On a Monday in early May of 2011 we got the call in the early afternoon that it was time to come to the hospital to have labour induced. Everything seemed so civilized and orderly. We would arrive at the hospital in the early afternoon, induce labour and then after a few days, go home with our new family. Driving to the hospital was like going to the airport for some kind of trip, bags packed and feeling excited. Oh, it was a “trip” alright.
Induction Hormone Injected, Catcher’s Mitt On
Partly because everything seemed so “civil and orderly” as a result of having labour induced and planned out, and partly because of our fast food culture, after the induction hormone had been injected I think I expected a pretty quick delivery to unfold. Don’t get me wrong, we were parents by 9:06 am the next morning which, now I understand, is still actually quite quick, but I didn’t know that when the hormone was first given. So, long story short (and entirely skipping the drama that my wife experienced), we played the waiting game overnight.
We had an amazing nurse with us all night long, and Jenn’s OB/GYN was working overnight. That was great for us, since we had a good relationship with the Dr. and overnight we had grown quite comfortable with the nurse. It was the opinion of our OB/GYN that we could plan for a natural birth because both the twins were head down as we went into this whole process, so things were looking good.
For a little context for those who have never had multiples, if both fetuses are head down when the first child is born, then there is a risk that subsequent fetuses may shift their position and end up becoming breeched births (feet first and not the way they should ideally come out). If this happened, it was the opinion of our OB that it would be safest to deliver the second baby via C-section, as breech births are more of a risk to the fetus. Understandably, this was my wife’s least favourite option because it meant that after delivering, she would be recovering from a natural birth and a C-section.
Back to the story, at 7:00 am, still pregnant, it was shift change at the hospital. Good-bye nice nurse and cool OB/GYN, hello nurse Ratched and unknown OB/GYN. Jenn had been working hard for a while already by this point, but there was no significant change in the progress of the birth, and by 8:30ish, the new Dr. is telling us that it is decision time. Will it be a C-section or an assisted birth using forceps? Without going into the details of the conversation, it was obvious that the new Dr. thought that a C-section was the wrong choice and the assisted birth was the right choice. We were feeling exhausted and had never discussed the details of an assisted birth with our OB. After asking some questions as to why the Dr. thought the assisted birth was the better option, it became apparent that we were annoying her, and so we decided to go with the assisted birth. There was, however, no discussion as to what would happen if the second baby shifted and it came out breech.
The Assisted Birth
While the hospital staff were prepping themselves and Jenn, I was all dressed up with nowhere to go for the 15 minutes that I was in the “holding tank”. Finally I was let in and things got underway fairly quickly. My son came first, and although they used forceps, the process seemed fairly quick and routine. I was overwhelmed at the sight of my son, who was now an actual little person, not just an idea. Seeing him make his first uncoordinated jerky movements and then hearing his first cry took me on a mental roller coaster ride into the future, imagining some of the life events that were ahead of him and us. It was a truly emotional and eye-opening experience. I had a comfortable intellectualized notion of how I was becoming a father, and seeing my son in front of me forced a new and daunting reality upon me. I was both excited and making the realization that I wasn’t aware how real all of this was.
After my son was born, and before my wife could really even see him, he was taken to another part of the room and they started the work of delivering my daughter. Nothing was said by the medical staff to us about what was happening, but after a minute or so it became apparent to me that my daughter was now in a breech position. The mood had gotten more tense and to make things worse my wife had started throwing up again. Not being able to roll over, Jenn was concerned with choking, and at the same time the OB, in a very urgent tone, started saying that Jenn really had to push now. I remember looking at Jenn and saying with a tone that, from me, meant this was now very serious “you have to push now!” Jenn fully understood how serious I was, but she was in a bout of nausea and she replied “I’m trying!” I felt horrible for Jenn and very powerless and frantic about the situation.
Four minutes after my son, my daughter was born but the sight was very different. Instead of a healthy bright red crying infant, my daughter was bluish/purple, silent and motionless. Time slowed, it felt like my breath was sucked from my lungs, and for a second time I made the realization that I wasn’t aware how real all of this was. Again, they whisked my second child away to another part of the room and my attention went back to Jenn, who wasn’t aware of everything that I had just seen. I tried to help her through her nausea and simultaneously figure out what was happening with my daughter, and then Jenn asked “how are they?” I put on my best game face and told her they were both fine, then nurse Ratched and I caught one another’s eyes and I could tell that she wasn’t sure either. I told Jenn that I was going to go and take a look at them and that I’d be right back. When I arrived they had just covered my daughter’s mouth with an oxygen mask and she was starting to breath. It was truly amazing to see her colour change from purple to red after only a few breaths. As stressful as it was, it seems this is not uncommon and it was not a big deal for the hospital staff. Our new daughter was evaluated and found to be totally healthy and normal despite her awkward entrance into the world!