Dear Blog

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Dear Blog,
I miss you. There’s so much I want to write about, particularly the boys and their first 3 weeks spent in the NICU and their growth and how the girls are soooo excited about their brothers, BUT I am rarely motivated enough to turn on my computer. Even now I’m writing this on my phone, which is why this will be short. Just wanted to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you and I hope to be back someday soon!
Love,
Me

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The Arrival of Rua and Kayan

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I have been meaning to get this down since the boys were born. I didn’t want to leave out any details, but now that it’s been 2.5 weeks, and there has been such a roller coaster ride since the day they were born, I’m afraid some things have become fuzzy. Oh well. This is how I remember it all in my head anyway.

I woke up super early Saturday morning, as usual, to go to the bathroom. I was having mild contractions and hoping they would get stronger. On the way back from the bathroom I noticed the sun was about to rise and thought if I stood in front of the window and made sure that I did see the sun rise, then for sure the boys would be born that day. Unfortunately, although the sunrise was beautiful, the contractions didn’t get stronger, they stopped while I was standing and watching.

Because the doctor was sure I was about to give birth at any minute I didn’t think he would let me go home overnight again, but he did say it was okay for me to spend the day out of the hospital. Akinori came to pick me up just before lunch on Saturday and we went and ate fabulously delicious hamburgers since I had a major craving for them and for really good fries. After the burgers we took the girls to the park for a bit of a play and to see the cherry blossoms. I think this is our last photo as a family of 4.last photo as 4Saturday night when I got back to the hospital, my tummy felt really tight, but no major contractions and no water breaking.

The next morning was the same routine, up with mild contractions, go to the bathroom, watch the sunrise. No more contractions.  I asked the doctor again if I could go out with my family and he said yes, so once again we spent the day out and about. Akinori’s friends were supposedly at the park for hanami (cherry blossom viewing), but so was the rest of Nagano which meant finding a parking space was not going to be easy. It didn’t occur to my thoughtful husband to let me out of the car somewhere close to anything as he was in a panic about finding any kind of parking space, and so I got some good exercise in on Sunday. At first we couldn’t find Akinori’s friends, but we did find several of Sara’s kindy friends and their parents, so we we hung out with a boy from her class and they rode their bikes together while his mother and I chatted and the dads played with the younger siblings. When it was getting to be about time for me to go back to the hospital Akinori finally figured out where is friends were so we went by their BBQ set up to say a quick hello before leaving. They were all drunk. My favorite type of people to have my children hang around. And they were of course all in awe of my gigantic belly, and felt no shame in touching it without even asking. I expected Akinori to speak up about it, but he didn’t say anything until we were alone again, about how he wasn’t happy that his friends were touching my belly. Thanks for being a hero honey!

I woke up in the middle of the night that night with contractions again and decided not to call the nurse until they really hurt because I was tired of going to the labor room only to be sent back to my own room a little while later. A nurse then came around on rounds and found me awake and asked if I was okay and I said I was having mild contractions, but they didn’t hurt or anything so it was okay and she said to call if they started hurting and left. She came back 2 minutes later and said “Let’s go to the labor room anyway and monitor you.” The whole freaking maternity ward was on pins and needles about my impending birth and they knew I was ready to burst any minute, so I guess they didn’t want to take any chances, and when the nurse reported that I was awake with contractions they told her to go back and get me. I didn’t have to spend a long time on the monitor before the contractions died down again and I was sent back to my room. At the same time I was sent back a woman from the room across the hall was also sent back to her room. We both went to the bathroom and then went back to bed. She was scheduled for an induction the next day anyway. When I woke up the next morning though I found out that she went to the bathroom again and the contractions started up again and she had her baby soon after, as did 5 other women that day. It was a major baby rush. Just not for my babies. I started to doubt my babies would ever be born.

The doctor called me for an internal exam Monday morning and declared me 4 cm. dilated and my cervix super soft and ready to give birth at any time. He said he thought it would definitely happen Monday or Tuesday. He swept my membranes and I continued to have very mild contractions off and on all day. Monday night I woke up in the middle of the night to one very painful contraction around 3 a.m. I stayed awake waiting for the next one that never came. I told the dr. the next day I had had one painful contraction over night and was having very mild contractions again off and on all day, oh and I had been having bloody show and bits of mucus plug come out for over a week at this point, and he decided to give me another internal. Still only 4 cm. dilated, another membrane sweep, and a promise that I was going to give birth very, very soon. 4 more women gave birth on Tuesday, but not me.

