I’m going to start writing the twins’ “birth story,” because that is something I am supposed to do. And also, because I have this blog for writing such things. And also, I play a fairly big part in the whole process. And boy, I sure do like writing about myself.
I was really feeling pretty okay up to the beginning of July. I mean, if I haven’t already made it clear, or if there is any doubt in your mind, being pregnant totally sucks. I was never in any incapacitating pain or outright danger, but it was just a growing list of ailments as the days wore on. Headaches, heartburn, swelling in my hands and feet, occasional pains in my ribs, weird vision issues, constantly needing to pee, and carrying around an extra goddamned 50 pounds.
Oddly, I also got a couple of small nose bleeds, which I never get. These can be signs of high blood pressure, but they can also just be a regular side effect during pregnancy.
So again, nothing critical. I knew pregnancy would probably suck. But I signed up for all this bullshit. So I stoically endured. And when I say I stoically endured, I mean I complained insufferably on the internet.
But keep all those symptoms above in mind. Sometimes they are all just regular pregnancy issues. But occasionally, they indicate something more sinister is going on, which I came to understand later.
The night before July 12 was uncomfortable. Nighttimes were getting harder and harder to bear. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was already getting constant contractions. But through that night, it felt like one long contraction. My belly was hard and tight for hours. If I reclined at all, like sitting on the couch, it felt like it restricted the boys’ room, and they kicked and complained. I could feel it in my ribs.
I knew I had a biophysical profile for the boys on Thursday morning, so I didn’t bother to call the doctor in the middle of the night. I figured if my belly was just hard, but not painful, it meant that labor was not eminent. I also didn’t feel any babies coming out of my vagina, either.
The next morning, I was bleary eyed and exhausted, and I drove over to my appointment. The biophysical profile is an ultrasound where they look for various signs affecting the babies’ well being. They look at amniotic fluid levels, they look to see if the babies are “practice breathing,” they look for movement with their hands and feet. They monitor heartbeats.
The boys, as usual, looked great on the tests. It seemed like two heart rate measurements came back high, so the doctor had me do a non-stress test, where they monitor the babies’ heart rate for a while. Again, these came back fine. The boys had always been strong and healthy every time we checked on them.
I explained my awful night to the doctor. I kept tabs on all my various ailments, because we needed to be on the lookout for pre-eclampsia. I’m an “older” mom, and I was having multiples, so I had a higher risk. We knew that pre-eclampsia can come out of nowhere, and can become very serious very quickly.
The doctor listened to my woe, my horrible night, my various symptoms, and said she wanted me to go see my own OB. They took some blood and sent me on my way. I asked the nurse if it would be okay if I stopped to eat lunch before going. I didn’t know how long I’d be at my OB, and I didn’t want to have an empty stomach all afternoon. The nurse said that as long as I was feeling okay, I could eat.
I just wanted something quick that I could scarf down in my car. So I stopped at Taco Bell, reasoning that no one would ever need to know that I actually ate at Taco Bell. I could throw away the wrapper, and I would make a point not to mention it to Dave. I got three taco supremes and ate them in the parking lot. I’m not proud. But I was also pregnant and hungry, and I didn’t give a shit.
I drove over the river and waddled up to my doctor’s office. For the past few months, both boys were head down and looking good for a vaginal delivery. I was at 35 weeks and one day. I was shown to an exam room. As I waited, I emailed Dave with all the morning’s various activities.
My doctor swept in and asked how I was feeling. And I answered honestly: I felt like shit. She nodded and flipped over my chart. She sighed and looked at me. “The babies are going to have to come out today.”
Before that even sunk in, she continued. “We’re going to have to do a c-section, and we may have to do general anesthesia. We might be able to do a spinal, but it will be up to the anesthesiologist.”
“Wow, c-section, not vaginal?” I asked.
