Whoa: we had a surprise twin double-breech roadside vaginal birth after Cesarean

May 3 | Guest post by Olivia
Red sign on the side of empty road
Photo by Horia Varlan.
I was measuring consistently ahead in fundal height early on and just before the mid-point of my pregnancy my midwife referred me to an obstetrician to have an ultrasound (we'd not planned on having any) to rule out twins, fibroids, excess amniotic fluid, or any other complications. At the ultrasound, we were told there was one baby, no fibroids, and no excess fluid — the doctor said I simply had "a large uterus." So we went with that as confirmation.

At about 2:30 one morning, I had a contraction that woke me from my sleep. This had happened before, so I waited and felt a few more before I grudgingly got up and decided I'd take a bath to help them stop so I could get some sleep. I went into the bathroom and turned on the light. I saw that a little blood was in the toilet from sometime earlier that night, and wiped to see if there was any more… there was.

I woke up my husband, Garrett, and he called our midwife to tell her what was happening. She said it was probably just my bloody show and to take it easy but to call her if anything else happened. I tried to sleep, bathe, and just relax to get the contractions to stop. I was struggling to concentrate on the book I was reading. This was at about 6:30.

I took another bath, a shower, and tried to lie down and listen to a Hypnobabies CD, but the contractions were too strong for me to really relax. I definitely thought they'd stop. In fact, I thought they'd better stop, since I'd just had the home visit from the midwives on Monday morning. I could have a home birth in 5 days at 37 weeks, but not a day sooner!

I was determined not to be in true labor yet. When Garrett got home from dropping off our son (at about 8:30) and saw me in the bed, he said we needed to call our midwife again and so he did — all while packing a bag. She asked some questions and then suggested we come and meet her to assess the situation and see if I was really in labor or see what we could do to slow or stop it.

We left and on the way stopped at the store to get more minutes for our cell phone. I was low moaning for a while, but then that stopped working. About 45 minutes into the trip, my moans got higher pitched and less controlled. We talked about passing a bank, and how we'd definitely make it a few more hours at least and then a couple of minutes later, my water broke — everywhere! I was finally able to accept that the baby would be born that day, and soon, but we talked and I figured we still had at least a few hours. Garrett called our midwife to keep her updated, and she announced a change of plan — she said to meet her directly at the hospital. She asked Garrett if it was me moaning that she was hearing, and he said it was.

As they were talking, my body gave a tiny involuntary push, and I felt something come up between my legs. My first thought was, "Oh, God, the cord." But I knew what an emergency that would be, and thought that maybe, just maybe, I had somehow pooped. So I reached down (with much trepidation) and felt, and it was most definitely cord. I yelled, "The cord is out! The cord is out!" and my midwife heard me yelling over the phone. She told Garrett to pull over immediately and get me on all fours to take the pressure off the cord, and to call 911. There was, oddly enough, some traffic on the rural highway that morning, but after about a minute he managed to pull off the road. He got out and threw Bruin's car seat in the grass (we were, luckily, in front of empty fields on both sides of the highway. It was actually quite a pretty spot) and got me into the back seat, talking with our midwife all the while. She told Garrett to get my chest down and my butt up in the air, and then he called 911.

Somehow Garrett managed to get my shoes and pants off. I could hear him on the phone with the operator and the guy was asking him what he saw, and asking him to feel for a pulse in the cord (he didn't feel one), and telling him to hold the baby in. By now I was really in it… it was all happening so fast, but I truly was my primal self. The pushing and grunting was happening, whether the 911 operator told me to stop or not. I tried to be compliant, but I couldn't stop it. There was literally nothing I could do but work with my body and my baby.

It was the most beautiful feeling I have ever experienced. I wasn't scared — I was totally consumed, growling and pushing.

It was the most beautiful feeling I have ever experienced. I wasn't scared — I was totally consumed, growling and pushing. At some point, Garrett touched what he said was just the cord, which I shouldn't have felt, but it was excruciating. Whether or not the baby made a fluke movement at the exact same time or if for some reason I was able to feel it, I don't know, but I did try to donkey-kick poor Garrett. I tried to kick him off again (while yelling, "GET OFF OF ME!!") when the operator told him to flip me onto my back. That didn't feel right at all, but I tried, and just absolutely could NOT make my body do anything differently than it was doing. It knew exactly what to do, and there was simply no stopping it. I occasionally lifted my head to look out of the window at the trees in the sunshine, and just let my mind feel "universal."