Then early Wednesday morning I woke up again with contractions. I figured they would stop again and I tried to go back to the sleep. But this time they weren’t stopping and they were actually coming at regular intervals, which was a first. After about 30 minutes of contractions 5 minutes apart I decided to call a nurse. And it was back to the labor room. Luckily the midwife assigned to my birth was on duty that night so there was no need to call her into work. The contractions were registering fairly high on the monitor and the midwife asked me if they hurt. I had been working really hard on training myself not to think that the contractions hurt and told her I didn’t want to refer to them as painful. She said she understood, but she thought they were still going to hurt eventually. The monitor was taken off after an hour or so and I was left to sleep, but the bed was so freaking uncomfortable, and my back was in such pain that it was hard for me to sleep even on the softer mattress on my own hospital bed so I didn’t really get that much sleep. About 6:30 I was told I could go back to my own room and if the contractions got stronger they would take me and my whole bed into the labor room.

On the way back to my room I went to the toilet and pooped. This turned out to be a really good idea. The midwife told me to eat my breakfast and then we would do an internal exam, but to eat first because if we did an internal and I was further dilated than the 4 cm. I had been, I would probably be sent back to the labor room. My roommates were all awake which was great because I could make small talk with them and chat as my contractions intensified, and they helped me keep my mind off what was becoming more and more difficult to keep my mind off of. I went to pick up my breakfast tray and the contractions were intensifying and I stood in the middle of the hallway breathing deeply while holding my belly. All of the other women who had come to get their trays could see what was going on and they kind of all stopped with baited breath and smiled kindly at me and wished me luck. I went back to my room and I ate as I breathed through contractions while working on my sudoku puzzle and chatting to my roommates. I had barely finished breakfast when I was called in for an internal by the midwife who declared me 5 cm.! I was really going to give birth today!

The nurse on duty took me back to my room to get the stuff I would need for the birth, and I said goodbye to my roommates who wished me luck. The nurse took all of my stuff to the labor room while I walked slowly down the hall with the midwife. We met the doctor on the way to the labor room and the midwife told him I was 5 cm. and the contractions were regular and becoming more painful. You could see the doctor get excited. He told the midwife to open up an IV line in my arm and start a flow of pitocin or whatever they use here just strong enough to make sure the contractions don’t stop. All I really heard was “contractions stop” and I nearly started crying and said “don’t say that!” The doctor started laughing and said “Don’t worry, you’re giving birth today!” Phew!

I was told to sit down on a bench just outside the labor room and I waited as the nurse went to get my bed from my hospital room. When she came back with the bed she asked how I felt about letting the nursing students into my birth. But she thought better of it right away and said “There’s going to be a big enough audience, why don’t we forget about the nursing students.” Thank you! It was now about 9 a.m. I had texted Akinori around 5 to say that the boys were probably coming today and I would text him again when the contractions got stronger, but there was no rush. At 6:30 I texted to say he didn’t need to hurry. The dr. was first going to look at me around 8 anyway, and he didn’t need to come until I was moved to the labor room. I texted him again 10 minutes later to say that he should just come to the hospital after dropping off the girls as the contractions were actually getting more painful. As I was sitting outside the labor room, just before 9 I texted him to say he needed to hurry up and get to the hospital.

Once I was in the labor room, the midwife checked how far dilated I was and she said I was 8 cm., if she was going to be conservative, maybe 7 cm. Akinori showed up about 5 minutes later. The contractions were definitely more intense at this time. Akinori said he had forgotten his towel in the car and asked if he could go get it. Ummm, NO! So he asked if he could at least go to the toilet and I told him to hurry the fuck up! Apparently he took that opportunity to take the stairs and run back down to the car for his towel, knowing I wouldn’t say no to going to the toilet. Good thing he did get that towel because I was sweating buckets! I had to change into a light hospital gown and paper underwear. And then the IV was put in my arm. My midwife was quite nervous and excited too though unfortunately and could get the line in the on the first or second try and ended up calling a different midwife to come in and put the IV line in. They promised that no one would turn up the IV unless my contractions weren’t strong enough, but at this point it didn’t look like that was going to be necessary was my body was doing a great job on its own of intensifying the contractions.

