Monday, June 2, 2014

Alex and Megan Ryan: Our fraternal twins birth story

On Monday, May 19, I woke up feeling extra achy and tired. I showered, got dressed, and started doing my work online. I ended up being very tired that day, watching a Netflix movie and taking 2 naps (which is pretty unheard of for me.)

John is working on a building project, and had scheduled the concrete for the footings of the project for the next day, Tuesday, May 20. I told him I thought that would be fine, that I would most likely go over my due date like I had done with my other pregnancies. We also joked and said that as soon as we scheduled the concrete pour, the babies would come on that day.

At around 5:30 p.m., Allison and Becca were in town selling cookie dough for a school fundraiser and John and I talked about the concrete pour. John was telling me that if we had to go to Cedar City for the babies on Tuesday, that he would have to come back for the project during the afternoon. I was mad at the time, but I can see what he was trying to accomplish. He had just paid the contractor thousands of dollars for the concrete and he didn't know if we'd be having the babies or not.

Anyhow, I said, "You did not just say that!" and went into the bathroom. (Which I needed to do every time I got up to walk around.... during the last 3 months of this pregnancy. Yikes.)

I discovered that my water had broken and I was showing some blood. I came out of the bathroom and told John that we needed to leave for Cedar City tonight.... my water had broken and it was time!

We called the girls and told them to come home as soon as possible. We packed up our overnight bags and grabbed a few last minute items. We had planned on delivering the babies at a birthing center in Cedar City and they have an upstairs room where the kids could hang out and wait for the babies' arrival.

Wait, what? A birthing center??! Yes, that's right- John and I both agreed that this was the best place possible to deliver our sweet twins. Before I go on, I want to backtrack a bit and tell you how we made this decision.

Back in September 2013, I was just a few weeks pregnant. I decided to attend a free class that my cousin was teaching in St. George. Laura Dugovic offers free birthing classes and is the owner of this website: How To Birth Like A Rock Star. Sounds awesome, right?! I learned that the class really teaches its title. YOU are the star of your birth scenario and YOU get to decide what kind of birth you will have. It was life changing, I loved it so much.

Because of this class and subsequent hours of research/reading, I decided that I would like the following at my birth in May: (I included some links in case you'd like to read more.)
When we found out in November that we were expecting twins, I thought that my birth plan would automatically go out the window. I'm so happy that I was WRONG!

John really wanted me to have the babies at a hospital, and I was willing to fulfill that request. I saw three different obstetricians during my pregnancy looking for someone who would honor our birth plan. I had terrible luck. It was at my 34 week checkup that I realized that we needed to drastically change directions. I believe I mentioned what my OB said in a former post. It seemed that the only option for me at the hospital was a c-section. I could not find anyone that could tell me they would support me fully in a vaginal delivery.

I talked to a doula that I met at Laura's class, and she suggested that I contact the midwives at the Pathway to Wellness Center. I sent them an email and asked if they would be willing to deliver twins. I also asked them if I could be supported with gestational diabetes and at the age of 41. I was so happy the day that I heard back from Camille, one of the midwives at the center, when she said "YES"- they could deliver twins, and that they don't consider my age or the diabetes a risk because older women usually take better care of their health and I didn't need medication to regulate the diabetes.

I set up an appointment to visit the birthing center and both John and I talked with their team there. John felt good about our decision to have the babies at the birthing center after meeting with them. We learned that they still use heart monitors and can transport to the hospital quickly if an emergency arises. He also asked them about respiratory procedures if the babies need it. One of the apprentices said she received training in infant respiration at both the hospital and the midwife training sessions and she felt that the midwifery training was much more complete and thorough.

So.... back to May 19:

It was my Mom's birthday. I sent my Mom & Dad some messages and told them that my water broke and that we were driving to Cedar City. They were so excited.

I ate while we drove and kept track of the times of my contractions. They were between 6-10 minutes apart. I called Camille before we left home and called her again when we we driving by Parowan. She was contacting all the members of the birth team to get them assembled. We had an extra amount of people on the birthing team because of the twins.

We reached the birthing center at around 7 p.m. The kids went upstairs to the small apartment at the center and John and I went to the birthing suite. There were several members of our personalized birthing team... they are all wonderful! Two midwives: Camille and Giselle, two apprentices, and Zack, an EMT and phlebotomist.

