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Mercedes R. Donis

My Twins’ Birth: The Most Important Day I Won’t Remember

PUBLISHED ON 11/12/2012

_Tell us about the day we were born, _I often imagine my children saying to me one day. Before my babies were born, I romanticized about the delivery and I saw myself sharing my glory story with family and friends, even writing blog posts about my birth story and speedy recovery. The truth is, it was all very different than the story I had daydreamed.

I still want to share the story of how my babies came into this world, but when I finally sat down to write my story, I realized how few details I actually remember through the fog of narcotics and sleep deprivation. I'm thankful for the pictures we have, proof that I was actually there and witnessed these things, and for my husband, whose retelling will be much more accurate and coherent when our children want to know about their grand entrance.

So here are some of the things I do remember about the experience.

First, I remember the feeing of anticipation the day before my c-section. Everything we did have a sense of finality about it — this is the last time I will eat a cheeseburger without kids. This is the last episode of Dexter I'll watch without kids. I was ready in the sense that I had reached my goal of 37 weeks, and I was ready to not be pregnant any more, but I was really apprehensive about the surgery and about meeting the people I would spend the rest of my life loving. I remember saying good-bye to my sisters and parents as my husband and I left for the hospital after only a few hours of sleep and thinking, this is the last time my mom will just be a mom and not a Grandma, my sisters will be aunts in just a few hours.

What I remember most about the surgery are those feelings; I had had only one surgery prior, to remove my wisdom teeth in 2007. I'd had a panic attack in the waiting room and cried until they put me to sleep.  I even woke up crying.  The idea of major abdominal surgery was finally sinking in and I tried my best to suppress the nerves. My husband even told me later that he was impressed with my behavior leading up to the surgery. The actual surgery deserves its own blog post — today I just want to talk about the babies!

The twins were born via c-section on September 25, 2012 at 37 weeks and 1 day. Baby Girl came out at 8:27 am, weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces, and Baby Boy at 8:29 am, weighing 4 pounds, 14 ounces. They each measured 18.5 inches long. When Baby Girl came out, I expected to hear screeching or wailing, but what we heard was a single, loud squawk. I started to giggle and cry at the same time as the doctor held our now screaming baby over the screen so we could see her for the first time. Then she was handed over to some nurses that I couldn't see and it was time for brother to come out. "He's really cute, you guys!" the doctor said as she pulled him out. I remember still laughing and asking if he was really big — the babies had been monitored via ultrasound throughout the pregnancy and were consistently measuring right on track. At my final doctor appointment at 35 weeks, each baby was estimated at six pounds, so I assumed that by 37 weeks they would have been around 7 pounds. Baby Boy's weight took us all by surprise. "No, he's pretty small," my husband said, as he watched them take our son to be cleaned and weighed. By this point, everything starts to blur together and all I really remember is worrying about my son. Thankfully, although he was quite small, everything was working the way it was supposed to, and the nurses brought both of the bundled babies over to us to kiss and to take a picture  — a photo I'll treasure forever, but of a moment I sadly don't remember much.

My husband accompanied both babies to the nursery as my doctor continued to stitch me up and engaged me in small talk. I was transferred to the recovery room, where my mother found me. I remember various nurses and technicians talking to me, asking me questions and telling me what was going to happen as if I were a coherent person just chilling in a hospital bed. I felt like I couldn't even keep my eyes open or form words properly. My mother had seen the babies in the nursery window as they were given their bath, and she excitedly told me how they looked just alike, and how my husband held them up to the window for my family to see. Finally, my husband and babies came to the recovery room. I held my babies on my chest and tried to nurse one, I don't remember who, but my arms felt so heavy from the anesthesia that I couldn't quite get the hang of it.

I don't remember being wheeled to the post-partum suite, or the visitors that were waiting in the room when I arrived.  I was so thirsty but so sick from the anesthesia that I couldn't hold down fluids and yet I couldn't stop myself from gulping water, Sprite or the broth they brought me for lunch. The pictures from this time show me pale and puffy-faced, struggling to keep my eyes open and with a heavy smile.

The babies were all bundled up and wearing matching beanies. In the time since then, it's become so clear that the babies look very different, but those first few days we were all convinced they looked the same, and it was even hard to tell them apart. It wasn't long before we got to know them, their personalities, and their cries well enough to distinguish them from across the room. (Although, I admit, it is harder to do at 3 a.m. and bleary-eyed!) I remember wanting to inspect their naked bodies, since I had only seen them once they were swaddled in the hospital's flannel blankets. I didn't even change a diaper for several days. (How great is my husband!?)

I attribute much of my mental fog to the surgery. My mom, who'd had a traumatic c-section experience, had warned me about it, but I'd heard from so many people that the surgery and recovery were no big deal. Since I knew c-section was my only option (certain doctors may restrict your birthing options depending on your/babies' health and babies' positions), I accepted it and minimized the possible problems in my head.  I regret not being able to remember more of the first few days but there are wonderful things I do remember: how tenderly my husband handled our babies, the delicate smell of the tops of their velvety heads, and my parents cradling their grandbabies.  After having spent the last year planning, wishing, daydreaming and worrying, it's hard to believe I'm actually somebody's — make that two somebodies' — mother.

Did you childbirth experience differ from what you expected?