Reece & Reagan: A Birth Story

My twin pregnancy had been pretty complication-free until around 30 weeks, when I started swelling and my blood pressure started rising. My OB was monitoring me very closely for preeclampsia and doing weekly non-stress tests and ultrasounds to check on the babies. He kept telling me that he knew I had preeclampsia, he was just waiting for it to show up in the tests. At every appointment at the end, he would apologize that he was not willing to induce me yet, because my swelling was just ridiculous (I gained 12 pounds of fluid in one week), I had PUPPPs rash, etc.

On Monday, January 30, I was 36 weeks + 3 days pregnant. I got up to go to the bathroom around 1:00am and felt totally normal. But then I couldn’t get back to sleep. I laid in bed and felt super anxious and very worried, but I couldn’t pinpoint what I was worried about. Looking back now, I had read a list of preeclampsia symptoms that included extreme swelling (check), high blood pressure (check), and at the bottom of the list was “a sense of impending doom”. I thought it was really bizarre. But yep, now I know exactly what that meant.

Around 2:00am I rolled over in bed and thought it felt like maybe my water had broken. That or I was peeing my pants and couldn’t stop. 🙂 I told Ryan and he got up, called Cheryl to come stay with Ellie the rest of the night, we got dressed, and were on the way to the hospital by 3:00.

We made the one hour drive to the hospital in about 45 minutes on roads that turned snow-covered about halfway there. Ryan took me into the ER and they wheeled me to labor and delivery triage. I wasn’t yet having contractions, but they confirmed that my water had broken and did a urine test for protein. The threshold for preeclampsia is 300mg and above. Mine came back at 778. Preeclampsia had finally officially shown up and my body was getting the babies out. I was dilated to 4cm and just starting to have very light contractions so they wheeled me to the biggest labor room available (two babies coming and all).

Very quickly my contractions started getting VERY serious. I delivered Ellie naturally so I’d been through it before and this time I was thinking that I didn’t know how I had done it. I had no intentions of delivering the twins without medication as the second baby often has to be turned or delivered by c-section, in which case I might have to be put under general anesthesia if I didn’t already have an epidural.

Around 6:00am the nurse said I was at 6 cm and I decided to get the epidural. The anesthesiologist was not happy that I’d been taking a daily baby aspirin (prescribed by my OB, who later confirmed I WAS supposed to still be taking it). He said there was a chance I could bleed into my back and if that happened I’d have to be rushed in for emergency surgery. But the epidural was placed without problems and the relief came quickly. I went from 6 cm to fully dilated in about an hour.

When my OB arrived he did an ultrasound and Reece (baby B) had turned breech (he had been transverse – sideways across my belly – the entire pregnancy. I’m almost positive he moved on the ride to the hospital). He gave us the option of trying for a vaginal delivery but said it was likely he’d come down breech after Reagan was born. So if Reece wouldn’t turn after Reagan was born, I’d be having a c-section anyway. We hemmed and hawed back and forth and were really undecided. I asked the doctor a couple of questions and finally he said, “we’re doing a c-section. He’s breech. We’re doing a c-section.” Everything started moving very quickly but I was so tired, I kept dozing off while they moved around me.

They wheeled me back to the OR, put my arms out, and put the drape up and the whole time I was just fighting to stay awake. My doctor came in and was playing name that tune with the resident and nurses. He did something to my belly and asked if I felt any pain. I said no and he said that was great. Ryan came in and squeezed my hand. I felt a lot of pulling, jerking, and pressure and the anesthesiologist told Ryan to get ready to take a picture. Reagan Jo was born at 9:29 weighing 5 lb 1 oz (such a peanut!!) and 19” long. They held her up and she cried a lot. They took her over to the waiting warmer to check her out and get her cleaned up.

It felt like it took them forever to get Reece out. There was a LOT of pulling and jerking me around on the table and he came out butt first at 9:31 weighing 7 lb 9 oz and 21” long. He was gray and he didn’t cry so they took him over to work on him. They put an oxygen mask on him but were having trouble with the equipment.

Ryan brought Reagan over to me all bundled up and her neonatologist and nurses went over to help with Reece. They wheeled him to the NICU. 

Before my doctor left the OR, he came over and said, “we made the right call. We would’ve ended up in here for him anyway.” When they were done stitching me up, they took Ryan, Reagan, and I out to a recovery room and the nurse put her skin-to-skin on me and she started nursing.

Once they had a room ready for me upstairs, they wheeled all of us through the NICU to see Reece. He had all kinds of tubes and wires in him, but they said he was doing well. He was on a CPAP machine to help him breathe. They’d pulled 10-15 cc of fluid out of him and they had a tube down into his stomach to help remove air. After we got filled in by his nurse and visited with him for a bit, they wheeled me to my room. Even seeing all of the babies who were much worse off than ours, it was so hard to leave him and go upstairs.

He was in the NICU for a total of about 48 hours and was improving steadily over that time. They ran blood work to check for infection in case there was another reason he was having breathing problems initially, but it all came back good. By the time I was able to get out of bed and go see him around 4:00 the next morning, he was off the CPAP machine and breathing room air.

I was able to go down Tuesday afternoon and nurse him and he did really well. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit him as much as I would’ve liked as they were really concerned about my blood pressure (and threatening to send me downstairs for a magnesium drip for 24 hours to prevent seizures if it didn’t improve quickly), but they were able to get it under control with blood pressure medication. Ryan visited him and got updates from the nurses in the NICU and he was released and able to join us in our room Wednesday morning. We went home as a family of five (!!) as scheduled Thursday afternoon!