In case you hadn’t already guessed by my lack of update on Sunday, the babies have arrived!! Both of them are absolutely adorable, J&C are in love, and we are all three healthy and doing well.
In short, we had our appointment on Sunday morning with the fabulous Dr. Capetanakis (who came and opened his office just to check my blood pressure!), and it was still up there. Too high for his liking. I also gave a urine sample, and for the first time ever there was a small amount of protein in it. Neither one of these is a huge issue. After all, some women have trace protein throughout their entire pregnancies. But, considering I usually have low blood pressure, and have never had protein in my urine, these symptoms pointed to problems being imminent. Given that we were already so far along, Dr. Cap did not feel comfortable letting the pregnancy progress. He told us we could grab some breakfast and should head to the hospital for an induction. After 10.5hrs of labor, baby boy was born at 9:29pm. He weighed 7lbs 2oz and was 20 inches long. His sister was born after just over 12hrs of labor, at 11:01pm weighing 7lbs 4oz and also measuring 20 inches long. They were both born via vaginal delivery, and are perfect in every way!
If you’d like to hear the detailed birth story, read on! But please realize that the content is graphic. If you won’t be able to look me in the eye after hearing about my uterus, vagina, cervix, urine, or placenta, feel free to skip this part!
Although we had been staying at M(C’s sister)’s beach house during the week, I made the decision on Saturday that we should pack up and head back to our home, just in case our appointment on Sunday ended in an induction. So Saturday mid-day, we did just that. I was able to get the girls settled at home, stock the fridge with groceries, and unpack from our little vacation. I even got a pedicure, just in case!
Sunday morning we left our girls with my sister and Josh drove me back to San Diego for our early morning appointment. J&C were waiting when we arrived, and we were all taking bets on whether we would have babies or brunch (C had made brunch reservations for us with his family, provided the appointment went well). He joked about it being too cold for brunch on the beach, and asked me to plan the birth accordingly. We all laughed, and I honestly thought that everything would go well and we would be enjoying brunch in no time. As luck would have it, that’s not the way things went down.
We said hello to Dr. Cap, and I mentioned that I thought baby girl (Baby B-second baby to come out) had flipped to a head down position the night before. He liked how that sounded and offered to do an ultrasound to confirm. While we waited for the ultrasound machine to boot up I hopped on the scale and left a urine sample. Then we all went in. Surprise, surprise! Little miss Diva had indeed flipped herself and was now head down. Dr. Cap said they couldn’t possibly be in a better position for a vaginal birth, and I was thrilled. He checked my cervix again, and stretched it a bit saying that I was about 3.5cm, or a very tight 4 and 50% effaced. (To be “complete” and allowed to push you need to be 10cm and 100% effaced).
He asked how I was feeling and what I wanted to do. I told him that an induction made me nervous as I knew it increased my chances of ending up with a c-section. I thought that the babies were comfortable and we shouldn’t force them out if they weren’t ready and my body was not ready. He agreed, but stressed that my continually rising blood pressure was something we had to take into consideration. His exact words are “something is definitely brewing.” He told me that the babies would be fine either way, but if this turned into severe high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia, it could be extremely dangerous for me, and he didn’t want to take that chance. After a little more discussion we agreed that if my blood pressure was the same and there was no protein in my urine, I could go home and have a couple days to let my body go into labor naturally. If it were higher, and any protein was present, that wasn’t an option.
Unfortunately, my blood pressure was higher than it has ever been (I want to say 142/90, but don’t remember entirely). Obviously not the news we had hoped for. Then, he checked my urine and for the first time ever, a small amount of protein was present. At this point, he told me that he did not want this to turn into something more severe (pre-eclampsia, or severe high blood pressure), because it would be very unsafe for me. Given that we were nearly 37 weeks, he wanted to induce right away. Knowing that he was right, and trusting he was doing what was in my best interest, I agreed. But, I quickly made my demands known. I wanted the ability to be walking around and bouncing on the birthing ball. He said this was reasonable, so long as we could keep the babies on the heart rate monitors, and assured me that he didn’t want me confined to a bed either. I told him I was going to keep my pants on, damnit, and those nurses were just going to have to live with it. He laughed, not really sure what my pants had to do with anything, but said that was fine. And I told him I wanted a final meal. He said we should skip brunch, but could grab something quick before heading to the hospital. Then he gave me a hug and said it was going to be great. I wasn’t entirely convinced.
