Twinning: I Never Got Caught Up In The Natural Birth Fantasy

c-section tableHaving twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.

I’ve come to think that twin births are like snowflakes—no two are exactly the same. That’s partly because twin moms have more exit options: we can have two vaginal births or one c-section, and some of us are even lucky enough to have one of each on that wonderful day!

When I was pregnant with twins, my initial thought concerning the babies’ eventual exit was that under no circumstances would I be offering two options. One route for both was all that would be made available. My next line of reasoning was that if one body part needed to be cut or stitched, I was going to volunteer my stomach for that duty.

I’m one of those women who never felt that “natural” birth sounded all that natural—and even if I only had one baby my ideal delivery would have been a c-section. So one of the first things I wanted to make sure was that my doctor would be on board with a scheduled C. Luckily, he believed that c-sections are the safest way to deliver twins and said that would have been his suggestion anyway.

Just to be sure, I asked him, “Say you can’t make the birth, you’re tied up or something…can you put in my file that I want a c-section, that I’m not pushing, even if they’re both head down? Could you write that in?” He laughed and promised that he would be there to deliver my twins and nobody would force me to push anything anywhere.

The story of my twins c-section birth is fairly uneventful, as it all went according to plan. I’d never had surgery before though, and that morning I was so nervous about the whole thing my teeth were chattering while I waited for my spinal. I asked a nurse if I could have some Valium (all the epidural-refusers in the house gasp in dismay) but since Valium crosses the placenta, this wasn’t allowed.

While getting my spinal, I was surprised by how painful getting a needle in my spine was—I actually cried. I was also surprised at how numb half your body can be while the other half isn’t. Just for kicks, I kept trying to lift a leg or something. “Come on brain, you can do it!” But nope, it couldn’t.

Once I was on the table, numb from the waist down and the doctors were working on me for a bit, my doctor said, “Okay Gloria, we’re almost ready to begin.” I asked my husband to cover my ears, because I didn’t want a play-by-play of what organ was being lifted from my body or whatever the hell I thought I was going to hear. What I really wanted was an out-of-body experience. Within 10 seconds I heard my doctor say “Here is your son!”

Whoa! My doctor had been kidding me saying we were about to begin—we were there already!

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  • Carinn Jade

    You crack me up as always Gloria. Despite my normal “oh natural birth was the beeessssst, everyone must try it” annoying attitude, my cousin just gave birth to twins vaginally and the first words out of my mouth were “on purpose????” followed by “for real????” and “both of them?”

    • faifai

      “on purpose???” HA HA HA HA HA HA!

    • kitten

      my aunt had two vaginally, she said she had all the pushing and contractions etc with the first, and his brother just kind of slid out. lol

    • Emmali Lucia


    • CrazyFor Kate

      Imagine someone like Michelle Duggar. By this point she probably wouldn’t even notice until it started crying!

    • Gloria Fallon

      Ha!!! Thank you so much Carinn!

  • Mary from Ohio

    First of all, great job having and raising those two babies and thank you for writing interesting articles that I can read while I am stealing precious moments ignoring my kids. But I can’t resist pointing out how unjust it is that for most mothers of twins, natural birth is, indeed, only a”fantasy”. Imagine your doctor telling you that you had to push them both out, sans anesthesia, because it was “hospital policy” – that’s kinda what it feels like for women who do want a natural birth but are bullied into possibly unnecessary surgery just because they had the misfortune to conceive twins in the US. The lack of real reproductive choice in this country is not improved by the fact that some women want the births they’re forced to get.

    • ratiomom

      The thing is, you can’t pick a birth like you’d select the sundae flavor of your choosing. Nor does the evil doctor make you have any particular option just because he feels like it. You have to take it as the circumstances dictate.
      The illusion that wishful thinking is going to alter your birth outcome in spite of the medical reality sets women who get caught in the natural childbirth doctrine up for disappointment. When composing those insanely detailed birth plans they might as well write a ‘weather plan’ planning for sunshine in November. They could get lucky and actually get it, but it is totally out of anyone’s control and they refuse to understand that.

