As I ‘enjoyed’ my shower, my midwives sat discussing my labor and twin homebirth thus far.

My midwife, T, had left my medical chart at home. She reasoned that since she lived only 15 minutes away and I looked like I was nowhere near complete—there was no screaming, crying or other signs of distress—it would be safe to quickly run home and get it.

As she passed the living room, she mentioned to my husband that I was just at the beginning of labor, likely only 4 centimeters dilated.

When my other midwife, D, heard a low bass-like moan coming from the shower, she knew it could only be the sound of pressure resting heavily on my perineum.

My Awesome Birth Team

My Awesome Birth Team

A light knock on the bathroom door woke me from my trance. Ds head poked into the room.

‘I have to go to the bathroom’, I said, knowing full well that the feeling of pressure from the baby beginning to emerge is commonly mistaken for the need to make a bowel movement.

D suggested that we should check how far I had progressed.

I had previously wanted absolutely no internal checking. A woman can sit at nine centimeters for hours while someone at two centimeters can open to ten in a matter of minutes. I didn’t want these numbers to distract me from the goal—birthing my babies peacefully and healthily.

Her eyes insisted. I knew she wasn’t just checking for centimeters but for body part configuration as well.

Her face remained calm. I was ten centimeters. She could feel that, along with the cute little toes wiggling at her.

A breech twin homebirth it would be.

Instinctively, I had known my baby was breech. That same feeling had told me that that everything would be fine. My babies were looking forward to dancing into the world and no one was going to stop them.

Things started moving quickly.

After a call from D, T rushed back. She wanted me in a semi inclined position with my feet dangling off the bed, a variation of a birth stool birth. In this case, I used my doula quite literally as my stool. She sat behind me with her legs wrapped around me. I clenched her hands tightly.

In this position, I was able to use gravity while still giving D and T a clear view. Although I was already ten centimeters dilated, my midwives wanted to use precaution in the delivery of my breech baby.

A tznius-ified picture moments after birth.

A tznius-ified picture moments after birth

They wanted to be sure that there were no lips in the cervix and that I was indeed completely dilated. When the buttocks or head comes down first, their weight opens the cervix. Sometimes, when the feet come down first there could still be a lip in the cervix that would not allow the head, much larger than the rest of the body, to emerge completely.

Their approach was to practice an ‘hour of patience’ in which they waited to be sure that I was completely dilated before allowing the baby to descend.

The only problem was that these babies wanted to out now!

I had heard that the ‘pushing’ stage was often the most strenuous. My experience was totally different. Since I had to prevent the first baby form emerging, I was told to blow out and not push. The feeling of not allowing my natural expulsive reflexes to take over was sort of like being in an arm wrestling match with G-d. I used all of my mental resources to concentrate on blowing out. I couldn’t believe I would have to do this for an hour.

During this time, my first baby continued to try to dip his little feet into this world. The midwives would gently push them back in and waited and hoped for him to reposition so his buttocks were descending instead of the feet. This type of breech, known as frank breech, is easier to manage than a footling breech.

The task at hand seemed completely counter intuitive in the struggle between me and G-d for this baby to be born. I was no match. I yelled “I can’t!” The only noise my husband heard during the entire birthing process from the living room.

My midwives smiled, “It’s been an hour. You can push now.”

And suddenly, everything stopped. My surges just stopped. Often in birth your body will give you a resting period before the pushing phase.

Weighing the Baby. Homebirth midwives come with oxygen tanks, pitocin and other tools in case of emergency--not a bottle of vodka and wet rage to bit onto.

Weighing the Baby. Homebirth midwives come with oxygen tanks, pitocin and other tools in case of emergency–not a bottle of vodka and wet rag to bite into.

I was so excited I calmly said to my midwives “I don’t feel anything. I want to wait and breathe my baby out.” This refers to the baby led birth pushing. Rather than pushing indiscriminately which can tire a mother out and often be counterproductive, baby-led-pushing works with the body. This avoids the dreaded 8 hour pushing phases many mothers fear.

