One Extraordinary Birth (Six Days of Labor, 33 hours between births, two healthy babies)

Part I: Once Upon A Choice

It wasn’t that I set out to be an enthusiastic proponent of homebirth.  As a matter of fact, I hadn’t thought much about what kind of a birth experience I would like to have until I got pregnant.  Somehow when I found out that I was carrying a baby (or what turned out to be two babies in my case), it became clear that it was my greatest desire to allow these children to enter the world in the most sacred, peaceful, loving way that I could imagine.  The more people gasped in disbelief of the possibility of having a natural home birth with twins, the more I wanted this experience to be the first gift I gave to my children.  This is my tale of the miraculous labor and highly unusual births of my twin boy and girl, Zaanti and Miela.

When I was 6 months pregnant we relocated to Southern California and I began looking for prenatal medical care there.  Most women have already chosen their doctor and figured out a birth plan by then, so I was a little concerned about being able to find the right prenatal care.  Moreover, I had been reading books about birthing written by midwives, yoga teachers and psychologists and was really considering having a homebirth with a midwife.  In the stories about homebirths the women went through amazing vision quests, discovering their own strength and softness and molding into the divine feminine.  I wanted one of those experiences where I came to a seemingly insurmountable mountain, scaled it, and then I did it again and again.  I wanted to bond with my partner Francis and feel the primordial creative force coming through us as we journeyed together with our babies through the transition from the unseen world into the material world. And I wanted to feel everything, yes, everything…the joy, the fear, the pain…. I wanted to feel what millions of women have gone through since time began.  And nowhere in this vision of mine did I see bright lights, hospital gowns, being hooked up to an IV and immobilized, being told what to do and when to do it, etc…

I faced resistance from some friends and acquaintances after sharing with them my desire of giving birth at home, so I stopped talking about it except with a few select friends who were supportive and encouraging. Francis and I had to put aside the naysayers’ words about the impossibility of a vaginal delivery, the hopelessness of finding a midwife when I was seven months pregnant, of birthing drug free, etc.

Miraculously, I found a wonderful OB/GYN who agreed to do my prenatal appointments and be a backup doctor for my homebirth.  Now I just needed to find a midwife willing and capable of safely delivering my precious twins at home.  This proved to be no small feat, but where there is a will, there is a way.  After speaking with a dozen doulas (birth assistants) and midwives, writing emails to every Southern California birthing center, and talking to anyone and everyone who knew anything about giving birth naturally, I finally found an amazing midwife who has delivered 14 sets of twins and over 500 singleton births.  We drove 3 hours to meet with Brenda and at that first appointment I knew that I found the person who I trusted enough to be the first one to touch my babies.  She was mama earth embodied: nurturing, grounded and serene.  Moreover, being a midwife is truly her calling: she is passionate about giving women like me a choice in how we brought our children into the world.  After weeks of searching for a midwife, I knew she was the one we’ve been looking for!

I was so grateful and relieved to have all the birth plans finalized.  At 36 weeks, we went in for a routine appointment with the doctor found out that Zaanti (Baby A – the first one in position to come out) was footling breech and Miela (Baby B) was vertex.  She said that she no longer felt comfortable being a backup doctor for a homebirth and strongly suggested that I schedule a C-section at 38 weeks.  My heart tightened. My throat narrowed.  I felt as if I was breathing through a tiny straw, getting just enough air to get by.  Tears welled up and I told myself to be composed enough to thank the OB/GYN for her opinion, tell her we’ll think about it and go process this news at home.

As soon as we left the office, I became hysterical, and Francis had to physically hold on to me so that I didn’t fall.  This news was so sudden and so directly opposite of the birth experience we had been wanting that it was difficult to digest.  It was at this time that I worked through and accepted that what I can control is setting a clear intention of following my own Wisdom; the rest was out of my control so I needed to surrender to the events as they unfolded.  Whether it was a C-section or a vaginal birth, I wanted it to be conscious and with a conscience.  Francis and I decided to gather some more opinions before we chose to either schedule a C-section, plan for a hospital delivery after going into labor or continue with our intent to birth at home.

I have spent almost a decade practicing and teaching yoga, meditated for countless hours, participated in a 10-day silent meditation retreat, but nothing even came close to what happened in the week after that last OB/GYN appointment.  I entered a period of the most intense spiritual living so far in my life.   I meditated, prayed, journaled, spoke with every ‘expert’ I could on the topic, and even consulted with a psychic.  But mostly I listened.  Not to the outside, but to the inside.  I closed my eyes wide open to the internal compass leading to a birth that honored me, Francis and the babies.

When I spoke with our midwife about the news, she didn’t seem concerned.  Brenda had delivered many breech babies, even breech twins and two footling breeches.  In the spirit of full disclosure she told me that she had one footling breech baby that died, but after the coroner’s report came out it was clear that it had nothing to do with the positioning of the baby during the birth.  I asked Brenda if she would need extra assistance during the birth or if this latest development changed anything.  She said no, that I can always have an extra midwife or doula, but that is not necessary and is up to me.  I felt reassured and comforted by her confidence that nothing is out of the ordinary in the babies’ positioning.  If I had no physical symptoms and if I  put all my trust in the Source of Life within me, I knew all will be well with the homebirth.

I connected with a gynecologist who has been practicing for 42 years and he told me that before they started using ultrasounds routinely they delivered babies in all kinds of positions, and doctors back in the day knew how to deliver healthy babies in a variety of presentations.  He was not concerned about the footling breech position, but mentioned that with twins it was usually the second twin that had difficulties.  He suggested that I wait to go into spontaneous labor and then bring my midwife to the hospital to help with the delivery. I also emailed a doctor who is a vocal supporter of midwives and he wrote back a very caring email saying that even though he felt the birth may be safe, his knowledge of western medicine and liability reasons mandated him to advise me to birth in a hospital, probably through a scheduled c-section.

