linden_jay: (Baby is sleeping...shhh...)
[personal profile] linden_jay
Okay, we all knew I wasn't gonna make it to 40 weeks. Next to no twin mums do, and chances are, if you make it to 38, you're going to get served an eviction notice. But my guys decided that even 38 was too long for them, and came a full four weeks early, at 36 weeks and, well. 14 and 21 minutes, respectively.

And if I was planning to do a recap of Life With Twins, of my pregnancy, my labour and delivery, you'd think I'd have done it four weeks ago, when the aliens turned one. But it turns out that when aliens turn one, and you invite a whole bunch of people into town to celebrate the mad event, and you're working a new job and are on day 9 of an 11 day stretch, you don't have the time you'd expect to be able to write a post about how Life With Twins is insane. Because, as it turns out... life with twins is too insane. Go figure.

The other mark of how life with twins is insane is that the birth post that I was going to put up? Never exactly materialized. It's funny how you plan to do things, and life just looks at you, pats you on the head, and tells you that you're just so very pretty. So I'm going to do that now, and I'm going to throw it behind a cut, because if we know me, it'll be long, and if you don't want to read potentially TMI-like details regarding birth? I will not be offended if you don't hop behind the cut. I'll be putting up a proper picture post later where I won't talk about placentas at all, I promise, and if you just want to see cute pictures of the Frog and the Monkey, you can scamper off to there.

So. Twelve months ago today was my due date. But thirteen months ago? I had my aliens.

Everything had been going so well for so long that I think I'd gotten complacent, really. I was tired of being pregnant (which I wasn't saying all that loudly because my mother went 3 weeks over my due date with me, and my cousin went 2 weeks over her due date with her daughter. It is not out of the realm of possibility that they might have decided to hurt me. A lot.), and I still shudder to think that if I'd had a single baby and gone the route of my mother, I might have been pregnant for a full 7 weeks more. Granted, I'd have put up with it to be able to get the babies bigger and rowdier and healthy, but I would have been very impossible to live with, and the Academic Husband is already en route to attain sainthood as it is.

Every 2-3 weeks, I'd go to the ultrasound clinic, they'd measure the babies and try to get baby B to cooperate with the scan (ah ha HA, not so much), and they'd announce that they were doing great, and had gained a bunch of weight. That was the pattern of my entire pregnancy, and particularly the last trimester--the babies look great, they're gaining weight and growing, baby B is impossible to photograph, and baby A is already lined up, head down, ready to go. Keener child. Then I'd go to the doctor, he'd confirm the same thing, tell me I was holding steady, and that we were on course and aiming for 38 weeks as our goal.

Generally, I'd see the ultrasound first, then the doctor, which makes more sense, because then the doctor'd have the ultrasound to look at. This particular week, I couldn't get a doctor's appointment after the ultrasound, so I reversed them. The doctor's appointment went great--babies are good, super active, looks good, blah blah blah, see you in a week. The ultrasound... well, that was the first time that the ultrasound tech wasn't thrilled. They hadn't really grown any more since the last time. They were holding more or less steady, but they weren't getting bigger. And the whole point of keeping them in as long as possible was to keep them getting fat and happy.

The problem with twin pregnancies, and the reason why they rarely go past 38 weeks is really two problems. First, the pair o' babies usually weigh more than your average single baby. So your body goes 'um, I think that there's about as much mass in here as I feel like carrying, so... we're done'. Second, your placenta(s) (sometimes it's one, sometimes it's two, sometimes it's like, a mutant combination placenta), get to a point where they essentially decide that they've done QUITE enough, thankyouverymuch, and it/they decide that they don't really need to work anymore. And in my case, it was starting to look like we had a case of being flipped up by placenta(s). But the ultrasound tech said that the babies still seemed fine, even if they hadn't grown much, that they were still rowdy and crazy and doing the freaky shoving elbows and knees out of my stomach so I looked like I was in Aliens, rather than carrying aliens, so I went home a little concerned, but certainly not worried.

A couple hours later, my doctor phoned me at home. The tech had contacted him at the hospital to look at my scans, since he was out of the office for the day, and he called me between surgeries. Yeah, he wasn't happy. He and my placenta(s)? Totally not speaking to each other. And while he wasn't freaking out, because everything did look good, he wanted me to come up to the hospital for a non-stress test the next day, instead of waiting until Friday. And he said that he'd drop by and check me out, between surgeries, and we'd make some decisions.

