Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, I say! This included finding a birth team I trusted and who had experience with birthing twins, reading books (I highly recommend When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, and Quads as well as What To Do When You're Having Two), taking classes, and of course Googling (a lot!!) and taking what you find with a grain of salt. I ate reasonably well, gained the recommended 24 pounds by 24 weeks (research shows it gives you the best chance of carrying twins to term), and stayed active walking about a mile a day and up to 4 miles a day - right up to delivery at 39 weeks!! (See my post on how to prepare for twins).
How did I avoid Gestational Diabetes, Preterm Labor, Intrauterine Growth Restriction, side effects from Pitocin and Epidural, etc etc?? How did I luck out with twins who had their own placentas, were both head down, and Baby A was bigger than Baby B? Well, it certainly isn't anything I can take credit for!! Everything went smoothly and I am so incredibly thankful, but it really was just luck!!
38 weeks is considered full term for twins and most docs won't let you go past that. Mine, however, were cool with letting me go til 40 weeks and were monitoring us accordingly. I had several weeks of labor-like Braxton Hicks which were annoying because you would time them, thinking THIS IS IT, only to realize hours later that nothing was progressing and it was time to just go the heck to sleep. When I hit 39 weeks, my MFM (high risk specialist) expressed her concern about me going any longer (risk of still birth!!) and I started to question my OB team, but they encouraged me to keep waiting, which we did! My parents drove up from North Carolina to help out "as long as I needed" and we were all sure that their arrival would give me peace about what we were going to do with our toddler during delivery and things would get rolling, but my girls were simply not budging (I made such a comfy home for them in there??) so we finally scheduled an induction and we went in at 39 weeks 6 days.
My son was a 53 hour all-natural labor and delivery, no drugs, it was grueling and horrendously painful, but pretty amazing. I was hoping to go drug-free with the twins as well, but as soon as induction was inevitable I threw my plans out the window and decided to just play it by ear. We had induction scheduled for 11AM on October 6, and waited 1.5 hours to be seen in triage. That was really frustrating, but gave me a chance to scarf down a big lunch down before all food and drink became off limits. We then spent another hour and a half being monitored in triage. I was 100% effaced and 3cm dilated, so thankfully my doc said we could skip the cervical ripening part of induction and go straight for Pitocin. I got a room around 2PM, got my IV in place, and just before 4PM we got the show started with the Pit.
My husband took a nap while I enjoyed cable TV from my bed. Pretty ironically and much to my amusement, the Friends episode where the woman giving her baby up for adoption to Monica and Chandler had a surprise delivery of twins! Ha! I took it as a good sign :)
By around 5:30pm the contractions started getting strong and I was having trouble enduring them (picture me groaning and cursing and writhing around like a possessed woman!). Oh yeah, I was also puking my guts out and going through major bouts of shivering, like I couldn't control it at all, my whole body was shaking! Our midwife was amazing, giving me back rubs and putting hot packs on my back, she was just so calm and encouraging! So great! The Pitocin had made it's way up to "8" and my midwife decided that my contractions were unnecessarily overwhelming so she turned it off completely and to our surprise my contractions kept on going with no need for the Pit boost.
At 7pm I was 8-9cm dilated and the anesthesiologist popped in saying he was about to go into surgery and if I wanted an epidural it was now or never. Well, I think I thought it over for all of 30 seconds before screaming "I WANT IT!!!!" to which my husband and midwife asked "Are you sure?? / You're almost there, you can do this" and I was like screw you guys, give me the damn drugs!!! It took him a while to get all of his stuff ready, and the worst of it was getting into place on the bed and not budging while bent over hugging a pillow through a couple of contractions. The shot with the local anesthetic was not much more than a pinch, and I don't recall if I even felt the actual epidural being placed. I mean, when you're in the middle of ridiculously painful contractions, every other discomfort pales in comparison! Once it was in, they had me lie flat on my back so the drugs would disperse evenly, this was tough too because it hadn't kicked in yet and laying on my back through contractions was HELL!!
But sure enough, within a few minutes the pain started fading and eventually all I felt of the contractions was painless pressure. I never lost sensation or control of my legs, I could wiggle my toes and pick my legs up, etc (though they wouldn't let me get out of bed). I was absolutely giddy that I felt so amazing, on top of the world, epidurals can be amazing!!!! I had such a fear of them because they can be a slippery slope to distress in babies, contractions slowing, and c-section, but in my case it did exactly what it was supposed to do and made me one happy mama!! The puking and shivering stopped, and I was able to relax again. Bliss! I questioned why I didn't do this hours ago, but reminded myself that I had wanted to know just how bad Pitocin-induced contractions were, and also that starting epidural too early could have slowed or stopped progression and caused many problems.
By 8pm I was fully dilated but not feeling the urge to push. My doc let me go another hour to see if the urge kicked in... It did not, so we did a practice push and I guess I passed the test cuz he said let's head on over to the OR (twins are required to be delivered in there due to the risk of emergency c-section, and also so they can fit the dozen or so people required - OB team, nurses, pediatrician for each baby, anesthesiologist, etc.)
It was odd to be in the OR. Very bright and sterile, many people but it didn't feel crowded or circus-esque surprisingly. I was on a flat surgical table, though the were able to tilt it a bit so my head was higher. Still, not as comfy as the bed in the labor room! We jokingly placed bets on how long it would take to push out the twinkies. I thought at least an hour and my OB bet me a sushi dinner on it being quicker, thank goodness that was a bet I didn't win haha!
They removed the bottom half of the bed and had my hubby holding my left leg and a medical student holding my right leg. I guess this is much better than stirrups? I got over the awkwardness of it pretty quick!
Well, in about 15 minutes at 9:56pm Baby A (Emi, 6 pounds 11 ounces) popped out and was placed immediately on my chest and my hubby was instructed to cut her cord. I tried to stop them because I wanted to delay clamping til the cord finished pulsating, but they said they can't do this with twins because there's no time. They weren't joking either... After a few minutes of bonding and taking photos, Emi was taken to the bassinet behind me to be checked by the pediatrician and my OB "guided" Baby B down and into proper positioning with gentle massage on my belly. Just 6 minutes after Emi's debut (in just TWO PUSHES), Baby B (Mia, 5 pounds 9 ounces) was out at 10:02pm!! I simply couldn't believe how easy delivery of these girls was, I didn't realize a birth could be so easy and painless!!! I laughed, a lot, and cried. The joy and surprise was just overwhelming!!
With a total of 21 minutes of pushing, despite it being 2 babies, the recovery from this birth was WAY easier and quicker than my previous, which was 2 hours of pushing out an 8-pounder followed by pretty bad bleeding. Within 2 hours of this birth I was up (unassisted) and using the bathroom, pretty amazing for post-epidural! The after pains (especially when nursing) were much worse, but only lasted a week. The only pretty bad part was some back/hip pain that started while pregnant. I ended up seeing a chiropractor at 2 weeks postpartum, but it didn't help and at around 3 weeks it went away on its own, which was a huge relief!
Just because you're having twins does not mean you will have tons of problems throughout the pregnancy and deliver preemies via c-section. Yes, these can all happen, but there is no point in freaking out about the possibilities that hopefully will never happen (and even if they do happen, chances are mama and babies will all be perfectly fine in the end!). It is completely possible you will have a kick ass easy pregnancy, quick and wonderful birth, and amazing ride into the world of being a twin mama!! Good luck to you!!
And in case you missed it, check out my baby bump progression video!!