About five minutes passed and I could hear the ambulance coming down the road. Garrett said he felt a tap on his shoulder and walked around the back of the car to come be by my head, and by the time he got to my side of the car, the baby's body was born (they had managed to flip me on my back during that time span, too). I will never forget the feeling of her body coming out all at once. There aren't words to describe it. I heard the EMT say, "We've still gotta get the head out!" and, from all my reading, I knew that it would come and that we weren't in any immediate danger as heads rarely get stuck. But I can understand why they freaked.

I waited patiently for my next contraction, and out she came, easily, quietly. Calliope Ontario Isis slipped gently from my body into the October sunshine. No one was yelling, and it was actually quite ideal for a birth. She was technically born outside, and I love that, and they immediately sat her on my thigh. She weighed 6 lbs. 3 oz. She was whitish gray and completely floppy. I knew some babies are slow to start, and I wasn't scared, so I asked, "Boy or girl?" and was told girl. I thought my heart might explode I was so happy!

Garrett helped push the stretcher to the back of the ambulance and I was lifted into it. The contractions had stopped and I was feeling euphoric, even though I wasn't home, wasn't in the tub, and wasn't even holding my girl… but I had DONE IT! I had naturally VBACed a breech baby with a prolapsed cord! So I just laid there and watched Calliope's chest rise up and down, and listened to the chatter of the EMTs. Someone told Garrett to go ahead and meet us at the hospital, that we'd beat him, so he left.

I told him it almost felt like the contractions with the baby, and that I thought the placenta was supposed to hurt less.

Then I started contracting again, and we all assumed it was the placenta. One EMT in particular was talking to me now, and assuring me that Calliope was out of danger, and said, "Well this is a day of firsts. I've been doing this a long time and I have never delivered a baby." The younger guy had delivered one, but not breech on the side of the road. The older one asked the girl to start massaging my belly to help my placenta separate and at about the same time I asked him if delivering the placenta was supposed to hurt so bad. I told him it almost felt like the contractions with the baby, and that I thought the placenta was supposed to hurt less. I was vocalizing low moans at this point. He said, "Yeah, probably."

A few contractions later he said it sounded like I was ready to deliver the placenta, and moved down to check. I was involuntarily pushing again. He lifted the blanket and said, "Oh! There's feet! Did you know you were having twins?"

Imagine my shock now! Refer back to earlier in this story and note that we had an ultrasound at 18 weeks with an OBGYN at the insistence of our midwifery team. My weight gain was normal for one baby. No one had ever felt the second baby when palpating, and we never heard a second heartbeat. But the day before the girls were born we'd had our home visit with the midwives and they left unsettled. They were actually going to call on Tuesday to tell us that they were no longer comfortable doing a home birth and that we should plan on a birth center birth. They all knew something wasn't quite as we suspected, although no one could pinpoint just what it was.

Twin love!
Io Rumina River was born in just a few pushes, feet first. Unlike her sister, she came out yelling! I got to experience that first cry that everyone wants to hear. I was told, "You have another girl!" About eight hours from start to finish, and I'd VBACed two babies. The ambulance pulled over and the doors opened to another ambulance — they said since Mina was perfect and in good health (weighing in at 5 lbs. 13 oz.) that she would travel on her own. I held her for just a second before they put her in the next vehicle and we drove on. I delivered the placenta en route — I asked the EMT if there were any more in there, and he said no because there were two cords coming from the placenta (it was actually two placentas fused together).

When we arrived at the hospital, they took everything off of Calliope and placed her on my chest for transport up to the NICU and labor and delivery. I remember frantically trying to rub as much of her vernix into her skin as I could because I knew they would bathe her and wash it all off. I got some into her chest and shoulders and I just loved touching her sweet little body. They unloaded us, and Mina was shortly behind, but I was only holding Calliope when we got to the elevator, which is where we met up with my husband. He was quiet, and an EMT said, "Does he know yet? Oh, man! He doesn't know yet!" and I looked over and said, "There's two. It's twins!" Garrett didn't say anything, just looked completely overcome. It was a beautiful moment.

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  1. How awesome! (I feel like that should be in caps.) My son's labor and delivery (my first) was all natural, but I felt a lot of anxiety about being able to actually do it, and confused about what was going on with my body until transition happened and everything clicked into place. I hope my future labors are as awe-inspiring as yours! And I secretly hope for twins, even though it's crazy.