I think I said a bad word. Possibly something along the lines of 'well shit!' He was pretty used to me by then though, since I was the girl who said 'Are you fucking kidding me?' when he told me that we might be having triplets. Yeah. THAT was a fun two weeks until the next ultrasound proved otherwise. LORD.

So I said yeah, no worries, I'll be at the non stress test (which I've said before is the second most stupid thing for that test to be called, because it is painful, stressful, and annoying. The first most stupid thing for that test to be called is an NST test. You get it, right? I'll wait. Over here. Entering my PIN number on the ATM machine), and I'll see you tomorrow. And then I proceeded to flail all over, well, pretty much everyone I could get within my range. Because, you see... I'd gotten used to them being in! And as much as I no longer wanted to be pregnant... there was the whole y'know. LABOUR AND DELIVERY part that had to come in the middle between being pregnant, and having babies. Plus? Babies. Plural. Which I'm still not used to now, almost thirteen months after they showed up. The boy and I still spend a frightening amount of time turning to each other and going 'we have TWO BABIES. How did that happen?!?!?!' And the answer is, of course, well, when a woman and a man and her OBGYN who specializes in fertility medicine, and a calendar, and a very expensive prescription love each other very much....

Anyway. Detour. I go to the NST the next day, and see my very favourite nurse in ever who runs the day clinic for the NSTs. And she goes 'Jay! So, do you know that you're being induced either today or tomorrow?'


"I do now!" And my internal monologue keeps going holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit, and keeps trying to block out every story I've ever heard from anyone ever about how horrible their induction went, and how it was the most horrible, evil thing ever, and... la la LA LA LA LA LA LA. La. Because there isn't anything I can do about it, so I might as well suck it up. Because I'm going to have the babies. Today or tomorrow. By induction.

Oh my fucking God.

This is the point at which I should indicate that while my birth plan was very short and sweet (you don't get a lot of options to begin with when you're having twins, because you're required to deliver in the OR, just in case, so don't be counting on a lot of low lighting and candles and stuff like that), but I had a list of things that I was kind of really hoping I wouldn't have to do and/or that freaked me right the hell out. With the parenthetical notation that of course, if it were necessary for my health or the health of the babies, um, duh, do it, but. Still. Do not want. The list went something like this:


1) being induced
2) having my water broken with the crochet hook of doom (if you don't know what I'm talking about, um. Ask, but don't Google).
3) internal monitoring
4) the epidural
5) the entire concept of tearing and/or an episiotomy (with a side note of OH MY GOD people who have had babies, stop telling the stories about how you--I'm not even going to SAY it. No one needs to hear those ones. Especially if they're pregnant. If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen, and you'll deal, but oh my god, stop with the horror stories.)
6) having to be catheterized
7) having to have a C-section

And the thing is? I knew going in that every damn thing on that list wasn't just a possibility, it was a likelihood. Twin pregnancies tend to be about 50/50 for C-section vs not. Fortunately, having to have both is pretty rare. Because that was the one thing that I was determined (ah ha HA like it was going to be remotely my call if it came to that, but still) that I was Not Going To Do. Either they were going to be C-section babies, or I was delivering them the usual way. NOT BOTH. (No seriously, it really is amusing the things that we think we can control, especially when we're talking about birth, which is one of the most unpredictable of the unpredictables.

So, I haven't even STARTED this whole labour thing, and already two things on my list are a foregone conclusion: I'm going to be induced, apparently, and I'm going to have an epidural. Because that's another one of those things that technically, it's optional, but realistically? It's not. I tell this story about how my doctor, this very solemn, very South African fellow with the biggest moustache you've ever seen, explained that sometimes after baby A is born, baby B decides to do something bratty, and he has to go 'up' and adjust the baby. And he did this little hand-movement-wrist-flick thing that brought to mind like, City Slickers, and livestock, and a glove snapping up to the upper arm, and I decided that you know what? I'm gonna behave myself and take the epidural, because if he's going up? I don't want to be able to feel it. (Plus a host of other really good reasons, but that was the one that sold me on yeah, okay, I'm gonna do it, fear of scary needles or not.)