Unfortunately, my midwives were not too impressed. They all gave me a look that all but said ‘you-need-to-get-this-baby-out-now-or-else’. I understood that this was not a preference but a matter of my babies’ health that was concerned.

I swallowed my pride and proceeded to do what I had told so many mothers not to do. I pushed with all my might. Given the sheer pressure and weight from two babies’ descent into this world, this stage was actually the easiest and most exciting. Finally, I could give into G-d and let Him lead.

My husband in the other room was diligently reciting Tehillim (Psalms). It is a custom to say Tehillim 20 twelve times while the mother is in labor. He was finishing his twelfth repetition and concluding the last words, ‘The king will answer us on the very day we call out’, when a midwife came out to tell him:

“It’s a boy.” A purim bris and a pidyon ha ben.

My squirmy wet little creature was placed immediately on my chest still connected to the placenta.

“Talk to the baby” they whispered.

I was in total shock. How a ‘putrid’ drop and ten months of sleeping spread like a star-fish can lead to a tiny human being makes no sense.

I had no words.

Total incomprehension.

Swaddled together. A do-over of the womb.

Swaddled together. A do-over of the womb.

Awkwardly, the first few things that came out of my mouth were “I’m sorry for poking you so much.” I guess I felt guilty for constantly trying to check what position he was in. Little did I know that the bobbing bump in my stomach was an entire other being trying to rest for its upcoming journey.

Then, “Why is he so white?” I asked. I reasoned my tan South American genes plus Y’s Ukranian pallor and freckles would lead to something more café-con-leche style.

Finally, in a rush of hormones and oxytocin the tears came. It felt like specks of light washing over me and my new baby. “Thank you Hashem, Thank you Hashem, Thank you Hashem”. A healthy baby is a gift in any case but a twin homebirth seemed like it called for extra accolades.

My baby. The product of the love between three—man, woman and Hashem. I was a mother charged to lead a new generation. IY”H, the generation of Moshiach.

Everything going on around me was a total whirlwind. I lay chest to chest with my baby. We ooh-d and aaah-d this new baby for about twenty minutes before we realized this blockbuster hit was about to release a sequel. The cord was cut after it stopped pulsating.

The surges starting again. My baby boy was whisked off to his father as I started to prepare for another surprised.

Feet. Again.

Moshe Gedalya and Esther Chasya

Moshe Gedalya and Esther Chasya

Another breech baby is not such a big deal in a twin birth because the first baby has opened up the cervix. It should in theory work sort of like a water slide. Except, of course, in the very rare case that the second baby is bigger than the first.

Well, with these odds, I could certainly win the lottery.

I concentrated and the second baby came quickly although with more effort. Nothing any woman couldn’t do.

As many Orthodox Jewish couples, we had decided not to find out the gender of our babies. I was very strict to always tell the sonographers that I did not want to know. Annoyingly, two weeks previously I had gone to one sonographer who callously wrote in huge letters on the top of her folder ‘2 boys’.

I had decided not to accept this upon myself as truth and chose to led G-d decide the gender of my babies. My husband’s mother passed away when he was sixteen and although every baby is a blessing, his family had waited fifteen years to pass on her name and in doing so pass on her legacy.

When the midwives placed Baby B on top of me and said “It’s a girl”, I felt relief.

Baby Esther Chasya

Baby Esther Chasya

Chasya was reborn and we could finally close a door of grief.

Both my babies were placed on top of me and we began to tandem breastfeed. My babies were so calm they didn’t even cry until a few days later.

We had achieved a gentle transition into this world.

Although women have the custom of asking each other ‘so, who delivered your baby?’ as a way of asking them who they chose as their practitioner, I knew that my answer to this question would have a different twist. Although I certainly had several pairs of skilled hands to catch my babies, there was no one who delivered these babies but me.

Thank you to my support team for making this possible and of course to my husband who never doubted me and to Hashem who made this possible.

Hope you enjoyed my birth story please visit my website newyorkdoula.com and our Facebook page as we will be continually updating with more blog posts on birth, labor

 

Baby Moshe Gedalya

Baby Moshe Gedalya

and the joys of parenting.

 

 

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