pregnant woman with stethoscopeHaving 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.

Last week, I wrote about own desire to go straight for the c-section when delivering my twins. But both my cousin Rena and friend Christina are heroes in my eyes, because I couldn’t contemplate going through what they did to bring their twins into the world.

After having her first child vaginally, my cousin Rena delivered her twins vaginally, and hearing her story while I was pregnant with my own set of twins reinforced my decision to schedule a C. My cousin is very much like me in that she tells it like it is. I knew that more than anyone, she’d tell me the real deal without an ounce of sugarcoating, and that’s exactly what I needed.

Rena told me that despite one twin being breech, she chose to try for a natural delivery anyway because she knew it would be a faster recovery. Her firstborn was only 17 months at the time, so she knew that once the twins arrived, she wasn’t going to get a whole lot of down time.

Being that Twin B was breech, Rena says she opted for “vaginal delivery and manipulation, not really knowing what to expect.” My cousin differs from me in that she isn’t afraid of the unexpected, nor is she a wimp when it comes to pain—she delivered her firstborn without an epidural. (I have yet to hear of a drug-free birth without gasping, begging to hear the birth story, and holding that woman in very high esteem forever afterwards.)

The doctors gave Rena an epidural and set up for an emergency c-section, should it be necessary. She delivered Twin A vaginally with little complications. But then came the “manipulation” part. Rena’s husband told her that the doctor had her arm inside her “up to her elbow” and two nurses were on either side of Rena, pushing counterclockwise and jumping down on her trying to get Twin B to move. Despite having just delivered vaginally, Rena was yelling for them to do a c-section. That said all I needed to know about the pain involved in a manipulation.

The doctors then waited about a half hour and told Rena to start pushing. She couldn’t believe she actually had to go through giving birth again after all that. But once things got moving, Twin B finally arrived, weighing in at eight pounds, (his brother was seven pounds). Now if you don’t already think my cousin is the alter ego for Wonder Woman, let me tell you about the after effects of all this natural birthing.

Rena says during the manipulation, they must have moved some internal structures or organs around because whenever she bends over, it feels like something gets caught up in her rib and she has to “quickly stand up straight and try to maneuver it back around.” What?! For real? Yes, that was no joke—she has to maneuver an organ or something around whenever she bends over. These are things you will never find in any What To Expect book.

Thank God for honest cousins.

My friend Christina found out she was pregnant with twins when her firstborn child (who was delivered vaginally) was eight months old. Like Rena, she hoped to give birth naturally although she knew there was a high chance she’d have to have a c-section. Christina’s doctor was fantastic—she was supportive and willing to try for a vaginal delivery but was also careful to manage Christina’s expectations.

Christina had to have two epidurals, as the first one only put her left leg to sleep. When the second one set in and she was finally able to start pushing, Twin A was too high and nothing was happening. Everyone took a break and Christina concentrated on her body and her breathing and about 40 minutes later, Twin A was born after two solid pushes—seven pounds and healthy. Christina was thrilled.

But being in tune with her body told her that something was different with Twin B—she didn’t feel like he was ready and tried remaining calm and patient as she had with Twin A. But nothing was happening, and the doctors said that during Twin A’s birth, Twin B had turned transverse. If he didn’t move, Christina would have to have a c-section. (Of all the presentations, transverse can cause the most serious problems for mother and baby.)

After delivering one baby naturally, Christina was now dead set against an emergency c-section. When she started to run a fever, her doctor attempted to turn Twin B, despite being clear that it was something she was not comfortable with. She knew how badly Christina did not want a c-section, especially now.

There was mention of the cord being wrapped around Twin B’s foot, and Christina says at this point “enter drugs, panic and fear.” (I admire her strength because for me, drugs, panic and fear would have entered after the first failed epidural.) Another doctor was brought in who agreed that a c-section was imperative, and Christina’s husband was the only one who could finally get her to agree to it. Even as someone who has always been a c-section proponent, I can’t imagine how awful it must have been to sign those papers agreeing to have surgery after delivering a baby vaginally just a half hour ago.

On the operating table, Christina admits that she was devastated. With both her vaginal deliveries, Christina said, “I loved knowing I ‘did it.’ It was me pushing and working for the babies being born.” She hated the c-section, saying, “the pressure, pulling and tugging was enough for me to want to rip my own skin off. I cried a lot.” An hour and a half after Twin A’s birth, Christina’s Twin B was born—nearly seven pounds and just as healthy as his sister.

Three ladies, six kids, and each birth story completely different. Once children are born, the importance of how they were born becomes far less important. Regardless of what we had wanted or hoped for as far as the birth of our twins, when you leave the hospital with two healthy babies, you can’t help but feel lucky.

(photo: Piotr Marcinski / Shutterstock)