So of my list of seven things that freak me the fuck out, I've already got two on my 'To do' list. Because as soon as my doctor comes in to see me, he's all 'oh hell, yeah, we're doing this tomorrow'. His take is that if they're not growing any more on the inside, there's no point in keeping them in any longer when we can get them out here on the outside and start feeding them. Which, well. Hard to argue with that logic. So I'm sent home, due to come back at (OMG) 7:00 am, and we're gonna do this thing. The plan is for me to be induced via an insert tab of prostaglandin, since it looks like I'm pretty close to getting this thing going on my own... we just can't wait anymore for my body/the babies to do it anymore. So... okay.

I remember being almost eerily calm about the whole thing, even as this voice in the back of my brain was going OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. A bunch of calls went out to rally the troops, and my sister in law, who was going to be my second coach, got driven into town to stay with my inlaws, so she'd be here for first thing in the morning. It was my dad's birthday (yeah, we like Tauruses in my family), and we went out for what would be my last dinner out with the babies on the inside. Also, the last meal made up of solid food I'd have for the next 30 hours or so.

7:00am rolls around and I show up, right on time at the maternity ward, paperwork in hand, and still-inside babies... well... still inside. However, there is something that I'm about to learn about the maternity ward... something that will be a good lesson for life with twins. Planning and babies? Not compatible. Add an entire ward full of babies and people having babies? Expect everything to go straight to hell. We get checked into the clinic room because before I can be induced, I have to have a non-stress test done. Again. At this point, I'm like, bring on labour, just don't make me do another damned NST! Except... they don't. Because they can't. Because the entire maternity ward has gone batshit. And it's actually not my fault!

While I sit waiting for my NST to happen, there's a 32 week mum out there whose baby is determined that it's going to be THEIR birthday today, gosh darn it, so they're debating whether to ship her out of town with the baby still on board, and get her to a bigger hospital with an NICU, or whether they need to deliver her here, and ship the two of them out as separate entities. (Shipping with baby on board is always the preferable method, when they can pull it off, but it is risky because, well. Nothing like delivering a prem in an air ambulance). And down the hall from them, there's someone who was supposed to be a scheduled C-section because of a breech baby, and the baby decided last second to flip. So they're deciding whether to let her keep going and do things traditionally, or whether there's too much risk that the baby'll flip all over again. And besides that, they've got a bunch of just regular, no real complication mums who are just trying to have their babies with all this madness going on.

And here I sit, twins on board, waiting to (potentially) throw the whole ward into even more of a tizzy. So they decide to let things calm down before they get started with me, which, y'know... can't really say I disagreed with, despite the fact that I very much wanted to get the show on the road. Why make a situation more complicated than it has to be? So about noon (still no NST yet), they come in and send me home for a couple hours, tell me to feed my coaches (I still can't eat anything more than clear soup), and to come back later. So off home we go. Soup, food for the coaches, reboot... try not to be nervous. Try not to do the thing that I always do on road trips--the 'if we'd left at X hour instead of Y hour we'd be Z much farther ahead by now thing.

So, reboot, a couple hours later, and we're back in the hospital, back in the tiny room, back waiting for the NST. C-section mum is stabilized, and will be sectioned sometime that night, when they can get her onto the surgical schedule, and 32 weeker has been shipped off to Vancouver (where she delivers and is totally healthy--I find this out because one of the nurses I have later is her mum, and she actually apologizes to me for being the grandma of the baby who delayed my whole day. Which was kind of sweet, even if it was unnecessary. Babies=unpredictable. This I know), and we're ready to go.

Which means that we get delayed again, because baby B, constant stinker, is not cooperating with the NST. They've got baby A locked in and solid, they can see how his heart rate is doing, but they can't get a solid lock on baby B (this is important because they need to know that their heart rates are good because if they're not, then forget this labour crap, I'm gonna get sectioned). And it doesn't seem at all like there's a problem, just that baby B is like, hiding. I don't know, I think down in my leg somewhere, because no matter where we put those damned probity things, they can't get a solid lock on B. Because B keeps letting them get close, and then scampering off somewhere else. Two hours, it takes, before we get anything even close to a good tape of both of their heart rates.

