The Camp Twins: C-Section Birth Story and Hospital Stay
I wanted to write this post as soon as I had a spare minute, because it’s only been ten days and my c-section already seems like it was a lifetime ago! I can barely remember what it was like to not be a mom to my two perfect little baby boys and thankfully, the pains and discomfort of my twin pregnancy are already distant memories too! I’ll try my best to remember the details the best that I can, but please forgive my foggy postpartum brain if it seems all over the place!
Leading up to my scheduled c-section on July 11th (37 weeks gestation), I was absolutely miserable! Let me just say that the last few weeks of pregnancy seem to last an entire lifetime. I was extremely uncomfortable, my belly grew bigger than I thought was physically possible and broke out in fresh stretch marks and an itchy rash. I felt like my pelvis was going to break in half getting in and out of bed and I had a few too many emotional breakdowns probably for Ben to handle. Every day I was hoping that I would go into labor, and my contractions made us think that I actually would! Regular contractions combined with a doctor that was shocked I made it past 35 weeks had us on edge every hour, but now that all is said and done I am EXTREMELY grateful that we by some miracle made it to our scheduled delivery time rather than going into spontaneous labor before 37 weeks and risking time in the NICU.
The morning of 7/11 I woke up surprisingly well-rested and calm around 6 am. I took a long shower and got completely ready for the day. I was super hungry and thirsty since I had to fast starting at midnight and it was all I could do not to sneak an ice cube or two, or even a piece of gum for my cotton mouth! We arrived at The Birthplace at Spring Valley Hospital by 9am for a fast and painless check in. The center wasn’t busy at all and all of my nurses were super nice. I changed into a hospital gown in triage and got started right away with some standard fetal monitoring, hooked up to equipment tracking the babies heart rates, movement, and my contractions. I also received a couple of bags of fluid via a stinging IV and some antibiotics too I think. They took some of my blood to make some kind of fancy blood match for me in case I started hemorrhaging, which sounded pretty cool, but I thankfully didn’t need it. While I laid still on the monitors we filled out a ton of paperwork and I was introduced to each person that would be in the OR for my surgery individually. There would be about ten different people in there, each assigned to either baby or myself.
Dr. Wilkes, who has been an angel from heaven my entire pregnancy, showed up right on cue around 10:45 to give me some final words of encouragement and prepare me for what the cesarean would be like from beginning to end. He is so great! Then, (literally in the blink of an eye) I was being wheeled into the bright, sterile operating room filled with my team and a bunch of medical equipment. Ben had to stay outside for this first part, which was the hardest thing. I was dreading being alone for any amount of time. Thankfully, there was a tiny little square in one of the windows and I could see him peeking at me in all of his scrub clothes, so that was a little bit of a comfort. The spinal was the scariest part, although I like to think I stayed pretty calm. It just felt very weird and hard to describe going in, but not painful. After the anesthesiologist had me all good to go the nurses positioned me on the table and I could feel my entire body start to feel warm, numb, and kind of tingly. It became kind of hard to breath laying in a compromised position like that and my anxiety had me taking some deep calming breaths the best I could. I hated when they finally had to put the blue sheet in front of me, because they had my arms way out to my side and my vision totally blocked and I felt very claustrophobic, but I was glad that by now all tingling sensation had gone away and I couldn’t feel the nurses inserting my catheter or prepping my belly at all. I could not feel pain or temperature fluctuations, but I could feel pressure, and that would be the weirdest feeling of all once all those people had their hands on my moving things around and tugging and pulling like crazy!
Finally, Ben came in and I calmed down a lot just having his face next to mine behind the sheet. (From the time that I wheeled into the OR to Ben joining me was only actually ten minutes in real life.) Without delay, my doctor informed me that they were getting started and I could immediately feel pushing and prodding on my abdomen and hear suctioning, cauterizing, etc. which was a total trip. I realized that if I looked at this aluminum type piece of equipment behind the surgical lights on the ceiling, I could see a blurry reflection of the operation, so I peeked at that, but not too closely because it was all just so weird and surreal and I didn't want to pass out or anything!
