My Twin Birth Story
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I had “writing out the birth story of my twins” on my “birth wish list” as something I wanted to do within the first 24 hours of their arrival. Not sure what I thought would happen, but here I am sitting down to write it over a month after the fact. They actually turn two months next week!! I only wanted to type it out so quickly so I didn’t forget anything, but I’ll do my best to recall everything. I still remember quite a bit, as does Nick. Plus he did a good job of documenting it.
Photos taken 10/13/2021
On the morning of Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, I went to the hospital for my final non-stress test (NST) of this pregnancy. If you’re unfamiliar with NSTs, they are exams that record your baby’s movement and heart rate, along with any contractions you may have. One of the things they can tell the doctor is if the baby is in distress and should be born early. My babies moved A LOT, so I was often there 2 - 4 hours, as they would get themselves off of the monitor. Once completed, I would wait for my maternal fetal medicine (MFM) doctor to read the results and then release me. I had these twice a week starting at 34 weeks because I was pregnant with twins, and twin pregnancies are higher risk. The first time I went in for an NST, I reminded Nick that there was a possibility they wouldn’t let me leave and the babies would make their arrival soon after. Each appointment after the first I became less and less concerned that “today would be the day”. I was actually pretty annoyed because at this point I was in constant pain and it was uncomfortable to do anything. I was thankful that they were still healthy, growing, and safe; however, so many people and doctors alike said that they would be here by now. Because of all that, I was mentally ready. On top of that, I had been packed for the hospital since 30 weeks! I truly thought they would have arrived by the first week of October, if not before. The statistics were even pointing me to that, as on average twins are born at 36 weeks and more than 50% come at or before week 37.* At this last NST, 2 days prior to their scheduled c section date of October 15th, I was finally wrapping my head around the fact that they would arrive then.
*For reference, it is not recommended for di-di twin pregnancies to go past 38 weeks due to placenta deterioration and for the safety / health of the babies. My c-section was scheduled for 38 weeks and 3 days, but I delivered 38 weeks and 1 day. Also if you give birth to twins in a hospital, you have to do so in an operating room even if you decide to try delivering vaginally. My babies moved all the time and though they were both vertex around 22 weeks, they were never both head down again. Once I found out I had twins, I began mentally preparing for a c-section, as I knew it was very likely I’d end up going that route.
Let’s backtrack a bit. During the week of October 4th, I had a headache that lasted 3+ days. At this point I was seeing a doctor every week, alternating between my OB and my MFM doctors. I made it a point to mention the headache to my MFM that week, as I knew it could be a sign of pre eclampsia (PE), which would call for an early delivery. We double checked my blood pressure (it was normal, not high which can mean PE) and screened my urine for protein (there were trace amounts, high protein is another PE symptom). I even called my OB’s office to see if my urine from the previous week had protein. It didn’t. Nevertheless, my MFM wanted me to have another NST. I had one scheduled for the following day (10/08) anyway (my 2nd for the week), so that worked out. The babies were fine, but when they ran routine labs along with testing my urine, they noticed my platelets had dropped. “Normal” platelet counts are above 140 K/uL and mine had dropped to around 113 K/uL. Low platelet counts are an issue for a lot of reasons, but the main problem for me was that I needed them to be in the normal range for my surgery to go as planned. Platelets help your blood clot and if you don’t have regular levels, you can lose a lot of blood and have complications during surgery. If mine didn’t pop back up and/or continued to decline, they would have had to take more drastic measures like give me platelets and put me completely under (versus a spinal / epidural where I would be awake) to safely deliver my twins.
I went back for my NST the next day (10/08) and my platelet counts were still low, but had only dropped to 108 so they were considered stable. To keep an eye on the situation, my MFM asked me to schedule another NST over the weekend. I went in on Sunday (10/10), and my platelets had increased to 119. The fact that they popped up was a good sign! I had my last OB appointment on Tuesday (10/12) and was mentally and physically ready for our 5:30 am check in time for Friday (10/15)! Neither me nor my OB could believe I made it to the 38 week mark.
