Today on the blog, I’m sharing the birth story of my identical twin boys, Rio and Sol! This birth was completely different from the births of my other children (as to be expected!) and it was just as equally beautiful and miraculous. Whatever your birth story is, it’s magical! You can read Roma’s birth story here and Luca’s birth story here.
Rio and Sol’s Birth Story (Identical Twins!)
It’s important that I preface this birth story by saying that the entire pregnancy with these twins, I was curious, nervous, and somewhat terrified of the birth. After joining several Facebook groups for identical twin pregnancies, I felt a lot of anxiety around the birth, to the point where I didn’t say their names aloud much, I never put up their name signs on the wall, and I just had this nervous anxiety around the birth – I thought something was going to go terribly wrong the whole pregnancy and IF I made it to the birth, something dramatic was going to occur.
Preparing for a vaginal birth or C-section
In all of these Facebook groups and in a lot of the stories that I’ve heard or read about, identical twin pregnancies are high-risk (because the babies share a single placenta!) and vaginal births are honestly discouraged. There are many risks to a vaginal birth in an identical twin pregnancy and many stars have to align for it to work out. Now, there are similar risks in any pregnancy, but all you’re told about with a twin pregnancy is that you’re going to need a C-section. And to clarify, I was 100% prepared to have a C-section if needed, I just preferred to have a vaginal birth if I could, because that’s all I knew with my other births and the unknown is scary. However, in the end, I just wanted to deliver two healthy baby boys – whether that was C-section or vaginal birth. My point is this: I held a lot of stress about the delivery of my twins for the entire length of my pregnancy.
About two weeks before my delivery date (they wouldn’t let me go beyond 37 weeks with an identical twin pregnancy due to decreased viability of the placenta after 37 weeks), my doctor and I had the conversation: do you want to schedule a C-section or an induction and try for a vaginal birth? Regardless, you deliver in the OR (operating room), because they have to be set up and ready for an emergency C-section if something goes wrong in the vaginal birth.
After hours and hours of agonizing over what was the best thing to do (a combination of what’s ‘safest’ and how we wanted to bring our twins into the world) Lu and I decided to go with an induction – and had the blessing of our doctor, due to my “proven pelvis” (meaning, my pelvis can handle birth, because it had been proven with 2 prior successful vaginal births) and the fact that the babies were the right weight distributions (Baby A was larger) and most importantly, they had both been head down for the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy and most likely weren’t going to budge.
So the day was set: September 7th (at 37 weeks pregnant exactly), in the evening, I would be induced.
False water breaking
On Monday, September 6th at about 1am, I woke up and my pajama shorts and the bed were soaked. Now, I don’t just pee myself and this was an odorless liquid – and a lot of it (I’d say about a 1/2 cup of liquid or more.) I thought it was my water breaking, so we woke up my neighbor upstairs (who had offered to help watch the kids if I went into labor in the middle of the night) and she came downstairs, stayed in our apartment while the kids slept and Lu dropped me off at the hospital. We called my parents and they drove straight over, so that by the time I was getting examined, Lu was back in the hospital with our hospital bag, ready to go!
The midwives did their exam and concluded that my water didn’t break, but it was a burst of cervical fluid, just a sign that my body is ready to go into labor any minute. Ugh! A sleepless night for nothing, but they were happy I came in. They decided to push up my induction to Monday night at 10pm (September 6th instead of September 7th), because my cervix was soft and they thought things would go quickly.
Monday was tough, we were so exhausted after only getting a couple hours of sleep the night before. I took a 20 minute nap, but there was so much excitement for that evening that it was hard to do anything but think about it. Lu went to work and I tried to rest as much as possible at home. My parents stayed that night, so they were already at our apartment (Lu slept on the couch and I slept in the nursery daybed.) We had all of our ducks aligned and we were ready to go that night!
We drove to the hospital at 10pm and by the time I was in the labor room, it was about 11pm. They did a bunch of blood work, set up my IVs, strapped the dual baby heartbeat monitors on my belly, explained the whole process to me, and told me that at midnight they would start the induction (so that I was ‘officially’ full-term at 37 weeks.)
They started with Cervadil. Cervidil looks kind of like a super thin tampon (with a string hanging out) that they insert vaginally to assist with labor by softening the cervix and preparing it for birth. They told me that it often causes contractions if your body is ready enough, so to prepare for that (mild cramping.) After that, they were going to insert a balloon (again, vaginally) that fills up with water and dilates me to 4 centimeters, after a few hours with the Cervidil.
Well, the Cervidil did its job, and I almost immediately starting cramping. When they came in a few hours later to insert the balloon, it wouldn’t stay in there – I was already at 4cm! At this point, they told me that they’d just let my body continue to do its thing and then start Pitocin (a contraction-inducing drug) to get things really going.
Well, my body got going and when they checked me next to start the Pitocin, I was at 6-7cm. I was laboring on the ball as much as I could, but the baby heartbeat monitors kept falling off and missing the baby’s heartbeats, so they had to put me back on the bed to labor so they could monitor better. That was so hard – it’s pretty excruciating to just lay there in a bed and labor – it’s much easier to move around, use your body, and have Lu help me through the contractions.
Once I hit 6-7cm, I asked for the epidural. They said that after they administered the epidural, they’d still start the Pitocin (despite my body doing it on its own so far) because they want to have it in my system so that after I deliver Baby A, my body won’t stop contracting and it’ll keep contracting so Baby B can come out (and the Pitocin would better facilitate those contractions.)