Pic taken by John right after we reached the birthing center.
We wanted to document my "ready to deliver" size!

John and I rested on the bed as the night wore on. My contractions were steady and strong. I breathed through each one and typed in the time of each contraction onto my phone. My Mom was sure that I would have the babies on her birthday, but as I watched the clock, I knew our time was short.

Midnight came and went. The contractions didn't become stronger- just steady. I was checked around 1 a.m. and I was dilated to a 6. The contractions were really working!

They showed John how to apply counterpressure on my back when I had a contraction. It was wonderful and really took the pain away. John stayed awake with me the whole night and pushed on two pressure points on my back every 6-8 minutes while I had the contractions.

At 4:30 a.m., I started to feel really uncomfortable and I asked to get in the birthing tub. They started the tub and I put on my swim top. After I got in the tub, John sat right outside the tub and the rest of the birthing team pulled up a seat in the bathroom or just outside the door. I was glad to have so much support!

John continued to apply counterpressure through every contraction. This continued through the 6 a.m. hour. At that time, the sun was coming up and the birds outside were singing. I thought that this would be a beautiful time of day to be born.

The midwives monitored the babies' hearts throughout labor. They drew the babies' names and heart symbols on my stomach so they could find the heartbeats easily. Megan's was easy to find, but Alex's became increasingly more difficult to detect. Throughout the last half of my pregnancy, Megan presented herself as 'Baby A' (first in line to be born), with Alex higher up in my uterus and was considered 'Baby B' (second to be born). We knew that both babies' heads were down and that Megan was closest to my cervix.

My contractions started to be accompanied with an urge to push. It was a small urge at first, and then it became overwhelming. I got into a kneeling position ready to give birth and the midwives help me attach 2 handles on the sides of the tub for me to use for support.

Camille said the baby's head was moving down, but that the baby was still in the sac. They wanted to wait for the water and sac to break during the birth, but there was so much pressure and tightness as it moved down that it seemed to be stuck. Camille decided to use a hook to break the bag of waters so the baby could be delivered.

While I had remained calm during every contraction so far, I suddenly felt so much pain and the desire to push that I started yelling. The baby's head was crowning... and I believe I yelled and pushed through 4 contractions and baby was OUT! Camille caught the baby and then sent the little body under me so I could hold the baby first.

They said, "There she is, pick her up Heather!" I looked down into the water and scooped up a perfect little baby body. I saw a calm, sweet, & cute face looking up at me. I also noticed some blood at the back of the neck. I said, "Oh, you're so cute!" and started kissing this sweet baby. Then, I looked down.

"This is a BOY!" I said.

Mr. Alexander took us all by surprise by being born first. No wonder the midwives had had a hard time finding his heart beat during labor. He was moving down, down, down to be the first born! He was so sweet and innocent that I just laugh every time I think about holding him that first time, thinking it was Megan- but so obvious that he was not Megan.

It seemed like I only got to hold him for a minute or so when I felt another contraction coming on. John cut Alex's umbilical cord and got to hold him for just a short time as well before passing him along to the birthing team and helping me while I contracted in preparation for Megan's birth.

Again, another surprise! Giselle said, "I have a foot!" Megan's feet were down and coming through the birth canal. The little girl must have turned around right after Alex was born! Giselle continued to help Megan with a now breech delivery... one foot, two feet...I reached behind me and felt little baby feet kicking in the water... legs, chest, one arm, then two arms were out. John could see that Megan stopped kicking and that her body was floating in the water with no movement. Giselle did what she could to maneuver and pull Megan out as soon as possible. When Megan was completely out of the water, she wasn't able to breathe. The midwives held her white, limp body and started calling her name. She was given a breath through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and they tried to stimulate her with pats and calling her name. Megan took one gasp and then stopped breathing again. They checked her heart and it was still beating. The cord was cut and the team rushed Megan into the other room and onto the crib so they could continue the resuscitation work.

John followed them and stood nearby. Giselle told John to stand by Megan and talk to her while the others worked on her. John said her name and Megan took a big gasp. Then nothing. John put his hand on her head and gave her a blessing. She took another gasp. John said, "Megan, show me your pretty eyes." Megan opened her eyes.

