My Birth Story by Clare Brown

FullSizeRenderEleanor (5lb 7oz) and Jack (6lb 5oz), August 2012.

I found out pretty early on in my pregnancy that Jack (prosaically named “Twin A” at the hospital, being the first in the queue to come out!) was breach, while Eleanor was transverse.

The hospital advised that, wedged upside down as he was, and with limited room for manoeuvre, Jack was unlikely to turn, in which case they would recommend a c-section. This is because, while they can deliver breach babies, it can take longer and potentially endanger the second twin. To be honest I was quite grateful to have the responsibility of the decision (ie: natural birth or c-section) removed from me. While I quite liked the idea of a natural birth, I had heard more than one story of other mums having the first twin naturally then having to have an emergency c section for the second twin – and I didn’t want that to happen to me!

A number of my (singleton mum) friends had had c-sections and were very blasé about them – one was out of hospital the very next day – so I turned up on the appointed day at 7.30am with very little nervousness. This turned out to be somewhat misplaced as, while I was incredibly fortunate to be delivered of two beautiful and healthy children, the day itself was not quite the walk in the park I had been led to believe!

The hospital had told me I mustn’t have anything to eat or drink on the morning of the operation. This was fine for the first few hours, but by the time it got to late morning I was parched with thirst – we were in an incredibly hot room on one of the hottest days of the year. They wouldn’t let me drink anything as I was always the next in the queue – however on two occasions they had to bump me back to make way for emergency c-sections. So by the time I actually went into theatre it was about 3.30pm, by which time I was almost delirious with thirst. This did mean, however, that I wasn’t really able to think or worry about anything else – my husband later reminded me that apparently it took a while for the anaesthetic to work, but I have no real memory of this. Certainly I wasn’t anxious about anything, other than “when I can I have a drink of water?”!

I remember hearing about c-sections that, once they start delivering the baby, you can feel some “gentle tugging”, like someone doing the washing up inside you. I had no pain at all but the tugging certainly wasn’t gentle – it felt like I had been swathed in bubble wrap and was then being repeatedly punched! So not exactly painful but quite bizarre. Jack was delivered first, and came out doing a wee, which caused much amusement to the staff. But I will never forget that moment when I saw him being lifted up and, best of all, when I heard his strong cry. Eleanor followed just one minute later, again with a heartwarmingly strong cry. After that it all goes a bit blurry, as I started losing a lot of blood. I was aware of the doctors saying ever-increasing numbers to each other (1000….1200…1400) and thinking … is that good? Days later, when I saw my notes, I realised they were talking about millilitres of blood loss (in the end I suffered a post-partum haemorrhage and lost 1800ml, which is over 3 pints). I then started feeling very lightheaded (despite lying flat on my back) and being sick. The anaesthetist then pumped me full of some kind of drug – not sure what, but it stopped the sickness. I don’t really remember the next few hours – I just felt totally wiped out and drained (which I quite literally was!). The next time I remember looking at my watch it was about 10pm. They kept me in the high dependency unit overnight, and for much of the night I was on an oxygen mask as the oxygen saturation levels in my blood were very low. Attempting to breastfeed covered in tubes and a mask was interesting to say the least! We ended up staying in hospital for 5 nights – I was so wiped out from the blood loss I could barely move for about the first 48 hours; my overwhelming feeling was as if I had been hit by a train.

So all in all, my experience wasn’t exactly a walk in the park and took much longer to recover from than I had anticipated. We were so lucky, though, that the babies were fine and didn’t require any time in special care. Taking them home was a really emotional experience (we drove about 10 mph on the way back from the hospital!). Wen we got home, I remember putting them in their cot for the first time, in disbelief that they were finally here. Then the real hard work began….

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