It all began on Saturday, when I thought I may be in labor after a couple hours of contractions. Nathan and I went to the hospital, where I was monitored for two hours. I was only 2 cm dilated and 40% effaced. Although I was having contractions, the doctor assured me that delivery was not imminent. The contractions were minor and my cervix was "non-laboring" (which means she saw no signs of change that would suggest labor). The attending physician told me to not expect to deliver for at least another week.
I kept these words in mind when the cramping returned Sunday afternoon. Thinking it was the usual minor contractions, I attempted to sleep through them and ignore the pain. After a somewhat restless (yet typical) night, I woke up around 7:30 to use the restroom. I noticed a very small amount of blood and noted the contractions were still there. It was nothing major (I thought), but just to be safe, I called labor and delivery at the hospital and asked if I should come in. The nurse, who remembered me from Saturday, assured me everything was fine and suggested I go in to see my doctor as soon as his office opened. I called and made an emergency request for an appointment with Dr. Miu. His office did not open until 8:30 and when no one had called me back by 9, Nathan and I decided to just walk in. By that, I mean Nathan literally walked in to the back of his office and said something like, "We need Dr. Miu now, please!" By this point, I suspected I was in labor due to the frequency of the contractions.
Dr. Miu was smiling as he hurriedly ushered us into a room. He performed an exam first thing and his expression immediately changed. He very quickly said, "You are dilated 6 centimeters. You are going to the hospital now and will have to ride in an ambulance." Before he could leave the room, I burst into tears and told him, "I cannot have my babies here! It's too soon! I can't have them here!" He apologized and told me, "There is no time to be flown anywhere. You are having these babies here, NICU or no NICU." I didn't hear anything else, as I was instantly hysterical and sobbing.
Because there is no NICU in our town, our plans were to deliver with another doctor an hour away at a nicer hospital. If something went wrong during delivery and the babies had any signs of trouble breathing, the hospital would not be able to help them here. Most likely, the boys would be immediately transported via helicopter to a neighboring hospital while I remained in Othello. I was 35 weeks 1 day, so I knew they wouldn't be too small, but I also knew the hospital's pediatrician strongly recommended we have the babies elsewhere. As I imagined a variety of horrible scenarios, I cried due to feelings of immense guilt. I felt horrible for not going to the doctor or hospital sooner and for putting our babies at risk. How could I not listen to my body?
Nathan tried to calm me, and Eliza kept saying, "Be happy, Mommy." I couldn't stop shaking, though. Paramedics arrived, strapped me down to a gurney, and wheeled me outside. The next thing I knew, IV's were being put into my arms, I was being undressed, and an oxygen mask was secured to my face to help calm my breathing. Somehow, I managed to text a couple of my friends and family members and ask for prayers; I knew I desperately needed them.
The ride to the small hospital took less than five minutes, and I felt an immense sense of relief when I saw my mother-in-law's car pull up behind the ambulance. Cheryl is such an amazingly calm person, and I knew she would be able to help me. Already, prayers were being answered! By this time, it was 9:45 am.
I was rushed upstairs, where a team of nurses and doctors was waiting for me. I was dilated 8 centimeters, and I knew I had to gain my composure and stop crying if I wanted things to go smoothly. Cheryl held my hand and told me to focus on positive thoughts. She reminded me that soon I would have two beautiful sons and that the pain wouldn't last much longer.
In the midst of all of the commotion, I asked about the epidural. From conversations with multiple doctors, I knew epidurals are usually a requirement with twin deliveries. Even if both babies are head down, Baby B could potentially flip once Baby A has been born. This, along with a variety of other factors, often causes the need for emergency c-sections. Dr. O, who had been scheduled to deliver our sons, was extremely familiar with delivering twins and was comfortable with manually flipping a breech Twin B. He still recommended an epidural, though, just to be safe. Dr. Miu, on the other hand, was not comfortable with flipping a breech baby and almost always performs c-sections for all twin births.
However, our situation was very different. Things were progressing so quickly that our delivery was an exception to many rules. I still wasn't in much pain (uncomfortable yes, but it was the least of my worries due to all of the stress) and Dr, Miu let me know that introducing an epidural this late in the game could affect the progress of labor and my pushing ability. Both of these things could lead to a c-section or babies in stress. He said if I opted to do a drug-free labor, I would be able to push better and remain focused (most likely). Terrified of causing any stress to the babies without the safety of a NICU around, I decided I would do it naturally. Additionally, I was nearly 9 centimeters, so there really wasn't much time to do anything. If, for some reason, I needed a c-section, I would put under general anesthesia for the procedure (I actually preferred this idea over being awake during a c-section. All of you ladies who have had a c-section are much braver than me!).
During this time, Nathan manged to find a friend from church who worked at the hospital. They gave me a blessing of comfort, and almost instantly, I felt a sense of peace. I also received a flurry of texts from loving friends and knew I had a number of people praying for me. As they wheeled me down to the operating room, which is standard procedure for twin deliveries, the new nurse receiving me remarked, "Oh good. She's had her epidural."
I looked up at her and said, "Nope! I haven't had one. I just feel really good for some reason." She looked back at me in disbelief and said, "Well I'll be! I've never seen this before. You go, girl!"
I was put on an operating table and three huge, blinding lights were put on me. A number of doctors and nurses filled the room, and the anesthesiologist stood over me with an oxygen mask, ominous and ready to pounce at any sign of distress. I asked him to get the oxygen mask out of my face. I knew I could do this.
After my brief words to the anesthesiologist, I paid no attention to anyone. I focused on my babies and hummed a song of comfort in my mind. Fifteen minutes and four pushes later, Elliott Dailey Robbins was born at 10:54 am. He weighed 5 pounds 5 ounces and was 17 1/2 inches long.
I'm still in a daze that it all happened so quickly. To those women who haven't delivered a child yet (or even if they have), trust your instincts and go to the doctor/hospital if you feel like you may be in labor! Don't worry about "crying wolf" or false alarms. We were truly blessed that all went well.