Double the Blessings!
This birth story starts before I even got pregnant. My husband Chris and I had talked about babies/children before we were married, in regards to our values and the blessings of children.
We believe what God says about children and agreed that we wanted our lives to be fruitful and no less in the area of children. God has blessed us with a great love for family. His grace increases and our character builds with each child.
It was early 2010 and we had 5 children so far, all about 2 years apart, that's just how my body and God's timing has worked out. I was getting anxious and so desiring the presence of another little one. Our youngest, Anikin just turned 2 and I literally had about 15 friends who were pregnant at the time. My only daughter Korah, who was 8 at the time, told me one day "It's okay mom, God's just giving you a longer break this time because next time you're gonna have twins" I laughed! That's hopeful thinking on her part too because she's just wanting to have two sisters to get caught up to all the boys.
On March 12, 2010 we found out I was pregnant. Finally!
Just 10 days later, the day I was dreading arrived. Morning sickness had started. I always hated that term because I've never just had morning sickness, it was all day sickness for me. It didn't take me long to realize that this time it was much worse and nothing was helping. Finally I had had enough and at 9 weeks, on April 19th I decided to go in for an ultrasound to see if my suspicions were true with this "double" sickness.
My Dr. humored me and gave me an ultrasound. It felt like I was in a dream when I saw those two little babies. I could not believe my eyes and could not stop smiling and laughing the whole way home. How exciting, I could barely contain myself. My husband Chris didn't believe me at first that this picture of our babies was real. The children were so thrilled too of course when I told them. Korah couldn't stop screaming with excitement. I have to mention my father's reaction too to this news because he went to heaven during my pregnancy and never got to meet them. When I showed him my ultrasound pics, he wouldn't believe me at first either because I've never gotten an ultrasound before with any of my other babies. He was looking at it, turning it every which way and said, "I can't tell what anything is, it looks like two babies." Laughing, I responded "That's because it is" He was so happy and looking forward to their arrival.
Knowing that I had two babies growing inside of me did help me handle the morning sickness emotionally. I was grateful that I started to feel better once I got into my second trimester, as I was scared that because it was more intense this time, that it would last longer too but it didn't! We had another ultrasound at 21 weeks to see how growth was. Korah and Chris sat in with me and we were excited to find out their sex, as long as we were looking in on them. Baby A is a boy! "It's okay Korah, you still got a chance for a sister" as we wait in anticipation. Of course, Baby B is now VERY active and is making us work hard to get a good look. "It's a girl" I was praying that that ultrasound tech was right because we are going to have one very disappointed big sister if those both turn out to be boys.
The weeks went by and my belly grew and grew and grew. At only 30 weeks, I was definitely feeling and looking full term and it was hard to get around and do certain things around the house. Eating healthy and enough of it was a full time job. My body was starting to feel heavy. I decided to take it easy physically at this point until I reached 36 weeks and then I would push myself more if I needed to. I wanted to keep those babies in there until they were ready.
All of my births have been at home and I wasn't about to change that just because I had twins. I did a lot of research and talked with a lot of midwives. There are many midwives in the
Around 35 weeks we had another ultrasound to confirm positioning and Baby B, Jilian was breech as we had suspected. Baby A, Keanu had been seated real deep head down in the perfect position for awhile and Jilian was a mystery most of my pregnancy. Her position seemed to change frequently, yet she didn't do a lot of moving around in between. Keanu was always the active one. When we'd palpate to try and feel Jilian's position or try to listen to her heart rate, she seemed to hide purposely.
36 weeks passed and I breathed a sigh of relief, thank you God! At 37 weeks I felt Keanu make a big movement to posterior and drop even further. Oh no, why posterior though I thought. At 37 weeks and 2, I awoke to some stronger than normal contractions in the very early morning hours. I noted the time and they were 8 minutes apart for an hour and a half. I decided to get up and eat something and if they continued I would then make some calls but to my disappointment, they stopped.
