The twins are three months old! I started this post back when they were two weeks old…that should be an indicator of how things have been. Busy and loving it! As I have a moment (not for long as napping babies are starting to stir) I want to reflect back on my birth experience and share some thoughts and tips.
It was a tough last few weeks of pregnancy as I broke out in insane hives and couldn’t sleep from discomfort, but the big day came and we were so excited to welcome healthy baby boys.
We made the informed decision to plan a c-section delivery. I developed hypertension at the end of pregnancy and it was only getting worse as every week went by. I was carrying a grand total of nearly 14 pounds of baby and one twin was in a weird transverse position. I’ve read all the blogs and reflections of other c-section moms (twin and singleton) and I had a lot of time to think about it. Here are my thoughts regarding my delivery that will hopefully help another mom planning the delivery of her twins in some small way…
1. Talk to Other C-Section Moms
My mother delivered all of her 5 children via c-section due to medical reasons, and we were all happy, healthy babies. Having her experience to go back to was great, and I also talked to other moms I knew who had c-sections. They all warned me of the pain and extended recovery time. I wasn’t scared, but I was wary. I talked a lot with TwinDad and shared my thoughts, the kind of help I would need, the things that would be difficult for me, the typical recovery time, the particular struggles I would be facing, and he was very attentive and wanted to be sure to offer all the help I would need. Having a supportive partner is essential, as is having a network of experienced women to rely upon. We moms stick together!
2. Less than I Expected
I will admit I was a huge bundle of nerves the days leading up to the big day and while in pre-op. While sitting on the operating table waiting for my spinal I was shaking like a leaf. TwinDad was scrubbing up and not allowed to be with me. The nurse with me was so gentle and caring, quietly rubbing my shoulders and telling me I was doing great and it was all going to be okay. I was so grateful to her and the rest of the hospital staff attending to my delivery; they were kind, gentle, caring, tender when necessary, and so understanding. I was clearly nervous and they made sure to tend to me as an individual rather than a stranger or just another patient.
Though I was a nervous trainwreck day-of, I have to say it was so much easier than I expected. (SIDE NOTE: ladies, if you’re planning a c-section, shave real good the night before…trust me. I did my best and bypassed the need for a nurse to do the job). I was worried about the pain of getting an IV; I’ve never had one and I’m not a huge fan of needles. The couple second burning of the numbing medication was way worse than the IV which I barely felt, if at all. The idea of an epidural or a spinal freaked me out, but again the burning of the numbing medication which only lasted a few seconds was way worse…I didn’t feel my spinal one bit. I hated the idea of a catheter, but going in and coming out was a super quick piece of cake with only mild discomfort and no pain. Getting up and getting moving post operation took a little time, but as long as I took it slowly and accepted help when needed, I was fine. I even got up to clean the hospital room one day. Two weeks later was completely off pain meds and even went out shopping with my mother for the afternoon!
I understand every woman has a different experience, but mine was much easier than I expected and I really think the anticipation and the nervous unknowing was worse than the actual procedures.
3. You Will be Judged
One thing I read over and over during my pregnancy was that moms who choose a c-section delivery are judged by friends, family, and even strangers. I thought that was silly; how could anyone be so wrapped up in my business as to judge me for my decision? I was wrong. While TwinDad and I were very comfortable with our decision and believed it to be the best, safest option for me and the babies, not everyone was on board (not that they needed to be…it wasn’t their decision, their delivery, or their babies). Some family members were pretty adamant I was making the wrong decision because I just didn’t know any better. But I knew, as best I could, what I was choosing because I’d talked to experienced women and to my doctor extensively. Still, the judgement from these family members was really difficult to deal with. TwinDad lets things roll off his back so easily and he kept telling me not to bother listening because it was between us and my doctor, but it was still hard knowing what was said about me and my decision. I felt hurt being judged and looked down upon for not choosing a vaginal delivery. When all is said and done, I am happy I chose my c-section and honestly feel deep in my gut that it was the absolute best decision for my healthy boys.
If you make the informed decision to choose a c-section, whether it’s planned or unplanned, for the health of your baby, no matter who judges you, know that I’ve got your back. Trust your mom instincts and know that you and your baby are what matter and no one else should judge because, frankly, they have no right.
4. You Are Not a Failure
Another thing I’ve read a lot is that c-section moms frequently feel like a failure or somehow less of a woman for not delivering vaginally. Honey, we c-section moms may have a different experience but we are no less mothers and no less women! C-sections aren’t easy and our bodies still grow and deliver beautiful babies. It’s the baby that makes the mom, not the delivery.
I did feel like a failure because I was unable to breastfeed. I went into this knowing it would be a challenge to breastfeed twins, but I had no idea just how difficult it would be. Everything seemed to be working against us: being separated for almost 2 days immediately after birth, the normal delays that come with a c-section delivery, the twins being 3 weeks early and having difficulty getting the “suck-swallow-breathe” down, and the overwhelming stress of it all. I barely slept, I stressed until I felt nauseated, and I cried. It seemed all anyone could talk about was my milk supply (or lack thereof) and it really frustrated me. The hospital’s lactation consultant was very attentive and spent a lot of time working with me; I’m grateful for all her help and her encouragement. I felt like a failure and everyone knew it, everyone (including myself) was pushing me so hard to do something I, in the end, just couldn’t. It took a long time and a lot of tears and a lot of frustration, but I finally came to terms and made my peace with the fact that I was not going to be able to breastfeed my twins. It was hard and still pains me some to this day, but my boys are growing and they’re healthy. That’s what matters.
5. Hospital Bag Essentials (and things you think you need but don’t)
I will wrap things up with a few tips I wish someone had given me before I went to the hospital:
- A c-section is a major abdominal surgery and whenever you undergo such a procedure there is a massive build-up of air/gas in your abdomen. All the Gas-X in the world wasn’t helping me and I was in so much pain. I didn’t feel my incision pain much, but boy did that has build up HURT! I had my sister bring me some hot peppermint tea and within minutes I was feeling relief. Never in your life will you want to pass gas so badly!
- I packed my own pajamas and never wore them. The hospital gown was so much easier to deal with and had great nursing functionality. I did, however, treat myself to a really cute long robe and I wore that for visitors and for every trip to the nursery until my twins could join me in my room.
- Bring snacks for your spouse! I was given meals and snacks by the staff, but TwinDad only ate what I didn’t finish. He was a trooper and never complained. Visiting family brought him food, but having snacks for a multiple day stay will be much appreciated.
In conclusion, every woman has a different plan, a different experience, and a diffierent situation. Making informed decisions and following your gut mom-instincts is the best thing you can do for you and your child. Don’t let anyone judge you and know you are not a failure in any way; you are an insanely amazing woman! Think of all your body has done, hold that gorgeous baby of yours, and be so proud. And drink your peppermint tea.