“You have just blossomed very quickly, and the babies need to come out. It’s a bummer because you are in such a good position to deliver vaginally.” She looked over my chart again and shook her head. She was genuinely disappointed. “But we can’t wait to go through labor.”
“And why would they need to do general instead of an epidural?”
She explained that my platelets were low, and there was a risk of bleeding into the spine if they tried to do an epidural. A spinal block was another potential option, but it would depend on the anesthesiologist. They might not want to do a spinal, either.
This was beginning to sink in for me, but I was remarkably calm.
“When did you eat last?” she asked.
I sighed. “About half an hour ago.” I already understood those tacos were a bad idea.
“Damn,” she said. “We’re going to have to wait a while. It might be nine or ten o’clock. I’ll see if I can move it up sooner. We need to move quickly.”
“Seriously, I had no idea I shouldn’t have eaten. I stopped for lunch because I didn’t know how the rest of this afternoon would go.”
She smiled grimly. She told me to make my way over to labor and delivery. “I’d get you a wheelchair, but it seems like you’ve done a lot of walking today.”
I agreed. I waddled back to my car, where I had a bag pre-packed for just this occasion. I would have expected this moment to have been scarier. It was such a surprise to hear that I’d be getting a c-section, after months of expecting to labor and have a vaginal delivery. It was a surprise to hear I might go under general anesthesia, instead of getting an epidural, and that I’d be asleep for the birth.
I really didn’t have my heart set on any particular scenario. We had seen some birthing videos. Vaginal deliveries, and c-sections. It all looked horrible and gruesome. I was not looking forward to this day. But just as I had been advised, I was uncomfortable and tired. I was at the point where I just wanted them out. I was excited for it to be over. And I was excited to meet my sons.
I stopped in a courtyard to call Dave. He leaves his ringer off. I called twice. No answer. I hated to leave a cryptic text. But I needed to get his attention.
The following is our entire exchange from that day:
Dave: Ultrasound at 10:30! I don’t suspect you’ll be out early, but at 11:30am Amy and I will be
at Tom’s First Avenue Bento! You could join us?
Heather: Thanks, muffin. Just got here. It took over 20 minutes just to put clothes on this morning. So I was running behind. In waiting room at Emanuel now. Will let you know how it goes. Love you!
Dave: Don’t forget to ask them for size estimates! I’m curious! (We knew that Baby A was outpacing the growth of Baby B, and we were hoping to see if there had been any changes in their size)
Heather: Boys passed all tests. Asked about size. They need at least 3 weeks in between growth measurements. So next week they’d do one. Waiting for doctor, will ask about all the stuff. Just took blood pressure, it was 140/92.
Heather: They took a couple readings on boys’ heart rates. They are a little high. They are going to put me on a monitor. Told doc about hard belly and night time contractions. They will monitor those too. I’ll let you know if they keep me for anything serious.
Heather: They are going to monitor me over here for a bit, then send me over to my doctor.
Heather: XXX pounds! Holy fucking shit! (weight redacted because you don’t need to know that)
Dave: Whoa! Done w/ lunch – let me know what doc says!
Dave: Back at office. Give me a holler if you need me, or have any more news!
Heather: Going to get some lunch, then head over to my doctor’s office. They are giving me tapes from monitoring, labs, blood work, etc, to bring with me. I’m so tired. Bad night of sleep catching up to me.
Dave: When you get home take a nap! Maybe skip class tonight, because tiredness?
Dave: You’re at Clyde Drexler’s playing weight! ;-) (link redacted because you can look it up yourself, if you are an ass)
Heather: Um, great? In waiting room at dr’s office. Got quick lunch in between. They took labs, waiting on results. Took blood pressure 3 times, it was over 140 each time.
Dave: But right at 140 first time, at ultrasound? What did you have for lunch?
Heather: Can you come to the hospital?
Dave: Yes, L&D? Or your doctor’s? What’s up?
Dave: On bus, there soon.
Heather: I’m at L&D. Room XX. See you soon. Love you!