Welcome twins, Claire and Alice
Imagine our surprise at the twelve-week scan when the sonographer held his transducer over my belly and said, “Okay. I see a baby, and there’s another baby.” My husband and I just looked at each other and laughed in disbelief! But there they were – two perfect little bodies, side by side. From then on, the low-intervention, local-clinic pregnancy I had planned was kind of hijacked by constant ultrasounds and hospital appointments – our beautiful little girls are identical, so there was a genuine risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Although I felt it would be wisest to have our babies in hospital, I was adamant about wanting a drug-free birth. The hospital was very wary of such revolutionary thinking! I wrote a birth plan and nervously hoped for the best.
When I was 35 weeks and 6 days pregnant, I waddled off to a pregnancy exercise class. That night after I got home, my husband poured himself a glass of wine and we sat on the couch cuddling and talking till much later than my usual third-trimester bedtime! We fell asleep about eleven, with me resigned to the hourly trips to the toilet that had become a feature of my nights within the previous few weeks! I actually fell into quite a deep sleep, but woke at exactly 3:17 and sat bolt upright as, with a “pop” I could almost hear, my waters broke.
My husband asked if I was having any contractions and I answered “no…oooh, hang on, yes!” Within fifteen minutes they were two minutes apart and I had to concentrate on breathing deeply and rocking back and forth to get through them. I felt slightly panicky at the thought that this was just the beginning of twelve or thirteen “average” hours of first-time labour, but we headed off to hospital and checked in.
The midwife who was assigned to me was a hard case, I felt as though I was labouring without drugs to spite her. A medical registrar came by to check how dilated I was, and to confirm via portable ultrasound machine that both babies were still head down (they were, thank goodness – if either had been breech, the hospital staff would have pushed for an immediate emergency caesarean). She calmly informed me that I was eight centimetres dilated and my husband and I nearly did a victory dance – we’d been hoping for four!
Under sufferance, Nurse Nasty agreed that I could get under the shower…”but you’ll have to get out when you’re ready to push and get up on the bed; I’ve got a bad back! I’m not delivering those babies on the floor!” she warned. It was harder to avoid the “hospital policy” cannula for an epidural in my back, but by this stage I didn’t care, and when the registrar said, “So you’re telling me that you’re happy to put your babies’ lives at risk by not agreeing to this procedure?” I barked, “YES!” and began stripping off to hop under the shower. My mum arrived at this point, and, with her old-school midwifery training and U.N-style diplomacy, was a useful go-between for my fed-up husband and the midwife from hell. The registrar, I think, left in disgust! For the next two hours, I moaned and occasionally yelled under the warm water, my lovely husband encouraging me all the way and my mum constantly in the background. At 7 am, there was a change of shift and, with two gorgeous midwives volunteering to care for me and totally supporting me through the final stage of labour. When I was ready to push, they simply turned off the water in the shower, I knelt down in the corner with my head in my husband’s lap, and after a lot of pushing, Claire slithered out – a skinny, purple little being with an outraged expression! The midwife cut her cord, because it was quite short, and handed her up to her enraptured daddy. I held my belly (as per the midwife’s instructions – she didn’t want Twin Two to flip and become breech) and walked to the bed, where Alice kind of fell out in one small push. She cried like a rusty gate. Within a few minutes I was settled on the bed with a baby on each side of my chest, feeling like I’d just won lotto. At 39 weeks pregnant with ONE little boy, four and a half years later, I have every confidence that we can do this all over again, and can’t wait to embark on the baby adventure as a much bigger family!