· By Tiny Hearts Education
Meeting Clara and Clyde
My husband and I were already blessed with a 4 yr old daughter and a 3 yr old son, but we always knew we wanted a third to complete our family. Once we had decided on a boy's name and a girl's name, we started trying to get pregnant. The first month we were successful and I received a positive pregnancy test 4 days before my period was due. I already had my inklings that I was pregnant as I was very bloated, was having dizzy spells, and was just feeling a bit 'off'. The doctor confirmed the pregnancy at 4 weeks and gave me a referral for a dating scan at 6 weeks. For those next two weeks, I felt very nauseous, which was unusual as I did not get morning sickness with my other two pregnancies. I was also extremely fatigued and very very hungry. The morning of my dating scan, I even joked to my husband, "I bet it's twins"... The ultrasound lady scanned my belly and did a little nod, and then showed me the screen. "There's two!" she said excitedly. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it - I started to shake. She could tell I wasn't happy and asked if I was OK. I was not OK. I didn't want twins - I was supposed to be having my third and last baby. She told me they both were measuring exactly the same at 6 weeks, were in their own sacs, and both had strong heartbeats. I drove to my husband's work in tears and told him the news. "There's two", I sobbed, and he burst out laughing. He was so happy. Over the next few weeks, I would have extreme emotions, of happiness and joy, to sadness and regret. I worried that my older two would be negatively impacted by me having twins. I wondered how we could afford two more. We needed a bigger car, and we needed to find space in the house to fit them! All things that we were able to work out, and as the pregnancy progressed and more family and friends heard the news, I started to feel more happy about our new bundles.
At 16 weeks, we found out that twin A was a girl and twin B was a boy! We decided to use the girl and boy names we had already picked - Clara and Clyde. They were both measuring almost the same, and both were healthy and strong. The pregnancy progressed with no complications. My older two were excited to meet their new sister and brother and loved rubbing and lying on my grieving belly. My belly was huge and overstretched, but I loved being pregnant. My only major discomfort was not being able to turn over in bed without having to lift my belly to do so. As I was in the public system, I saw a different doctor at the hospital for each of my monthly appointments. At each one, they said I would need to be induced at 37 weeks. I was not keen on being induced as my first was induced, and it was a long and hard labour, compared to my second, which was spontaneous and quite quick. However, 38 weeks was Christmas day and I did not want to have twins on Christmas, so I agreed to December 19th. Upon arrival at the hospital, they did a cervical check and my cervix was high, closed and posterior. The midwife at the time questioned why I was being induced 'so early'. I told her all the doctors said twins need to be delivered at 37 weeks. However, I started to question if I was doing the right thing. They tried to insert the cook's catheter to start the induction process, which was incredibly painful, and they left me be for a few hours. I got up to use the toilet, and the balloon fell out. I called for the midwife, and she said, "I don't think it was placed in your cervix". It wasn't, and the past 4 hours had done nothing but just cause me discomfort. This induction didn't feel right, and when the doctor came in to try again, I said, 'No - I am leaving'. The doctor said I had to come back in 3 days to try again. Over those three days, my body did not change. It was not ready to let these babies out, so I cancelled the second induction as well. The hospital rang and said I needed to come in and see the doctor to make a plan. I asked my husband to come with me so I wouldn't get pressured into doing something I didn't feel was right for me and my babies. This doctor, a different one again, was understanding and said I could go another week as long as I came in every 2 days for CTG monitoring of the babies and blood pressure checks of me. So we agreed. Christmas came and went, and we made it another week. It was now December 28th, and I was seeing yet another doctor at the hospital. She did a cervical check and my cervix was still high and closed but soft. We spoke at length about induction again and, this time, using gels to start labour. I knew the babies would be over 3 kgs now, and I didn't want to go into spontaneous labour over the new year's weekend and public holiday when the specialist doctors wouldn't be there. So I agreed to be induced the next day. December 29th, I was 38+4. We arrived at the hospital at 3:30pm, and my husband had forgotten to bring my hospital bag! So he went back home for it, while I went to check-in. Upon arrival, they were full, and I needed to wait a couple of hours. So I went to the hospital cafeteria and got something to eat and just sat there by myself pondering about what was going to happen, and wished hard for the babies to arrive safe and healthy. That hour by myself with just my babies still in my belly did a lot for my mental health and got me mentally prepared for what was to come.
