As my twins approach a year an a half, I decided to return to BIRTHFIT and their Postpartum program to build strength and community. On day 1, coach Embo gave us the assignment to write our birth story, which I had always wanted to do, but never got done. I had shared the story verbally on the BIRTHFIT podcast, but I hadn’t taken the time to write it. So I was grateful for the assignment and here it is…
** TRIGGER WARNING**
My Birth Story
I was very intentional when I was picking my options for a wedding day. I chose weekends that were during a waxing moon (between the new and full moon) and no where close to my menstrual cycle. We eventually landed on August 22, 2015.
It was a beautiful morning wedding outdoors overlooking the ocean with a jazz brunch and dance party that followed. The next day we left for our Hawaiian honeymoon where we spent 10 days resting, relaxing, and rejuvenating.
After arriving home, we were in bliss. We both went back to work and things seemed relatively normal except my period never came. We were pregnant. Like, whoa. I had joked to friends that I wanted to get preggers on my honeymoon but I couldn’t believe that it actually happened.
Just like that.
It was two weeks before we saw the doctor and when we went in for our first ultrasound, she asked: “Do you see that?” as she pointed to two ovals on the screen and held up two fingers, like a peace symbol.
“SHUT UP!” I blurted.
“There’s two,” she said. “You’re having twins.”
I was in shock.
I’m not exactly sure what happened next. I just remember my husband Antonio talking about getting a minivan.
Long story short, the pregnancy had it’s ups and downs.
We were encouraged not to tell anyone because there’s always a chance that you might miscarry one or both of your twins. The concept felt counter intuitive but I only told my mom and my friend Corti.
To everyone else, it felt like we were keeping a very big secret and I hated it.
I started to isolate myself. I didn’t want to see friends because I didn’t want to lie. So I just immersed myself in work which eventually took it’s toll on me.
I was working full time for Yoga Journal Magazine & Events while teaching 6am and 6pm classes at YogaWorks. Plus I was teaching weekend yoga classes at the Viceroy Hotel and juggling a handful of private clients.
I was tired. Eventually sharing the pregnancy was a great relief.
On the day of our 30 week check up, Antonio and I were not getting along and I had an anxiety attack. We went to the doctors office and I could hardly hold myself together.
I was told that everything looked “perfect” but before I left, I mentioned to the doctor that I couldn’t feel the babies kicking as much as I was used to. She suggested that we go across the street to the hospital for fetal monitoring and 20 minutes later I was listening to the heart beats of my children.
Little did I know, I was having contractions every five minutes. I just thought it was gas. Hah. I was immediately admitted into the maternity floor for preterm labor and began a series of tests. Results indicated that I was going into labor.
It was a new moon.
Needless to say, delivering at 30 weeks is not ideal. I was put on bed rest (something I was previously against) and given a cocktail of steroids and medicine to stop the contractions and protect the babies. I was still in the hospital a week later when all my friends gathered for my baby shower, without me.
I was able to go home, on bed rest, for another week before my water broke in the middle of the night. I didn’t want to believe it. But I woke up Antonio and we called the hospital for advice. They told us to come in.
It was 2am and a full moon.
My doctor had just delivered a baby so she checked in on us. After sunrise the contractions started swelling. My doctor was not available and I wasn’t allowed to move. I just laid there and let the painful waves of labor wash over me. The nurses kept calling my doctor but she was telling the nurses to wait. When I started to feel the urge to push, a nurse lifted my bed sheet to check me and could tell that our daughter was crowning. Her head was at my cervix.
From there it was a whirlwind. The nurses were scared and the anesthesiologist was downright frenetic. They began to argue with each other in front of me. The nurse kept repeating that the doctor wanted us to wait and the anesthesiologist kept repeating, loudly, “I overrule. I overrule! We need to take her to the O.R. (operating room) NOW!”
“Excuse me,” I finally said. “Can we all just take a deep breath and calm down?”
The room fell silent for a moment, somebody chuckled, and then the chaos ensued. I was wheeled to the operating room, told to roll over and curl into a fetal position, got a shot in my spine, had my sports bra cut off, and it was go time.
So in a room full of masked strangers, I started to push my daughter out into the world. They let me kiss her forehead for the briefest moment before whisking her away to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).
I asked Antonio to please go with her.
The doctors started massaging my stomach trying to get our son, who was breached, to flip. But no luck. Alarms starting screeching and my doctor told me his heart rate was dropping so they had to take him out via c-section.
Next thing I knew I was being cut, feeling a hot searing sensation as if the pain medicine hadn’t quite kicked in, I was jerked a little from side to side, and then he was out. They started to take him until a nurse advocated for me and said, “let her see her son!” They held him up briefly at the doorway before leaving.
In a room full of people, I never felt so alone.
My doctor started sewing me up and began discussing her upcoming family vacation with the doctor next to her, as if I wasn’t even present. I remember thinking that I should say something clever but I passed out and woke up behind a curtain in a recovery room alone.
At some point, I was wheeled into the NICU while still in a hospital bed. I’m not sure where Antonio was. I was placed between the two incubators of my twins and I put one hand into each.
The twins each grabbed one of my index fingers, with their teeny tiny little hands, and the nurse named, Hwa, took a picture.
For me, there is something so sweet and so sad about that memory. I can’t help but cry.
In the end, my birth experience definitely was nothing like I had expected or hoped for, but it’s what happened. And I have to say, my children are the greatest gifts in the world. They are healthy, happy, and absolutely hilarious.
Nearly a year and a half later, I keep re-learning the same lesson:
Life is mostly out of my control but it’s my choice to show up with grace, faith, and a sense of humor.