My Birth Story. A loving twin birth.
When Lauren and Shannon asked me to teach them the Positive Birth program I was so excited, when they told me their birth was amazing I was over the moon. This birth story is just so beautiful and had me in tears, grab a cuppa and enjoy - N
My birth was everything I could have wished for. My wife Shannon and I are both midwives who have seen amazing labours and births by women using hypnobirthing so we obviously got in contact with Nicole, our colleague and Hypnobirthing practitioner, for a one on one session with her when I was about 30 weeks pregnant with twins.
I started listening to the birth affirmations track whenever I was at home alone on repeat. I had a speaker in the shower, a speaker by the pool and loved listening to the rhythmic voice; over and over, usually not even listening to the words, just letting it wash over me.
I Started listening to Rainbow mist even before our Session because at 28 weeks I was diagnosed with Kidney stones and the pain was so severe I initially thought that I was in preterm labour or had a complication with my placenta that was causing the pain. I used rainbow mist to try to relax and help me to deal with the severe back pain that the stones caused me. Because of the stones, a twin pregnancy, a diagnosis of GDM, my own essential hypertension and IVF I always thought that the challenge for me would be not going into preterm labour. I was particularly concerned between 24 and 32 weeks because I really didn’t want preterm babies. I found listening to all the tracks on repeat as often as possible helped me to relax and just stop my mind from focusing on all the ‘what if’ complications.
I never even considered that I would get to term in my pregnancy so when it happened I was not prepared at all for the “induction” talks that inevitably had to happen because of all the extra risks. As a midwife I knew all the reasons why I should consider an induction, but I was not at all prepared mentally or emotionally to be faced with that decision and that my birth would become even more medicalized. I was so upset at the thought of being ‘watched’ before I was even in labour because I had hoped and assumed that I could labour at home in my shower until I was properly established. My biggest fear had been the car ride into the hospital.
After lots of discussions with our Consultant, between Shannon and I, with lots of my midwife friends and with our MGP midwives I very reluctantly compromised on an induction at 37 weeks. Our care team were amazing and supported us with whatever we decided along the way. In the end I hoped that accepting an early term induction (but lateish for twins) would give me the best chance of a normal birth. I cried a lot that week because I felt torn between so many conflicting issues (and probably also because I was sore, exhausted, petrified, excited and hormonal!)
We arrived at the hospital in the afternoon and after an examination my cervix was found to be nice and soft but posterior and closed, as I knew it would be because I’d had no uterine activity (although there was always some tiny hope in me that I had magically dilated silently!) I discussed with the Drs my hope to labour off the prostaglandin gels and was given 2mgs. After a normal CTG we headed back over to our room on the ward to await some action. After a couple of hours I was tightening and Shannon helped me to put a TENS machine on and we listened to Rainbow Mist to help me relax whilst I bounced on a birthball. As it grew closer to my reassessment time I knew that I had way too much uterine activity to allow me a second dose of PGs but I was not in labour, so I requested some panadeine forte, we used lavender oil and heat packs, in order to try and relax my uterus.
Back to birth suite we went and there was no way I could hide those very palpable tightnings from the midwives hands on my belly or the CTG. Despite my best efforts of convincing the Registrar and Consultant that I could barely feel them and would be fine to have more PGs they were not to be persuaded (rightly so) BUT my cervix had softened more and dilated to 2cm so I requested a stretch with that assessment and hoped that it would be enough to tip me over in to labour.
As part of my birth plan I had agreed to a cannula and epidural once I was in well established labour as they were interventions that I believed were in mine and my babies best interests for my second stage of labour. We went back to our room on the ward to await labour and with a plan to return to birth suite in the morning. THANK GOD my body decided to take over and pretty quickly I was having very regular, pretty painful contractions. I held it in until we were in our room, just Shannon and I, and the door closed and I felt safe, I relaxed and probably established in to labour soon after. The TENS was not cutting it, I was so restless, the pressure was soooooo intense and overwhelming already. That scared me, because I thought at that stage that it was just prosti pains and I felt like I was not tolerating them well at all. I jumped in the shower and put the birth affirmations on. The warm water was amazing, I made it hotter and hotter and just relaxed in to each contraction, letting my body take over from my head. I remained restless, standing then kneeling then lying on the floor. I was a very demanding labourer to my lovely wife, and gave nice clear directions for what I wanted! Pressure on my lower back, rubbing my belly, water on my back then my belly, let me lean on you, put the water back on. I was relentless in my changing demands and she was perfect. I started to get frightened and my head was interfering. On one hand I thought that I was probably just acopic at 2cm and I couldn’t “give in” and ask to go back to birth suite but on the other hand the pressure was so intense that I occasionally felt like pushing and was trying to disguise the grunt at the end of contractions. In my head again I was tossing up between an OP baby or fully and about to birth a twin on the floor of the shower, alone with my wife in our room. I was sure that I was making enough noise that one of the ward midwives would come and order us over to birth suite but they just checked in that we were ok and I really actually can’t remember any interactions with them. I learnt later that Shannon was also a bit concerned that I might be progressing quickly and was watching closely to make sure I didn’t birth in the shower but that was torn by not wanting to be unsupportive in suggesting we move!
