One of the great joys of being a birth photographer is getting invited in to capture births for friends and family. Being the middle child sandwiched between two brothers, I have always longed to have sisters. As luck would have it, both of my brothers married women who didn’t have sisters either! Over the years our relationships have grown, so much that when Sarah found out she was pregnant with her second baby we immediately began scheming for how I could make it to Nebraska to be there.
Adam and Sarah had an ultrasound at 8 weeks where their midwife confirmed their pregnancy and gave them a picture of their little gummy bear. They had a trip planned to San Antonio to see the whole family about halfway through the pregnancy so they decided to get an elective ultrasound at 19 weeks to find out the gender so they could surprise the family while we were together. Here is what Sarah recalled from that appointment:
“We walked into to Stork Vision, and the tech greeted us and took us back to the ultrasound room. She got me all prepped, putting that cold, clear jelly on my belly. And then gently placed the wand on my stomach. We got a glimpse of two white ovals before she quickly removed the wand and looked at us, seeming confused and unsure. She paused, then asked… “Have you had an ultrasound yet?” We told her yes, we had, at 8 weeks. And she paused and said, “So do you know…?” and trailed off. We waited anxiously for her to finish her sentence, and when it became obvious we had no idea what she was talking about, she placed the wand on my stomach again and told us “You’re expecting twins.” We were COMPLETELY blown away. The thought had never even crossed our minds that twins might be hanging out in there! She thought maybe we had forgotten to mention twins when we scheduled the ultrasound, but was delighted when she realized that she got to be the one to give us the news! We found out that day that we would be expecting both a baby boy and a baby girl.”
Due to an emergency c-section with Sarah’s first pregnancy, the risk factors for having a twin VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) made finding a doctor or midwife who would let her try quite challenging. Each provider that she spoke to told her she was either crazy or doing something dangerous by trying to attempt a twin VBAC.
“Finally, I found her: Dr. Karen Carlson at UNMC. She told me that I was strong, that based on the birth story from my first child that I was a good candidate, and not only was it possible, it was probable that I could birth my twins vaginally. Her only condition was that Baby A be in the correct head-down position when it came time for delivery. But from 20 weeks on, Baby A continued to be frank breech, and Baby B transverse. Despite numerous chiropractor visits and other various methods, they were still in the incorrect position at my 36 week appointment. I had been preparing myself for this outcome, but it didn’t change my devastation when it came time for the conversation regarding a scheduled c-section. My provider was open to waiting it out and seeing if they might move, but by 39 weeks, she wanted them out, whether that meant a c-section or induction. But I was in so much pain from a challenging pregnancy (sciatica and back pain) that I chose to go ahead and schedule my c-section for 38 weeks, knowing that the chances of their position changing were very, very small. I continued to hope and pray that they might move, and did so all the way until the morning of my c-section.
I had written a birth plan ahead of time, and Dr. Carlson was totally on board. She told me in one of my prenatal appointments that she was more like a midwife than an OB, and it showed so true that day. They gathered around, explained each step of what was about to happen, and she made sure that there was a clear curtain ready to go so that when the babies were about to be delivered, they could lower the blue one and allow me to watch my babies being born.”
Unfortunately the morning of the c-section came and baby A was still breech so we all prepared to go into the OR. Sarah’s doctor knew how important my presence in the OR was to both Adam and Sarah, not just for photos, but as support. However, just minutes before we were to head back a nurse came in and said she had talked to an administrator and hospital policy would not allow me in. It was sad for all of us as I handed my camera off to a nurse, but thankfully they honored Sarah’s request to wait till the twins were in recovery to do all the weights, measurements, and newborn screens.
The birth went off without a hitch and both twins were born strong and healthy with no time in the NICU. It was one of the most amazing moments as a birth photographer to be there for my family and meet my little niece and nephew when they were just minutes old.