*This birth story is told through my eyes, the midwife attending, which of course is a different version than the mother’s. Story and photos are shared with permission, and my hope is that this open and generous spirit will illustrate a couple of points to other women and the world. First, that really only women themselves can determine their “risk”. Second, that twins can be born safely at home. Third, that undisturbed birth, even of multiples, is possible at home with a midwife. And lastly, that women and babies are strong and amazing and that birth is beautiful.*
I was honored to get a phone call months ago from C, who recently found out she was pregnant with di-di twins. I was honored because of course twins are super special, and also because she was 100% clear from the beginning with what she wanted for this birth. Having had a prior c-section (16 years ago!) and then 4 vaginal births (the last being a home water birth), she was NOT going to subject herself to the medical model unnecessarily. She was not entertaining the idea of a medical “delivery” of these boys as a matter of course, or because someone else told her it would be “high risk”. These are the things women have to sort through when they have multiples, (or sometimes for no reason or a million other reasons), and so my choice was easy. There’s nothing better than serving a woman truly and already in her power. I’ll reiterate that strong and confident women know what they need, and I felt and saw this power in C. Being “strong” and connected isn’t just hoping that things are the way you want them, or an avoidance of the facts. This woman KNEW her body, and had the best support in her husband, family and faith. She also knew that home birth and care with a traditional midwife was the smartest and best choice for her and her babies. The End. (And by that I mean the end of that discussion; not the birth story!)
From my perspective, C made twin pregnancy look easy! I was amazed at her energy, even towards the end, as it seemed like more energy than I’ve had in my own singleton pregnancies. She took great care of herself, following the Brewer diet and addressing the fears and “what ifs” that are heightened in a twin pregnancy. We spent hours discussing these things, and more. There was a lot of focus on her desires for the births; to not feel rushed in between (unless absolutely necessary) and to overall have a self-directed experience, with support from me and her family.
My phone dinged with a text a couple of weeks before C’s “date”. I had JUST seen her the day before, and she had been radiant and very not super close to labor-like! But I knew it the moment I heard that “ding”, and sure enough, contractions had been happening for a few hours. I remember her saying there really wasn’t a pattern, but being a couple of hours away, I volunteered to get ready and come over.
When I arrived a little less than 3 hours later, C’s sweet 16 year old daughter (who took all of these photos!) met me at my car with wide eyes and excitement. She told me that things were strong, and that she had started to prepare supplies as best she knew how because she really thought the babies were coming fast. This wise teenager wasn’t far off, and as I gathered my things I heard beautiful birthing noises coming from the house.
Christmas in Arizona is a beautiful time to birth a baby! The house was decorated, little tree and all, and the feeling in the house was even better. All the kids were hovering, C’s husband as well, and there was just an excited and expectant energy that was calming and foreshadowed the birth very well. I said hi to C, and quietly got my supplies together on the side of the room. Her husband was her main support for labor and birth, and I could see their connection and how she depended on him to be there as the contractions got harder.
Just one hour after my arrival, C began grunting and pushing involuntarily in the pool they had set up in the main room. I had asked her when I arrived what baby (the one on the left or right) she thought was coming first, and she said it was the one on the left. Sure enough, less than a half an hour later, baby A was born in the caul, head first, into her hands in the birth pool. Pink, happy, perfect.
I was struck how C’s body resumed strong contractions immediately after Baby A was out. As she held him, I could see in her face that perhaps the next baby was coming quickly. She asked me to clamp and cut the cord so that she could focus on the birth. After that was done, the kids passed around the new baby and loved on him; C would take him back for a few minutes at a time, in between contractions. The most present difference for me was the feeling in the room between births. We respect that not all births are the same, even twin births, so if there had been more time between perhaps it would not have felt the same way. Nothing felt wrong, or bad, just incomplete. The normal “high” of oxytocin was there but it seemed suspended in time, as we all waited for the second baby. It was a unique and beautiful energy that I’m glad was allowed to exist!
In the 50 minutes between births, C labored beautifully. I’m pretty sure she said later that she “could have” birthed them closer together, but that it was nice to follow her body’s lead and have that break! I did listen to baby B, and palpate (baby felt head down), but otherwise just stood near while she held her husband’s hand through contractions. There was no rush, and no hurry. No reason to make anything happen, and all the reasons to respect her body’s timing. I will always remember how the second baby was born, because it was a fantastic example of the fetal ejection reflex. C was actually reclining on the couch, and I could see her uterus contract, rise, make a huge shift to the right….and then literally, baby B was ejected right out! Also, in his amniotic sac! My hands happened to be right there, and it happened so fast! I helped her lift him onto her chest, and he did as well as his brother. Soon she was holding two perfect baby boys, and the tears were streaming. Truly one of the most beautiful births I have ever witnessed. Perfect in every way.
For the birth nerds among us, the placentas were birthed easily as well about 20 minutes later, with average blood loss and more importantly a mom that felt amazing. There were 2 separate placentas but it turns out they were slightly fused, in the shape of a heart. We all marveled over how smart the body is; making these two perfect babies and placentas, with all of the wisdom and knowledge that is inherent in nature. It’s amazing what an efficient job the body can do, even with more than one baby. The blueprint is there, and most of the time, all we have to do is honor it.
I was truly blessed to be the midwife on this journey, and thank C and her family and these babies for teaching me and allowing me to be a part of this sacred and special time. And extra thank yous again, for sharing these amazing photos that will inspire and encourage so many.