    6 agree
    • I love your story. You are amazing…not trying to be critical but did your midwives know your baby(ies) was breech? Surely a certified midwive can tell the difference between breech and non breech presentation. Either way your story is amazing and you are one amazing woman.

      1 agrees
      • thanks! at our last prenatal visit, the baby up front was definitely head down- even i could feel the head and wiggle it a bit- she wasn't engaged or anything. as you know, though, babies like to flip sometimes, even as late as active labor… i don't know when she/they(?) flipped, but as it turned out, it was a good thing that at least baby A turned- her head could have put even more pressure on the prolapsed cord and cut off more flow from the placenta. babies are smart little things!!

        2 agree
      • My baby was breech the entire time, and none of the midwives I saw could tell. (I had visited 2 during the last couple months. and one I never met was on duty when I went in labor) Since he was my first, I didn't know either, but was always confused about which part was what. NOw it makes sense… I got really lucky that his cord was not prolapsed because my water had broken long before I went to the hospital. The same thing had happened to my grandmother, and my uncle ended up severely disabled. So, I try not to think about what could have happened, and my scar (they don't to breech deliveries) reminds me how lucky we were.

        This is a really amazing story btw! Congratulations!

        1 agrees
      • My CNM has 30+ years of experience and a great track record but didn't know my baby was breech (and we have no idea when he turned; he was head-down at 20 weeks). That's how I ended up with a surprise footling breech natural birth!!

        2 agree
        • Ditto! My 4th child was a surprise footling breech after being head down for quite some time. My experienced midwife had no idea, but it was still a beautiful, healthy, homebirth. Breech isn't always a bad thing, anyway…it's just another variance of "normal" in the unmedicated birthing community.

          1 agrees
        • Twins, & Twins/ Singleton Breech/ not breech, is a: 1.Diagnosis & should the Midwife tell the Moma & Transfer to supervising- physician issue, as is usually what doctor/hospital protocol dictates;
          2. Insurance issue;
          3. Keep to strict hospital protocol, (law of the land), issue.
          It is very unlikely that a Midwife with TRUE experience wouldn't be able to palpate where your baby's head was…and that there were two of them. When the decision is made to inform, the law holds all accountable, including you, should anything happen to your baby. Did you know that?

  2. What a beautiful, just beautiful, birth story!!! WOW! You were so brave and calm!

    11 agree
  3. Wow that birth story is awesome.

    p.s. is this the second fussed placenta reference this week?

    1 agrees
  4. You and your babies and your story are the bomb! :)

    3 agree
  5. This might be the best birth story I've ever read!

    6 agree
  6. I am speechless. Wow…many, many congratulations on your safe delivery of little girls. VBAC Breech Twins along the road. That's a story and a half!!!

    3 agree
  7. BEST EVER!! Congratulations, congratulations!!! What an amazing way to come into the world. I bet those two will continue to kick ass and take names–and serve up surprises for their parents–for the rest of their lives! Well done, Mama and Papa! Did Papa go grey that day, or what? HA!

    3 agree
    • Congratulations, beautiful family! What a wonderful story, and I really want to honor Garrett, too, that was an amazing amount of "dealing" you BOTH did that day, and so often Papa gets lost in the shuffle…how lovely to be able to pass by that little spot on the road and to know your baby (-ies) were born there in the October sunshine…how utterly beautiful!

      3 agree
  8. This is my new favorite birth story! I can't imagine how amazing and intense it must have felt to *surprise* have another baby, you are seriously awesome.

    4 agree
  9. Wow! What an incredible story! Congratulations to all!

  10. WOW this is officially the most amazing birth story I've ever read, thank you so much for sharing!!

    3 agree
  11. Wow, amazing! You guys must have been so shocked to have twins! What a great story!

    Out of curiosity, why did you not have more ultrasounds? I only ask because I'd never really heard of *not* getting them, and all the pregnant ladies I know seem to have lots!

    • I can't speak for the author, but some people choose not to have ultrasounds during pregnancy due to the possible unknown effects it may have on the baby.

      4 agree
      • yep, pretty much this! since there are unknowns, and since their accuracy can be a bit off, we opted out of them unless there was a health concern (like measuring super ahead, haha). we didn't want to know the sex or anything, either, and basically wanted things to progress as naturally as possible- totally opposite from my first birth.

