Tiera has been so kind in sharing her birth story with us! She had an amazing, natural birth of twins that included an induction.
“I’m done. I’m not walking anymore!” It was the day before my scheduled induction. I was walking in the Galleria mall with my mom, Khalil (my 3-year-old) and my hubby, Raphael. My husband was still holding on to hope that we could go into labor spontaneously and suggested we did some walking in the mall. Plus, my doula suggested we walk up and down some stairs to try and get things going. We had only been walking for about an hour, and while I felt some contractions, I mostly felt exhaustion and frustration. Exhaustion because I was 39 weeks pregnant with twins and frustration because I had been experiencing prodromal/early labor signs since I was 35 weeks pregnant. For WEEKS every cramp/contraction I felt was a question of “is this it?” My labor with my son had been so textbook. While I had some Braxton Hicks contractions the week before, I went into actual labor at 40 weeks and 2 days with contractions every 5 mins at the start of labor that gradually intensified and became more consistent. Labor from start to finish was about 9 hours long total. This time there was no clear start of labor. So frustrating! Not only was I tired, but everyone was anticipating the girls’ arrival, including me. And although I wanted this birth to be exactly like my last, I realized that, sadly, it wouldn’t be. I had done everything I knew to do as a childbirth educator to bring on labor naturally. I had been drinking raspberry leaf tea for weeks, seeing a chiropractor, taking some walks (not many because #twinpregnancy). I even had my membranes stripped twice. And nothing would get these girls to budge. Family and friends tried to encourage me, but I still found myself disappointed that I would have to be induced.
As mentioned previously, my birth with my son was very simple. He was born full-term at 40 weeks and 2 days and after laboring at home with my husband and doula, I arrived at the hospital ready to push and he was born about 45 mins later. And because I arrived so late, I was able to avoid interventions such as induction/augmentation of labor, electronic fetal monitoring, and an epidural. My first birth left me feeling empowered so much so that I decided to become a birth worker. But this time was already so different simply because I was pregnant with twins. In the medical world, twins are considered “high risk.” I already knew that my doctor would begin the induction talk at 38 weeks because after 38 weeks there is a very small (small, but still) risk of stillbirth. But my doctor didn’t expect me to make it to 38 weeks. In fact, no one expected me to carry them that long. “Twins come early,” everyone would say. But there I was at 38 weeks discussing options with my maternal-fetal medicine doctor. I had really wanted to avoid an induction so I requested that we wait another week before we induce to give me more time to go into labor spontaneously. Fortunately, my MFM doctor was very supportive. He agreed to give my body more time to go into labor naturally and also shared that if we did induce, we would keep things as natural as possible to give me the best chance for a vaginal birth. I would be allowed to eat and drink, move about, etc. I left the appointment with hope and gratitude, thankful for the support of my birth team.
Days passed. My parents arrived and we spent time walking together through our inner-city Houston neighborhood as well as at the park. Each time, I would start to feel contractions that would fizzle out. My doula, who is also a midwife, visited me and gave me herbal tinctures to drink to try and get contractions going. Again, I would start to have contractions and then after about an hour, they would stop. And so, Raphael and I went to my 39-week prenatal appointment prepared to discuss induction. My husband said to me “we should give one more push for spontaneous labor.” While I was so grateful for his support and belief in my body’s ability to give birth naturally, I was also tired and discouraged. I didn’t know what to do. We arrived and saw our CNP since my MFM was at a c-section. Surprisingly, she asked, “so how much more time do you want before we schedule an induction?” My hubby and I looked at each other, surprised and glad. It was Tuesday. We asked if they had any recommendations. We all agreed to schedule the induction for Thursday. And so, I prayed to go into labor spontaneously, but also prayed that God would help me to trust Him if I didn’t. I prayed to learn to let go and trust God where my inner control freak wanted to control things as much as possible. We prayed as a couple and did what we could by walking in the Galleria. After that, we rested in hope that God’s plan was good no matter if it ended in spontaneous labor, induction or even an emergency C-section.
Thursday morning, I received a call from the hospital. “Mrs. Peters, can you be here by noon? We have a bed available for your induction!” The day had arrived! It was such an odd feeling to know that I would have my babies that day or the next (hopefully) versus waiting for labor to start. I kissed my mother goodbye, and I kissed Khalil and said, “today is the last day you will be my only baby.” I started to cry. I was so darn emotional and felt so many things, fear, excitement, and anticipation. Raph and I loaded up the car with my suitcase, a cooler, my birth ball and the girls’ diaper bag. We stopped at the grocery store for snacks and then Whataburger since it was on the way to the Texas Medical Center😂By the time we arrived, some of my anxiety subsided and I was able to relax. I was surprised at how long it took to actually start the induction. We arrived at noon but had to check-in, I was required to shower and change, they had to start an IV and start antibiotics since I was GBS positive and then they gave me time to order food and eat. We finally started the induction with Pitocin at 4pm. I was already 4cm dilated and both girls were head down when we started the induction. I credit my husband for this, because previously, baby B was breech. But he walked me all over the mall the day before and this probably helped her to turn! I texted my wonderful doula, Frances, and she arrived right away. After she arrived, we all just hung out. Raph worked some on his laptop and Frances began to rub my feet. She and I began to talk about how we got into birth work as well as her experience as a twin mom. Raph, Frances, and I laughed and talked for a few hours. I had some contractions, but they weren’t growing in intensity or frequency, and I quietly considered that maybe my body wasn’t ready to go into labor and I would end up with a c-section.
