Read about a twins birth story that leads to a severe hemorrhage post C-section, but a medical team who stepped up and saved this mom with quick action.
Disclaimer: If you are finding that reading about sensitive pregnancy subjects is affecting you in a negative way, consider skipping this and checking out this article: I Had A Routine Twin Pregnancy and Delivery. The story told below is not to upset you but to provide insight on the many different ways that our Twiniversity families have brought their duo into the world.
I found out I was pregnant with twins (di/di) at our 8-week ultrasound. We had only been “trying” for a few weeks when the infamous stick showed double lines. I knew several people who had difficulty conceiving, so by the time the initial appointment came around I was only hoping to hear a healthy heartbeat. I should have known something was up because I took that pregnancy test about a week early out of curiosity and impatience; of course, it came up positive… my HCG levels were sky high. Lo and behold: two sacks, two heartbeats, two parents not anticipating twins now scared out of their minds and scrambling to re-work their expectations.
A low drama twin pregnancy
Fast forward almost 30 weeks. I had a mostly healthy and normal pregnancy without complications. Sure, I had one very swollen foot that no shoe could fit on. Sure, I was the size of a house. Sure, walking hurt and nothing fit and things that fell on the floor were dead to me. But we were all healthy and developing typically and the twins were head down and doing fine.
I went to bed at 37 weeks and 3 days pregnant at my normal hour. Around 4 am I woke up having to pee, as per usual. I went to the bathroom, got back in bed, and immediately felt wetness. I got annoyed with myself like ugh, I JUST went, am I peeing again? I got up and right away realized I was not peeing… my water was breaking. I hightailed it back to the bathroom, but my hurried energy woke up my husband who asked if everything was okay, so I kind of half-shouted, “My water broke!” He shot out of bed and started mopping up the floor as I showered quickly and got ready to head to the hospital. Being the Type A+ that I am, the bags had been packed for 6 weeks already. My doctor told me that if my water broke to not wait until the contractions were close together, just come in, so my husband brought the car around to the front of the house and came back in to help me. I remember pausing with him before walking out our front door, being acutely aware that the next time we were home everything would be different.
Going into labor with twins
The contractions started up in the car on the way to the hospital and it didn’t feel like they were spaced out at all. Luckily, it was only an 8-minute drive at 4:30 am. When we got the hospital, the nurses put the monitors on me, saw that my contractions were TWO minutes apart, and quickly got me into Labor and Delivery. Sadly, I was only two centimeters dilated! This was going to take a while. I had gone into this experience anticipating I would tough it out and not have an epidural until I really couldn’t take it anymore. I assumed contractions would start at 10 minutes apart and getting closer as birth became more imminent. At two minutes apart and barely dilated, that plan changed REAL FAST.
Once I got the epidural, all there was to do was wait and rest. 6 am became 9 am. Nurses assured me my labor was moving quickly and these babies would be here today, definitely by 7 pm. Along comes 7 pm, I was at 8 cm and holding. I had been at 8 cm for a while and didn’t seem to be progressing from there. The medical professionals advised Pitocin and this was one of two things (the second being episiotomy) that I was steadfastly against, but I did not have the energy to fight. I knew about the cascade of interventions and really wanted to avoid it, but I was so tired and worn down and so eager to meet my boys that I “compromised” and asked for a low dose. Well, two hours later and that low dose did not do anything. So they increased it. And increased. And increased. Finally, things were moving and by 2 am I was at 10 cm and it was time to start pushing.
Time to push
After my first few pushes, the medical staff assured me I was doing a great job and making progress and really getting the hang of it. After three hours and two positions, my Baby A (who was sunny-side up), just wasn’t getting any closer. I was given a choice of forceps or a c-section. My husband and I opted for the c-section. We figured even if we could use forceps to successfully retrieve Baby A, there was still another baby to deliver after that and I was exhausted. Plus, forceps could lead to some scary complications for both me and the baby and that terrified me.
It took a surprisingly long time for the operating room to become available and ready especially because I was supposed to deliver in there no matter what. When I finally got in there I remember feeling very cold and very vulnerable. There were a lot of people rushing around trying to set everything up, and a few minutes later my husband came in. They asked me if I could feel “this” (the correct answer is “feel what?”) and as soon as I responded they got started. At 6:10 AM Shane George was born. They lowered the cloth and showed him to me through a clear barrier before taking him away to measure and test him. Three minutes later his brother Reece Holden was born.
I remember no one told me anything about them in those next moments. I kept asking how big were they? What were their APGAR scores? Were they identical? No one told me for what felt like an eternity. My husband was with the boys, as I told him to be. Finally, I caught his eye as he was mid-tear and asked, “Do they look alike?” All he could do was shake his head no. Then a doctor shouted their weights (6lbs 3oz and 6lbs 5oz) and APGAR scores (8s for both). They were healthy! They were perfect!
That’s when I realized I was freezing and I started having a hard time staying awake. I just thought the room was cold and I was tired. I had no idea what was happening. I remember calling my husband over and Jason saying he wanted to stay with me, but the doctor told him he had to leave. I was shivering and there was a lot of activity in the room. I kept asking for more blankets, or could I at least take my arms out of the restraints to put them under the blanket that was already there? I also remember asking if I was dying… or maybe I just thought I asked out loud but I didn’t have the strength to speak, because no one ever answered me.