One of the midwives I spoke with told me that if she were having twins, she would trust Brenda above anyone and everyone she knew and that as long as Brenda, Francis and I felt comfortable still proceeding with a homebirth, then there is no reason not to.  She explained to me in detail that a baby who had a foot sticking out can tuck it back in at any moment and vice versa.  And since babies change position all the time, it is more likely that I would have a breech than a footling breech baby.  What shocked me is that my gynecologist didn’t explain that to me.  She seemed to think that if Baby A was footling breech now, he may be footling breech in two weeks when she wanted to schedule a C-section.  If it is possible that the babies may still shift position, why would I have my babies cut out of me two weeks early?  Hmmm, my internal compass was starting to really lean in the direction of the homebirth.

What sealed the deal in our decision was speaking with a psychic.  I never felt the desire to speak to a clairvoyant before, but I wanted to explore all of my options so I spoke with her for about half an hour.  She exclaimed: “No wonder you intuitively feel like you don’t want to go to the hospital!  I have a vision of you having more complications than usual and being totally unconscious in a hospital setting”   Whoa, that sent a chill down my spine.  Who wants to be unconscious while you have two newborns wanting to be held by their mommy?  On the other hand, who wants to lose a baby?  I asked her if she saw me losing a baby or having complications if I were to birth at home.  She said that one of the babies might take a few moments to find its breath, but that besides that she saw two healthy happy babies.  I cried when she said that. It is not that I thought she could see the future, but her words really resonated with me.  I was (and still am) willing to go through any lengths to have healthy and happy babies.  To me, that meant staying away from unnecessary interventions and allowing the animal in me to give birth in a natural and instinctual way.  I believe that homebirth is not for everyone, but so is the case with hospital births.  I would love to see our culture moving in the direction of having lots of birthing options easily available so that a woman could choose the option that feels safest for her.

Ultimately, Francis and I had a heart to heart and, being the amazing partner he is, he said that he trusted whatever decision I felt was best, but that he felt most comfortable with a homebirth with Brenda.  We agreed that we would try everything in our power to turn Zaanti (baby A) around and barring any health complications we wanted to labor at home.  I saw a chiropractor who performed the Webster technique to help turn Zaanti vertex.  A couple of days later I saw an acupuncturist for the same purpose.  The night after my acupuncture appointment there was so much movement in my lower abdomen that could have signaled Zaanti turning down.  For better or for worse, I never had a chance to confirm what position he was in for sure because I went into labor the next day.  Either way, all of my contemplative practices clearly pointed me in the direction of keeping the initial plan of homebirth, while still covering all bases by pre-registering at a local hospital in case I needed to go there.

Part II: Zaanti’s Birth

On Monday of my 39th week of pregnancy, my water broke.  I was so excited I could hardly talk when I called Francis and told him to hurry home. Then I called the midwife and told her to hurry because I thought I may deliver the babies before she had time to make the 3 hour drive. After all, my mom’s labors were both very quick.  Well, Brenda arrived and my contractions were still mild at best.  I had called my mom in the Bay area after my water broke and told her that I will call her when the babies have arrived.  However, my mom was so excited that she left work and drove straight to Southern California.  After she arrived, my labor slowed down so much it was almost non-existent.  Brenda said: “Babies come at their own time” so I just needed to be patient and to let nature do its job.

Tuesday came and went and Brenda stayed with us to monitor me.  I was taking lots of Vitamin C and Echinacea in order to prevent any infection since that is a concern after the water breaks.  The babies heart-beats were both great and it seemed that Zaanti was making his way down.  So Brenda, Francis and I prayed, meditated, waited, and waited and waited.  By Tuesday evening I knew something was off and I spoke to a therapist in Germany named Kim.  She is a friend’s therapist and as many people in my life, she appeared at the perfect time and was a vital resource for me during labor.   Kim told me what I knew in my heart was the truth: having my mom there slowed down my labor because I was focusing on my mom and picking up her nervous energy and therefore I wasn’t directing my attention to tuning into my body and communicating with the babies and.   Francis and I agreed that we needed to get my mom out of the house and I was nervous about asking her to leave.  However, I was a mother now, and my unborn children needed me to place their needs (and my own) above my mother’s.  This was one of the lessons I learned: now I had my own primary family to take care of and therefore everyone else needed to take care of themselves.   Francis managed to explain to my mom that we love her and understand why she would worry about me and the babies, but this was not what we needed in the house.  My mom was wonderful and understood that the best way that she could help me now was to go to a local hotel and hope for the best.

After she left on Wednesday afternoon, my contractions got steadily stronger and by Thursday afternoon I was in full active labor. It has been such a journey to get the opportunity to labor at home that I hadn’t even thought about what it would actually be like to go through contractions without any pain medication.  I was so grateful to feel every contraction and every movement in my body, but I certainly reached a point when I was starting to doubt if I could do this.  After about 14 hours of active labor, I told Francis and the midwife that I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this birthing thing.  I knew from my Bradley (husband-coached birth) classes about transition phase and it was pretty obvious that I was at that place of total doubt, and feeling terrified that there is no point of return: these babies had to come out one way or another! Francis kept reminding me how strong I was and how this was going to pass. Brenda prayed over me and assured me that I am no different than any other woman and that I can do this. They trusted in me and that helped me trust in myself.

By midnight I was almost fully dilated.  I had been in the kiddie pool Francis set up in the bedroom and needed to go to the bathroom.  When I was on the toilet I finally felt the urge to push.  I was enjoying pushing in that position, but Brenda asked me to lie down so she could have access to our breech firstborn.  I lay down on the floor and immediately the pain became unbearable.  The only thing better than feeling the doubling-over pain of the contractions was the doubling-over pain of pushing.  After a few pushes Brenda said: “Reach down and feel your son’s balls.”  This got me laughing and as I reached down I could feel teeny tiny little testicles.  I thought to myself: “This is one ballsy guy!”  After another push, Zaanti’s butt came out and Brenda adjusted him so that he would slide out in the next couple of pushes.  I felt so much trust in Brenda and in the holiness of the moment, I never felt any doubt that Zaanti would come out perfectly healthy.  Finally I gave one last push and Zaanti’s head came out.  After a total of 21 hours of sacred, pain-transcending, mountain-moving, roaring labor Zaanti was born at 1:45 a.m. on September 17th, weighing 5lbs 6 oz.