    • Courtney Lynn

      I agree. I will not allow someone to shame me for actually WANTING a RCS. I have gave it a LOT of thought and it is the best thing for me and the baby. I didn’t get my natural birth that I wanted with my son, either because they thought I had pre-e. When you’re told you might have pre-e by a medical professional, most women go with medical advice. I believe I did the right thing by my child now and the safest route for me is to go with their advice again and get another c-section. I’m not anti-VBAC. Not at ALL. I’m very much in favor of them. I’m also in favor of safe, informed choices.

    • Zoe

      I won’t even be awake if I can help it.

      But seriously. Go into hospital, leave with healthy baby. Personally, I don’t give a crap what happens in between as long as that’s the outcome.

    • Megan Baznik-Wilson

      But there are a lot of doctors in the US who refuse to consider a vaginal delivery for twins even if the mother has had one or more succesful vaginal deliveries in the past AND both babies are head down. There is no medical reason to refuse a trial of labor and vaginal delivery in that case. Just the doctor’s fear of a malpractice lawsuit.

    • Courtney Lynn

      What is wrong with actually wanting the birth that is advised by the OB? If that’s what she wants, then who is anyone to say she’s wrong?

  • Kat

    My daughter was 5 weeks preemie and was put not in NICU, but in the nursery (a step down from NICU, but not the regular nursery, either). I demanded to be brought some kind of wheelchair so they could wheel my butt down to see my baby. Of course, I also almost stabbed the nurse who wouldn’t give me my baby in the recovery room. I was sitting there for about 45 minutes as she was weighed and everything, as all my other family got to go over and see her. I told my mom if she didn’t make the nurse give me the baby, I was going to do bodily harm to someone, lol. (They gave me my baby right after that).

    • Valeri Jones

      That is definitely one thing that does suck about a C-section in the hospital where I had my Conner. All of the rest of my family got to hold and see my baby practically as soon as they pulled him out. I, however, only got a quick glimpse of him right after they pulled him out…. Then they took him to a room that was adjacent to (but not visible from) my OR to measure and swaddle him. They brought him back in for MAYBE a minute, but my arms were still strapped down so all I could do was look at him and kiss his cheek. And then they took him to the nursery to be cuddled by everyone else while I laid in recovery for two hours. By the time I got back to my room, I was ready to yell at the nurses to stop fussing over me and Just. Bring. Me. My. Baby! But no. I had to get my epidural and catheter out, pads changed, etc. etc. etc. Also, had to wait while nurses scrambled around, calling doctors, to find out what kind of pain medicine they could give me because I was allergic to morphine. (You’d think they would have thought of that before.) Conner was born at 1:56 pm and I didn’t hold him for the first time until 4:30. :(

  • BigBlue

    I never got caught up in it, either. I value the outcome more than the process. I wanted a baby and didn’t much care how he got here, as long as he got here safely.

  • AS

    I am definitely a natural childbirth advocate, but had I been pregnant with twins, I would have had a C-section on the calendar within two seconds of finding out!! Just the possibility that you can end up having both a vaginal birth and C-section scares the crap out of me!!

  • kitten

    i honestly dont understand wanting surgery more than birthing a baby. Im not saying that to be snarky, i seriously am curious about it. For my second, I was actually scheduled for a c-section at 38 weeks, when she FINALLY flipped head down at 32 weeks (hurt like a bitch, they arent supposed to flip that late). So for those weeks the C was schedule, I was terrified. the idea of having my abdomen cut up and things moved around…shudder. Never mind needing to recover from it. Maybe thats how you feel about vaginal birth? Im really curious about why you prefered surgery (in general, but just for twins. i think iget the twins thing)

    • Courtney Lynn

      I’m not trying to be snarky, either, but I don’t understand why you care. It doesn’t affect you. It’s a very personal choice for every woman and if she feels a c-section is the best thing for her, so be it. It’s different for you as it is for her.

    • Frances Locke

      I see nothing wrong with being curious about people’s thoughts and feelings on a subject. She related a personal experience and HER thoughts and feelings about it and expressed curiosity about someone else’s. I didn’t sense an inkling of snark in her question, but I smell a ton of it in yours.

      I’m curious as to why people choose to sky dive or get their nipples pierced. That doesn’t mean I am judging their choices, I just have a fear of flying and needles so I am curious about people who are so fearless.