Now, I’ve had two epidurals before (one for each of my births) and I had zero issues – I never felt even a pinch from the numbing shot. I loved my epidurals, they allowed me to relax and enjoy the rest of my labor and then wear off just enough so I could feel things to push my babies out. Well, this was different. Not only did I feel the numbing shot (which was very painful), then, when they inserted the catheter for the epidural, I felt intense pressure and then the sharpest shooting pain that felt like lightning through my legs and back. I screamed in pain, it was the worst acute pain I had ever felt. They stopped after I begged them to and they told me that they had hit a nerve and that’s what that sharp shooting pain.
After the failed catheter insertion, they tried again and it was successful. Phew. The pain started dissipating and then I was feeling groovy! About an hour after the epidural, they started me on the Pitocin and within a few more hours, my contractions were intense (I only felt some slight pressure) and the doctor, around 7:15pm, came to check in on me. He said the whole time my cervix had been very posterior and he did something with his hands (honestly it felt like he put his fingers in my butt, there was so much pressure there), asked me to give him “a good push” and all of a sudden I felt it: the urge to poop! That’s when you know it’s go-time in labor and it’s time to deliver your babies! He said to everyone in the room, “Let’s get her into the operating room, she’s 10cm, it’s time to go!” And he told me it was time to meet the twins.
The operating room: it’s go time!
The operating room was just across the hall. Lu was handed a jumpsuit and a hairnet and told to suit up! Right after he was dressed, they wheeled me into the OR. As the doors flung open like a movie, I looked up and saw these giant bright stadium lights, what seemed like a dozen doctors in the room (there were probably only 6 or so of them, in reality), and everyone just staring at me as they wheeled my bed into the appropriate spot. I immediately burst into tears. Lu said there was a table set up with all of the C-section tools right next to my bed, so if I had seen those, I’m sure the hysterics would’ve been grander. The whole thing was so overwhelming. In my head, I literally said to myself, “Am I going to come out of here with one baby or two? Did I just make a big mistake? Should I ask for a C-section now? Will I end up needing a C-section and have a double recovery?!” I couldn’t see Lu, either, in the rush into the room, so I was looking around for him. He came over to me and held my shoulders and it calmed me down.
The lead doctor delivering me told me not to be scared, it was time to focus and get these babies delivered. The midwives were all like, “It’s okay to feel this way! It’s a lot!” which made me calm down because I giggled a bit – I was always the one on the sports team that wanted to be yelled at – I like tough love and being yelled at as a motivator. All I could focus on was the doctor and he just said, “Are you ready to push?” Honestly, all I could think about was getting those babies out – I was going to be push my absolute hardest and visualize those babies coming right out of me, safely. I closed my eyes and pushed as hard as I could, seeing their little faces with every push.
Within a few minutes, Baby A was out and screaming. I heard Lu next to me (who was holding a leg), “Oh my gosh, that’s incredible.” And I opened my eyes and there he was – Rio, crying loud and clear. They put him right on my chest, which I was so grateful for (another thing I wasn’t sure I’d get to do – immediate skin-to-skin.) The doctors and nurses and midwives were cheering me and singing my praises, saying things like, “I can’t believe how quickly you just pushed that baby out!”
And that’s when I heard the doctor say, “Are you ready to push again?” and at the same time, I felt that urge again and without even thinking about it, I put my arms around Rio, held him to my chest with my chin on his little head, and I push the hardest I’ve ever pushed in my life – I knew that Baby B could flip, I’d need an emergency C-section or worse, placental abruption could happen where the placenta detaches too soon from the uterine walls and suffocates Baby B. I wanted this birth and I was going to have these babies, so I bore down and I pushed and heard, “Oh my gosh, the head!” and then I took one last huge breath in and with all of my might, I pushed for 10 seconds, closing my eyes, holding onto Rio, and saying to myself, “your brother’s coming right behind you!” and after 2 pushes, Sol was born.
Sol was crying too and they put him right on my chest, next to Rio. They both were crying on me, their little arms and legs intertwined on me. Lu just kept saying, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this!” and we just stared at our little baby boys on my chest, as the doctors and nurses sang my praises. In 10 minutes, I vaginally delivered two babies, born three minutes apart – Rio Alan at 7:35pm and Sol Rigo at 7:38pm. Rio weighed 6 pounds and 14 ounces, while Sol weighed 6 pounds and 3 ounces. Both mighty, both absolutely perfect. Our family was instantly complete.
While still in the operating room, they sewed me up (luckily, since the babies were much smaller than any of my other children, I had very minimal tearing so that postpartum recovery has been a breeze!) while they just double checked to make sure the babies were okay. Rio was pretty white, which terrified me at first, but his oxygen was operating at 100%, so it was just the way he was. Sol was very red, which worried me also, but again, they passed all of their tests and were stable, requiring no intervention.
Phew. I had been waiting for this moment for 9+ months. I had no idea how their birth story would end, but it was magical and I am so happy I listened to my intuition and went for a vaginal identical twin birth. Birthing two babies really made me proud of my body, but most importantly, in awe of the female body. I grew two lives inside of me and now, they’re sitting next to me, in their little bassinets, swaddled and warm, about to wake up to nurse to continue to grow from me. It’s all just beautiful.
Unfortunately, the first 5 days postpartum were not magical (they were absolutely terrible), which I’ll cover in another post, but it was all worth it for the safe and healthy delivery of my baby boys. More coming soon!