Brenda put him on my chest and I was in awe of his tiny face.  His eyes were wide open and he looked me right in the eyes.  The Love-Joy-Ecstasy I felt in that moment was indescribable…  Then he lifted his eyes up and looked right in Francis’s eyes.  Brenda said that in her 20+ years of catching babies she has never seen a baby make direct eye contact on the day of his/her birth.  At that moment, I could palpably feel how special this boy was.   I was instantly bonded to this tiny creature and felt as if Francis, Zaanti and I were moving in an ecstatic dance, looking at each other in turns, feeling our bodies close, breathing deeply and syncing the beat of our hearts.

This is the time when most women relax and enjoy the time with their baby.  I had one more in me though!  Thank goodness my friend Susie flew out from San Francisco and arrived a few minutes after Zaanti’s birth.  She is a mother of two who gave birth at home and was a tremendous support for me during the pregnancy and labor.  It was her therapist in Germany that has been helping me.   As much as I wanted to keep cuddling with Zaanti, I let Susie care for him and just bring him in for feeding and cuddles.  I knew I had to focus on my little girl Miela coming out.  The thought of going through another skin-ripping delivery was frightening.  But I knew that if I could do it once, I could do it twice.

Part III: Miela’s Birth

As soon as Zaanti came out, my attention split into two places and has remained that way since.  One part of me was with Zaanti and the other with the unborn fetus in my belly.  I kept checking in, wondering if contractions will start again.  A few minutes passed after the first birth and nothing.  I kept holding Zaanti and now another 10 minutes passed.  I got cold so I climbed into bed.  At this point it has probably been about 30 minutes and I asked Brenda if she could check me again and see what was going on.  Miela’s heartbeat was steady and strong; I was dilated about 8cm, but had no contractions.  I ate an enormous meal that was waiting for me and started to feel incredibly tired.  It was already around 4am so Brenda suggested that I sleep a little and call her when the contractions recommenced.  Francis and I cuddled up together and slept a few hours.  I woke up a bit anxious for Miela to come out, but I was still strongly feeling a divine presence around me and felt very connected to my Inner Wisdom.

I took a walk, kept putting Zaanti on to nurse, ate, prayed, meditated and waited.  It was tough for me to wait and allow the process to unfold.  That was certainly one of the major gifts that these births have brought me – learning patience and allowing things to take the time they need.  I ended up speaking with Kim in Germany again and she put me in an amazing frame of mind, welcoming this journey just as it was and connecting with Miela and asking her what she needed from me.  It was very clear that there are two of us going through this birth and Miela had just as much of a role as I did.  And this girly girl was so comfortable in the womb that she was in no rush to come out!  At a certain point in the afternoon Brenda discovered that Miela had decided to play around since she had so much room – this lady went transverse (sideways) on me!  This was the one and only time I had a hint of panic.  I knew that transverse babies could not be delivered vaginally and I certainly did not feel that I had come so far just to have a c-section with the second birth.  I turned within and searched for an intuitive guidance, and it became clear that I needed to use my resources and try everything I can to turn Miela around and give birth to her at home, unless there was any danger and we needed to rush to the hospital.

Having problems gives us the opportunity to experience the joy of coming to a solution.  As I again connected with Kim in Germany, I instantly felt that I tapped into Spirit through her.  She asked me to have Brenda check Miela’s heartbeat, estimate her positioning and find out if one of the placentas was blocking the cervix.  Indeed that seemed to be the case.  Then Brenda left the room and Kim guided me into a sort of trance.  I entered a hyper awake state, completely lucid, but surreal.  Kim and I worked together to connect with Miela, to encourage her to turn head down.  I did certain hand movements over my belly and visualized what I wanted to happen.  I imagined Miela and me together arranging the perfect space for her to turn and come out easily and effortlessly.  I was in such a place of trust, felt so present, so aware of the physical and non-physical, that I may as well have been high.  I’ve always said that I’m not interested in drugs because I am high on life and this time I was really living it!

And it worked!  When Brenda came back in the room about 30 minutes later it was game on – the placenta had moved out of the cervical opening and Miela was in a vertex position and making her way down!  I was still dilated 6-7cm.  Apparently Brenda could feel contractions happening, but I couldn’t really feel them.  Whew, what a difference from the day before with Zaanti’s excruciating labor.  Like this, I could give birth all day long!

A few hours passed and Zaanti finally started breastfeeding.  Evening turned into night and my contractions started getting stronger.  In the early morning on Saturday, the contractions kept growing, but Miela was still not descending enough to push so I asked Brenda to break my water.  I was getting tired and I was ready to stop walking around with the cord to Zaanti’s placenta sticking out a few inches between my legs. But most importantly, I wanted to hold both of my babies safely in my arms and kiss the bejesus out of them.  So Brenda did the one and only intervention during the entire birth process.   Around 9am she used some kind of a midwife tool to break my water.  Within minutes my contractions got real strong, real fast.  All of a sudden I remembered what it was like to have waves of pain come crashing over, but this time I knew how to relax into the sensations, allowing them to wash over me instead of fighting them.  And it helped that I was too exhausted to even care about the discomfort!  Soon, I felt the urge to push and after only a few pushes, Miela was born at 10:45am, 33 hours after her much older twin brother. She weighed 6lbs 6oz, a whole pound heavier than her brother, even though they were the same length.  Healthy, pink, chubby baby was squirming and screaming in my arms.  My heart was overflowing with so much love for this amazing creature who taught me so much already.  That’s when I finally released more fully than I ever thought possible.  I cried out in intelligible howls, holding Miela tightly to my heart, shaking and wailing.  I did it!  WE DID IT!  My children were both here.  They were healthy, beautiful and with all their parts in place.  We were at home.  I was in MY bed.  I was a champion!  I felt such a flood of emotions come over me that I think only Francis understood what I was saying because he was also floating in the Love-Joy-Beauty that surrounded us.   I’ve had an evolving spiritual relationship with God/Spirit/Source, but at that moment it was clear: I was touching the Unnamed and it was holding all of us in its divine bliss.

