Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Twin VBAC Birth Story

This is the birth story of our twins, Ezra and Zadie. Some information might be TMI for some readers. Birth is a messy deal and some of what I write may not be what our average blog reader wants to read. S0, if you think this might not be for you, please enjoy the other posts on our blog. For those of you who want all the details, here you go!

As early as mid-October I thought I would be in full-blown labor any minute. I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions pretty regularly almost every day. Sometimes they would get stronger and closer together, and then, all of a sudden, they would just stop altogether, and another sleepless night would pass. This went on for three weeks.

When I reached 37 weeks, on Nov. 1st, my doctor stripped my membranes. This process of separating the sac from the uterus is pretty painless, and for 50% of women, labor begins within 24 to 48 hours. I was hoping to be one of the lucky ones, however the twins were not ready to come yet.

I saw the doctor again on Nov. 4th, a Thursday, to repeat the procedure. By this time I was 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced. My doctor thought I'd be going into full-blown labor before Monday. Thursday afternoon, I was sure it was time. Contractions were moving from uncomfortable to somewhat painful and definitely getting closer together. We loaded up the car with the bags and waited for things to officially cross into labor land. They didn't. I was so disappointed, but I never lost faith. You just can't stay pregnant forever.

Friday passed with pretty mellow contractions. By Saturday afternoon, I was feeling a bit desperate. It wasn't that I disliked being pregnant, or that I wanted the babies to be born before they were ready. But at 38 weeks, I knew the twins were as healthy and strong as possible. I was SO ready to meet them!

The Huskers were playing a big football game that afternoon. Non-Nebraskans (NNs) do not understand how important Husker football is here in Nebraska. Everybody stops what they are doing on game day and puts on their red shirts and cheers on the team. My doctor is no exception. He actually is a season ticket holder, so I was just relieved that this particular weekend was an away game. He told me specifically not to go into labor if the 'Skers were playing at home.

I took a little nap and woke up during the 2nd quarter of the game, determined to get these babies moving on out. I looked up information on the Internet about safe ways to help induce labor (without eating or drinking anything weird). I started with flights of stairs, taking the stairs 2 at a time. This was no small feat considering my massive belly. After ten quick trips up and down the stairs, the contractions started. Next, I tried a 15 minute bounce session on my yoga ball. At halftime, Tom and I took two laps around the block. I had to stop a few times because the contractions were becoming stronger. I felt that this time it was really going to happen. During the 3rd and 4th quarter of the game, I kept up my stairs and yoga bouncing regiment. Tom and I took a couple more laps around the block once the game was over. I could tell that something was finally happening.

Around 8:00pm we said goodnight to Zeke and my parents, hopped in the (already packed) minivan, and headed off to the hospital. We checked into the Labor and Delivery floor of the beautiful Methodist Women's Hospital and were shown to our room. They hooked my belly up to some monitors to monitor the babies heartbeats and the track contractions. Their strong heartbeats sounded great on the stereo. And my contractions were real! They were charted up and down, painful peaks and mellow valleys. About four minutes apart.

In order to keep things moving, the nurse asked if I wanted an IV put in. She said that, often times, the extra hydration helps move things along. I was like, yeah, let's do this! At 10:o0 PM, I was allowed walk some laps in the hospital hallways. After the laps the nurse was going to put in a call to the doctor with a progress report. Tom and I walked for 30 minutes, then returned to the room. The nurse came in to check my dilation, looking for progress. I was still only 4-5 cm! How frustrating!

The nurse tore off the little charts and went off to call my doctor to see whether I would stay or be sent home. We were anticipating a bad report and expecting to be sent home. But Ezra had other plans. About 5 minutes after the nurse left, I felt a strong punch or kick. I believe my words were "Oh shit." This got Tom's full attention. Once we realized that my water had broken, we were so excited. The moment had finally arrived!

Tom ran off to tell the nurse. She was actually on the phone with the doctor when he stumbled into the nurses station. He was so excited to be able to use a clever line while delivering the news. He told the nurses at the station, "Um, we need a cleanup in aisle 9." The nurses were excited, Tom was excited, and I was excited too.

After my water broke, things began to move pretty quickly. Contractions were downright painful. I was doing my best to breathe through them and stay focused on the work ahead of me.

I will pause at this point to explain a little bit about our birth plan. When Zeke was born we didn't really have a birth plan. Birth. That was the plan. Besides, it was all in Spanish and we didn't really know what was going on. I ended up giving birth by C-section. Healthy baby, no complaints. With the twins I wanted to try what's called a VBAC. That stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. Its not terribly unusual for single babies, but it's pretty rare for twins. Quite uncommon, actually. When I searched for reassurance online (that's where we all search for reassurance, right?) I couldn't find and single VBAC with twins birth story.

There are both risks and benefits associated with a VBAC. Many hospitals and doctors will not allow do the procedure due to the risk of uterine rupture. It can be a risky liability for doctors and hospitals to take on, and many health care providers refuse to attempt them. After long discussions with my doctor and with Tom, we all agreed that, if conditions were right (babies head-down, strong heartbeats all around, naturally progressing labor), a VBAC would be the best option for our family.

