This is the story of my amazing twin girls’ birth. Giving birth to twins was no walk in the park for me, but I’m so glad that they are mine!!
I woke up on Friday, March 28th without a single expectation in the world. My plans were to get started on a work project in the morning, then break and head for a regular prenatla appointment at the hospital at about 11:30 (something called a non-stress test. Standard procedure for twins after 28 weeks on a weekly or bi-weekly basis). The morning was good! I was able to get dressed all cute and actually felt refreshed and somewhat energetic. I did still had my typical Braxton Hicks going on pretty regularly, but this was pretty normal, & I was very used to it at this point.
I headed off to the American Fork hospital and picked my younger sister, Chelsea, up at her school (mom was working that day, and the plan was for her to come hang out with me and my kitties for a few hours after she got out of school). We drove to the hospital and the nurses started my NST. Shortly after we began, my nurse voiced some concern over the number of “contractions” that were being registered on the monitor. I kind of laughed, because I’d been booked in the hospital twice before this for the same thing. I figured it was probably nothing and explained how this had happened before because of UTI’s and such. She persisted though and told me that what I thought were Braxton Hicks were actually full blown contractions. At that point, she sent me over to the doc so that he could do a quick ultrasound and check my cervix for dilation.
At this point, I wasn’t worried at all. I was actually feeling really sorry for poor Chels because this appointment had stretched from a 30 minute appointment to an hour already, and all she had to play with was my half-dead tablet with just a drawing app installed (I use it for work stuff mostly, so it’s pretty boring haha). The doctor came in and performed the ultrasound and the digital cervix check, and explained to me that I was about 1 cm dilated. I was a little surprised, but I also knew that 1 cm is nothing – a lot of women can walk around at a 3 or a 4 for weeks before giving birth. Besides, twins are weird during pregnancy, and dilation at 29 weeks was totally normal considering that I was just a few weeks away from that childbirth window anyway. Regardless, the doctor felt uncomfortable with the idea of me going home right away, so they booked me for an overnight stay to monitor both the babies and myself.
I called my mom and Christopher to let them know what was going on, and I felt horrible about it knowing that both of them were going to drop everything to come be with me when it was probably nothing. I’d had so many false alarms already, so I was really kind of embarrassed that I was stirring up yet another dramatic situation by getting myself locked in a hospital room again. What’s more, Chelsea had big plans for that day that involved turning my cats into furry babies and coloring and doing crafts all afternoon, and now she was stuck in a boring hospital with nothing but “Property Brothers” to watch on our tiny TV. Poor child!
Chris showed up shortly after (I later learned that he had cranked our worn out Camry up to 90 mph the whole drive home), and we began the waiting game. I had high hopes that the babies would be really boring for the rest of the afternoon, as they usually were, and that we’d be able to go home before the shift change. My mom was stuck at work, and dad’s car broke down on his way to the hospital, so Chels was still there on the couch looking as miserable as ever.
All was quiet until about 7:30 when my contractions went from uncomfortable to painful. However, they were still manageable at that point (I have a really high pain tolerance), so I was still not all that worried about things. I breathed through them with Chris like I always did, and the nurses had already given me some drugs to slow down the contractions just in case (Magnesium Sulfate – oh that devil drug…). Then, everything changed. It happened within minutes really – I suddenly was so tight that I could barely breath, and the pain had escalated to a point where I couldn’t handle them as calmly as before. The contractions were about 5 minutes apart at this point, and the nurses started jumping into action. First thing that was done was a final check on my cervix – I had suddenly dilated to a 3.5! The nurses then called my OB, Kari Lawrence and told her what was going on. Then, the decision was made that I needed to be transported down to Utah Valley hospital immediately, because I was getting ready to birth these children.
I lost it as soon as the nurses left the room. I was 29 weeks pregnant!!! I wasn’t ready for this! I had a birth plan – 34-36 weeks was when I was going to have these girls. I was going to make it to my baby shower in April. I was going to wake up one night with my husband in our home and have my water break, and I was going to grab my hospital bag (which I had prepared a few weeks earlier), and then I was going to calmly check in at the hospital for a speedy delivery. I was going to call my parents and excitedly tell them that the girls were on the way. I was going to get to hold my girls right after I delivered and have them in my room with me while I recovered for a few days. Those babies were going to come home with me healthy and perfect and without complication. There was nothing in my birth plan that involved an extended stay in the NICU or worse – not having my babies make it through the night because of birth problems.