By that point, my doctor comes in to see me (he's been in surgery all day), and says that I have to make a decision. It's now four pm, and if we induce me now, he'll have been on for too long to see me through to delivery, because he's just done three straight days of surgery and on call. So either I can come back tomorrow morning and be induced then, or he can tag in another doctor, a doctor who actually went to the same school as I did, graduated a year ahead of the Academic Husband, and came back to my hometown to practice. I love my doctor. I adore him, and he's been awesome this whole pregnancy. But no way in hell am I coming back tomorrow after this whole day of nonsense. These babies are coming out in t-minus as soon as I can possibly get them to start this induction thing. Plus, I saw this doctor when they had to run all those tests on me when they realized I was having contractions at 34 weeks, she's awesome, and I'm comfortable with her. No more delays, no more waiting. Induction time, please.

And then everything starts happening really quickly. I get moved into a labour and delivery room (even though I'm only going to labour in there, not deliver, like back in the old days when they moved you from one to the other, except I'll be going to an OR), they gown me up and take away my underwear (for obvious reasons, although I came to miss being able to wear proper underwear in the days to come. I don't think I got my own real underwear back for almost two weeks), and I go back to pushing away all of the horror stories I've heard about inductions. Again. Actually, I've spent most of the day doing this.

Doctor D. has the little tab of induction stuff warming in her pocket in its little packet, and she says she's gonna check me first before we start this, just to get a baseline. And she gets this funny look on her face, and goes "huh. You're already 4cm dilated. So forget this induction gel stuff and things... we're going to break your water, and you're gonna have babies!

I don't think I swore this time, although I definitely was surprised. How the hell did I go from 'a little bit, not really' dilated a dayish earlier to four centimetres? I mean, I'd been having those kind of weird, non painful, stomach goes hard as a rock type contractions, but if I'd been having real contractions, I certainly wasn't aware of them (please, ladies who had to fight like hell to get as far as 4cm, let alone farther, please don't hurt me!), so wtf? But hey, already at 4 cm, and no medicated induction? I'll take that, thankyouvery much.

So, returning to my list: I no longer have to be medically induced--awesome. But we are going to break my water, ack. Back to nervous. People kept telling me that it wouldn't hurt, but if there's one thing I've learned about this pregnancy/labour/babies thing is that people either forget, or they LIE. So I was nervous like whoa. This also began the part where it's like... everyone in the entire world is going to see me naked below the waist, so let's just forget being shy about it because a) nothing you can do about it and b) nobody cares. Seriously.

But this time? They really were right about it not hurting, at least for me. Having your water broken feels WEIRD as all hell, because you're very aware of the moment where it's all not broken, and then when it is, there's a "pop" sensation that you can both feel and hear (and that wigged me out more than anything, but it was totally not painful), and then, well, to put it bluntly, it feels like you just peed yourself. Which is... less than pleasant. But there we go. Water broken, one of the things on my list of 'do not want' checked off with next to no trauma involved, and we're on the clock. 4:30pm.

No sooner do we get one thing checked off on my list of ACK, we're in line for another one. Baby B is still being a pain in the ass to monitor, and they want to do an internal monitor for baby A (who is still all lined up, head right against the cervix, going 'I'm ready! I'm right here! Let's do this!' So they want to put a teeny electrode against baby A's scalp, which lets them know for absolutely sure that they've got A monitored, so they can more easily figure out which signals are coming from B, instead of being unsure if they've got both A and B via external monitoring, or A twice. This one... I suppose I could have said no, but it made sense, and I figured at this point, just suck it up. And this one too ends up being totally no big deal. A little electrodey thing sticks to A's head, like a pinprick, and I've got a wire that's just kind of, y'know, all hanging out from A's head and attached to the monitor. And finally, FINALLY, we are sure which is A's heart rate, and which is B's. I can just mentally imagine baby B being all 'Curses! Foiled again!' as we finally find a way to track B. Two things on my checklist of ACK accomplished, both of them pretty minor.

So now that my water's broken, there goes the whole 'not feeling contractions' thing right out the window. Pretty much within... I want to say half an hour, forty-five minutes of them breaking my water and getting the monitoring set up, I'm having contractions, and I'm not all that thrilled about them. Because they're regular, and they're lasting, and I can't ignore them anymore. That said... I could deal. It wasn't great (DUH), I wasn't happy about it, but I was coping well with them, and I was all right.