37 weeks &3)
I awoke to a trickle of fluid. Really, I peed myself again, I thought! HA! No, wait that only happens when the baby punches me in the bladder and there was no punch this time? Off to the bathroom I go. The conversation I had with myself over the next couple minutes in the bathroom went like this: I'm pretty sure it's not pee? Hmmm, it was such small amount, am I just leaking fluid or did it break completely? The baby's head is down pretty low and is probably trapping it all behind him? I mean really, ok, my water has never broken before 2nd stage but I should know what's going on for sure right? I am a Childbirth Educator ad Doula after all! I've always thought it was funny when my clients told me they didn't know for sure if their water broke or not and now I can put myself in their shoes. Ok, well there is no sign of the mucous plug or contractions for that matter and that's how all my other labors started? Well, I am having twins this time so everything will probably be different. Ok, well, I'm not calling anyone yet after my little episode last night!
As I'm about to crawl back into bed, more fluid trickles out. Off to the bathroom again. Just a little fluid, no big deal. I'm still not convinced that anything major would happen anytime soon.
As I lay in bed for the next hour I have only two pretty strong contractions but I relax well with them as I quietly hope that "this is it" but that they don't progress more until later in the morning so that my birth team can get more sleep. As for me, I'm already excited and can't sleep but relax well in bed.
I head off to the bathroom again and have another strong contraction and well, there's the mucous plug!
Although very confusing to me where exactly my labor is or how fast I will progress, I'm convinced, ok, so "this is it." I head downstairs to call my midwife and explain to her what had been going on for the last hour and 40 minutes. She said she'll make her way over since it will take her about an hour anyway.
I thought about my other labors and yes, my labor with my fourth child, Gabriel was a quick hour and twenty minutes from the time I awoke but I knew from the beginning that it was going to be fast. This time I have no clue. Yes, the contractions are stronger but I'm doing fine with them and they are still only 20 minutes apart. Again trying to analyze birth from a Childbirth Professionals perspective I also had to remind myself the same thing I always remind my students "that it is ok if you don't always know where your labor is, in fact you probably won't always know, just be present in the moment".
I decide to call my mom and give her a grocery list to pick up on her way over, as I assume at this point she'll have plenty of time. So, I pick up a few things around the house and make my way back upstairs to wake up Chris and call the rest of my birth team.
I continue to have contractions. I don't time them but notice they are closer and contribute it to all my activity in the last few minutes. As Chris was getting dressed, I noticed he put on his daddy shirt, which made me smile. As I change into a comfortable labor outfit, Korah walks in excited that "it's time" and asks if she should change too. We had talked about her having her swim suit on to get into the pool and hold Keanu if Jilian came quickly afterwards, so that daddy can catch like always.
Daddy went downstairs to wake the boys and send them to their rooms from the front room where they fell asleep last night after a movie. Little did we know, they should have just stayed down there. Daddy walks back to our room and asks me to come downstairs and explain to him some things about what needs to be set up. Before I can answer, I lean over the bed and moan through a very strong contraction." oh boy" I thought, we'd better get going.
As we are setting up things in the front room where the births would be, I could hardly concentrate on what needed to be done. Daddy topped off the pool with more air, put the liner in and set up the sheets on our huge windows that we've never gotten curtains for. Korah helped fill the pool with water.
My friend, Margot was the first to arrive and quickly started helping with the floor liner and setting up the futon. My contractions were coming really close now and I was feeling lots of pressure. I remember asking God as I held my hands between my legs because of all the pressure, to give me a little break between contractions so I could continue to get things ready. I tried my best to help but all I could think about was putting on my music and getting into the pool. Every time I looked at the pool though, I got so anxious because it just wasn't filling fast enough. As my contractions continued to come I remember warning Chris that I was going to start getting very irritated and short with my answers and then eventually told him he better call Rosy to make sure the other midwives have been called because this was progressing really fast.
Chris' mom, Pat arrived and started taking notes for me which makes it easier for me to look back on my births and write my birth stories. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart or so and I don't remember talking to anyone anymore at this point. About 5 minutes later, in a daze I remember my friend Becky standing in my hallway as I stood leaning over my futon telling Chris he'd better check and see if "anything?s going on down there" because I was feeling lots of pressure. I whipped my shorts off as fast as I could and kneel over my futon. Chris didn't see anything but he barely finished talking and with my next contraction I said "Oh my goodness, I'm pushing, someone get some towels in the dryer" (because we hadn't turned the heating pad on yet to warm towels) Pat ran to put some towels in the dryer.
Becky told me later that when I announced that I was pushing she ran and told Rachel, my sister who just walked in the door with her children. Rachel quickly dropped the children off in the dining room and ran to get the video camera rolling. Rachel told me later, that in her panic, ran right past the camera that was already set up and ready to go, to other side of the room where I had stored it in the closet for the birth.