Kari came and explained to me what was going on a little more, and then she began talking to me about the new group that I’d be working with. Although I had hoped for her to deliver me, I was going to be passed to a new set of doctors once I left the AF hospital. An ambulance would transport me to IHC Provo (where the NICU and its resources were far superior), and then they would make further attempts to stop labor. If that was unsuccessful and I dilated to a 6 or more, then they were prepared to deliver my twins that night.
The transport team showed up, and I was in chills in addition to my extreme contractions. The adrenaline had started to flow, and I was all over the place. I will say that, although the team did everything in their power to make the ride comfortable for me, it was horrible. My contractions worsened on the ride over, and the stress of the siren and the thought of some stupid college student in Provo refusing to stop for us as we booked it through town made me even more nervy than I already was. Christopher and my parents followed closely behind the ambulance, and before we all knew it, we had arrived. I was rushed to a delivery room and transferred to a bed, and then my contractions went to a new level (didn’t really think that was possible to be honest, but they were now 1-2 minutes apart). The room went blurry. All the voices around me were muffled. I was screaming and trying to breath at the same time, and everyone was trying to get me to calm down, and then to add to that, I started throwing up buckets because of the pain and the shock my body was going through. They checked my cervix again, and it was decided that I was now a 4. The nurses and doctors decided to go for the big guns –an epidural and a pain killer called Fentynol. Once the painkiller hit me, I was suddenly floating and completely unaware of what was going on around me. Answering questions was impossible – all I wanted to do was float into sleep and stay that way forever. It was a super nice feeling – I can see why addicts enjoy the sensation so much!
At that point, labor started to slow down, but it wasn’t stopping yet. The contractions were still pretty close together, but not 1-2 minutes apart. My cervix was checked multiple times that night, but I still wasn’t dilating from any of them. At some point the next morning, I finally was able to relax a little bit. At that point, I had been in labor for about 22 hours, and yet no babies had entered the world as a result. It was literally a miracle.
Dr. Thorpe came in and told me that I would be in the hospital until I delivered at that point – they couldn’t risk me going home and then suddenly going into labor outside of the hospital after an episode like the night before. I was actually really upset at that, especially knowing how much work I had to do for my job and how horrible the internet was at the hospital. Yet at the same time, I was too exhausted to protest. With more of that delightful Fentynol on board, I slept most of the rest of that day.
That’s how it kind of went for the next 6 days. Days were decent, nights were full of painful contractions. Yet every time the nurses checked my cervix, I was still at a 4. It was so frustrating! If I was going through all of this pain, I should at LEAST have some progress to show for it! I still was happy each day that I was still pregnant though – that meant less time in the NICU for my babes.
We got to Wednesday, and I started wondering if I’d actually make it to 32 weeks without delivering. If I did that, it was possible that I would go home! Not only that, but that Wednesday was AMAZING. I felt so good! I had a surge of energy, and my mood was so light! Christopher was actually pretty surprised over the whole thing (and I think a little bit worried haha). My whole day passed without any major contractions that were close together, so my mom decided to head home early and get some things done while I was feeling good (my mom dropped everything and was there with me and Chris every day in the hospital – it meant the world to me).
Chris and I started watching some TV and settling in for the evening, but at around 6:30 that night, I suddenly launched back into contractions. This was strange, because I usually didn’t take off in that direction until about 9:00 at night. The contractions were SUPER intense in comparison to my other ones as well – these ones sent massive pain down both of my legs, so my whole body would seize up for the 45 seconds or so that the contractions lasted. We tried more pain pills and meds to get me to relax, but I felt as much pain as if I’d been off pain pills entirely. This went on for 5 more hours with contractions getting stronger and getting closer together, but this had happened almost every night for the past week – in my mind I was thinking, “Could this be it? Am I going to deliver my babies tonight?”
At 11:00 PM, my nurse had seen enough. She was going to check my cervix again (they only check your cervix when they absolutely have to. Every time this procedure is done, the risk of infection is raised, and the possibility of inducing more dilation is very high as well). All I heard was, “Oh my gosh… you’re a 6. We’re done.” I then realized that tonight was the night – I was having these babies at 30 weeks gestation, and I was terrified.