In less than ten minutes from first cut, I felt an intense amount of pressure and then heard the best sound I’ve ever heard in my entire life, Baby A already out and crying! Wilkes held the baby in his hands and gave me a peek over the sheet and my heart basically shattered into a million pieces. It was heaven on Earth. Ben and I were both totally overcome with emotion and tears in a millisecond.
Two minutes passed where I’m pretty sure I had somebody elbows deep in and up my incision and a nurse pressing all of her weight onto me trying to squeeze Baby B out. Wilkes finally pulled the babe out feet first and upside down! His cry was just as beautiful as the first and again, heart shattering and uncontrollable tears seeing his sweet face for the very first time. The feeling of finally having my two little angel sons straight from heaven finally within a few feet of me, there is nothing more that I could ever want in my life!
Our birth team quickly evaluated the babies with an Apgar score of 9 each and did a bunch of other stuff before they wrapped them both up and brought them to me. Ben could hold one and a nurse held the other right up next to my face so we could have just a few seconds to cuddle and love the babies before they had to be taken away again. After he got a peek at my guts, uterus, and ovaries, I insisted that Ben go with the team and the babies to the nursery, so after a total whirlwind I was left alone again to have my guts put back inside me and be stapled back together. I think that Dr. Wilkes forgot about the six pack he promised I would leave the hospital with, but overall my incision site is pretty neat and clean. I was alone in the OR for another twenty minutes before they wheeled me out at exactly 12:03 pm. My life had turned upside down and my body had literally turned inside out in less than one hour it was absolutely insane.
A couple of strong nurses lifted my paralyzed limp body from the surgery site to a hospital bed and then from the OR, I went directly to recovery, where I wasn’t allowed to have any visitors and since Ben was with the babies I was alone still for another half hour! Time is a crazy thing. I had just had the fastest half hour of my life and it was immediately followed by the slowest. I was dying not having my babies with me for what seemed like forever. In that half hour I did get nauseated and had a mild case of the shakes, but generally felt pretty good and thoroughly enjoyed some pebble ice and being put in my abdominal binder for the first time. Dr. Wilkes came to check in on me and then immediately went to the nursery to light a fire under their butts by telling them that if they didn’t hurry up I would probably try to crawl to the nursery myself!
Ben finally brought the babies back to me and we had quality family time just us four for the next hour before I could be released to a normal room that allowed visitors. Ben let me know that while he was with the babies in the nursery, he had spent some quality time with Baby A, who he was strongly impressed should be named River, and Baby B would then be Summit. I found out that River Shane weighed 5 lb 9 oz and was 19 inches long, while Summit Dean was 6 lb 3 oz and also 19 inches long and both babies completely checked out at the nursery and would need zero time in the NICU!! This was my biggest concern throughout the entire pregnancy. So many prayers, hundreds probably, were answered when we were able to all be together without any NICU time at all.
While I was still in recovery I started to feel really hot. The compression sleeves they had on my legs felt like little heating pads and I would just hold ice in my mouth to keep cool. The nausea set in out of nowhere! I was told that nausea could be a symptom of the anesthesia prior to the c-section, but that it was "very rare". Of course, after I started complaining about it I was told that it was "completely normal" ha! The voyage of being pushed in my hospital bed in recovery to my room down a few hallways felt like I might as well have ridden Space Mountain three times in a row, the motion sickness was that bad!
Some of my proudest moments occurred in our normal hospital room in the following hour as mine and Ben’s families and the twins too were able to meet the babies for the first time. Lots more happy tears. Summit had a slightly low temperature so we had skin to skin for about an hour while River got passed around before Summit could join the party.
In the following hours we enjoyed having more visitors and nurses come and go and just holding our babies. I was slightly upset that there wasn’t a lactation consultant or really anyone to help me with breastfeeding at all, but I was also blessed that the babies were able to latch on their own and I could kind of figure things out for myself as I went, thanks to all of the books and blogs that I read while I was pregnant.