That's when we kind of really got things set up and comfortable in the L&D room. We had a stereo, so we had music playing (the Soundtracks for The Lord of the Rings is pretty much all I listened to, all through labour, just switching from one to the next), and the AH and the Academic Sister In Law (who I'm gonna call Amy from now on) were an awesome tag team, getting more ice chips (effing ice chips--I would have done violence for a good slug of water, I swear, but because I was an increased risk of C-section, they were being really strict about that), and taking turns being behind me and rubbing my back, and in front of me, giving me something to focus on.

I don't really have the words for how amazing the Academic Husband and Amy were. I'll say this one for sure--if it's possible, and you've got an extra person that you trust, or access to a doula? Do it. Two people as coaches? Way better than just one, especially if one of the people in the room is the baby(ies) other parent. They can help look after your co parent, and they can look after you, and be just that tiny step removed when you need that. It means that someone can go take a break, or a pee, or get something to eat, and you're not alone. I highly, highly recommend it, and if we ever decide to have additional small people, I want her there again.

They worked extremely well together, took care of each other, and were absolutely awesome about reading my cues, and figuring out when I needed something, when I needed someone touching me or rubbing my back and when I didn't want to be touched at all, when I needed to hear voices, and when I needed silence. What's funny is that I don't remember communicating a lot, not verbally anyway. I'm such a wordy bitch at the best of times that I completely assumed that I'd be talky all through labour, but unless the boy remembers something I don't, I don't think I was. Most of my communication was non-verbal once things got going, and from what I remember, they read me extremely well.

About 7:30, so three hours in, the anaesthesiologist showed up, which meant we were approaching omg epidural time... possibly the thing I was the most frightened of on my list besides actually having to get a C-section. He's about twelve (okay, thirty something, but he LOOKS like he's in his early twenties), and he's Quebecois, complete with the very thick accent. And we talk about this epidural thing, and when I'm going to get it. He says that he's got two options--do it right now this second, or go and do the surgery that he's got coming up, which should take about forty-five minutes, and come back and do it afterwards. And he's leaning toward coming back, because I seem to be handling it okay right now, although obviously it hurts (duh, labour is painful, news at eleven), but I'm dealing with it okay, and he doesn't want to risk slowing me down progress wise by doing the epidural too soon. So--what do I think? Can I wait?

Now, I'm tempted to go dude, I'm in pain, do this shit right now. But there are a couple of things. One, he's right about the part where it might slow me down. And as much as I don't want to be in pain, I also don't want this to take y'know, a bunch longer. Two, I'm hesitant to say yes because of the hurting part because... I'm not really getting it because of the pain. It's because of the whole twin thing, in case of an emergency C-section and/or twin B doing something crazy. So I'm trying not to base my decision on that. Three... I really am dealing with it okay right now. I don't like it, I'm not having fun, but I can deal. And four? I'm still afraid of the big scary needle. Seriously, people, I'm such a wimp. I'm about to be expelling PEOPLE from my body in a few hours, but I'm scared of the needle. Priorities. So I tell him I can wait--see you in 45 minutes/an hour.

Half an hour later? Everything goes to hell. Ever heard of back labour? Hell. This would be one of those things that people were not exaggerating about. Holy fucking shit, that crap hurts. BADLY. If I understand correctly, it basically happens when a baby is positioned so that instead of their tummy being against your spine, their spine is against your spine. And it is painful in a way that I no longer clearly recall except for the part where I distinctly remember thinking 'this is it, I am never having babies again, we are having two children, end-fucking-note'. It's also the only point of the whole thing where I got really scared, and really afraid that maybe I couldn't do this after all. Because it's overwhelming. It's all encompassing. And unlike regular labour, when it's happening "normally", where the contractions are painful and suck ass, but you get a break between them to breathe, recover, and get ready for the next one, it doesn't stop. It doesn't go away. It's just there. And it feels like it's never going to stop.

Forty-five minutes pass. No anaesthesiologist An hour, an hour fifteen, and he's still not here, and I'm staring at the clock, and I'm wondering if I'm going to make it. I don't exactly have a choice, but you don't think about those sorts of things when you're in the middle of it. You're watching every minute ticking by, and every minute it feels like it gets worse. And part of me thinks that this is why they have you wait. Because by the time he did come back, almost two hours later (and very apologetic--the surgery had gone complicated and taken longer), I didn't care how they did the epidural. I didn't care if the needle was the size of my arm, or they had to go in through my nose or my eye ball or anything--just do it. Make. It. Stop.

