My Twin C-section Experience: Part 1 (The Surgery)
I was finishing my strawberry smoothie as I leisurely walked into my routine ultrasound appointment, not knowing that in a little over 3 hours I would be in the O.R. holding my twins for the first time. After we got the ultrasound, the doctor came in and all I heard her say was “I’m going to deliver your twins today. I’m sending you downstairs to the O.R. for your C-section right now.” My husband (who almost didn’t come to the appointment) turned ghostly pale and my heart sank in shock.
By then, I was already full-term with my twins, 37 weeks + 4 days to be exact, but my C-section wasn’t scheduled for another 3 days (when I would be 38 weeks). When I woke up that morning, I thought I had a few more days left. I was envisioning the luxury of taking a shower, blow drying my hair, and maybe even putting on a little make-up before my scheduled C-section. Of course, on that day of my ultrasound, I regretfully decided NOT to do any of the aforementioned before going to the doctor. I was only there for what I thought was a routine ultrasound, looking oh-so-natural and “undone.” I like plans to stay on track and that was not happening. (Heck, I had already bought monogrammed gifts with their scheduled birthday on them!)
I was immediately flooded with mixed emotions: fear of being cut open for the first time, anxiousness for my impending new title of “mother” to not one but two kids, and sheer happiness to meet my children for the first time. As a medical professional myself, I’ve spent plenty of time in an O.R. with patients before. I’ve watched craniotomies, knee replacements, C-sections, bronchoscopies, etc. However, I had never been the actual patient lying on the table…until that day. Despite all of these unfamiliar emotions, I remained calm. I was ready.
Here’s the back story as to why the doctor wanted me to deliver: My boy/girl twins were growing beautifully in utero with great estimated sizes and lengths for nearly the entire pregnancy. I was told to gain between 35-45 pounds for my twin pregnancy (and I gained 42 pounds). So, I knew my nuggets were getting what they needed. However, in the last couple of weeks, while my son was still growing, he wasn’t growing at the same rate as my daughter. The OB-GYN explained in the weeks leading up to their delivery date that he was the one we needed to watch. It was thought that my daughter just snagged a more nutritious area of my uterus and was resultantly taking up his space. At each weekly ultrasound appointment towards the end, we were seeing my son’s rate of growth start to decline. That’s when my OB-GYN decided she was ready to pull the trigger. She went on to explain that even though he’s growing, and I could likely carry the twins easily past the 38-week mark, she felt my son would grow better outside of the womb.
After the doctor told me it was time, I boldly negotiated an extra 30 minutes to run home to take a very fast shower and grab my hospital bag (I live very close to the hospital, but still had no time for make-up or any of that jazz). She agreed to let me go but ONLY if I was quick. When I returned, I walked straight into the Labor and Delivery unit where they were waiting for me. Within the first 30 minutes of being there, my entire family arrived. Within 45 minutes of being there, I had my IV placed in my arm and I was back in the O.R. ready to go.
I can honestly say that my O.R. experience was overall relaxed, calm, and smooth. One of the nurses even asked me what kind of music I wanted them to play during surgery! (Coldplay was my answer, by the way). As soon as they laid me on the O.R. table, the anesthesiologist turned me onto my left side, inserted a needle into my back for the spinal block after which my lower stomach and legs became numb (by the way, that needle part wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it might be. Didn't hurt at all). They gave me medicine through my IV to keep me calm – and I tell you, it worked! I didn’t feel scared AT ALL and I stayed awake for everything. They inserted a urinary catheter (since I was numb waist down) and strapped both of my arms down for the procedure. The only discomfort I felt was dizziness associated with a drop in my blood pressure after some pain medication at the start of the surgery. It quickly resolved with an IV fluid bolus.
The entire procedure was only about 45 minutes from start to finish. Our daughter was born first at 4:57PM weighing in at 6 pounds 5 oz and then 1 minute later at 4:58PM our son was born weighing 5 pounds 15 oz! The sound of their cries was everything to me. It was the biggest relief to hear them. The staff brought my daughter to me first, but only briefly. I didn’t actually hold her until a few minutes later. Instead, they placed my son on me, chest-to-chest, to help him work out some amniotic fluid from his lungs. Both babies were beautiful and perfect. By the way, they unstrapped one of my arms (the arm that didn’t have the blood pressure cuff on it) so that I could touch each baby while still on the operating table (as they were suturing me up). Before I knew it, I had both babies on my chest doing skin-to-skin before we even rolled out to the recovery room. Before giving birth, I remember being worried that I wouldn’t have my arms free or be able to do skin-to-skin immediately in the O.R. Luckily, both babies were healthy and I was able to do it all.
In essence, my surgery couldn't have gone any better. The post-op recovery part of the C-section is a bit of a different story that I can share in more detail later. I will say this: the post-op period wasn’t easy – no sugar coating that. In all honesty, the actual surgery itself was the easiest part of everything. If you’re pregnant and think you might have a C-section (for the first time), don’t be too afraid. It’s no cakewalk, but you can do it!