    • Courtney Lynn

      I seriously didn’t intend to be snarky, but it is the internet and written, not spoken so things can be taken as they are read. I do get a little defensive when I feel people are being on the judgmental (which I personally read into her post, even if she didn’t intend it) side of birth choices because I’ve been judged for mine and it hurts. I think most of us are doing the best we can and making the best decisions for our own health and the health of our babies be it c-section, natural birth or VBAC.

    • kitten

      i didnt mean to be judgey at all, I am really glad you had healthy and happy babies! my intent was just to say that surgery scares the crap out of me,and i was curious how she felt about it in more detail. :)

    • Courtney Lynn

      It’s all good. I read more into it than what was intended. I see so much judgment on the subject and being pregnant with number 2, it’s definitely at the forefront of my mind. I really didn’t mean to be snarky, honestly, despite what some may read into it. I was scared of the surgery, too with my son because that was NOT what we had intended or planned so as I was going into the OR, I was terrified! I’m still scared of the second one, but now I do know what to expect, so it’s not so bad and I don’t think it will be nearly as traumatic, if at all.

    • kitten

      Hey, congrats on number 2! It is also nice to have an internet convo where we can go back and forth and no ones being rude or anything. ;) I hope your next birth goes really well! My ‘favorite’ (f you can call it that) was our third, by then i’d done it twice and had a better handle on what i did or didnt want and what to expect. She was natural…as natural as you can be being induced…and while it was a great experience, ym sister is now pregnant with her first and i told her to get the drugs. lol.

    • Valeri Jones

      To answer your question, to me C-section is the norm in my family. My sister is the only person I knew in my immediate circle of family and friends that had a vaginal delivery and she tore so bad! She ended up with getting a subsequent infection and her vagina will never be the same. I guess the thought of that scared me more than being numbed up and cut open and then sewed up while not being able to feel it. Don’t get me wrong, though…. Laying on the table with your arms tied down and not being able to see your body below your neck is uber-scary, and I think it would be just as scary if I’d had ten c-sections. But at least I don’t have to worry about my vagina. Lol.

      P.S. I forgot to mention that my sister didn’t get there in time for an epidural or any pain meds whatsoever. She didn’t realize she was in labor, even though the rest of us did. She just kept telling us she had to go #2. Lol! By the time we finally talked her into going to the hospital, my nephew was basically crowning. So, pushing out a baby AND tearing like that with no pain medicine? NO, THANK YOU!!!!! It scared the bejeezus out of me.

    • kitten

      Valeri, thanks for sharing your experience! I really do like to hear other peoples takes on an experience we all have so differently.
      Like your sister, my sister in law called me with her first and was ahving contracts every 4 minutes or so, and her water had broken 3 hours earlier. I rushed my own baby to daycare, practically threw him at them, and rushed to her house (which was right near by) she had sent her husband to work, I bustled her into the car and to L&D, calling her husband to meet us. I was THIS close t oseeing that baby born. lol.

    • Valeri Jones

      I gotta admit…. Sometimes, I do wish I had been more patient and tried harder to have him naturally. (Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I was induced at 29 weeks and was in active labor for 24 hours, dilated to a 6, and he never moved down into the birth canal.) I wish that because I would like to be able to say that I pushed my baby out and got to experience that. But in the end, all that REALLY matters is that I had a healthy baby. It doesn’t matter how he got here. Personally, I could never shame someone for their choices on how to deliver. Every person is different. Shaming someone for WANTING a surgery when you are scared of it (hypothetically, not talking about you personally), to me, is like shaming someone for being afraid of spiders when you are afraid of clowns. It just doesn’t make sense to me!

      I’m so glad that everyone shared their experiences in these comments, and nobody got snarky or hateful with anyone about their choices. This site is SOOOOO much better than the stir! Just saying.

    • Justme

      I had actually heard more birth horror stories from women who delivered vaginally than from my friends who had c-sections.

    • Courtney Lynn

      Same here. I have one friend who will tell anyone who will listen how bad she tore.

    • kitten

      interesting! like i say below, maybe for me the difference just is a fear of surgery and extreme luck at not tearing (i had tiny kids)

    • Justme

      I think the c-section surgery methods have gotten much better over the years. I had no visible stitches and was up and moving the very next day. I had a harder time recovering from my appendectomy than I did from my c-section.