Back to where I began this story… the morning of Wednesday (10/13) when I went in for my last NST pre-delivery. I meant to get up and do my hair that day. It was something I had been doing pre-appointment, just in case I needed to stay; however, that morning I woke up late and barely had time to eat breakfast before leaving the house. At this point I had these NST appointments on lock. I brought my headphones, a snack, and a water bottle. Once I was settled in the bed, I requested my juice cocktail with “Sonic” ice, ready to relax for the next 3+ hours. About 45 minutes in and I was cruising. I had already sent in my urine test and bloodwork and was almost done with the book I was reading at the time, eager to start another on my list. Next thing I know, I see a nurse at my door looking slightly worried. She informed me that my platelets had dropped below 100 (86 to be exact) and that I wouldn’t be going home that day. She had spoken to both my MFM and my OB and they were working on getting me scheduled for that day(!!) . Any other day I would have said “let’s go, I’m ready!”; but, it was a complete shock. I was glad the babies were still healthy and there weren’t any issues from them being stressed, but I was also nervous because it was my body that was the issue. A little context…the previous year I felt like my body was failing me. Between being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and having a miscarriage, I didn’t know what would happen and I really didn’t want to be put to sleep for the arrival of my babies. I don’t really know what the nurse said next , as I mentally blacked out; but, she told me not to drink or eat anything else and that I was scheduled for 8:00 pm that evening. I called Nick and told him and this set our hospital stay into motion. While I was waiting for him, they gave me a gown, prepped the area (aka freshly shaved my nether regions) and gave my my first IV.
The good thing about my surgery being schedule for 8:00 pm is that Nick was able to relatively take his time. The car was 98% packed already, so he didn’t have anything major to do on that front. He finished up some work things, dropped Dino off at his ‘dog hotel’, picked up lunch, then headed to me. The hospital is less than 10 minutes from our apartment, so even with a little LA traffic, it is a pretty quick trip. The bad thing about my surgery being so late in the day was that I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink ANYTHING while I was waiting. To be honest, I never got hungry or missed food... I did miss water though. The nurse slipped me a cup of contraband ice chips, but other than that I didn’t have food other than the breakfast I barely scarfed down around 8:30 am that morning. My nurse took pity on me later in the afternoon and gave me one more cup of ice chips, but that was it. I typically drink around a liter of water every hour(ish) so this was the worst part of waiting. Looking back this was surprising as I thought the worst part would be all the waiting and the anxiety that comes along with it. I felt at peace, which I’d much rather feel than being anxious and not thirsty.
Something I wanted to note here is that once Nick got to the hospital, he continued to work just to tie up a couple loose ends. He has 8 weeks of fully paid paternity leave and can stack vacation days on top of it, so he was preparing to be out for quite a while. Upon attending those last meetings, he had people telling him to get off of the call and focus on me. It was really sweet and just a reminder of the kind of people he works with. We are super thankful for his company! To be very clear, he was focusing on me. I told him to go ahead and work, as all I was doing was laying there. No biggie to me, but I appreciated the concern from his office. Some women don’t even get treated like that regarding leave, so that kindness wasn’t lost on me.
I don’t remember much of the afternoon except that it flew by and crept by at the same time. I stayed in bed with the monitors on my stomach, keeping watch over the babies. They put in another IV (I had to have two IVs as I was having two babies / just to be safe for the operating room ((OR)) ) They were giving me fluid during the day, but I still felt so thirsty. Later in the afternoon they gave me sugar water via IV because my blood sugar was so low. It makes complete sense that it was, as I hadn’t eaten all day! I thought there would be more “prep” pre-surgery, but the second IV was the last step. Though the c-section was planned for 8:00 pm, it wouldn’t begin exactly at that time. That is when I would go to the OR and receive my anesthesia. For some reason I thought I’d get it prior to the “start time”. Shortly before 8:00 pm, they brought Nick what they called a “dad pack” which is basically just paper scrubs for the OR and gave me a hairnet. The last steps pre-operating room!