The last thing left to do was birth the placentas.  Once they came out I intended to encapsulate them and take them for hormonal balance, nutrients and milk production.  Brenda checked the placentas and came to the bed exclaiming: “Zaanti is a miracle baby!”  It turns out that he had a huge blood clot between his placenta and cord.  That was why he wanted to come out early and it also explained why he was a pound less than Miela.  This boy was so smart to break his water and signal to me that he needed to get out.  Luckily, the blood clot did not affect him adversely as both of the babies had high Apgar scores.   Miela, on the other hand, was as comfortable as could be and was in no rush to leave the womb.  I already knew that they are their own people, with different personalities, but now I tangibly felt how unique they each are.  And they’ve got separate birthdays to prove it!

Part IV: Happily Ever After

This miraculous birth passage certainly would not have been possible without all the amazing people who came to support us during this time.  Although there were many that did not believe in our endeavor, the ones that trusted us showered us with their love and faith.   I am so grateful for our lay midwife Brenda Capps who went above and beyond the call of duty by staying with us the whole six days and monitoring me and the babies closely the entire time.  She is truly an earth angel!  I am also incredibly grateful to the therapist in Germany, Kim Hutchinson, who was an inspirational and transformative guide for me during this birth.  My friend Susie Small was also instrumental in our experience and to her I am forever indebted. Moreover, countless friends and family members were keeping us in their prayers and wishing us well.  I am certain that their positive thoughts tremendously helped us in our birth journey and for that I am eternally grateful.

In the end, this unbelievable birth experience taught me so many wonderful lessons and has been the gift that keeps on giving.  I learned to allow things to blossom at their own pace; just as an apple seed will take its own sweet time to become an apple tree.  Patience was never a virtue of mine, and I used to think that sitting back was being idle.  Now I feel that while it is essential to hold a strong intention, it is just as important to relax and enjoy the journey while it meanders.  I now recognize more clearly that I am not in control and that I don’t need to try to fix things or figure them out all the time.  I have grown to appreciate uncertainty and trust that the old proverb about everything happening for a reason really is true.

Another wonderful lesson has been to discover that there was a well of knowledge within me that was richer than any outside source.  Had I relinquished my internal compass to experts, I would have had a very different birth experience. Had I ended up in the hospital, there were at least three instances during my labors that would have resulted in a C-section.  Moreover, I would not have had the opportunity to build confidence in my intuition and my ability to manifest things that seem virtually impossible.  It is amazing to live life recognizing that there is a sage inside of me and being able to communicate with this wisdom.  I now viscerally feel an internal guidance that helps me make decisions, both big and small.  I am convinced that everyone has their own guru inside and if they take the time to listen and then find the courage to follow this guide, they will be living a life of truly limitless and unimaginable proportions.  If I can create this kind of a birth, what else can I create in my life?  Truly, all things are possible – for me and for you!

The victory I felt as a result of this extraordinary birth experience was incredible… and necessary… because now I needed to manage breastfeeding and caring for these two angels.  That is another story within itself that I will share with you another time.  All you need to know is that we are still breastfeeding 9 months later and are all healthy and thriving!

My Miracle MoMos – an Aussie story

I have always loved babies, and so I was thrilled when, after 6 years together, my husband agreed we were ready to have one of our own!

After a fairly uneventful pregnancy, and a fast but fantastic water birth, we were blessed with a beautiful boy – Hudson. Delicious, fun-loving, bright, adventurous child – and thus a good advertisement to sell hubby on the idea of having more! I promptly started to hint that another child would complete our family. As we also had a 13 year old daughter from my previous relationship, a new baby would make 3, so it would be a bit of an adjustment…but we wanted Hudson to grow up with a sibling close to his age…and hopefully a daughter so Adam would have a son and daughter of his own.

Not one to leave things to chance, I followed my cycle with a vengeance. I ate all the stuff to “make a girl”, we took all our zinc and folate and everything else that was recommended…..then New Years Eve…a few drinks and a fun night out and…Success! A positive test 8 days after ovulation! We could hardly believe it. was soon tired and nauseous, but we were thrilled and excited.

After a nasty bout of the flu at 10 weeks, I dropped in to see my Ob before my first scheduled appointment – just to check all was okay.

“Let’s just listen to the heartbeat and check there is only one” he joked. I laughed absently.

As I lay on the bed looking at the blob on the screen, I couldn’t understand why the Dr was giving me the peace sign with his fingers.

“There’s 2.” he repeated.
“What?” I was confused.
“2 babies.”

Well that moment changed our lives forever!

As I lay there gob-smacked and freaking out, the Dr went on to tell me that the babies were Monoamniotic / Monochorionic identical twins, due to the egg splitting 8-13 days after fertilization. So I had known I was pregnant before they even became twins! Splitting just one day later could have meant conjoined/siamese twins. He continued explaining they have no dividing membrane – they share the same amniotic fluid – and are given a 50-70% chance of surviving the cord entanglement they create by twisting and turning around one another. Only 1% of all identical twins are MoMo. As they grow, it gets more and more dangerous, as the larger the baby the less room there is, and thus they can actually compress each others cords and cut off the vital supply of blood and nutrients from the umbilical cord. They also have a much higher rate of defects and anomalies. Thus we would have all the risks of a normal twin pregnancy… and much much more.

The Ob declared I should probably not tell anyone I was pregnant and wait for nature to take its course – a likely miscarriage. Needless to say I decided he was not the right doctor for me.

On shaky legs I left the clinic and phoned my husband – his first day at a new job. A memorable day for sure! We weren’t sure if we should rejoice or cry. We did a bit of both.

