We didn't necessarily plan to have our nearly 3 year-old witness the birth of her twin sisters. As we were planning our homebirth, a part of me wanted Vivi out of the house so I could completely focus on getting the babies out. The other part wanted her there because she was so devoted to my growing belly and her "Turtles." She knew all about the placenta and where the babies would come out and that mommy was likely to be in a lot of pain. I thought that might traumatize her but my midwife assured me that it wouldn't. After all, birth has historically been a family event not a medical one. It just seemed to be a shame not to let Vivi see how the whole thing ended.
I was torn about what to do right up until my labor started. Since we had put Vivi to bed right before things really got going, I thought it would be best to let her sleep. If she woke up at an inconvenient time, we could call our friend. If she slept through the whole thing, then she would get to meet her sisters in the morning. Basically, we could just assess the situation and go from there.
When I saw my friend MiNa holding Vivi right after I birthed Jude, I was surprised. Normally, she yells to us when she wants to get out of bed. Had I not heard her? Where did she come from and what had happened in those few moments when I went from pushing upright to holding a baby on the bed? I don't know but Vivi had both sleepiness and a look of awe on her face. I wasn't sure if she had seen Jude born but she did see Eliya who was out 4 minutes later. After all was over and everyone was examined, cleaned up, and dressed, we snuggled together as one big family. It felt normal and it felt good.
Vivi didn't say anything about the birth until several weeks later. This is what she recounted:
"Mama, I woked up 'cause you was screaming. I was yelling for Daddy but MiNa Chung MiNa came in and got me. Jude Bug was lying on your belly and then two burps later out came the placentas!"
She skipped over Eliya's birth but seems to have taken great joy in witnessing the whole thing.
Oh, and I've discovered that Vivi has a thing for placentas. My friend MiNa took a lot of pictures of the afterbirth. She had never seen a placenta before and was amazed that the babies' sacs had fused together. When I uploaded the pictures onto my computer a week later, I was shocked to see all the photos. I thought that I would get to editing them later which, of course, I never did. Now when the screen saver comes up on my computer and pulls from my picture files, I periodically hear Vivi yell, "Look Mama! There's your placenta!"