From almost the moment we were told "It's twins!," I pretty much expected that I would deliver them via c-section. My OB wanted both of them to be vertex in order to attempt a vaginal delivery, and what with their almost constant uterine acrobatics and Jaiden's insistence to lay every which way BUT vertex, as the pregnancy progressed it became glaringly apparent that I was indeed headed for a cutting. By the time of the week 32 ultrasound (I had one at every visit), Baby A Kyra — who was low and left — had behaved and was locked and loaded into the proper downright, bladder-squishing position. But knuckleheaded Baby B Jaiden — who was high and right — somehow managed to do more flipping between weeks 32 and 35 and finally settled on laying transverse across the top with his butt under my boobs and his back and head curving down towards the right. He was almost there, but not quite low enough to be considered vertex. With his positioning, Kyra's trend of healthy, but slowing weight gain, and the fact that my week 34 and 35 non-stress tests showed semi-regular contraction patterns (of which I only felt a quarter), my doctor scheduled the big day for the afternoon of exactly 37 weeks.
Over the months, I'd read plenty about having c-sections. My OB himself explained what would happen in pre-op, during the surgery, and post-op. I felt ready. I honestly didn't worry much about the health of the twins. They always scored 8/8 on their NSTs, they were both estimated to be around 6+ lbs on their biophysical profile ultrasounds, and I think I went into the delivery with my expectations set a little lower than normal. I knew that sometimes twins and/or c-section babies might need a little oxygen or took a bit longer to stabilize than babies delivered vaginally. I also felt that it was a huge blessing that we'd made it to a full-term 37 weeks with no funny business going on during the pregnancy. I knew that even if they needed a little help in the beginning, we'd probably made it well out of the NICU-phase, and through the pregnancy I'd prayed for at least that much. I felt that I had that, so I went into the delivery without an inordinate amount of worries about the twins' health.
What I was quite freaked out about, though, was getting the IV and the spinal. I know — stupid, right? It actually took getting pregnant with the twins to get over my basic fear of needles. When I was 12, I had to get a booster for one of the vaccines before I could volunteer at the hospital on base. An orderly had to practically sit on me while the nurse administered the shot. When I was 14, I came down with a wicked case of Strep throat and the doctor wanted blood work. BLOOD? From my ARM? FROM MY POOR, PUNCTURED VEIN? This time, it took one nurse to hold down my right arm because I was using it as a lethal weapon, another to almost sit on me to keep me from bolting from the chair, a third to hold down my left arm, and one to draw the blood. It sounds like the start to an exceptionally corny joke — How many nurses does it take to draw blood from Moxie? I shit you not; I was just that bad.
So, how did I ever manage to get over the fear of needles, given how many times I've punctured myself or allowed myself to be punctured between then and now? When I got the positive pregnancy tests (FINALLY, after 2.5 years), my OB verified three days later with a test of his own in his office and then sent me for an ultrasound specifically to check for multiples since I'd taken Clomid. I knew tons about trying to get pregnant but at the time, I didn't know jiggly about the first couple of weeks of pregnancy. So when the u/s tech said, "Well, I don't see anything here so it might be a blighted ovum…I wouldn't tell anyone about the pregnancy yet," (and I'd already foolishly told anyone who stopped long enough to listen), I naturally freaked out. Big time. Had I known then what I know now, I would have known that 3w6d (or 13dpo) is entirely too early to do the first ultrasound and expect to see anything and even further, that this jizzhead of a nurse would have known that and not used the choice of words that she did. Bitch. So anyway, with that news, my OB sent me for a beta and Frank and I had to drive 10 minutes to the lab and I bawled every second of that ten minutes, stopping long enough to stumble inside and sit in the waiting area. When I was finally called back, I numbly gave the tech my arm, and that was that. Who gives a shit about trivial things like needles when you're faced with the possibility of the dream you thought you finally made a reality turning into a nightmare? So yeah — fear of needles — obliterated in one fell swoop. (By the way, my beta that day on 13dpo turned out to be 350-something, and three days later it was up to 2,000-something…that was the first indication that I was packing two).
Where was I? Oh, right – so though I'd grown accustomed to blood test type needles, the idea of a big ass needle puncturing my spinal column and having a needle stuck in arm for an extended amount of time still freaked me the fuck out. Nevermind the fact that my guts were going to be hacked into with vital organs literally at hand's reach, my nerves were edgy thinking about those damned needles. I knew that once I crossed the pre-op hump of the needles being put where they needed to go, I'd probably be able to relax (mostly) and just focus on the delivery. I thought the IV would be the worst part of pre-op, but I realized that I was sorely mistaken the moment I saw Broomhilda the Beastly Nurse approach me with a razor and a pink bucket of semi-soapy water. "We just need to shave you down there, only what we can see when you have your legs closed."