Chris looked again and said ?There?s the head honey" I think I was so shocked how fast this progressed that I wasn't even aware that I pushed out his head until he told me. With my next contraction he flew out of my body and because it made me laugh inside, I will never forget the words "Oh my gosh!" that Chris said as he caught his son, Keanu at 4:29 am with Margot next to him. Rachel had just gotten the camera rolling after he was born. Becky was taking pictures, Korah was watching with excitement and Pat was on her way back in with towels.
I asked if he's okay and asked someone to check the time. As I kneel there over my futon, I laid my head down on it, hardly comprehending what just happened in a matter of about 3 minutes. Chris and Margot both assured me that he was just fine and Chris asked me "Honey, do you want to see him?" The speed of his delivery took all my energy from me and I didn't feel I had the strength to grab him but tried to turn and see him behind me and realized how short the cord was because I could feel it tugging on me and I could barely move. I awkwardly was able to look over my shoulder and I remember thinking how full of cream (vernix) he was and also reminded someone to grab his hat and keep him wrapped warm. I remember Margot announcing his APGAR and thought how nice that was to have someone paying attention to that. Then, I thought, "My boys!", "Where are the boys?" "Send someone up to get the boys" I said. Everything happened so quickly that no one had time to get the boys up. I then also remembered I had sent my mom and Grandma to the store on their way over so I asked for my phone and told Korah she better call and tell them..
As Chris continued to hold Keanu close to himself and my back side, I sat up quickly because I then remembered Jilian was still inside me. My goodness, there was a lot going through my head. I tried feeling for her position to see if she had turned head down or if I could help turn her but my stomach was too hard to feel anything. Then I hoped she wouldn't come soon while Keanu was still attached with such a short cord. I normally have the cord clamp in with my birth supplies but my midwife Rosy had said she had extras so I didn't order one this time. I patiently or maybe impatiently waited for my friend Linda, one of the assistant midwives to get there soon to cut the cord. Usually we are in no rush to cut the cord but obviously keeping Keanu attached would have made for an awkward delivery of Jilian. I was sure Linda would be there shortly and assumed she would arrive first since she was the only midwife in town.
Although I don't remember, at some point now, my mom and grandma had arrived and my mom took over holding Keanu to give Chris a break and so he could rub my back.
I wanted to hold my son but I didn't feel a sense of real urgency or sadness as I know I would have if I were in the hospital because the only ones around me were family and friends. No one that I didn't want to was touching my baby, it was just us and it was peaceful amongst the chaos!
Still kneeling there, thankful I wasn't having any contractions to birth Jilian, I finally had the strength to safely maneuver myself, with help, to sit. Chris slid Keanu under me and placed him on the floor in front of me so I could stare at my son for the first time. I've never experienced such a short cord before with any of my children, I thought "next time we'll have stuff on hand to cut the cord ourselves if we need to".
I had my first contraction. A couple minutes later I remember looking up to see Linda walking in. With relief, the first words out of my mouth were "Can you cut the cord, please" Without hesitation, she replied YES! Daddy was sitting behind me holding me up and Korah was asked if she wanted to cut again. She cut the cord for our last baby, Anikin but she said it was ok for Linda to just cut the cord this time. So at 4:50am we were disconnected to finally "connect" and snuggle for the first time! Linda listened to Keanu and then started listening for Jilian. Five minutes later, Keanu latched on eager to start nursing! More midwives continued to arrive and I continued to have contractions about 3-4 minutes apart. Everyone was ready and in anticipation of Jilian's birth at any time. But that changed when Rosy decided to check me and said there was a bulging bag, that Jilian was pretty high yet and she was pretty sure she felt feet.
A couple minutes later I remember laughing and announcing to everyone as I was looking up at my friend Jen who had just arrived and was standing in my hallway "For those who missed the first birth, there's one more to come!"
Keanu was done nursing and I passed him back to Daddy to hold as I continued with strong contractions that were getting more intense in my back. I don't know when or to whom but he then passed off Keanu to someone as he pushed on my back. I was surprised to find out it had been almost an hour since Keanu was born. I hadn't expected that long of a break but it was nice.
