Planned Unassisted Birth, Unplanned Twins
by Albert Calalan
Mom is a large-framed woman, about 5’10″ in height, with a previous baby being 10 pounds. This pregnancy was almost normal for her, going to 40 weeks. Mom’s belly was a tad elongated (belly button far from spine), but not much. The belly seemed a tad narrow too. Sometimes the movements were a bit odd, giving some fear of a breech. Fairly strong and regular false-labor contractions would often go on for a day or more at a time, for a month or two prior to the birth.
On the day of the birth, at 2:30 AM, Dad crawls into bed late/early, quite tired from staying up too long. As Mom moves to sit up, she feels a pop. As she gets up, it becomes very clear that her water has broken.
Dad gets orange juice for mom, hoping to get some quick-to-digest energy into her before reaching the point where it would just come back up again. Dad attempts to get some sleep, and manages to doze off.
At about 5 AM, Mom is in the bathroom to poop. Well, it wasn’t a poop. Mom calls Dad, who is now sleeping. Dad continues sleeping. Mom crawls from the bathroom to the bedroom, then screams for him to wake up. Dad wakes with a start. At 5:13 AM, the baby is born. The head pops out, and Dad takes a picture. The rest follows rather easily. It’s not a very big baby. Uh oh, the penis seems to be missing! The carefully chosen name would have to be scrapped. Hopefully girls like getting hand-me-down clothes from older brothers. She can have a crew cut like the rest of them.
Mom then tries to nurse and deliver the placenta. The cramped area she birthed in made it impossible to lie down or really do anything besides be on hands and knees. This quickly got tiring and very painful. Nursing wouldn’t work. After many complaints, Dad found a twisty (wire and paper bread loaf tie) for the cord and a scissors to cut it. With the baby freed, Mom is able to move about enough to sit or squat. Dad takes a picture of her sitting or squatting to nurse the baby. The baby is an alert little girl, looking around at the world.
Then Mom heads to a more comfortable spot in the bathroom to birth the placenta. Oddly, Mom has a rather tough time of it. She mutters something about things feeling kind of hard and bone-like.
Dad sees a bulge coming out, and prepares to deliver the placenta. It’s looking awfully big and featureless, like a bag full of icky juices. Hmmm… was that an ear inside the bag? Maybe this is a hydroform mole or something. Placentas don’t have ears.
That’s a head. No way! Of course, time had been wasting, and this baby needed to come out ASAP. Mom gives a huge push. Out comes the second baby, with the placentas right behind.
This baby is not so alert. This baby is a funny-looking pale color, completely limp, and not breathing. Dad starts to discuss options, generally involving burial. Mom insists that Dad try rescue breathing, which he does, though it seems rather pointless to him. Dad would rather be happy for the one daughter than worried over a lost cause.
Mom sends dad to read the Heart & Hands book, while she grabs the lifeless baby and tries her best. She notices that the cord has a pulse. As instructed, she holds it face down, rubbing and gently slapping it. She talks to it. She keeps at the rescue breathing.
After quite some time, the baby manages to take a few breaths and wiggle her right arm. It’s looking like this is an emergency, not time for funeral planning. This new family won’t fit in the car though, and somebody needs to watch the kids.
It’s now probably about 6 AM, though nobody is watching the clock anymore. Dad calls a friend several times in a row, but doesn’t get an answer. He tries someone else, getting a very sleepy answer after the third attempt. The friend will come over.
By the time the friend arrives, the baby is looking like a definite survivor. The baby is not in great shape, but the breathing is fairly regular and a feeble attempt has been made at nursing. After some discussion, the friend takes the older kids to her house while Mom and Dad head off toward the hospital.
Plan: insist that Mom and the first baby are NOT being admitted, and that preparations have been made to file the necessary affidavits for birth registration. The hospital gets to observe one possibly ill baby, rather than acting as if the births were at the hospital.
Dad misses the turn, the baby is looking pretty good, and a well-trusted pediatrician is not much farther. That seems like the better option. This pediatrician – originally from Australia – is known to not freak out too much over homebirths and even unassisted childbirths.
Around 9 AM the doctor visit starts, with much confusion trying to distinguish “baby A” from “baby B”. Dad can tell though; the second baby is rather sickly looking to him. The babies both weigh a few ounces over 6 pounds, for a total that is most likely just under 13 pounds. This is very small for the family, though supposedly large for twins. The doctor notes that the sickly one responds differently, being kind of jittery, but probably OK. The doctor expresses more concern about the poor breastfeeding behavior of the second one, suggesting that blood sugar might get low.
Mom and Dad are sent home, to get a call from the doctor later.
Late in the day, both babies are doing fine.
I am including a photo of the newborn twins. Fiona (1st twin) is in front with Melanie (2nd twin) laying behind.