If you are scared, you’re not alone
After finding out I was having twins, I started to think a bit about c-section delivery when having twins, but it was all so far away. I was always so anxious in the first few months. I got pregnant at 36 and it was my first pregnancy.
As months grew by and my due date came closer, I then started to think about it on a regular basis. I can say that I have a good tolerance to pain but I’ve always been scared of epidurals even before I became pregnant. The idea of having someone put a needle in my spine freaked me out. Was it painful? What if they missed? What if it didn’t work? We all hear about those horror stories… Then of course everyone says that going on the Internet to find out more is not always a good idea but we do it anyway. Proof of it, you’re reading my story!
What the obstetrician WILL tell you
1. C-section delivery when having twins is more common. My obstetrician explained to me that when you are expecting twins, you can choose to have a natural birth if the first baby is head down. There is always a risk that it will end up in surgery if the second baby is breached and the doctor can’t turn him in due time or if he cannot reach him.
2. Twin pregnancy is a “high risk” pregnancy. She told me that she would monitor my pregnancy closely because since I was carrying mono-di twins, there was a risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, high-blood pressure, twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), preeclampsia etc. She even suggested I get a photo album to keep all the ultrasound photos! I’m glad she told me because I did keep all the photos from baby A and B and now my kids are happy to have their “first photo album”.
3. Wait period before getting pregnant again. We had a discussion about how I should wait at least 6 months before getting pregnant again due to the risk to rupture my uterus or have a small weight baby. In my case, the idea of having another baby after my twins within the first 6 months did not even cross my mind. My husband and I had our hands full with our two little angels. They were so cute and we were so tired.
4. Wait period to try a vaginal birth. In the same conversation, my OB told me that I should wait about 2 years to have another baby if I wanted to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). She didn’t go into details but I searched online and found out that there are 2 main reasons:
- The c-section causes uterine scars and the tissue may be weaker. There is a higher chance of rupture if you get pregnant within 24 months from the last c-section.
- The c-section increases the chances of placenta problems such as having the placenta attached to the lower part of the uterus (placenta Previa) and covering the cervix thus leading to preterm labor or repeated c-section. Another possible problem would be to have the placenta peel off the uterus (placental abruption) which can cause serious life-threatening problems for both mother and baby.
5. The lack of intimacy. One of the things I think I remember most about what my OB said was the lack of intimacy. She said that a c-section was anything but intimate. When you think of sharing this experience with your partner, well you will share it with about 7-9 professionals. Depending on your country, it may vary slightly but usually there will be two obstetricians, an anesthesiologist, and two nurses to tend to you during the surgery, but there will also be a pediatrician and a nurse for each baby.
6. Stay put after. You can of course forget about lifting anything heavy for a couple of weeks. They recommend not lifting anything heavier than your newborn. Even that in the first few days will be uncomfortable to do.
What the obstetrician did NOT tell me
1. The coldness of the operating room. What I didn’t expect was that the operating room would be so cold. The last time I was in an O.R. it was under general anesthesia so I probably didn’t remember. Although an O.R. is usually kept cool, they do raise the temperature slightly for the babies. So, why was I freezing? Part of the answer may come from a mix of numbness from the epidural and the time we spend laying down on the operating table half-naked. I also suspect that my nerves played a big part in it.
2. The length of the operation. To be fair, I didn’t ask how long it usually takes but I found that between the time my husband left the O.R. with the twins and the time I left to go to the recovery room, there must have been a good 45 minutes. For me, it felt like an eternity.
3. You may still end up peeing in your pants. I really thought only women who had vaginal birth peed in their pants when they laugh or sneeze. Well, no! It’s due to the weakening of the pelvic floor, so it doesn’t matter how you gave birth. I friend of mine told me that it can even happen to women if they jump on a trampoline. I’m sure you can’t wait til next summer to try in your own backyard!
4. The first poop will not be the highlight of your day. Between the IV, the epidural, the medication, the loss of blood etc, your first poop after c-section will most likely be painful. Remember that you also had major surgery to your stomach so any contraction will be painful at first. The good news: You will survive.
5. It hurts like crazy to cough, laugh and sneeze. When you have a bad cold and you cough a lot, your lungs hurt. Well, it’s a bit like that but it also includes any movement you may make. One nurse suggested I hold a pillow against my stomach before sneezing or coughing. It does help a bit or maybe it was just that I was pressing so hard even for the tinniest cough that it took my mind of my pain… Anyway, it’s still painful no matter what you do for the first few days.