We started seeing a maternal fetal specialist, with fortnightly ultrasounds. There were so many decisions to make – how much monitoring, when to deliver, when to start steroids for their lungs etc.. There is so little research on these twins – they are so rare, making studies hard to conduct. Through the one support group in the world ( we learnt of the most successful treatment plan – and we fought for it every step of the way. Our new specialist agreed to allow us to be part of the decision-making process. She was wonderful, compassionate and positive; a pioneer in her field and world-renowned. In a tragic twist of events, she took her own life when I was 19 weeks pregnant. We were saddened and bewildered.

Assigned a new specialist, we fought all the battles again, and a plan was roughly laid out: weekly scans from 24 weeks, then by 28 weeks to be inpatient at the hospital to be monitored daily. Then if all went well we would deliver by c-section at 32 weeks (a vaginal delivery was out of the question due to the danger created by the cord entanglement, as well as the risk of cord prolapse). We were given the option of termination due to the stressful nature of the pregnancy, and the uncertain outcome and risks…but we had already fallen in love with our little blobs!

When MoMo’s survive they are known to be the closest twins of all as they have been in physical contact since conception, they have been seen holding hands and sleeping forehead to forehead in the womb…. and then similarly once born. Some of the ultrasound pics are amazing. 2 little bodies wrapped around one another in a tight cuddle……2 faces looking eye to eye at one another…..we couldn’t wait to see our girls share this bond. Through our 31 ultrasounds we were indeed witness to much cuddling and spooning – and some kicking and poking!

The weeks slowly pass – my concerns allayed with frequent MFM appointments, and a home hand- held Doppler for reassurance.

At 28 weeks I became a resident on the maternity wing. I cried for days – missing my children, my husband and my home. Frightened for my babies and daunted at what lay ahead. My poor husband had the task of running the household, cooking, cleaning, working full-time, taking kids to school and day care etc etc .…as well as making sure he visited me every day without fail! He was a true hero – my rock. My wonderful mother brought Hudson in twice a week to spend time with me, and my daughter Xani often came after school and sat on my bed and kept me company.

We were told not to set up a nursery as it would make it too hard if we lost one or both the twins, so I spent time pouring over catalogues wondering what if anything I might need. We discussed what car to buy to accommodate our large family…and we discussed whether we would get the same car if only one baby survived. We discussed whether we would want to try for another baby if they both died. We could hardly believe the things we were discussing…

I had CTGs 3 times a day to check their heartbeats, an ultrasound every second day to monitor the cord entanglement (which was evident from 12 weeks), and steroid injections weekly to prepare their tiny lungs for their early arrival.

Finally my 5-week stay in hospital was coming to an end – we had reached 32 weeks with few scares, only to be told the NICU was full and we would have to wait another day. After a sleepless night, we awoke to again be told all of Brisbane was full, and we would be flown elsewhere – to just await the announcement.

As we ate breakfast suddenly midwives arrived with a gown and the news 2 beds were now free and we were to deliver our babies immediately.

I was terrified, so the lack of time to ponder what was about to happen was probably just what I needed; as well as some expert hand-holding and brow-stroking from Adam. I had previously had 2 natural drug-free, full term births – so this premmie, high-risk c-section was daunting to say the least!

In no time at all our 2 tiny girls were born within minutes of each other – the girls screamed as they entered the world, and continued to breathe on their own! Harper 1.9kg and Cleo 1.5kg – tiny but perfect. They got an 8 and a 9 on their apgar scores. They never needed oxygen, or any meds at all. They were even brought straight to us (after a quick once over) for a cuddle….I cried and cried as I never expected to see their little faces before they were covered in tubes, and put in humidicribs. I really had never let myself believe they would make it…. It was an incredible moment!

As the cords were examined a shocked silence fell over the room. The girls had survived horrific entanglement, with a true knot at one point. We delivered them just in time…..they were truly our miracle MoMos.

They were in NICU overnight, then much to everyone’s amazement moved straight to Special Care. They had gastro tubes for feeding…but breastfed from 33 weeks once a day…by 34 weeks it was twice a day…  I pumped hourly to increase my milk supply….day and night. Let-down was so hard to achieve without my babies…often I wondered if I had even had babies as I rarely held them, there was no nursery for them  and I hardly fed them. But we were lucky – we saw many other families facing much harder journeys in the nursery.  Still, the Special Care experience can hardly be described…it is an exhausting rollercoaster ride, of guilt and worry. But for us it was a strange relief to see them in the crib with their monitors and tubes! This to us was the best possible outcome of a treacherous pregnancy.

After only 30 days in hospital, Cleo and Harper came home and have never looked back.

After two previous singleton, natural, yoga-filled, water-birthed pregnancies and babies, this fully monitored, medically overdosed, terrifyingly uncertain pregnancy with a caesarean and long term hospital stay, plus NICU and SCN for our premmie babies….sure was a test on our marriage, our strength , our positivity, our emotions, and our ability to look beyond and into the future.

We made it and will be forever grateful we were lucky enough to be blessed with our miracle twins.

Our Amazing Multiple Story…

When I turned 18, I joined the Army and was blessed enough to be stationed in Germany, where I met my husband. We weren’t trying to get pregnant…actually we were trying to not get pregnant. So one night after a 24 hour guard duty shift I came back to the barricks and feeling unlike myself, I took a home pregnancy test…slowly that little line appeared. The next day I went to sick call and they confirmed it, I was pregnant and due February 26, 2003…little did I know I would never make it that far. Here’s our amazing multiple story:

Living in Germany the first thing I did was tried to get back to the States. If we had stayed I would have been stuck there for 3 years because of housing laws, and the baby would be a dual citizen, all of this was very scary. At my first appointment with my OB/GYN they took a heart beat and the doctor looked worried…he said something didn’t sound right and he was going to have to do an immediate ultrasound…as I wasn’t very far along in the pregnancy he had to use the ‘magic wand’ so after several minutes of adjusting readjusting and pointing out different things to the young nurse who was assisting, he froze the screen on one of the many pictures he took that day.