One of the midwives asked me if I wanted to try the sterile water injections in my back that we had talked about for the back labor. My reply was a quick "yes". She told me that it would sting pretty intensely for about a minute. I continued to lean over the futon and just relaxed my breath as they gave it to me. I was pleasantly surprised by how little it stung and how quickly it worked. I wished I had tried that with my other births, as it provided non drug pain relief in my back but allowed me to continue to feel the contractions so I could continue to work with my body. I decided to get into the pool a couple minutes later and it felt great. Chris finally turned on my relaxing music that we hadn't had time to turn on. I asked Rosy to check Jilian again and this time she seemed to have floated up more.
I decided to get out of the pool because I was feeling overheated and the water seemed to space out the contractions a little more and they weren't as intense. I sat in the chair for awhile as Chris gave me a hand massage. Jilian and I were doing fine so we decided to take advantage of this time and do Keanu's newborn exam. He's healthy and weighs in at 7Ib 4 oz. and 19 1/4 inches
My contractions continued about 4-5 minutes apart and started to get stronger again and I was feeling the back labor as well so I asked for another sterile water injection. This time it definitely stung more and for longer but it was manageable. As it took away my back pain I also noticed that I was having more pain lower in my coccyx and towards my rectum. I was so thankful though that it did not feel as intense as my last three labors and hoped that it wouldn't as this had always been the most painful part of my labors. Prenatally, I tried two new things this time around and I think they really helped. Rutin tablets and Emu Oil topically on the rectum almost everyday.
Rosy suggested I try to relax in the knee chest position through a few contractions to allow more room and help coax Jilian into turning head down. I felt very relaxed in this position and actually fell asleep. About this time most everyone was dispersing into other rooms and preparing breakfast. Our children and my nephews and niece had been in and out, visiting and observing and playing. For the next two hours I had contractions about 5-10 minutes apart and they would start to build up pretty intensely but would disappear a few seconds into it. It got discouraging because I knew we wouldn't be making any progress with these contractions. I took turns walking around the house, relaxing, eating and doing exaggerated hip movements and swaying. It was very weird trying to stay connected to the labor and my little girl inside of me
At this point the labor was non eventful and I told Rosy it didn't even feel as though I was in labor.
Because Jilian was still breech and probably still floating, we decided to attempt an external version to try and get her into a head down position, to help dilate the cervix again and bring on stronger contractions. They got me situated on my back with my hips elevated. We all joked and laughed about "how comfortable" this position looked. It really wasn't that bad, I took in some deep breathes, closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on my baby and what she needed to do. Rosy palpated my abdomen with her hands and tried to manually move Jilian while another midwife Vicki monitored Jilian's heart rate to make sure she was handling it okay. Jilian made lots of small movements under her hands and turned a little but nothing major happened. I then sat up and continued to massage my belly and try to move her. Jilian continued to do the same thing with me.
Next we tried wrapping my belly tightly, rabozo style to lift my abdomen up and encourage decent and then the plan was for Chris and I to walk up and down the stairs and then spend some time alone together relaxing. By the time I walked up the stairs once, getting into bed sounded too nice to go all the way back down so we headed off into the bedroom. It felt so good to crawl into bed alone and we almost immediately fell asleep together.
My wonderful friend and Chiropractor, Laura arrived to work on me for a little bit to help balance me and facilitate progress with this labor. Some of my birth team watched as I stood against the wall of my bedroom and let my body sway and move as she worked on my sacrum for the next few minutes. There was a lot of emotional release done on my part at this time too as I thought about my baby and wanting to bring her into the world as naturally and safely as possible, in our home. I knew I wouldn't be "allowed" to labor like this in the hospital and that if we were there, we would be under an enormous amount of negative pressure and she would probably have already been born by cesarean. Tears began to silently stream down my cheeks and drop to the floor as I quietly prayed to God that we would see some more progress soon. Laura then did some cranial work on me and said there were a lot of changes in my body so hopefully it would help.
Everyone left us alone and Rosy, Chris and I then discussed our labor so far and all our options for the next few hours. Thinking ahead about the possibility of transport to a hospital 45 minutes away if needed and how everyone felt about how things were going so far. Our agreement was that although this labor WAS a new experience for everyone and we hadn't anticipated the long space between babies, we do trust the process of birth and it's uniqueness for each baby! Both I and the baby were still doing just fine and I had lots of energy. We also understood that a breech baby can take longer to make that journey and the lull in contractions made sense. We were comfortable at this point allowing my body and baby the time they needed to finish their work. I truly felt at ease with just waiting it out although I could sense the uneasiness in the air from some of my family and birth team and that disappointed me.
