Tuesday, June 12, 2012

my twin birth story: embracing the unexpected


Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

I've been working up the courage to put my birth story to page (or screen) for almost a year. I journaled throughout my pregnancy, all the way up until we brought our daughters home from the NICU. It was such a sacred and scary time, and even though I'm not opposed to sharing -  I want to share, to encourage other twin and NICU mamas - it was MY birth, MY time staring through the windows in their incubators, MY tears that stained the journal pages as I pumped like a mad woman and cried over their teeny bodies, and the questions to my husband in the middle of the night, the what if they're crying and I'm not there, and nobody hears them? I felt like no one would understand, or if they did, it still wouldn't be enough for me.

But I look at my girls now and see their mountains of rolls, chubby cheeks, and milky skin, and I feel so incredibly fortunate that they were and are healthy. Many mothers who give birth early are not so lucky. So now, I'm ready to share.

For me, I think the most fulfilling way for me to tell my birth story is to divide it into four parts: today's summary (for those who don't love reading birth stories, this is for you), the pregnancy, the preterm labor, bedrest and delivery, and finally, the NICU. That way, I'm not writing oodles of words and making your and my eyes cross.

Today's post, along with being a submission in the Carnival of Natural Parenting, will kick off the series and serve a bird's eye view of our experience, and to get you thinking about this little gem of a sentence that truly saved me:

Let go of expectations and embrace reality.


There are so many ways this rang true for us. When I first found out I was pregnant, I had some grandiose visions about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I saw myself achieving a calm, nurturing, and creative pregnancy and a gentle, midwife-assisted water birth.  When we saw two heartbeats on the ultrasound screen, my dreams and reality clashed head-on.

While pregnant, I wanted to be super crafty and make amazing gifts for my daughters, glitter spilling on my swollen tummy, and take creative belly shots every month to track my progress. The crafts didn't happen: I could barely get up from the couch to press "play" as I watched the entire Gilmore Girls series over and over. We took some pictures, but not enough to make a clever Pinterest-inspired photo collage. I did my share of relaxing, but so much for the creative pregnancy!

In Oregon, midwives can't assist a twin birth in a birth center, so my only option was to have a home birth. While I admire those women who do, it was definitely not something I was comfortable with. Scratch off the midwife-assisted birth. After a ton of research, I found myself a wonderful OB who would vaginally deliver a breech twin B confidently. Then, unexpectedly,  I went into preterm labor at 31 weeks. Three days of magnesium sulfate and then three weeks of hospital bed rest is how I spent the month of June. It was not nurturing, and it was not a calm environment, but we made do in little ways until at 34 weeks, they finally let me go home. Five days later, my water broke.

But the most vivid illustration of letting go of my expectations came in watching the evolution of our birth plan. It started out as a manifesto: three typed pages, 10-point font, with every single detail spelled out. A few months later, it was down to two pages. When I went into pre-term labor at 31 weeks, it looked like I might not get to have a birth plan at all. They were able to stop the contractions, and for the next two weeks, I created three different plans while reclining on the hospital bed. Birth Plan One: To be used for if birth happens prior to 34 weeks with a C-Section. Birth Plan Two: To be used if a vaginal birth happens prior to 34 weeks. Birth Plan Three: Anything that happens at 35+ weeks, with sections for both vaginal and C-section.

When my girls were finally born at 34 weeks and five days, my birth plan had been whittled down to a one-page list of "hopes", with the only bold font being "please use donor breast milk in the NICU." Even though the circumstances were not what I had envisioned, I still feel fortunate enough that the three things dearest to my heart happened: two healthy daughters, a vaginal birth, and successful breastfeeding. I was thankful beyond belief, and could have cared less about page two, bullet-point five of the birth plan.

Next time, perhaps!

***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

12 comments:

  1. You rock for having a vaginal birth with twins! I know so many doctors wouldn't even consider it. And I'm so glad we were finally able to nurse when Kieran was in the NICU - I wasn't plugged in to the donor milk world, so I wouldn't have even thought to ask.

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    1. It isn't available everywhere, but it was at this NICU - level III - and I was SO THANKFUL.

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  2. Proud of you for telling your story!

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  3. Megan, I'm really looking forward to this series -- I'm in awe of you!

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  4. It is great to hear that in the end you had a vaginal birth with twins and that you breastfed them. I appreciate your sharing this with the outside world, sometimes our experiences are so precious and sacred that we somehow feel that to put the experience into words will somehow 'defile' the experience, spoil it from what it was. Whilst I felt this with the birth of my son I also felt that writing was and still is a cathartic, productive and creative experience. I hope you also find this as you share your twin birth story. Good luck with it.
    www.stoneageparent.com

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    1. I like that - cathartic, productive, creative - yes, that's what it is. Thank you! :)

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  5. I'd love to read more, too! It really must throw your world to have a twin pregnancy, and any complications along with it. I can totally understand tossing the birth plan when you're just hoping for the best for all concerned. Those pictures of your babies are precious.

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  6. Yay! I'm so excited for your series, can't wait! Your girls are super blessed to have you as their mama! You took so many steps to give them the best birth!

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  7. It's strange, I could repeat my feeling about birth with friend over and over from pretty much the beginning..though the feelings evolved in various ways so the story did also, but writing it down is a totally different matter..something I think it does take much longer to be ready for. I've also found it easier to approach in parts.
    I'm sure it's therapeutic though, like a far closer step toward acceptance and healing after the storm has passed. I hope this is true for you as it is for me.
    Reading your story I'm in awe of your strengh, you rock! :)

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    1. What a lovely attitude. I guess part of being a mom is learning to roll with the punches. Some of us get to learn right off the bat! Great post.

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    2. Yes, rolling with the punches is right :) Thanks!

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I appreciate your comments and conversation - please leave your email address when commenting so I can respond! If you want a direct response, you can also email me at meg(dot)kimmelshue@gmail.com.