My Birth Story by: by Maryann Johnson
To understand the remarkable birth of my twins I feel I need to start well before they were born!
At 5 weeks pregnant, while traveling for work, I had spotting. I went to the local emergency room in Los Angeles, thousands of miles away from home. I had an ultrasound that determined I was carrying twins, but one did not have a fetal pole (a thick area on the side of the yolk sack) and that was the reason I was having spotting. I was told it was very common to lose one this early. I returned to the East Coast to follow up with my OBGYN who confirmed I had lost one of the babies. Looking back, I think I should have been more upset. But I feel like maybe inside I just knew it wasn’t true.
My pregnancy went along very well, I was beyond tired most of the first trimester but I was lucky to skip the morning sickness. At 20 weeks we went in for our first ultrasound since that scary day in LA. It was to determine the gender of our baby. We were shocked to find not one but TWO babies in my belly! Both girls! My husband and I were in a state of disbelief but excited.
They could not determine for sure if they were identical or fraternal since they were found so late, but it didn’t really matter to us. It was determined I was not high risk, and I continued to tap dance, do yoga, and work full time.
At 36 weeks, I went in for my first non-stress test. At this time it was found my blood pressure was getting high and I was put on side-lying bed rest at home. I kept working from home (which in the long run kept me sane.)
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At 38 weeks/3 days my doctor decided it was time for me to be induced. We headed to the hospital at 6 am excited to meet our girls. My plan was to have them naturally with no pain meds if I could, but I made myself no promises. I went in at 2 cm and started getting Pitocin. 11 am came, I was still 2 cm. And then 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm, still 2 cm! We determined that was not the day our babies wanted to be born. I remember asking how I would know if my water broke, and the nurses telling me I would “know.”
At 39 weeks, I was beyond sick of bed rest. I snuck out to have lunch with co-workers and I started feeling little gushes. I was sure it was not my water but my co-worker insisted I go to the hospital right away (even though I thought I should call first). At noon I was in the hospital. After the doctor convinced me my water had broken, they started Pitocin again. All afternoon I was not progressing at all. At around 6 pm my labor changed drastically. At 9 pm they checked me for the first time since (when I was 3 cm) and I was 9.5 cm. At this time I was begging for an epidural, but it was too late.
My mom and husband had been with me throughout my labor but as I neared delivery I had to move into the OR and say goodbye to my mom. I pushed for a long time with 15 nurses in the room, 2 OBGYNs, the babies’ teams, and a midwife (yes a LOT of people!) They held Claire from outside of me to make sure she didn’t turn while Ashley was being born. Ashley was born at 12:59 am and weighed 6 lbs 11 oz. I remember seeing her arch her back and cry (she still arches her back when upset) and then it was all a blur.
They did an ultrasound, and Claire had a cord wrapped around her neck. My doctor said I needed to be put under to do an emergency c-section right then. I was so scared. I remember just wanting them to put me under anesthesia. She was born 11 minutes after her big sister and weighed 5 lbs 6 oz.
Around 3 am, I woke up and was told by the nurse I had two beautiful babies. Soon after, my husband (who had been with the girls the whole time) brought Claire in to meet me for the first time and for me to hold Ashley for the first time. Claire took to breast feeding right away, which felt so wonderful after her c-section birth.
I will not sugar coat the fact I had a hard recovery, with many breakdowns and tears in the first few weeks, but I was lucky to have my husband, family and friends supporting me. We were sent home 3 days later, no NICU or extra stay, even though it was during a hurricane, which seems crazy but we were lucky to not lose power or anything else. We have videos of us driving the girls home during the storm. It seems like a dream now.
After their birth, they determined my girls are identical. Claire has continued to be smaller than Ashley but she is catching up every day. In October my twins will be two. It seems like just yesterday they were born and we were back to that crazy day. I cannot imagine just having one baby. The love between them is amazing. I always say to people when they say comments about having twins that it is truly the best thing ever.
by Maryann Johnson