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Guts and glory: The birth of Jill and Diane Unmedicated

Guts and glory: The birth of Jill and Diane

"I had a decision to make as far as medication, and I wasn’t sure yet what to choose."

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I was 37 weeks and four days into my twin pregnancy and beyond thrilled to be heading to my induction appointment at 6 a.m. on a Friday morning.

I was thrilled to be saying goodbye to an uncomfortable existence and hello to some sweet babies. The babies were good sizes, A being almost 7 pounds and B being 5 pounds, so I wasn’t nervous to have them early. (I was having both babies four days earlier than I expected due to a size discrepancy between Baby A and Baby B; Baby B being almost 2 pounds smaller.)

After starting Pitocin, my husband and I settled in to wait for contractions to begin. We had been here before—this was my sixth labor and my third time being induced. I had to be induced for my last pregnancy, also a set of twin girls. (I KNOW!) I was dilated 3 centimeters and ready to move forward.

After a couple hours, I still wasn’t feeling a lot of painful contractions, so my doctor decided to break baby A’s water. I was a little surprised that we could do that already. I didn’t feel like I had gone through enough pain yet to move into breaking water, but I thought, Hey, let’s do it!

That helped things progress and before long, I was breathing through some hard contractions. I had a decision to make as far as medication, and I wasn’t sure yet what to choose. I’ve had epidurals for all my other labors and have always wanted to have a birth without one, but once the pain reaches a certain level I always pick the epidural. I made my choice after they checked my dilation: I was at 5 to 6 centimeters. “I’ll take an epidural,” I said. That didn’t seem like much progress for the amount of pain I was in. I felt like I had a long way to go, and it was getting intense.

We waited on the anesthesiologist for probably 10 or 15 minutes while I labored through some strong contractions—sometimes walking, sometimes braced against the arms of the rocking chair. Other times my husband would rub my shoulders or push on my back. Pain is good. I repeated in my head, alternating with I am strong. I can handle this.

The nurse helped me move onto the bed as the anesthesiologist entered the room. She approached the bed and said, “I have to give you the risks.” She proceeded down a dark list of headaches, possible paralysis and death. “We have not had a death in this hospital,” she said, “but I have to say that.” She also made some comment ending with “because the needle is so big.” Her blunt recital was comedic, though I didn’t recognize the humor until later. “Dad, you have 20 minutes to go get some lunch,” I heard them say.

The nurse was putting a sensor on my finger, and the anesthesiologist was sanitizing my back when I had a massive contraction. I felt overwhelmed with the pain and all of a sudden I cried, “Something is different! I … I think I need to push!” The nurse urged me to blow, as she maneuvered me back to check my dilation. I was completely out of it with the pain. I was at a 9!

Things got really busy as I realized I was going to get my wish, whether I wished it or not. There was not going to be time for an epidural. The nurses were frantically getting a hold of the doctor and trying to find my husband. I grunted out his phone number while I tried to survive another contraction. The phone rang in the room. (We later realized I had given my phone number. My husband’s phone is always on vibrate.) My husband was being paged by the hospital, and the nurses were rushing me to the OR where I had to deliver—in case I need emergency C-section.

The pain was so intense I was involuntarily moaning, sometimes with the words, “Owww, the pain!” The nurses were very helpful in encouraging me, telling me to blow. Blow out the candle. Soon, my husband was beside me with his gown on, and the doctor was saying, “OK, ready to push through the next contraction?” At first I thought, Really? Already?  Then it quickly moved to, Heck yeah!

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I pushed through the most intense pain. My doctor was urging me to slow down, which I’m sure helped me to not tear. Baby A emerged after a brief, insane workout, and I felt intense relief. The pain was gone. Hallelujah! The room was very full of people; two nurses were toweling off Baby A. They asked me for a name. “She’s Jill, right?” I asked my husband. We had such a hard time coming up with names this time.

My doctor was moving the ultrasound probe over my belly, and a nurse was standing next to me ready to turn the baby (Baby B was transverse at beginning of labor). “The feet are at the bottom,” I heard him say. I immediately said a prayer. I did not want a C-section. “I think she’s turning … she’s flipped.” Thank You, God. I pushed with the next contraction and again, I was told to slow down and to stop pushing. This time it was because the bag of water was still intact, and it was emerging under obvious pressure.

My husband said there were lots of exclamations to, “Watch out!” and hands raised to block water spray. The doctor calmly broke my water bag, and I finished pushing out the little one with a little less pain—though I still said, “Ow!” several times. And then it was all over except the crying—the beautiful crying coming from two little girls. Baby B was placed on my chest, all tiny and purplish and wrinkled. I was the happiest soul.

The finishing touches of labor went by in a blur. The placenta delivered effortlessly. I didn’t need any stitches, either. (Yay!) Baby B, whom I needed to get used to calling Diane, went to the NICU for a little extra oxygen, but I wasn’t nervous. I knew she’d be back with us soon. I was covered in warm blankets and was wheeled back to our room. Even with all the blankets I was shaking uncontrollably, but I had gone through it enough to know it would pass. I was so exhausted and still in a bit of pain. It felt so nice to get the bed cleaned up and get my disposable underwear on.

Sure enough, Diane was brought back because she no longer needed extra oxygen. It felt heavenly to have both babies placed on my chest—no more internal kicks! My husband had been having fun taking pictures of Jill, and he then took some of Diane. The congratulations began to fly in as the the pictures flew out. Our nurse (what a wonderful gal) asked if I prefered no epidural to having one. Hmmm. I decided that no epidural is the guts and glory option, but for me, epidurals are hearts and flowers of labor. But would I change it if I could? NO WAY! No regrets from me on this perfect labor. Besides, I never liked those big needles anyway.

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!