6. Getting up to walk is a killer at the beginning. Unfortunately for me, I’m allergic to many painkillers (or as I call it, the good stuff) so this part was extremely painful for me. I had my c-section 5:34 at night and by the next morning, the nurse was bugging me to walk the whole corridor to go see my babies. Hell NO! I walked about 12 feet and then my husband had to push my wheelchair. Even with the medication, it will still be very painful. I had difficulties walking to the bathroom which was 5 feet away from my bed. I couldn’t stand up straight.
7. You may expect numbness around the incision. Chances are your skin will feel a bit numb in your lower abdomen because they cut some nerves during the c-section. In my case, I felt numb about 1 inch on top and below the incision for about 1 year. Now the numbness went away and I only have a tiny line to remind me.
My personal experience
I had been hospitalized for a week due to preeclampsia. My blood pressure was very high and my doctor was afraid of more complications so she waited for me to reach 34 weeks to perform the c-section. On a Tuesday morning she comes by to do an ultrasound and a quick exam and told me that she would schedule the delivery for Saturday unless something went wrong. The babies were in good health and my cervix was closed.
Around 1:30 pm that day, I was laying in bed when…. I peed on myself (or so I taught). I got up to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t stop “leaking”. Could it be it? Maybe it was silly of me because it was my first pregnancy but I didn’t know my water could break if my cervix was closed and I was only at 34 weeks. Surprise! Surprise!
They took me to a delivery room and checked that my water broke. The obstetrician confirmed that I was delivering that day! I knew it was coming but I didn’t expect it for a few more days. The adrenaline kicked in. My best friend was stopping by to bring me a few DVDs to watch so she got there within minutes. I didn’t want to deliver without my husband! My friend called him I can still remember her words: “Take your time but do it fast!”
The nurses kept asking me if I had any contractions or if I was in pain. Not at all (that’s the truth). I don’t remember the time exactly but my husband arrived around 3:00 pm. At 4:30 pm, they wheeled me in the corridor next to the operating room. That’s when I became super nervous. I met with the anesthesiologist and he was so nice and calm. He told me exactly what would happen and to him it looked so easy. I went into the O.R. and my husband waited just outside until they would tell him to come in.
I think I was more scared of the epidural than the c-section. It went so smoothly, I don’t know why I was so scared. The obstetrician told me that I would feel a pressure as she would push one baby aside to take the other one out. Since I couldn’t see a thing, I didn’t even know they had started! After what seemed like an eternity, I heard a baby cry. It hit me: I was a mom! They asked my husband if he wanted to get up to take some photos but he was too afraid to trip over something. A member of the staff took them.
After, the babies left with their dad and they closed the incision with surgical staples. I was then wheeled to the recovery room where they made sure that everything was okay. It’s only around 7:00 pm that they took me back to my room. Since I couldn’t walk yet, they took my babies one after the other for me to feed. At that point, I was not it too much pain. It came a few hours later.
For me, the first 48 hours were the worst. Everything is painful, walking, coughing even moving around in my bed. The good news is that with each day, it gets better. Since my twins were premature, we stayed with them in the hospital for the next 3 weeks.
If you are nervous about pain when they remove the staples, you shouldn’t be. I don’t remember exactly how many days after my c-section but I think it was 4. It doesn’t hurt one bit. I don’t know how they do it because I wasn’t really looking but I barely felt anything. Maybe it was because part of my skin was still numb but it’s not painful at all.
I was more scared about the process that I should have been. If you are anxious, it’s absolutely normal. Remember that the team surrounding you is composed of highly skilled professionals. They know what they are doing and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I really like to say that I gave birth to 2 kids and that I have never experienced a single contraction. Once you wrap your arms around those tiny little babies, you forget about a lot of it. As I am writing this post, my twins are 5 1/2 years old. I’m sure I have forgotten some pain (although I do remember that it was pretty intense the first few days). Our body is an amazing creature. As my mom would say: “If our body wasn’t designed to give birth, each woman would only have one child and would never relive this experience”. I guess it’s true.
You can count your blessings. Two babies at once is an amazing journey.
Writing this post brought me down memory lane and I’m sure you will treasure your memories too. If you enjoyed this article or if you have any question, I would invite you to leave it in the form below.
I am never too tired to answer your questions.