I Can’t Do This! I CAN Do This!

Early in my first pregnancy, I set my sights on a natural birth. But when I learned at my twenty-week sonogram that I was having twins, I knew my risk for having a Cesarean section increased to greater than 50 percent. Aside from devouring every book I could find about twin pregnancy, I assembled my dream team for birth: an OB who had given birth naturally to twins, an experienced doula, and, of course, my husband.

My pregnancy went so well that at thirty-eight weeks, my cervix was still shut tight. As much as I had hoped to go into labor spontaneously, I knew a scheduled induction was what I faced, raising my anxiety about a Cesarean even higher. My doctor assured me the induction would be slow and gradual and that she would be patient.

I received a dose of Cervidil to soften my cervix at 11 a.m. And then, nothing happened. My husband and I walked, watched movies, and goofed around, all the while wondering when labor would kick in. At 5 p.m., my doctor forced my stubborn cervix to dilate to 1 centimeter and then stripped my membranes. By 10 p.m., we decided to try for a good night’s sleep. After tuning off the lights, I rolled over and felt Baby A turn ever so slightly. Suddenly, my water broke. The lights came back on.

Throughout the wee hours of the morning, my husband and our doula helped comfort me as I changed positions on the birthing ball, sat in the rocking chair, and sought relief in the shower. I was having intense back labor, and my doctor and doula worked together to give counterpressure on my hips and help me lunge and squat in hopes of getting Baby A in a better position to move down.

By 5 a.m. I had only progressed to 5 centimeters. I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept in twenty-four hours, and I hadn’t been back in bed since my water broke. I contemplated the relief an epidural would bring, but I feared it would slow my labor even further. To help with the discomfort of back labor, my doctor administered sterile water injections into my lower back.

Four hours later, I still had not progressed. My doctor felt it was time to enlist the help of Pitocin. In addition, she wanted me to rest. So I got a dose of Nubain, too. It worked: A few hours later I was in transition.

Throughout the night and especially during transition, I heard myself say, “I can’t do this!” I knew in my head that would be a self-fulfilling prophecy if I repeated it too many times. Sometimes I couldn’t help but say it, but as soon as I did, I followed with, “Yes, I can. I can! I can do this!”

At last, at 12:30 p.m., I was wheeled into the operating room, just in case either baby needed surgical help. I pushed for two hours before Baby A was born, a girl, weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces. Baby B was transverse, so the nurses tried externally to move her head down. This didn’t sit well with Baby B, whose heart rate began to drop. My doctor then tried a breech extraction, but once again, Baby B protested. My doctor couldn’t be patient any longer. My doula told me, “Push like your life depends on it!” Once part of the baby’s head was showing, and my doctor used the vacuum to expedite her birth. Another little girl came out, a screaming 5 pounds 11 ounces.

It was nothing short of overwhelming joy to have those two healthy babies in my arms. Despite the long, exhausting labor, it was as if the babies were heaven-sent and arrived by magic. I know the real magic was the patience and support I had from my labor team.

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