Cassie Shepherd

November 19, 2013

I am the Mother of Two Babies


I am the mother of two babies.

Two beautiful, perfect, heaven in their eyes, identical twin baby girls. What in the world did I ever do to be so blessed?

A genetic predisposition toward twins comes through the mother’s line, but there are no twins in my line, at least none that I know of. Because my own mother loves genealogy, I have easy access to our wide and leafy family tree, and there are no twins. Anywhere. When I was pregnant, I never got used to the idea I was having twins. Waves of shock and disbelief would penetrate me on a regular basis. And yet here they are. There is a .003% chance of conceiving identical twins spontaneously. Approximately 90% of them are born before they reach the gestastational age of 38 weeks. A full 50% are delivered via C-section, and 70% of pre-mature twins spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

But not my girls. They determined that they would beat the numbers, carve out their own agenda. Our twin girls were conceived spontaneously. And while both babies were delivered vaginally at 36 weeks and 3 days, no NICU time was needed. At 48 hours old, they came home.

Now, as I watch over my little girls, I still experience shock and disbelief. Every day, four eyes stare at me. Four hands and legs flail. There are two to change. Two to feed. Two to console. Two to love.  How do I capture what I feel? How do I give flight to these feelings? How do I describe that which by definition is indescribable? This joy, this utter disbelief that somehow God himself blessed me with these tiny souls? As inadequate as these words are, they must suffice. Here then is the story of their birth.

Pre-Term Labor

By all accounts, my pregnancy was normal for twins, though, by definition, twin pregnancies are considered high-risk. As such, non-stress tests (NSTs) are often conducted during the last trimester. Every Tuesday afternoon, beginning at 32 weeks, our babies’ heart rates and my contractions were monitored. These unfolded without incident, except for the first one. During my first NST, on July 30, I was admitted to the hospital for pre-term labor. My contractions were 7-10 minutes apart, and I was told that I was dilated to 1 cm and 70% effaced. Fortunately, I was discharged later that evening after the contractions slowed and then stopped.

I was well aware of the dangers of prematurity and so did not want them to be born too early. My goal was 36 weeks, and I did everything possible to ensure my babies stayed growing in their womb until then. Every time I was in the car, my contractions would begin. So, I avoided driving except to my bi-weekly doctor appointments.  I avoided long walks, going up and down stairs—anything that might bring on early labor. I’m glad to say, my plan worked. A week after being admitted to and then released from the hospital, I was still dilated to 1 cm and 70% effaced. That was August 8. A week later, on August 15, I was at 2 cm and 80% effaced. Six days later on August 21, I was at 2+ cm and 90% effaced. At that visit, my OBGYN told me he’d be surprised if I made it to the next week’s appointment. And, he was right. I didn’t.

Labor Begins

I spent the morning of Tuesday, August 27, making sure our house was ready. I gathered the last few items for our hospital bags and ensured that everything was exactly how I needed it to be. I had an NST scheduled for 1:30 and felt there was a fairly good chance my contractions would start just from driving over there. In hindsight, I wasn’t positive I’d be admitted, but I felt like it was time.

I was contracting every 3-5 minutes during my appointment. After confirming both babies’ heads were down, I told the nurse I was ready for my babies to come. She said my contractions were regular enough they could admit me and see what would happen. Usually once I relax, my contractions stop. I knew there was still a chance I could be sent home, but at the very least, I wanted to know if my dilation had changed and if I was any further along in my labor progress. As such, I was admitted.

Over the next 14 hours, the events unfolded and aligned beautifully. My best friend, Chelsie, a nurse in labor and delivery, was working. When I was admitted, she was the first person by my side. I was still only dilated to a 2+ and 90% effaced, but over the next hour I slowly progressed to 3 cm with regular contractions 2-4 minutes apart. There was some minor discomfort, but nothing felt very different than what I had been experiencing over the last six weeks.

Around 3:00, the on-call doctor saw me. He told me it was too soon for me to go into labor and told me that he hoped I could make it at least three more weeks. That made no sense!  Every doctor I had seen had told me I’d be induced if I didn’t go into labor by week 38 (which was just over a week away). I was not a fan of him. When he left the room, Chelsie said she’d find me another doctor. 