My doctor, Dr. Gei stopped in with his usual smile and reassuring bedside manner. He asked me if I had eaten and if I had a chance to shower and sit on my birth ball. Then he shared that we would stop the Pitocin at 10pm so that I can rest and start it again at 5am. Dr. Gei said we were giving my cervix a little nudge and then later, the next morning, he would break my water to “press the gas” so to speak. So, after they stopped the Pitocin, Raph, Frances and I tried our best to get some sleep. But as many people know, the worst place to sleep is the hospital. All night long the nurses had to come into the room to adjust the monitors that tracked the baby’s heart rates. Specifically, my baby Aaliyah would move off of the monitor every time they would finally get her on. So much for rest. At one point they couldn’t get her heart rate back on the monitor, so they called an ultrasound tech in. I started to panic but quickly found that she was fine. To say I was over the monitor is an understatement. I continued to compare this labor to my previous labor. It was so much easier to labor with complete freedom of movement at home than while hooked up to an IV and electronic fetal monitor. Every time I had to use the bathroom, I had to unhook the monitor and wheel my IV drip into the bathroom with me. Despite being uncomfortable, I tried to rest some more.
The next morning, we started the pit back up around 7am. I ate a snack, and my new nurse came in every 30 mins to bump up the Pitocin. I started having some harder contractions, but they were still very tolerable. Raph DJ’d and played some of my favorite songs while I swayed on the side of my bed. Then I sat on my birth ball while my doula massaged my back. Everyone commented on how the room smelled like a spa as my doula diffused clary sage and lavender. She also used lotions with essential oils to massage me. I told Raph and Frances that I wasn’t feeling a lot of contractions and I was getting discouraged. Surely, I hadn’t dilated any. When my nurse came into the room and asked my pain level, I told her it was around a 3 or 4. My doula encouraged me and said, “maybe you are one of those unicorn moms who dilate without much struggle!” Finally, around 10 something, Dr. Gei came into the room. He said it was time to break my bag of waters and I started to freak out! I asked what if I hadn’t dilated enough? What about the baby’s station? He assured me he would note all of these things. When he checked me, I was only at a 5. He then asked for an amniotic hook and proceeded to break my water. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” I said. I was afraid because I knew that contractions would become harder without the cushion of my bag of water. “Oh my gosh, there’s so much water! Why is it hot!? I’m sorry, I’ve never had my water broken, I don’t know what to expect” I said. Dr. Gei assured me that water broken at the start of labor was just a variation compared to contractions starting before water is broken. “Now you are at a 6,” he said. “I will have the nurse keep me updated in case I have to sprint back across the sky bridge to deliver,” he smiled and laughed. Then he left. Right away, things felt different. Contractions picked up and I started to feel baby A, Zoey, descend lower into the birth canal. I started to feel more pressure and started to vocalize more of my contractions. “Am I crazy for saying no to the epidural? I should have gotten it right?” I moaned through a contraction. My doula reminded me that I was informed and that I knew what I wanted. My hubby said, “you’ve got this, you’ve done this before.” My doula and my nurse encouraged me and said to let them know when the pressure started to become constant between contractions. I tried my best to cope with my contractions while in bed. My hubby and doula were on both sides of me, and I would squeeze both of their hands during a contraction. My doula noticed me tensing up and said “Tiera, stop bracing yourself, relax your bottom. Let her come down.” I started to struggle a little bit between contractions, getting louder and tensing up. “Look at me,” Frances calmly said. “Look at me. Just Breathe. Breathe your baby down.” Even as a birth instructor who teaches women to relax in labor, I needed to be reminded to relax in labor. I relaxed my body and felt Zoey move lower and lower. I said “Frances, I’m feeling pressure, I think she’s coming!” She asked me if it was constant. I said no, but it feels like I’m going to poop like she’s coming! “Do you want Sheryl (the nurse) to check you?” At first, I said no, but a minute later I asked her to check me. “Do what you need to do Sheryl!” I said. She checked me and I was fully dilated. I’m not sure what the time was, but I’m guessing it was around 11:30 or 11:35am. All I know is after she checked me, I had an uncontrollable urge to push! She rushed out of the room to call my doctor. I started pushing. I laugh every time I think about the next few moments. My doula exclaimed to me “Tiera, no! I need you to blow birthday candles!” I had neither a nurse or doctor in the room to catch the baby. Not only that, but most hospitals require that twins be delivered in the OR “just in case,” which meant that I should have been wheeled to the OR way before now. But things were happening fast. I tried to “blow birthday candles” but Zoey was coming. I let out a loud wail. My nurse came rushing back into the room. She was on the phone with the charge nurse but heard me yelling and ran back to catch the baby. “She’s crowning!” Frances said. A couple more pushes and yells later and Zoey was born at 11:46am. “Oh my goodness, that was intense!” I said. “But you did it!” my nurse and hubby both exclaimed. I looked at my beautiful baby girl and was instantly filled with love and joy. “My baby!” I said. She was covered in thick vernix and placed on my chest. I loved the smell of her and soaked in our first few moments.
