A Babies Story: I Had a Twin Home Birth

twins home birth

Twiniversity’s “A Babies Story” series features true stories of multiple pregnancies and births from our readers. If you have a unique pregnancy/birth story that you’d like to share with our readers, please write us at julie@twiniversity.com

For a twin mom, I think I have a fairly unique birth story. My twins made their entrance at a planned home birth with a professional midwife; they came at 41 weeks, 1 day; and they weighed 15 pounds combined.

So many women think they don’t have options when they’re planning their twins’ birth. When I started researching in early pregnancy, all the books said to pretty much expect a c-section. Every doctor I visited (and passerby on the street) said there was no way I’d go full term.

As mothers in an age of information overload, I think we can forget to listen to our intuition. The voice within us, telling us what is best for our children and ourselves. My twin birth brought me to my knees in that place and taught me to listen to the voice of peace…the voice of love. But it wasn’t easy.

tv2With our first (singleton) pregnancy, we made the researched decision to birth at home with our trusted midwives. Though our daughter’s labor was 24 hours long and full of twists and turns, we were amazed at the skill and expertise of our team, who patiently and enthusiastically supported us through it all. Sophia was a good-sized baby for my 5’2” frame—9 lbs 5 oz.

So when we happily found we were pregnant again, it was a no-brainer to return to our midwife, Heather, for care. At my first prenatal at a sure-of-my-dates-8-weeks, Heather raised her eyebrows while palpating my uterus and said I felt more like 12 weeks. At 12 weeks, I measured 20. Sure enough, an ultrasound confirmed we were having twins. Does anyone forget that moment? So much joy; so much terror!

Heather asked if I’d like to continue under her care and my husband and I agreed—there was no one we’d trust more. She told me to expect to go to my due date, and she counseled me nutritionally to ensure it. Did you know twin moms need 130 grams of protein a day? It was hard work, but I tried my best—growing two people is no small feat!

tv3While the decision to have a home birth seemed straightforward at first, I admit my mind wavered a lot. I felt a lot of social pressure to birth in the hospital. Heather was sending me to a perinatologist regularly for detailed ultrasounds, and though my particular doctor was generally supportive of home birth for low-risk moms, he honestly treated me like an idiot for planning to have twins out of hospital. He told us off the bat that half of his patients don’t go past 34 weeks, and the rest by 36 weeks (Heather would only deliver if I went past 37 weeks). He insisted my nutrition had no bearing on the health of the babies or my length of gestation.

When Baby B turned breech around 32 weeks, our perinatologist really could not fathom our plans to move forward. He asked how our midwife would handle the breech baby, and I told him she believed Scout could turn after Toby (Baby A) was born. He scoffed that that would never happen. I replied that if it didn’t, we felt comfortable delivering the second baby breech, since breech presentation is a variation of normal. In addition, Scout was healthy and consistently measuring 2 lbs smaller than Toby, and I was sure he’d “pave the way” for her easy birth. (Did I mention I’d birthed a 9 lb 5 oz baby as a first-time mom? I had this in the bag.) And though we passed every biophysical profile and growth scan with flying colors, I always left his office feeling terrible.

As a birth doula myself, I’ve worked with a lot of OBs around town—many of them supportive of natural birth. Second-guessing my motives and desires, I decided to interview them. None of the doctors believed I would go past 38 weeks, which concerned me. I didn’t want to spend my last days of pregnancy fighting induction that wasn’t medically indicated. I wanted my babies to grow as long as they needed, no matter how uncomfortable I was (and boy, was I!). And honestly—I saw having twins as pretty normal. Why was it necessary to labor and birth in the operating room? Why couldn’t I just be wheeled in if needed, like everyone else? I asked a lot of questions about the delivery of our breech Baby B. The doctors either wanted to break her amniotic sac to speed birth, or pull her out by her legs, or operate. I didn’t see that any of that was necessary if things were going well, either. It dawned on me that many doctors nowadays aren’t trained for vaginal breech delivery—they’re told to operate—while my midwives had learned all the tricks of the trade from attending many variations of normal birth.

tv5When I finally decided to share my concerns with Heather back at my usual prenatal, she met my doubts with unconditional love and support. “Lindsey—no matter where you choose to birth, I will be by your side supporting you.” As my eyes welled with tears, she explained that empowered birthing isn’t about WHERE you birth, it’s about making an informed choice about what is right for you and your babies.

