From two to four.

How can I ever speak of what it’s like to grow, protect, and then give life to two sweet angels at once? A feat which demands all of my heart. I have started and stopped assembling our birth story many times over the past few months. In part because it all happened so fast and I just wanted to get bits and pieces out there as soon as I was able and then go MIA for a while -- to fully focusing my entire being to these two little humans. I was actually disconnected for a long time, fully taking in the bliss of new-mom-hood and getting ALL the baby snuggles and bonding I could possibly fill up my heart with and more. And here, I probably should interject a huge thank you for all those messages, calls, texts, comments, gifts and love from everyone. It truly touched us more than you know and though I didn’t have the capacity to send thank you cards or create sufficient thank you posts as my love tank was so beyond overflowing with our own tiny minis. That was such a sacred time and Daniel and I find ourselves looking back on our videos and photos while the girls go down at night -- from the beginning when there was much less baby fat and cooing, and more so squeaking, skinny baby legs, and Zzs. 

Our girls are growing at an astounding rate – I swear time hasn’t passed faster than right now. I’m feeling very, very nostalgic lately and I realized I need to get this birth story down while things are still fresh because soon, I won’t remember every single thing and that actually makes me tearful. My knuckles are white as I hold on to every feeling and memory – replaying it all like a ritual because I’m not ready to let go. How are they almost 4 months old. How am I not pregnant anymore. How is that I am looking less and less like they were in me – I want that evidence still. I want people to know. How how how.

Time is a liar.

June 17, 2016. I planned this as my last day at work before I went on maternity leave. I was having a hard time – the last leg of a twin pregnancy is no joke, and though I didn’t have anything to base it on as it was my first pregnancy, I knew my body was screaming at every movement. There was only one position I could tolerate and it was in bed, on my left side, with my giant pregnancy pillow that became a nest around my whole body. Everything else sucked. Even that position was just okay. I was over it and ready to spend the next week or so “resting” in this position until I had to be induced. I was sure I was going to be induced. What were the stats like of a pregnant woman’s water breaking anyway? 1 in 10? Wasn’t going to be me, nope. I was feeling weird and off for a few days, but nope. Couldn’t be.

Ok so it could be. I clocked out and chatted with my boss for a few minutes, saying my goodbyes and mentioning how I felt strange – a feeling I still to this day can’t describe. I actually remember saying so throughout the whole day. Funny thing is, it's an actual symptom of labor. My intuition kicked in and I just felt weird. We joked and I said “oh, HA! Wouldn’t it be SO FUNNY if I went into labor this weekend and didn't get to rest? Ha ha!” I stopped to pee before my 35 min drive home, (and I won’t go into any more detail than that for your sake) waddled down the stairs, out the door and took 4 steps through the parking lot and ok did my water just break are you kidding me?! Get into my car, drive some, about to turn on to the highway, and it’s waterfalls. WATER BREAKS. I am driving with MANY other cars around because you know, that kind of thing happens on a highway, there are other people around and you guys my water was actually breaking. This was gonna happen. I start to panic only for a hot second and was like goddamnit Malia you have to keep your shit together. I called my husband and he ended up not answering because he was at the gym. I got a hold of my parents to give them a heads up and then called the birth center. They thought it was pretty damn amusing I was driving on the highway and said they’d be expecting me soon! Change of plans. I was not going home to rest. I was going to have these babies asap, and if I have ever planned anything perfectly in my life, this WOULD be it.

Before I knew it, I met my husband at my parents’ house (after he did call me back asking 100x if this was it and am I serious?) Yes darling, very serious. We drove to the hospital and my contractions started. Before I knew it, we were taking the elevator down to the birth center sneaking a few incredulous looks at each other and it hit me in that very moment we would never be just two ever again. That feeling was adrenaline. Soon we were in our room and I swear I will try and tell this story but everything went so fast from this point forward. At 35 weeks and 2 days, it was go time.
Here I must say my sister actually left for California that morning and we joked through text how it'd be funny if I'd go into labor that day and she'd have to come right back. Turns out that's exactly what happened. The timing of all of this was unreal. She was in California for something like 2 hours then had to get on the next flight back home. My brother rushed to our house to grab the hospital bag and a million other things on our list we didn't have. You know, because I didn't plan to literally step into my maternity leave and have my water break. I will forever be blown away about the timing. My family was in the labor room with us, switching out cool washcloths for my forehead, giving me ice chips, cracking jokes. And both of our families snoozed at the hospital until I was ready to push in the OR. We are incredibly blessed to always have so much support. 

I wanted a natural birth so bad, every article and story I read had the odds stacked against me and the percentage of C-section twins was very high. I also wanted to labor naturally as long as I possibly could because I knew they would push the Pitocin. They would push a lot of things that were not a part of my birth "plan", but we decided a long time ago to talk things over and just go with protocol because there were two babies, a higher risk, etc. If we were having one baby, we’d likely be at a birthing center outside of a hospital. We walked the room, the halls, rocked and swayed, I grabbed the hallway oh shit handle bars when contractions started to get difficult. In all honesty right now I will tell you I have a high pain tolerance. Very high. These contractions didn’t feel awesome, but they were bearable. I’m confident I would have been able to go through this labor un-medicated but the Pitocin came when I was dialted at 4cm and I was able to bear through pit contractions until 6 cm. Those were no joke…like tearing my body in half pain. Like, shaking all over from the pain. Pitocin is a monster in itself and makes labor unbearably animalistic. I was seeing stars.