At 8:00 pm my nurses came and got me and took me back to the OR. I walked in and the nurses pushed my IV line and fluid bags. I don’t remember why he was there first, but Nick was sitting outside of the OR and I walked past him. The nurses asked if I wanted to hug or kiss him one last time before going in and I said no. Hah! It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it was more that I thought that might make me emotional and I didn’t want be that way right before getting my anesthesia. Either way it was funny that I flat out said no - even better is that Nick got me saying that on video! My first impression of the OR is that it was smaller than I thought it would be and there were less people than I predicted. Twin births typically require double the staff, plus others often observe. I expected upwards of 14, but can really only recall 8, maybe 10 people.
The spinal / epidural (I had a mixture of both) was always something that made me nervous. Even more so than the giving birth part! I have scoliosis and have always been nervous that they wouldn’t be able to stick me correctly as that is what happened to my mom. No thank you, I don’t want to be jabbed excessively with a super long needle! My anesthesiologist was a rockstar though and she did such a good job. The hardest part wasn’t the pain. It was that I had this huge watermelon of a stomach and had to hunch like a cat while relaxing my shoulders, all while sitting up. Because I often pass out due to a vasovagal response, a nurse had to stand in front of me while I basically hugged her, so I wouldn’t fall off the table. I was clammy because of my fight or flight symptoms, but wearing a mask (thanks to COVID) all while nuzzling another person’s chest made it worse. Needless to say I could not breathe well at all. The second prick hurt more than the first (I think there were only two?) and I had a hard time staying still, but it went by quickly. My legs started to get warm and it was actually kind of nice, because the room was very cold. Next they put in my catheter and I was officially ready. At this point they allowed Nick to come into the room. They already had the curtain up, he sat down beside me, then they began soon after. We were allowed to play music (you can listen to our birth playlist here) and we were MAYBE in the second song and Cyprus arrived at 8:43 pm. A minute later at 8:44 pm, his sister Olive greeted us earth side. I heard from others that you get immediate relief once they deliver, and they were 100% right. Once Cyprus was out, the majority of my pressure was relieved. When they took out Olive, I felt like I was at a yoga class. I had forgotten I could once breathe so deeply. It was insane!
I received a lot of questions as to whether I remembered meeting the twins and whether I was aware of everything. The answer is yes and no. The c section was honestly not as bad as I thought it would be. I was very nervous about overthinking it and getting clammy / losing consciousness mid-surgery. I think it was the drugs along with the oxygen (I had under my mask), because I didn’t even bother me that they were cutting me open. I felt no pain and was very much at ease. I knew things were happening and Nick was narrating for me, but as you read above, I wasn’t very much aware of the surgery. I do recall very vividly when they came and put Cyprus on my chest. He was right in front of my face, so much so, I could barely see him as he was too close. Olive was placed soon after to the left of me. For that reason, I could really look at her face, where I couldn’t really with Cy. Nick introduced me to them and it was a very special moment. It was all very sweet until I told them I was going to throw up - hah! They quickly took the babies back to the warmers. I think it was partially the drugs that caused me to vomit, but also the fact that I was so thirsty and had not ingested anything 12+ hours. While they were finishing surgery, my body began to shake. I knew this was normal for a vaginal delivery, but for some reason didn’t think that it would occur during a Cesarean section (c-section). I tried to stay very still, because I thought the shaking would mess up the surgery. My OB could tell I was trying to stop the shakes and urged me to let them happen and confirmed that everything was okay / it would not interrupt the procedure.
