Week 37.5, the bump has now grown to full capacity and is itching so much it feels like a million red ants have taken up residence somewhere near my belly button. The babies have hardly any room left to perform their customary bongo impressions and the hospital is primed and ready to go; twins are still a big deal in any maternity unit and always bring a little excitement to proceedings. Monday arrives and I am unceremoniously carted in to ante-natal clinic at the maternity suite for a ‘stretch and sweep’. The procedure is every bit as unpleasant as it sounds; leaving me thinking that oven ready turkeys get a really rough deal every year without as much as a by or leave. Predictably, for all the surgical manipulation, little beans 1 and 2 are defiant and clearly want to stay where they are no matter what. I go home again with my suitcase, defeated… having prepared for battle and with nobody turning up for the fight. After 24 hours of waiting for absolutely nothing to happen, the nurses decide I must go back in to hospital and be induced the following day.
Typically, the chain of events surrounding this momentous occasion all conspire to make this a nerve wracking week all in all. The induction lands on the day our eldest child is sent off to boot camp with his newly acquired class mates. As I am racing around trying to pack the last few things for his kit bag and the last few items for my hospital bag, my better half turns a pale shade of green and starts returning last night’s curry with a touch of food poisoning. Meanwhile, younger ( and soon to be middle) child is looking scared and stricken as he becomes hugely aware that he’s standing in the midst of this chaos- shortly to be without his brother for several days, without his mum for anything up to a week and ostensibly without step-dad who is currently buried somewhere in the depths of the bathroom. I catch sight of his lonely little face and momentarily wish I could rewind and plan this whole thing a little better somehow!
Fast forward an hour or so and both children are deposited at school for their various reasons, babysitters and helpers have been organised and we’re winging towards the hospital for the moment of truth and a helping hand in the road to twindom.
Deeply nervous and waddling just a tad more than I have done ever before, I’m shown up to my room at the induction suite; better half on tow, carrying all my gubbins. After some careful monitoring and listening in to the babies heart beats, the nurse dons her dreaded NHS turquoise rubber gloves and starts the induction process with perhaps a little too much vim and vigour….. Half an hour later, the drugs have worked and the contractions have started.
Defiantly, even though I know there are drugs available everywhere around me, I am absolutely determined to breathe my way through as much of the labour as I possibly can. With every stronger contraction I keep thinking of the midwives who somehow talked me into having a natural birth with twins. “This is a rare occurrence” they said. “You should take this opportunity and grab it with both hands” they said. “The twins are both head down and ready to just pop out” they said. With each progressing contraction and with one baby sitting back to back on my spine, I’m thinking I must have been living in a parallel universe for a while or I’m completely mad…… or maybe just surrounded by midwives who were completely mad! Four hours later and I am bent double in agony over the matron’s desk in the main foyer. My knees are buckling with the pain and the paracetamol isn’t touching the pain or the panic. Very calmly the midwife announces that she thinks she should ring the delivery suite “as there’s no gas and air up here”.
Eight hours later, I’m still there. No delivery suite… no gas and air…. No babies as yet. Just lots of pain and a very patient better half trotting me off to have a warm bath every so often. Thankfully my best friend and appointed doula has turned up in the midst of the carnage and somehow calmed me enough to get off all fours and count the contractions whilst singing ‘hickory dickory dock’. There’s nothing else we can do as all delivery suites and operating theatres are full to capacity.
Three o’clock on the morning of day 2, the midwife who looks like a slightly deranged, if permed version of Jo Brand appears to announce nonchalantly that a bed has now become available in the delivery suite down stairs. The pain is so excruciating by now that I’m almost hallucinating, I am dehydrated from panting my way through contractions and I’m almost losing the will to live. Somehow we manage to arrive at delivery suite 1 and after an hour of being buffeted around by a 12 year old anaesthetist, I have a spinal block and an epidural underway. By now I am looking and feeling so exhausted and dishevelled, wrought with worry about the babies welfare after hours of fighting, I’d have no more awareness if a random porter shuffled me out into the corridor and left me on a trolley with a ‘penny for the guy’ sign written next to me.
Suddenly I am aware of a familiar face in the shape of my previous consultant when I’d had baby number 2, six years previously. I am immediately relieved as I know she will decide something for the better and decide it fast. “ We’re going to have to take you into theatre “ she says. “The babies are struggling a bit now”.
Immediately delighted that it’s all being taken care of, I relent as they wheel me into theatre with my better half in scrubs next to me. Delirious with tiredness, I am aware that screens are going up around me, but all I can hear is my own heart beating loudly in my ears and a friendly consultant asking if I’m ok. Within seconds it seems, someone is pulling my lower half around and all of a sudden a tiny squeak can be heard. Baby boy 1 is born and displayed over the top of the screen. He looks like a wounded little sparrow and is so small and frail, but has the lungs of an award winning tenor when he finally finds his voice. Six minutes later and after much more tugging, baby boy 2 is presented over the screen. He is much sturdier and squawks with disgruntlement at being removed from his favourite home. At last… after nine months waiting and a harrowing 24 hours of trying, the babies are here. There are 25 people in the operating theatre and not one dry eye as I whimper ‘they’re alive”. Himself is over the moon and doesn’t quite know which baby to hold next. My wonderful friend/doula is outside the operating theatre with her ears pressed hard against the door; discussing snippets of detail she can hear with cleaners who are also listening in and look like they’re from ‘Birds Of A Feather’. But most importantly, the babies are here. Safe and sound and worth every single minute of the effort.
Incidentally, elder child performed brilliantly at boot camp and made new friendships, middle child had a whale of a time being taken out to dinner every night by step-dad… and the man himself recovered just in time to hold the twins and the fort at home for a full 7 days after the babies arrived!
© Tess Egerton 2014