Nine years ago I had a crazy day. I gave birth to two babies…at home…and they were born nearly seven hours apart. Up until that point, It was the hardest day of my life. Never before had I gone through such an array of emotion in less than 24 hours. Never before had I felt weaker and stronger all in the same hour.
Just 16 weeks before that I was pregnant with what I thought was just one baby. At the time I was still married to my first husband and I was the mother of a 2 1/2 year old who’d also been born at home. The pregnancy was rolling right along. Except that I was huge and more uncomfortable than I remembered being that early in my first pregnancy. I dismissed all of this somewhat because my first baby was 10 pounds at birth. I also dismissed the twin dreams that started around 16 weeks into the pregnancy. My best friend had just given birth to twins. Certainly that was a factor. Then of course there was the middle of the night insomnia resulting from feeling like a WWE match was taking place in my womb. I would think “Oh my God, that feels like more than two legs.” Then I’d be Googling “twin pregnancy symptoms” at 3am only to realize that everyone and their mother was convinced they were pregnant with twins. Deciding I was just being a hypochondriac, I’d go back to bed. Until that day. The one where I went to the midwife pretty sure there might be two babies inside of me. So she measured. Yes I was measuring 6 weeks over. Then she listened. Yes, there seemed to be two heartbeats. Holy Crap!!! An ultrasound the next morning confirmed what I’d known in my heart for weeks. Two full sized 23 week baby girls…inside of me!
I researched every single thing I could find on how to carry twins full term. I drank a gallon of water everyday, kept lists of my protein intake which I attempted to do every couple of hours. Early on I was having contractions regularly. Mostly just Braxton Hicks, but the water and protein were always the trick to stopping them. I put myself on bed rest when I felt it was necessary. I am very proud of how well I listened to my body throughout that pregnancy. I saw my midwife weekly. For the actual birth there would be three midwives and my best friend/doula.
For a multiple pregnancy, 37 weeks is considered full term although most twins are born long before then and spend days and/or weeks in the NICU continuing to grow and fighting health problems from premature birth. Trust me, by 37 weeks I was so ready to have those babies. I cried a lot in those last few weeks. I no longer slept much. Just naps whenever I could get comfortable for an hour or so. I wore a maternity band to support my belly. Walking through a parking lot was becoming difficult but I was still grocery shopping and doing necessary errands. At 38 weeks, I woke up to regular contractions. We notified the crew and prepared ourselves. I was 5 cm already. After a full day of labor I progressed to 8 1/2 cm, then my labor just completely stalled out. I went to bed devastated. I was not new to this. I had three separate nights of pre-labor before my first daughter was born. The midwives packed up and went home when it was clear that the babies weren’t coming. They checked on me everyday for the next week. It seemed like baby A who’d originally had her head in the right position had gone back up. But I remained at 8 1/2 cm during that week having contractions on and off. At 39 weeks I went into labor, for real this time. On Good Friday the first baby was born after just two hours of labor. She was 6 1/2 pounds and still my smallest baby to this day.
The next 6 hours and 40 minutes weren’t quite so easy. I nursed the first baby after she was born. Five minutes went by and baby B was not coming down. I went back to 8 1/2 cm and started labor ALL OVER AGAIN! Five minutes turned into hours. At one point I took a shower and sobbed. I was ready for someone to drive me to the damn hospital just a mile down the road to get this baby out of me! I talked to the baby, I begged her to come. I cried into my best friend’s arms. She sang to me and massaged me and promised me that I had every bit of girl power to pull this off. Throughout all of this the midwives were monitoring the baby. She was great and clearly content to stay inside forever. Finally that evening I started having the urge to push and at last my 7 pound 10 inch baby was born!
On this day every year I think back to that time. Nine years later it’s still hard to believe that I gave birth to two babies in the same day. It prepared me for what was to come. I needed great strength to go through a divorce when the twins were still in diapers. Then I needed strength to risk love again and remarry and give birth again to another beautiful little soul. A couple of years later, I lost a baby at 11 weeks pregnant, my own life nearly ending with it. The strength of carrying the twins and delivering them the way I did taught me that there was little I couldn’t bare. That strength is inside each of us. We just need inspiration at times to dig deep and tap into it. Find your strength today.