Like many people told me, the stitching up part of the c-section took longer than their actual births. I don’t remember thinking “wow I’ve been laying here for so long”, but I couldn’t see above the curtain during the entire procedure and my anesthesiologist took great care of me. Nick was able to go be with the babies and cut their cord clamps, while the doctors worked on me. I thought that I would be upset he wasn’t with me for the latter half of the surgery, but he was there intermittently and I barely noticed when he wasn’t there thanks to my anesthesiologist. I truly lost track of time during our hospital stay, but the twins were born about 15 ‘til 9:00 pm and I don’t think we went to recovery (the area next to the OR) until 10:15 pm. We spent 2 hours there where the babies were cared for and I had my stomach massaged. I remember being cold, shaking, and being VERY itchy, especially on my face. I got to hold the babies more during this time and even breastfeed. I didn’t know if I would be able to nurse, as a lot of twins have to go straight to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). After begging the nurses, they finally gave me ice chips. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep them down, as I was vomiting frequently. For that reason I wasn’t allowed to have ice anymore and they gave me a dosage of Zofran. Around 12:30 am, we finally made it to our room along with our babies. They didn’t need any NICU time at all and never left our side during our stay, which was such a blessing! We were both pretty delirious at this point. I still had my catheter in and couldn’t get up from the bed, so Nick (and the nurses occasionally) changed diapers and brought me the babies to nurse. Nick was hungry by the time we got to our room, so he ordered takeout. I on the other hand could still not eat or drink. It ended up being a mistake / there was something funky with his food. He stood up too fast from his “bed” and clunked to the bathroom. The next thing I knew, I heard a thud as he had passed out on the bathroom floor. Mind you, at this point I could not get out of bed due to my catheter / legs being bound. I frantically began calling the nurses. After what seemed like forever, I finally got someone to answer me. I made Nick stay on the bathroom floor once he came-to, as I didn’t want him passing out again. Much to his embarrassment, there were probably 8-10 nurses in our room when all was said and done. They brought him some juice and we called it a night. We really aren’t sure what happened, as he isn’t prone to fainting. I chalk it up to a very long day with some greasy food and not a lot of water. He thinks it was a small case of food poisoning. Who knows!
Thursday | Day 2 | 10/14 I’d say the next day was really a blur, but not sure I can say “the next day”, as we never really transitioned from day to night. Come mid-morning I still could not stop throwing up, so I wasn’t allowed to eat, much less drink anything. They gave me another dose of Zofran and told me to take it easy on the ice chips, but did allow me to have some. I really wasn’t hungry / missing food which is still so surprising to me. I could tell my body was missing fluids though, as my lips hurt really bad and were so chapped that they were bright pink. My skin also felt very dry and I had marks from where the oxygen tubes had hit under my nose. I was able to keep down the ice chips, so by late lunch time I was allowed to consume a clear-liquid diet!! Broth, cranberry juice, and jello were my companions and for that I was so thankful! The other good news from day 2 is that I had my catheter removed and was able to walk around. One of the biggest pieces of advice I received regarding c sections was to get up as soon as you can. My first adventure out of bed was just to the bathroom, where I tried to pee on my own. That was an event in and of itself. There were 3 nurses outside the door, waiting for me to say whether I did it or not. I was not able to the first time, but the second time I tried, I was successful thanks to a nurse giving me a cup of water and a straw. She instructed me to blow bubbles and for some reason that worked! The next few times it was still a struggle to go, but I mimicked blowing bubbles sans cup / straw and (literally just blowing out of my mouth) that worked like a charm. Keep that in mind should you have a c-section! After I went for a walk around the floor with one of my favorite nurse assistants - Rosa. Once I was up and moving I was pretty much okay, but getting out of bed and moving in bed, I had a sharp pain in my hip. I ended up thinking this was normal, as a lot of people mentioned incision pain and burning. It wasn’t, but more on this later. After the walk I felt kind of gross, so I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and changed my gown for the first time in 24+ hours. I felt like a new woman! One lingering symptom I noticed was that I was very itchy all over my body. This was likely from the anesthesia and eventually wore off by the end of day 3. Another tip I received besides making sure to move is to stay ahead of the pain. For that reason, I made sure to accept the meds they were giving me, which I believe alternated between Motrin and Tylenol. I had pain in my right hip, but that wasn’t constant. The thing that surprised me the most this day was that my stomach was bumpy. There were air bubbles all across my tummy that not only could you feel, but you could see. The culprit? Painful gas!! I was able to pass gas before I was able to pee, so I had that going for me, but it honestly didn’t relieve me much.
