My birth story started the night before our first wedding anniversary. I was walking around downtown Baton Rouge, 36 weeks and 3 days pregnant with twins, heading to eat sushi for our anniversary dinner. I had made it this far along in the pregnancy about as comfortably as one nearly full-term with twins possibly could. After a nice dinner, we went to bed that night with everything quite normal and no idea that we were going to meet our babies so soon!
Around 4:45 am, I made one of my usual late night trips to the bathroom and felt a small cramp. I was really hopeful that it was a contraction; because up to this point in my pregnancy, I had made zero progress (not dilated or effaced at all), which normally would be a great thing at 36 weeks along in a multiple pregnancy. However, I was already feeling a little pressure from doctors who were already mentioning induction, and I was not looking forward to a struggle against them. Well, sure enough, when I rolled over to try to determine if this cramp was indeed a contraction, I either heard or felt (I couldn’t tell which) a pop, then a gush! This was it, my water broke! I nudged my husband to let him know, and about that time he said “Happy Anniversary!”
Dan was now scrambling around to find the after-hours number for my OB, while I just stood in the shower, which I felt was a better idea than walking all over our apartment post-water breaking. I leaned my head out of the shower to call the hospital answering service:
“Hi, I’m Beth Hembree, I’m 36 weeks and 4 days with twins, and my water just broke.”
“Ok, what was your name?”
“And are you pregnant?”
“….my WATER BROKE.”
I eventually got my point across and was able to talk to Dr. Schwartzenburg. That was my first time talking with him; little did I know, he would be the one delivering my babies soon! In a matter of minutes, my contractions went from “Is that a contraction?” To “Ok, this hurts, I’m ready to get to my room now.” By the time I was at the hospital, I was very uncomfortable. I wanted to walk around instead of sit, and I was getting upset that the admission nurses weren’t moving fast enough to get me checked in when I was so obviously in “real” labor. It’s weird how even though my head was telling me I had many hours to go with this labor, my body just knew it was time.
But alas, hospital policy still says you have to go through admissions first, no matter how sure you are that this is go time. Even though the admissions process probably only took 30 minutes to an hour, it seemed like an eternity. I was told I was 2-3 centimeters dilated at this point, with very close and strong contractions. By the time I finally got into my L&D room a short while later, I was already 4 centimeters. I thought that was sort of fast, but I figured maybe the people in admissions were wrong about me being 2-3cm. It was about 7:00 am by this time, but I was still thinking it would be late afternoon before the babies would arrive. Dan was steadily trying to inform our family that I was in labor, but we weren’t really concerned about getting the message out since it was so early on a Sunday morning. We figured we’d let people sleep and tell them later in the day, or let them wake up to a text message later on and they could get to the hospital in their own time.
My contractions had really started to escalate (my husband says I was a typical crazy lady in labor at this point, but I totally wasn’t), and the stress from taking so long to get into my room had really gotten to me. It was at this point I decided to get the epidural. Getting the epidural was totally painless, even though I have heard people say it hurts. Or maybe I was too distracted by the contractions. Either way, I was checked again a short while after the epidural, and I was a whopping 7 centimeters! It was about 8:00 am. I said to the nurse, “Well, I guess maybe I’ll have the babies around early afternoon?” And she said, “Oh no, honey, you’re having them this morning!”
So Dan made a few final attempts to inform family and friends I was in labor, but then he had to get suited up for the operating room! All twins at the hospital where I delivered are born in an operating room for two reasons: 1) for the extra space since you have double the nurses and equipment and 2) there can be a higher risk for emergency c-section. I got checked one final time a half hour later. I was a full 10 centimeters and was definitely feeling the need to push! It was amazing to me that I could sense that pressure and my body’s need to push even with the epidural numbing everything.
But it wasn’t even 9:00 am yet! Hadn’t my water broken at home less than four hours ago?! I was overwhelmed at the speed at which the day was moving. I just wanted a minute to be calm and process the fact that I was about to bring two sweet babies into the world. This is when I became thankful for the epidural. Between the speed at which I was progressing, the jumping around from admissions to L&D room to operating room, the meeting a brand new OB literally minutes before he would deliver my babies, and so on, that epidural was helping me stay calm and even be excited about the fast pace of the day and the events about to take place. Even though I am undecided if I will chose an epidural for my next labor, I am thankful for the sense of normalcy it provided for that specific labor experience.
I now had my operating room cap on, Dan was in a full-body suit with camera in tow, and I was wheeled a few rooms down to OR 25. This is where I met Dr. Schwartzenburg for the first time. We shook hands and he said he didn’t really think I was in labor when I talked to him on the phone because I sounded “too calm.” He said since he had to rush to the hospital for the delivery, he got to use flashers on his car and run two red lights and that it made his day. 🙂
Before I knew it, it was pushing time! Right before I went to push, a nurse asked about our baby names. We realized we never decided which baby would get which name! So we decided on alphabetical order: First boy would be Asher or first girl would be Adeline, the second baby would be an Eli or Chloe. Good thing the nurse said something because after just a few pushes…IT’S A BOY!! Asher Luke Hembree was born at 9:33 am, 4 lbs and 10 oz, 18 inches long. Hooray! My eyes were drawn to Asher’s precious tiny face and I wanted to walk over and meet him, but I had to focus on getting his twin here, too! About 3 pushes later, Eli James Hembree was born at 9:36 am, 5 lbs and 2 oz, 19 inches long. My two baby boys were here! And I was doing a little happy dance about having my twins with no c-section, since that had been a bit of a struggle against my OB from very early on in the pregnancy.
To make it to 36 weeks and 4 days gestation is above the average length of a twin pregnancy. After a complication-free, even enjoyable labor, our babies were born perfectly healthy with no time in the NICU. Meeting two of our sons in one day made for such an overwhelming experience. It was nothing less than a miraculous day all around. May 22, 2011 is certainly an anniversary we’ll never forget, which ended with my husband and I cutting into the top layer of our wedding cake while two newborn babies snoozed nearby.