At 27 weeks, 1 day we went to a childbirth preparation class offered by Molly’s health insurance provider. Compared to the other classes we’ve been to, this one wasn’t nearly as bad. We actually also did an infant CPR/choking class through the same provider (I just haven’t had time to write a blog post about it!), and that one was also bearable. Because I have had a lot less experience than Molly with small children, I felt like I got a lot out of the safety class and now feel much more prepared in case of an emergency. I guess that’s the point!
The childbirth preparation class was a 9am-4pm affair. But it was totally worth it. We were the only couple (of at least 20 or so) who are having twins. We were the only couple who also don’t know the sex(es), which I thought was rather interesting. When people ask us what we’re having, I really want to say “puppies!” and see how they react. I haven’t yet, but I definitely want to try this approach before they are born. This appears to be a great place to start a ranting post about sex vs. gender, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, please see this page for a basic explanation of the difference between sex and gender. Also, if you are in the medical, psychological, or epidemiological community, I would highly suggest reading this page (NOTE: I don’t like how the second link still considers both sex and gender to be binary, but it does do a good job of explaining how, why, and when to use both terms). Please remember folks, animals do not have a gender.
Anyway, the childbirth class was actually really good. We watched a lot of computer-animated videos of the various stages of birth and how a C-section is performed. I’ve seen and assisted in the real thing (though not in humans) many times before so its not like any of that was new or surprising for me. A lot of the “when to come to the hospital” stuff didn’t really apply to us; we’ve been told different benchmarks in terms of contractions/hour because of the twins. I think the most beneficial part was learning a ton of different laboring positions and the various breathing methods. Apparently the newest school of thought is that it doesn’t really matter which breathing method you do, as long as you do one of them to have something to focus on instead of the pain. We now also have like 10+ more items to bring to the hospital with us – everything from our exercise ball to tennis balls to fake candles. I swear, they’re going to think we’re moving in when we finally arrive!
Most of the laboring positions we learned are not possible if you have an epidural, because they require standing or squatting in some way. Both Molly and I went into the class thinking that she would probably be getting an epidural. But after learning that you can’t really do any of the laboring positions, at least any of them that actually help progress the labor, while you have an epidural, it brings up some interesting thoughts. Certainly, the natural vs. epidural debate probably won’t be settled (or as close to settled as you can be, always reserving the right to change the decision) in our case until we’re actually at the hospital in labor and they can determine which position(s) the babies are in. If Baby A is feet-down, then an epidural and C-section is the only choice. If Baby A is head-down but Baby B is feet-down, then it depends on what doctor is on call as to whether a vaginal birth is even possible (some doctors aren’t comfortable with breech extraction of the second twin). However, if both twins are head-down, then a natural, un-medicated vaginal birth would be ideal. My worry is, regardless of the position of the babies, that Molly will labor and labor and labor and labor without an epidural, potentially deliver the Baby A, then something will happen where they need to convert to a C-section. At that point, I wonder if it will be too late for an epidural, and the only option would be to put Molly under general anesthesia to deliver Baby B via C-section. Much less than ideal, to say the least. There is (yet another) class that talks about pain management options for labor, which is presented by one of the hospital’s anesthesiologists; I’m thinking it might be a good idea to go to that one just to ask these kinds of questions. I’m sure we’ll also be having much more detailed conversations about it with our OB at our upcoming appointments, too. At our next one, we’re supposed to already have a birth plan! So far we’ve made it to 27 weeks without any contractions, and apparently, that is pretty surprising as far as twin pregnancies go. There was one moment a couple days ago that Molly thought may have been a Braxton-Hicks contraction, but it was very low, not at the top of the uterus where everyone talks about them occurring.
One super awesome thing we learned at the class is that even if the babies are delivered via C-section, they can still have skin-to-skin contact…with me! After they are born, as long as they don’t need immediate medical intervention (heaven forbid), they will shuffle me into a side room where I can take my shirt off and hold them immediately. Of course, both Molly and I would ideally like to go the vaginal birth route, meaning the babies would be put skin-to-skin with Molly immediately (and sure, let’s be real here, I’ll be slightly jealous), but in the case of a C-section, what an amazing experience that would be for me. It’s comforting to know that there are at least provisions to provide that if it ends up in a C-section. It’s also times like these where I really start to realize exactly how lucky I am to have virtually no visible scarring from my many FTM surgeries. I can only imagine what a different experience it would be if I had large chest surgery scars and was self conscious about them…or if in the moment of taking my shirt off in the OR side room, right before I hold my babies for the first time, someone decided it was OK to stare at the scars because they weren’t expecting some person who completely passes to have scars across their chest. Not one day goes by that I don’t think about being lucky in so many ways. But it’s times like these that I realize exactly how fortunate and privileged I really am.