The birth of Abby & Hannah: 02/03/2014

Abby & Hannah

Abby and Hannah – 2/3/2014

[Note: Deidre and Dan had 2 babies at home with me prior to this pregnancy.]

 Just a few days before Christmas, we found that the baby I was carrying might be breech. With my due date 6 weeks away, Jan wanted to do an internal exam to be sure, but said there was a risk that it might trigger labor. After some discussion with Jan, we decided the risk was worth it since we wanted to avoid a breech hospital birth (something Dan and I did NOT want).  The exam told us the baby WASN’T breech, but unfortunately, that evening, contractions and bleeding were happening.  That led to 3 weeks of bed rest.  As frustrating as it was, it was an amazing amount of rest that would prove to be valuable in the coming weeks.  At week 37, bed rest was over.  I was thrilled to have time to get things accomplished before the baby would arrive.

However, just 1 week after the bed rest, Dan had a really frightening accident, one that left him with a trip on the medflight to UW Madison hospital.  While I knew he had a serious back injury, I had no idea what I would walk into the ER and see.  Would he be paralyzed?  Did he have feeling in his extremities?  Was he alert? It was the longest hour and a half drive of my entire life.  Thankfully, Dan “simply” had a broken neck.  During surgery, contractions began to pick up and some major discharge was occurring.  It was at that point that I called Jan, filled her in and we made a backup plan while I was at the hospital with Dan… just in case.  After surgery, Dan was doing really well.  They had him walking the same night.  I can’t tell you how incredible that was.  The relief of knowing Dan would have a hard recovery but he would be ok was enough to calm the signs of labor.  Such relief.

Dan was released from the hospital the following night after surgery.  That frightened me but with help and support from so many around us, his recovery has been so quick.  Now my biggest fear was going into labor at the same time I needed to be there to take care of Dan.  How could I possibly do both?  He wasn’t allowed to walk around without help, shower, go to the bathroom, etc.  He needed me and I wanted to be there.

My parents had wonderfully taken the three youngest children for just over a week to give Dan a chance to rest and recover.  I spent these last few weeks of pregnancy resting alongside Dan.  Taking it easy and just… being there.  On Feb 3 (the day before my due date), my mom brought the kids back and was going to head home after lunch.  While she was still here, Jan came to do a normal 40 week checkup.  Because I was so uncomfortable, she offered to “encourage” labor naturally with a cervical massage, and I was happy to try it – I had been having so many days of “almost” labor! Within minutes I had a mild first contraction.

My mom was planning to head home and come back in the morning. It wasn’t likely that it would pick up quickly, so Jan headed home and told us to call her when things progressed.  She only lived 20 minutes from us, after all! Over the course of the next hour, contractions were about 10 min. apart.  At about an hour and a half in, with contractions getting really strong, Dan was on the phone with his friend.  I kept telling him to get off the phone.  I may have used some harsh language to get my point across, but he didn’t think it would be a big rush.  I mean, after all, we had hours left, right?  As soon as he hung up I told him to get the pants off of me. At that point he called my mom and told her to head back over. Within minutes, with contractions jumping from 10 to less than 3 min. apart, the pain was getting unbearable.  My mom arrived and headed to our room with the kids. Shortly after I told Dan, “I think I need to push.” A couple of breaths.  “I’m going to push.”  A few more breaths.  “Catch.”  Dan wasn’t buying it and I was waiting for him to catch before pushing too much.  “CATCH!”  The next thing I hear was Dan on the phone with my midwife, “Where are you?  THERE’S A HEAD COMING OUT!”  She was two miles away.  “JAN!  I’M HOLDING A BABY!  SHE’S SLIPPERY!!!”  My mom was now in the room holding the baby because her umbilical cord was so short I couldn’t hold her. Jan arrived two minutes after the baby arrived and she instructed Dan to grab pillows as help me lie down on the floor.  As soon as my shoulder hit the floor, I knew I couldn’t lie down.  That’s when I knew.  We were NOT done!  Back up.  Dan had just walked back in the room to see baby number two came out breech… butt first.  The yells.  The astonishment.  The craziness of it all.  It was a huge ruckus of mixed emotions from us all.  The first set of twins ever delivered by Jan.  The first set of twins she ever “missed.”

We had TWO girls!  In an instant our daughter Alanna went from outnumbered by boys 3 to 1 to even numbered… 3 and 3.  Everyone was ecstatic.  Dan was shocked, frightened, amazed.  My head was simply spinning.

We had a name picked out for a boy or a girl, but not two girls.  The first one born was named by Dan.  Abigail Joy.  It means father’s pride.  After all we had just gone through with his accident, Father’s pride was fitting.  Baby number 2 didn’t have a name for a few days, but we settled on Hannah Louise.

Abigail was 6 pounds 2 ounces.
Hannah was 7 pounds.

So how did we miss it?  My measurements were almost exactly the same as my other pregnancies.  At that last visit, my belly only measured 4 cm. larger than my last pregnancy.  We only heard one heartbeat throughout the pregnancy.  Once there was a faint echo but never strong enough to make us think there were two.  The second head did throw us off and left us to wonder if the baby was breech.  All along, there was a breech baby and one not breech.  We had no idea.  Dan and I avoided ultrasounds because we had no reason for one.  Just an added expense, and we had no maternity coverage.

It all had worked out just the way it needed to.  Had we known ahead of time that we were having twins, it would not have been a homebirth because of the higher risk factor.  After just losing our insurance and the fact that Dan couldn’t drive or even handle being jostled around in the car, a hospital birth would have been so difficult.  Not to mention, they wouldn’t have “let” me go to 40 weeks, since twins are considered full term at 39 weeks. There would have been multiple ultrasounds and pressure to get induced, just after Dan’s accident.  Having Dan home for 4 additional weeks after the birth was a huge blessing as well.  There are so many reasons why this birth had to happen the way it did.  It really was so wonderful that we “missed” baby number 2 and there is NO ONE else we would have wanted to be there to help bring them into the world.

 Notes from Jan:

This birth was truly amazing. I don’t routinely care for women having twins. While legally I am permitted to do so, it just isn’t the usual thing. And it requires consultation with a doctor and more surveillance of the pregnancy. Furthermore, in all these years, I’ve had several women pregnant with twins, but have always been able to tell, usually pretty early in the pregnancy, because they measure significantly too large and eventually have too many body parts in there – it’s obvious that there are 2 babies! So to have an accidental “oops” twin birth was really unlikely. In fact, I arrogantly thought I “couldn’t” miss twins. HA!  These lovely ladies were born on my own daughter’s birthday – what a treat, even if a bit shocking!