After I was dressed and sitting in the exam room the staff came in and sat me down, the doctor said I want you to take a look at the screen and tell me what you see, I said I see what looks like two little beans, he said you hit the nail on the head, you said that magic word, TWO…I don’t remember anything after that except that I passed out…cold. After a few moments I came to and they did some blood work. That night I called my parents to let them in on the BIG news, they were…shocked to say the least. I wanted another picture of the babies together so I went on the economy and had a German doctor take the ultrasound, laying in the chair she again used the magic wand, and at the bottom of the screen appeared a little dot and it grew and grew and grew and oh a baby and at the bottom of the screen was another dot and it grew and grew and grew and oh another baby and at the bottom of the screen another dot…and it grew…the doctor stopped and looked and me and said “ein (pointing at baby A) zwei (pointing at baby B) drei?” “NEIN NEIN!!” this couldn’t be happening, twins is one thing but you should never have more babies than you have hands NOO!! And then the doctor corrected herself and said that there were only two…phew dodged a bullet there!

After that things moved rather quickly. Because twin B didn’t have the third vessel to his umbilical cord we had to be watched very closely which meant we had to get out of Germany where I could get the care I needed. I was sent to Ft. Hood Texas where they have the best neonatal center the Army had at the time. I got there in August 2002 worked for a few months and in November 2002 I was put on a no-work status. Things were moving along well, baby B was growing. Not long into December I was placed on bed rest and I really started to grow. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and the only cure is to give birth.

On January 23 I started to cough up blood clots, and I just happened to have an appointment that day. At 10:00 am I was induced, my parents in Ohio had decided to leave a little early and thank God because they enduced me a day early. They arrived in Texas at midnight and at 1:34 am 1/24/03 Lane Micheal was born 35 weeks gestation weighing in at 5 lbs 6 oz. Initially when I was told to push, my contractions weren’t strong enough so the doctor said that in 10 minutes they were having an ugly baby contest and by the looks of the dad I might just win! I laughed so hard that Lane was born immediately. [My labour settled down, so] after sewing me back up they sent me to my room telling me they weren’t certain when baby B would come. My cervix shrank to a nice 6 centimeters and immediately redialated to 10 and at 3:07 am 1/24/03 Ethan Michael was born weighing in at 4 lbs 9 oz. My boys never spent a day in the NICU and were able to come home in about 4-5 days.

I know just how blessed I am to have me now 4 year old twins boys alive and well. I always think to myself they’re getting big and bad but I guess when they’re mischievous they’re healthy! And that’s what I like to see!

My first multiple moment

My daughter was 3 ½ when Steve and I found out we were expecting again. Living in our small two bedroom apartment we were worried about where all the “ baby ” stuff was going to go. But we figured we’d manage. At least for awhile the baby could sleep in a crib in our room, then move into his or her sister ’ s room until we could find a bigger place.

One of the strangest things about my pregnancy was almost instantly after I found out I was pregnant, I was “ showing ” . My uterus just popped out of nowhere! I thought it was so strange and talked to my mother about it. She assured me that in second pregnancies you “ showed ” quicker. I could understand quicker but this felt instantaneous! I was only 8 weeks along for goodness sake! So I thought for sure, my doctor had it wrong, I must be further along than we thought. I’ve heard about a woman who still had 1 or 2 periods after getting pregnant so maybe that was me. I’d wait to see when I had my ultrasound. Twins were NOT on my mind.

A few weeks later, I swear I was only about 12-13 weeks along, I felt movement!!! Yup! I was quite shocked. My sister was over and she assured me that I would NOT be feeling movement so early and surely not from the outside. If anything it would just be those little inner flutters. So I took her hand, placed it on my tummy and she felt it! I was having either a very large baby or an octopus! I was sure of it! I knew it wasn ’ t twins and I said so that day. My sister laughed and said that it actually could be twins. We both laughed it off.

After that, we told the story to Steve’s parents. Our first multiple moment occurred when we were all laughing and his father was getting all hyped up about twins. We jokingly asked him why he would wish that on us and to take it back. Now even though the word “ twins ” kept coming up, let me clarify that none of us were serious at any time. We really thought my doctor had the date wrong. I really thought I must be further along.

Well all my appointments went well for the next few weeks. My doctor seemed to have mentioned that I was carrying a little large for where I was in the pregnancy but I didn ’ t recall him saying that. Later he informed me that when he tells a woman she ’ s a little larger than she should be, he doesn ’ t repeat himself twice. Guess I somehow missed it!

So now my ultrasound was scheduled for 17 weeks. I brought Steve and my mother. Steve, by the way, has very little patience. My doctor sent me to the high risk floor for my ultrasound because with my first pregnancy, I went into labor at 6 months. We were able to stop the labor and he put me on a prescription to keep the contractions at bay. We had a few other trips to labor and delivery along the way but were always able to stop labor until my 35th week when our daughter was finally born …

So here we were, on the high risk floor. We had an 8:00am appointment but had to wait for any emergencies to go first. Well, impatient Steve went up to the front desk and complained that we had an 8:00 appointment and it was almost 9:00. He had to get to work. The very annoyed technician called us next. There was some tense silence for the first few minutes of the scan. Then she said to me in an almost somber voice that I will never forget, “ Is this your first ultrasound of this pregnancy? ” Oh my goodness!!! I was horrified! I said “ yes, why?”.

I automatically thought there was some sort of complication and I was about to find out what. I wanted to know but I didn’ t want to hear it. She smiled at me and said “ There are two babies in here! ” I couldn’t believe it! She put Steve back in his place quickly. She said “ Well, I hope you’re not in a rush any longer, this could take awhile”.

I was in such shock that tears of fear came running down my face. Steve and my mother were laughing, crying and hugging. I was just crying at that moment! As the shock started to slowly wear off, I asked a question that shocked both Steve and my mother. I wanted to know if they were connected in any way. For some reason, I couldn ’ t get past the way she asked if it was my first ultrasound. I was still waiting for the bad news. But there was no bad news to be had! There were two babies, both healthy. Baby A and Baby B as we would call them for the duration of the pregnancy. It took no time at all to confirm that Baby B was a boy! It was quite obvious.

