As most of you know, I had planned out a natural water birth at home. Before I even met my husband, I knew I wanted a homebirth. This was also something we discussed as we got to know each other, and we were both in agreement. So when I got pregnant, it was our goal to go all natural and have our babies in our home with our midwife. The pregnancy was going well, and even after we found out we were having twins, I still planned to have them at home, even though people were trying to convince me otherwise. If no problems presented themselves…this was my dream. I tried SO hard to do everything right during my pregnancy. However, towards the end, things got more and more difficult. My midwife was beginning to get concerned that I was forming symptoms of toxemia. We were all confused though, because I had no swelling and many of the other symptoms were non-existent. As we got to the very last two weeks, my urine tests revealed that there was protein. I continued to try so hard to eat well and consume everything I was supposed to. I was determined to keep my babes healthy and have the natural birth I desired. It began to get beyond my control though, because one of the mornings as I fixed up my routine protein shake and drank it, I felt this sudden urge to throw it back up…and I did. My protein intake each day was to be 150 grams…and that was VERY hard. The next day, my shake again came back up, but that day I formed a headache that would not go away, and my blood pressure was high as well. My mom and my Mother-in-law called my midwife to share their concerns…and it very much concerned her also. They called my husband at work and he literally took the rest of the day off to come and see how I was doing. Evidently I was progressively getting sicker and sicker…and I didn’t know it…or maybe I just refused accept it. I don’t know. My husband was talking with my midwife on the phone, and gave the phone to me. I tried to convince her that I was fine, and that nothing was wrong. I was sure I was going to go into labor any time. Then she told me something that still rings in my ears today, “Rachelle…I want you to go and get blood work done. That will reveal if you have toxemia or not. I know this is not what you wanted, and it’s not what I wanted for you. I know that you’ve tried so hard to do everything correctly, but sometimes God has other plans.” I said, “When do you want me to get my blood work done?” She replied, “Today!” This really scared me, because it was already late afternoon, and I was still pretty sick. She once again told me, “I know that you don’t want to hear that, but we need to think of your babies and their safety…they come first .” My husband had previously called one of my cousins who worked at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City. She was very kind and called up one of her friends that worked there and made arrangements for me to get in right away and get all the blood work done. Her friend even had the day off…and she still came in to help me. Before my midwife got off the phone she told me, “Rachelle, you and your husband need to pray, and then you must do what your husband feels is necessary.” I got off the phone and literally cried. My husband drew me to the couch and with his arms around me, tried to comfort me. I said, “I’ve tried so hard…I’ve made it so far!!! What have I done wrong?! I feel like an utter failure!” I cried and cried. We prayed, and then started packing our bags to head to St. Luke’s Hospital. I had no idea what all would be taking place. I was an emotional wreck…and terrified. It was a rainy day and very gloomy…and that did not help things at all. I mustered up the strength I had left, and packed my bag. I asked my husband, “Do you think we’ll have to stay overnight in the hospital?!” The very thought depressed me. I was hoping for the best, and that nothing was wrong with me after all.
My Mother-in-law and my husband and I packed the van and headed off. Over the radio, the song, “Hold My Heart” by Tenth Avenue North, started to play. Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEz2PsLJ-RI
I listened to it closely as tears rolled down my cheeks. The most meaningful lines to me were the following: (As it was raining) One tear in the dropping rain; One voice in a sea of pain; Could the Maker of the stars; Hear the sound of my breaking heart?
(Just my general feelings at that moment)
I've been so afraid, afraid to close my eyes. So much can slip away before I say goodbye. (More this next part) But if there's no other way, I'm done asking why!
(Another general feeling at that moment) So many questions without answers; Your promises remain. I can't see but I'll take my chances, To hear You call my name.
