I’ve written about all of the stages of my pregnancy and birth with E, but because I started this blog when my boys were one I’ve never published their birth story before. I felt it was about time I did.
I’ve said on here before that I had quite a tough time towards the end of my twin pregnancy as at around 37 weeks I was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis and pre-eclampsia and this resulted in me having problems during my C-section. This is the story of how my wonderful boys arrived into the world in November 2009. I wrote it at the time so I’d never forget the details and it still has me in floods of tears each time I read it.
I perched on the trolley and hunched over, bowing my head. “I need you to go a bit further, I still can’t reach the spot.” The anaesthetist prodded my spine. I arched my back as far as my gigantic bump would allow and held my breath, hoping he could place the needle this time. This was my third, and possibly final, attempt at an epidural. I didn’t want to be put to sleep.
I felt a scratch. The pain would have once made me wince, but now it only brought relief. Tears slid down my cheeks. After nine months of growing, developing, kicking and hiccupping, I was finally almost within touching distance. I was ready to drink in the baby smell, to feel soft pink flesh, hold fingers, kiss toes. It was time.
A cool numbness spread over my lower body. I lay back on the trolley. My gown was pinned up, hiding the parts that no longer felt like they belonged to me. I clutched Matt’s hand tightly as my tears of relief, happiness and fear fell freely.
Another anaesthetist stood at my head, ushering calming words as the operation began. I felt tugs on my tummy. I was being jolted and pushed and pulled. It felt like someone rummaging for something out of reach in a drawer full of clutter. Moments slid by. I held my breath. The tugging stopped. The doctor held something pink above the screen. “It’s a boy!”
A cry broke the silence. Matt gripped my hand. “Go and get some pictures of him,” I smiled, encouraging him to let go of my hand and watch over our son. A group had gathered around him already, wiping and wrapping. The sound of his cry was a huge comfort.
As Matt snapped away, the consultant gave another sharp heave. “Here’s twin two – another boy.”
As he lifted my second son above the drape, a stream of wee projected at the doctor. Everyone in the room roared with laughter. There were no cries this time. They whisked him over to the second station to clean him up, and placed an oxygen mask over his delicate face. Seconds later I heard his howl; angry at being dragged from his cosy home into this dazzling room full of strangers. I let out my breath. It was over. They were both here. They were both safe.
Congratulations and smiles passed around the bustling theatre. I wanted to get up and watch over my boys, to protect them, but I was stuck on a trolley. I watched from a distance as the proud new dad took photos as the brothers met one another for the first time.
Swamped in miniature nappies, their fragile bodies made me want to hold them close and never let go. As I lay looking over at them, the world started to fade. A sudden wave of sickness threatened to drag me under. I looked up at the anaesthetist and she looked back at me with understanding. “You’re losing a lot of blood,” she explained.
Matt was ushered out of the room. I heard them say he needed to go and “look after” the babies. I couldn’t tell if he understood what was happening. My mind was drifting and I wanted to sleep.
Another consultant appeared in the already packed theatre. My thoughts turned to slush. I needed to be sick but I gave nothing but dry heaves. I wanted Matt to come back. I tried to plead with the doctors but the words were jumbled.
“You’re losing a lot of blood. We’re going to try to control it by inflating a balloon and giving you some drugs. If this doesn’t work we’ll have to put you sleep. We might need to give you a hysterectomy. Do you understand what I’m saying?” the consultant asked me patiently, as thoughts sped around my mind. I forced myself to nod. “If we have to give you a general anaesthetic your husband can’t stay, but we can bring him back in for a minute if you like.” I managed to nod again, despite the darkness I could feel closing in.
It felt like Matt was at my side a second later, clutching my hand. “Do you want to explain to him what the consultant said, or would you like me to do it?” asked the kind voice of the anaesthetist. I made another heave towards the metal bowl she had put by my face. She turned to Matt, but the fear in his eyes told her the consultant had already explained everything.
I don’t remember what we said to one another during our moment of goodbye. One minute he was there, the next he was gone. My mind swirled. It felt like the end. I was prepared for the worst. I didn’t have the energy to fight. I wasn’t ever going to be able to hold my babies.
They worked on me behind the screen made out of my gown as I lay waiting for my fate. Veins collapsed as they tried to get more blood into me. I battled against the fog, trying to stay conscious. I was aware of the anger from the anaesthetist as she tried again and again to get blood into me. There was no pain; I was at peace.
Fresh blood started to pump through my veins. I lost track of time. Eventually, I started to resurface.
“We’ve managed to stop the bleeding. You’ve lost a lot of blood, so you’re going to need more transfusions later.” Before he’d finished telling me the good news, the consultant’s face dropped. My body started to shake. My teeth chattered violently. My body started to convulse on the trolley; the anaesthetist had to hold me down to stop me falling off. I was aware of people rushing in a state of panic. More time slipped by. I felt something warm envelop me – like a sleeping bag with a hairdryer attached. I was bitter cold. I wanted it to be over, to just fall into a cosy sleep and never wake up. I couldn’t keep still. The warm jet of air flowing over my juddering body felt incredible. But it wasn’t hot enough. I was going to freeze to death.
The writhing calmed down and I started to think about breathing in and out. Each action felt laboured, like swimming through porridge. It was getting harder and harder to force each breath in and out. My throat started to close. When I found my voice, I whistled one word to the anaesthetist: “Asthma.” I was given the puff of an inhaler. When its usual calming effect didn’t come, I started to panic. A mask was placed over my face. I tried to relax and take in the medication but it just felt like I was sucking in dry air.
I dizzily tried to pull my mind back together as they wheeled me to the observation area outside theatre. Matt was waiting there beside a small cot that contained two tiny, perfect babies. Relief spread across his face, followed by concern as I had on a breathing mask and my body was still violently shaking. I glanced down and saw that my arms and hands were bleeding and bruised from too many failed cannulas to count. It wasn’t the planned C-section we’d been expecting. My smile melted the tense atmosphere and his eyes let go of their fear.
My husband took my babies and laid one on either side of me so I could meet my sons for the first time. My boys were the most irresistible things I’d seen in my entire life. I started to sob, thinking how lucky I was to be holding them. The love I felt for them when they were in my tummy swelled beyond belief; just a few minutes into their life and I was already willing to die for them. They just lay there and cooed.
*If you are expecting twins, please don’t panic about the birth. What this taught me was that you have no idea how the delivery is going to turn out. Put your faith in the medical team to know what they are doing. The whole time I felt like I was in the best possible place, and the care I received was fantastic. I have no doubt that my consultant saved me from having a hysterectomy and potentially saved my life too. When I spoke to him afterwards, he assured me that everything was under control and they had lots of back up plans in case treatment wasn’t working. It meant that when I had a planned C-section with E, almost three years later, I knew I was going to be looked after.