John and the midwives continued to stimulate her, give her mouth-to-mouth breaths and also used some cayenne solution on her chest to get her respiratory system jump started. After about 4 minutes, Megan was breathing successfully on her own.

We found out later that the two placentas were fused together. When Alex was born, the placentas detached. By the time Megan was born, just 14 minutes after Alex, Megan's placenta had completely shut down. We think Megan missed out on about a minute of oxygen from being delivered to her via the placenta. (fyi- newborns that miss around 20 minutes of oxygen may start to experience brain damage.)

When Megan was born all limp and white, I knew she was in trouble. After Megan was rushed from the bathroom, I looked at John and we both couldn't believe what was happening. John left and I offered some prayers to Heavenly Father asking him to let us keep our baby girl. I felt peace. I knew whatever happened would be His will. I also believed that she was going to be alright (this was our dream baby, after all!) and that she was in the hands of competent and skilled professionals.

Camille helped me out of the tub after they rushed Megan away and I asked her, "Is Megan alright?" Camille said, "Well, they're working on her right now," or something like that- you know, a non-answer- only because she didn't know herself.

While I had felt as strong as a lion during the delivery of the babies just a few minutes before, now I was a limp, shaky, wet noodle. Camille helped me to stand up out of the tub and walk out into the birth suite bedroom. This is when I saw John and the others still working on Megan while she laid in the crib.

I soon had Alex at my left, and he nursed away for about an hour. Megan was brought to my right side a few minutes after I held Alex... she was crying and crying. They thought that the cayenne solution still felt hot on her chest, so they rubbed some olive oil on her and she calmed down some. I was so grateful that we had made the decision to deliver at the birthing center. If Megan had been born in a hospital, she would have been taken away from us, instead of staying right with us...which is what she needed the most to be happy and healthy after she was revived.

Our twins were here! Happy and healthy and safe! I had had the birth of my dreams being able to labor and have them be born in the water. While it wasn't the perfect birth, I believe it was as close as it could be with all the surprises and complications.

For the ladies that want to know: I had no tearing and no stitches. Bleeding was minimal and my recovery has been amazing. I realized on day 3 after the birth that I hadn't even thought about taking any pain medications. We really have been blessed with these babies, the people that supported us, and the education we have received in this 'having twins' birth process.

Thomas wanted to be the first to hold
his new little brother, Alexander Michael.

John with his dream little girl.
I'm so glad he was there to help her breathe!
She knew his voice and responded each time.

The whole family
(I know, I look a little scary in this pic- I'd just given birth to 
twins for heaven's sake!!)

Megan sleeping with her mouth open :)
I brought tiny preemie clothes to the birthing center, 
I didn't realize how big they would be! 
The birthing center gifted us some onesies that fit. 

Alexander Michael 7 lb. 14 oz. 19 1/2" 6:23 a.m. 5/20/14
Megan Kate 6 lb. 13 oz. 19 1/2" 6:37 a.m. 5/20/14


Karen and Mike said...

Oh Heather, thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story. I am so glad you did your homework and found the right of care providers for you and your family. Best wishes with your sweet little babies. I'm so glad that they got to come when they were ready. I hope that they will grow up to be great friends. Having a twin makes for such a special earthly experice. Getting to be connected to another person in such a way is so cool and hard to explain. What an amazing thing that that you helped facilitate. What a strong woman you are!! I'm so glad our paths crossed when they did.

Marianne said...

Yay! That is so awesome! Heavenly Father is very near when new lives enter into the world! I have a testimony of that. They are so beautiful, congratulations!

Jennifer Nelson said...

Oh my goodness!! I LOVE reading birth stories but I really really love this one!! Thank you SO much for sharing such an intimate moment with us!! I am so proud of you for following promptings and having the courage to choose the birth that was right for YOU and those precious babes!! It has been so amazing to watch this beautiful miracle unfold! I can't wait for Megan and Alex to be old enough to understand just how amazing their mom is and what a miracle they are!
I think this was the most perfect story and outcome!! I can't wait to see all of you!
Love, Jen

Caleb said...

That is a wonderful story. We are so glad everyone is healthy and happy.