Thirty-six weeks was rapidly approaching, and I needed to make a decision. My husband and I talked. We prayed. We researched more and sought trusted friends’ opinions. I went back and forth, back and forth. Time passed and my belly grew. And grew.

Early in my pregnancy I’d heard a quote that must have made its home within me–“There are only two reasons for ever doing anything; one is love, and the other is fear.” And I think for me, suddenly, I was able to quiet my fears and listen to the voice of love, telling me what was the right thing for our family. I knew that Heather was our care provider—she knew us, and she knew our babies–and it was she that needed to usher them in. My husband was supportive and jumped on board; we finally felt peace.

Well, I did go past 36 weeks…38…40… And at 41 weeks and 1 day, after virtually no signs of labor, I decided to try to help things along by way of an old-fashioned castor oil root beer float. The babies and I were fine and healthy, but my ultrasound indicated my uterine lining was beginning to thin and would possibly “lose the ability to contract effectively.” Just in case, I gave it a little nudge.

After my (really disgusting) float and a nap, I started feeling a little crampy around 6 pm. Heather and the other midwives came right over, and thank goodness—because in no time at all, it felt better to bear down with the contractions. Back on our bed, in the same place Sophia was born two and half years prior, sweet Toby began to crown. Since the labor was so fast and he was a good-sized baby, I was a little overwhelmed and almost felt afraid. But I remembered that my body was capable of doing this, and I settled into the stretching sensation of him moving down. Then, at 8:00 p.m.—after only an hour and a half of labor (!)—he was born, and I cradled him in my arms in wonder and disbelief. He was a big boy: 8 lbs, 13 oz.

birth in the caulFor a moment, I actually forgot I still had another baby to deliver. But the urge to push quickly returned, and Heather did her first cervical check to determine Scout’s position. She felt a bulging bag of waters but said with surprise that she thought she was feeling a head! At 8:07 p.m., in one gentle push, 6 lb, 1 oz Scout drifted toward us (head first), completely enclosed in her bag of waters. She had turned, just like we’d hoped. Amazing. Heather gently opened the bag with her hands and little Scout took her first breath before being handed to me.

That moment—holding my two precious, brand new babies in my arms in our own bed, surrounded by my beloved birth team—was maybe the happiest moment of my life. I love remembering it and going back to that place (especially on those days that having twins and a 3-year-old almost sends me over the edge!). I feel that we were protected in our decision to stay home. Scout was given all the time she needed to grow as much as she could. She was born so peacefully in the caul, undisturbed. The babies didn’t have to go anywhere—we just held them and held them. It was all at once magnificent, and completely normal.

I know birth is a loaded subject for many women, and I know it can be painful when it doesn’t go as imagined or hoped for. I certainly felt that we needed to be ready for any change of plans, and we were. But I’m so grateful that we took the time and energy to really wrestle with what was important to us and what we knew was important for our babies. I’m thankful we listened to our hearts and went with our gut.

tv1I also wanted to mention that we had a plan in the event of complications. Heather would only be able to deliver our babies if I reached 37 weeks, so that was a big goal for me (not to mention avoiding the NICU). As I prepared for the birth, I wrote up a hospital birth plan in case we needed to move to the hospital at any point. I talked at length with my midwives about any risks of birthing out of hospital–many complications could be managed at home, but midwives are trained to spot early-on those that couldn’t, in order to transfer before an emergency. I felt very comfortable with transferring if necessary. This wasn’t about my pride; we wanted the best for our babies! I did, in fact, hemorrhage after the birth. But I was never frightened, because I knew my midwives were ready with Pitocin, Cytotec, Methergine, and IV fluids. It was all resolved beautifully.

home birthThank you for reading our story. Please understand that I don’t share it to advise or to persuade. Birth is a very personal decision, and priorities are different for every family.  I wanted to show that there are all sorts of options out there—even for twin birth. And to exhort all mothers: in birth, in parenting—trust yourself. Trust that you and your babies were made for one another; that you know what your babies need; and that you have it within yourself to do this. It may take our whole lives to drown out the voice of fear with the voice of love, but I believe it’s a worthy goal.

Lindsey Bell is a DONA-certified birth doula with a degree in Human Relations from the University of Texas. In any precious free moments, she may be found reading, quilting, baking, or meeting a girlfriend for a craft beer after baby bedtime. Lindsey lives in sunny Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.

Photos courtesy of Leilani Rogers Photography

 

Read more about Lindsey’s birth story here.

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