The sleeping tablets didn't work as well as previous nights. I kept waking every 15 minutes to breathe through a contraction and then I'd doze in between. I honestly thought in my befuddled state that they would calm down. Although I was alone (I didn't bother the midwives often that last night) I didn't feel lonely. The babies were wriggling around like crazy (due to the contractions), I only realised the other day that term babies would be too big to wriggle the way they did that last night. I always found their movement a comfort. Perhaps the other big hint that this was it, was that I was leaking colostrum all over the sheet.
Around 1am I did ring the bell as the contractions felt a bit worse. The midwife gave me some panadeine and a heat pack, she stayed with me to feel how they were progressing, and said she'd see how I was at 2am. Meanwhile I had texted Rob. As we only have one phone he had borrowed my mother's old mobile. The buttons were too small for him to text very well. It made me laugh because every time he wrote xxx it came out www. I was willing the contractions to stop, but instead they were just as strong. I toughed it out, throwing aside the useless heat pack and curling up on the bed whenever one hit.
Just after 2am I sent Rob another text to say they were not getting worse but weren't that nice either. He asked if he should come in. Why I didn't say yes then I'll never know! The midwife went to discuss my progress with another doctor to see if it was worth calling my doctor. I had not lost any fluid so I still thought they would calm down.
By now it was impossible to doze between contractions, I was trying to be brave. The babies were still kicking like crazy. The contractions then went up a notch, they started getting longer and more painful without a break. I still didn't call Rob, I didn't want him to worry. Just after 4am I sent him an understated text - getting more frequent, can you come in soon. He replied ok. I didn't realise ok meant to Rob have a cup of coffee and a leisurely shower and shave. Perhaps we should have discussed my texting code. Because to me it meant come immediately!
Lying down and breathing was doing nothing now. I could feel the contractions building up like a wave until it was intensely painful. I remember walking around the room and leaning over the bed quietly moaning. Then suddenly I felt a pressure deep in my bottom. At first I thought I had to go to the toilet and even tried. Then I suddenly remembered the day before one of the questions my Doctor asked was if I felt a pressure feeling. That's when I finally admitted this was it. I rang that bell and told the midwife, who turned and ran out the door to get help.
Two other midwives came back with her and a wheel chair. By now the pain and pressure was constant, and when they asked me to sit in the wheel chair I initially refused. But somehow I sat down and was whisked back into a delivery room. They had already rung my Doctor. They helped me onto the bed, removed my knickers, and one of them did an internal exam as gently as she could. I remember the lamp at the end of the bed didn't work, so it was all dark. But I could see her face and heard her whispering to the others that I was fully dilated and she could feel Twin B's head. Then she told me to shut my legs and whatever I do, not to push. Stranger words I'm sure haven't been spoken in a delivery room. This I admit felt impossible, your body just takes over and does what it has to. But I gritted my teeth and tried. The midwife who had been with me all night asked where Rob was. So I rang him (I later checked my phone the call was at 4.57am), understated was thrown out the window as I gasped "get here now", followed by "where are you?" He told me he was just driving through Snug. Still a 30 minute drive from the hospital. My heart sunk. I wanted him with me, I was so scared. I didn't want to face their birth alone.
The mood of the room quickly changed and it suddenly became full of people. I was very relieved to see my Doctor. She looked very serious, even more than the other day. The lights were thrown on, and it became crazy, it felt so surreal, as if it was happening to someone else. They reattached IV lines and gave me another massive dose of magnesium sulphate. Perhaps telling about the pain I was now in, was that I didn't feel the burning this time. The other had saline reattached. They gave me an injection to slow the contractions, and those fetal heart monitors went back on. The midwife told me to breathe through a contraction rather than tense up and squirm and quickly showed me how to use gas.
Other people were in the room, an anaesthetist was at my head asking me all sorts of questions I could barely hear or understand. On the other side my Doctor put a consent form in front of me to sign. The anaesthetist was still talking to me, but I wasn't taking anything in. I had to swallow some foul stuff to stop me choking. I could see NICU nurses checking the warming beds. I was shaved and a catheter was inserted. Then as suddenly as they appeared, everyone started leaving for the operating theatre upstairs. My bed was wheeled into the corridor, and as we went past the midwife was grabbing towels and oxygen canisters and placing them between my feet. I thought that was odd at the time, but later a NICU doctor told me when they were paged they were told I might give birth to one of the twins in the lift on the way to the theatre!
I don't actually remember any more contractions from now on. I was exhausted and kept looking for Rob. The midwives rushed me out of the lift and wanted to wheel me right into the theatre, saying to theatre nurses as they pushed there was no time for normal protocol. But in the rush it wasn't actually ready yet! As we waited briefly the anaesthetist's nurse let me know that they still weren't sure if I would be having a general or a spinal. I really wanted to be awake at least, but I knew it wouldn't be up to me. They said if it was a spinal when Rob arrived they'd bring him up. I desperately wanted him to get there, but perhaps all my silly bravery would mean he would miss it. With all the commotion I had lost track of time.
Finally I was allowed in, I remember the huge lights above the table. I was shuffled across to the table, and noticed it was getting light outside. I saw two humidicribs, each with a NICU Doctor and nurse. The main NICU Doctor came and introduced himself. I could see my Doctor and another obstetrician in scrubs prepping. I was asked to sit up and hunch forward for the spinal tap to be placed, because my gown was open at the back it kept slipping off. One of the NICU nurses rushed forward to hold it up to preserve my dignity. I felt so defeated that I didn't even care if I was naked, and tried to tell her I didn't care. I don't remember if someone told me or I looked around and saw him, but I suddenly saw Rob standing in the corner in blue scrubs and face mask, his blue eyes fixed on me. I was so relieved.
I had done all that I could to stop their birth. Endured more than I thought I ever could, but in the end I had to surrender (thanks Jodi for that totally appropriate word). I could do nothing more to protect my babies from their early arrival. It was now up to the NICU doctors and nurses, and the babies themselves.
They gently laid me back down, checked I had lost sensation and hastily put up a curtain (which kept falling against my face). Rob sat next to my head and held my hand. Then the operation started. It wasn't long at all and I heard my Doctor ask Rob if he'd like to stand up and see the first baby's appearance, and I felt excited. She joyfully announced "It's a beautiful baby girl", and as Rob's tears fell on my face, I quietly wept as I heard Maggie's tiny but determined cry, and I felt it. A love stronger than anything I had ever felt, particularly for someone I hadn't even seen, as I became a Mama. One minute later the Doctor asked Rob to stand up again and Elisabeth entered the world screaming just like her sister, and another wave of love washed over me for my second daughter.
I have written before about meeting the girls later that day. Despite all we had been through already, we knew it was just the beginning of a long stay in hospital for our daughters. Unlike their birth day a year ago, I only have tears of joy today. There is no sadness or fear. Just love, wonder and awe for our girls and how far they have come. We are so proud to be parents of our Maggie Simone and Elisabeth Hazel.