I am writing this blog from the NICU at UNC Hospital. Annabelle Elizabeth Slater, 5lb 5 oz, arrived on December 23 at 4:01 pm. Madelyn Mae Slater, 5lb, arrived on December 23 at 7:41pm. They were both breathing on their own and looked perfect except for being a little small. Anyone who has children knows the tremendous joy, relief, excitement and hope that comes with watching your child come into this world. And, what a huge gift to experience that moment twice in one day. My girls are miracle babies.
The birth story
Four weeks ago I came to the hospital with the first of three threats of preterm labor. On November 20, I came to the hospital with what I thought were preterm labor contractions…ruled out. November On December 5, I thought I was leaking fluid…ruled out. On December 12, I returned because of some blood tinged discharge and cramping….I was admitted to the hospital for three days. After further testing, the doctors ruled out preterm labor and I was sent home.
I had a nice swim on Sunday December 21 and cooked dinner for the evening, that afternoon I started leaking fluid. I did not have any cramping or pain, just intermittent fluid leakage. By 7:00 that evening, I knew something was wrong as the fluid had increased in volume. My husband and I quickly wrapped up dinner and got the boys dressed. We met my in-laws on the way to the hospital and dropped off the girls. My husband dropped me off and I walked up to labor and delivery where they got me on a monitor. After a quick exam, they agreed that this time I had ruptured my water. Or the leak that was ruled out several weeks earlier had increased. Either way, the doctors would begin inducing labor after midnight.
I was completely flooded with emotions ranging from fear to guilt to excitement. I was fearful that my girls would have preterm complications because they were only 34 weeks. I was fearful that the procedures and treatments that accompany preterm birth would undo all of the diligent work I had done to nourish them. I felt guilty because I was not sure if I had caused the early labor by trying to do too much. I felt excited because I knew I would meet the girls very soon. It was a crazy roller coaster of feelings.
I was moved to a labor room and met with several doctors, residents, nurses and anesthesiologists. They explained all the risks and complications that come with a trial by labor after c-section. My husband went home to get some supplies and left me to rest. I had to take an IV antibiotic because I tested positive for strep B in the first trimester when I was with a different provider. The UNC team did not think the test was accurate and I was going to be retested at my next doctors appointment. Unfortunately, I did not make it to that point. They ted pitocin shortly after midnight and I was told it would take 2-8 hours until It would put me into labor. The first 8 hours came and went as I slept through the infusion. The doctors checked my cervix and found that I was still not dilated. So, they started a second round of pitocin and we waited 5 hours with the same end result. At that point I was super hungry and talked the nurses into letting me eat some lunch before we started round three. I had a green salad with olives, onion, tomatoes,mushrooms and chicken, a baked potato with butter, broccoli, squash and green beans with butter.
After a two hour break, we started round three. Again, after 5 hours, it was the same result of consistent contractions with very little dilation. At this point the doctors came in and explained the risks of doing a fourth round of pitocin and how they had already gone beyond protocol by doing more than two rounds of pitocin. So, the next step was to insert a baloon catheter to stimulate dilation and then begin the pitocin drip after 3 hours.
Finally, after three hours, i was dilated 5 cm. Yay! They started the pitocin and within 30 min I was starting to have very strong and painful contractions. They checked again and decided to break my water. After 30 more, very long, minutes I was dilated to 10 cm and super ready for an epidural. The epidural shortened the duration, but not the intensity of the contractions. At next check the doctor came in and told me we would push in 30 min. I was having some kind of wild hormonal shift causing my whole body to shake violently. After hearing that I would begin pushing in 30 minutes, the shaking increased to hormone and nervous shaking.
The nurses came in and we did some practice pushing. It took me a couple trys to get use to holding my breath when I pushed, as it is much more intuitive to exhale on exertion. Labor progressed quickly and they moved me into the OR to deliver. Everything happened so fast. I pushed 9 times (3 sets of 3) and out came my sweetest little bean: Annabelle Elizabeth. It was so amazing! I felt like I was in a dream! An amazing gift.
The feelings of exciement and joy were so great I almost forgot I still had work left to do. But, Madeline was not ready yet. So, they moved me back to the birthing room to wait for the second labor to begin. We waited 1 1/2 hours as the slowly dripped pitocin. Then I really began to feel contractions again. They had to reposition the epidural and I got some relief. My amazing doctor came in and helped move Madaline down into the birth canal. Between pushes we discussed how a woman could “train” for labor. I shared my training methods I used to prepare for the girls and of course, I had to plug my favorite tools: ViPR, Pelviccore and True Stretch. We chatted between pushes for 20 minutes until pushing got so intense I had to breathe instead of talk.😊 at times I was not sure if I had the strentgh to continue but each time I found the right push and gave it everything I had. After 70 minutes and many sets of three-four pushes, Madelyn Mae was finally ready to come out. I pushed five times and out she came! Two babies in one day! What a tremendous blessing. I was able to hold Madelyn for a little while before she went down to join her sister in the NICU.
Next came the placentas which I was able to see. They were attached and huge. The doctor said they probably weighed close to 5 pounds combined. My doctor then explained the significance of what I just did and all the amazing decisions that occurred along the way. Giving birth vaginally after a c-section is difficult but giving birth to twins vaginally after a c-section is rare. Which is why during my labor every available resident and attending was in watching the delivery. I later learned that the team was going to sent me away to Duke or Wake because the NICU was full. If that had happened, I have no doubt that I would have had to deliver by c-section. The next decision that led to a successful delivery was because they broke protocol and allowed me to take 4 rounds plus 1 of pitocin. If I had to have a c-section, I would not have been able to nurse my girls. That story comes next.