A birth story with twice the joy

Jule's twin girls shortly after birth.
Jule's twin girls shortly after birth. Photo: Keith Miller

My beautiful twins were born on October 3 at 34 weeks and they're still in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to grow until they're big and strong enough to come home with us. The days after giving birth were busy with recovering and finding our way as parents of two gorgeous premature girls. Here's how their birth went.

Early October is a busy time in the delivery ward. All those New Years/summer holiday babies get ready to make an appearance. Although my due date was November 10, I had to be induced on October 2 after I developed pre-eclampsia and Hellp Syndrome.

Our babies are identical twins who shared one placenta, and our obstetrician had initially planned to induce them on October 16 at 36 weeks gestation. So in the end they were born just two weeks earlier than planned, but still six weeks earlier than the average single baby.

I always pictured myself having a fairly natural birth, spending a lot of time in a birth pool and working on positions to help the birth progress.

Having twins doesn't mean that you can't have a birth like that, but our obstetrician had explained that she would like to put an epidural in place before things really got underway just in case she had to act quickly to get the babies out. I decided to trust her and go with whatever she thought was best to deliver my babies safely.

The day before the induction my obstetrician gave me the choice between a planned caesarean or to try to give birth naturally, with the risk it could end up in an emergency caesarean. After a bit of thought and discussion with my partner I decided that I wanted to try to have them naturally.

Having spent three days in hospital having my blood pressure, platelets and the babies' heartbeats regularly monitored, induction day had finally come.

As the delivery ward was so busy my induction didn't start until midday.  My induction began with the application of Prostaglandin gel  and we settled into into the delivery suite, surrounded by all the birthing equipment and slightly surreally played a couple of rounds of Trivial Pursuit while my first contractions started kicking in.

By that evening the contractions were getting stronger. I took a couple of warm baths, played more Trivial Pursuit and managed to get a little rest until I was woken by my waters breaking at 2am. Everything progressed nicely and in the early hours of the morning I had an epidural needle inserted in my spine, which hurt a lot less than I'd expected.

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I was put onto a Syntocinon drip and as my contractions got stronger I decided to use my epidural. At midday our obstetrician joined us in the delivery suite. It was time to push and push, and push I did for almost two hours when our first child was born.

Just before the baby was delivered, my obstetrician asked me what sex I thought they were going to be (I hadn't found out beforehand). I told her I was pretty sure they were boys so I was pretty stunned when she showed me the baby and said "something's missing!".

My beautiful baby had huge dark teddy bear eyes and stared at me intently, looking a little surprised that she had already made it into my arms. After a bit more pushing (and the use of forceps) my second girl was born 13 minutes later.

They were both quickly whisked away to be checked by paediatricians before I got to hold both of them for the first time. Their Dad and I eyed our girls with wonder (and some tears!) and I was completely baffled that we had created these perfect, tiny creatures.

My first born weighed in at 2036g, while her sister was slightly heavier at 2152g. I'd been very concerned about the tinier one the day before, but she was in perfect health while her sister needed a little oxygen for a short while after birth. In general, both were doing well.

Instead it was me who wasn't doing so well after the birth. 

Getting the babies out was painful but fine, but it got a bit hairy when my placenta didn't come out in one piece. If I ever give birth again (not planning on it though) I'd definitely keep pressing that epidural button!

Here my memory gets a bit blurry. All I remember is them rolling me away into theatre where I was suddenly surrounded by quadrillions of people. I can't remember much of what went on - just that they gave me lots of painkillers, and before I knew it I was wheeled out into recovery. My partner was waiting for me, the colour in his cheeks finally coming back when he realised that I was going to be ok.

I'd lost a lot of blood and my legs would be numb and useless for almost 24 hours, but I was going to be fine. After being supervised in recovery for an hour or so, my bed was wheeled into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to have a proper look at my wonder girls.

They were tiny, and both in incubators but they were incredibly perfect. My brain couldn't quite process that the two babies that were breathing and grizzling in front of me had been in my belly just a short time before and that they would forever be my daughters.

I promised them that I would always love them and try my best to raise them into smart, happy young women. My heart was all theirs. Their father and I were standing (well, I was lying) in front of their incubators tearing up because we were so happy that they'd made it here safely.

It was tough not to be able to hold and cuddle them like every new mum craves. They were doing fine but as they were born at 34 weeks they'd have to spend some time in NICU, which isn't the start any parent hopes for their child or children. They say that you may not get the birth you want, but the birth that your baby/ies need, and the same is true for their first weeks of life. If they need to be in NICU then that's the best place for them.

- This is an edited version of Jule Scherer's blog post which first appeared on Stuff NZ. Follow Jule's journey through the highs and lows of a twin pregnancy and motherhood on Facebook and Twitter.