While my labor was calm and peaceful, with me being completely in-tune with my body and in-control of what was happening to me, the delivery was chaotic and stressful, with me being so distracted that I couldn't even tell when contractions were happening. I felt out-of-control to the point of panic at times. It was not at all what I had envisioned when I pictured the delivery of my sons, however I believe it would have been far worse had our midwife Belinda not stepped in to fight for us amidst the chaos of doctors and hospital politics. (I should mention here that the OB practice we went with offered something called "collaborative care" with twins. We were to be cared for and delivered by midwives, but a doctor would be available should an emergency arise.)
Chronologically, I can piece together very little of the twins' delivery besides the fact that Weston was born first and Isaac second. Things were so crazy in the O.R. that it's hard to remember what happened when, but I'll do my best.
When I was wheeled into the O.R., I was trying so hard to stay focused and retain the calm that I had experienced in the labor room. However, the mood in the O.R. was full of nerves from the start and it was hard not to let that affect me. From what I can remember, there were somewhere around thirteen people in the room and they seemed to all be talking at once. The lights were fully up, and even though I asked (as did my midwives) that they be dimmed, the doctor (who suddenly felt she was in charge) refused. She also refused to let us video the birth, which was a part of our birth plan that her boss had signed off on.
As I mentioned, this doctor started taking over immediately, without even introducing herself to us, without any respect towards us or our birth plan, and without any kind of emergency at hand. She poked and prodded me and made me feel like a lifeless specimen that just happened to be in the way of her and the babies. She broke my water too soon and without my permission. Oh, and did I mention that at one point she was sitting by my... ahem... while talking on her cell phone (loudly) about another patient? Um? Seriously? At that point I still wasn't sure who this woman was (again - she never introduced herself) and was just about to yell at her to get out.
The difference between the doctor's "care" and that of the midwives was jarring and caused me great anxiety. There was a panic-inducing moment for me where I could not even see our midwives as they had basically been pushed to the back of the room. I asked Devin, "Where are Belinda and Diane??" and he made eye contact with Belinda with a gesture of "What on earth is going on?" She gave him a wink and literally elbowed her way back into position to catch the first baby.
I had a difficult time pushing Weston out. Partly due to the stress I was suddenly under and partly because, well, I've never pushed a human out of my body before and not only was it difficult, I wasn't sure how hard I actually had to push. Very hard it turns out.
After a little over an hour of pushing, at 7:46 a.m. on October 17th, Weston Scot was born. He was pink, crying and perfect. Belinda put him on my chest immediately and I started nursing him. He was warm and gooey and wonderfully wide-eyed. Devin was right there by my side and we couldn't seem to grasp the fact that we were suddenly parents. I wish I could remember what we said to each other in that moment, but it is all so blurry.
Too soon, this sweet moment ended as it was time to get baby number two out. Weston was taken from us and examined just a few feet away. It was difficult at first to pull my attention away from him and the nurses surrounding him in order to focus on delivering his brother, but it quickly became apparent that getting "Baby B" out would take not only an incredible amount of focus on my part, but a major battle against a nervous doctor with a scalpel that she was itching to use.
The tension in the room between Belinda and the doctor grew as Belinda tried to fight for the natural delivery she was confident we could achieve. But amidst her confidence and ours, was the doctor's constant flow of negative, stressful commentary.
"Baby B is getting tired!" "She doesn't have an epidural?! Then we'll have to knock her out if she doesn't deliver him soon!" "Prepare for a c-section."
This of course caused me incredible stress, which in turn caused the baby to dip in and out of "distress", which caused the doctor to panic more, which caused me to panic more, etc. She said again and again, "Baby B is getting tired," and I asked her, "What do I need to do?" Her response was, "Nothing." It became clear to me then that this doctor was not interested in anything but a cesarean and wouldn't be helpful in achieving a vaginal delivery for the second baby. In a panic - I looked at Belinda, who again, gave us a confident wink and, again, elbowed her way back into the catching position.
Belinda told the doctor, "You need to give her a chance to labor him down. He's in position, you just need to give her body a little time."
To which the doctor responded with something like, "He's too high for me to use forceps."
At that point, Belinda made eye-contact with me and said, "Jen I need you to push as hard as you can." Though Belinda had to tell me when to push (as mentioned before, I was so stressed I couldn't feel the contractions), I pushed hard and brought the baby down. Belinda threw a saucy look towards the doctor as if to say, "You think you need forceps, huh?"
From that point on, the delivery consisted of Belinda fighting off the doctor while trying to get me to push as hard and as often as possible. We were in a battle against time and knew that if I didn't push this baby out soon, I would be knocked out and cut open. I honestly believe that if I had allowed an epidural to be placed (which Diane did not require of me even though her boss had recommended it "just in case"), I would have ended up with a cesarean for Baby B. As it was, I didn't have an epidural placed and therefore it wasn't as convenient for the doctor to default to cesarean because she knew she'd have to completely knock me out. This, and Belinda's determination, saved us from something that was not needed or wanted.
Belinda did everything she possibly could, including asking permission to give me a small episiotomy. I allowed it, as she and I both knew that because of the pressure from the doctor my choices were a small cut there or a giant cut across the belly. That cut was the only pain I remember from the birth - it was piercing and I know I screamed from the pain. The doctor remarked, "That's not an episiotomy - it's too small." To which Belinda retorted, "It's all she needs."
Things were incredibly tense and dramatic in that room and during this part of the birth was the only time Devin cried as we both prayed over and over again, "Lord please help us." We both felt so confident that this baby could be delivered vaginally and were so fearful that we would be given an "unnecesarean" because of a nervous doctor who didn't understand or believe in the process of natural birth. It had been clear from the moment we arrived in the O.R. that a cesarean was this doctor's assumed outcome for our delivery - she seemed to be looking for an opportunity the entire time.
For about 30 minutes or so, I pushed intensely (I knew how hard I needed to push now) while the entire room screamed at me to "PUSH!!" While it was so frustrating to have so many people yelling at me, the baby was coming down and making progress naturally. Still, the doctor was on-edge (or perhaps just angry at this point that Belinda had been right). She put me on oxygen and I could still sense her pressuring Belinda. But God bless her, Belinda stood her ground (and ours) and at 8:41a.m., Isaac Knight was born. He was bright-eyed, crying robustly and latched on like a champ. (Belinda told me later, "When he came out like that, I thought, 'Ha! That baby's not in distress!'") He was perfect and healthy and we had achieved our natural birth safely, despite the many obstacles. Pulling down Devin's surgical mask, I gave him a big, grateful kiss on the lips. I then looked a Belinda and mouthed, "Thank you!" and in response, she winked.
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|Admiring Weston shortly after his birth|
|Our new family of four|
|My husband, my coach, my encouragement, my hero|
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|(L) Belinda with Isaac|
(R) Jacqueline with the boys
Devin and I can not express enough our thankfulness for the thoughtful care we received from our midwives throughout the pregnancy and during the birth. Thank you ladies for believing in us and in the natural design of pregnancy and birth.
We are also grateful for the sweet, calming presence of our doula, Jacqueline.
Additional thanks to our Bradley instructors Crystal and Paul for all the great knowledge about the natural birth process.
There were so many answered prayers throughout this pregnancy and all the way through the birth - to those of you who spent so much time in prayer on our behalf - thank you, we were amazing at how God answered so specifically.
We are so grateful for the incredible support-team God provided us through each of you.
And certainly, we must express our praise to God for His incredible design, for a safe pregnancy and for allowing us to take part in experiencing the miracle of birth. Praise You above all.