Christopher called both sets of parents to let them know that it was finally happening and that the doctor was coming in to break my water. By that point, I had dilated to an 8, and the anesthesiologist was in our room giving me another epidural to start the process. When my mom and dad walked in the room about 20 minutes later, I was just about to head off for delivery. The chills came back. The fear came back. However, one thing that was new was a little bit of excitement! I had actually made it to 30 weeks, which to me was a massive accomplishment and blessing at this point. I had no doubts that my babies would be OK, but knowing that the doctors were going to have to make a lot of last-minute decisions in the operation room made me nervous as the same time. What was worse was that I was starting to feel a head between my legs, but I knew I couldn’t start pushing until we made it to the operating room.
Just as my first baby started making her way out of me, the doctors were ready to go. I waved goodbye to my parents just after midnight, and I was wheeled to the operating room with a swarm of nurses and specialists and Dr. Dabling, another one of the fabulous OBs that I’d gotten to know over the long week that I’d been in the hospital. Christopher was holding my hand as I shook uncontrollably and resisted the urge to push all the way to the room, and suddenly we were there. Bright lights. Everyone rushing. Cold. Those are the sensations I remember best.
Before I even knew what was going on, all the nurses told me to go. I didn’t even know what I was doing – I just imagined what delivery looked like based on all the movies I’d ever seen. Whatever I did worked, because after the first time, they told me to do exactly the same thing. However, something was wrong, because I was feeling stuff – massive, massive, massive pain after every push. I can remember screaming for as long as they’d let me in between pushes, but I’d be cut off by one of the nurses in the midst of my agony and forced to push again. After five pushes, my sweet Isabelle entered the world and was uttering a soft little cry. I heard everyone say how beautiful she was, but I couldn’t even think about her for more than a second. I was sobbing, and Chris said that I said, “My beautiful baby girl,” when I saw her (that made me happy when he told me that, because all I remember was wishing that my second baby was already out after all that horrible pain). I loved Isabelle from the moment I saw her, and I was happy that she was safe and somewhat healthy at that point, but I was scared to death at the same time, and my energy and thoughts had to be directed to the next delivery. I will tell you – it was not the magic mommy-baby moment you would probably expect when you first see your baby. I was ready for them to take Isabelle away from me.
They took Isabelle away and I prepared to push, but I was stopped by the nurses. They did an ultrasound and found that although Jayde had been head down before we started delivering, she had flipped into a breach position after Isabelle left the womb. Dr. Dabling then tried to turn her and was successful (again, I felt all of this thanks to a failed epidural. SO painful), and I began pushing again. This time, however, something didn’t feel right – I wasn’t hurting as much. In fact, it didn’t feel like anything was really moving at all.
When I heard my nurses swearing and start scurrying around the room to prepare a different table, I realized that something was definitely wrong with my baby. At the time, I had no idea what was going on, but I later learned that Jayde managed to flip again, and when I had pushed, her arm and leg started coming out first instead of her head. Because of this, her heart rate had dropped below 50, and it was almost inevitable that she would die without an emergency C-Section.
Within 30 seconds, I was on a different delivery bed with a big blue sheet blocking my view. I felt Christopher squeezing my hand to my left, but I knew that nothing could prepare me for the kind of pain I was going to experience within the next few moments (again… epidural is not working at this point). Sure enough, I felt the sting of a knife cutting in to my stomach, and then I was swallowed up in excruciating pain as the doctor grabbed either side of the incision and ripped it apart in order to fit her arm inside to find and extract Jayde. I was screaming and sobbing and hyperventilating all at the same time, trying so hard to just hold it together and make it through this moment. I found myself begging in my mind, “Please God – please let me die! Save my baby, but let me die!” and then thinking, “No – I can’t leave Chris. I can’t leave my little girls. They all need me, and somehow I’ve got to live through this.” It’s amazing how many thoughts I was able to have in that moment, even as I was so fixated on what was going on. I somehow managed to think of the Savior, and in those brief moments, I finally was able to understand why they say that childbirth is the closest thing to the Atonement. How, I wondered, could He have done this, when I, a simple woman who was going through one moment of grief and pain for only me and my children, was already begging to be released from my body? My mind went back to Jayde, and again, my only hope was that she would survive this brutal delivery.
Suddenly, the world was going blurry and spinning. The lights looked brighter. I wasn’t 100% sure if I was dying and was slipping from my body or if the anesthesiologist had managed to knock me out like he said he would should the epidural fail during my possible C-Section, but it was like floating through the air. I heard calm conversation and felt some tugging on my stomach at one point (I assume that was when they were stitching me up), and the frightening thought that I may have lost my sweet baby girl was going through my mind in my clouded state.
