Jason (the Husband): The last week has been rough. Emotional. Raw. And pretty scary. We were asked to make some difficult decisions, made them, and then circumstances conspired to force us to weigh the same choices a second time. The people in this story all have a similar goal – to have Chelsey deliver two healthy twins, but there are so many differences when it comes to the subtler additional desires that accompany the process. And it gets messy there. In my opinion the system itself sets first time mothers up to be in a very vulnerable position, feeling powerless. They become passive (and scared) participants in the age old life altering (and life creating) drama that is increasingly forced to fit into a hospitals scheduling timetable. I am very proud of Chelsey for stumbling through this process with our two twin boys, and fighting to make an uneasy truce between hospital protocol and motherly intuition. I have encouraged her to take time to write this account out, mostly for her own process. I also know that the many people who have been reading this blog and commenting are a source of strength for her. Thank you all for that.
39 weeks 3 days
On Friday morning Jason and I went to the hospital with the intention of getting induced. However, once we got there, they had canceled it. To me it was a sign that it was not time yet. To the doctors, they just needed more nurses on staff (the full moon was a busy night to have babies !) Below is an account of what happened with a little background. So please take a few minutes, grab a cup a tea if you need and settle in.
Jason and I consider ourselves very, very fortunate that Oregon Heath Plan put me on FULL coverage as soon as they found out we were having twins. There was only one catch. In order for insurance to work, I had to forgo my wishes of a home birth with my midwife and instead have a hospital birth, because I was now considered a “high risk” pregnancy.
My midwife become my doula, which made me feel a bit more at ease as I knew she would help us navigate our way through the hospital scene. In a way, I was actually excited to get to see both sides. Part of me was sad to see my home birth dream go down the drain, but once I met two of the potential delivering docs, I felt more at ease. Every Dr. that I met seemed to listen to me and even if they didn’t agree with my birth plan, they told me that I was ultimately the one in charge and they couldn’t make me do anything. Through out my entire pregnancy they were extremely chill with everything that I was doing. Acrobatics? XC Skiing? Biking? Snowboarding? (ok, they didn’t like the snowboarding at 35 weeks much) “Just don’t fall” “but if you do, come right in.” No surprise, we do live in Bend, OR. where there are is a high population of active mamas.
As my “due date” became closer and closer, their tune started to change little by little. At 37 weeks, they recommended induction for the first time. But, they were not very pushy about it. I was healthy, my placentas were looking great, and my fluid levels still passed the test. But my babies were measuring small. They had dropped from the 25th percentile to the 15th and 10th percentile in a two week period and this made doctors nervous. I agreed to come in twice a week and get their heart rates monitored. If they passed the 20 min test where they had to show signs of a spiked heart rate three times, I was free to go. If they didn’t, I had to go pass an ultrasound test where they looked at their movements, breathing and motor skills. Luckily we never had to go into get the ultrasound test, because they passed the heart rate test every time. Once I hit 38.5 weeks they brought me in for more testing and a chat. My main dr. sat us down and told us some more reasons why he really recommended induction at 39 weeks. He started pulling out all of these statistics and that the national recommendation was to induce me at 38 weeks. All of a sudden, rather than feeling like an individual to him, I just felt like another number. I know that it is his job and a requirement of his to give me these facts and try and get these babies out, after all, he has been trained and educated to believe this. In the western medical world babies are safer on the outside at 39 weeks where in the midwifery world they are seen as safer on the inside until baby wants to come out- as long as baby and mama are showing signs of being healthy.
So there we were, faced with this choice at 38.5 weeks. I had 3 days to decide what I wanted to do, and the beautiful thing was that I had a choice. He was not forcing me to do anything, in fact the very last thing he said to me was that everything was negotiable. He was just highly recommending it. He had taken the liberty to put me on his schedule for my 39 week date, but that I could cancel it and instead come in for testing. We went home, and for the rest of the day I sat with it. I tried to connect with the babies and ask them what they wanted, I tried to sit with myself and really feel what was going on inside me. Were the babies ok? Could they make it through labor even if they were small? Could I really prevent a c-section by getting induced?
The day passed with lots of intermittent crying. Instead of being stoked and proud that I had made it so far, I felt like a freak of nature and scared. Why weren’t they coming out? What had I done wrong? Why couldn’t I come to a definitive answer?
Wednesday came and went. Still no sign of an answer. On Thursday, I was able to phone my Dr. again and talk to him. He was very nice and assured me that if I wanted a vaginal delivery for both babies, even if one was breech- he was my guy. He told me how he had just delivered twins the night before. The woman really wanted a vaginal delivery as well and even with complications he was able to get everyone what they wanted and make it safe. After hearing her success story, I decided to go for it. We were going to have babies sometime in the next day.
That night I couldn’t sleep at all. I tried to meditate and visualize the birth, but nothing was working. At 615 am our alarm went off and Jason and I laid in bed cuddling and talking. He asked me how I was feeling and I said I really didn’t know. “We can’t play the what if game” he said, “once we make this decision we have to go in there like it is ours and not theirs. We need to fully own our choice.” He was right. I decided to not ignore my feelings of being still being on the fence, but to go in and see how I felt once I got there. This feeling and pattern within myself is not foreign. Before every big race, I am always the one that is least excited about the start. In fact I despise it. I just want the gun to go off and for our team to be on our way. But once we are started, I loved it. If this was just “pre-race” jitters, I knew that once we got going, I would be fine.