Then I was worried again. OH NO! Are they identical! For some reason that scared the heck out of me! Two boys scared the heck out of me. It was confirmed that our Baby A was a little GIRL! I was so relieved and so happy. Twins! A boy and girl!! After that I was scheduled for monthly ultrasounds. It was a free for all in there. I took turns taking anyone who wanted to go with me. I also made them confirm at EVERY appointment that Baby A was still a girl. She was! So on February 20 th, one day before Daddy ’ s birthday (and 5 weeks early, an almost exact pregnancy as their sister) Baby A – Jocelyn was born weighing 4lbs 13oz and Baby B – Dylan was born weighing 5lbs 5oz.  Both 18 ” long.

Jordyn my oldest is now going to be 10 next month and Jocelyn & Dylan are both 6 and just graduated from Kindergarten.

Thanks for letting me share my story. It was fun reliving the moments!

Jennifer, Pelham , NH

These precious babies blessed our lives

These precious babies blessed our lives on January 4, 2007 after a sonogram noticed a 2 1/2 lb weight difference. Our daughter, Madeline, weighed in at 4lbs 3oz and was the strongest of the two. Our son, Slade Sawyer, weighed 6lbs 2 oz and turned out to give us the biggest scare.

They took Madeline straight to the NICU because of her size, and Slade was going to room with me. When we got back to the room one of the nurses told me that he was going to be rooming with his sister after all, because of his labored breathing. He ended up having a chest tube inserted due to a tear in his right lung, and being put on a ventilator for two days. Then two days later the neonatologists told us we would be taking Slade [home] the following day!!!

Madeline had lost a little weight however and wouldn’t be going home until two days later, when she reached her birth weight. Slade at 5 weeks now weighs 8lbs 6oz, and Madeline 6lbs 12oz. Our precious babies are thriving wonderfully!!! Thank you for your wonderful website it helped throughout and after my pregnancy!! I just wanted to share our story.

Angela T.

Twin daughters and important support from our local Church

I went through a lot with my twin daughters. My first twin was born naturally [vagnally] at a birthing stool in our birthing clinic in our Church with the help of my husband and midwife. However, my second twin’s waterbag broke when the first twin came out so, as she had lots of space, she went transverse across my womb. When I pushed, her right hand came out! My midwife put her hand back in and tried to turn her but her hand delivered first again.

As I was already bleeding, we decided to go to the hospital where she was born by C-section. Therese wasn’t breathing and developed pneumonia because within the 4 hours she spent alone in my womb, she swallowed some meconium. She was intubated and had to be helped by a machine to breathe… it was really a trying time for us…, but with the help of my Church & churchmates…, everyone was praying for her healing!

She grew stronger everyday. We admitted our first twin so she would be near her twin sister and she was roomed in us on the 6th day. I felt like I had no milk and I was really agonizing over the milk supply issue… in the meantime, my churchmate who’s known as a “milking cow,” supplied breastmilk for my twin in NICU… so my baby never tasted formula. We made her their godmother because of her generosity and compassion upon us.

We went home with the first twin after 2 weeks and I successfully breastfed her while trying to pump for my second twin but I produced so little!

Finally, by God’s grace & healing, we were able to bring her home after 3 weeks but that’s when my depression set in. I worried so much that the twins weren’t getting enough that’s how depressed and that was 2 months ago! It’s really a miracle & God’s hand upon me that I’ve survived breastfeeding for 4 months…everyday is a challenge but i do believe it’s getting better & better. I’m very determined to breastfeed them for as long as I can. I’m really very interested in helping moms breastfeed because I’m so grateful to the people who encouraged me. As I was typing, I was feeding my first twin..hehe. 🙂

Chat, Philippines

Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) Survivor

My name is Nancy Reyes. I have beautiful 5 year old twin girls who survived twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). I was 20 when my doctor called me letting me know there was something wrong with my pregnancy. I was around three months and had blood drawn and an ultrasound showed only one baby. The results from the blood were so high that I went to see a specialist.

I remember as if it was yesterday being told I was going to have a baby with down syndrome (they didn’t know I was carrying twins) and having counseling that day.  Our options were to keep the baby with its special needs or to have an abortion.

It was such a hard time for my husband and me, we already had a three-year old boy. We were taken that day for another ultrasound to get an actual look to see what was wrong to our baby. Soon enough the blood results changed.  We were carrying twin girls. Everything was suddenly so different. From being told we had a down syndrome baby to having twins! Shocking! that is all I can say. We learned that our twins had TTTS.  Being young and Hispanic, I didn’t really realize what twin to twin syndrome meant. I just knew that I had two precious babies inside me and they needed me to be strong. I had to take care of myself and them.

At four months I stopped working to be on complete bed rest. My doctor and nurses were wonderful. They explained a lot to me but it was so hard to understand at that time and to be honest, almost six years later I am realizing how lucky I am to have my girls by my side. Not everything was all beautiful. My pregnancy was very difficult. I had excess amnio fluid removed twice from the receiver, making the possibility of a miscarriage even higher. Their heartbeats at times would be real great, but there was the possibility of having them early. I thank God for letting me carry them for nine months.

I was really lucky. My girls were due on January 1st, but they were born December 24, 2000, Ruby 5lbs11oz and Melissa 4lbs2oz, Ruby’s heartbeat was dropping so my delivery was induced, all the pain and suffering was worth it. I can honestly say I would do it again to have my girls with me like I do now.

Weeks after birth their birth they contracted RSV virus, not once but twice. It has been a rough journey, but I am enjoying every single day. I never realized how lucky I was, especially not knowing what TTTS was and how severely the girls had it. I thank God and I am so glad we are survivors of this disease. I wish the best to everyone who is carrying this disease, take it easy and pray that everything should be okay.

Nancy, Ruby & Melissa

A Special Surprise: Twin Boys

My husband and I married on March 26, 2005 and decided on having a baby right away. On September 15, 2005, our doctor told us that our wish had come true. I never thought I could be so happy in my entire life. A baby, God had answered my prayers. Then on the Saturday before Thanksgiving we went to the hospital to have our first Ultrasound and there we got the most surprising news ever:  we were having TWIN BOYS!

