What are you going to expect when you have a baby arrive? What's it like having twins born? What crazy thing happened in the delivery room that had one nurse say "I've never seen anything like that happen in all of my years"? If any of that strikes a chord, this is the post for you. This is the story of the birth of my twin daughters - Andy Shaw
The story of modern labor & delivery isn't like you see in the movies. It's likely not going to be some frantic, high-speed drive to the hospital or water breaking all over the sidewalk as people start hailing a taxi at the top of their lungs.
The modern pregnancy/delivery story is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. Contractions, then wait. Doctor's visit, then wait. Labor starts, then wait for things to progress.
In the case of my twin girls, our delivery story was mostly a matter of weeks of bed rest and this text message that set off a string of insanity.
On April 7 around noon, I had just left a meeting at work. I got this text:
The next time we texted? I sent her this:
Just like that. I had twin daughters and three kids.
I'm not sure what your experience was/will be, but I can say unequivocally that it was a bit idiotic of us to think the second delivery was going to be anything like the birth of our first kid. Our son? Well, here's his birth story. Mostly calm, relaxed, and slowly taking place over the course of a day.
Our daughters? Just like I suspect they will be later in life, these girls do things on their own schedule and under their terms.
My wife, Sara, - a superhero, if you ask me - had been on bed rest at home and in the hospital for about five weeks. Bed rest is just awful (although there are things you can do to make it better!), in part because you don't know when it's going to end. We had gone back and forth in the labor & delivery and the maternity sides of the hospital so many times I lost count. No I didn't. It was six. Each time it was a "The babies might arrive soon!" "Haha jk you're never leaving!" "Ahhh babies want to come!" "LOL go back to bed"
Sara had been moved back to maternity just past 31 weeks gestation, with the thought we'd be there all week and then maybe it'd be time. I even brought our dog into visit her, which is what you do when you think your wife might never leave the hospital (at least that's what it felt like).
That very afternoon, April 7, everything changed in a flurry.
Here's the delivery timeline:
- Get the text. Tell my boss, "Um, Sara's having big contractionsigottago."
- Get to the hospital. I happen to work down the street - couldn't be more convenient - and yet in those few minutes, Sara's cervix had been checked and the doctor said she was 7-8 cm dilated. Nurse to Sara, "Oh, you gotta go."
- At that moment, I arrive at the antepartum (basically, the purgatory of maternity) room she was in. Sara tells me we're heading to labor & delivery and that it's go time. The nurse tells me to grab our stuff because we're leaving right now.
- After frantically calling the in-laws and friends to get our son picked up from daycare, we head over to labor & delivery. For a brief moment, we thought mayyyybbee they could give her magnesium sulfate like they had before and slow down the contractions. Haha, that's cute, they basically said.
- Contractions are two minutes apart and, um, not fun. Time for an epidural! Here's something to know, dads, that they don't tell you: Epidurals hurt going in. It's always a joke about how great they are for delivery, but first you have to get one. I can't repeat what my wife said when she got the epidural - it was like "Puppies! Baby koalas! Sandcastle!" but the exact opposite. Like I said, she's a superhero. I can't even imagine.
- She only had a few minutes to gather herself before we were off to the OR. When you have twins, the chance for a C-section is higher so Sara had to deliver in an OR in order to be ready for anything.
This all happened within two hours.
With twins being born early - at 31 weeks, we were more than a month ahead of what you want in an ideal scenario, but far enough along that it wasn't critical - the delivery room is packed. Each baby has a team. Sara has a team working with her. There are respiratory therapists. I think Kanye was there.
Sara, being prepped to deliver, was wearing just her (Etsy-purchased) hospital gown, hiked up above her hips. I remember her telling the doctor, "It feels like everyone is staring at my vagina."
Funny thing is, no one was because they were scurrying around and, well, they've seen a few. They see vaginas like we see Facebook rants about gun control - they just kinda blend in with the scenery eventually.
It was time to push.
Good time to point out: If you're an expectant dad and don't think you want to be in the delivery room, you're missing out on the most amazing thing you will ever see in your entire life. And you can handle it, too - don't think it's going to be "too gross" or whatever. You won't even think about it.
She was head down, crucial if you want to do a vaginal delivery. Before we knew it, Quinn Shaw was born at 2:26 p.m. And I'm cutting the cord right after - it's really squishy and rubbery, if you wanted to know!
Quinn was barely even wiped off when the doctor said, "OK, it's time to push!"
To which my wife said, "Wait, what? Now?!?!"
Like I said ... these girls have their own schedule.
Baby B had been head down, but when the first twin comes out, all of a sudden, the second twin has rooms for kart wheels. "Weeeeeeeeee!" - Baby B.
That's when I saw it.
When you see a baby foot hanging out between your wife's legs, you know things are strange.
We really wanted to avoid a C-section. It's a great option for some moms, but it's not what we wanted, especially after Quinn came out vaginally.
Fortunately, our amazing doctor had no qualms about just reaching up in there and pulling Hannah out by the feet as Sara (who thankfully didn't know there were five toes wiggling at me) pushed. That's right. Hannah got pulled out by her feet like you pull out a screaming toddler from the ball pit.
Sara was incredible, especially since the epidural hadn't fully kicked in. There's a reason I am a big supporter of push presents.
Five minutes after Quinn was born, Hannah Shaw was born.
I was now a father of three. My wife was now a mom of three little kids under 2 years old. Although the girls will need to spend several weeks in the NICU - standard for 31-weekers - they have already made big strides and have started breastfeeding and no longer have IV's in! It's a long road ahead, but we are so grateful and happy to have them here. It's not everyday you get to see life arrive right in front of you. Twice.
Welcome to the family, Hannah (top) & Quinn!