    • leakingmom

      I had both. Having a cut on my abdomen was painful, but I got good pain meds. 6 weeks later I was back to playing tennis.

      With my vaginal birth, I tore badly. I still suffer from urinary incontinence as a result. Every time I exert myself I leak urine and it won`t get better ever. The extraordinary `birth experience` that the natural birth crowd are always raving about never materialised. I suffered through a lot of pain and wound up with permanent damage to my pelvic floor, that`s all.

      If I could go back to choose between a cut stomach or lifelong incontinence, I would have chosen the cesarean in a heartbeat.

    • kitten

      thank you for the perspective! I gues i was lucky to have three vaginal births with no tearing, so it is a hell of a lot easier for me to consider it ‘better’ (for me) than a c section. To Courtney Lynn, I ask her…becuase she wrote a whole article about it, if she didnt want to explain her view points, she shouldnt write blogs…no? *(again, still not snarking! lol)

    • Justme

      Courtney Lynn didn’t write the article – Gloria Fallon did.

    • kitten

      I know, I was talking about Gloria in response to Courtney.

    • Justme

      The way you wrote it (without defining the secondary “she”) sounded as if you were meaning that Courtney wrote the article.

    • kitten

      I hear ya :)

    • Jessica Weber

      In my case, the recovery from the (Unplanned!) C-section was way easier than my vaginal delivery. I left without any external stitches, just glue and a bandage and was out grocery shopping three days later. On the other hand, the stitches I left with from the other birth pretty much grounded me for weeks and were extremely painful. None of the process of birth is without pain but surgery isn’t a bad way to go. Having experienced both, I don’t blame the author for not wanting to go it both ways at once and put up with two totally different recoveries.

  • Valeri Jones

    THANK YOU, GLORIA! Thank you for writing a story that doesn’t make me feel like I am a horrible mom for wanting a C-section.

    Yes, I wanted one. The thought of pushing a baby out of my vagina scared me way more than the thought of getting cut open, even though I’d never had surgery before. Don’t ask me why! I have no idea. Thankfully, I had an OB who was willing to do whatever made me most comfortable, which included an epidural as soon as I checked into the hospital and the C-section on demand. (I DID try vaginal with induction, but things weren’t progressing well and I was exhausted after 24 hours of active labor and no baby in the birth canal, so it was then that I asked for the C-section.) But those moments of laying on the table, I also did the thing where I shook so hard my teeth were chattering. My anesthesiologist (who was wonderful, by the way), was very concerned and had to keep giving me more and more anesthesia because I could tell them exactly what they were doing beyond the curtain. (“They are laying sterile drapes on my legs.” “They are unfolding the drapes and spreading them out.”) He said he couldn’t believe that my pressure wasn’t dropping and that I could feel that, being as small as I was and having that much medicine. But anesthesia’s never worked right for me. They couldn’t believe I stayed awake through the whole thing after they had given me that much. But I remember them telling me that they were gonna do one more test on my belly before they began. I kept expecting someone to ask me if I could feel something, and no one ever did, so I asked the anesthesiologist what was going on. He said, “They’re already in your uterus and I can see the baby. The final test was the scalpel going across your belly!” Well! It’s a good thing they had finally gotten enough medicine in me!

    Also, I was up and walking laps around the whole hospital (to go out and smoke) as soon as my catheter and epidural were out. Nurses said as long as I could feel my legs, I was good to go. And go, I did! My mom told me that the more I walked, the easier I would recover. Two other women had vaginal deliveries the same day I did and by the time I left the hospital, they still couldn’t even walk around. When I got home, I was doing laundry and every other normal thing I had been doing before my surgery. Never had to take a single pain pill after I left the hospital and was playing volleyball within a week and a half of giving birth. A lot of this can be chalked up to the fact that I am an incredibly fast healer. But I think my willingness to get up and move around and the refusal to fear the pain contributed a lot, too. So, for those of you have C-sections coming up – WALK! As much as you can, as often as you can! You’ll be back to yourself in no time.

  • Frances Locke

    My first child was completely natural but not by choice. I got to the hospital too late and pushed her out an hour after walking in. I jumped at the chance to use an epidural the second time around…and it didn’t work correctly. It only numbed part of me and it was worse than having nothing. The third time around it worked perfectly and it was like my son walked out of me on a warm spring day, lol.

