Brittany's Birth Story - Rare Twin Birth

This birth stories blog was created to empower and help women heal through story telling. 

Trigger warning: This birth story contains details of high risk pregnancy, MCMA twin birth, c-section, pre-term delivery and NICU/SCN.

My birth plan was worked out at 12 weeks when it was confirmed we were having MCMA twins. These are the rarest type of twins; twins that share the same placenta and sac which could lead to a number of high risk factors such as their chords tangling and knotting together. It was decided by my high risk OB Doctor, who had already successfully delivered these twins twice in her career, that I would be delivering at 32 weeks via C-Section.

We had a decided on a date for delivery – the 13th of January 2020. Two days before the scheduled C-Section, I was given 2 doses of steroids in my bum (ouch!) to help develop their lungs a bit more before their Preterm delivery.

Although we had a date picked and my surgery was booked in, we still had to wait until the day before our scheduled delivery to get the final go-ahead as we needed to ensure that there were 2 beds available in the NICU.

The big day finally arrived! In some ways I felt a little, I guess, ripped-off in a full-term pregnancy sense as I was having these girls 8 weeks early; but I was definitely extremely excited and very, very anxious to meet them!

On the day, we got to the hospital at 6am (finally able to get the best car park after only finding not so great ones during daily visits for the last 6 weeks)! We went straight to the Birthing Suite; then were taken to our own room. I laid back on the bed and was hooked-up to a CTG machine on my belly, trying to get the best trace of the girls and waiting for my doctor to come in; One of my midwives came in very excitedly; she sat on the edge of my bed and asked “Are you ready? ‘Cause theatre is ready for you!” “Oh!” I said, “What? Already?” She handed me a gown and told me to go do one last pee! My partner and I said goodbye to family we had with us, and I was then taken to a waiting bay in Day Surgery. In less than 24 hours, the babies would be here - and we would become parents!  Woah…

After answering a heap of questions and telling them my name and date of birth for what felt like a million times; we were off to the theatre. There was a little section just before you went into theatre where we were met by the anaesthetist. She gave me the rundown of what was about to happen and how they gave the spinal block. As we were talking, I mentioned the word ‘twins’. Her face changed. “Oh my!”  She quickly looked through my giant file. She then said to us “Are you having twins? We didn’t know that! Theatre isn’t set up for 2 babies.” My heart stopped.  I tried my best to stay calm, but just before I could say anything my midwife popped her head in and told us that one of the ‘beast’ machines (the big bed thing that has all the lifesaving equipment on it that the girls would go straight into to get to the NICU) was broken! Well let me tell you - that is not something you want to hear when the hospital only has 2 of them and you need them both! I was wheeled back to my room to wait for more news.

My high risk doctor came in and explained what was happening. We were told that maintenance would be in at 8am to fix the other ‘beast’, so someone else who didn’t need the ‘beast’ would have their baby first. My emotions were all over the place at this stage - I’ve never had surgery before and was completely freaking-out about it! To get so close for it to not happen is a massive let down, but I definitely understood the situation.

My midwife came and started to get me to begin hand expressing. As my body wasn’t going into labour it wasn’t releasing the endorphins that tell your body it’s time to start producing milk. Hand expressing is not fun!, It hurts and it’s so time consuming; it seems like the 2 drops you get isn’t worth it…but those 2 drops are ‘liquid gold’!

Around 10am my midwife came in with a big smile on her face and told us that everything was good to go! The ‘beast’ was fixed, and the theatre was waiting for us! We said our goodbyes again and made our way back to theatre.

I went in as my partner had to wait until I had my spinal block.