We finally made the decision that perhaps it was for the best to transfer and once that decision was made in my head I needed to get over there NOW. I did not want to be sitting, transitional on the edge of my bed for that epidural. Memories of that transfer are blurry but I remember feeling a bit like a wild lion but trying to be polite to everyone and not look crazy! Luckily it was midnight so minimal people were around. On birth suite I was “home”. It was my safe place, where I had worked for years and was surrounded by my friends and colleagues that I trusted. I had a very quick examination which confirmed that while I wasn’t fully, I was well established so it was time for the epidural. I declined the CTG or an ARM until I had the epidural because there was no way that I was staying still or on the bed and I did not need any more pelvic pressure. Everything about the next hour is foggy but I completely LOVED the gas, I loved the way I could inhale very slowly and deeply and the high was something else. I was surprised by how well it helped me to focus and distracted me from the pain. When the epidural was in and everything was calm, we listened to relaxation music from hypnobirthing, I dozed and tried to stay as upright in the bed as possible. My own contractions had dilated me to 5cm, 7cm after my waters were broken and it wasn’t long before I was fully dilated.
Second stage with an epidural was SO HARD. I had always “known” that as a midwife, but as a woman who can feel nothing at all (especially after the earlier pressure) it is demoralising to have that complete loss of sensation. I spent over an hour kneeling, lying on my side, changing position and not using the epidural until finally I could feel something. I still wanted direction when I was pushing because the natural urge had not returned, and here is where I was super lucky. My wife, who I believe to be the worlds greatest midwife (she says I’m biased) was the one there with me, guiding me, supporting me, directing me, encouraging me. Cec, the morning team leader (it was now 7am) was by my ear, holding my head and hand, my friend, someone else I trusted completely. My MGP midwives Sarah and Anika had both came in and were quietly, unobtrusively documenting, watching my babies heart rates, taking birth photos, constantly busy ensuring we were all safe, our privacy protected. Mel and Jason, the night medical team, let Shannon and I do our stuff as we worked together to push that tiny stubborn little Twin 1 out. I wanted to give up, I couldn’t do it, I was too tired, I still had so long to go but Cec never left my side and after every push reminded me to breathe, I will never forget that. Finally I heard the change in everyone’s voice when the encouragement and the “you’re doing so wells” turned in to “YES!!! Just like that”. I could tell the difference. There was a brief mention that maybe we should think about a ventouse. I could not make any decision at that point. I did not want an instrumental but I didn’t know if I could do it. Shannon confidently said, “No. Baby’s heart rate is fine, we can do it”. The next push we moved that head down so far that the Consultant stepped out and left us to it. (I actually discovered that he stayed in but sat quietly in the corner, his feet are in my birth photos!).
A few more pushes and HE was out, tiny and angry looking and crying. A surprise boy (we never found out the sexes but I was leaning towards Twin 1 being a girl and Twin 2 a boy). He went straight skin to skin and Shannon and I were alone, in our bubble, just the 3 of us marveling at what we’d done. I had asked for time after twin 1’s birth and no big rush to expediate twin 2 and lucklily they stayed head down, heart rate stayed strong and my membranes ruptured spontaneously not long after. 15 minutes after Twin 1 was born Mel told Shannon that if she wanted to birth twin 2 then she better get back down there!!! Bub flew down in a couple of pushes and into HER mummy’s hands. She was so twisted up in her cord that we have great photos of Shannon and Mel unwinding her before she to was placed on my chest. 21 minutes after birthing our Son, Eli James, his sister Evan Alexandra joined him in my arms. Evan needed a bit of persuasion to breathe properly but both her mums were there, stimulating her and after a dramatic 30 seconds or so she had a lovely wail and the Paeds left us to it.
We had done it. The most lovely twin vaginal birth. Born into their mum’s hands and passed from Shannon to myself. Surrounded by our strongest supporters. Our decisions and choices respected. I was ecstatic. Hypnobirthing had helped me to relax, through pregnancy, my induction and labour. Hypnobirthing helps to guide parents, who perhaps don’t have our knowledge about physiology and birthing options and enables them to lead their births. It helped redirect me when I was “getting in my head” too much. Not all the tools were for me, the language wasn’t important to me because we felt comfortable with the medical terminology but Nicole teaches you to choose the tools that you are comfortable with and what works for you. I was completely accepting in the end of the turns my pregnancy took, the “hurdles” and difficult decisions. It is not about having a drug free home water birth. It is about loving your birth, feeling in control and respected.
We took our babies home the next day. I am still so proud of my birth. Our older son asked me why I was writing this and I told him that I am proud and I love our birth story. I wanted to tell everyone about it. I love reading other people’s stories and I love talking about birth, in all forms. I want Evan and Eli to know how lucky they are to have had such an amazing birth. I want my amazing team, every person who was involved to know how appreciative I am. Because with new babies you get swept up in a bubble and I may not have managed to thank everyone. If you want to understand your body, your hormones, birth physiology, your choices and tools to support birth and if you want to empower your partner to be THE BEST support person they can be then I can’t recommend hypnobirthing strongly enough.