My Birth Story by Harriet Dormer


Birth Story by Harriet Dormer

As I walked from my apartment in Brooklyn towards my sister’s ready to celebrate my nephew’s first birthday on a blisteringly hot August afternoon the phone, clutched in my hand, started to ring. It was the call I’d been waiting for since I’d been for a blood test at 7am that morning.

The nausea that had been building over the previous two days had given me reason to hope that this could be the month it had worked… I ducked into the shade of a huge brownstone and tentatively answered the phone…

‘Hi Harriet, it’s the clinic…’
‘You’re pregnant’
‘Wow that’s amazing. How fantastic’
‘Yes, actually, you’re VERY pregnant’
‘Very pregnant? Meaning?’
‘Well your HCG levels are very high…’

That’s great I thought. After two chemical pregnancies very high could only be a good thing.

Naively the thought of twins didn’t really occur to me but at my first scan at 8 weeks I saw two very distinct blobs, with two nice strong heartbeats! As a single mother by choice being pregnant with twins was daunting to say the least but knowing I had a lot of family support back in London and determination in spades I was up to the challenge.

Being a ‘geriatric pregnancy’ (that’s how the American doctors like to describe any pregnancy when you’re over 35) and pregnant with twins I was referred to a specialist high risk obstetrician. Their main advice to me was to drink lots of water and to eat as much protein as possible. Two things I kept up throughout my pregnancy.

As luck would have it, aside from some pretty evil morning sickness, heartburn and huge swelling, I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy. When I relocated back to London at 20 weeks I was happy to be back under the care of the NHS who only wanted to see me monthly rather than the weekly visits I often had to make to my Upper East Side doctor in New York.

Finishing work at 34 weeks was a huge relief. The commute to Shoreditch each day was getting more and more exhausting, not to mention the 4 flights of stairs up to my office once I got there.

Once I finished work I kept expecting to go into labour at any point but as I edged closer and closer to my due date it became clear these babies weren’t going to come of their own accord. I was deeply uncomfortable towards the end but I kept swimming every few days, (it was the only time I felt some relief).

At a last scan Baby A had finally decided to move position, having been pretty static throughout my pregnancy. Unfortunately though it had gone from head down to breech and Baby B, who was in a different position every time they scanned me, had wriggled itself to be transverse. So a C-section it was to be.

On the day of the C-section, a couple of days before I hit 38 weeks, my sister and I turned up bright and early at West Middlesex and I had a laughter filled last few hours as a truly single person while my sister took my mind off what was coming.

Being a normally very level headed and calm individual, the minute I went into the operating theatre I started to internally freak out. There was, of course, no turning back and within about 15 minutes, from behind the curtain popped a healthy baby boy who, a few seconds later, let out an angry cry. 2 minutes afterwards he was followed by his brother and after a brief moment of silence he joined his big brother with an even louder scream.

As the nurses shouted out their weights there was loud cheering in the room. I’d somehow grown two babies weighing 6lb9oz and 6lb12oz respectively. I was told on numerous occasions during my stay in the hospital that they hadn’t had twins that big for a long time. Believe me by the end of the pregnancy I really felt every single oz of those weights.

Once I was sewn up and wheeled back out to recovery I finally met and was able to cuddle Jasper and Felix who were both perfect (and hungry!)

With a little assistance they both latched and started feeding like champs until we were moved to the high dependency ward (due to a lot of blood loss) where I developed an allergic reaction to the penicillin I’d been given during surgery. Fortunately a quick thinking nurse spotted it and some doses of antihistamines and steroids later I started to make a quick recovery.

Following a slightly extended stay in the hospital (fortunately in a private room), thanks to both the boys having jaundice, and me having incredibly high blood pressure we made it back home where the boys have continued to thrive (and eat)! I think their food bills may bankrupt me when they are teenagers!!

9 months on I find myself daily fascinated by the two very very different boys I have.  Everything from their eye colour , to their activity levels, and their sense of humour is different and I wouldn’t have it any other way!