That being said, I got my epidural. Again, we all agreed upon this because with twin births, anything could happen so it was safer to be already hooked up in case I needed a C-section, which would be the absolute last thing I wanted, but getting an epidural was better than the chance of being completely knocked out for the arrival of our girls. This part was the absolute worst of my birthing experience. Somewhere in all the medical terms thrown at me I was warned some people react poorly to epidurals and different things need to be done and fast. My body was tearing in half at this point so I didn’t take in any of that. Sitting hunched over through Pitocin contractions as they were getting my epidural line in hurt in ways I can’t even explain. Also stinging and electricity simultaneously going up and down my spine. The worst. It kicked in, my pain went away and my legs were numb very quickly. One second I was okay, and suddenly I wasn’t. A swarm of nurses rushed in, shoved me on my left side, threw on an oxygen mask, and all at once I thought I was going to pass out.  My blood pressure dropped so very low as well as the girls’ heartrates. Apparently this is a common occurrence but I completely freaked out and had about a hundred panic attacks. I couldn’t stop shaking even after my blood pressure stabilized. I am so very thankful for Daniel in those very scary moments because he’s always been the one who can talk me down from a panic attack. It was just his voice, my girls' heartbeats and the plastic mask on my face. That's all that mattered. When family was allowed back into the room, a good two hours had gone by when it felt like 2 minutes.

I was numb and stable and everything was pleasant in the world again. Daniel and my family took a nap for a couple hours as I was too excited to sleep, it would be just me and my loves for only a few more hours. One of my favorite things about pregnancy was how we always had each other no matter where I was. I was never alone. The nurses checked on me at around 6am or so and I was already at a 10. Everyone cleared out of the room and I started practice pushing. Apparently I was a natural, because it took no time at all to get Lyla's head right there. I think my specific words were "Oh thanks, I used to work out." Daniel was my #1 fan rooting for me and never left my side. He was just great. We discussed early on the kinds of touches and words I'd prefer when I was in pain -- grabbing and firm holding, no stroking, no repetitive words, etc. He not only remembered these things but also knew when I wanted quiet. I wanted to use the mirror because it motivated me like no other. I know some women opt out because they'd rather not see, but for me it helped tremendously. 

I'm forever grateful I did most of my pushing in the dimly lit labor room. It was peaceful, calm, warm. I was anxious about having to deliver our girls in the OR -- bright lights, sterile, cold, too medical for me. Daniel put on his scrubs, and I was wheeled to the OR. I remember there were a ton of people getting things ready. The OB on call (my OB also told me not to go into labor that weekend because she would be on vacation. Apparently my girls decided to laugh at everyone's plans and come anyway!), a nurse for me, anesthesia, and two nurses per baby. It's funny how I only remember Daniel and the OB. No one else. Since Lyla was so close, I only pushed for a short time and she was out! 5lbs 13oz 18.5in long. Instant tears and love and joy. Daniel cut her cord and she was taken to the warmer right away because all focus was on Elsie to see what she would do. And of course she was a perfect sweet baby just like her sister and was out in 6 minutes. 5lbs 3oz, 18.5in long. You know how they get you to push 3 times for 10 seconds long and then rest for the next contraction? Nope, this last leg I consistently pushed for 6 minutes no break, nothing. I'm not sure where I got my strength from -- probably because I knew how important it was to get her out quickly. As soon as she was out, she was placed right on me and oh I cried and cried because I never expected that could happen. She was so warm and I felt the chemical connection as soon as her skin touched mine. I can't even explain it. It was such a sacred moment. They allowed a short delay of her cord cutting and she was taken to her sister. They gave Elsie a little oxygen, and then both babies were able to come straight to me. No NICU and they never left my side. The most perfect little bundles. The perfect birthing experience for me. So many questions, so many fears, and everything was absolutely perfect. Our Gemini star lights were finally here.
--I found out later Daniel filmed the entire birth. I've watched it one time. It's beautiful and intense all at once. I do want to watch it again, but I have to be in the right mindset. I'm so very happy he caught everything because if he asked me beforehand I'd probably hesitate.   
I feel as though I am going through a strange paradigm, where I experience things with my girls and I miss and ache for them as they are happening. Like subconsciously, I know how fleeting this time is – the way they grab my t-shirt and hold on tight. When they nuzzle their sweet little faces in my chest. Staring at me in awe during bath time. Those ever so slight eyebrow raises when their father and I are acting silly to get them to laugh – they don’t fully know how yet, but they do a little bit and I tell you the sound is bells to my ears. The bashful smiles, all dimples and gums. Trying to eat my cheek and chin, and their little baby grunts in my ear like they’re telling me secrets. Spit up everywhere. How their eyes light up as they see new things and hear new sounds. That sweet sweet baby smell. How they immediately search for me when I step out of their sight. All of this. I miss it all already and it’s still happening. Where this blog will go from now on, I'm not sure. I want to document everything, but I'd rather spend time actually living it with my family. I suppose I'll post the occasional short and sweet update with photos, but it'll be a long while before I'll have the time for anything more than that.