I was given this little drink and was told to down it like a shot! I sat on the edge on the table and was introduced to all the people in the room. There was about 15 people as each baby had its own medical team and I had my own team. The room was freezing, I was sitting there with my bare back exposed and with all the nerves and emotions going on I began to shake. Leaning forward, trying to relax my body whilst holding a stranger’s hand; they completed administering the spinal block. Thankfully it worked within seconds and I needed assistance to lift my legs up onto the table as I laid down. They straight away put a catheter in (that was a weird feeling - I couldn’t exactly feel it going in but I could feel the sensation of something happening). The anaesthetist came over with a bag of ice and asked me to tell her when I couldn’t feel it anymore, she started on my face and moved it down my body. This proved that the block was working. I remember my midwife coming in and I held her hand and began to cry, I begged her not to leave my side! Finally my partner was able to come in, he sat right next to me and held my hand the whole time.

Within minutes, and a bit of tugging, our beautiful girls were born! My doctor decided to deliver both babies together (at 10:30am) as we were unaware if there were any knots in their chords (you can’t see this in an ultrasound) and luckily she made that call as there were 2 big knots! The sheet in front of us was pulled down and held up and crying in sync were our daughters! What a magical moment that was to see two perfect little babies. I cried so much. I felt so much relief that they were here safely. After such a high risk pregnancy I felt like I could breathe again as they were here safely. The girls were taken over to the ‘beast’ machines and each had a team of about 4-5 people working on them. My midwives came over and told me how beautiful the girls were!

My doctors continued to work on me to finish up my surgery. It felt like when a woman has a big handbag full of things and is digging through it to find something at the bottom, or like what a washing machine would feel like on high speed in my body! It was the most surreal and amazing experience in my life!

The girls were stable and were taken to the NICU; my partner went with them.

In recovery I was in a big room full of other people who had just come out of any type of surgery. I was given oxygen and had my vitals constantly checked. I couldn’t stop shaking, but that was all the adrenalin and a side effect of the spinal block. After about 45 minutes I was cleared to go. My midwife came to get me, and she took me past the NICU to see my girls. I met my partner in there and we were able to spend about 15 minutes with each baby. They were able to push my bed right up next to their incubators! They were hooked up to breathing machines, heart rate monitors; they had so many tiny chords and wires. I wasn’t able to hold them; I was only able to place my hand on them.

I was then taken to my room on the Post Natal Ward; thankfully, I was given my own room and didn’t have to share with another new mum who was able to have her baby with her. Nurses came in every now and then, they checked me over and continually asked if I could lift my legs and gave me some pain meds. I was still fairly numb - but it was slowly wearing off. One nurse came in and told me she was going to change my pad (one thing I didn’t know is that you still bleed after a C-Section delivery). I was told that I wouldn’t be getting out of bed until the next day, but they would take me to see my daughters whenever I wanted.

I was also visited by a social worker, checking in on my mental health has I would be leaving my two babies and going home at some stage. Later that evening I was taken back down to the NICU and was able to spend more time with my girls – however. It wouldn’t be until they were 4 days old that I was allowed to hold them for the first time. In between everything, I was also encouraged to keep hand expressing every 3 hours; it was painful and emotionally draining. That night around 9pm a nurse came in and explained to me that I had to have injections in my thighs for the next 7 days - these were to ensure that I didn’t get any blood clots.

The next morning when my doctor came to see me, I cried with so many emotions running through me. I didn’t know how to thank her enough for everything she had done for all of us! It was then time to have a shower. I was encouraged to stand and walk to the bathroom with a little assistance from a nurse. My catheter was removed, and the amazing nurse assisted me to shower and get dressed and to walk back to my bed where she had put new sheets on. I spent the day going back and forth from my room to get more pain meds, trying to hand express and going to the NICU  to see the girls. In the afternoon, the nurses encouraged me to have a sleep and to not over do it! That night, the nurse came in with my injection and encouraged me to do it myself as I would be doing it at home; it was more of a mental game having to do it by yourself - but boy, did it hurt!

The next day, I was checked over by my doctor and given the all clear to go home. I cried…again! I wasn’t expecting to be able to go home so soon, but I was recovering well, and I guess they needed the bed! It wasn’t until late afternoon when all my paperwork was sorted, and I walked out of the hospital without my little girls. That’s when their 7-week stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and SCN (Special Care Nursery) started!