Shortly after, everyone started rushing into the room; Dr. Gei, the medical students with him, doctors for the girls, and more labor and delivery nurses. There would be no pushing in OR, it was too late. Everyone started to praise me for delivering the first twin. Dr. Gei joked and said he was glad to be able to deliver the 2nd baby, if not the first. But at this point, it started to dawn on me that I had to push out another baby and I started to panic. “I have to push out another baby!” I started to repeat over and over. Again, everyone encouraged me. The contractions picked up. Dr. Gei broke my second bag of water, as my twins were in separate sacs. Aaliyah, our second twin, started to have some decelerations on the monitor. Dr. Gei noted some blood. He told me that we needed to deliver her quickly, as he didn’t know which placenta was starting to detach from the uterine wall. I was semi-reclined, having contractions and I was really uncomfortable. There was a sense of urgency in the room, and everyone was talking to me at once. He needed me to move down towards the end of the bed. I remember saying that I couldn’t because I was contracting and in pain. “Hold your legs up,” everyone told me (I never understand how they expect you to do this while semi-reclined, pregnant and pushing!) They put an oxygen mask on my face. Frances told me “Breathe for your baby Tiera.” Suddenly I felt a big contraction and started to bear down to push out Aaliyah. I pushed as hard as I could. At first, I felt nothing. But with a few more pushes I felt that familiar ring of fire and then out came Aaliyah. Relief! LOL I did it! I had both of my twins vaginally and without an epidural. We have the next few moments on video, and you can hear me saying “Thank you God! Thank you, God!” Everyone was so excited, and they encouraged me and praised me. “I’m so happy they are both out!” I said. It was such a relief. I was glad it was over lol! They laid both babies on my chest. I looked down at the girls I had been waiting for for so long. I spoke sweet words to them. My doula said “OMG, look at how cheesy they are!”, referring to the thick vernix covering their skin. “Oh, yea girl, those girls weren’t gonna budge for another week or so,” she said. She said this, as the amount of vernix covering a baby’s skin decreases towards the end of the pregnancy. Dr. Gei stitched up a few small tears and I nursed the girls for the first time. The girls both latched on well which was a huge blessing. After some skin to skin and nursing, they finally weighed the girls. Zoey, our oldest, was 6lbs and 2oz. Aaliyah was 6lbs 10oz. Raph and I had made a bet on the birth weights. The girls were smaller than what the ultrasound had detected, but they had great weights for twins, and we were grateful. The girls’ vitals were great, and they were able to nurse. All of this meant that no NICU time was required. We praised God for this answered prayer! Dr. Gei even told me that if we were all still doing good the next day, we could go home! I was so happy to hear that, as we stayed 3 days after we had Khalil due to my GBS positive status. And so, they wheeled us to a postpartum room. Once there, my new nurse said “girl, you are amazing AND crazy!” I laughed along with her and agreed! And THAT my friends is the birth story of Zoey and Aaliyah!
I’m so grateful for this birth experience and I feel that it will help me to be well rounded as a birth instructor. I had one birth with no interventions and two births with intervention. But both were great births, and I had a birth plan that did not include induction. I wanted this birth to look exactly as my last. Things didn’t go as I had planned exactly, but I still got to follow some of my plan. AND I still had an AMAZING birth experience. I credit this to a couple of things. For one, I was informed of my options. I read as much as I could about twin pregnancy. I knew the risks and benefits of remaining pregnant beyond 38 weeks. I knew the risks and benefits of induction. Raph and I were able to make decisions accordingly. Second of all, I knew the significance of having a supportive birth team. And I did! I had a wonderful doula who offered support before labor, never left my side during labor and was there to help me after. I had a doctor whose birth philosophy lined up with mine, even as a HIGH-RISK DOCTOR! This is a doctor who was willing to deliver both twins if they were breech, when many doctors would automatically schedule a c-section in that situation. I had encouraging nurses and my loving spouse. When I requested more time to go into labor spontaneously, I was supported. Many OB’s will pressure twin moms to get an epidural in case of the need for a manual extraction of either baby. And while my doctor offered this as an option, he didn’t push it. I share my story with hopes that it encourages other mamas/couples. Birth is unpredictable. There is only so much that we can control. But with the right support, information and encouragement, I believe that many women can have positive birth experiences (and vaginal births). And yes, birth matters!