We arrived at the hospital 1 ½ hours later and we were immediately directed to a room where they had me put on a hospital gown and got me ready for everything else. My blood pressure was taken, and she was quite concerned. I tried to tell her that I had “white coat syndrome”….obviously I really didn’t think anything was wrong with me. She told me that my blood pressure was beyond anything that would be considered the white coat syndrome! They took a sample of my blood and within just minutes it came back and I did indeed have toxemia. The protein in my urine was at 700. My heart dropped….my dreams of a natural birth at home were clashing all around me and I didn’t quite know how to respond or what to think. It really all happened so fast! Soon I was lying on the bed, and they were bringing an ultrasound into the room to make sure that I could deliver vaginally. I was informed by my midwife that Baby A was head down and it would be possible. They got me hooked up to the machine, and within seconds we were seeing our fully developed babies! They said that Baby B had a wonderful heart rate!! However, they said that Baby A’s heart rate could be better. Now as a mother, YOU NEVER want to hear those words! I immediately panicked thinking something was wrong and asking if all was okay. Then they told us that Baby B was only measuring at 33 weeks…and I was currently 37 weeks and 4 days. So I knew that wasn’t good news. They told us that there may be slight complications that would need attention once Baby B was born. I asked if it were a serious thing that we should be worrying about, but they saw no reason to be worried too much. However, then they checked the positions…and Baby A had flipped and become breech. They were BOTH breech, but one was in a transverse position. I cannot begin to even tell you what my heart felt at that moment. I knew that a vaginal birth was not an option at that point. They had discussed inducing me, but the ultrasound revealed that a c-section was all we could do. My husband and I both looked at each other….yet another clash in our dreams and hopes. I felt useless and helpless. I had been so excited for this natural birth that we had spent months planning! All I could do was pray and step out into God’s will. I asked the doctor…”So does this mean that I will have a c-section tomorrow sometime?” She replied, “No….TONIGHT! We have to get those babies out!” What she said next hurt, even though I did understand.” She shared, “I know this will be hard to hear, but right now your body is a deadly and toxic environment for your babies…they need to get out…it’s not safe to carry them any longer.” I could understand her comment, but it still hurt to hear that my body was deadly to their health…it just somehow made me feel even more of a failure even though I know I wasn’t.
They quickly got me ready for the c-section, which involved tons of paperwork, more IV’s, and a heart wrenching goodbye to my family and my husband as I was wheeled out to the operating room. My husband had been dressed and ready to go with me to remain by my side, but the doctor had said, “Daddy, I know you won’t want to hear this, but you can’t come with her right now. We will let you know when you’re allowed in.” We looked at each other…and I saw grief and sorrow written all over my husband’s face. We were still in shock at all that was happening and now he actually had to leave me for several minutes. He held my hand, and as they wheeled me out, his eyes spoke volumes, and he whispered “I love you”, as he held my hand until we parted at the fingertips….and away I went out of sight. I remember always wondering how it felt to be in a bed like that with nurses all around you wheeling you into an operating room for a huge surgery. Being in that position was difficult. I was frightened and it was all a blur. I asked the Lord to be with me and help me through everything I was about to endure. I felt a peace about me as I knew that even though they had prevented any family or my husband from being with me, they could not prevent my Savior from staying with me….what a comfort that was! As I entered the room, I saw all these machines and devices used to perform the surgery. There were about 3-4 doctors, and about the same number of nurses. They quickly shifted me from the hospital bed onto the operating table, and then a woman apologized as they told me they’d have to expose me naked waist down for a while. I really hated that, but then again, I