In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Keesha Harrison shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email email@example.com.
It was the day after my 36th birthday and my waters had broken, I’d come downstairs to do work; my manager has asked me to finish a report, but as I sat down, it felt like my waters has gone. I called for my partner and asked him to feel my trousers. “It does feel a bit wet,” he said. I went to go lie down, and as I walked upstairs, all the water wooshed out. Like nothing I’d ever seen before.
I’d intended to have a planned C-section. I was having twins, you see. Identical twins. They don’t usually let you go full-term – usually only around 35 weeks – as it reduces stillbirth. But I’d gone into labour early, at six months, 27 weeks and four days to be precise.
My partner called the ambulance, and they guided him through the necessary precautions to take. He was frightened – from what they were saying, it sounded like he was going to have to deliver the babies.
But the ambulance came, thank goodness.
I was 2cm dilated when I got to hospital. They were trying to prevent my labour from happening by giving me medication, but they told me if the babies wanted to come, they’d come regardless. I thought the worst. Was there no water for my babies? Were they going to be okay?
After 20 minutes, I’d gone up to 4cm. The midwife called the doctor in, and at this point I remember saying I wanted to be at another hospital. I knew there was a better one nearby that was more specialised in delivering multiple premature birth. They said it was no problem, humouring me, telling me they’d sort out a van to get me to there.
They probably knew at that point I wouldn’t be going anywhere, because 45 minutes later I was nearly fully dilated. The doctor could see a head. He couldn’t delay it, he said. I needed to get ready to push.
I didn’t even know how to push. My antenatal classes weren’t starting until the following week. I got my head down, and listened to what they told me. They explained that when my babies came out, they’d be placed in plastic bags to preserve their temperature because they were so early.
I got in position, and they told me what to do.
Out popped my first twin. I could see her, but I couldn’t hear her. They rushed her over to a little incubator and were pumping her chest. I was told she was okay.
But then they starting talking about the next twin, saying they were sorry. I was so confused. They told me her heart rate was dropping and she’d flipped sideways – they were going to have to do an emergency c-section to get her out. I was rushed to theatre, put to sleep, and 14 minutes later, she was born.
“My mum kept showing me pics of my girls – I didn’t want to see photos, though.”
When I came around, I was really lethargic. They said I’d been asleep for quite some time. They expected that though, because I’d had two types of birth in the space of 20 minutes! My body was exhausted. I could see everyone around my bed, but I couldn’t see my babies.
My partner told me they were fine, that they were being looked after. My mum kept showing me pics of my girls – I didn’t want to see photos, though, I wanted to see them. I kept being told I needed to rest, and was wheeled to a ward.
A young trainee midwife came over to me to say congrats, but all I could say is that I wanted to go and see my babies. She said I was advised to rest and I could see them tomorrow first thing, but I couldn’t accept it. She gave in, thankfully, and my partner wheeled me downstairs to go and see them.
And then... I saw them. One was in an incubator, the other on a ventilator machine. The second twin was being worked on by doctors at the time, which was frightening. They told me they had to do a few tests as she was underweight. Everyone reassured me the girls were fine, and I managed to relax. My partner wheeled me back upstairs, and said I passed out fast asleep and snoring in the lift. I was out like a light once I knew they were okay.
The following day, my second twin had to be moved to a different hospital. My partner went with her, because I was still recovering, so we were separated for a few days. I really believe my twins fed off each other. When our second twin went away, the first twin began to deteriorate. When she came back, three days later, they started to blossom!
They were in hospital together for eight weeks, but the nurse kept telling me how strong they were. After a week, they were no longer on oxygen. And when we left, we were told they were the youngest babies to come into the ward and the quickest to go home.
My birth advice?
Everybody’s experience is their own. Be strong. Remain calm.