The Birth of Rhianna May and Euan Christopher
Monday June 14th 2004
Rhianna - 03:40am - 6lbs 10.5oz - 52cm
Euan - 05:50am - 8lbs 13oz - 58cm
Born at Home
I had decided that I wanted a homebirth with an independent midwife before we had even conceived the twins. My first birth was a nightmare - a long labour - a cascade of intervention - and finally an emergency caesarean. My second was much better - in hospital again but this time with a patient midwife who helped me achieve a VBAC. I was petrified that I wouldn't get such a patient midwife this time, so felt the best thing to do was go independent and to stay at home. When I found out I was carrying twins at 20 weeks, I was even more pleased with my decision!!! It didn't sway me from my homebirth at all and I kept to my same decision of no consultant care and no more scans. Although, I did have one very quick scan at 36 weeks as we weren't 100% sure on the leading twin's presentation, and I wanted to get myself prepared if it was a double breech birth on the cards. However, I now wish I hadn't bothered with that scan!
I am going to leave most times out of my birth story as it puts me off of writing about the important bits. I will just tell you now that from waters to birth of twin 2 was about 14 hours. Including the birth of the placentas, it all took place between roughly 15:15 on the 13th June and 06:10 on the 14th June 2004 .
After convincing myself I would go overdue I found myself in a state of shock and panic when my waters went exactly 2 weeks before my due date, on Sunday 13th June. At first I thought I had wet myself - I was in complete denial! I rushed to the loo and after a few minutes I gave in and accepted that this was it. We had been hoping that my waters wouldn't break until well into labour, if not the second stage as we thought the leading twin was a footling breech. However, I checked and there was no prolapsed foot or cord which reassured me a little. I called to my partner Ian to grab me a towel. When I answered his question of "why?" he immediately turned into a bit of a headless chicken and started running round trying to get things sorted and look after our daughters who were only two and a half years and 16 months old. We weren't prepared at all! (38 weeks pregnant with twins and not prepared - what does that say about me?!) I called my midwife Lynn, my mum and text my aunt as I had promised. Lynn was on her way with Rosie, the second midwife, and my mum put down her glass of wine so that she would be able to come up later when I called her again. I wasn't contracting, so I figured there was no rush. Then I just sat on my bum in bed as instructed by Lynn! We didn't want me to get labour going too quickly if it was a footling breech in there. My aunt who has 12 year old twins herself, then called me and made me feel a million times better about these babies being on their way.
Lynn and Rosie arrived and they both seemed happy and calm which reassured me a whole lot more and I relaxed quite a lot. I'd been panicking that I wasn't ready emotionally for the labour. I also wasn't sure how I would manage 4 children who were all so young! But I suddenly felt sure I could do this. We joked a bit about how things had led up to this day - Lynn had told me jokingly I could birth at the weekend as it was quiet for her, and my mum had told me to remember that England's first Euro 2004 match was on Sunday, so not to labour then! I then spent a while worrying that I had annoyed people by labouring during the match as I knew that Lynn, my mum and Ian had all been planning on watching it! I really am not happy unless I have something to worry over! (I will just point out that at no point did anyone make me feel guilty about this - it was just me worrying myself!)
I called my mum after a short time as I had been getting lower back aches. I figured if I called her at this point she could get here in time to watch the football! (See - it was still the only thing on my mind!) We also needed her to give the girls some love and attention as they had figured something was happening and they weren't at all happy about going to bed.
When mum got here she came up to give me a kiss and a cuddle and then took over with our girls. Ian then carried on tying up a few loose ends whilst I contracted slowly but surely whilst pacing the bedroom floor. Lynn called student midwife Lorraine to ask her to attend, and left a message on Mary Cronk's answer phone to let her know things had started. Lynn and I had discussed many aspects and possibilities of the labour before hand, and one thing we agreed on was that things would be handled differently than with a singleton labour and birth - one of those things being an internal early on in labour to confirm the presenting part of twin one. However, we didn't want to do this until there was an extra pair of hands around incase the internal made the labour move on quickly. So we waited for Lorraine before we did anything.
Ian joined us in the room and I found myself relaxing again and my contractions slowed a little. I told them to put the television on and watch the footie seeing as I just wanted to walk around and be on my own at that time. There was a chorus of "are you sure?" and then everyone watched the football and I spent the time alone pacing the hallway. This was a great time for me to emotionally prepare myself for what was going to happen that evening.
As the contractions became more intense I spent half the time sat on the floor and the other half walking around. Rosie encouraged me to give the gym ball a try. I sat on it for about five minutes but found it no more comfortable. I found this strange as it was a great relief for me during my second daughters birth - goes to show each labour is different. Lorraine turned up and then shortly followed by Mary. Lynn then asked me if I would like the internal as obviously it wasn't absolutely necessary and it was my choice, but I decided to go for it as I wanted to know what part of twin one was coming first and how I was doing! I was contracting quite intensely by this point and was anxious that it was going like my previous two births - whacking great contractions with very little results. (I don't do quick births!) Lynn found that the baby's bum was presenting, in a good position for birth and I was 6cm dilated. I was gutted as I felt I had done more than that! I told Lynn how I worried that it was all going exactly like my other births, particularly my first which ended in an emergency caesarean. Lynn laid the options out to me - 1) transfer to hospital now, where the result would probably be a caesarean; 2) stay at home and re-evaluate in an hour - if still no progress transfer or 3) if mum and babies are happy stay at home. I opted for number 3 and Lynn agreed that she felt we were all fine and there was no need to go anywhere.