The midwife went to prepare the delivery room and then checked me again and said I was 9 cm. and it was time to move to the delivery room. It was about 9:45 at this point. Things were happening fast! Akinori ran to set up the tripod and video camera in the delivery room and the midwife helped me off the bed and Akinori came back to grab my other arm and help me into the labor room.

I was so uncomfortable at this point I didn’t want to do anything I was told. Plus the bed was flat, and my back hurt and I wasn’t feeling like laying down AT ALL! They raised the bed for me a bit, and put my legs in the stirrups and covered my legs with clothes to keep them from getting all bloodied. They put a heat pack on my belly, which was awful as I was so hot and pouring sweat. Akinori was great and stood by my side wiping sweat and offering water. At some point he disappeared and then reappeared wearing a surgical cap and apron. Very Grey’s Anatomy! It was about 10 a.m. and I asked the midwife how much longer this was going to take and she said “maybe 30 minutes?” To which I replied “What? That’s too long! Let’s hurry this up and get those babies out!”

I knew if my water broke things would happen a lot faster so I asked if it had, and she said no. She said she could see Baby A’s head and it was pressed up against the sac without any amniotic fluid between his head and the sac, so there wasn’t enough pressure to break the sac, and she would do it for me when the baby’s head came close enough. Again I told her to hurry up! Everything seemed so loud and rushed to me, but when I watched the video, there was nothing loud or rushed about it. Everything was quiet and calm, including me. People started flowing into the room a little at a time. First was the young doctor in surgical scrubs. I asked where my doctor was and they said he was coming. Eventually he did show up in his office clothes and he just threw on a clear plastic apron over his clothes.

I kept watching the clock waiting for the magical 30 minute mark when it would all be over. Just after 10:15 I finally felt like pushing. I wanted to arch my back, but the midwife kept telling me not to because pulling my bum back under me was pulling the baby back inside. It was a really difficult urge to fight. Akinori helped by holding my head up for me, and that helped to keep my back rounded. I pushed twice before I felt that familiar burn and out came Baby A’s head I think. One more push and his body was out at 10:21 a.m.. I wanted Akinori to cut the umbilical cord for Baby A and I wanted to do it for Baby B, but at Nisseki they don’t allow anyone but the dr. or midwife to cut the cords.

Baby A was whisked away after his cord was cut for measuring, but Akinori was able to take a few photos before he went into the next room. It was now time for the real action. My midwife came around to my head to coach me and my doctor stepped in to catch Baby B because he was breech. I asked them if it was too late to just cut me open for the next one, but luckily they just ignored me. I wasn’t looking forward to doing this again, but the thought that it would be over and done with soon was extremely comforting. They pulled out the ultrasound and found Baby B, and kept the doppler on him to monitor his heartbeat. The doctor had them turn up the pitocin then. The head of the department was also in the room coaching the doctors from behind.

This is when the commotion started and the young doctor was instructed to push on Baby B’s head and he got up on a step next to the bed and pushed down on my stomach. Ouch!! He continued pushing after that but was much gentler. The pitocin was turned up again and I felt the urge to push again. I guess they could see Baby B’s bum because the department head said “One more push!” but I didn’t have it in me. I needed a rest. My midwife said “It’s okay. If you need to rest, take a rest.” So I did. I knew he was coming out on the next push and of course it seemed like that next contraction took forever to come, but when it did, just one push and out came Baby B! And then the entire room broke into applause and I broke into tears. I was finished giving birth forever!

In addition to the 3 OB doctors and my midwife, there were 2 pediatricians present, one for each baby, and several pediatric nurses as well as at least 10 other midwives who “just came to watch”. Apparently a natural twin birth happens *maybe* once a year at Nisseki, and a natural twin breech birth is even more rare, so it was quite the event. I later learned that the entire OB/GYN staff had been paged to the delivery room and there was no one left in the nurse’s station during my delivery. One of the other patients said she saw a mad rush of nurses and midwives running down the hall to the delivery room. I wish I could have seen it!

