Birth Story

They say the chances of your water breaking while you’re at work are close to zero.  So I guess I’m just lucky.

Fortunately, the big gush down my legs didn’t happen until I got home.  At which point I realized I was locked out of my apartment so I had the pleasure of squishing my way into the leasing office and asking for a spare key.  I booked it up three flights of stairs and packed a bag, then stuffed my underwear with pads and headed into my doctor’s office.

The whole time I was hoping I was just 100% incontinent and that my water had not really broken.  I was only 33 weeks + 4 days gestation, my husband was 6 hours away at his second day of work, and I was supposed to leave in the next few days to join him.  It was too early.

My doctor confirmed that my water had broken.  She calmly told me I was going to the hospital and would not be leaving until the girls were born.  She explained that we would try to hold off labor until Friday (3 days) so I would officially be 34 weeks.  I asked if the girls would have to go to the NICU and she said yes.  I was scared. It was too early.

On my way out to the minivan we had purchased 3 days prior, I broke down as I called my Dad and told him to meet me at the hospital.  I tried to call my husband, but knew I wouldn’t get ahold of him because he cannot have his cell phone at work.  I called my mother-in-law and left a teary voicemail that probably scared her.  My sister-in-law answered her phone and she said she would call my husband’s brother (who works down the hall from him).  I called my mom and she booked a flight immediately.

Most people were at least a little bit excited that we would be meeting the twins in a couple days, but I was scared.  I knew they’d be taken away immediately to the NICU and I didn’t know if they’d be fully developed yet.  I’d heard heartbreaking stories about the NICU.  I’d heard it’s one of the hardest things you could ever go through.

I somehow got lost on my way to the hospital from my doctor’s office.  It is literally next door.  Probably I shouldn’t have been driving…

I walked in the Main Entrance to the hospital and asked an elderly woman at the front desk where Labor & Delivery was located.  She asked if I was in labor.  I said yes and she insisted on pushing me in a wheelchair.  The path to L&D was up a slight incline, on carpet, and I weighed…a lot.  The nice elderly lady huffed and puffed as she pushed the wheelchair and I felt pretty horrible for her.  I offered to walk and but she would not allow it.  In my head, I was picturing her passing out and then me rolling backwards down the hallway…  We made it, though.  Turns out she was a volunteer; what a sweet lady.

They were expecting me at L&D and worked quickly to check me in, get me changed, put in my IV, hook up the baby monitors, and make me comfortable.  My Dad arrived.  I’m so glad he was here in Denver with me.  He pretty much put his own life on hold to come babysit me in Denver, just in case this very sequence of events took place.  Best dad ever.

I was still leaking what felt like a ridiculous amount of water.  Every time I had to go to the bathroom, the nurses had to unhook the monitors, and escort me (and my IV) to the bathroom.  My Dad would have to leave every time, too, because of my business-in-the-front-party-in-the-back hospital gown.  Also, I had read about those awesome mesh underwear on blogs and they, indeed, lived up to the hype.  So stretchy.

They gave me a steroid shot at 4 pm to develop the girls’ biceps.  Just kidding.  The steroids help mature the babies’ lungs.  I was supposed to get a second steroid shot 24 hours later, but I wouldn’t be pregnant that long.

The nurse practitioner came in to talk to me about the NICU.  I remember her saying, “The good news is they’re girls.  Preemie girls do better than preemie boys.”  I think she also explained lung development and what the steroids do in detail, but I don’t really remember.  Basically, I understood it was important to get 2 steroid shots 24 hours apart, but getting one was better than getting none.

My mom arrived around 9 pm.  She got here from San Antonio less than 6 hours after I called her.  Best mom ever.

My husband arrived by about 9:30 pm.  I was so glad to see him.  Best husband ever.

By this time I hadn’t eaten in at least 9 hours.  This is not something I’m familiar with.  Am I starving?  What kind of sick place is this???  They did let me drink some cranberry juice, which gave me horrific breath.  Sorry about that, nurses.  My dad made a run to Chipotle for my mom and husband.  They graciously ate it in the waiting room.  Have I mentioned how much I love Chipotle?

