The Day My Twins Were Born..
by Bethany Davies
I was desperate to give birth. I’d been pregnant for ever and was fed up with being the size of a house. I’d long since outgrown the shower and bath, couldn’t sleep and my back was killing me.
I had always loved children and assumed I would one day have a brood of my own. It didn’t happen naturally, but with IVF, I was finally pregnant … and utterly hopeless at it. Perhaps I was naïve, but I had always been convinced I would be great at pregnancy and motherhood. I had an image of me growing an attractive bump and glowing radiantly while wafting around resting or meeting friends for coffee or lunch.
What a joke. I had every ghastly side-effect going from the usual to the not-so, my 8 week scan showed twins (bloody hell), the 12 week scan indicated twin Downs, the 20 week scan showed one probably had spina bifida too. I went into early labour at 24 weeks. Pregnancy and I were obviously not suited and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
I spent the last two weeks of my pregnancy in hospital with pre-eclampsia and kept bleating when? please? soon? whenever my consultant appeared. Everyone kept soothing me and telling me it was too soon. With hindsight of course it was but at the time I didn’t think I could take any more. Surely my body couldn’t stretch any more? Or carry any more weight? Hospital was boring, lonely, hot, noisy and uncomfortable. I was permanently starving. The World Cup came and went, but I had the prospect of Wimbledon tennis coming. In the early days my original plan had been to lie hugely on the sofa watching the entire Wimbledon with a decent supply of Magnums, and then give birth. I hadn’t really given much thought as to the actual birth bit. Even double antenatal hadn’t really put me off. What a chump.
At 35 weeks I was induced –on the very day Wimbledon started (never saw a single match of course). Still I wasn’t worried, in fact I was excited and happy – at last. I had done my birth plan ages before, I knew what I wanted. My husband or mother would be there, preferably both – two babies deserves two birth partners doesn’t it? Besides neither my husband nor I were entirely confident of his staying power – he holds a cushion in front of his face for Casualty. I had heard of so many twin births with the first one natural and the second caesarean. I desperately didn’t want that. And I’ve always had a horror of forceps and ventouse. Fortunately my consultant was as keen as me to try for labour and a vaginal birth, provided I was in a fit state. In theory pinpointed my most fit state.
I was started off and things got going immediately. The morning progressed slowly, I had the most dreadful upset stomach and cramps but when I phoned my mother I wasn’t even sure whether I was in labour yet. Fortunately she came in anyway and took charge. I was officially in labour (nice to know) and we strapped on my Tens. To be honest I was a bit underwhelmed but it gave me something to think about while we tried to work it out. My husband showed up, finally sent to me by his work colleagues. He assumed we had ages yet and was in no rush to change into the mufti I had packed weeks ago. He should have, things progressed and they prepared to transfer me to Labour Ward.
Labour Ward – God it even sounds awful. Nothing had prepared me for the horrendous pain, the utter loneliness of being watched and touched by complete strangers when in so much pain – a midwife and doctor I’d never seen before and a 2 paediatricians with a resusitaire each waiting and watching. I’d been in hospital for a solid fortnight and in and out before that, how could I not know a single person? Finally Twin I came out and was given to the paediatrician. The pain disappeared instantly and my body was blissfully still. I couldn’t comprehend when I was told to do it again. I must have looked as blank as I felt –I had no contractions or movement, and the pain had gone. They couldn’t be serious.
I was handed Twin I and looked. Immediately, Twin II dropped down and the agonising contractions started again. Eight minutes after his brother Twin II arrived and was handed to the paediatrician. Both boys were taken to SCBU. I was left with the business of the placenta, blood everywhere, stitches, injections, drips and so on. I distinctly remembered my antenatal tutor saying that I wouldn’t notice the injection to bring on the placenta and that delivering it would be like a ‘balm’ to my poor innards, soothing and calming my body as it came. She was wrong – I was put out at the injection after all I’d been through, and my two placentas had fused and it was like giving birth again. The final ghastly insult was to be hoisted into stirrups and stitched up. Two nurses were down there with a spotlight when another appeared from SCBU and said she was going to give my babies a bottle, what brand did I fancy?!
Looking back I can see we were lucky. I had a birthplan, both my birth partners were with me and the many things that could have gone wrong never did. We’ve had our share of problems but my boys are now 8 months old and doing well. The diagnoses of disabled twins proved utterly wrong and neither boy has any of the problems predicted. The damaged babies I believed I carried for 8 months were not remotely so. It’s been a long, hard slog and continues to be so, but I love them dearly. They enrich my life, and bring joy to family, friends and complete strangers.