Baby A, Rua Emin, weigted 3224 g. which was quite a bit more than he measured on the ultrasound and Baby B, Kayan Harris, weighed 2602 g., which was quite a bit less. It was still an awful lot of weight for me to be carrying around. Akinori and I were both stunned by how flat my stomach appeared right after the birth. Kayan was brought to me first, and then Rua. I wanted to breastfeed right away, so they took the babies for a minute to clean me up and change me into a different gown, and brought the babies back for a feed. I was still in quite a bit of shock that my boys were now on the outside. I was told I was going to be left on the table for another 40 minutes or so. By the time it was okay for me come off the table I had to pee really, really badly. After both Sara and Amelie I had virtually no problem walking directly after giving birth, but that wasn’t true this time around. I couldn’t stand on my own and walking was even more impossible. I could barely lift my legs.

Akinori and a midwife carried me into the toilet, but I felt so sick even sitting up, and standing was awful. I had to have the midwife pull up my underwear for me because I didn’t have the strength. When I made it back to the bed, lunch was brought in to me and I ate while looking at my beautiful boys. It was really hard to eat though as I was still feeling quite queazy. Akinori went to tell my roommates I had given birth, but by the time he got there, they (and everyone else in the ward) had already heard the news. There was no point in having Akinori just sit with me and he couldn’t go with me to the hospital room I would be moved to before visiting hours, so I sent him back home, and told him to come back after he picked the girls up from kindy and daycare.

I wanted to sleep. I was so tired, but I was too high on adrenaline for that to happen. Thanks to the IV and all the water I drank during my labor I had to pee several times, but I couldn’t walk and needed a nurse to take me in a wheelchair every time. Losing so much weight so quickly was just shocking to my body. It felt so weird and so uncomfortable to not have that weight on my stomach anymore. I was also quite anemic, but I was able to walk on my own (with the help of the wall or the babies’ cots) by the evening. My ILs came to meet their grandsons and of course Sara and Amelie were incredibly excited to meet their brothers. The story that continues from Day 2 is another story and another blog post altogether.

 

 

 

Edits: There are a few details I left out that I don’t want to forget.
1. When I went back to the labor room for the last time before the contractions became super intense I got really scared at one point about what would happen after Baby A was born. Giving birth to a breech baby was suddenly very worrisome and scary, and I was afraid I had made a selfish choice in choosing a natural birth, rather than the right choice. I told the midwife I was scared and why and she said she understood and there are risks with any birth, but it’s really best for the baby to travel down the birth canal if possible, and she was confident I made the right choice, but worrying about the birth right now could weaken my contractions so if I could I should try to put those thoughts out of my head. I decided then and there to not even think about what would happen 5 minutes down the line, just concentrate on getting through each contraction, and that was it. I didn’t think about it again.

2. I was hoping I wouldn’t tear, being my 3rd birth and all, but I did. It was just a surface tear that only required 3 stitches. The hemorrhoids however, holy f@&¥ing sh@&!!! Enormous and painful! For days! Possibly worse than the whole birth process itself.

Babies

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Are here! About freaking time hey?
Will write the whole birth story later but it was all natural. Baby A weighed 3224g. and Baby B 2602g. Baby A popped out head first at 10:21 a.m. and Baby B bum first at 10:28 a.m. When I went into the labor room around 8:30 I knew they would be arriving before noon, but really had no idea it would be just 2 hours later. All in all my easiest labor in terms of labor pains, but by far the most difficult of the 3 pregnancies. I am so fucking proud of myself though. Seriously, my body is freaking amazing! Right now I feel like death though so will hopefully be able to nap after I come off my birthing high.

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Hospital Stay – Day I’ve stopped counting

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Well, here I am posting again and the boys are still safely tucked away in my belly. The contractions the other day completely died down and I  have only had verrrrry mild contractions now and again, which is more than before when I was having no contractions at all, and the dr. doesn’t seem to think we have too much longer to wait. I’m not so sure.

On Thursday the doctor did an ultrasound and measured the babies who were 2742 g and 2623 g and Baby B had once again managed to turn breech, which means that there is still an ample amount of amniotic fluid for them, which makes me think they are not ready to come anytime soon. I thought the doctor was also going to strip my membranes then, but he said that because he did an internal the day before he didn’t see the need to do one again. He also mentioned the possible need to give me drugs to strengthen contractions once I got to 5 or 6 cm dilated. Once again I was reminded that my uterus may be over-expanded and incapable of strong contractions. This really upset me. I told him I really didn’t want any medication of any kind, and he was kind of like “but if the contractions aren’t strong enough..” When I think about it now, I get it. At the time I was seriously sleep deprived and sick of being in the hospital and really disappointed my contractions had stopped and the emotional stress was all a little too much for me to handle anything I didn’t really want to hear. Lots of tears ensued over the next 24 hours, hence my lack of any kind of update. I just didn’t even have it in me to blog about it.

