There haven’t been many times in my life where I have been uncertain if I could keep going. Being pregnant with twins and reaching 38 weeks was a huge deal for me, so I couldn’t help but wallow in that sentiment. It was just … exhausting. Physically I felt inept. Emotionally it took perseverance to remain calm, remain loving, and not behave how I felt. And finally, spiritually, I leaned heavily on the Lord to guard and direct my thoughts towards everything and everyone. That, and I asked Him to speak to me in that still, small way that He does in order to grow amidst it all. I’m so thankful for that.
Sunday night, September 9, 2012, everyone in our family was really hoping that the twins would be born the next day on my mom’s birthday (my maiden name is Baer, so we call her “Momma Baer”)—like my daughter Vivien had been the year before. It was like this “Could lightning really strike twice?” sort of mentality, and while I enjoyed thinking of the fun, I also hoped in my heart that they would get their own day. Momma Baer made eggplant parmesan sloppy joes (which were amazingly delicious) and both sides of the immediate family ate together and mused on the next 24 hours.
That night, while my husband Jonathan and others got the house ready for our final inspection from the bank (which was also on Monday), I finally packed my suitcase and finished up the rest of the things I wanted to get done around the house that were pertinent. I mean, we had only moved in two weeks prior, but SO MUCH had been done that we had already started painting.
That night I couldn’t sleep well. I woke on two separate occasions to go downstairs and get on the birthing ball to count contractions. They were in patterns, but I knew they weren’t strong enough to be anything but early labor at best. A week prior, the doctor was excited to inform me of my already 2 cm and 70 percent effaced state, proclaiming that she “hopefully wouldn’t see me next week!” She was right.
Monday morning I didn’t sleep well and Jonathan decided to stay home from work. We had a sweet family breakfast with Vivien to celebrate our birthday girl’s day and then we all took a walk together. It was very sweet. Our first family walk in our new neighborhood. We decided on family nap time and woke up to have lunch together. I still wasn’t having consistent contractions, but they were there, nonetheless. So, Jonathan and I prayed about it and decided to go in and at least be checked out to see what was happening.
Monday late afternoon we drove Vivien over to be with Grandma and Grandpa, and then we put all of our strategically packed bags in the car and headed to the hospital. The triage experience was nice (a stark contrast from Vivien’s birth). I met Sally, whom I hadn’t met before at the practice and I really liked her demeanor. She reminded me of the Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in looks, but her temperament was of a seasoned veteran in the birthing arena. I felt at ease.
She admitted she was stingy when it came to centimeters, so after watching me contract on the monitors for a while and letting us take a little walk around to see if my contractions would grow longer and stronger, she declared me admitted to Labor and Delivery, although she asked if I wanted to have my membranes stripped. I told her that I was glad to have her do that! (Remember, I was 38 weeks that day!) It didn’t hurt one bit and we were admitted shortly.
Somehow in the 200 feet I was wheeled between rooms, my blood pressure went from perfect to sky high. Why? I don’t know. Sally thought I may just be in pain and was willing to dismiss it, but as time wore on and it didn’t go down, the news came that they wanted me “strapped to the bed and monitored.”
Let me backtrack. I had met my nurses. I had two assigned to me. The first was a timid girl, Erin, who was brand new and you could tell. Her bedside demeanor was very sweet, but she was inexperienced. She was shadowed by Allison, who is a seasoned RN and whom I thought (in my professional opinion—ha!) should be a doula as well. I told her as much at some point.
So there was our little working crew of five. At first it was very nice. Everyone talked, Sally came in to check my progress (which was little) and she asked if I wanted my water broken too. She said that Elijah’s bag was bulging and I didn’t want to wait it out, so with ease we agreed.
Back to the blood pressure monitoring part: My contractions really picked up very quickly after that. But my blood pressure wouldn’t slow down and the babies were moving so much they wanted me to just lay there and be hooked up like a robot. At the news, I waited until the nurses turned away from my face to start crying heavily. I was embarrassed at my reaction, but I knew if I didn’t intervene on my behalf, I would have an intervention-filled birth. Frankly, you just can’t give birth in a bed strapped up like a science project. It’s TOO HARD and I knew that from the year prior with Vivien.
Sally came in and caught me crying. The nurses turned around as she was saying “Everything okay here? If so then why are you crying?” And I spilled my guts readily! I told her that if she was calling me to be monitored the entire time (while my gymnast babies constantly refused to be held down) then I should go ahead and get an epidural and pitocin and call it a day because I wouldn’t be able to labor.
Sally agreed to having my monitoring be very intermittent. Once an hour, just to check on all three of us. I was ELATED.
Upon hearing the news, Jonathan and I got to work on laboring as a team. We studied the Bradley method together in our spare time, so we worked on those techniques of relaxation while he coached me through them. I was surprised at how vocal I needed to be as well. It worked great.
And then I reached transition. I remember thinking “I must be in transition, because I am shaking and losing control.” At the time I was hitting this step, the contractions were coming in deep, strong, almost intolerable waves and the nurses were supposedly at a place where it was time to monitor me again. I was ANGRY. In fact, Jonathan says I kept saying how angry I was as I ripped off the blood pressure cuff every time they repositioned it on me, and I ripped off the monitors on my belly as well. I couldn’t get comfortable enough to cope with the contractions and breathe through them while all of that nonsense was going on. I found myself falling to the floor on my knees, crawling on the bed, on all fours, anything to try to get away from the craziness and get back on top of my contractions. It felt too late though, I had lost control and I couldn’t get it back. I couldn’t breathe and I was so stressed out that I was even taking it out on my husband.
The inexperienced nurse came in and asked if she could check me. She hadn’t before. I don’t know why I agreed to it. It must have been divine providence for the events that were about to happen. Erin checked me and I screamed and writhed around (because she was hurting me) and she said uncertainly “Five?”