What happened while I was out
My husband would later tell me that as he was walking out of the room with two nurses and our sons, more team members were running into the operating room with blood products. I remember someone shouting for everyone to stop what they were doing so they could take an account of what had or had not been done and who was doing what. I remember being put back on a gurney to go back into my L&D room (not recovery) and having no idea what happened. I remember two nurses trying to decipher the instructions about when to administer cryocells, platelets, medications. I asked what happened, and they answered my question with, “What do you remember?”
I don’t remember what I replied, but what I learned was that I had a severe hemorrhage. I required three pints of blood, plus platelets, plasma, cryocells, and a Foley balloon. I could barely process this information and definitely could not move and only then did I realize my babies were right there in the room. I finally said how sad I was to have missed that first hour. That’s when the nurses helped me get the babies to do skin to skin and I got to hold them for the first time. It was so surreal. Here they were. My two perfect little boys asleep on my chest, nose to nose, with so much hair! My mom arrived a little while after that to help my husband go back and forth between the hospital and our house to take care of our dog, get food, and help take care of the boys.
I stayed recovering in Labor and Delivery for another day because it was closer to the operating room “just in case.” There was even talk of sending me to the Intensive Care Unit and the only reason they didn’t is because they didn’t want to separate me from the babies. By the next afternoon, all of the doctors were astounded by how well I looked and how well I was recovering so I finally got to go to the postpartum floor.
In the meantime, my Baby A was sent to the NICU because his temperature kept dropping and they couldn’t figure out why. He didn’t have any infections or trouble breathing, just a low temperature. We got to go visit him in the NICU and he looked like he was on a tropical island soaking up some sun under that heat lamp. This kid could not have been more relaxed!
The next morning, Baby A came back to our room. My catheter came out, the needles stopped, and most of my lines were removed. I was even able to go to the bathroom (numbers one AND two!) before I left the hospital.
We were just about ready to walk out the door for discharge when they came in to take everyone’s temperature and found that Baby A’s had dipped AGAIN. He would have to go back to the NICU and stay overnight. I was crushed. I was so excited and ready to take both of my babies home together. They even offered to let me stay another night. By then, I had been in the hospital nearly a week and I was so ready to get out of there. We made the decision to go home with Baby B, with the understanding that Baby A would not be far behind.
We got home on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, our best friends and my dad and his fiancé came over to help organize the house and make us some food. We went back to the NICU to visit Baby A for a few hours. It was so hard to leave him again, but I had another baby at home who was getting hungry, and pumping just wasn’t working for me yet.
Finally on Monday, while at the pediatrician’s office with Baby B, we got the phone call that Baby A could come home that afternoon. My husband went to pick him up and when he walked through the door with our son, everything finally felt complete. I got those hospital bracelets off of everyone as fast as I could. We were all together, at home, safe, healthy, recovering, and ready to start the next chapter. I remember thinking, “They’re ours? No one can take them away?”
What I wish I had done differently with my twins birth
I wish I had advocated for myself better about not getting Pitocin. I wonder all the time if the cascade of interventions is what led to my uterus being worn out and my ultimate hemorrhage, as opposed to letting my body do its thing on its own.
I wish I had insisted on not doing the “sit up” pushing position, and that if they wanted me in that shape to allow my bed to prop me up. I think I grew so exhausted during pushing not because of the pushing, but because my back hurt so much from doing sit ups each time.
I also wish I had some photos of me first seeing the babies in the OR. We got lots of photos of the twins when they were born, but none of my reaction to seeing them for the first time.
That said, I am so grateful to have had such a competent medical team that saved my life when things went haywire. I’m glad I opted for the C-section and not the forceps, especially knowing (in hindsight) what would happen next. And most of all, I’m really glad I got to hold my babies together as soon as it was safe to. That feeling is unlike anything else!
3 things I wish I had packed in my hospital bag for twins
I probably overpacked for the hospital, to be honest, but each day I still sent my mom home to pick up things I forgot to pack. The three things I sent her home for were pacifiers (that the hospital refused to provide), nipple cream (that the hospital did not provide), and an extra set of pajamas! While in the hospital almost a week I was glad to have something else to change into.
C-section recovery tips
My best recovery tips for a c-section are to get walking as soon as you can, take the pain medicine on time, wear compression underwear to get some extra support and pressure, and line up help!
My birth experience was nowhere near what I expected it to be. Ultimately, I had to trust that the medical team knew what they were doing and let go of what I thought everything was supposed to look like. I still get a little jealous of friends who have what I perceive to be more ideal birth experiences and I give myself grace and allow myself to feel that. But I remember that I have two healthy, fun, inquisitive, exploring toddlers now and that brings me back to gratitude. Besides, no one escapes birth totally unscathed, physically or mentally. NO ONE! My body grew two whole humans at the same time, kept them in there for almost 38 full weeks, and evicted them at totally healthy weights with functioning body systems. As a twin mom, I know how special and rare and miraculous that is. What else could I ask for?
Lindsay Davidman has one year old fraternal twin boys and lives in Philadelphia with the twinadoes, her husband, their au pair, and their dog Harley Davidman. She works full time as a fundraiser for a local nonprofit, has recently adopted several indoor plants, finds time to bake almost every week, and is just starting to embrace controlled chaos as a lifestyle.