Vasectomy Reversal, IVF Twins, & Planned Cesarean under General Anesthesia

Katie and her husband, Dave, conceived twins through IVF after four years of intensive fertility treatments.  Katie’s conception story includes a vasectomy reversal, two rounds of embryo generation, miscarriage, embryo loss, genetic studies, and seemingly endless trans-vaginal ultrasounds. 

Katie’s pregnancy was uneventful. She enjoyed the joint care of midwives and an OBGYN. Living rurally meant a three hour one-way drive to see her care providers monthly, but thankfully doctors and hospital staff in her home community bent several rules and provided regular non-stress tests in the ER, as well as weekly monitoring as Katie and the babies neared full term. 

twins planned cesarean

The babies were born full term, at the Penticton hospital in British Columbia. Three days prior to delivery Katie agreed to scheduling a C-section because baby A was a Frank Breech presentation, and baby B was transverse.  The delivery happened under un-planned general anesthetic, but thanks to amazing midwife and doula support, Katie, Dave and the babies came through safe, happy (mostly) and thriving.

skin to skin dad twins

Crane

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Mourning the Loss of One Baby When You’re Caring for Her Twin

Surprise Twin Pregnancy

Valerie and George found out they were expecting in July 2017. After waiting 4 excruciating weeks before the first doctor’s appointment, the day finally came to see her OB. While waiting for the doctor the nurse said, “wouldn’t it be funny if you had twins?” It seemed like a funny joke at the time, but sure enough, when the doctor was doing the ultrasound, she said “I see two heartbeats – you are having twins.”  After she said the word “twins” Valerie was in shock and didn’t hear anything else the doctor said the rest of the appointment. George and Valerie left the office feeling excited yet nervous and couldn’t wait to tell their families.

For carrying twins, Valerie had an amazing pregnancy. No morning sickness, bed rest, Braxton Hicks, high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Towards the end she did get a very uncomfortable case of carpel tunnel in her wrists and swollen ankles. Once she reached a certain stage in her pregnancy, in addition to the regular OB appointments, she also saw a maternal-fetal specialist to keep track of the growth of the twins and to make sure they were developing normally. Everything looked perfect the entire pregnancy. Not one issue of concern was ever discovered during her 36 weeks of pregnancy.   

Valerie worked up until Feb 1st and the twins’ due date was March 28th. She felt great, but with twins it was recommended she rest and put her feet up to prepare for the arrival of their baby girls – Eden (Baby A) and Chloe (Baby B).

Valerie and George took a hospital tour and attended a weekend birth preparation course at the hospital where she was scheduled to deliver. Initially, Valerie had been interested at potentially looking into a birthing center, but with the high risk of twins had decided on a hospital birth. Valerie was really hoping to deliver vaginally but understood the possibility of a c-section would be higher due to the twin birth.

valerie howell

At the routine 36 week check-up Valerie, accompanied by her mother, went to her Doctor’s appointment. As she did at every appointment, the doctor checked each baby’s heartbeat. However, Valerie realized that it was taking much longer than usual for the doctor to complete that part and move on. Suddenly, the doctor removed the stethoscope from her ears and looked at Valerie and said “ I’m having trouble finding Baby B’s heartbeat – please go to labor and delivery for an ultrasound and I will meet you there.” Shocked and stunned, Valerie and her mom had quick moment of prayer in the exam room and then headed to the hospital.  

Valerie and her mother made the quick drive across the street to the hospital and checked into Labor and Delivery. The nurses whisked her into a triage room and hooked her up to a machine to monitor contractions and continued to look for a heartbeat – they seemed optimistic and were great at keeping Valerie calm. At this point Valerie’s mother said it was time to call George and the rest of the immediate family. Valerie didn’t see the point in making everyone worry because she thought surely once the more advanced ultrasound machine arrived the heartbeat would be detected, and everything would be fine. Her mother insisted, and the calls were made.