My mom and Dad left around 10 pm to get some sleep.  We still had no idea I was in active labor (well at least I didn’t realize it).  My husband tried to get some sleep on the small vinyl couch with a burlap blanket while people constantly came in and out of the room.  I tried to get some sleep on a thin mattress with monitors strapped tightly around my stomach with periodic contractions and the tightest blood pressure cuff I’ve ever encountered.  Even with the sleeping pill they gave me, I did not sleep.

I couldn’t feel most of my contractions but could feel what was similar to bad period cramps.  Since my water was broken, the nurses had been instructed not to check my cervix in order to minimize the chance of infection.  Instead, they would ask me what my pain was on a scale of 1 to 10.  As it would turn out, this was not an effective means of evaluating my labor.  I could hear a woman in labor next door.  That, combined with my lack of experience having babies, warped my perception of “1 to 10.”  In the end, I never told the nurses a number over 6.  Whoops.

Around 2 am, those period-like cramps became pretty uncomfortable and the nurses decided to check me.  My nurse was named Rainbow and I really liked her a lot.  Having my cervix checked ended up being my least favorite part of labor.  It is extremely uncomfortable.  Rainbow thought I was about 3 cm but didn’t feel confident so she called in the charge nurse to check me.  The charge nurse thought I was 3-4 cm and fully effaced.  However, this information was not extremely useful because we didn’t know how dilated I was when I came into the hospital

At about 4 am, after consulting with the on-call doctor, they decided to give me magnesium sulfate.  They also gave me morphine and anti-nausea medicine.  The magnesium sulfate made me throw up.  No worries though, I hadn’t had anything to eat in 16 hours.  Is this what a crash diet feels like?  The twins have never gone this long without eating.  The twins have never gone 3 hours without eating!  Anyway, the magnesium sulfate made me hot but the morphine and anti-nausea made me want to sleep.  For the next 2 hours, I slept.  Kinda.

At 6 am, an intense “period-like cramp” woke me up from my morphine-induced stupor.  I couldn’t press the nurse button fast enough.  My pain level (as a woman moans next door) – I guess a 6?  She said we would wait another 30 minutes and then have the doctor check me.  Breathe through it, Katie.  Really wish my breath was better…

The nurse checked my cervix first.  She said she had a hard time feeling anything.  Then Dr. Volin came in.  Hi, nice to meet you.  Let me shake your hand with my freaking cervix.  “You’re complete,” he said.  I asked if I could have an epidural and he practically laughed.  “It’s too late for that.  You’ve already done all the hard work.”  Oh really, doc?  Because I’m pretty sure I haven’t given birth yet.  An epidural was my birth plan – myentire birth plan.  If you’re reading this and you’re pregnant, do not make a birth plan.  I repeat, DO NOT MAKE A BIRTH PLAN.  A birth plan is what will not happen.  I promise.

And this is where the doctor showed me why he’s a doctor. He looked me in the eye and said sternly, “You’re having these babies soon.  I need you to listen to me and do what I say, okay?” The way he talked to me calmed me and I knew I had to trust him.  I said okay.

Here’s the funniest part of my birth story.  The doctor looks at the bag that was given to me to throw up in.  It was a long skinny bag with a hard ring at the top and is supposed to be easier to hold than a bucket.  “What’s that doing in here?” the doctor asks.  “It’s for her to throw up in,” Rainbow answered.  “Oh, hmmm.  You know it looks like one of those things people put their arm in to stick it elbow-deep inside a cow.”  And my husband said, “Hey, that’s my wife you’re talking about.”  Dr. Volin liked that joke a lot and they both laughed.  I registered it as funny, but I’m not sure if I laughed.  I was too focused on not having an epidural.

The next hour is a blur and everything happened really fast.  Dr. Volin giving instructions.  Nurses rushing around.  Tyson putting on a hairnet and that thing that covers his clothes.  Me crying.  Being wheeled into the OR.  Giant lights.  Monitors.  Encouragement from nurses.  Directions from the doctor.  My husband holding my hand.  Push.  Push harder.  Baby A.  Crying!  4 pounds, 10 ounces.  7:16 am.  More instructions from the doctor.  Get the vacuum, just in case.  Get Baby B out before cervix closes.  Gush of water.  Push, push, push.  Baby B.  Another baby crying!  4 pounds, 11 ounces.  7:28 am.

I can’t believe we did that!  You two weren’t early – you were right on time.  I’m a Mom.