Hi everyone! Nearly a week after my labor process was started, I am back with my birth story! The story is very long, but I provided the short and sweet version at the beginning if you're short on time or patience! haha

**Long story short**
After 32 hours of my induced labor and delivery, Benjamin Michael and Patrick James were brought into the world at 2:56 am and 3:19 am respectively on August 16, 2012. My labor was started with a balloon catheter and augmented with Pitocin and ended with the vaginal forceps delivery of the twins with a 3rd degree episiotomy. Baby A (now known as Benjamin) made his debut sunny side up while Baby B followed suit the old fashioned way. Mama and the boys are all doing well. DH was WONDERFUL during the entire process, and I couldn't believe how great of a team we made. Even the nursing staff commented on how great we were together during the labor and delivery process. I ended up losing a lot of blood during delivery and required a blood transfusion over the weekend before being released from the hospital on Sunday. The boys did not require any NICU time and are champion breastfeeders. We are exhausted but so incredibly happy. I can't imagine not having my little guys around!


Our journey started on Tuesday, August 14, 2012. I had to be induced due to cholestasis at 37 weeks 1 day. Patrick and I went into the hospital at 10 pm after prepping the house all day and resting while we could. On the drive to the hospital, I (jokingly) asked Patrick if we could just skip the induction and go back home because I was so nervous. As I walked into the L&D entrance, the security guards started asking me where I was going until I rounded the corner and they saw my ginormous belly - they just pointed in the direction of L&D and asked if I needed a wheelchair. After waiting a few minutes, we were settled into our L&D room - Room 14 - and we waited for that night's on call midwife, Donna. She came in and chatted a bit, and then showed me the balloon catheter that was to be used to help mechanically dilate my cervix. After a cervical check (no dilation but cervix was soft), she inserted the catheter and inflated both balloons on either side of my cervix. I felt pressure like I had to urinate, but no pain. I was given an Ambien and was told we'd recheck things in the morning.

Around 1 am, I started having mild contractions, which made having the balloon catheter very uncomfortable. I had to breathe through them and concentrate. They were coming every 10 minutes for a while and then abruptly stopped. Thankfully, that allowed me to get a few hours of sleep until they came in to draw blood. Once they woke me up for that, there was no going back to sleep... I was all keyed up! I was going to meet my babies!

The day shift L&D nurse Karen came in around 8 am to introduce herself and to check on the balloon catheter. She tugged on the balloon catheter and it came out while still inflated! Success - I was dilated to 4-5 cm! They let me take a shower and I sat under the warm water and thought about what was going to happen later on in the day. It was so surreal! The fetal monitors were put on and we heard the strong, nearly identical heartbeats of our boys. I was contracting but couldn't feel them anymore. My IV was started and the day midwife Joanne came in to talk about the process. She wanted to start the Pitocin and follow the hospital protocol for increasing it incrementally. I would start to labor on my own with the contractions and get the epidural when I felt I couldn't handle it anymore. As they hooked me up to the Pitocin, our doula Amanda came in. Joanne okayed me having some Cheerios for energy (but only clear liquids after that) and excitedly said that we should meet our boys in a few hours! Patrick, Amanda, and I all sat around talking about our birth preferences and what we could expect while waiting for the Pitocin to kick in. Joanne then broke my water, which was the weirdest sensation! There was so much fluid! The waiting game started.

Around 10:30 am, I started having regular contractions about 10 minutes apart that were picking up in intensity. Amanda had me sit on the birthing ball and rock through the contractions while Patrick supported me from behind. I leaned on him with my back to his chest while I rocked my hips. That position was incredibly soothing and allowed Patrick and I to communicate quietly during contractions and joke around in between them. I had a steady flow of ice to snack on and a warm pack on my back to help settle the tense muscles I had. We had brought our iHome and hooked it up to meditation/Zen music, which really helped make the mood very calm in the dim room. The music stayed on throughout the entire labor process.

At 11 am, I was starting to be unable to speak through contractions, but between the 3 of us, I was able to manage them until around 1 pm. At that point, the pain was really getting to me and my back was spasming up to my shoulder blades. Joanne came in and said that the anesthesiologist was about to go into a c-section and that I would have to wait at least another hour to get the epidural if I didn't take it at this point. I quickly agreed to the epidural. With Patrick holding my hands and keeping me calm, Dr. Cohen inserted the epidural quickly with the only pain being the bee sting feeling from the numbing medication. He showed me how to use the on demand pump, said that the medication would work within 15 minutes, and went out to his c-section. What a great relief the feeling of numbness was! I wasn't totally numb and was able to wiggle my toes and move my legs unassisted, but it really took away the pain and made the process much more manageable. Karen checked me after the epidural kicked in and I was 7 cm! I was so happy with how far I made it before getting it placed.