Finally, the ultrasound technician arrived and began to conduct the ultrasound. With so much time passing by the reality of the situation began to sink in and the shock and optimism began to wear off. The ultrasound tech wouldn’t answer any questions and Valerie could tell she felt awkward so stopped pressing her; but, after going to so many appointments, when Chloe’s heart was projected on the screen it was clear that there wasn’t any activity.  

birth twins loss

George arrived after rushing to the hospital from work, and Valerie’s doctor came in to talk to the couple. (She had been finishing a scheduled surgery) It was official – Chloe’s heart had stopped beating and was no longer alive. They needed to deliver Eden right away. Since Valerie had wanted to try for a vaginal birth the doctor gave her the option to either be induced or have a c-section. Valerie and George had some moments alone to try to process what was happening and due to the circumstances, they chose a c-section. Once the decision was made everyone moved quickly to prepare Valerie for surgery.

Eden Naomi Howell was born first – she was healthy and had a strong loud cry. She received a 9 on her Apgar test! Shortly after, Chloe Estelle Howell was born. Valerie got to nuzzle both babies once they were born before they were taken away with George to wait for her in recovery as the rest of the surgery was completed. Valerie was groggy in recovery but was able to hold and nurse Eden. Once released from recovery and moved to a room filled with her parents, MIL, sister, brother-in law, and aunts and uncles she was able to spend more time with Eden and Chloe. Everyone was able to see her and hold her and spend time with her – she was a perfectly formed and beautiful baby.

twin stillbirth

It is still unclear exactly what happened to Chloe. There was meconium in her water which is what she swallowed and took her life. However, the reason that happened is unknown. The reality of walking into the hospital with two babies and walking out with one was shocking and difficult for Valerie and George to deal with. Valerie was so caught off guard – no one ever speaks about the possibility of having a still born baby. She thought that things like didn’t happen during birth in this day and age, but ironically it is more common than most people are aware of.

The physical recovery for Valerie went well. The surgery was routine with no difficulties, and she was released from the hospital on the 4th day.  Her incision healed beautifully, and she was able to recover without incident. Shortly after going home, arrangements were made for Chloe. Learning to take care of a newborn while laying another child to rest in the same week is an enormous burden to bear.  However, family and friends loved and embraced Valerie and George as they grieved and learned to navigate the life of new parents in a supportive environment. One day they will have to explain to Eden that she had a twin sister. Sweet Chloe Estelle is gone, but never forgotten.

Valerie Howell Bio

Valerie Howell resides in Southern California with her husband George and their 19-month-old daughter Eden. She has lived in California for the majority of her life but has a soft spot for Seattle, Washington where she went to high school and attended the University of Washington where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in communication. She later attended California State University and received a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and is currently enjoying a career as a corporate event planner.  When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to read and dance and hopes to pass along the love for both to her daughter.

You can follow Valerie on IG at @valgal217 for more adventures of event planning and being a working Mommy.

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Birth Center Twin Birth with Dr. Stu & Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Pregnancies and Birth Center Twin Birth

After a long pregnancy battling severe hyperemesis gravidarum, Hannah gave birth to her first son in a birth center at nearly 41 weeks. Ten months later, she became pregnant again, this time with a set of twins! Despite living in a state that considers twins to be a “high-risk” pregnancy, they were able to work with an OBGYN and midwife team to deliver their babies out-of-hospital. She carried her twins for 38+5 weeks until her water broke and they shot out of her body in just 1.5 hours! Hannah struggled with breastfeeding all of her children, due to tongue-ties and tight jaws. She was forced to exclusively pump with her son, but was able to breastfeed her twins successfully after a difficult 3 month journey working with a lactation consultant and occupational therapist.

dr. stu twin birth at birth center

Hannah Mockary Bio

Hannah is 26 years old and lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. She married her high school sweetheart right after graduating from college in 2012 and became pregnant with her first child in 2015. Her health and lifestyle drastically changed after having hyperemesis gravidarum during and after both pregnancies. Her son was born in a birth center in July of 2016. Hannah became pregnant with her twin daughters in 2017 and was also able to deliver them out-of-hospital. While chasing after her 3 kids under 2, Hannah stays active in the community by serving at her local church and part-time work with online marketing. @hannahmockary on Instagram

Resources

Dr. Stu – Birthing Instincts
Twiniversity
Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins
www.helpher.org
Hyperemesis Sufferers Group on Baby Center
Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Birthing From Within 
Business of Being Born

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Four Birth Stories Including Two Sets of Twins

To listen to this episode, and more than 300 other birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter group here!