We all left in a frenzy of sorts. What to get for breakfast? I wasn’t hungry yet, so nothing sounded good, but I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to eat at the hospital, so I wanted to get something in my stomach. We opted for Einstein Bagels since it was across the street, and I managed to eat a little less than half of my bagel and egg sandwich. We called in backup for my sister (who was still at our house with our girls), and got Grandma and Grandpa to come stay with them while I delivered. With all that settled, I started to feel a little more calm. There was nothing left to do but head for the hospital! Except for taking one last bump picture, of course. Here is my 36 week 6 day twin belly.
J rode with Josh and me while C went back to his mom’s house to put the car seats and diaper bags in his car. We got to the hospital just before 11am, and admission went fast. We got a room where our seemingly stressed out nurse, Elena, asked me a gazillion questions and told me to change into the hospital gown. I left my sports bra and pants on underneath so that I was not entirely exposed for what was sure to be hours of labor. Immediately after I exited the bathroom and climbed in bed Elena said, “Helene is going to be your nurse and she’s going to want to check your cervix. You need to take your pants off.” I told her that I had just had an internal exam an hour before and would most certainly be leaving my pants on, thankyouverymuch. She replied with, “We’ll see what Helene has to say. It’s hospital policy.” Now you see the significance of the pants discussion with Dr. Cap. Every time anyone ends up in the labor and delivery ward, the nurses become obsessed with making sure they are constantly butt naked. Considering J&C were hanging out for the duration of my labor, I was not cool with this.
Helene (pronounced Helena- she was Norwegian) came in and didn’t even mention my pants. She simply asked if Dr. Cap had checked my cervix, and what he had found. I liked Helene already. She put the monitors on me and babies and put in an IV to start some saline. Around noon she started the pitocin (medication to induce contractions) and then she let us be for a bit. I decided to hop on the birthing ball to help Baby Boy’s head move lower into my pelvis, but as soon as I did we lost the babies’ heart rates on the monitors. It seemed the only way we could continuously keep both of them on the monitors was for me to lie perfectly still in bed. I was feeling discouraged until Helene, who quickly became my favorite nurse of all time, came in with an abdominal binder and wrapped that bad boy around all the monitors. She then fidgeted with them for almost an hour just to get both babies on there while allowing me to bounce on the ball. Finally, she succeeded so I bounced… and bounced… and bounced. Take note of my lovely cankles- apparently the swelling was a result of the blood pressure.
By 1pm (after just an hour on pitocin) I was already contracting every 2-3 minutes. Me and the ball were best friends for the next three hours as we waited for the babies to do their thing. Around 4pm my doctor came in and I had to take my pants off for the first time all day. That’s right, Elena! Hospital policy, my ass. He checked my cervix and I was only 4.5cm dilated(half to one centimeter more than I had been that morning) and still 50% effaced, but Baby Boy’s head had moved down a little bit (thanks, birthing ball) and was now at a -1 station.
Because I was contracting regularly, Dr. Cap decided to break my first bag of water to hopefully put some pressure on my cervix and help it to dilate. I can’t believe how much amniotic fluid Baby Boy had! It just kept coming, and coming, and coming. Helene helped me put a giant diaper/pad thing on so that I could put my pants back on despite the leaking water, and then I went back to bouncing. Helene kept saying that she thought things were going to pick up rather quickly now that my water had been broken and suggested I get the epidural now before it became too late. Dr. Cap said, “Nah! Then we’ll just have a natural twin birth in the delivery room instead of the OR, wouldn’t that be fun? You can wait on the epidural as long as you want!” Helene said something about him being a rule breaker, and we all had a good laugh.
At this point J&C walked out to get some snacks and coffee, and they ran into Dr. Cap’s wife and three kids playing in the grass just outside the hospital. Just hanging out, waiting for daddy to deliver some babies, you know!
By 6pm the contractions were becoming extremely painful and I was seriously hoping that they were actually accomplishing something. I had Helene check me and was disappointed to discover that I was only 5cm dilated and 80% effaced. She told me, “You’re contracting regularly and you’re making progress. There’s no need to torture yourself. If you want the epidural, go ahead and get it.” So, we called for the anesthesiologist, and at 6:20pm J&C stepped out so that he could place my epidural. Helene hugged me and helped me to hold still through contractions as Dr. Leonard stuck a big needle into my spine. After he was finished Helene said, “I think it’s probably time for you to lose the pants.” Since I was going to be numb and confined to the bed, I decided this was no longer a big deal, and off they went! Unfortunately the relief wasn’t instant, and half hour later I was still in pain. Helene called Dr. Leonard back to adjust my dosage, and she repositioned me in the bed. This did the trick, and by 7pm I was finally feeling some relief.