During this time, Margot and a couple midwives went to get some moxibustion sticks at the Naturopathic Clinic for us to try next. Everyone else was eating lunch and hanging out. I continued to walk around and eat. I WAS feeling really good. I wasn't tired, my body felt so light, it's amazing what losing 7 Ib in a matter of a couple minutes can do for you :) I was happy and feeling good about just waiting.
Margot headed off to work and the other midwives arrived with the sticks. I relaxed on the futon, nursing my sleepy baby who was ready to eat after a long sleeping stretch while the midwives did the moxibustion on my toes. Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing by lighting one end of a moxa stick and placing it near the acupuncture point of the body that you are trying to treat. In our case, we were using moxibustion to help turn our breech baby.
After the treatment, I continued to nurse Keanu and the contractions were starting to become regular again, this was a great sign. I nursed him through a few pretty strong contractions as I sat on the edge of the futon. Finally, I had one that made me want to drop to my knees and I tried to do just that as I held Keanu in my arms but Chris held me back as I think he thought I was falling. After the contraction, I handed Keanu to Chris and dropped to my knees leaning over the pool for my next contraction. With my next contraction, my water broke with a big rush. I yelled out that it broke and then tried to get my shorts off quickly, almost in the same fashion and haste as I did with Keanu.
I was told later that as I announced my water breaking, everyone in the room rushed to me to see what would happen next. Rosy checked me to see what position the baby was in. The exam was uncomfortable but important for the baby's safety and I almost immediately had another contraction and this time I was pushing. Rosy guided Jilian's feet as I pushed. It was not difficult or very painful but felt very different. It is very hard to explain but the only explanation that comes to mind is that she felt like a very long baby just because of all the individual body parts that birthed separately. By the time her body was out, I had a break in my contraction and I was sure I was done and even asked if she was out yet. In a bit of laughter, was told, "no, her head is still inside". It felt like forever but in a matter of seconds her head was born and I couldn't do anything but burst into tears and cry uncontrollably out to my God with thanksgiving in my heart that my daughter was finally here, safe and sound, AT HOME at 1:52 in the afternoon, about 9 1/2 hours after her brother.
As Linda had the honor of handing her to me, I commented how I could barely see what she looked like because her entire body was so covered in vernix. I continued to cry as I held her close. I learned later, there were a lot of tears flowing around the room from relief and happiness and it was amazing to watch the video of her delivery. The neatest part was how she kept her knees up to her chest in kind of a squat as she hung out of my body.
Keanu was wide awake at this point and I remember looking over at him sitting in Jonah our 7 year olds lap. We joked how old he looked compared to his little sister so "fresh from God". Within a few minutes she took to nursing right away and Korah cut the cord. I don't remember much of what took place after this but there was a lot of photo shoots with the babies reunited and a happy mommy, daddy and siblings. Some of the birth team headed out after a long day and others got to work cleaning up while we bonded together.
We did Jilian's exam as her brother lay next to her on the futon. It only felt natural to reunite them quickly and keep them close as I can imagine they must have felt a sense of loss when they were separated. Jilian was 19 inches and a petite 6 Ib 12 oz, a full pound under my smallest baby, which was Korah. It was different having such small babies yet they were very healthy weights for twins, I'm proud to say. I worked really hard at eating healthy and keeping them in there till term! After the exam was finished, I cuddled up next to my sweet babies and did what was only natural, we slept together for the first time!
My birth slide show can be viewed at
I hope that my birth team left my home, once again touched by the power of birth and can now feel more confidant to continue to support multiples born at home. Because of the unique situation, my birth team was larger then normal and was as follows:
1 Primary Midwife
5 Assistant Midwives
1 Apprentice Midwife
Sons: Christopher, Jonah, Gabriel, Anikin
Daughter: Korah (Aspiring Doula/Massage Therapist)
Sister: Rachel (Video)
Mother: Susan (Food and help with children)
Mother in law: Pat (Journal and house care)
Friend: Margot (Misc Support)
Friend: Becky (Photographer)
Friend: Jen (Misc Support)