I knew there was a chance that if my labor continued and the babies were born, that they might have to go into the NICU. After all, they were going to be four weeks early. But, I felt at peace and knew if I progressed, it was time for these babies to join us. I was confident that all would be well, and I trusted that over the doctor’s admonition.

Progress and Support

Over the next two hours, my contractions intensified. Mitch got off work and came straight to the hospital. By 5:30 I was dilated to 4 cm and 100% effaced. Once I had clearly progressed, a new doctor, came to check the position of the babies. Baby B was constantly changing from head down to transverse, but the doctor felt confident Baby B would turn head down once Baby A was born. Now that my body was ready and the babies were ready, it was time to settle in and let my labor progress. The babies would be coming.

Chelsie was off at 6:00 so she assigned Melissa to be my nurse. As Melissa was starting my IV, Mitch called his dad and asked him to bring over our hospital bags. I was just about to call my parents, when my mom called. I told her it was time, but had to quickly hang up because the anesthesiologist was coming in to give me my epidural.

I was nervous about getting the epidural. Really nervous. It was the worst part of the whole experience. It was hard for me to relax. Later, Chelsie told me the doctor actually had to insert the needle twice because the first time there was some blood return. I wasn’t holding very still. All I could think about was this long needle going in my back. The second time the doctor attempted the epidural, Melissa got close to my face and asked me what we were going to name the girls. Instantly, I was able to take my mind off of the needle and let the doctor do his work. I just kept thinking about meeting my babies. Melissa will always hold a special place in my heart because of this moment. Even though she had no idea who I was, she knew what I needed and was right there to get me through it. The epidural finally took well, and within minutes the contraction pain had minimized and my legs tingled with numbness.

Night

We were told I’d deliver between 6-7 AM Wednesday morning. I thought 12 more hours seemed liked forever, but the time went by quickly. The events mesh together. Mitch’s parents arrived. My parents arrived. Chelsie went home to get some rest, promising to return for the delivery. There was a lot of talking mixed with waves of pain when the epidural would begin to wear off.

At 9:00 PM, another doctor, Dr. Drewes, broke Baby A’s water. After he broke her water, I was definitely in the most pain I experienced the whole night. The nurses said I’d feel some more pressure, so I kept thinking it was normal. But, once I started gripping onto the hospital bed, wincing in pain, Melissa had the anesthesiologist come in and administer more pain medicine. The pain subsided.

Once I was dilated to 6 cm, I was given a small dose of Pitocin. Again, the intensity of my contractions increased. But, this time I could recognize the pain for what it was and called in the anesthesiologist before it got too severe. This was around midnight.  In the next hour I dilated to 8 cm, and by 2:00 AM I was dilated to 10 cm and ready to start pushing.

10 centimeters

Most people deliver in the same room they labor in. Twins have to be delivered in an operating room in the event there is an emergency C-section. Originally I was told there would be two doctors to help with delivery so if something went wrong, there was enough assistance. Dr. Drewes said he felt confident the delivery would go well, so he wasn’t going to call the other doctor. This panicked me, but I was easily distracted by my own anxiety.  I am sure I’m not the first mother to lay there and think, “This is it,” over and over and over.

Chelsie had come back and was there to help me with the pushing stage. I pushed for about 45 minutes. At least that is what she told me. It didn’t feel that long. The operating room was really bright. Chelsie said I was great at pushing, but I am not sure she’d tell me otherwise. Melissa would notify me when a contraction was starting, I’d take a deep breath and push…1, 2, 3… and relax when I heard 10 – then we’d quickly repeat it two more times. Eventually, I didn’t need Melissa to tell me when my contractions were starting because I could feel them. This also made me nervous because I knew I’d have two babies to get through – what if my epidural completely wore off?

Adalynn’s Arrival

When Baby A started to crown, Chelsie said, “Cas, I can see her head. She has a lot of dark hair.”  Chelsie moved the mirror so I could see my baby. I saw the top of her tiny head and it brought tears to my eyes. This is a very vivid memory. Maybe it is because it was the first glimpse I had of my child. I was completely overwhelmed with love and happiness.

Childbirth is unpleasant, painful, and awkward.  But this moment was beautiful, startling, and wonderful. Seeing my precious Adalynn’s head for the first time made me feel euphoric. How can these contradictory feelings co-exist? I had heard that the “magical moment of childbirth” doesn’t really happen, that it was a myth. But, that wasn’t the case for me.  The moment was magical. All I could think about was this beautiful head full of dark hair…and I hadn’t even seen her face yet.