really didn’t care at that time, because like I said, it was all a blur and everything happened so fast that I was still trying to figure it all out. One thing I recall is a doctor who was very friendly as he inserted the spinal and then told me that I would begin to feel nauseated. That was one of the worst parts of the surgery for me. I couldn’t feel anything from my belly and down. So when I felt this nausea hit, I couldn’t feel my insides turning….and therefore I couldn’t breathe. It’s hard to explain, but those who have experienced c-sections may know what I mean. I felt like I would vomit my insides out and yet nothing would come up…possibly because I had almost nothing in my body to vomit up. I remember asking the Lord how I could survive this…I could not breathe and every time my body tried to bring up something, it hurt so bad! The doctor told me that he was inserting a medicine that should help….and boy when it did, it felt SO good!!! I was so relieved that I exclaimed, “That medicine is AWESOME!!!!!” That sent the whole room of doctors and nurses into laughter! :D
At this point they let my husband in, and he told me he felt so broken. He saw me lying there just limp…after this whole nausea ordeal I was exhausted. He rubbed my arm, and my face several times telling me he loved me and that I was doing so well. Meanwhile, he was getting his camera ready to record the birth of our babies. Evidently I wasn’t aware that they had started the surgery, because I thought they were still cleaning my skin in preparation. Not so…I asked if they were cleaning me, and they replied, “Oh honey, we are WAY past that part! We’ve already cut into you and we’re about to pull your babies out!” They said, “Ah!!! Here comes the boy!!” I heard my husband say, “Oh I see his butt!!!” Then a minute later, I hear this high pitched tiny scream and cry! My eyes instantly filled with tears as I heard the cries. The doctor said, “Oh, she’s beautiful!!! She is gorgeous!!!” My husband then suddenly got up and rushed over to one of the little baby tables. I found out later, that the cry I heard was our little girl being born!! Our son was born and didn’t cry, so he was quickly rushed to a table as they sucked fluid out of his lungs and nostrils. Then he too let out a big cry! It was rather humorous, because as they heard our little girl cry, they realized that she had a good set of lungs that wouldn’t have been developed if she had only been 33 weeks gestation. They did an assessment on her and found out that she was indeed a full term baby, but so small! That was one thing that shocked my husband. He saw our son being taken out and then as they pulled out or daughter, his mouth dropped open at the size difference. She was preemie size, but she was very healthy and had a better apgar than he did!! They both urinated at the same time…she urinated on herself right after they cleaned her and shortly after, he shot in her direction as well, haha! We got it on camera!
One of the hardest things for me was the fact that I couldn’t hold them right away! I had imagined them coming right out at a home birth and being placed on my chest to bond immediately…I felt cheated of that experience. They brought the babies to me for a quick glance, and then they were taken away…my husband following the nurses as they took the babies after asking if he would be allowed to come back in. I had another one of my nausea fits as they tugged and pulled while stitching me back up. When my husband came back, he wasn’t allowed to come back in as he was told. So he waited until they let him, and he told me later that the sight of me lying there broke his heart and he literally had to touch me to make sure I was still alive. Soon after, I began to shake so uncontrollably that my husband panicked and asked for warm blankets to put on me. I was a miserable sight…my temperature had dropped due to the collapse of hormones, and caused such shaking that I’ve never had before…I looked like I was having a seizure. My poor husband watched in horror as he saw me and knew he could do nothing. He just constantly held my hand when he was able and stayed by my side, never leaving again. I was in the recovery room for 2 hours…2 HOURS before I got to hold my babies. By the time I was wheeled back into my room, I was SO thirsty…but I was not allowed to drink water for several more hours. They gave me ice chips to chew on to help quench my thirst. My lips were dry and I felt so dehydrated.