The next time I opened my eyes, I was back in my room with my mom by my side holding my hand and Dr. Dabling talking to me as if I’d been talking to her for 5 minutes (this was somewhere around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning). I had no idea what she was saying, and I still don’t remember, but I do remember asking if my babies were OK. She said something to me, but it didn’t register at all – I had to concentrate too hard on actually opening my eyes to look at everyone to actually hear what anyone was saying (that was some strong sedative…).
What really woke me up was seeing Christopher walk in the room in his sterile clothing that he wore in the operating room. He walked up to me with a giant smile on his face, and I just knew that both of my babies were alive and well. I finally was able to breathe a sigh of relief at that point, and I knew it was over – we were all alive. I had done it. I had brought two precious children into the world, and they were OK, and I had managed to stay alive in the process. Christopher held my hand, and with tears in his eyes, he told me how absolutely beautiful our girls were. He had followed them to the receiving room and then to the NICU after they were stabilized, and they were doing so so well for what they had just gone through. Isabelle of course was pretty OK from the get-go (just needed some cleaning up and some oxygen), but Jayde had come out of me completely silent and had required a good deal of suction before she started breathing. They finally did get her heart rate back up and sent her to the incubation pod next to her sister. Since then, they had been doing awesome in the NICU and were taking to life outside the womb pretty darn well.
To my surprise, the doctors told me that I would actually be allowed to see them right then – I just couldn’t walk there. Since they were going to transfer me to the mother/baby unit downstairs anyway, they took me and my bed into the NICU to greet my precious daughters for the first time. At that point, I was all smiles, and with my husband and parents right beside me as we went down to the nursery, I felt like everything was right in the world. Even though I was still pretty groggy from the pain meds, I will never ever ever forget the feeling of looking at my gorgeous girls for the first time, especially Jayde who I REALLY didn’t get to see in the delivery room. It felt like I was on cloud nine – I didn’t even care how much I had been through at that point. This was the best moment of my life.
I remember making it to the room downstairs, but the minute that we got there, I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep. Somehow, I made it to a new bed, and that’s what I wok e up on later that morning. I had all sorts of IVs stuck in me, and Christopher was asleep to my right on a tiny little couch-bed. When I woke up, I wondered if I had dreamed up that night entirely because it seemed too bizarre and traumatic to be real. It took me looking down at myself and seeing my stomach sewn up for me to realize that the night previous had indeed occurred, and I was now the proud mother of two beautiful, healthy daughters. In that moment, I was filled with gratitude and could only think of the enormous blessing that I had been given to my entire family that night. Isabelle and Jayde’s lives were spared. My life was spared. Anything and everything could have gone wrong, but God spared all of our lives, and I was granted another day with my incredible husband and my beautiful babies.
Since then, our girls have thrived. They are growing every day and shocking everyone with their progress! Who knew that they were going to be so strong? Every day I thank God for his hand in their survival and in their recovery! We are so so blessed.
My recovery has been rather miraculous as well. Despite having undergone both a regular delivery and a C-Section all in one night (and getting a bad case of cellulitis to top it all off), I have been able to sit up and walk and even get dressed and ready every day since I delivered. Everyone (including myself) has wondered how on earth I am able to do these things and carry on as if I had never had a major surgery! I’m sore and pretty tired most days, but I know that my abilities to be strong and move ahead of the normal recovery process is all based on yet another blessing from the Lord, and I’m so grateful! I’ve had to be like that in order to support my babies as they grow and develop, and God really knew that going into this situation.
The power of prayer is real! Thank you for all of you who prayed and fasted and who continue to pray and fast for our little family. The spirit is so strong with us every day, and I’ve felt a HUGE addition of strength and endurance in addition to that. We have a few more weeks to go in the NICU, but one thing is for sure – these babies were sent to us for a reason, and their lives and my life was spared so that they could fulfill everything they agreed to fulfill in heaven. We are so grateful for our little angels and are trying to be the best parents we can possibly be to them. We have no idea what lies ahead beyond the NICU, but we do know that our testimonies have been strengthened and our hearts have been touched by the mercies of the Lord, and we will continue to look for those mercies as we raise these amazing babies moving forward.