Later that night when a midwife came around to listen for the babies’ heartbeats on the dopplers I asked her about how it works in a natural twin birth, are they automatically administered? What’s the story? She said that she has seen cases where they aren’t used because if the contractions are strong enough on their own, it can be dangerous to strengthen them further, so while I will be hooked up to an IV from the start, just in case I do need some kind of drugs at some point, it is not carved in stone that they will give me anything other than saline. That made me feel better. In the morning another more seasoned midwife came in, and her story was a bit different. She said she’s almost never seen a case where the drugs weren’t used because after birth your uterus still needs strong contractions to stop the bleeding and it can be quite dangerous if the bleeding doesn’t stop. This news really upset me, and I had already had very, very little sleep over the last 2-3 days and I spent the entire morning crying uncontrollably. It was quite embarrassing. Plus the woman in the window bed was being taken away to have her c-section and meet her little boy, and as happy as I was for her, it still depressed me that I was not meeting my boys too.

Through all of this my bed was moved to the window space. Yeah for a window space! But that wasn’t helping anything, at all. I talked to Akinori and cried and cried. He suggested I ask if I could get out of the hospital for a few hours on Saturday and we go and visit the midwife clinic and have a talk to my favorite midwife and see what she had to say, and that maybe just getting out of the hospital would help. I didn’t think the doctor would agree to let me spend the night out of the hospital again, but when I asked he said okay right away and just made me promise I would come right back if I started having any kind of contractions.

My biggest problem with the whole situation was that I felt like I was being told different things by so many different people, and I really didn’t know or trust any of these people all that well, and I am pretty over-the-top pro natural birth, and I was feeling like the fact that I was so against giving birth in a hospital in the first place was the first thing really working against me and feeling relaxed enough to give birth there, and then the thought of using all kinds of IVs and medicine and there being 3 doctors and 3 midwives and 3 nurses all in attendance was just so not what I wanted, and I know I have to get over this eventually because I don’t have a choice in the matter, but on top of all this I was stuck in the hospital for no reason. I wasn’t giving birth yet, and apparently not even that close to giving birth and that made me the most upset. Why on earth was I stuck in the hospital for no good apparent reason? It’s just wasting money and keeping me away from my family. I can handle going into labor at home and then giving birth in a less-than-ideal situation in the hospital, but not staying in the hospital forever and ever for no reason at all.

So when the doctor told me I could go home Saturday night I started feeling better right away. Akinori came in the morning with the girls to get me and we ran some errands, went to Akinori’s grandfather’s grave as it was the anniversary of his death, went to lunch and then to see the midwife. She explained that if she were standing in on the birth, so would have me hooked up to the IV as well because of the importance of getting the uterus to contract after the birth, but she doesn’t think they will need to give me drugs to strengthen the contractions and if they do, it’s only because it’s necessary, but most likely they won’t need to until after the boys are both out. I can live with that. I said I was also worried about what would happen between giving birth to #1 and #2 as #2 is breech, and she said that in the old days everyone gave birth to twins naturally. I was worried about Baby B going transverse maybe because that’s the only position where he would require a c-section, but the midwife said that my uterus will still be contracting and it would be pretty uncomfortable for him to be anything but either head down or feet down, both of which are birthable positions. I told her how all of the other twin moms at the hospital, and basically that I know at all here in Japan have or are either giving birth by c-section because the dr. recommended it or by their own choice, and maybe I’m stupid for wanting to do it naturally.  She said that it’s just the norm now, not because it’s necessary. Anyway I felt much better after talking to her. She also said that she didn’t think the boys were in a hurry to come. Sara went past her due date and Amelie was born only a few days before hers, and my uterus is doing a great job growing these boys. There are no problems, so there’s really no reason to hurry them along. She also said that in the old days, for both singletons and twins, at least in Japan, full-term was considered 38 weeks, not 37, as it is now, so these babies still have nearly a week until they are considered full-term according to those standards.