  • laughing

    “I was also surprised at how numb half your body can be while the other half isn’t. Just for kicks, I kept trying to lift a leg or something. “Come on brain, you can do it!”
    But nope, it couldn’t.”

    That was funny. The valium, the tugging, sure you’re going to die, hilarious. I didn’t know what my c-section entailed until a year later when i came across the video camera. Ignorance is bliss. And way more motivating.

  • Gloria Fallon

    I love all these comments!! Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I think a lot of our feelings towards birth are heavily influenced by the stories we hear from our girlfriends and relatives, and my already pro-C feelings were solidified by hearing my cousin tell me about delivering her twins vaginally. I’m going to write about her story and my friend’s (both vag and C for her twins) next week, so I won’t describe it here, but that helped me make up my mind to the point that I was terrified I would get a “natural is best” doctor if mine was unable to deliver my twins.

    I used to think babies came out your belly button (what else is it there for?) and I wasn’t too happy when I found out the real story. I thought maybe when I got pregnant my body would adopt a “nature knows best” attitude and embrace a vaginal birth, but that never happened. I think it’s unfortunate that women are judged for wanting a C-Section, or made to feel like a lesser woman for not delivering vaginally because all that should matter is that at the end of the day, mom and baby are both healthy.

    • kitten

      Thanks for responding Gloria! You make a great point, in my family i dont think i knew anyone with a C, and they all had pretty decent vaginal births. My sister in law DID have awful tearing, but I’d alreayd had a baby when that happened for her.

  • Marina

    I had a drug-free vaginal water birth and there was nothing that made it a “fantasy” or less real than a medically unnecessary C-section birth. Whatever editor ok’d this title is going for drama over truth.

  • Megz

    That’s great that you were able to have the birth experience that you wanted. All women should be able to experience childbirth in the way that is most comfortable for her. However, as someone who very much wanted and was able to have a natural birth, I do take exception with your calling natural childbirth a “fantasy.” Natural childbirth is not some imagined method of expelling a child, it is very real and, for those of us who want to go that route, very important. I loved my birth experience and plan on going natural again when the time comes. I know a number of women who loved their epidural-free births and know many women who opted to go natural after a bad hospital experience with their firstborns. All of our experiences are different and we should all get to have the birth experiences that we want. I feel fortunate that my birth went smoothly and I was able to go natural, and I would have been sad if it had gone any other way. It was something important to ME and MY experience…I just find it a bit condescending for you to refer to such a major event in my life as fantasy, just as I would find it condescending to hear someone write that c-section is not “really birth.”

    • Melissa

      I agree- I think childbirth is about what experience the mother wants. Someone told me once that “natural childbirth” is a mom and her baby going home safely and together. I do agree though that natural childbirth is not a fantasy. At least half of my girlfriends have had successful natural births. The other group weren’t interested in that. Really, it is about what you’re most comfortable with, not what everyone else thinks you should do.

  • NaturalNoMore

    My attempt at a “natural” birth nearly cost my son and myself our lives. Until I read this article, I winced every time I saw my naked body, convinced that my C-section scar branded me a failure. (I never was able to consent to the C-Section as I had a seizure and lost consciousness somewhere around hour 24 of natural labor). I was not awake when my son came into the world, and went from stage 2 labor to waking up, no longer pregnant.

  • kitten

    These comment are great, and thanks to the ladies that were willing to share stories due to my curiosity over why you’d want a c-section. Reading all this, i feel extremely lucky i had three babies and no tearing! god bless ya all however your babies are born :)

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  • Stacy Westmoreland

    I had to fight the doctors to let me give birth naturally to my twin boys. They had been head down since 28 weeks, my blood sugar and pressure was great, no complications or problems, but I still had to fight tooth and nail. They all think c’s are the best for twins. My boys were my first and only pregnancy. I was in labor for two hours and the were born 16 minutes apart. It was so quick my doctor didn’t even get a chance to do anything, the nurse midwife took care of it. I was up and about the next day. There was no way I could have taken care of two babies and recovered from invasive surgery at the same time. I applaud you for recovering from a c and taking care of your twins at the same time.