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In case you missed the kickoff to this series, last week I wrote about my decision to pursue a natural birth versus a C-section for my two identical mono-di twin girls, click HERE. This week I want to share with you all the actual giving birth process.
I was about 35 weeks pregnant with the twins when things started to feel “real.” With Monochorionic-Diamniotic twins, because they share the same placenta, it is advised to deliver by the 36th week. That means, if your body doesn’t go into natural labor before then, most twins are taken out via C-section or chemical induction at that time. My friend and amazing doula Latham Thomas (founder of Mama Glow) coached me on natural induction techniques to help my body naturally activate labor. I started taking primrose oil at night after reading so many positive stories from other mommies about this natural herb. I also paid extra attention to my own feelings to stay positive, relaxed and happy. Your body activates labor when the “love” hormone oxytocin kicks into gear. It was fascinating to learn about the interplay of oxytocin versus adrenaline: Oxytocin induces labor while adrenaline stops labor. I guess back in the caveman days, women’s bodies knew when it was a safe environment to deliver their babies into this world…pretty magical!
I also started meditating daily to calm my mind and body. I knew that if my body didn’t go into labor in the 36th week, we’d be in a position to consider a C-section to guarantee the babies were out prior to the 37th week. My wonderful doctors Dr. Mussalli and Dr. Worth performed a procedure called a “membrane sweep” at the beginning of 36th week to help prime my uterus. It was a painful and uncomfortable procedure, but was extremely effective for me. By Friday morning at around 5am (36 weeks and three days), I started having regular contractions. We labored at home most of Friday. My husband Sachin was amazing throughout the day, giving me unconditional love and support through each contraction, keeping a table in Excel and plotting all kinds of graphs! We deal with data on a daily basis at our company, AHAlife.com, so we took the same approach to labor, although this time, it was quite funny as he cracked jokes around trends, means, medians and outliers as pertained to my contractions! At around 8pm that same day, my doctor requested I head to the hospital. My blood pressure was slightly elevated and given that the girls are twins, he warned that I may have needed to be induced. I was about 3cm dilated and 80 percent effaced but it really wasn’t moving much beyond that. And so, Sachin and I took a cab to Mount Sinai Hospital. As soon as I stepped out of the cab, I felt a tiny gush flow under me. We walked into the elevator for Labor & Delivery and then it happened, my water broke! It was as though my body dumped a bucket of warm water onto the ground. We always watch these movies of women breaking water at the site of labor but in reality, only about 15 percent of women actually break their water to kick it off. It was pretty surreal and as the elevator door opened and I was standing in my own pool of water, the receptionist started laughing and said: “Welcome, I guess you’re automatically admitted for delivery!” I felt elated. It was a small miracle, a message from my twin girls that said “Mommy, we’re coming today or tomorrow—we’re choosing our birthday.”
We were admitted, and Dr. Mussalli was amazing- staying overnight with us until the babies were delivered. I pushed them out at 2:16pm and 2:31pm on Saturday, December 3, 2016. We contracted throughout the night and Dr. Mussalli did a series of cervix massages every hour or so to loosen my cervix to prepare for birth. I felt really blessed to have had such an incredible doctor work with us on the least invasive techniques. When I was finally fully dilated, we moved to the OR. All twin births happen in the OR because after Twin A comes out, there’s a series of complications that may arise to get Twin B out, and so they must always prep for an emergency C-section as a precaution. For example, after your body delivers Twin A, your uterus often stops contracting because it thinks it’s done with labor. We had to use a bit of pitocin at this point to start contractions again. Luckily, after about 12 pushes and the aid of forceps, Twin A (Nisha) was out! I was able to push Twin B (Asha) out next, with just three efficient back-to-back pushes. Nisha was born weighing 5 lb, 6 oz. and Asha was born weighing 4 lb, 6 oz.
Pushing the babies out was my favorite part of delivery. I experienced a phenomenal natural high during this process. I felt proud of my body’s capabilities and confident as a woman to accomplish this amazing feat. It was one of those moments where I was filled with infinite love: love from my husband, love for myself, love for my babies and their love towards me. After Nisha was born, they had to whisk her away because I needed to concentrate on Asha’s delivery. As soon as Asha came out, I had requested a delayed cord clamping (which helps babies get more iron into their system) and skin-to-skin, where they placed her directly on my chest so I could begin breastfeeding her. There are truly no words to describe the euphoria and magic of this moment. Soon they placed both babies on me and we were a complete little family. After delivery, my body had a reaction where I was shaking uncontrollably for a bit (this can be triggered after the delivery of placenta). I was given fluids and some blood to calm my body down. Overall, I was extremely grateful to have delivered at a top-rated hospital with a wonderful doctor who respected our birth plan. We chose to give birth as naturally as possible for identical twin girls and we are so happy we pursued this path. We stayed in the hospital for a standard two nights, filled with love (all four grandparents flew in town from Seattle and from India) and we brought the girls home with us on Monday to our cozy little home in Brooklyn.
My husband Sachin wrote a beautiful birth announcement on Facebook for us that I’d like share with you, to introduce you to our beautiful little identical girls:
“Shauna Mei and I are blessed to have been given the opportunity to bring these two amazing souls to life. On December 3rd, 2:16 PM EST Nisha Mei Devand graced us with her arrival, 15 minutes later at 2:31 PM EST Asha Mei Devand graced us with her presence.
Nisha and Asha are identical twins! Having exactly the same DNA composition and will have identical nurture environment. It will be amazing to see them grow up into their own individual whose nature would be a true representation of the sum total of their previous lifetimes. We are honored to foster an environment that will help them maximize their soul’s purpose on this planet.
In Hindi, Nisha means “Night” and Asha means “Hope.” Just like night is a promise with hope for a new beginning of a new day, it is our intention that together they will bring hope of a new beginning to the lives of the people they touch in this uncertain world!
I am so proud of my life partner, my soul-mate and my beautiful wife Shauna Mei for carrying the twin babies to term and delivering them naturally. Interestingly enough, she found the labor part of the pregnancy the most rewarding and enjoyable! As they say, there aren’t too many people like her! :)
We are excited to continue our journey with these two new additions to our family!”
Shauna Mei is an MIT engineer turned commerce and media industry expert and the founder and CEO of AHAlife.com (a global e-commerce marketplace powering over 4,000+ designers and artisans from 45+ countries). Mei’s mission is to create a global community that supports independent brands on a content meets commerce platform featuring quality objects for every aspect of life.