel free to email me. My email is sharlee_585@hotmail.com

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