The first 24 hours in the hospital were the hardest physically by far. I couldn’t move my legs barely at all or get out of bed for 12 hours, which put me around midnight when I finally got my catheter out and attempted standing for the first time. In the meantime, my body was really swollen and I was burning up. Worst of all, I was nauseous and the meds I requested didn’t seem to help a bit. I threw up every couple of hours and then felt better for about an hour before doing it all over again. It was miserable! I felt bad for not being able to hold the babies when I felt super sick and I also felt bad for our visitors that had to witness the puking episodes lol. At least I had some fancy puke bags right nearby me 24/7. The miracle of childbirth and joy that my babies brought me made it all worth it though and I was just so thankful that I was the sick one, not one of them!
At about the 24 hour mark the anesthesia had all worked it's way out of my system and I felt completely better. It was like night and day! I ate a late breakfast and kept it down and I was also able to walk to the bathroom and back by myself a couple of times and eventually got my IV out and even took a shower! A nurse had to help me with that part and I now have a whole new respect for nurses and what they can talk a person through with a smile on their face! My first few bathroom trips were so traumatic, with limited range of motion and a big wrinkly basketball belly that I wish I never had to see, but I felt a million times better after I was able to get cleaned up and fresh-feeling with my abdominal binder back on for more visitors to come and whatnot!
The second day nurses continued to regularly check vitals on me and the boys. I was on Percocet and Ibuprofen 800 alternating every three hours, which I think saved me from a lot of pain. I tried to stay on top of it the best I could, but when it would start to wear off, the cramping, soreness, and stinging at the incision site were all pretty rough. The twins got their hearts checked via ultrasound again, which went well enough. We have another appointment in three months to confirm that everything closes up and continues to function properly. They also got their hearing tested. River passed the first day, but we found out Summit’s ears were still about 75% blocked from amniotic fluid. Over the course of the day and night though, the fluid dried up and that number dropped to 16%, so he was able to pass the test by day three!
The second night in the hospital was harder than the first, I think because mine and Ben’s adrenaline high had worn off and we were absolutely exhausted. River was fussy and wanted to be held chest to chest most of the night, but I was so dang tired I didn’t feel safe trusting myself to not fall asleep with him on me, so I could only hold him for so long before placing him back in the bassinet. Ben was a total zombie and although he had the best of intentions, couldn’t stay fully awake either, at least not enough that I felt comfortable falling asleep when he was holding them and I was an anxious mess and couldn’t sleep if I heard them make any little whines or anything at all! This was the first time I felt a twinge of what could have turned into postpartum depression, feeling a little inadequate and overwhelmed, wishing I could be better at calming my new baby down, but feeling like I was kind of failing. At about 1:30, unbeknownst to each other, Ben and I both texted my mom that we desperately needed some help! My angel mother was at the hospital by 2am and stayed with the babies until 5am, keeping them cuddled and content while we were finally able to get a little real sleep! Thank heavens for her. I woke up feeling so much lighter and happier and looking back, I know that I really needed that emotional break to reset and rejuvenate.
To our total surprise, we were able to be released the afternoon of day three! I was so thankful and eager to get out of our cramped hospital room and back into our nice, clean house. Haley and Emily hung out for a few hours to help us get all packed and cleaned up and when the time came we loaded up the boys in the car to go home! Such a cool/twilight zone type experience. Ben and I shed some sweet tears of gratitude that everything had gone so smoothly at the hospital getting into the car to drive our boys home.
The whole hospital experience was probably the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced, in a good way mostly, being thrust into motherhood while also going through the most intense surgery I’d ever had and having to rely on so many other people for help in so many different ways was just surreal. I feel like I became a whole new and improved version of myself when I became a mother and that our little family felt that much more complete. Watching Ben be a dad was also one of the most touching things and I was overwhelmed with gratitude to have such a sweet husband. Looking at my baby boys I do not know how I ever lived without them and everything just feels so perfect and right in that deja vu, I’ve been here before kind of way. I know that my life is going perfectly according to plan at this point. All of the struggle and trials that led us here, were actually worth it in the long run. I can’t wait to experience more and more with the babies every day and create more and more memories and for now I am just trying my best to soak in every single minute that they are so fresh from heaven, tiny and new.