Welcome to the Share Your Story event: Childbirth – Your Stories
This post was written as part of the Share Your Story event hosted by Kids in the House. Our contributors have shared their stories, struggles, and wisdom about the unforgettable yet unpredictable event that is childbirth.
It was a day I had dreamed of since I was a little girl, but the events leading up to it looked nothing like I had imagined. I was with the man I planned to spend the rest of my life with, yet not even engaged; completing my master’s degree, but not yet working. We had been in Georgia about 5 months, living in a one bedroom apartment away from all my family, with very few friends. Things in our relationship were less than ideal to say the least. We were both struggling with several internal demons, him with alcoholism and me with an eating disorder I’d battled since I was 16 years old; but I had my heart set on making this man become the man of my dreams and building a family with him. I ignored the signs that said he wasn’t ready and didn’t want that kind of life and carried on, praying some day he’d catch up to me in this one woman race I had chosen to run. I never imagined then that almost three years later, my boys and I really would be running the race alone, but that story is for another time.
I was completing my internship for my master’s in social work and started simply not feeling well. Being bulimic, it was not uncommon to not feel well; but this was different. I had convinced myself I couldn’t get pregnant because of all the havoc I had wreaked on my body over the years, and I’d begun to believe I didn’t deserve the gift of children as a result of my poor choices, so let’s just say I was less than careful in the family planning department. I wanted children desperately, more than anything I’d ever wanted in my life. When I got that gut feeling something was happening inside my body I hadn’t necessarily planned for, I was scared, but I was secretly excited.
It was 11 o’clock at night and we were laying in bed preparing to go to sleep. I remembered I had a pregnancy test in the bathroom cabinet so without a word I popped up, went into the bathroom and peed on the stick. I didn’t put any real thought into it and I never expected anything other than that same singular rejection line that says, “You’re not going to be a mother.” I had peed on sticks before when I was late or felt a little off and they were always negative, so I had no reason to believe this one would be any different. I wasted time nervously plucking my eye brows while I waited the 3 minutes for the result of the test. Little did I know this would be the most important test I’d ever taken. A test I didn’t study for, didn’t even plan on taking, and certainly never dreamed I’d pass at this point. The minutes ticked by and without even really looking at the stick, I picked it up to throw it away. I looked at it one more time before tossing it and my heart stopped.
There were 2 lines!
My heart started beating again but this time so hard I could hear it in my own ears. I stood there for a moment in complete shock, not knowing what my next move should be. Knowing this might not be a positive thing in the eyes of pretty much anyone but me, I said a prayer. I thanked God for this gift, questioned His sanity and wondered if He realized who I was and if He had simply made a mistake. I took a breath and walked out of the bathroom holding the pregnancy test in my hand. He looked at me confused and I simply said, “Um…..this is positive.” Again, my heart stopped beating as I waited for his response.
It wasn’t good.
At this point, he didn’t view this as a gift but rather as an enormous mistake. A mistake that needed to be “fixed.” He went through all the reasons we could not go through with this pregnancy, and there were many. As he spoke, I felt myself changing. Shrinking, feeling buried and separated by a wall that had been built in a matter of seconds. Behind that wall I felt myself getting stronger, braver than I’d ever felt in my life. I heard his words but didn’t truly listen to any of it knowing we were now in 2 completely different worlds. I replied with a simple, “Go to sleep. In the morning I will take another test to be sure and then I will make a doctor’s appointment and we’ll figure it all out.”
There was never a question in my mind that I would go through with this pregnancy, thanking God every moment of it for the gift he had just granted me. I didn’t have any insurance, I wasn’t married, my boyfriend was an alcoholic who didn’t want me to keep the baby, I didn’t have a job yet, my family was 10 hours away and struggled to support my relationship knowing I was worth more than the situation I was in, and I was still in the grips of bulimia. My almost constant prayer over the next few days was, “Thank you God, but how in the world am I going to do this? How could you possibly think this is a good idea?” The next morning I took another test and almost instantly, 2 lines appeared. It was the positive I never expected to see and although I knew this was not the “right” way for this to happen, and the situation itself couldn’t be called good, I couldn’t help but be overcome with joy. An overwhelming peace came over me and I knew that no matter what, everything was going to be alright.