When we arrived, Kindra, our doula had beaten us there and came out saying that our induction had been canceled. “Ok then! I guess that answers it for me, obviously this is not the day.” I say. They still wanted me to do the anti stress heart rate test so the nurse hooked me up to the monitors and we all talked. My nerves started to calm down, and I started to settle in. Baby Blt, who we call our chill baby or now our “boss baby” was not passing the test though, so I got up to move and started pulsing my belly as they both usually respond to that. Sure enough he started moving and spiking his heart rate but it was still not in the allotted 20 minutes of testing time. So we went onto the next test, the bio physical ultrasound test. The tech was also very nice and talked us through everything she was seeing. The first thing she said was that baby B was now head down!!! Apparently it is super rare for a twin to flip at 39 weeks, so we were super ecstatic and took that as another good sign that they were getting ready to come on out! The placenta, fluid, movement, and cords all looked good. Baby B was still not moving as much as his brother, so she gave him one less point but said we still passed the test. Whoo hoo! By this point, it had been 5 hours of waiting and testing so I was very “hangry”. I needed food and more specifically, I needed some bacon. So we went back to the birthing center expecting to have a quick chat with the Dr and then go get some food. The nurse said no dice, he would be there in an hour and he requested that I go back on the monitor to keep testing Baby B AND that the Dr still wanted to induce because of what he saw on the tests. There was no way I would last another hour, “I need to eat” I said (probably in not the nicest tone) and the nurse said that if I left I would have to sign a release form going against the medical recommendation. I asked for for the piece of paper, signed it with my reason for leaving being “I need bacon” and then we left.
At lunch Kindra asked me how I was feeling about everything and what my thoughts were around the Dr still wanting to induce. “I am not in the right mind set anymore, my babies are fine, I am fine. I want to wait.” An hour later, we headed back to the center and they admitted me again, but this time into a birthing room. “I am not having an induction, I don’t think this is necessary.” I say. The nurse says, “Ok, well, the Dr still wants to just put you on the monitor while we wait for him just to see how they are doing.”
I comply, as I love hearing my babies heart rate. Baby B seemed to be doing well, he was just tucked behind his brother, so his heart rate was hard to catch when he moved. I felt like he was playing with all of us.
After a bit of a wait, the Dr. came in and started talking to us about a new test, the doppler test. It is about their umbilical cord. He said the reason why they may be so small is because there may not be enough pressure coming through the cord to get them the nutrients they need. The nurse goes on to give me a visual of a hose that is getting kinked and squeezed. And that is it. My breath started to go, and all I could think of were my babies squeezed cords. And that is where I stayed. I didn’t hear anything else. I knew him and Jason were talking statistics and numbers but I was not there. At one point they looked over at me and the Dr. asked what I wanted to do. And I all I could get out was “I don’t feel like you are treating me like an individual” and then I started to cry. The Dr then said “yes I am, I have been looking at all of your tests for the past few weeks.” This didn’t make me feel any better. He then gave me an option of giving me a little bit of pitocin to see how the babies would react to some stronger contractions. If they reacted well, he said he would feel better about letting me go. But if they went into distress, he would make me stay and I would very likely have to go get an immediate c-section. At that point, Jason asked if the two of us could have some time alone as he felt we had all the information we needed.
When we were all alone, Jason asked me how I was feeling. “I am afraid and I don’t feel like this is right. I want to go home.”
Kindra walked back in next and sat down with us. She asked me where the fear was coming from. I told her about my vision about the cord and how I couldn’t get that out of my head and how scared that made me. I told her how I was afraid that I was being selfish because I really didn’t want to go through with the induction today, but what if that was really the best thing for the babies? She then asked me to visualize staying there and going through with the contraction test and how that made me feel. “It makes me feel anxious, and that I would just be going further down their path. I am feeling way too unsettled and unprepared to go through with it today.” Ok, and how does it make you feel when you think about going home and being in your own space? “I really want to go home, but I still can’t get that cord image out of my head. If I know my babies will be ok for a few more days, then I will be ok. I feel like my babies are good and healthy.” As I said that, on the monitor baby B started spiking his heart rate and moving with his brother. “Thank you” I thought. That is just what I needed to feel at peace. It was obvious what my decision was.
Jason called in the nurse and asked to speak with the doctor. A few minutes later the Dr. called us and Jason said that I had decided to go home and reset. He didn’t try to convince us other wise or write us off. He was very kind and gave us a list of things to watch out for. If any of them happened or if I just didn’t feel right, he said to come right back in and we would go from there. A few minutes later the nurse came in with a list of things to do at home, in addition to the drink water, lay on left side, and go on light walks she said “have as much sex as you can” “soften up that cervix” and lets get those babies out. We all just want what is best for you and your babies. “
“I know” I said “We just need a little more time.” Then I signed my second medical release form ever in my entire life and we left.
Now with a little more time under our belts and space away from the hospital we are happy about our decision and hope these boys come on their own soon. I keep meditating and talking to them, assuring them that we are ready and that they are ready and strong enough to make the journey.
This morning we go in for our routine tests, hopefully Blt cooperates and we don’t have to go in for further tests. But if we do, I feel even more prepared to deal with what ever else comes our way. To move through fear and go against a doctor with years of experience and knowledge is not an easy thing to do. But to go against my intuition seemed even harder and was not emotionally or physically possible for me to do. I am so grateful for this experience, for Jason, for Kindra, for the doctors and the amazing nurses for this opportunity to come into my power. Thank you.
As I was getting ready for bed on Friday night after our long day, I opened up a book of poems I am reading by Danna Faulds and the first one I came to was this one entitled Paradox. It was a perfect ending piece to our day as it solidified my belief that decisions are not all black and white.
Fear and love seldom
stand, shoulder to shoulder;
It’s rare to laugh and lie in the same breath.
But strength and weakness, failure and success,
faith and desolation – they are different ends of a
To pick one up is to receive both poles – stark contrasts
contribute to a knowledge of the whole.
What is life but growing wide and deep, so
open from weeping that opposites, ambiguity, and a thousand
shades of gray can co- exist with out despair.