Getting the epidural done was one of the hardest parts of the whole procedure. The epidural itself... really not as bad as I'd thought it would be. What was bad, what was awful, was having to move out of the position I was in, the one where things hurt slightly less agonizingly. It was having to be perfectly still as contraction after contraction kept hitting me, because hello, we're playing around with your spine here. And again, I can't say enough good things about Amy and the AH. They somehow knew just what to do--yes, Amy's a maternity nurse, so she knew the drill--but they knew me. Knew just what to do to help me to be able to stay still, to be able to put up with the pain so he could get it done, hoping, praying that the epidural would take.

And I was lucky. God, I was so fucking lucky, because again, I've heard the horror stories of the people who the epidural didn't work for. People who went through all of that only to have it do nothing, or next to nothing. I was not one of those people. Within fifteen minutes of him finishing, the pain was gone. Not masked, not faint, gone. If I'd been able to move enough to get him within range, I'd have kissed him right on the lips, I swear to God. I bet it happens.

After all of that nonsense, once the epidural had kicked in, the nurse decided that hey, we should check and see how far I'd progressed. It'd only been just over four hours since they'd broken my water at that point, so they weren't expecting crazy insane progress, but might as well take a check.

And I was eight. Eight centimetres. In four hours, give or take, I'd gone four centimetres. Yeah, no freakin' WONDER I was in pain, especially when you add on the back labour part. And we'd gotten the epidural done just in time, just before I headed for transition.

Okay... this is the part where no one is allowed to hit me. I slept through transition. I slept... pretty much on and off through most of the rest of labour. And maybe I should feel badly because I got to sleep, and I didn't have to suffer through the sleep deprivation and pain of labour, but after that couple bad hours, as short as it was, and considering how stressful and exhausting the next few days were? I'm not sorry. Labour and delivery needs to stop being a competition or a trial by fire or bragging contest, I believe this very much. We're all after the same goal--a healthy baby(ies) at the end of the thing. And if it takes interventions, if it takes medication, if it takes nothing more than soft music and a calm voice in your ear, if it takes screaming and yelling and throwing things at your partner... whatever it takes. You know? Considering how absolutely little of the birth process is up to us, and how much of it is up to our bodies, our babies, and fate, we just need to stop judging ourselves and others. Okay, wee lecture/rant over.

So I slept through transition. I slept on and off through most of the rest of the labour process, which let me rest, let the AH and Amy rest, and let everyone very calmly prepare for what was coming. And I am so, so grateful that everything went like that. It made all the difference in the world, I believe. In contrast to the madness of the morning, there were only two of us having babies that night in the maternity ward. There was me, and then there was the girl who was scheduled to have a C-section. And she was waiting for me, because the doctor had to be ready to go with me at a moments notice, and couldn't just go do her C-section, then come back to me. Even with everything back to going smoothly, I was still considered at high risk, and they weren't taking any chances. Especially since baby A's heart rate was... not exactly worrying them, but they were keeping a close eye on it. It wasn't quite as strong as they wanted.

While I slept, the AH and Doctor D hung out. Yeah, she basically grabbed dinner, then chilled in my room until I was ready to deliver, watching the monitors, and chatting with the AH. They'd taken classes together in high school, knew the same people, so they just babbled on and on, all quiet, and I dozed.

I was half-asleep at eleven-something when they checked me again, and I remember that they had to tell me twice that I was at 10 cm and that we were ready to go. It was just bizarre--I was so sleepy-relaxed and dopey that it was like just... utter zen moment. "Oh, what's that? I'm gonna have two babies now? All right then... sounds like a good idea... la la la whatever." We were laughing and joking, all lazy-relaxed-calm as we packed me up and headed down for the OR, with our cast of thousands (okay, about a dozen). There's my doctor, a nurse assisting her. I've got a nurse of my own, each baby has their own nurse, there's a pediatrician, and the anaesthesiologist Then there's me, the AH, Amy, and of course, the twins. So yeah. About a dozen.

We get down there, and Amy and the AH are off getting gowned up, so I'm just hanging out, chatting with the nurses and the pediatrician, who keeps making jokes about how much equipment there is in the room. "Where's machine that goes bing? We need the machine that goes bing!" They realize that the delivery table is set up wrong--it's a C-section table, which I am not having. So another ten minutes for them to change that around and get it set up right. These are the moments that I'm very glad that I was all epidural-ed for. I can only imagine the swear words that might have emerged if I'd had to hold off from y'know, having a BABY while feeling contractions and watching them screw around with tables. But since I couldn't feel it, I was okay. No panic, just that same unreal, zen kind of feeling.