Around 2 pm, I started having to breathe through the contractions again and started feeling them breaking through in my right lower abdomen. The on demand pump wasn't helping. The nurses explained to me that epidurals sometimes have a "window" that breaks through in a certain area that can be fixed by either adding medication or shifting the epidural a bit. Dr. Cohen came back in and added more medication, explaining that with the way the twins were lying, he may not have any success in moving the catheter and providing relief (because their positions could block the nerves from receiving medication) so I could call him whenever I needed a bolus dose of the medication. After 10 minutes, I was able to doze off for a bit.

Throughout the afternoon, the Pitocin was increased and the epidural "window" would come and go. Around 9 pm, the contractions were incredibly intense and my back was spasming through the epidural. I was checked and was at 9 cm with only a lip of the cervix on the right side. We tried pushing from 9-9:45 pm but didn't make a lot of progress because Benjamin's head was slightly turned and the lip wouldn't move out of the way. I was told to ride out the contractions and not push because they didn't want my cervix to end up being swollen from pushing against the lip and causing things to slow down. The contractions were on top of one another and I had nearly no break during them. I was literally huffing and puffing to avoid pushing. My midwife was in an emergency c-section for a patient who had a breech baby and was unavailable, so the L&D nurse turned down the Pitocin, which ended up completely stopping my contractions! The midwife came back around 11 pm to say that I still had a small lip left on my cervix and that we needed to wait a bit longer. The Pitocin had stayed at the same rate after the L&D nurse turned it down, so after the nurses started talking about how we may end up with a c-section since I wasn't having meaningful, regular contractions anymore, I asked for the Pitocin to be increased again. I refused to make it to 10 cm and then not be able to push my babies out because of Pitocin! The midwife agreed and FINALLY the contractions came back with a vengeance by 12:30 am.

At 1 am, it finally came time to push. (Remember that zen music I had on? That went out the window... I wanted energy so DH put the Pandora classic rock station on! Lol) The midwife had two other moms laboring at the same time as me and the backup OB was in a c-section, so I was left to push with Patrick, my doula, and the L&D nurse as my guides. The nurse said I had to show enough progress by bringing Benjamin down far enough to convince the midwife and OB that I could deliver vaginally. The staff said I was an awesome pusher and was able to bring Benjamin down, but we started having issues with his heart rate being too fast and not recovering quickly in between contractions. I ended up wearing an oxygen mask for most of the time at the end. The OB came in, saw how I was pushing, and said that because of Benjamin's heart rate, we needed to deliver sooner rather than later and that she wanted to use the forceps to help him out. I was whisked to the OR, all the while bearing down because the contractions were still coming through the epidural. The anesthesiologist came to the OR and gave me another bolus so I wouldn't feel the episiotomy that was going to be done. I continued pushing in the OR until I finally felt incredible pressure down below. The OB had me stop to do the episiotomy and to insert the forceps around Benjamin's head. This was the only time I yelled during labor and delivery - the pressure was so intense that I couldn't NOT yell! After 3 more pushes, I was told to reach down and pick up my son! I was so confused... I didn't know they would let me have skin-to-skin with him immediately after birth when I delivered in the OR as I was told not to expect it. Immediately after Benjamin was delivered and on my chest, the team flew into action to make sure that Patrick (who was head down) didn't flip to breech when it was his turn to come out. I wasn't paying attention to that, though because I was staring at my son who was quietly looking around the room with his huge dark blue eyes and staring at my face. The NICU team took him to check him out and within a few minutes, it was time to push again. This time, I pushed for 15 minutes to bring Patrick down and out. I couldn't believe it was over! I reached down, picked Patrick up, and laid him on my chest. I started crying because my boys were finally here! Both boys scored 9/9 on their Apgars and were returned to Patrick and myself very quickly.

Our little family bonded while I was sutured up for the next 45 minutes and then immediately breastfed when I got back to my L&D suite. It turns out that Benjamin was sunny side up (hence the back spasms - so THAT's what back labor feels like!!). The boys have been champion nursers so far, so we tandem nurse to save my sanity, haha! We are so thrilled to have our family now and I can't imagine having it any other way. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

CONGRATS if you made it through the whole thing!

ETA: I don't know if this link will work for you, but it links to some pictures taken in the hospital: http://m.our365.com/NewbornPortraits/BabyDetail.aspx?birthID=013fc25b-5bfc-41eb-9fb1-1d10f6a5fb47&babyID=9bc47932-8ab6-41b1-8afb-47772188f49e