At 38 weeks I convinced the concerned hospital team that it was the best thing to delay induction another week. Over that week, the pressure of two 7lb babies, two sacks of fluid and a whopping placenta became too much. I had put my body through enough and brought the induction date two days forward. I became excited and relieved. I relaxed as I let go of trying to instigate natural labour and began packing little extras in the hospital bag.
Mum and I arrived at the hospital that afternoon to have the pessary inserted, we made ourselves at home waiting for things to get started. My partner Sam arrived a little later to take over from Mum. There was little action so we decided that he would go home to see to our eldest (2.5 year old Zenna) and I would try and get some sleep. He tucked me in and kissed me goodnight.
I managed to sleep and by the morning I was getting regular contractions that were getting a little stronger through the day.
My doula, Patricia, came to give me an amazing massage before I was set to head to the labour ward. I was feeling increasingly confident and excited!
The room on the labour ward was great. Sam put on some tunes and the essential oil diffuser and Mum was decorated my bed with party streamers and my daughters' paintings. I put on some make up and my birthing necklace and then kissed them all good bye.
After the relief of pressure and the fabulous gushing of waters I wedged a towel between my legs and the midwife left me to it. I turned up the music full blast and danced and sang my way into labour. Having those two hours on my own was brilliant. Tears of joy and relief fell as I knew I was meeting my daughters very soon!
Sam arrived after seeing to our eldest and the lovely midwife was encouraging, pleased to see that my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. She said, "Maybe you won't need the syntocinon drip after all.”
The midwife shift changed at 8pm. After a little while our new midwife Jane was keen to do an internal examination to decide whether I should have the syntocinon to step things up a notch.
To my disappointment I was only 3cm despite regular contractions coming on more frequently and stronger so I agreed to have the drip fitted.
I asked the midwife, "What is a usual rate of dilation? How long does it take on average?" She replied, "Half a centimetre an hour. But that is for a first birth".
I looked at the clock feeling completely hopeless. Why did it feel so much harder than last time?
The next hour was intense. The contractions were beginning to hurt and I was vomiting. I visualised a flower opening and my loud moaning and deep breathing really helped. I was leaning over the bed rocking and doing hip rotations. Swaying with every surge made me feel in control of each contraction, I was able to direct it and channel the pain.
I began to feel really tired. My arms and legs were wobbling so I lay down on my side on the bed and closed my eyes. I was scared of how a contraction might feel lying down so I clutched the gas and air dispenser and took a small puff before each one. Amazingly, I was able to drift off into a doze between each contraction despite them being incredibly intense and a little while later I jumped back up and onto the floor and was rocking away.
I barely noticed my birth photographer Gaby slip into the room and begin working her magic.
After a little lull, I agreed to have the syntocinon drip cranked up. Within a few minutes I hit birthing overload. Massive contraction, vomit, poo, another massive contraction and the same again. I felt like I had lost all control. I decided I could NOT do birthing like this! I was going to have an epidural. The very thing I had planned to avoid. I deserved it. I had carried these 7lb babies until 39 weeks! I had haemorrhoids and I had to push TWO babies out! I knew Sam and Patricia would try and convince me not to, reminding me of my birth plan but I didn't care I was having it!
I started ordering everybody around trying to get some control back. "Turn that syntocinon down! Turn it down again! Where is the anaesthetist? Sam clean up this poo on the floor! I'm going to be sick again.” In hindsight this was classic transition behaviour but no one noticed as we all assumed I was about 4cm dilated. My doula was the first to clock something had shifted. I had progressed to 10cm in an hour and a half!
The exertion of being sick forced a little push and I thought I needed to poo again. I was scared to do any kind of push as I assumed I was only 4cm. Somewhere in the room I could faintly hear Patricia say to the midwife, "I think something's changed. Look at the monitor.”
I let myself do another push that I couldn't hold back. I did it silently, terrified I might be trying to push too soon.
Patricia leaned over me and hugged me. I whispered to her ,”I feel like I need to push. Is it safe?"
"If you really need to push, you push!"
That was all I needed to hear. I sat down on the birthing stool and pushed! My disappointment at missing out on the epidural became excitement. It was happening right now. Not in the 6 hours I had calculated. Right now. Feeling like the stool was not right, I climbed up onto the bed and roared like a lioness.
Another push later and the head was out, one more and she was born!
I couldn't believe it as I sat shaking, holding her as she let out her fantastic wail. Sam and I leaned over her and time stood still. Tears of joy, relief and shock came down my face. I barely noticed the syntocinon drip had popped out of my hand.
I passed the baby to Sam and I steadied myself on all fours again.
My second little girl was breech, we knew this and the team was ready to support me birthing her naturally. After one contraction her legs and bottom were out, still kicking away in the embryonic sac.
Time passed and no contraction came. Without the syntocinon drip we were relying on my body to take over.
"You're going to have to push. If you lie down we can help you"
"No! Don't touch her I can do this!" I mustered the biggest empty push I could. I pushed twice more and then felt something very painful happening. Patricia leaned over me, "The doctor is trying to get the arms out. Is this what you want?" Thinking that a contraction may never come I agreed.
Skilfully he pulled the arms out one at a time. This was the most uncomfortable part of the pushing phase. I let out some strange mooing, shouty noises. Then I felt a rumbling, "There's one coming" I growled, and with everything I had I pushed out Aria's head.
Collapsing forward on the bed with my head in my hands I waited for her cry. Silence. I could only hear the bustle of people moving around the end of the bed. I heard the midwives urgent request, ”We need to cut the cord now.” "Yes" I mumbled. Out of the corner of my eye I saw them whisk her over to the resuscitators table. I didn't look. I don't know why. I knew she would be ok.
"Is she ok?" I asked. After a pause the midwife said, "Her heartbeat is strong.” After what seemed like an eternity (it was 3 minutes) I heard her let out a loud cry and they brought her to me.
I lay back in the bed in a dream holding these two magical beings in my arms. I had done it. Just the way I wanted to. They gave me some more syntocinon to birth the placenta and another contraction later the monster flopped out. It was literally the size of a bowling ball. Unfortunately, after this I bled a lot, and needed a blood transfusion a few hours later, narrowly avoiding theatre. On the plus side, I didn't tear! Just a little graze. The doctor that delivered Aria's arms had very skilful hands.
I am still shocked at how my birth unfolded. I can't get past the point when everyone thought (including myself) I was 4cm and I was having an epidural. I had the twin birth I dreamed of and this magical experience documented beautifully for us to treasure forever and share. For a hospitalised, induced labour, I couldn't have wished for more!
I am home now with two healthy beans. Recovery is very slow this time and feeding is intense but happy and smiling all the way.