Yesterday was my twins 27th birthday. It’s hard to believe that I had them 27 years ago, when I can remember their ‘birth’ so vividly.
At the time I thought I was only going into hospital for my final scan, number 5, (usual for multiple pregnancy) and then going into town shopping. It was apparent, however, during the course of the scan, that the sonographer was not happy about something, so went to fetch someone else to take a look. I began to feel a little anxious at this point. After this person had a look at the scan they asked me to take a seat in the little room next door as they wanted the consultant to take a look at the scan. My anxiety levels by now were very high. ‘is everything OK, I asked nervously’. ‘Yes, of course, we just want the consultant to take a quick look’ she replied, but I was not convinced.
Soon the consultant came and asked if I had been resting since the last scan, ‘One of the babies is very small and you must rest’ he had told me at scan number 4. I had rested as much as I could, given that I had a 4 year old at home and a part time job.
‘I think we will keep you in, for bed rest’ he blurted out, ‘nothing to worry about’, he said before turning to the nurse then leaving. I was both anxious and confused now, why would I have to stay in. Of course I was worried about my 4 year old too, and not being able to go home to mind her.
Fortunately, my mother had come over from Ireland just two days before, to stay with me for a month or so and be there when the babies were born as I was going to be induced at 38 weeks, 2 weeks early.
After I was brought up to the ward and shown where my bed was, I sent my husband home to tell my mother what was going on, and told him not to come back until he had collected our daughter from school and to ensure he didn’t panic her about my having to stay in hospital.
Whilst he was gone the consultant came back to see me with a change of mind, so to speak. ‘I’ve had another look at your scan and well, I think, rather than risk both babies, we’ll get them out in the morning, see what’s going on’ he said, matter of factly……. ‘Nurse, prepare her for a c section, nil by mouth after midnight’ he said, then left again.
‘Rather than risk both babies’, what did he mean, I wondered, now they will be 6 weeks early too instead of two weeks, isn’t that risky, I thought. Although anxious I couldn’t help but feel a little excited too, knowing that I would be having my babies the next day. It was a little surreal, but definitely exciting. It was an emotional roller coaster.
It definitely wasn’t what I had planned or even contemplated. I had imagined that my husband would most probably be at work, doing the night shift, when I would go into labour and it would be all panic stations to get to the hospital on time. My first child came quite quickly once labour had started and they say your second and subsequent babies come even faster.
By the time he came back to the hospital that afternoon, my husband, with my mum and daughter I had completely processed the news that I was having my babies the next morning. All I had to do, was give him the good news….. He almost fainted, without a word of a lie, he was so shocked he began to cry, the big softie that he is.
I could barely sleep with nerves and excitement and praying that all would be well with my babies. ‘Rather than risk both babies’ kept going over and over in my head. I had insisted however, that I be awake for the section, so I could know, straight away, that everything was OK with them, and the consultant had agreed to that request.
The ‘section’ itself wasn’t as straight forward as it should have been either to begin with. As I had asked to be awake, it meant I would have an epidural, a needle inserted into my spine to numb the area from the bump down. They know that it has worked when they proceed to spray water onto your tummy to see if you can feel it. I could. We waited. They sprayed again. I could still feel it. While this spraying and waiting was going on, my husband was being holed up in a waiting area, where he was gowned up in his scrubs.
After about 10 minutes, they proceeded to give me another dose of epidural, waited, sprayed, I could feel it. We Waited, he sprayed again ‘If you can feel it this time we are going to have to give you a general anesthetic’ the anesthetist said. I could feel it, not as much, but I could feel it a bit ‘No I can’t feel it this time’ I lied. There was no way I was having a general, that was for sure!
Finally, my panicked husband was now allowed in to be by my side. There was a big cage thing over my tummy so as to block my view from what they were doing on the other side. Announcing that he was just about to make the incision, I turned my head to my husband and a tear ran out the corner of my eye, waiting to feel the pain……. I didn’t feel a thing! Thank God.
Baby Number one was lifted out, after a bit of tugging, wrapped, handed to me for a second to see her, before being whisked away for her apgar score to be done. At least she was screaming, so that was a good sign. Next, baby number 2 is lifted out, again, wrapped, handed to me for a second before she too needed to get her apgar score done, screaming merrily along with her twin.
After they had finished with me and gave me a nice little suturing which resembles the shape of a smile, they wheeled me into another room and I was well and truly numb, no matter how much I tried to wake my body up, by tapping it, from the tummy down, it wouldn’t cooperate.
‘Everything seems to be fine with the babies, there is only one placenta, so it looks like one of them was just being greedy and taking all the nourishment’ I was told. The little one will have to go into SCBU (special care baby unit), just because she can’t retain her body heat on her own, but apart from that, she is all good’ I was reassured.
What a relief! Both babies were fine and they were girls, which is what I had been hoping for. I was overjoyed, elated in fact.
After 4 days I was allowed home, with baby No 2, whilst baby no. 1 remained in SCBU and where I would make twice daily trips back into the hospital to see her, feed her, cuddle her and lay her twin beside her. She remained in hospital for a month before being deemed able to ‘hold her own’ and now a hefty 5 pounds in weight!
Something kept niggling at me as the days and weeks went on however, something that I had not been expecting. I felt ‘cheated’ somewhat. The fact that I did not give ‘birth’ to them, did not go through the labour and do the hard work of bringing them into the world. I couldn’t shake the feeling off.
As I would feed them or cuddle them or just look at them, I knew they were mine, I was there, wide awake and the only thing between us was the cage, but they were mine. Why then, did I feel like they weren’t? It was a weird and strange feeling, that is actually quite difficult to explain.
I loved them, I had bonded with them, I was more than happy to have them, but I felt something was missing. I had the scar to prove that they came out of my tummy, yet I felt, perhaps, separate or divided from them. My heart and mind knew, loved and wanted these babies more than anything, but my gut was making me feel that I had not worked hard enough for them, that I had let them down because I had failed to ‘give birth’.
I think it took me a good 6 months to shake the feeling off, maybe a bit longer. It didn’t stop me caring for them and loving them and I didn’t suffer any sort of post natal depression but I couldn’t shake the feeling off or even rationalise it. I would look at them in wonder and my heart would burst it was so full of love for them. I just found it such a strange sensation, one that I had not expected so it took me by complete surprise because it was so different to how I felt when I had my eldest daughter. I think, for me, there was a sense of pride for having ‘given birth’ and going through the labour and safely delivering my daughter as opposed to have someone ‘do the work’ for me?
I makes me wonder why do they call it a section, because the definition of ‘section’ is to divide something. I am not saying I am not grateful for having one, that, at the time, it was best for my babies to be delivered that way, but I wonder how many other women feel the way I felt. Is it a normal feeling. Is it because after having my first child, naturally and felt so euphoric having pushed her into the world, I felt worthy of her? I don’t know.
I know having a c section is absolutely necessary to save lives, mothers and babies and we are of course very thankful and grateful for such interventions, to safely bring our babies into the world.
So here we are, 27 years later, looking back at old photographs and reminiscing. I remember the day they were born, the joy they brought then, to hear them scream their little lungs out and the joy they continue to bring and not only am I thankful, I am blessed.