What the fu-…Porque? What is this shaving you speak of?
In all that I'd read and all that I was told, NO ONE, NOT ONE SINGLE, SOLITARY SOURCE felt the need to share this little tidbit of information with me. I logically should have deduced this on my own, but what was going on in the nether regions had been the least of my concerns. I was size Shamu wide and I was lucky if I could reach around my belly enough to wipe myself (perhaps if it had existed back then, I would have ordered my very own Comfort Wipe), so I surely didn't give a shit that my carefully trimmed garden of love had turned into an overgrown bush of little use. If I had known that this task was going to be left to someone I knew first name only, I would have delegated the deed to Frank and arrived for delivery bare as a…well, a newborn baby.
Oh gawsh, the embarrassment. Carrying on a conversation about the weather while she scraped away at my vag area did little squelch the cheek-warming humiliation I felt. It was over quickly, and the leftover waves of embarrassment dulled the fear I felt over having the IV jammed in the back of my hand, even after a slight gaffe on the nurse's part caused a momentary gush of blood that hit the floor with a wet *splat* sound. The spinal wasn't even half as bad as I expected it to be, and the rush of morphine gave me such a high that it was well worth a brittle shaving.
Soon thereafter, Kyra came out screaming and Jaiden followed just a minute later. That was the first time that I'd ever seen Frank cry. The twins were healthy and I was through and through happy with all traces of worry completely erased. Kyra weighed in at 5 lbs, 10 oz and Jaiden at 6 lbs, 9 oz. Frank and I got to hold and marvel over them for a little while as the doctors finished putting me back together. Frank went with the babies to the nursery while I did my hour in post-op.
A bit later I was moved to and comfortably settled in my recovery room. It was then that I learned from my mom that the twins were going to be kept in the nursery overnight for observation and that I wouldn't get to s
ee them again until mornin
g. She assured me that it was more out of precaution than out of necessity. The twins were having a little trouble keeping their body temperature stabilized and both were breathing well, but a bit too rapidly. All of my reading had prepared me for this as being common post c-section minor issues which usually resolved itself easily. I think Mom expected me to be spazzed at the news, but I wasn't, not in the least. I was impatient to see them, but I wasn't concerned about their health at all (though I could probably credit the morphine for that). Once Mom saw that I really wasn't freaked out to all be damned, I could see her own worry for me lift, and she told me of her experience going to see the twins in the nursery.
Mom had sat with me for that hour in post-op. Once I was in my recovery room, she went down to the nursery to get a better look at the babies. She looked through the glass window at all the babies in their isolettes, but she didn't see the twins. She got the attention of the nurse and through a combination of shoddy pantomime and over-exaggerated mouthing, they had this conversation:
Mom: I'm looking for the SmartOne twins.
Nurse: (pointing at the isolettes directly in front of the window) They're right there.
Mom: No, the SmartOne twins are Black! (indicating this by pointing at the back of her hand and mouthing "THEY'RE BLACK!"
Nurse: (now pointing with more force and mouthing more animatedly) THEY'RE RIIIIGHHT THEEEERE!!!
Mom took a closer look through the the window and peered at the pasty-white china doll babies before her. She read the little cards taped to the top of the isolettes: BABY GIRL SMART ONE BABY BOY SMART ONE. Her jaw dropped and she mouthed back, OH, MY GOD! THEY LOOK WHITE!
I got up at 6 the next morning insisting that I would not wait a moment longer to see my babies. The nurse helped me into a wheelchair and hung the necessary bodily attachment bags of IV fluids and catheter-exited pee to various poles and Frank pushed me down to see them. I'd almost forgotten what they looked like, given that I only had a few morphine-foggy minutes with them, so it was like seeing them for the first time all over again. They were precious. They were mine. They were finally here. An hour later their pediatrician released them from the nursery and they were brought to my room. We all went home the next evening healthy and happy, finally a family.
Jordan's delivery came around almost two years later. Go through another hospital shave courtesy of Broomhilda the Beastly Nurse? Pshaw. Not I. The embarrassment of the first shave down was NOTHING compared to the agony I went through the week after delivery. A bucket of semi-soapy water does not compare to shaving cream, so I developed a horrible case of razor burn and bumps with a sore incision line that ran directly through it. Not fun. No way in hell was I going through that again, so Frank knew since the week after the twins were born that he had the job of shaving me on the night before the delivery of the next child, should we be so lucky.
We got a whole lot more than we expected with Jordan's pre-delivery shave. A lot more. Part II to come soon.