As they brought my babies to me, I melted upon seeing them, but it was so hard, because they wouldn’t latch on. I believe that was in part, due to the fact that I was separated for so long. They hadn’t gotten to know me right away. The next several days were a challenge as I felt I was crashing down into post partum depression from the sleepless nights, the constant wakings for my blood pressure, and the constant separation from my babies as they took them away to perform assessments and different tests. I believe part of it was also the fact that I was not allowed to take my thyroid supplements. I’ve had a low thyroid, which caused my previous 2 miscarriages, and when I started my supplements, I got pregnant right away and maintained it. However, the doctors were very skeptical, and wouldn’t allow me to take them in the hospital…so with my hormones all out of whack it made it all worse. We were finally moved into postpartum after a day or two, where they finally allowed me to take my supplements under supervision after having them tested at a drugstore to make sure they weren’t fake. Yet being in the postpartum area would prove to be even worse than in my original room. I had to learn to walk in my pain, to sleep on a hospital bed that my husband had to share with me, because they had no extra bed for us, and the 1-2 hours that they would take both our little ones away….literally 1-2 hours for each baby. Then they would always ask how often they were nursing and for how long. That was so hard, because I had two to learn with and neither of them knew how to latch. So they weren’t nursing well and wanted to sleep more…or would cry because they couldn’t get anything. I can hardly explain how I felt. Our daughter was 4 lbs. 7 oz. at birth and by the time she left the hospital she was at 4 lbs. My husband loved holding her and hearing her sweet cry. He would pick her up and say, “Hi little Princess!! Daddy loves you SO much!!! You’re my little girl!” She was so tiny and beautiful. She quickly became a favorite with the nurses and gained the nickname of “Little Peanut”. The doctor who performed the c-section told me “She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen….and I have seen and delivered a LOT of babies! She was so cute!!!” All of this suddenly put pressure upon me, because as she lost weight being already so tiny, I grew terrified that we would lose her. I could not sleep, I could hardly function, and I felt it was my fault. I tried so hard not to cry, but to no avail. My mother and my husband tried to comfort me as tears streamed down my cheeks. One of the mornings at 3:00-4:00 AM, I tried to wake her up to feed her in my terrified state. I told her, “Daddy and I love you so much!! We cannot lose you, you have to eat!!! Please eat!” My eyes filled with tears…however, she was too sleepy, and refused to wake up…I tried and tried to feed her and get her to latch, but she would only fall asleep. As I just held her and feared the possibility of losing our little angel baby, I looked off into the dark room and felt so helpless and depressed that I couldn’t even cry. My mind kept going back to my desire of a home birth and how different things could have been. Every single thing that had just happened within the last 24 hours was everything that we tried to avoid and everything that we DIDN’T want to happen! It all happened so fast and I was still struggling to face reality. I wanted to go home. My husband would help me get up to walk to the bathroom…oh the feeling of learning to walk again! We entered the bathroom, and my husband was really grossed out by all the blood that I was still expelling. It was hard for us both, because I was not used to seeing the blood after 8 ½ months of pregnancy. My husband was so kind and faithful though and helped me through it all. He would support me as I tried to sit on the toilet. I couldn’t use my stomach muscles to do it on my own, and therefore I needed help.
Our son lost weight also, and he formed jaundice. This then presented me with another fear of losing him when we were home, because now he would scream and cry when placed to the breast. I guess he was sick enough that he was too tired to eat…he didn’t have an appetite. I would pump milk and we syringe fed him for 2 days, because I refused to feed him formula. I was determined to only breastfeed, and so we used the syringe until he seemed hungry enough for us to give him another try at my breast. He did finally latch on and for that we rejoiced. It’s so hard to describe the hurt and the fear in a parent’s heart when they feel that their child is not thriving…even if they are okay. Since I had been drugged up and was still healing, it was harder to keep 2 babies alive when neither of them could latch on to eat. I felt like an utter failure, and a mother that could not take care of my babies. I wanted to wake up from this terrible dream and have my home birth. Yet I knew it was all too real.