Adalynn Elizabeth was born at 3:16 AM. I can still vividly hear her first cries. I can see Mitchell cutting her umbilical cord, and I remember the exact moment of seeing her sweet face for the first time. She was quickly taken away for evaluation. Chelsie told me Addie was going to be alright. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her stats being written on the white board – “Baby A – 5 pounds 6 ounces and 16 ½ inches.” As much as I wanted to just focus on her – I knew I wasn’t done. I had another baby to deliver, and so all of my attention now turned to her.

Emily’s Arrival

Within a minute of delivering Addie, I was pushing again for Baby B. My epidural was wearing off – I asked for more pain medicine, but there wasn’t any time. She was so close. I looked down, and, again, this moment of indescribable love filled me as I looked in the mirror and glimpsed that head full of dark hair. 

Emily Kate was born 11 minutes after her sister at 3:27 AM.  She was 5 pounds 9 ounces and 17 inches. When she was delivered, I didn’t hear any cries. I panicked and asked if something was wrong. Chelsie kept saying everything was fine, but I wasn’t convinced until I finally heard her squeal. I let out a sigh of relief and, again, incredible feels of love unfurled for this tiny new life.  I remember Mitchell cutting the umbilical cord and the nurses whisking her away.  Both of my babies had arrived!

As Emily’s stats were recorded, I delivered two placentas, painfully endured the doctor pressing on my uterus, and then finally relaxed. The babies were being checked to see if they’d need to go to the NICU, but I had an overwhelming feeling everything would be fine. I was calm as I waited to hear how they were. 

Reflection

When I reflect on the last twenty-five years of my life, dark moments surface despite the fact that I have buried them deep within my heart. Difficult trials haunt me. And there are many choices I deeply regret. But somehow, upon the arrival of my girls, those dark spaces disappeared. When my babies were brought to me, healthy and stable needing no NICU time, it was the most precious moment I have ever experienced. For the first time, I held two of God’s greatest gifts for me. And it is because of this moment that I have become overwhelmingly thankful for every choice and trial. I have no more regrets. Everything I had endured had led to this moment. I realized - it was all worth it. These babies were meant to be my babies, my family. I was meant to be their mother.

We’ve all heard the religious reference, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” When I stare into those four beautiful eyes, I have come to fully grasp the meaning of this phrase. These spirits were just there - on the other side of the veil. Their eyes reflect the celestial world – bright and pure. The Lord has given me a small glimpse of what Heaven is like through the eyes of these perfect babies. I have truly gained a testimony that the Lord knows us and our individual needs. Even though this pregnancy was unplanned, and we certainly didn’t expect twins, there is no doubt in my mind the Lord knew this would be the greatest blessing He could offer me.

I know I will experience many more trials. This is what earth life promises. However, I can confidently say it will all be worth it. Because when the time comes, the time to return home, Mitch and I will forever be able to live eternally with our children and in that thought there is truly no greater peace. We have been profoundly and eternally blessed.














12 comments:

  1. Absolutely spellbinding and well written. I cried! And, as always, so jealous!

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    1. Oh my word Valerie, you are too kind. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  2. Oh Cassie this was beautiful!! I can't wait to meet your gorgeous babies!! I'm sure life has been so amazing with your wonderful new family. I can tell you are already an amazing mother!! You make me want children!! I love you Cass!!!

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    1. Aw Brit! Thanks! They can't wait to meet you! I'm sure you're going to make an amazing mom sometime soon!

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  3. So beautiful. There is no better feeling than holding two healthy brand new babies. Your feelings and story mirrored my own, and brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Eileen. I am sure a fellow MoM can relate. I'm glad you were able to relate :)

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  4. How can I even begin to reply to this beautiful testament of love? Your words touched me deeply, dearest Cassie. Tears overflow as I am overwhelmed with your expressions of indescribable joy that only belong to a mother. You are truly blessed to have your little ones, but they have also been truly, truly blessed to have you.

    I love you.

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  5. What a perfect story and so well written! Our children really are our biggest blessings.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your beautiful experience. I don't think I'm ever closer to the Lord than during childbirth. Such a sacred experience!

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  7. This was beautiful...I cried!!! What a special time for you!

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  8. Love love love the photos!

    ML

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