Birth Story, Part Two (and Three)

Reading Mark Sloan's wonderful book, Birth Day (this month's pick for the SV Moms Book Club)reminded me that I still haven't gotten around to writing out 3Po and Jammy's birth story. That's the curse of the younger child, I suppose; I remember giving birth to The Pea in great detail because she was the first, and it was such a life-transforming experience. In my defense, I only posted The Pea's birth story when she turned 6, so I'm actually ahead in posting this second -- and third -- birth story.

I have to admit that my memories are much hazier with my second labor and delivery. Thank goodness I wrote down some brief notes in the boys' baby books, so I do have a timeline:

December 30, 2003
09:00 AM-- Admitted to the hospital for induction of labor. I was 2 cm dilated.
10:00 AM-- Rupture of waters. I was put on a pitocin drip.
01:20 PM-- 3 cm dilated.
02:15 PM-- 4 cm dilated, epidural administered.
03:15 PM-- 5 cm dilated.
04:30 PM-- 10 cm dilated. I was wheeled into an operating room for the delivery.
05:25 PM-- Baby A (Jammy) arrives.
05:45 PM-- Baby B (3Po) arrives.

Beyond that, I have a bag of memories interspersed through different points in that timeline. First and foremost was the impression of how different this labor and delivery was from my first one. I didn't particularly enjoy my first pregnancy, but the were so many other factors. I was exhausted, working full time with a toddler at home and a husband out of work. There were the inherent added risk of a multiple pregnancy and the prospect of premature delivery. And there was the scare of a series of abnormal ultrasounds (that's the subject for another post) and worried of how we would cope with twin boys. So we checked into the hospital for our scheduled induction already pretty exhausted from the last 38 weeks.

With all that, I'm so happy that everything went so much quicker this time around -- 8 hours instead of 27! The labor part was so much more pleasant. Uneventful, even. I basically sat or laid in bed and waited, and as soon as my labor pains started getting bad, they got the epidural in. The decision to have an epidural was an easy one; I decided not to use up my strength getting through labor and save it for all the future sleepless nights. With the pitocin drip and all those fetal monitors strapped to me, it sure wasn't going to be a natural birth anyway. I do remember feeling slightly sad at having to be hooked up to so many machines and having to lie flat on my back, like a sick patient instead of a laboring woman, but I felt it was what I had to do to make sure that my babies were born healthy.

Once I was fully dilated, I was wheeled to an operating room instead of having the delivery right in my room. Instead of just a doctor and nurse, there was a whole team of medical professionals assembled: three labor and delivery nurses, the anethesiologist, two neonatal nurses, and the obstetrician. By the way, that's Alfie in the photo, not the obstetrician. Again, the high-risk twin thing; once Baby A is born, there's no telling what Baby B will do with all that newfound space. Baby B could have suddenly turned breech, or gone into distress halfway thru Baby A's delivery, or whatever. All the extra precautions were there to make sure they could perform an emergency C-section to deliver one or both babies. It's not uncommon; in fact, I'm the only twin mom I know who delivered both babies vaginally.

Looking at that timeline, I'm amazed that there was a whole hour between entering the operating room and actually delivering Jammy. Time seemed to go by so quickly. I remember feeling silly being asked to bear down and push, because that epidural had really deadened me below the waist. I remember lifting my leg with my hands and watching it flop down uselessly. I kept pinching my thigh but couldn't feel a thing. They must not have used as much anesthetic with The Pea, because I could move and feel my legs (and let me tell you, I felt the Pea travelling each and every one of those last few inches of my birth canal, down to the crowning and the tearing). I just pretended I needed to poop, and lo and behold, Jammy came out after 3 pushes.

One down, one to go. 3Po took his sweet time and eventually had to be coaxed out with a vacuum extractor. He came out twenty minutes later, and just like that, we were a family of five.

Isn't it weird how different they looked at birth? 3Po (on the left) was rosy and plump at 7 lb. 5 oz., with very light, wispy brown hair. Jammy (on the right) was tiny (6 lbs. 10 oz.) and wrinkled and pale, with very dark, tufty hair (we nicknamed him Gollum in his first three weeks of life). We thought the ultrasound technicians must have made a mistake when they said these were identical twins.

*Warning*!! Scroll down at your own risk -- the photo you are about to see is Yuccky with a capital Y. If it totally grosses you out and convinces you never to return to this blog again, well, just be glad I didn't post the close-up.

Sorry, guys. It isn't a birth story unless you've got a disgusting birth photo. Alfie took this photo of the placenta while our obstetrician was checking it to confirm zygosity. The boys did share a single placenta, which made it almost certain they were monozygotic (identical), despite the difference in size and appearance. And we did a DNA test later on, which confirmed it.
(On a side note, upon checking the placenta, our obstetrician realized that Jammy's umbilical cord had been attached to the fetal membrane rather than to the placenta itself, which is supposedly a risky thing. I'm sure Mark Sloan, the author of Birth Day, could explain in his clear, humorous way what exactly a fetal membrane is, and why the umbilical cord shouldn't be attaching itself to it, but I like to think of Jammy hanging on by his fingernails for 38 weeks. Maybe that's why Jammy ended up so much smaller and shivelled-looking than 3Po).

Of course, three months later, we realized we could have saved ourselves the $150 for the DNA test. As countless relatives, friends and strangers will attest, they are identical. In fact, to this day I have no idea which boy is which in the photo below.

And I'm happy to say that their looks have improved somewhat in the five years since.

When I look at them today, so robust and healthy, I feel truly blessed that everything went so smoothly and we ended up with two happy, healthy boys. They have truly completed our family and I couldn't imagine life without them.

Click here to read more posts inspired by Birth Day.


jennifer said...

Yea, I have the full birth photo album too and many , many placenta close ups...a picture only a mother could love..I guess?! ;-)

Thanks for the great post!

Diana said...

Wow! Was totally NOT expecting a placenta picture to pop up. Your boys are beautiful. And that's really funny you still don't know who was who in that picture.

Piah said...

Beautiful family pictures!

Mark Sloan said...

Okay, I’ll give that strange-looking-placenta-thing a try…

From the photo and your description of what the OB told you, it looks like you had a “velamentous insertion” of the umbilical cord on the right. (Let us pause for a Professional Liability Disclaimer statement: I’m not an obstetrician, I was hundreds of miles away at the time, and that is one mighty small picture…)

Which means, in semi-medical English, that instead of plugging directly into the placenta as it should have, the few-inch stretch of the cord closest to the placenta kind of unspooled as it formed, so that the blood vessels normally contained within the cord were left exposed, and not as protected as they should have been. It’s not uncommon in twins (happens about 10-15% of the time), and is only a problem if the exposed umbilical blood vessels were to break and cause bleeding.

Judging by those healthy-looking boys of yours (and can you tell them apart now?), I’d guess that it didn’t cause any problems.

Hope that helps!
Mark Sloan

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