I have to go back to the hospital later this afternoon. I don’t really want the boys born on a weekend anyway. It’s more expensive, but a fairly sizable amount, and they are really short-staffed on weekends. Much better all around for them to be born sometime during the week. As much as I’ve now resigned myself to the fact that these boys are only going to come when they are ready, it would be really nice to be holding them in my arms and not my belly by next weekend. Back to the waiting game!

Hospital Stay Day 8 & 9 – Hopefully my last post before babies arrive

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Yesterday when I went to kindy with Sara, I was quite the spectacle. All the moms, teachers and even the principal were all surprised to see me, and even more surprised to see my gigantic belly. It was really nice to get out of the hospital, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. So I’m quite grateful I got to have some fresh air. I had to do a lot of standing and walking though, and by the time I got back to the hospital around 2 p.m. I was absolutely exhausted. I had a great night’s sleep in my own bed the night before though, and I was extremely grateful for that. I got back to the hospital and did an NST, and everything was fine. No change. The doctor came around to see me and seemed incredibly  disappointed that I wasn’t in labor. He even said “I wonder if your contractions are ever going to come?”, and he proceeded to explain that it’s possible my uterus has over-expanded, like the elastic on an old pair of underwear, and won’t contract anymore, or at least not strong enough to bring on labor or get a baby out. This scared the shit out of me. But not so much that I couldn’t take a little nap. I was obviously way more tired than worried.

I was woken up by a nurse so they could switch my bed to a new location. Same room, but just a better(?) spot? Now I have a wall on one side, and roommate on the other, instead of being between 2 beds. Still a tight squeeze, and I have my eye on a window spot, but we’ll see if I ever get there. One woman with a window space has her c-section on Friday, and the other will probably be here for a long, long time, and there is one woman ahead of me in line for a window space and she’s being discharged on Saturday, if she doesn’t give birth. So that means if I am still waiting around Saturday to give birth, I can have a window bed, however at this point it doesn’t look like it will take that long for me to give birth.

What the doctor said really got me worried though and I had a really hard time falling asleep last night so I watched a few episodes of “Modern Family” to cheer myself up. I did spend a lot of time on Dr. Google though trying to figure out how common it is for mother’s of twins uteruses (uteri?) to over-expand, the medical term for which is uterine atony. It looked like it was more of a problem after birth getting the uterus to contract back to its normal size than before birth when trying to bring on contractions. If anyone has any better information, please let me know!

I finally fell asleep around 11, woke up to pee around 1 I think, back to sleep until 4, up til 5, back to sleep until 6:30, and then it was no use anymore. The doctor’s words were still bothering me and I started to get more and depressed about the thought of getting this far in my pregnancy and not being able to deliver naturally. I did some squats in the morning, some walking around the ward, but I was really tired from not getting enough sleep the night before. They hooked me up to the NST and while I was hooked up I had 2 weak contractions! All of a sudden things were looking up! My labors with Sara and Amelie were both quite fast once they really got going and I wanted to make sure I got a shower in before going into labor, so I took a shower, did some squats and then laid down for a nap. While I was sleeping my stomach started hurting again, but I wasn’t sure if it was indigestion, or contractions. They really weren’t that strong. But enough to wake me up from my light sleep.

The doctor happened to come in for his daily check a little later and I told him I thought I might be having contractions, so he sent a midwife to come and check on me, and she hooked me up to the NST again, and I definitely was having mild contractions. I was hooked up for another 40 minutes or so, and then went in for an internal with the doctor who said I was 2-3 cm. dilated! It’s just a matter now of my contractions getting stronger. They don’t come at any regular pace and some are stronger than others. But I have been trying to take my mind off of them for the most part because as I have written many times before, the intense pain of labor scares me. Even though I want to meet my boys already, and my back is in ridiculous amounts of pain most of the time, I’m still scared when I think about labor for too long. Not just labor, but the reality of having these boys on the outside and being a mom to twins is a pretty scary thought in itself.

Nothing too intense is happening yet though, and both girls were born just after noon, and apparently at the nurse’s station the general opinion this evening is that I will probably give birth sometime tomorrow afternoon. Sounds good to me as long as I can get some sleep tonight! Fingers crossed for an easy, quick, problem-free delivery!!