Lindsey Bliss shares her six births in four stories: a birth center birth with Mia (now 11); a vaginal twin birth in the hospital with surprise-twins, Birdie & Hazel (now 8); another surprise set of twins, Luke & Rocco (now 5.5) who were born at home; and finally, baby Olympia (1) who was also born via a planned homebirth. I love Lindsey’s down-to-earth approach to birth, postpartum, and parenting!

Lindsey Bliss Bio

Lindsey Bliss is the co-director of Carriage House Birth, an experienced birth doula, and the mother of seven. Lindsey is considered to be a multiples expert after giving birth to and parenting two consecutive sets of twins. Lindsey takes on her role as a birth doula and childbirth educator with serious passion and commitment. Her mission is to hold space for expectant families through education and informed decision making. Being prepared, and knowing what options are available increases the likelihood of an amazing birth. Lindsey facilitates that process, giving people the tools and inspiration to empower themselves. Her unwavering support and gentle guidance have benefited over two hundred families. Lindsey supports first time parents, multiparas, single parents, LGBT families, twins births, medicated and non medicated vaginal births, cesarean births, and VBACs.

Connect with her on Instagram at @doulabliss and @carriagehousebirth

Triplets Birth Story with Postpartum Hemorrhage

To listen to this episode, and more than 300 other birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter group here!

Triplets Birth Story with Postpartum Hemorrhage

Desiree delivered her triplets at 34 weeks 1 day, her goal date. Her babies were all about 5 pounds each. Unfortunately, Desiree had some complications after her delivery. She hemorrhaged and needed blood transfusions. Her delivery was certainly not what she anticipated, but she is thankful she and her babies were safe.

Desiree Fortin Bio

Desiree is a Mom of almost 3 year old triplets. She is a Mommy Blogger and loves to share all things Motherhood, the good and the hard. On her blog she shares her infertility struggles, triplet pregnancy and delivery, and is incredibly vulnerable in sharing her postpartum depression and anxiety journey. Connect with her at theperfectmomblog.com or on Instagram @thefortintrio.

triplets pregnancy

Double Rainbow Babies After Loss

To listen to this episode, and more than 300 other birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter group here!

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month we are sharing this beautiful story again.

Same-sex couple Mariel and Viviana knew they always wanted a baby; so, a year into their marriage they began trying to conceive by the traditional route of IUI’s with frozen sperm via a sperm bank. After nearly a dozen failed tries, they switched gears to a known-donor and were quickly pregnant. Early on in Viviana’s pregnancy she began having complications, and on the same day of her anatomy scan at 20 weeks and 6 days, Viviana’s water bag prolapsed and broke. Tune in to hear the details of their devastating infant loss due to incompetent cervix and the redemption story of their boy/girl rainbow babies conceived within 7 days of each other and born only three days apart. Follow their journey on Instagram at @moderndaytwins.

Viviana Bio

I don’t have a hometown, but if I had to claim one, it would be Dallas, TX. I met Mariel in college at UNT and quickly fell in love. A few years into our dating, and after moving to Austin, she asked me to marry her; so, we had a ceremony in TX and made it legal in NYC when I was 29 and she was 22. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and never could have guessed the road to realizing it would be so hard. Now the Mama to my “modern day twins” and my little angel baby in heaven, I’m at peace. My loss and the birth world has been truly inspirational to me so I share as much as I can on social media and hope to give back somehow. Connect with me on Instagram at @vivianarchy.

gentle cesarean

Mariel Bio

I grew up in Brownsville, TX, which is on the Texas/Mexico border and never lived anywhere else until I left for college where I met Viviana and instantly fell in love. Up until meeting her, my life was pretty vanilla: I had a set goal, and was meeting every expectation my very traditional Mexican family set out for me. Then, all of a sudden, I threw all of that out of the window and started taking risks I’d never imagine were possible – I graduated college in three years and moved to the most expensive city in Texas without a job just so I could finally live passionately. It’s been a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs, but despite the uncertainties, we’ve always managed to land on our feet and have been blessed beyond measure. I love to tell our story to anybody that will listen so that people see that there is hope so long as you don’t give up and are willing to take as many detours as life throws your way. Connect with me on Instagram at @cafesitamami.