Something that was a game changer for me day 2 was brushing my teeth and washing my face. Because I didn’t get to my room until after midnight, couldn’t get out of bed, and was up intermittently with the babies, I basically forgot to do this. It made me feel SO good once I did this late afternoon / once my catheter was out. I also changed into my favorite button down gown.
Our first picture as a family of 4 around 10:15 pm on 10/13/2021.
Friday | Day 3 | 10/15 was eventful, because I was cleared to eat food! That’s right… the last meal I had eaten was breakfast around 8:30 am on 10/13. 48+ hours later, I enjoyed scrambled eggs, bacon, and bananas foster french toast. A lot of people asked me what my “after birth meal” was and I tell them ice chips. Honest to goodness, I was just happy to have water. So, yes. My actual first meal after-pregnancy meal was a standard hospital breakfast. It was actually kind of sweet, as bananas foster was the dessert we had on our first date and we served it at our rehearsal dinner for our wedding. Other notable moments were that I got to take a shower and tandem breastfed for the first time. Something else that happened this day is that I passed a clot the size of my fist. I wanted to mention this, because if this ever happens, make sure to notify your doctor. My OB wasn’t worried, as it was likely just hiding behind my urine and caused by my low platelets. On this day, I bumped my walks up to twice daily. I would take one by myself and one with Nick and the twins. I also got a belly band this day, but didn’t wear it much. I found that it made my skin very itchy (after removal), though it did give me support on walks.
Saturday | Day 4 | 10/16, I thought I might get discharged, but my OB told me to stay another day. The big discovery this day is that I found out my pain wasn’t normal, so I started taking the heavier drugs that my doctor initially prescribed. My recommendation would be to take the pain meds regardless of if you think your pain is “normal” or not. Long story short, even though nurses checked my scar and massaged my stomach daily, no one caught that I had pooled blood around the right side of my c section incision. This was the side where there was a staple, so naturally it was more irritated; however, by this day I had serious bruising pop up above my incision. The blood was not only there, but had dropped down into my right labia causing swelling allll the way down as well as more bruising. My stomach was still so big that I couldn’t see the discoloration, but when I finally glanced in the mirror I could and yikes! When I showed Nick, his first response was WOW that scar is big. I was like excuse me, but that is not what you say to a woman. I think is just a guy thing, because then he said it was “cool”. Hah! Overall, he said he just didn’t expect it to be that big, to which I responded, “well, they had to get the babies out!!” My OB checked on me daily, but we had a deeper discussion on this day regarding my surgery. She said that the c-section went very well and was a textbook type of operation. I lost half as much blood as they would expect for a multiple gestation c section. This was particularly good news, as they had both blood and platelets on standby, thinking I would need them. During the surgery, my OB found a couple cysts on my uterus, as well as my ovaries. She removed them and had them tested - thankfully they were benign. A fun fact this day is that I finally pooped. I hadn’t been able to go my entire stay, so I received a suppository and went shortly after. Don’t be afraid to ask for a suppository if you need help using the restroom. They really help and you don’t want to be straining / causing hemorrhoids after birth.
The hospital ran a slew of tests on the twins, including hearing, jaundice, and so on; however, their pediatrician checked on them once a day as well. It’s normal for babies to lose weight after birth, but at this point the twins had lost 9% - 10% of their birth weight, therefore we made the decision to start supplementing. I’m glad we did, because my milk didn’t come in until the following Wednesday about a week after they were born. I know some feel very strongly about breastfeeding, but I tried to go into it with an open mind. I was going to try and make it work, but if it didn’t, then I wasn’t going to sweat it. Fast forward to now and we are still combo feeding, but that is a story for another day. What I will say is that I wish I would have thought more about the possibility of using formula before going to the hospital. I would have preferred to have prepared for the possibility by bringing the formula I wanted to use. I guess I thought my milk would come in sooner and that I wouldn’t be in the hospital for 5 days. I ended up using what the hospital had, but buying this formula which they are still on today. They graciously gave me a code - you can try Bobbie Formula for 10% off with discount code ELLEMULENOS10. More on combo feeding in another post!