At 5 pm, they were ready for me. They hooked the babies up to the heart monitor, and twin A had a high heart rate, so they needed to wait for her to settle before they could administer the gels. At 8pm, the first dose was given. My husband went home at 11pm so he could get some rest. I knew I wouldn't be getting much sleep anyway, so it was better for him to come back early in the morning, showered and refreshed. At 2am they administered another dose of the gels. I started to worry as I was not feeling anything, but then at 6 am, I started to get mild cramps. By 9am, I had to sway and breathe through them. They offered me oxycodone to help manage the pain, which I happily accepted. At 10am they did a cervical check and I was 1 cm dilated. I said I wanted the epidural before they tried to break twin A's waters. The epidural was administered at 11am, and within 15 mins, I was completely numb from the chest down and could not even move my legs. At 12pm they broke twin A's water. I asked them to position the bed, so I was sitting straight up, with the bottom half of the bed lowered - I knew I had to use gravity to help get these babies to drop. I slept on and off for the next few hours, not feeling anything. At 5pm they did another cervical check and I was 5cms dilated. They started the oxytocin drip to increase the intensity of the contractions and to speed things up. By 7pm, I knew I was close as I started to feel nauseous and shaky. At 9pm, they checked me, and I was 10 cm dilated. There was a shift change with the midwives and doctors, so we had to wait for the next shift to get the handover notes, but by 10pm, they were all ready for me to start pushing.
The room was full of people including 2 doctors, 2 midwives, a paediatrician and a twin delivery specialist. At 10:10pm, I started to push, but little did I know that twin A had actually made her way all the way down and was crowning within that first set of pushes. The doctor asked if I wanted to feel her head, and I said 'yes!'. It was such a surreal experience touching the top of her head as she was being born. She came out crying at 10:16pm. They put her on my chest, and I said 'Hello Clara- it's OK," and she stopped crying and just stared at me. One of the midwives grabbed my belly to keep twin B from moving. They used an ultrasound machine to get his position - he was still head down. My husband cut her cord, and they took Clara away to get cleaned up and told me to start pushing again. He was very high, so I had to push and push to get him to drop. My cervix had a little lip that he was getting stuck on, so they had to move that out of the way with their fingers so he could get through. As I continued to push him down, he tried to turn his face up, so they had to manually turn him face down. During a break from pushing, I looked over at Clara, and she was lying in her heat bed, just staring at me silently. I said to my husband 'look she's just waiting for her brother!'. He was finally ready to come out, but they slowed this last stage as Clara had torn me coming out so quickly, so they didn't want him to do any more damage. The doctors asked if I wanted to touch his head too, but by this stage, I was so tired I just wanted him out. The doctors told my husband to come watch his son being born. I continued to do "little pushes" until he finally came out. He was born 40 minutes after his sister, and he, too, also stopped crying when he heard my voice. My husband cut his cord and they gave me an injection to help deliver the placentas. This made me instantly sick, and I said to my husband, 'take the baby; I am going to vomit' - and then started nonstop vomiting while the placentas were delivered, and they stitched me up. The babies were perfect and a great size. Clara was 3.4kgs and 49.5cms long, and Clyde was 3.3kgs and 50.5cms long. By the early morning, I was up and about and we were sent to the recovery ward. By 2pm we were on our way home!
The following days we were in the newborn bliss bubble. The babies were feeding great (formula fed) and were very calm and cuddly. My older two were instantly smitten with them. They passed the midwives' in-home checks over the next few days with flying colours. But I didn't feel right; my body temperature was all over the place and I would go from being covered in sweat to having full-blown body shakes from feeling extremely cold. I felt very fatigued, and lethargic, but these were all symptoms I put down to "just having delivered two babies". But I also noticed that my belly wasn't going down; it still felt quite hard, like there was something there. But my bleeding was light pink and seemed to be tapering off until 6 days postpartum I noticed small gushes when I would stand up. But the blood was still clear/light pink. I mentioned this to the midwife who came on day 7. She seemed concerned and said, 'if it turns bright red and you soak a pad every hour, then go to the hospital'. She left, and I stood up from the couch and felt a massive bleed with clots coming out of me. I ran to the toilet, and my pad was soaking in bright red blood with golf ball-sized clots. My daughter got me another pad, and when I stood up from the toilet another huge gush came out. I rang the hospital and they told me to come in ASAP. My mum picked me up and dropped me off at the hospital as my husband had to stay home with the babies and older kids. The midwife and doctor assessed me and said my uterus was soft and high so they massaged it and blood and large clots came pouring out. The pain was excruciating and I cried and screamed from the shock and pain of it. I wished my husband was there but I knew the kids and babies needed him more. They did an ultrasound and said there was retained membrane, most likely from the placenta still there. An hour later, I was in surgery, having a D&C. They had to put a balloon catheter in my uterus to help stop the bleeding. I spent the next 2 nights in the hospital recovering from the procedure. As I lost 1.5 litres of blood in surgery, plus the estimated 400mls of blood I lost prior to the surgery and the litre I lost delivering the babies, they gave me a blood transfusion and an iron infusion to help with the recovery. Being away from the babies and my older kids for those two nights was incredibly hard and lonely, but I knew I had to rest and recover. It took about a week for my energy to return and to start feeling like 'me' again. But ever since, life as a mother of four has been far better and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. And now I feel incredibly lucky and special to be a 'twin mum'.
Photography credit: Melissa Crisa
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