At this point there was a shift change, which meant that Helene- the most fabulous nurse in the world- would be leaving us. She introduced the new nurse, Jhaleh, before hugging us goodbye and wishing us the best. Jhaleh ended up being a great nurse, too, but she was no Helene J&C went out to the lobby where C’s whole family was hanging out with an abundance of food. They enjoyed dinner with them before coming back and continuing to wait.
At 8:30 I was finally feeling a lot of pressure with the contractions and asked Jhaleh to check me again. I was 7.5-8cm dilated and 90% effaced. Finally, some real progress! The epidural had relaxed me and my cervix was close to being ready. Just twenty minutes later I was feeling even more pressure and told Jhaleh that I thought we were close. She checked me, confirming that I was 9.5cm dilated, Baby Boy was at a 0 station, and I had just a very small lip of cervix left. She instructed me to close my legs and not push while she called Dr. Cap to head over. Everything got crazy as she quickly found caps, suits, and booties for J, C, and Josh (twin deliveries happen in the OR, not a normal delivery room. Just in case complications arise that require an immediate c-section. So everyone had to suit up!) Of course J and C decided that they had to use the restroom now, of all times, so this took a little longer. The room filled with people who were grabbing supplies, shoving things at one another, and paging more people to come help. When we were finally ready, they wheeled my bed out of my room, down the hall, and into the operating room.
When we got there they set up the warmers for the babies, continued to call for supplies, and set up the bright white lights. Dr. Cap arrived shortly thereafter and everything was falling into place. He checked me and said that I was 10cm dilated, but I had a small lip of cervix (meaning I was not entirely effaced- still about 90%) so he had me bear down once to see if I could push it away. Sure enough, it was gone and we were ready! I told J&C that they were welcome to stand at my head if they preferred to watch from a little bit of a distance, or that they could stand at my feet if they wanted to see everything. Despite my obsession with keeping my pants on, the birth of one’s child is the most magical thing in the world, and I couldn’t imagine making J&C miss out on it for modesty’s sake. They agreed that they would like to watch, and I’m so glad.
With the next contraction, I was instructed to push! Two pushes later, sweet Baby Boy entered this world and let out a perfect, healthy cry! J cut his cord with teary eyes while C sobbed with elation. Dr. Cap placed him on my stomach and I got to stare into his perfect eyes and meet the little boy who had been growing inside of me for the past nine months. I immediately thought he looked like J.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Josh captured the most beautiful photo of J&C, watching me birth Baby Boy, that sums up exactly why I decided to do this. Out of respect for their privacy, I will not share the photo, but I can at least describe it. Dr. Cap is holding Baby Boy, covered in vernix and blood, cord still attached, just barely out of my womb. J&C are standing right below him and J has the biggest smile! C’s hands are covering his mouth and you can just see the emotion on both of their faces. Amazement, happiness, complete joy. It was so special to watch their faces as I brought their baby boy into this world, and is a vision I will never, ever forget. At 9:29pm, on April 21, 2013, I created a family. I gave birth to a perfect baby boy, and watched as his parents stared in absolute amazement. I can’t even begin to describe how spectacular it felt.
The nurses took Baby Boy over to the warmer and J&C followed to watch as he was cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket. They both stared and smiled and ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the little bundle of perfection that was their son.
At this point things got a little complicated. Dr. Cap pulled out the ultrasound machine to figure out where Baby Girl was positioned, and what our plan of action was for her delivery. She had been head down, but with all the extra room once her brother had come out, she very well could have flipped. He searched and searched, but could not seem to find her head anywhere. Based on how the rest of her was positioned, it made the most sense for her to still be head down, but we couldn’t actually see her head. He said this was probably because it was either so far towards my back, or so low in my pelvis, that it simply wasn’t visible on the ultrasound. After about 5 minutes of searching and palpating my stomach, Dr. Cap confirmed that she was head down and wouldn’t need to be flipped in order for me to deliver. Hallelujah!
Sometime after Baby Boy was born my oxygen saturation must have dropped because I remember them putting the oxygen mask on me and telling me to take deep breaths. I was still on an adrenaline high, and I really think it had more to do with the unknown of delivering Baby Girl than anything else. Baby Boy had been cleaned up and declared healthy, so J brought him over for me to hold. He had his eyes wide open and just blinked and stared at me. At this point I broke down and cried. He was so beautiful and it was so emotional to finally see him. To hold him on the outside and watch his parents as they stood in awe of him was simply amazing.
