The Birth

Sufficient time has passed and I still haven't written the Turtles' birth story. As a conscientious first-time parent, I wrote Vivi's story within a month of her birth and it's still her favorite thing to hear and retell. I am going on 10 weeks with these Turtles and have finally realized if I wait until I feel rested and coherent, it will never happen. So here goes:

I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant when I had an appointment with S, my midwife. While palpating my abdomen, she said, "You're contracting right now." I couldn't feel it and was relieved for that. I wasn't particularly concerned since I had pretty much concluded that I was going to be the size of a house FOREVER so what's a little contraction here and there?

S then asked if she could do an internal exam and found that I was already a centimeter and a half dilated and 80% effaced. She said that she could feel a baby's head and decided to strip my membranes to get things moving. I remember thinking that it was nice having an end in sight to the pregnancy but I also felt some anxiety about the fact that I was going to go from one child to three within a day or so.

As I was packing Vivi up and leaving S's office, she offered some sage advice. "I want you to go home and get some rest. Have a glass of wine and then have sex with lots of orgasms." Huh? I'm sure I looked at her like she had three heads. She said, "I know. I know. It's like docking in space but the oxytocin is really going to help move things along." I left thinking there is no way in hell I am going home and having sex but I'll definitely take a nap.

Within 30 minutes of our departure, I started to have some cramping off and on. It was completely tolerable and I wasn't totally convinced it was doing much of anything so Vivi and I snuggled into my bed and slept for an hour or so. After we woke up, we went about our late afternoon business. She played and I made dinner and did some laundry. Mark came home and we ate and goofed around as usual. At 8 pm, Vivi went to bed and it was immediately after when things really got going.

Mark phoned S. at about 9 pm to tell her that my intermittent cramping had turned into regular contractions about an hour earlier. She said that she would be over to take a look but she wanted to be sure it was the real thing before she called the other three midwives. Mark joked that it definitely was the real thing because I was rolling silently on a yoga ball with a meditation tape instead of watching Gray's Anatomy. Mark then called my two friends named Mina. One Mina had volunteered to take Vivi and the other was going to be my birth buddy. We made the decision to let Vivi sleep but wanted Mina to know that I was in labor and we might call her later to come collect our toddler.

I rolled on the yoga ball in our living room for a couple hours while the house filled with people. I was barely aware of what was going on. I was in my zone focusing on the woman's voice coming from our stereo. The pain wasn't bad at all and I liked having the solitary peace while there was so much going on in the kitchen and upstairs, where I planned to birth.

At about 11:30, S. asked me to move upstairs while I was still able to climb the steps. I couldn't believe how our bedroom had been transformed into a birthing space within a few hours. There was a large inflated tub sitting in the middle, tools neatly lined up on a dresser, and other supplies lined up along a wall. I was waiting for the tub to fill so I continued to labor on my own by walking the hallway upstairs. The pain was getting more intense and I would go from feeling warm to quite cold. At one point during the evening, I sat on Mark's meditation cushion in his office with my back pressed up against the heater. The heater in that room is particularly active and the cushion provided just the right height to help with the back labor I had.

At about midnight, I was starting to feel like I needed some extra help with the pain and I wanted to go in the tub. The problem was that the water heater had run out of hot water before the pool had filled so the midwives, Mark, and MiNa were frantically boiling water on the stove while the water heater refilled. It was something out of Frontier House and I remember thinking that this is going to be pretty funny after the fact. At the time, however, it was really hard trying to make it through the pain. The back labor (which I did not have with Vivi) was excruciating.

Finally, I was able to get into the tub and was there until I felt ready to push. I got out of the tub and the midwives moved me to the bed. I lied down and said that I couldn't push that way and I wanted to stand up. I think they may have been reluctant to let me but I remember somehow getting up. The midwives had cranked the heat up for the babies and I was feeling completely overheated. I was pleading for them to open a window or to let me go downstairs but they wouldn't. I was standing/resting on Mark while someone held a cold cloth to my head and a midwife fanned me with another.

When I gave birth to Vivi, I was pushing for two and a half hours and never once felt like I was getting her down. With this birth, every push felt like real progress. I think I did six really hard pushes before Turtle A was about to crown. I was still standing up when this happened and the midwives said that I had to move to the bed. I refused. I was in such intense pain that there was no way I could walk the three steps to the bed. Every instinct I had told me to keep pushing and I was trying to do that when Mark basically carried/tackled me on to the bed. I was seriously pissed off but in retrospect, I understand why. With twins, the midwives needed a clear view of what was following the first baby in the event that Turtle B had a prolapsed cord. (That would have required immediate transport to the hospital.)

As I was lying on the bed, S. broke my bag of waters and with one push out came the first baby. She was quiet for a moment and then started crying. It was a frantic cry and she was a little purple but it was an immense relief that she was out. As she was lying on my belly, I looked over at my friend MiNa and saw that she was holding Vivi. It was all so overwhelming that I was completely in the moment and had totally forgotten about the second baby until 4 minutes later and one big push, out she came!
More to come.... babies are crying....


  1. So intense and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. wonderful S!. they'll love to read about this later.. and to hear and re-tell with each other ... wonderful

  3. Beautiful story! I just LOVE reading about twins born at home!


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