At that point (I thought I was about done, remember? Transition?) I ordered my own epidural about ten times before anyone took me seriously. I was a wreck and I knew in that state I wouldn’t be doing anything that looked like pushing. Jonathan tried to talk me out of it over and over again, but he finally relented.
At this point I was hearing, “You have to be still in order to get an epidural,” etc., etc. I yelled “I can’t! I’m being as still as I can! I can’t BREATHE!!!!” So Allison grabbed my body, sat me on the side on the bed (I may have been on all fours on top of it?) put a pillow in my lap and started talking calmly and rationally in my ear. She had me visualize and get stable with a mental picture. Somehow I turned that into a little yodeler (like from The Price is Right) going up a mountain and over it. I made it through three contractions this way and actually had the thought that I could continue if I had someone centering me that way. I even thought to tell her that she should be a doula and that she was saving my life. (I totally understand why women need to hire doulas now.)
I was still angry with everyone when Dr. Burns got there to administer my epidural. He just wouldn’t stop asking me stupid questions and I basically verbally abused him to get the heck on with it. I was not interested in answering a bunch of questions.
Turns out, that whole time I was 9 cm dilated. But, before I lament the epidural, I should tell you—it ended up being the best decision I could have made and I didn’t even know it!
I had remembered the perinatologist telling us a handful of weeks ago that an epidural with a twin delivery, while not necessary, was something I may want to really consider in case Baby B (Evelyn) wasn’t behaving and someone had to “go in after her.” Because she had turned head down at the end, I wasn’t anticipating this at all, so we brushed it off.
Back to delivery: So I got the epidural. But since I was already at a 10, it was hardly working as as they got me prepped to deliver. They joked about my great attitude change, and I apologized for my behavior and pushed Elijah out in three pushes. It was lovely. He was bigger than they thought: 6.15 point 75, rounded to 7 pounds. Jonathan and I were elated and I got to hold him and love on him. It was so awesome. We had a son!
But our elation was short lived. As soon as Elijah made his exit, Evelyn decided she no longer wanted to be head down, but that she was ready to take up shop in there and hang out.
At this point, no one was truly panicked, Sally and the observing doctor, Dr. Conde, got out the ultrasound machine and decided to get to work on turning her. For 1.5 hours I had arms up in me and pushing down on my belly trying to move Evelyn. And if I wouldn’t have had the epidural, I would have NEVER EVER SURVIVED that brutality. Just watching them made me slightly nauseous. It was intense. They worked on turning her breech first. This was because she was tummy up transverse and didn’t want to turn head down. She would only show her feet to us! So I tried pushing breech, but she wasn’t engaged and my pushes were in vain. She did start squirming and moving, so Dr. Conde decided to flip her head down—and that worked. Sally, whom at this point I had named the birth whisperer, was so positive about what we were doing that I never really thought I was in danger of being C-sectioned. She said we would make it happen and gave me very reassuring looks as Jonathan was in the background, I’m sure, feeling helpless. He communicated with family, asking for prayers, and we made eye contact in silent prayers asking the Lord to help us!
I started to nurse Elijah at this point, but once he was finished and asleep on me, she still wasn’t head down and my contractions started to subside.
I was ordered to be put on pitocin and given fluids for my hydration. I was fine with both. I felt so tired and dehydrated, and with the epidural I was ready to just push her out!
They had to leave me and Elijah together on the bed sort of sit up while they waited for Evelyn to come down the birth canal. Jonathan had fallen asleep, so it was very peaceful to spend time with my little man while we waited.
The next five hours were a blur of nurses trying to check me every hour with no progress on Evelyn’s part. It was because she was ROP—or “sunny side up” inside the birth canal, so she didn’t want to come down correctly. While Elijah and Daddy slept, I was moved in different positions to try to encourage a turn from her, but to no avail.
At about 8 a.m., a little over four hours since Elijah had been born, there was a big shift change in midwives and nurses and Sally left, reluctantly. She said she would check on me and was very encouraging.
In came Lana, Doctor Simmons, and a new RN, Jan. They were fresh and with perseverance in their eyes told me they were going to cheer me through this and that I could do it. That we were going to do it! I was exhausted and starving, but with their attitude and Jonathan by my side holding my right leg, I had a team of people who believed in me. I set my sights on the goal even though the thought of pushing one more time made me want to die.
My contractions were 2 to 5 minutes apart on the pitocin. There was a lot of lag time between pushes and everyone would sort of make small talk while we waited. Every time it was time to push though, I MADE IT COUNT. Tears would stream down my face as I pushed with all of my might, and the Lord brought scripture to my mind to encourage me as I silently prayed to Him to help me or I was done.
I was so empowered to make it through the almost two hours of slowly but surely pushing out Evelyn. Her water had never broken until this process and I told Jonathan that if she was born in the caul, I wanted a picture to show my Facebook mama group!
Lana, my midwife, told me later that anyone else would have just sectioned me four hours earlier and called it. I will forever be grateful to that team of women for working with us. Evelyn was born sunnyside up at 10:14 a.m., 6 hours and 25 minutes after Elijah. She was 6 pounds 14.75 ounces, rounded up to 6 pounds 15 ounces, and we all marveled at their closeness in size. Both of the kids were 9 on the Apgar scale and were great in recovery, so we felt crazy blessed. When Evelyn finally emerged, she looked so much like Vivien to me that that is what I said … that and “You little stinker!” We were just so shocked to finally see her after all that craziness!
It was an amazing delivery—one I will never ever forget—but we are SO THANKFUL for our team that helped us get it done.
And Eli and Evelyn, we thank God every day for you both … even when you are crying all night. Haha! We love you little ones!