The anaesthesiologist had decided to stay out of the room unless called for, which meant that Amy could come into the delivery room with us, which I'd fought long and hard for. He settled in outside the OR, wrapped in a blanket, propped up on two chairs, one for him, and one for his feet, prepared for a long time before he'd be needed, if at all. Amy and the AH both had their cameras and their marching orders regarding them--no pictures during delivery, no pictures until the babies were on the outside and, well, unattached from me, so to speak. We talked about how I wanted to find out what the gender of the babies was--I said that basically whoever saw bits? Just shout it out. As long as it was when they were born, and not from the ultrasounds, I wasn't that particular about who told us. Finally, everything and everyone was ready.

11:45pm, and I start pushing. Here's where the blessing and curse of the epidural comes in, and the reason why (one of the reasons why) I think a lot of people are opposed to having one. You can't feel anything, if it works well. This is good in the not being in pain sense--it is not good in the sense that your body is trying to give you cues, and you can't feel any of them. You can't work with your body to do what it's trying to do. My nurse had to tell me when I was having a contraction, and I had to do my very best to push, hoping that I was doing it right, without the natural instinct and drive kicking in and helping me. And I think I'm very lucky that I was having tiny babies, because if they'd been big or difficult to push out, I could have seen it becoming really tricky to manage.

Initially, my legs were free, which I think is ideal if you haven't had an epidural and can control them. Since I couldn't, it just meant that they were flopping all over. So they strapped me in, legs in stirrups (forget the whole cold metal thing--these were padded, which was nice, because I probably would have ended up all bruised otherwise), and I felt a lot more secure. I think if I'd been able to control my legs, it would have made me feel trapped, but I was grateful for it at the time.

I could hear people talking, but I remember only catching bits of it at a time. I know that Amy was teasing me about having baby A before midnight, and baby B after so that they'd have different birthdays. It was a very near thing, actually... if we hadn't had to screw around with getting the table set up, they probably would have. I remember something from the doctor about baby A's heart rate... they weren't freaking out, but there was something in their tone that I picked up on, even in the strangely focused haze I was in. Something that told me that if I didn't have baby A soon, this was all going to end in a C-section. And I don't remember panicking or getting upset... just getting more and more focused. Because that? Was not happening. And I was close. I couldn't really feel that I was close, but I could sense it. Both from what people were saying, and from the energy in the room.

My eyes were closed almost the entire time, I remember that too. I wasn't talking--I didn't want to, and I didn't have the breath for it. My nurse was on my right, and I'd turn my face toward her every time I thought it was time to push. She'd tell me when there was a contraction, say 'yes--push now, three time'. I'd turn my face forward and focus on it... three strong pushes, then I'd let my breath go, my head dropping left as I breathed and relaxed, getting ready for the next one. Then I'd turn my head right again, wait for her to tell me I could push again.

And then even with the epidural, there was this sensation, this slippery feeling, and then this release. Like a weight was lifted or something. Baby A was born. And no longer just baby A--boy baby A. We made it all the way to the doctor announcing 'It's a boy!' without anyone spilling the beans.

The AH remembers me saying something like 'Did I just have a baby?' not long after that. I remember feeling like I was drunk, head spinny and elated. I'd done it. He was here--he was a he, not an 'it' anymore--and by the way he was screaming his head off, he was just fine.

But that's one of the catches with twins--I hadn't seen him yet. Out of the corner of my eyes I could see something, being handled by the pediatrician and nurse, making one hell of a racket, but I couldn't see him. Because I wasn't done yet. Baby B was still there--the baby that we'd all been worried about causing trouble. This right here was the reason why we were in the OR in the first place, the reason for all the worry and precautions. What was baby B gonna do? And that was hard. Really hard, knowing that my first baby was right over there, right out of reach, and that I couldn't see him or hold him or anything yet. Because I didn't have time--I still had one more to go.

This was all happening, everything I just wrote right up there, within about a minute. It felt like longer, but it wasn't. As soon as baby A had been born and handed off to the pediatrician, Doctor D. was scrambling for the ultrasound to check the position of baby B and see just what was going to need to happen. Did baby B need adjusting, was everything still fine... was everything about to go crazy? She got as far as squirting the gel on my stomach, and went "Hang on... baby B is head down. Baby B is... okay, baby B's in position, baby B's ready, we need to push now!"