Because we were not married yet and I had no insurance, I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy. Those few days waiting for the appointment felt like an eternity. They were filled with tears, fears, prayers, joy and overwhelming anticipation of what was to come. I started having excrutiating pain and was worried I was either losing the baby or had an ectopic pregnancy. When I walked through those doors I felt a milion different emotions, the greatest of which was shame. Shame for being in this situation; for looking like a stupid, irresponsible girl who was living so far outside the realm of what she was raised to be she couldn’t see how she’d ever get back. I feared anyone seeing me walk through those doors knowing they’d label me in disgust of the choice they’d assume I was making. I knew I was only going to confirm my pregnancy and figure out my next steps, but I was sure everyone else thought different.
I did another urine test when I got there and a few minutes later she said, “You are definitely pregnant. If you’d like we can do an ultrasound to try to figure out how far along you are.” I immediately agreed and tried to choke back my tears. I layed on the table and invited my boyfriend into the room with me. He came in and held my hand, fear in his eyes; but as soon as the screen appeared, I knew he knew there was no other choice but to accept this blessing.
She said, “There it is. You have one healthy baby in there! Looks like you’re about 7 weeks, 6 days. Congratulations!” Tears filled my eyes and began to flow down my cheeks. Every single emotion was felt in those few minutes. My boyfriend and the nurse walked out of the room while I got dressed and I tried to contain the outpouring of emotion I felt. I pulled myself together and walked out of the room across the hall to discuss our options moving forward. We walked out of there in silence, both in awe of what we’d just seen and the decision we’d just confirmed to become parents together, but still in very different worlds about this new reality. I didn’t know how it would all look, but I knew from that moment forward, life would never be the same.
Over the next few days, we talked about our options and tried to make a plan for how we’d make this work. It was a busy month ahead. I applied for Medicaid so that I could go to a real ObGyn or midwife, I completed my Master’s degree and got a job, and then we got married so that we could try to do this the “right” way and be an actual family. The details of us getting married and what came after are for another post entirely so I’m going to just leave it at that for now.
I started out at a place called The Birthing Center, planning to walk this journey in the healthiest, most natural way possible. I loved everything about the place. The philosophy, the midwives, the beautiful homey setting and the enormous jacuzzi bathtub I could potentially give birth in. I set up routine appointments and went to hear the heart beat and confirm things were progressing as expected. At each appointment, everything was perfect. I was healthier than I’d been in 10 years, the baby was healthy and thriving, and I was getting more and more elated about the prospect of becoming a mother.
The 20 week mark rolled around and I was over the moon excited to find out if this little miracle was a boy or a girl. I laid on the table filled with life and joy in anticipation of whether my world would soon be filled with pink or blue. The ultrasound technician got started and through our small talk I heard her say, “Ok, here they are! Looks like they are both head down…”
I looked at her with a smile on my face, confused by this strange sense of humor she seemed to have and I simply said, “What!?” She looked back at me and said, “Did you not know you were having twins?” I responded with a shocked, “NO!” and looked over at the screen to see she was telling the truth. There in fact were 2 heads on the screen!
Let me just say it was a good thing I was laying down because I most assuredly was seconds from passing out. Either this was some kind of absurd ultrasound humor or there really were two peas in my pod. She continued talking and all I heard was mumbles resembling Charlie Brown. I had to tell her to stop because I was not processing anything she said. We’d had an ultrasound already and they confirmed 1…ONE…heathy baby. No one ever said anything about TWO! The technician was angry because Planned Parenthood had overlooked an entire child! For 20 weeks we cruised along, only ever listening for ONE healthy heartbeat, and only expecting to find out the sex of ONE precious life, not TWO!
My husband and I held hands, both shaking from the unexpected news of this double blessing, and she continued the ultrasound. She informed us that we had two healthy, monozygotic, identical twin boys! And then she informed me that I’d have to find another doctor because the birth center was only equipped to handle low risk, single pregnancies. Luckily, she worked for an excellent ObGyn and recommended I see him. I was upset I wouldn’t have the option of giving birth in this luxurious place but was happy to be transferred to a well recommended doctor. I made an appointment and we carried on.
My family all waited with bated breath for the news, having no idea it would be news times two. Everyone shared in our excitement and it was one of the happiest days of my entire life. I felt like I was floating the rest of the day. I returned to work and could not stop smiling. I was truly glowing, and I’d like to think the glow has stayed ever since.