Speaking of tests for the twins, the staff continued to watch my platelet levels and came to take my blood every morning. Those phlebotomists were AMAZING. So quick and pretty much painless. I did have a bunch of bruises that made me look like I did drugs, but they went away by a week or so later.
Sunday | Day 5 | 10/16 and we sprung out of the hospital. I was still in pain, but had better meds and was so excited to get home. We picked a popular day / time to leave, as when we were ready to leave a bunch of people were also leaving and it took about 1.5 hours for a wheelchair / attendant to become available. I will say that one of our favorite attendants found us a wheelchair and personally saw us out herself. Nick and I try to be nice to people in general, just because we believe we should be kind to everyone; however, we tried to be extra sweet to all of the staff. We brought them treats daily and made sure to take interest in their lives (authentic interest, not interest as means to an end. These people are often neglected and a simple ‘hello’ or ‘how is your day’ can start a meaningful conversation with them). We didn’t do any of the above to “receive special treatment”, but it did result in getting us out faster than we otherwise would have been able to leave. We even had an attendant work an extra shift just to tell us goodbye! In general, please be nice to the staff. We received comments about how wonderful we were… just because we didn’t need the nurses? Mind boggling to me, but we really only called them when we needed water or something like that. We even had staff come back and visit us even when they weren’t assigned to our room. It confused the people who were assigned to us during those shifts, as they thought the others were in the wrong room - hah!
We arrived home and my parents (who had been staying there since Saturday) had cleaned our house top to bottom. We relaxed a bit as a family of 4, then my family came over to meet them for the first time. My sister arrived the next day. As a welcome home gift, my mom and dad stayed up overnight with the twins, so Nick and I could get a full night’s sleep in our own bed. It’s been the only one we have gotten since their arrival (!!) I really couldn’t move much that first week, so I’m very thankful my parents were there to help cook and clean, so I didn’t overdo it and Nick and I could focus on rest and the babies.
While I didn’t expect to stay 5 days in the hospital (I think insurance only covered 3 and I thought we’d be in max 4), I am glad we were there. If we weren’t, I wouldn’t have known to supplement the twins’ meals and I probably wouldn’t have known to increase my pain medication. I went home with high strength Motrin and Tylenol with Codeine. They helped a lot. The only issue I had that it didn’t help is that Nick kept making me laugh and that was very uncomfortable for about a week. Additionally due to the length of time at the hospital, I was able to meet with two different lactation consultants who helped me tremendously. Fun fact, the second nurse was from Brazil and was actually an exchange student in high school in College Station, Texas. She lives in beautiful Santa Monica and talked about wishing she was back in College Station / that was her favorite Texas town. Too funny! If you’re unaware College Station is where Texas A&M is and is very much a college town. It isn’t a tourist destination or anything like say Austin.
Something I’m really glad I did was type out my birth wishlist. I had several copies and then a digital copy that I emailed Nick, as well as a copied and pasted version in a shared note on our iPhone. Though I know some staff didn’t even look at it, it was great to reference if I had a momentary lapse of memory or if Nick needed an answer to a question. I put everything on there from the types of medications I took, to my medical history, and so on. Regarding medicine it was really helpful, because I brought my own stash of vitamins, prescriptions, and stool softeners, but the hospital wouldn’t let me take my own / made me fill from their pharmacy. I guess it makes sense because you’re in their care / for monitoring purposes, but I just didn’t know that would happen.
And that’s pretty much a wrap on my birth story as a mother and the twins’ birth into this world! I am very thankful for my wonderful doctors and all the staff who helped me (and Nick) along the way. I feel very privileged to have had a great birth story that pretty much went as well-planned as it possibly could. I’m not traumatized by the birth and would do it over again the exact way it went. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone, so I feel very lucky. I’m planning on sharing a post regarding c-sections as well as a “fourth trimester” recap, so be on the lookout for those! If you made it this far, thanks so much for reading!! Spending time on my blog at all helps me make an income for my family. We are so thankful for these two extra mouths to feed, but expenditures are no joke!! All my love XOXO
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