I don’t remember when exactly I realized that something was wrong, because I was so fixated on Baby Boy. I wanted to make sure that he was breathing on his own and doing well, and I was not looking forward to giving birth again. But at some point, something gave it away. Dr. Cap was saying, “Come on, baby girl!” and nurses were taking turns moving the heart monitor around, trying to pick up a steady rhythm. The ultrasound machine was put back into use as everyone searched for her heartbeat, and although they tried to remain calm, I could tell that the atmosphere had drastically changed. I asked what was wrong, and Dr. Cap said that Baby Girl’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction, into the low 100s, and we may have to get her out quickly. He asked me to bear down a few times, to see if I could lower her into the birth canal, and when I did her heart rate really dipped, so I was quickly instructed to stop.
At this point I started to panic a bit, fearing the worst. Would I end up with a vaginal birth and a c-section? Was Baby Girl going to be ok? It must have shown because I was again instructed to take deep breaths from the oxygen mask. Dr. Cap did an internal exam to see what he could feel, and as it turned out, Baby Girl had her arm up and above her head. Dr. Cap tried to move it without breaking her water, but was unable to do so. Each time he moved it down, she put it right back up. He said that it might have been tangled in her umbilical cord, and somewhat forced to be above her head, which would also explain the drop in heart rate.
As another contraction begun he quickly pulled his hand out and everyone silently started at the heart rate monitor. Again, her heart dipped incredibly low. He asked me to talk to her. To tell her to move her hand out of the way. And he kept saying, “Come on, baby girl. Come on… I don’t want to section your mama… or surrogate mama.” I was so overcome with emotion that I just stared at him, trying to decipher the thoughts behind his seemingly calm facial expression. It was then that he instructed the nurses and technicians to lower the rail of my bed and to clear off the operating table. Then he told Jhaleh, “Get anesthesia in here.” The nurses fidgeted and the OR tech seemed to have no clue what she was doing. He finally said again, “If we need to get her out, we’re not going to have time to be messing around with beds. Get that down, now.”
Another contraction came and everyone was silent. I couldn’t see the monitor myself, so I didn’t know what her heart rate was at, but I could make out the distinct “thump, thump, thump, thump” and it was noticeably slower. I asked if everything was ok, and none of the nurses responded. Dr. Cap finally said, “Yes” with authority, but I knew he was just trying to make me feel better. Then he had an idea. “Tarynn, I want to lean you on your side. Let’s see. Her head is off to the left a little, so let’s roll you to your right and see if she doesn’t like that position better.” The nurses scrambled to grab pillows, roll my back, and started shoving them underneath my entire left half so that I was tilted to the right. I remember Josh kissing my head, telling me I was doing great, and asking if I was ok. J walked up, holding Baby Boy and asked the same. Then C. I kept saying yes and trying to smile. I don’t think anyone was buying it.
After I was on my side I realized that this was our last shot, and if Baby Girl’s heart rate didn’t cooperate I would be looking at a c-section in a matter of seconds. So I did the only thing I could think to do, and started talking to her. I said her name, over and over again. I asked her to move her arm, to relax, to move her head down. I told her it was ok, and her brother wanted to meet her. I begged and pleaded with her to come out and meet us all. I still wasn’t sure what was going on with her heart rate, but another contraction came and I could hear the “thump, thump, thump, thump” getting louder. Everyone was still holding their breath, but Dr. Cap said, “That’s better. She likes your voice.” I started to tear up, happy that she was doing ok, and I just kept saying her name for awhile.
At this point, with her heart rate back up, we were ok to wait for a little bit. Nothing was emergent, and I wasn’t about to be sliced open, but the situation was still very fragile. I was afraid to move, not sure if it would cause her heart rate to plummet again. I didn’t want to put her at risk, but I didn’t want to have surgery either. I looked to Dr. Cap, trusting that he would do what was best for the both of us. And he finally said, “I don’t want to do anything. I just want to give her a second to see if she will relax. Don’t push. Just breathe. No one do anything. We’re just going to wait.”
