The 2nd guest blog post in our series is from the wonderful Annie Burton who has been willing to talk us through her pregnancy and C-section with twins Elizabeth and William. You can follow more of Annies journey on Instagram at @burton_annie
In November 2018 I found out I was pregnant with twins, which was a huge shock but equally the best feeling in the world. I suddenly felt that this was a very special pregnancy, and I couldn’t wait until I could share my news with friends and family! The pregnancy wasn’t planned, but I honestly feel that my babies were sent to me: it has changed my life for the better and I have a whole new perspective on what is important in the world! If you have just found out your pregnant with twins, you are truly blessed and have nothing but double the love ahead of you!
Overall, I had a really good pregnancy, I didn’t suffer with any sickness. I didn’t have any weird cravings (other than a couple of magnums a day!!) and I felt quite energetic and normal for the most of it. (My partner, Phil, would probably disagree as he had to put up with some very challenging mood swings!). That was until I hit 30 weeks and suddenly became HUGE. I honestly didn’t think I could get any bigger! I was always keen to have a natural delivery, as I didn’t want to be laid up for weeks after a section. Phil is a farmer, and knowing I was due to have my babies in May, I knew that I would be doing a lot of the first weeks alone. As much as he would’ve loved to have taken 2 weeks off like most do, it wasn’t going to happen. It made me apprehensive and I was worried I wouldn’t cope, especially with c section recovery, but you just have to get on with it, and think positively.
I work for O2 as a client manager in our Enterprise Public Sector team. So I spend most of my working hours between our office in Leeds, working from home and visiting my client accounts in central London. Living in North Yorkshire, it meant my working days were long with travelling. With my ever growing huge tummy, I decided to use up annual leave and start my maternity earlier than planned at 32 weeks. For anyone reading this who is questioning when to finish, take as much time as possible before your twins arrive! I am so grateful I had those few weeks. To rest, to spend time with Phil, to prepare myself both practically and mentally. We had a ‘baby moon’ holiday too, which was lovely. We went to Gran Canaria in March, staying in a lovely spa hotel. This is another ‘must’ if you can, it was nice to spend quality time with Phil before the upcoming chaos ensued! If you do go somewhere, try to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. I was 27 weeks when I went away, the temperature was around mid twenties, and I couldn’t have handled any higher. I was starting to swell and spent all of my holiday relaxing by the pool doing very little. I would also suggest paying extra for extra room flight seats, as I was so uncomfortable on the plane!
At 26 weeks, just before our holiday, I was scanned and found out that both babies were breech. I was told not to worry as I had loads of water and it was most likely the babies would turn. I was scanned again at 30 weeks praying the babies had changed position, but only twin 2 had, and had decided to be transverse. At 32 weeks I was scanned again and still no movement and the consultant advised that the only way I could have a natural delivery would be if twin 1 was head down, so they booked me in for my elective section for 37+1. I was so scared. Scared I wouldn’t make it that far and end up in emergency theatre, scared of surgery overall, scared to do recovery alone with 2 babies. It wasn’t what I wanted at all. I felt the excitement of a spontaneous labour had been taken away from me and there was also the build up to the surgery which made my nerves worse!
I had decided I wanted to breastfeed the babies, and the feeding specialist advised that from 35 weeks I needed to start colostrum harvesting. This was something I’d never heard of before. She said if the babies needed to go in to special care, they would feed them my colostrum through a syringe so they still get all the goodness they needed from me. It was hard work, you had to hand express and the first time I did it I got droplets, collected in an egg cup. You then put it in the syringe and pop it in the freezer until c section day and take it to the hospital. I started doing it for 20-30 minutes a day, and after a couple of days I was getting more and more. I managed to fill around 40 1ml syringes over 10 days. I was so impressed with myself, little did I know how quickly it would be used up!
Pre – C-Section
The process of a c section starts with an appointment with the anaesthetist a couple of weeks prior to your date, who explains exactly how the procedure works and how the anaesthetic is administered. It’s basically an epidural in your back but with a stronger dose of local anaesthetic so you become completely numb from just below your chest down. It sounded scary and the thought of being awake while they did the procedure was worrying me. He assured me I wouldn’t feel a thing, other than the surgeon tugging (cringe) but no pain. I also had to visit the midwifery ward to have 2 doses of steroid injections. These help the babies lungs mature in preparation for birth, as they don’t go through the usual process of clearing the mucus from their lungs that would usually happen with a vaginal delivery.
The second stage is pre-op day. This is the day before the procedure and included signing my consent forms, picking up antibiotics which have to be taken the night before, monitoring the babies and speaking with the surgeons and doctors about the procedure. It’s an opportunity for you to get any questions answered directly from the people who will be carrying out the procedure. It really started to sink in on pre-op day that in less than 24 hours my babies would be here. I was terrified of the surgery but so excited to finally meet my babies. We hadn’t found out the sex too, so I couldn’t wait to find out what they were! I couldn’t believe I’d made it to 37 weeks. I was so big I thought I was going to explode! My back was in agony, my ankles swollen and I had started with carpel tunnel syndrome at 33 weeks which was so uncomfortable. The end was in sight and I couldn’t wait!!
That night we treated ourselves to a nice meal out at a local restaurant, I was told to carb load for recovery so I didn’t hold back. I think I slept all of an hour; I was too nervous, excited and scared. I can’t describe my feelings and thoughts! I was completely overwhelmed that in the morning my life would change forever.