I couldn’t believe it.  Twin boys. My husband and I just held each other and cried. I know that a multiple pregnancy is high risk, so I went online and looked up everything I could about a twin pregnancy.  Luckily my pregnancy couldn’t have gone better.

I was able to carry my baby twin boys full term for 38 weeks and on April 19, 2006 via C-section Jorden or baby A was born at 10:44 am weighing 5lbs 3ozs., 18 inches, and Jayden, baby B was born at 10:46am weighing 4lbs 12ozs., 18 inches. We stayed in the hospital for three days then we were all able to come home together. I thank God every day for this blessing he has given our family.


Twin Birth Story

My husband and I were your everyday common couple. We met, we married, we wanted a family. After seven months of trying to become pregnant we discovered one Sunday morning at 4:00 am when the test came back blue that we were pregnant. After visiting the doctor they set our due date to be October 10, 2005.

All was going fine, no morning sickness, no odd or unusual cravings, until on March 9thI started bleeding at work. A co-worker rushed me to the doctors for an ultrasound. The first thing that goes through a woman’s mind when she is pregnant and bleeding is she is loosing the baby. I called my husband and told him to meet me there [at the ultrasound clinic]. I hopped up on the ultrasound table and at 9 weeks you have to have the internal ultrasound. They inserted the “magic wand” and the next statement I hear from the ultrasound technician is “Mrs. W. did you know you are having TWINS…” I looked over to the monitor and there they were. My two little peanuts on the display screen. I burst into tears thinking not only am I loosing one baby but both.

It turns out all was well, no complications or problems. Now I had to tell my husband we were having twins. He arrived just as I walked out to the car in the parking garage. I ran up to him, hugged him and told him “we’re fine; me and both babies; we’re having twins!”  My husband and I never took fertility drugs, and it wasn’t until we announced to the family that we discovered that twins ran in the family.

All went well during my pregnancy. I was able to carry my twins to 34 weeks gestational term. I began having contractions and after a week of bed rest, we went to the local hospital for a c-section delivery. My twins were born at 10:27 AM and 10:28 AM on August 28, 2005. Baby A weighed 5 pounds 6 & ½ ounces. Baby B weighed 5 pounds and ¼ ounce. I was blessed with a blonde and a brunet. Both babies stayed in the hospital a total of 7 days before being released to go home just in time for Labor Day.

Today they are 7 months old and doing well. I feel very fortunate to have healthy, happy babies. I see changes in their personalities on a daily basis.

For any mother about to give birth to multiples, I can only offer one piece of advice: Ask for help, take it when offered, and remember that you are truly doubly blessed.

Heather, Mommy to Breanna and Kayla

Our Christmas Miracles!

I went for my routine scan and it was to be an internal one. The doctor could see something other than a baby’s heartbeat. It turns out it was another baby’s heartbeat. We were having TWINS!

I was only 6 weeks along and already they could see that they were identical twins, both sharing the same placenta, but separate amniotic sacs. I was shocked. My partner wasn’t because he has them in every generation of his family.

I was transferred from the anti-natal unit to the neonatal medicine unit where I was scanned every fortnight [2 weeks]. Then at 13 weeks, I went for my routine scan and it was noticed that the babies had Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion syndrome (T.T.T.S.). It was quickly becoming an issue for the babies. My counsellor told me what to expect. My case showed that there was a 10% chance of survival of one baby and barely any of two surviving. There was also an 85% chance of brain damage or celebral palsy to one or both babies. All we did was cry. She told us we should think about ending the pregnancy as it takes a very strong person to look after one disabled child never mind two, our working days would be over and they would need 24/7 care, by both me and my partner. I very nearly gave up but my partner gave me hope, so on we went with our pregnancy.

We discussed other options such as laser surgery and amnio-reduction. My placenta was lying across the front of my stomach so laser surgery was out of the question. The placenta in such a position worsened our case as laser surgery has a better chance of survival. Amnio-reduction was the next best thing so we chose that option.

Amniotic fluid was drained from around the bigger baby’s sac to even out the fluid, but after a few weeks the fluid crept up again. We had a foetal doppler scan and discovered hydrops had developed on one of their hearts, which can cause heart failure. We were then sent to a consult in women’s hospital in Birmingham. I went on to have another amnio-reduction in Birmingham. This time they took off quite a lot of fluid, so I had to stay overnight and the hope was that I would get to about 32 weeks to give the babies a better chance.

Back in my local hospital, I was 27 weeks and there was a reverse endystolic flow in one of the babies’ cords. I was advised to burn one the babies’ cords to give the other baby a stronger chance although there was still not a definite chance for the survival of either of them. Further, due to possible strokes because of the two different blood pressures in the cords, there was a chance we could lose them both at birth. On yet another routine scan at 30 weeks, it was discovered that the reverse flow was back and much worse. I was kept in over night and received steroid injections to help develop the babies’ lungs. I was scanned on the 15th December 2004, 10 weeks before my due date and we were told the worst and the best thing: our babies were coming into the world the next day.

Thursday, 16th December 2004, I went down to theatre [delivery room] and at 13.07pm Twin 1 (BRANDON) was born weighing 3lb 2oz. Then three minutes later Twin 2 (BAILEY) was born weighing 3lb 15oz. They were whisked off to S.C.B.U. [equivalent to North American NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)].

I didn’t get to see them until the next day. It was the best day of our lives; we had two healthy boys. We are so very lucky and give special thanks to all the staff who looked after us and our two little miracles right through the pregnancy. They were in S.C.BU. For 6 weeks. We were constantly there feeding and changing. They finally came home beginning of February 2005.

We were so very lucky and they are our Christmas miracles. We thank everybody involved in bringing these two bundles of joy into our lives. They are now 9 months old and an absolute joy to have. We just can’t believe how lucky we are. Thank you. We hope this story helps other people in the same situation as us.

Clare and John, United Kingdom, Proud parents of Bailey and Brandon.