Everything about my pregnancy was as close to flawless as it gets. I believe God carried me and the boys physically because the emotional turmoil that swirled around us was almost unbearable, and I was basically on my own throughout the pregnancy in every way. I did have family support and my husband did what I believe he was capable of doing in his alcoholic condition, but I’m eternally grateful God allowed me to not need anything from him. The boys were growing perfectly, they stayed head down the whole time, and I had no abnormal issues. Although it was classified a high risk pregnancy because of it being twins, everything about it was very low risk. I exercised and stayed active up until the final weeks of my pregnancy and I worked full time until 2 days before delivery.
It was very important to me to deliver vaginally at all costs. My greatest fear the whole time was that I’d deliver baby A (Ethan) vaginally and then baby B (Connor) would flip and I’d have to have a c-section anyway. I prayed without ceasing for the health of my boys and that I’d be able to deliver them both without a c-section. God answered every prayer and protected me and my sons more than I can express in this one writing. The circumstances of my marriage and relationship were struggling at best, yet I have never had more internal peace and joy than I did over the 38 weeks those boys lived inside my body.
I continued to progress and my stomach continued to stretch beyond anything I ever thought was possible for one belly to stretch. As much as my stomach was growing, my heart was expanding even more. As it got closer to the end, I started feeling the weight of these two lives. The emotional weight was heavy, but the physical weight made my pelvis feel as though it would shatter at any moment. It became harder to walk and I had the full blown pregnancy waddle, often praying that no one fell out while I was walking or working. The 45 pounds I gained felt more like 145 many days. As I approached week 38 which is considered full term for a twin pregnancy, I went in for my regular appointment to see how things looked and to make a plan. My doctor informed me I was 1 cm dilated. It started to get a lot more real in that moment that within a matter of days, I would become a mother.
My doctor did not want me to go beyond the 38 week mark so he scheduled a day for me to come in for induction if things did not progress more on their own. I prayed so hard things would happen naturally because I was petrified of having to have a c-section. I’ve seen A Baby Story on TLC….I know how this goes! The date was set, the family was informed and the plans were in motion.
Two days later, the time had come. I gathered my bags and my husband, and we headed out the door, just hours away from life changing forever. Mid route to the hospital I got a phone call from my doctor’s office informing me that they wanted me to go to a different hospital just in case there were any emergency situations to arise. They said they wanted me there in about 2 hours, so we had to kill some time and digest the literal last minute change. We enjoyed my “last supper” and took our time making our way to the hospital. I informed my parents, brother and sister-in-law of the change as they were on their way, traveling the 10 hour journey to get to us for this momentous occasion.
I arrived at the hospital 3 cm dilated, so they decided to hold off on the induction medication. My parents arrived shortly after they placed us in a room and all was still good. No need for induction… Praise the sweet Lord! They cleared me to walk around the hospital so my parents and I took a long walk just talking. My mom shared her birth stories of her 3 pregnancies, including the birth of my twin brothers. It was a sweet, still time with my parents before the chaos to come began. When I got back to the room the nurse told my parents they could go ahead to their hotel and that we likely wouldn’t see or start any action until about 4:30 in the morning. They walked out of the room around 10:55 pm and around 11:00, my water broke.
That walk was just enough of a push and my body took over. I called my mom and told her she might want to come back. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she walked back in the room. She was about to meet her grandsons and I was about to become a mom.
My contractions started getting extremely intense shortly after my water broke and any of the painful contractions I’d had previously felt like kitten licks in comparison. I began to fully understand why it’s called “labor.” I have never felt so much pain in my life (except with my second pregnancy of course.) I had back labor and with each contraction, it felt like something was ripping its way through my insides. My mom pressed her tea bottle into my back to counteract the pain and helped me breathe and try to relax. I wanted to wait as long as possible for an epidural but I finally got to a point I could no longer take it. I was 7 cm dilated so I felt good about that and gave them the go ahead for the drugs. It was probably around 3:30 am at this point and no one had slept or relaxed. Once the epidural kicked in, it allowed me to breathe and I actually fell asleep for a few minutes. I drifted off into a sweet sleep; the last sleep I would take for several months. Before I knew it, I woke up to the nurse checking my cervix and saying, “You’re at 10 cm, it’s time to go!”
I didn’t have time to process what was about to happen. My husband woke up from his nap and walked by the bed as they wheeled me into the OR. With a twin pregnancy they deliver in the OR even if it’s not a c-section, just so that in case there are any complications, they are already prepared to handle them quickly. I felt like a million bucks, although I had a hard time hoisting myself from the hospital bed to the delivery table. My doctor was unable to be there because of how fast I progressed, so I shook hands with the on call doctor and we got to pushing!