24th May 2019
The day had finally arrived! The day I get to meet my babies. It didn’t seem real! My Dad came to pick me and Phil up to take us to the hospital. We had to be there for 7am where we were lead to the prenatal ward and allocated a bed. I was given a gown, told to change and went through the usual observations. They did one last check and both babies were still breech. They advised they had another woman in for an elective section that day, and needed to complete both by 12:30 as the afternoon is reserved for emergencies only. The doctors had a meeting to decide who would go first and they did this based on risk. Although I was twins, I had an uncomplicated pregnancy without any issues so I was second in line.
It was a long wait. The doctors and surgeons finally came to us at around 10:30. They explained that an emergency had been called in, a baby with breathing difficulties and a declining heart rate. They said as I was second there was a good chance we wouldn’t get our section today and I would be sent home. As it was a Friday I wouldn’t been seen to until the following week. I was beyond gutted, but completely understood and I really felt for the lady in the emergency situation. I was just grateful we were all healthy and hoped I could hang on just another couple of days without going in to natural labour.
Then suddenly, At around 11:30, the midwife came in, she handed Phil some scrubs and said he had 5 minutes to get changed, and that they were taking me in to theatre now! We couldn’t believe it, we really thought we would get sent home! Panic started to set in, I couldn’t get my head around the fact I was going to be cut open. Tears streamed down my face, I was completely terrified. I started shaking and panicking. They usually administer the anaesthetic in a separate room before you go in to theatre but the previous lady was in there recovering, so I had the lot done in the theatre.
The staff were amazing. My midwife, Lindsey, from the neighbouring hospital 20 miles away had even come to support me. She held one hand, Phil held the other. I couldn’t contain my fear and panic. They gave me a local anaesthetic in my back to put the epidural in, I didn’t feel it at all. The worst pain I felt through the whole thing was them putting the cannula in my hand, which was just a pinch!
They laid me down on the bed, and tested that I couldn’t feel anything with a freeze spray up and down my body. Once confirmed, they put a drape of material up and started the procedure.
Within seconds, I heard the surgeon say ‘Knife to skin!’ And within minutes, a baby cry. I couldn’t believe it, my first baby was here. And so quickly too! ‘It’s a girl!’ Phil said! Suddenly the panic and fear completely drained from me. All I wanted was to hold my baby and know that she was okay. They handed her to me and I held her close, tears streaming, happy tears this time! Then a moment later, Twin 2 was here. ‘It’s a boy Annie!’ Phil said, with tears rolling down his face too! How perfect, a boy and a girl, I couldn’t have asked for anymore. It was a magical moment when they handed me him, and with my baby girl too, I suddenly felt complete and totally in love with them both. Elizabeth Primrose was born at 12:14, and William Philip at 12:16.
C – section recovery
The only advice I could give for a quick and easy recovery is to do as little as possible for 6 weeks and stay on top of the pain relief. I stayed in hospital for 5 days which was my choice, I could’ve left earlier but I was worried about being home alone with my c section wound and the 2 babies. I would also advise to stay in the hospital for as long as you can. No one likes being in hospital and I would’ve much rather have been at home in my own bed BUT the staff in hospital are priceless and you need that kind of help. They took the babies at night and fed them my expressed milk so I could rest, all of your meals are prepared and there’s no chores to keep on top of! You need to remember that it is major surgery, so if you don’t have the help at home, stay in hospital. My recovery was brilliant, not half as bad as I thought it would be. I had no issues at all – no infection, no swelling or bruising; just a very neat scar where the incision was made. It almost looks as if someone has drawn on me with a red biro! I am now 10 weeks postpartum and I would say from 5 weeks I started to feel completely normal.
We went home on the 29th May, 5 days after my babies born. They send you home with plenty of paracetamol and ibuprofen, along with fragmin injections which you have to administer yourself; These thin the blood to prevent clots. I hate injections but they’re not too bad, once you’ve got the first one over and done with!
10 weeks on
If I could do it all again, the only thing I would’ve done differently is to have been more calm and collected before theatre! For anyone who is booked in for a section who’s reading this, I cannot stress enough that you have nothing to worry about. Providing it all goes to plan, it’s quick and painless! I felt that because I was so erratic and terrified of the surgery that I almost ruined the experience for myself. It would’ve been so much more enjoyable had I of relaxed and enjoyed it, but I suppose it’s the fear of the unknown and couldn’t be help. 10 weeks on we are all doing brilliantly. Join as many multiple birth Facebook groups as you can too, they’re brilliant. When you’re stuck at home for those first few days and have questions there is always another twin mummy online you can ask advice, no matter what hour of the day or night it is! A few I found really useful;
• Breastfeeding twins and triplets UK
• Mummies of multiples (twins +) UK only
• Can I breastfeed in it UK
• TAMBA UK
I still look at my babies everyday and feel so lucky to have been given twins, they’re completely amazing and changing every day. It is a miracle that your body can make 2 amazing perfect humans! Take as many photos as you can, they change so much! Spend those first few days cuddling your babies as much as possible, you won’t get this time back so really relish in the moment and take the time to take it all in. It’s such a magical journey, and I’ve only just started!
If anyone has any questions about my story please get in touch via my Instagram @burton_annie