(Note: This will be the G-rated version of the birth story. I'll probably write up a more complete version with full mention of bodily fluids and all that for posterity on a birthing blog somewhere.)
I had bought the castor oil and orange juice Monday night, planning to take it Tuesday morning. But I still didn't quite have my nerve up. And then it occurred to me that we had a gift certificate to a very nice restaurant that would expire before the babies would be old enough to leave for a leisurely dinner.
So before the castor oil method, we decided to try the romantic evening out method. I managed to piece together enough garments to just cover me (the slimming effects of black are overrated), we had a lovely evening and ate a huge meal and came home and went to bed.
At five in the morning I got up and realized my water had broken, thus satisfying my long-standing curiosity as to what it would be like to start labor that way. The answer: messy. Fortunately the carpet was spared. I called the doctor and the doula, and the doctor said to head on in to the hospital. By the time we were driving and I was able to pay attention to timing contractions, they were four minutes apart.
We were amused to remember that our friend from church was having a c-section that morning at the same hospital. We were even more amused to discover later that she had the same doctor. He had promised to bring a book when I delivered so he wouldn't be bored waiting around, but perhaps this way he had enough to do.
The lady at the check-in asked all the various questions: "Has your water broke?"
Whereupon Grammar Commando wanted to rise up and say, "Has broken, my water has broken." But I sent Grammar Commando home, because a birth is no place for people concerned about propriety.
Our doula met us and we were sent up to labor and delivery with little further ado. While the nurse was setting me up and putting in the hep lock, I asked the doula to wash my feet. Unfortunately, I said, "Ah, that feels good," just as the nurse put the needle in. "That's not usually a good sign when someone thinks that," she commented, but I hasted to clarify it was the clean feet and not the needle that felt good.
After that things progressed pretty quickly--at least compared to D1's birth--and I was soon too busy to carry on much conversation. Our assigned nurse (secret identity Wonderwoman) had just passed her midwife certifications and had worked with our doula at another natural birth the day before. Fortunately they'd both had a good night's sleep, too.
DOB had wondered what exactly he was supposed to do with a doula there, too, but I managed to keep him and his mom busy as well as the doula: "Ice! Not there! No, too cold! Too warm! Rub my legs! Stop! More water!" Nobody got too exhausted and DOB had the chance to get something to eat, as we had rather skipped breakfast. The doula was wonderful at helping me spot where to relax, keeping me moving to good positions and generally distracting me from thinking things like, "If I'd just had a c-section two weeks ago, I would be feeling better by now!"
By 11:30 I was close to being ready to push, so we had to move to the OR (hospital policy for twin deliveries). I had dreaded this part, envisioning glaring lights, a bare table, and a huge unwanted audience, but the doctor and nurses kept the lights low until needed, let me stay on the comfy, movable bed from labor and delivery, and sent everyone extraneous out to wait in the hallway. (Permanently, apparently, because we never did need them, except for an extra nurse--whom DOB pleased by giving her the secret identity of Elizabeth Taylor--to help clean up the babies.)
Both the babies were facing sideways. (My children are always looking the wrong way.) So it took a bit of work to get D3 to turn her head. The doctor and doula helped me try different positions and push her into place, and finally at 12:45 she came through. I was astonished to discover that it was in fact true that I had produced a real, live baby and held her for a bit while we waited for D4 to start moving down.
D4, however, was still in no hurry to come out. He seemed to enjoy the extra room. So did I. Laboring with one baby was a piece of cake after laboring with two--not to mention I had the extra motivation of just having seen that all this work really did produce a baby.
The nurses took D3 away to clean her up. It was quite odd to have one baby out and still be working on another one. I tried pushing for awhile but he was really too high up so we decided just to wait and let the contractions move him down. After awhile I took D3 back and nursed her while we waited.
D4's heart rate kept dipping despite them giving me extra oxygen and fluids. The doctor finally decided it was time to break his water and get him moving out. When the water broke with signs of further problems and he still stayed high up, the doctor asked the nurse to bring in the forceps and vacuum extractor.
Apparently hearing those words was all the two of us needed to get motivated. A minute later, with three mighty pushes, D4 was out. He did just fine, too. We waited around for everything else to finish up, the nurses finished cleaning up the babies (they did both have some meconium ingested), and we finally were all tucked back into bed together and wheeled back to the labor and delivery room.
My doula awarded me the medal for going it natural (just in case anyone commented that you don't get a medal for turning down the medications) and then she had to rush off to yet another birth. (She's not usually that busy.) However, the real medal, as I told her, was that I already felt absolutely wonderful. The only real pain I had once the birth was over was from the bones separating under the pressure of all that baby, and I'd had that for the last few months anyway.
Before we were sent down to the postpartum room, D1 and D2 came by to see the babies. They were very excited to meet them and brought them name tags they had made. In fact, D2 began to show distress when it was pointed out that they were going to have to leave and go back to Grandma's house for awhile. Fortunately Grandma had foreseen this problem and had been saving his favorite set of toys for several weeks. "When we get there, you can get out the rug and the cars."
"Can I play with all the cars?" he asked, his face suddenly cleared and his eyes big.
"Yes," I assured him.
"Let's go!" he said.