Everything was flawless. Ethan was born at 4:30 am weighing 7 pounds, 2 ozs. They let me hold him briefly and then whisked him away. He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. A little pail, but absolutely breathtaking!
While they cleaned him up, weighed him and did what they do, I prepared to push again. 9 minutes later, Connor was born weighing 6 pounds 15 ozs and both boys were healthy and thriving.
I’d always imagined I’d be a weepy mess when I gave birth but instead, I couldn’t stop smiling. Don’t worry, the hormonal disaster of tears came later. I remember watching my stomach as I pushed these residents out of their first home and laughing at how it looked like someone had just let the air out of a balloon. It was such a strange feeling and for days, my stomach felt like something big was missing from it. But, I was beyond delighted to now be able to hold my baby angels in my arms rather than my stomach. There were moments of fear realizing that they’d crossed the border, now living on the earth side of my body, and I was no longer able to completely control and protect them from the world. But I knew I’d give my all trying.
They were here. My baby boys, who I’d prayed for since I was a child. My baby boys, who years before I had lost hope in ever getting to meet. My baby boys, who I loved and cherished so much it hurt; who grew underneath my heart for 38 weeks but would now grow into it for the rest of my life.
I never dreamed of being so blessed. After living the life I’d lived, knowing that God loved and trusted me enough to be the mother of his angels humbled me beyond anything I can express. My life changed that night standing in the bathroom holding the positive pregnancy test; but on May 3rd, 2012, my world was rocked forever. My heart, now beating outside my chest, felt like it would burst as I held these two precious little lives in my hands.
Two years, several life changes, a pending divorce, lots of heartache and one more beloved baby boy later, I am still humbled daily by this calling of motherhood and I stand in awe at the miracles that occurred within my body. I never could have imagined that such perfection could come from such a flawed and broken woman as me, but God could and I am so blessed to be a mom. It’s not a gift I deserve, but it’s the one thing in my life I feel sure about.
I may have given birth to those boys, but they gave life to me.
Here are the links to the other participants in this event. Check out their inspirational stories as well!
Please be sure to read the submissions by the other Share Your Story contributors, and visit Kids in the House to find out how you can participate in our next Share Your Story Blogger Event!
- Two Peas in a Pod: A Double Miracle – Rachael at Three Boys and Mom shares how the blessing of an unexpected twin pregnancy saved a woman’s life.
- Childbirth: the Ache of Love – Sasha at MomLife Now describes how one mom discovered a miraculous beauty she new not existed.
- Tax Day 2007 – Cheryl at The Pump Station & Nursery looks back on how an easy pregnancy turned out to be a taxing birth experience.
- Going with the Flow – Bridget at Bridget Bertrand shares how her OB helped to put her on the right course in regards to birth plans, the playlist, and even the recipe to make the day her daughter came into the world.
- My Not-So Natural Birth Story – Rachel at Mommy Greenest shares a lot of questions with questions with pregnant and new parents through her work, but this time describes what it was like for her, giving birth for the first time – but definitely not the last – time.
- The (Not So) Natural Birth Story – Britt at My Life and Kids reflects on how a mom’s life-threatening delivery helped mold her into the mother she was meant to be.
- Giving Birth: When the Unexpected Happens – Elle at This is Mommyhood shares advice for when your baby has an unexpected stay in the NICU.
- A New Look at the "Perfect" Birth Story – Melissa at Fill My Cup shares how a crazy delivery gave one mom a new perspective on the ‘perfect birth.’
- Induction Induced Feelings of Loss – The Orange Rhino shares how a planned induction brought unplanned feelings of jealousy, sadness, disappointment and loss.
- Our Beautiful Birth Story – Lindsay at The Fully Caffeinated Mama reflects on how it wasn’t the feeling of intense pain caused by the epidural wearing off that she remembers, but rather the beautiful baby on her chest for the first time.
- Jack’s Arrival – Samantha at The Peanuts Gang thought she would have a scheduled c-section, but it turned out that having Jack was QUICK and sooner than expected!
- Remembering to Breathe – Suzy at Kids in the House explains how with little fanfare, the completely wrong music, and a very distracted doctor, her son Leo was born.