And so, we waited. For the next few contractions, no one did anything. We just listened to the “thump, thump, thump, thump” of her heart, and I stared at Dr. Cap, trying to figure out if things were still ok. When it was obvious that her heart rate was staying normal, Dr. Cap examined me again to see if she had moved her hand. She still hadn’t, and each time he tried to move it, it came right back. It was a very delicate situation as he did not want to break her bag of water and take away the cushion of all the amniotic fluid too soon. If he did, it was likely the pressure would put her in distress and her heart rate would drop again. But if he couldn’t move her arm, I wouldn’t be able to deliver. When I was contracting he said her bag of water was so full of pressure that it felt as if it would go at any second, so he only tried to move her hand in between the contractions. He asked me to bear down a few times, to see if I could get her lower, but he didn’t want me to push hard enough to rupture the water bag, so there was a lot of “Ok, I moved her arm, bear down. No, it’s back. Stop. Don’t push!” After fidgeting with it for awhile he decided to have us wait even longer so that she could gradually move herself down. And so, we waited.
Dr. Cap sat back, put his feet up, and joked about checking his facebook.
At this point I started to calm down, knowing that a c-section wasn’t imminent, and trusting that Dr. Cap was doing everything he could to make sure I had a fair shot at a vaginal delivery. After the longest 90 minutes of my life, Dr. Cap decided that she was low enough for us to do this. The plan was for him to move her arm in between contractions, and quickly break my water so that her head would engage and she would be unable to get her hand back up. Then, I was to push like hell.
After the next contraction, we did just that. Dr. Cap moved her hand, held it out of the way and told me to push. With his other hand he was holding up a tarp, or plastic bag of some sort, covering his face. He asked a nurse, “Do you see the pressure in that water bag?! It’s going to be everywhere! Just wait for it.” I couldn’t help but laugh. His face between my legs, trying to shield himself from the shower that was sure to take place at any second. He said she was low, her hand was still out of the way, and everyone could see her head. Then, before I knew it, he broke her water bag and said, “Push!” The nurses counted for me, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. And breathe! Chin to chest. Again.” I could feel her head, almost out and knew that we were close to done. The hard part was almost over. The nurses started again, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. Good! One more time.” And I pushed like hell through that one contraction.
At 11:01pm, sweet Baby Girl entered this world. She was purple and entangled in her cord, but otherwise perfect. Dr. Cap put her on my belly and the nurses and I started to rub her with the blankets, trying to get her to perk up. I remember saying, “You guys!! She’s here. Look at her. She’s perfect! Oh my gosh. She’s here. You guys. She’s here!” She held her breath for a bit, and let out a very weak cry. We kept rubbing her, and then someone shoved the oxygen mask back at me. I said, “I don’t need that stupid thing!!” and Dr. Cap said, “It’s for her, not you!” before everyone laughed. We put the oxygen mask in front of her face for a bit and she finally started to cry. Phew!
C came over and cut her cord with tears in his eyes, and then they whisked her off to the warmers to check her out. Despite holding her breath for a few seconds immediately after birth, she was absolutely perfect. Baby Boy weighed in at 7lbs 2oz, and measured 20 inches long. His “little” sister was 7lbs 4oz, and also 20 inches long.
After they were cleaned up, and while we waited for the placenta to detach I had a chance to hold both babies.
J&C thanked me repeatedly, and asked how I was doing. I didn’t even have to think about it… great!! Looking down at them, I was amazed by how tiny they seemed, but also couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that they had both been inside of me just minutes before. These perfect, beautiful, little people had been inside of me for the past nine months, and just like that, they were here. I handed them back to their parents so that I could deliver the placenta (which ended up being more of a challenge than I expected- instead of one for each baby, the placentas had fused, forming one massive organ that did not want to leave my body) and instructed Josh to take lots of pictures. I stared at J&C as they stared at their son and daughter, and in that moment, I thought my heart might burst. They smiled, and cried, and touched them, and held them, and talked to them, and snapped pictures of them, and embraced one another. Oh, how beautiful it was.
I have seen and done many things over the course of my life, and I have had some really great experiences, but not one compares to this. I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was the best experience of my life. Nine months ago, J&C created two incredible little lives.
They didn’t look like much, but they were everything to these two people. And J&C decided to take a leap. To trust me to love and nurture these lives like they were my own. To protect them, feed them, and care for them in a way that their parents could not. Nine months later, my job has come to an end. I grew two perfect babies who belong to someone else. I nourished them, and cared for them, and brought them into this world. Then, I handed them over to their parents so that their new lives could begin. I am a surrogate, and on April 21, 2013 I helped create a family. A beautiful, beautiful family. And even though my tummy is now empty, my heart is so full.
Stay tuned for part 2… immediately following the birth!