We were finally released from the hospital even though they weren’t quite satisfied with my blood pressure. So they gave me blood pressure medicine to take. We got home, and it was wonderful, but it also had its sorrows. They still didn’t know how to nurse, and it took a good week or 2 before they were well on their way to perfecting it! It was also so hard with my incision to scoot up in bed every hour to nurse. With 2 babies, I hardly got an hour of sleep, and I felt as if my body would never heal. The first 2 weeks, I didn’t even have an appetite to eat anything and had to force it down. It’s amazing how the hospital and even home has their own challenges. I had to stay on one level in our home for 6 weeks without going up and down stairs. The bed that we used was a hide-a-bed and very much uncomfortable. I was also so afraid of using the bathroom…I didn’t want to see the blood. I didn’t want to see my incision, because I was afraid of it all and it was a reminder of the dream I had lost. Yet, I felt guilty, because it was all worth it for my babies, and I knew it was the best decision for their health and safety. I didn’t want to feel selfish and hurt. I guess to better explain, I felt because I had to have a c-section, that I was less of a woman. I was created to go through labor and vaginally deliver my children! I wasn’t supposed to have to be cut open for them to be born!! I know that my feelings are “wrong” or that I shouldn’t feel that way, because I know it had to be done for them….but the feeling is hard to describe. I still feel like I’m less of a woman. I’m so excited to actually experience labor…I know it will be hard, painful, and all of the above, but I already know that my experience in the hospital and my recovery was far too traumatic for me to desire anything else! It has taken so long for me to heal and for the pain to go away. I had to be helped to sit up in bed and to lie back down. I had to have help getting up to go the bathroom. It was so hard to be so reliant upon everyone else! I couldn’t do anything. I would shed tears as I tried to sit or stand as the pain shot through my body.
I don’t want to sound depressing or selfish at all. I’m trying to share my feelings and how things really were. My husband and I both agreed that it was the worst and best day of our lives….we gained so much, but in gaining those blessings, we also suffered a great deal. It was a nightmare that hurts to remember, but my babies are so worth everything. It reminds me of Christ and His death on the cross….He suffered so much, but I know He did it for us and it was completely worth it to Him. It was hard, but worth it. We feel the same way. I will admit, though, that I am so excited to experience our next birth in the future. I am determined to have a homebirth.
After this long story, I am pleased to say that Isaiah and Lilia are now pros at nursing! They are growing very well. Isaiah is now 12 lbs or more and Lilia is about 10 or more lbs. They are very healthy, and Isaiah is over his jaundice also. I no longer have the worries I did. The challenge now is to still find time to sleep and eat, haha! I am so blessed to have the children I do! Isaiah is our very social one. He can lie down by himself and look around for 30 minutes without crying and interacts constantly with smiles and is learning to attempt to laugh. Lilia is becoming more social and is talking and she must be held. She can’t lay for long by herself without crying soon to be in a pair of arms. Isaiah likes to be held, but isn’t all touchy…you can’t stroke his head much. Lilia loves to be touched and loved on. Isaiah doesn’t currently like to be swaddled and held tightly, Lilia thrives when she is swaddled. They are twins, but VERY different in personality and looks. Isaiah has brown hair and his eyes are already changing…they are a dark grey right now, but we believe they will be brown. Lilia is a dirty blonde with ocean blue eyes. We think her eyes will stay blue…but I guess only time can tell. J Isaiah also only likes one type of pacifier…while Lilia likes any type and will take any given to her. Isaiah is high maintenance and can hardly stand even a small dirty diaper…if he is slightly wet, he cries until he is changed. Lilia will begin squirming when she is full or has had a royal blowout where it’s all up her back and exploding out the sides! Hahaha! Oh the joys of motherhood and getting to know your babies and their characters! It is such fun, and all the trials a mother will go through are always worth it to see her child/children grow into their names and become their own individual.
So my story has been long and emotional. It has been joyful, sad, and life changing all at once. Even though it was a rough road, we have two blessings that are irreplaceable and I could not be happier. We cannot imagine our lives without our children. They are our joy and a great reminder of our love. For all you ladies that are first-time pregnant mommies, you will soon experience something that will change your life forever. One thing I want to remind you of, is that even if you are planning your birth or praying for things to go a certain way, sometimes they go very differently….don’t think you’re a failure if that happens. If God has decided to do things another way, it is because He has something incredible in store for you. A hard trial might prove to be a testimony that helps and encourages others. I’m praying this is the case with me. As you have read my story, I pray it helps prepare you for something that is super hard to prepare for, and yet totally worth it no matter what happens. Being a mommy is a joy, and I can’t wait to share in your joy (soon for you mothers that are pregnant and hopefully soon for those of you that are still waiting…keep waiting…God hears your prayers) as you also enter this new world called motherhood!