The ultrasound machine got pushed out of the way, everyone scrambled back into position, and I was off and pushing again. A contraction and a half later, and baby B was out in the world too. This time, the doctor didn't announce what gender the baby was--she looked up at the AH and nodded, he looked down, and told the room. "It's a girl."

For whatever reason, I'd been convinced in the back of my head that I was almost definitely having two boys. The AH's family is very male-heavy, and Amy and I both had it in our heads that if any baby was a girl, it was A. So when A was a boy, we both decided that okay, B must be a boy too, so I'm having two boys. Not that we discussed this then, we talked about it later. It wasn't until those words, wasn't until the AH told me that we had a daughter to go with our son, that I realized just how badly I'd wanted one of each. It wasn't until right then that I started to cry.

It got a little scary for a few moments... nothing bad was really happening, but baby B wasn't making much noise. She hadn't had nearly as long a period of pushing before she was born--baby A and his big head paved the way, big time--and she had some guck in her lungs that they had to help her get rid of. But a few anxious minutes later, and she was fine, hollering and protesting along with her brother.

The anaesthesiologist came into the room about this point, blanket wrapped around his shoulders like a kid going down to watch Saturday morning cartoons. "Are you all done?" he asked me. I remember laughing--it just felt so funny. From the time I started, to the time baby B was born, it was less than 45 minutes. I remember saying that I wanted a Pepsi, and Doctor D. laughing. She said that hell, after how well that went, she'd go get me one herself. She said that she'd deliver me having twins any day. That time, I think my laughter was slightly hysterical. Even as well as it went, I wasn't in a big hurry to do that again, thank you.

They brought baby A over to me, all bundled up, with huge, wide eyes, and I got to see him for the first time. Every parent thinks that their baby is beautiful, but I just didn't know I could be that transfixed by something that small... something--someone--I'd never seen before that moment. And then the AH took him, and I got to hold baby B, confirm that she was okay. I don't think it was until then, until I actually got to hold both of them in my arms that I felt like any of this was real. I'd spent so long worrying about losing one or both of them, about going into premature labour--really premature, not just a month--about something going wrong at delivery. About epidurals and C-sections and everything that could go wrong. And here they were, born seven minutes apart, tiny, but healthy. And perfect.

So, going back to my list.

1) being induced Technically, yes, but without medication.
2) having my water broken Turned out to be no big deal, even if the sound/sensation grossed me out.
3) internal monitoring Beyond not a big deal--I didn't even feel it. The worst part was that they taped the wire to the inside of my leg, and I had to remove the tape later, and the tape pulled. Ooh, like pulling off a bandaid. Biiiig deal.
4) the epidural Like I said--by the time he got there, I didn't care how they did it, as long as they did. And the process of the epidural itself wasn't nearly as bad as having to hold still for long enough to do it.
5) tearing and/or episiotomy I tore very slightly and had to have literally a stitch or two. With the general ouch of the whole general area? I honestly didn't even notice. Didn't give me any trouble, didn't really bother me at all. Way less a big deal than I expected.
6) having to be catheterized They did what's called an 'in and out' when I got back up to my room later. Nothing that had to stay in, and I was still all epidural-ed, so I didn't even really feel it. Again, not a big deal. Although I might have felt differently if I'd had to feel it, but I didn't, so.
7) having to have a C-section

And at the end of the day, of course, it was all worth it. I'm pretty sure that most people say that, and it was. At the end of the day, I got them.

Baby A, my Frog. Born May 16, 2009, 12:14am, PST. 4 pounds, 15 ounces and 18.1 inches (46 centimetres).

The Frog at a year old. 20 pounds, 15 ounces and 28.75 inches (70.5cm)

Baby B, my Monkey. Born May 16, 2009, 12:21am PST. 4 pounds, 15 ounces and 18.5 inches (47 centimetres).

The Monkey at a year old. 19 pounds, 15 ounces and 28.5 inches (72 centimetres).

It's been a long year. There've been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of frustration, a lot of job. It's been fun and maddening, it's been long, and way, way too fast. Happy first year, Frog and Monkey. I love you so much.
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