My mum came up after a while to see how I was doing and she held my hand and stroked my head through contractions for a while. She got up to go after a few contractions and looked really disappointed! I told her that she can stay if she wants to - I wanted her there but was worried that she didn't want to be. Her face suddenly brightened up and she stayed with us, occasionally popping out to get food/drinks for people. I found my mum being in the room really slowed things down a lot. I think it is where I relaxed - it was almost as if I was forcing the contractions on myself! It was a huge relief to get some rest from the intensity of the contractions.
Lynn asked me if I wanted something to eat - I was getting very tired. I kept saying I felt too sick to eat. I ate a banana and then promptly threw it all back up. I was then offered food a few more times and each time found myself wandering to the loo to throw up at the thought of eating! I was offered another internal (all this "offering" rather than instructing was fantastic!) and I decided to go for it again - I wanted to be sure things were happing as I was very, very tired - my eyes had rolled a few times and I had felt I was going to pass out once or twice. Ian was out of the room, so my mum sat behind me supporting me and helping me out as it was a bit on the painful side, but I was found to be 8cm dilated and that cheered me up a lot! Things were definitely moving! I continued to stay mobile - mostly moving around the floor - on hands and knees, kneeling over the bed and sitting upright. I tried laying on my side at one point to see if I could rest in between contractions, but it was the most painful position and I got straight back up again!
I remember Mary leaving the room at some point as she was worried it was getting too cramped. Rosie and Lorraine sat at the other side of the room quietly chatting, my mum was watching from the bed and Lynn and Ian were with me. It was a full room, but it was such a peaceful and respectful atmosphere. It was wonderful knowing I had all these women around me that I trusted and to have Ian by my side supporting me through each contraction.
When I first started feeling pushy, it was all very surreal. I didn't feel like I wanted to push the baby out - I just felt like I wanted to gently push. Lynn and Rosie both encouraged me to listen to my body and do whatever it was asking me to do. I was stood up cuddling Ian and I gently pushed through each contraction. I remember that I was smiling through this bit. I went for a walk down the hallway after a while as the pushy feeling went and was sick again. I had been sipping Complan, but it just wouldn't stay down. After that I stuck to sipping water, which really was all I wanted to do.
I don't really remember any transitional stage as such - I just recall at one point I was breathing through the contractions and then suddenly I was on all fours pushing. I looked at the clock to see if midnight had passed as I had joked earlier about having them on separate days. It was gone midnight, however and I smiled - at least something about this birth would be 'normal'; my twins would be born on the same day!
I knew that the pushing stage would be hard work for me going by previous labours - I was pushing for about two hours in total with the first baby. I only felt like it wasn't working once when I remember saying in desperation "I can't feel the baby at all - it doesn't feel like this pushing is doing anything!" After about and hour and a half I suddenly felt the baby and I was so pleased! I felt I could make my pushes work better and I helped my baby down the birth canal. It was amazing feeling my body clench the baby and move her down. When she rumped it was the oddest feeling - a lot different to what a head crowning feels like and I actually found it a lot more comfortable. She slipped out a little and then back in for a few contractions and then finally she rumped and stayed out for a contraction. With the next contraction I felt something slip out. (A leg.) With the next contraction I felt the next leg slip out. Another contraction and I felt the body slide down. Everyone but Ian was just sat watching everything very quietly. Noone touched me or the baby - it was all just happening. Ian was sat behind with me supporting me through it. When another contraction came I pushed hard and felt an arm slip out. I waited for another contraction, which felt like it took a lot longer to come than the rest, knelt up and leaned on Ian, and then her arm (which was over her chin and face) and her head dropped out. Lynn caught her in mid-air and passed her under my legs to me.
She looked so peaceful. She was smothered in vernix and had that early baby look to her. I cuddled her up to my lower belly as her cord was short. She was taking her time to breathe, so Rosie rubbed her a bit to stimulate her and I kept her next to my skin. She was taking breaths herself, but very slowly. Once the cord had stopped pulsating, it was cut and our first twin - a little girl who we called Rhianna - was given just a little bit of oxygen to help her along. The contractions started again only five or six minutes later - much sooner than I expected! My mum held Rhianna as I didn't feel I could hold her and contract at the same time. Ian stayed with me, ready to help me through pushing again. Rhianna May weighed in at 6lbs 10.5oz and was 52cm long.
Now, I had expected to take a long time with the first twin, but I thought as the way had been stretched already, twin two would be a doddle and really quick. How wrong I was!!! When I started pushing so soon after I was actually really pleased as I thought that meant it would be over soon and I could get on with cuddles and feeding. I went onto the birth stool for a while. Lynn examined me to see what position twin two was coming and she thought she could feel a thigh, but it was still high, so no worries there.