The nurses at the hospital were definitely nervous, but my doctor was going to be there throughout the laboring process and for the delivery (obviously). He would make the call on whether we could go through with the VBAC or not. There were a few conditions that the hospital had for attempting a VBAC with twins. I would have to deliver in an operating room, instead of one of the plush L and D rooms. And I would have to have an epidural in case we needed to change plans and do a C-section quickly.

At 12:30 AM, the anesthesiologist arrived to insert my epidural. Here's what I think about having an epidural: they're awesome! Now, looking back on things, I just am so glad I had it. I loved that thing! Once it was in, I took a nap for about an hour and a half. I was still able to feel the pressure of the contractions and move my legs around, but I just didn't feel that pain. It was great. After resting, the nurse came in to check me. I was 10 cm dilated! It was go time.

Around 2:10am, I was wheeled off to the operating room. Tom called our parents while someone rushed to deliver him a set of surgical scrubs. He looked like someone from the show, Scrubs.

We learned two things upon our arrival. Operating rooms are very cold. Also, this particular operating room was jamming to some classic rock. Tom remembers this, I don't. The song that was playing when our son entered the world: Freeze Frame by the J. Giles Band. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I turned to my favorite nurse, Kendra, and confided in her that I hadn't ever taken a class, so I didn't know how to push! She gave me a 10 second rundown and then I started pushing. I was surprised at how easy it seemed. I think maybe I had seen too many TV shows with really difficult labors. They held a mirror up so that I could see Ezra make his way into the world. Tom watched the doctor guide the baby out. Front row seat. We had our first miracle.

At 2:35 am, our beautiful little Ezra Allan was born. He cried, we might have cried, we were all so excited. Ezra weighed 6 lb, 6 oz, 19 and 3/4 inches long, and was pink and healthy! We celebrated for about 2 minutes and then it was go time again. By 2:47am, just 12 minutes after her big brother was born, Zadie Anne arrived. Tom was holding Ezra, and together they watched and welcomed the youngest Lewandowski into the world. She weighed 6 lb., 4 oz and was 19 inches long. Tom handed Ezra to a nurse long enough to cut Zadie's cord (as he had with Ezra) and, afterwords, the doctor presented Tom with the special scissors as a keepsake.

The babies and I were deemed healthy. The VBAC was considered a huge success. I was wheeled back to the L & D room for a couple hours to get to know my new babies before moving up to the Mother and Baby floor. We were visited around 5:30am by Zeke and my parents. It was such a special time.

Our stay at Methodist Women's Hospital was awesome. There was 24 hour room service with fresh, delicious food. The nursing staff was kind, patient, and very helpful. If there are any Omaha mommies-to-be that are looking for a good hospital, I have no reservations about recommending the Methodist Women's Hospital. Also my OB was just the right guy for the job. It is difficult to find a doctor who will encourage and support women who want to have VBACs . My doctor was realistic and positive when discussing our birth options, and always listened to what I had to say. I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful experience. It was all made so much better by coming home after just 2 nights with healthy babies. It was everything I could have hoped for.


Rebecca Alberg said...

thanks so much for sharing your experience. I loved reading about it.

Erin Odens said...

Congrats Karine and Tom. They are beautiful and I loved reading the blog. I just love hearing about other births. Didn't realize you guys were in Omaha. We are only a couple hours from Omaha. we deal with Cornhusker fans up this way too so I know what you mean. Chad and I actually went to a game this year (we were given free tickets) what an experience is all I can say. Congrats again.

Althea said...

Karine, I want to give you the BIGGEST HIGH FIVE EVER !!!!
A VBAC with are my new hero.
Completely impressed.

Kara said...

What a great birth story :) I'm planning a twin vba2c and it's always reassuring to read a great twin vbac story.

Anonymous said...

This is such a great story and you and Tom deserve the best. Can't wait to meet these little Lews.

Amber said...

Way to go Karine! That was an amazing story and I'm glad you shared it!! Now quit making me cry with these posts. :)

Kristin and Peter said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful story! Way to go with the VBAC - that is something to be proud of (and so are those beautiful babes!).

Cecelia said...

Wow! What a great story. I wouldn't have wanted it to be any shorter or leave out any of those details. In fact, it probably should have been a bit longer and more detailed. ;-) I would have eaten it up! Great job, you two! Love to share in your joy.

You will probably be telling this story to these two little ones for years to come..... and I bet their favorite part will be the "clean-up in aisle 9" part. That was definitely one of my favorites.

Again... congrats! We send the five Lewandowskis lots of love!

Anonymous said...

Wow! It's such a beautiful miracle...I got a little teary as I read your story. Proving yet again what an amazing strong woman you are....

Anonymous said...

A wonderful birth story! Having given birth 11 just eleven days ago I can still remember VERY clearly the frustration at being told that you are still at 4 or 5 cm after so many long painful contractions and then the ultimate blissful relief of the epidural. Congratulations to you both on producing such a wonderful birth and three beautiful children.


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