Written by Michelle Donati-Grayman, guest blogger
I remember the day we found out we were having twins.
I already knew it, as I had a dream in which my late sister told me she’d watch over my babies, and despite being in a dream state, it was undeniably clear that she used the plural, not the singular noun. My wife, who was the only person I shared the dream with, thought I was crazy. Until the nurse performing my vaginal ultrasound confirmed my premonition.
We were overjoyed to be pregnant with multiples, especially after enduring six months of fertility treatment that wasn’t covered by our insurance as a same-sex couple. But we were equally overwhelmed by the notion, knowing that our lives were about to be turned upside down as first-time parents.
My wife deployed with the Air National Guard about two weeks after that first ultrasound, and wouldn’t return until I was 7 months pregnant. Between her absence, and worrying myself silly about the pregnancy, I didn’t give a single thought about delivery until a doctor at my perinatal practice brought it up to me at about 20 weeks.
“If you can deliver them vaginally, it’s best,” he said.
Over the next several appointments, other doctors, all of whom were male, echoed this point. I started talking to other multiple moms and learned that many who hoped for a vaginal birth ended up delivering one of their twins vaginally and the other via cesarean. I hadn’t made a birth plan at this point, but if I did, recovering from both a vaginal birth and cesarean weren’t in it.
At my next appointment, I saw a female obstetrician at the practice, who also happened to be a twin mom. I asked for her opinion on delivery, not only as a medical professional, but also as a mom of multiples.
“You could be a good candidate for a c-section,” she said.
It was the first time I felt like the decision was my own, and that choosing a c-section wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. After doing my research and weighing the pros and cons with my wife, we decided to deliver the twins via c-section, and would only opt for a vaginal birth if the twins decided to come on their own first. I’m not going to lie, the control freak in me liked the thought of selecting the day and time of birth. I requested to be the first delivery of the morning, so the doctor would be rested and fresh, and that’s exactly what I got.
I wasn’t nervous about the procedure itself, but I also I wasn’t prepared for the responses I’d get when I told other women that I would be delivering via c-section. Most women had an opinion about it, ranging from “I’m so sorry” to “You actually chose that?”
I carried the twins for 38.5 weeks until our scheduled delivery date. I was so anxious to meet the two little people that had grown inside me that the procedure didn’t phase me until I was separated from my wife as I was prepped for surgery. Several minutes passed and as soon as I thought they had forgotten about her in the waiting area, she was ushered in and it was go time. About 15 minutes later, our baby boys emerged into the world three minutes apart. As the medical staff worked to put me back together, I got to enjoy several minutes of skin-to-skin time with our twin boys. After, my wife and the twins were taken to recovery area, and I joined them a few minutes later to resume skin-to-skin and start working on breastfeeding.
I was up walking later that evening, and although the first time getting out of bed was pretty painful, it got easier each time I did it. After being discharged from the hospital I followed doctors orders, taking it easy and getting as much rest as possible, which helped to ensure smooth recovery.
It was such a positive experience that when we got pregnant with our youngest son two years later, I opted to deliver via c-section again. Today I’m a mom to three amazing little boys, and I’m proud of the scar that shows where they left one world and entered another.
I’ve never shared my birth story beyond my close friends and family because of the c-section stigma. And while the procedure isn’t for everyone, it was the perfect birth experience for my family. Having a newborn, or newborns, comes with enough stress. The last thing a mother needs is the added stress that comes with feeling judged by the choices we make during one of the most memorable times of our lives.
I have several mom friends who have shared their amazing home birth stories with me. I’ve been in hospital rooms supporting my sister and dear friend as they delivered their precious miracles into the world. These experiences, combined with my own, has convinced me that however you give birth is beautiful.