After a short while I was really uncomfortable and tired on the birth stool so I went back to all fours. My waters went with a huge "POP!" and followed by an absolute flood of amniotic fluid! I was contracting strongly again, but as with Rhianna I spent a long time (about an hour and forty-five minutes!) pushing but not feeling the baby. I put Rhianna to my breast between a contraction but had to hand her back quickly when another contraction came. I couldn't help pushing as I really needed to, and Mary was encouraging me to push with all my strength to get this baby moving. Again, everybody was stood back and quietly watching. I remember at one point suddenly feeling very panicky and sat up and told everyone I felt too crowded and claustrophobic. Mary shot out the room and Rosie and Lorraine moved to the other end of the bedroom. Mum was still on the bed cuddling Rhianna who was being wonderfully content sucking her thumb and hiccupping!
After about five minutes I felt fine and wanted people near me again. After about and hour and a half I felt an absolutely huge urge to get upright, so I got back on the birth stool. Lynn did another internal, which felt awful to be honest, but we needed to be sure the baby was progressing after all this time. Lynn had to push my cervix back a bit through a few contractions to help the baby progress, which again was very painful, but I knew that we couldn't leave this baby too long as we were already pushing the usual accepted limits and then some! Then I suddenly felt the baby again and started pushing hard, feeling my body grip him and push him downwards. It felt so much more painful and exhausting than Rhianna and I was really shocked after thinking this would be the easy bit! Lynn suddenly proclaimed "I can see hair!" and everyone cheered! It hurt like hell as he crowned and he was crowned for several contractions before moving anymore. I'm told that he had his hand on his face. Then as his body came I buried my head back into Ian to try to deal with the pain. Next thing I knew he was here and on the floor - a little boy who peed straight away! He was floppy and unresponsive and his colour wasn't great. Mary started resuscitating him with a bag and mask, and Lynn listened to his heart rate which was great through-out. He was being resuscitated still attached to the cord, which I am thankful for as I am sure this helped him. Once the cord stopped pulsating it was cut and Lynn moved him to where there was more room. I didn't know what to do and started to panic that I had done the wrong thing having them at home. Rosie called an ambulance for back up. I climbed onto the bed and laid down just watching what was happening. Mum came over and gave me Rhianna and cuddled us both. Ian was downstairs waiting for the ambulance. Rhianna was asleep, so I just cuddled her close to me.
Just before the ambulance arrived our baby boy had pinked up and was doing brilliantly. After all that his apgar score was ten and I was in complete awe of his strength. When Ian came back upstairs he was in tears and my mum was choked up too and looking a little shocked. It was the biggest fright I have ever had and I am immensely grateful for how well it was dealt with. We now believe this happened because of how long he was crowned for, so he was a little shocked at birth! The resuscitation was handled brilliantly by all the midwives. My mum (a sister on a cardiology ward) even now still tells people how impressed she was with how it was all handled.
Lynn bought our little boy over to me and I took him in my arms too. We didn't know his name yet as Ian and I were in dispute over what to call him! Rosie took Rhianna who was still sleeping and I put our baby boy to my breast and he suckled a few times. I suddenly got a huge contraction again and then I remembered it wasn't all over yet! Birthing the placentas was a little tricky due to some of the membranes not wanting to cooperate. I was trying to cough them out gently to avoid leaving anything behind, and soon both placentas were born together - attached by the membranes. It was now all over and I relaxed and didn't stop smiling! Ian said to me that I can call our little boy whatever I wanted after all that I had done and what had just happened. Like the rest of us he was just so pleased to have him alive and so well, so I got my way and named him Euan Christopher. He weighed in at 8lbs 13oz and was 58cm in length with a 37.9cm head circumference - bigger than any of my singleton babies!
At one point, probably about 2 hours after the births, Lynn was next to me on the bed cuddling Euan and I had Rhianna asleep with me. I was talking to my aunt on the phone when suddenly Lynn said something like "oooooh - guess what I have just noticed?!" and she showed me Euan's hands. He has been graced with six fingers on each hand - one working and one that isn't attached to the knuckle - but they are both fully formed fingers! He certainly is a very special little boy!
The first day was fabulous. I stayed in bed with the twins whilst my mum bought me endless drinks and food! She even cooked us all a lovely roast dinner! My girls were a little taken back when they woke up to find mummy and daddy's bedroom full of people and two little babies. But as the day went on they got more and more interested in the babies - it was so much easier introducing them all at home pretty much straight away.
I wouldn't change a single decision I made about the homebirth. I am so proud and happy that the twins came into this world on the day and time they were meant to and the way they were intended to. They are both very healthy gorgeous babies and I am extremely thankful to the midwives who helped me make that possible - especially Lynn who was the most fantastic midwife I could ever have wished for. My mum admitted to me that she had been weary of my decision to have a homebirth, but after seeing it all she wished she'd had me and my brothers at home and that she was really, really impressed with the midwives and all they did for me and the babies. This was certainly the best life experience I have ever had and I shall cherish the memory of their birth forever.
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