        5 agree
    • Jen is right.
      According to the APA: "There is not a recommended number of ultrasounds that should be performed during routine prenatal care. Because ultrasound should only be used when medically indicated, many healthy pregnancies will not require ultrasound. The average number of ultrasounds varies with each healthcare provider. Additional ultrasounds might be ordered separately if your healthcare provider suspects a complication or problem related to your pregnancy."
      If the pregnant ladies you know are getting "lots" of ultrasounds, it could be due to overly cautious OBGYNs or actual necessary testing.

      I'm currently 39 weeks pregnant and only ever had two ultrasounds. One at 8 weeks to confirm I was pregnant and to check to see if there were multiples, and then again at 20 weeks to see the gender/anatomy. Other than that I haven't had anymore. The main reason was due to the fact that I didn't have health insurance from week 15-35. My husband and I also saw no need, as there was nothing we felt that an ultrasound could tell us that would change the outcome of our pregnancy/birth. We wouldn't terminate if something was wrong. Ultrasound results from tests can even be wrong causing unnecessary alarm.

      3 agree
      • Yeah, I ended up getting a BUNCH because my placenta was so close to my cervix and they wanted to make sure it didn't block it. Turns out, it moved out of the way on its own, so it was kinda annoying. But better safe than sorry, I guess.

      • Thanks for the info, everybody!

        I love reading OBM even though I'm probably years away from experiencing mama-hood myself, but sometimes I end up feeling really clueless – it's so great that people here are willing to fill in us lurkers!

      • I have birthed 6 children naturally and only ever had the 20 week ultrasound with each. I agreed to this as I don't do any other prenatal testing for abnormalities. I did have late u/s with a few of my late babies though too to ensure all was well with placenta. I would prefer none. :) Absolutely not necessary for most healthy moms and babies.

        4 agree
    • I preferred to limit mine to the nuchal translucency screening (13 weeks) and the anatomy scan (20 weeks). Even though my insurance covers them, I know that everything my insurance pays for comes back in the form of higher premiums for everyone, so I try to limit the tests I get to the things that are necessary.

      1 agrees
  12. Amazing beautiful birth story! And what a surprise for you both!
    Love the twin spooning cuddle pic too – took my breathe away :)

    2 agree
  13. LOVED this birth story. So beautiful.

    Quite opposite of the story my sister told me of her friend. The mother had gone to the doctor and had an ultrasound and they had determined there were two babies and both were boys. When D-day came one little girl popped out. My sister teases her friend that she must have eaten her twin and then turned into a girl.

    4 agree
  14. This is shit from the movies! You rock mama and so does everyone else who helped pull it all off (babies and hubby included). Holy moly what a great story.

    4 agree
  15. Oh my goodness!! Beautiful girls and beautiful names. What an amazing birth story.

    1 agrees
  16. ZOMG! Wow! Beautiful! Might be weird, but I thought it was so beautiful, I got a tear in my eye. Great effing names. With a birth like that and names like that, I am truly in awe of you! Amazing story, you really rocked that shit mama.

  17. CONGRATS!! Your story not only gave me the chills, but it made me cry! What an AMAZING STORY! I'm currently working on a documentary called "From Courage To Strength: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean and I would LOVE to interview you for your story!!

    1 agrees
  18. Your birth story completely made my day! You are an awesome warrior momma! Congratulations.

    1 agrees
  19. This is the craziest birth story I've ever read! SO glad everyone is happy and healthy. :) Aren't you excited to tell your girls this story when they're older? They will LOVE it!

  20. Hey mama! What a fabulous birth story. I had a somewhat (though singleton)similar experience. I REALLY wanted a homebirth, but beacuse of my mom and MIL I agreed to a hospital birth…I inadvertantly had my homebirth when my son was born 3 weeks early at home with me sitting on the toilet and my husband downstairs calling the doula and 911!It was the most beautiful and awe inspiring moment in my life and I have never felt so powerful and so at peace as when I held that little baby on my chest waiting for everyone else to show up!! Congrats to you mama, and blessing to your little ones:)

    1 agrees
    • that is wonderful! isn't it amazing when things like that work out just as they should? congrats to you, mama!

      1 agrees
  21. Gahhhhhhh I love stories of "home"-birthed multiples, and you took it to the extreme! I'm kind of jealous you got a bonus baby, haha, I keep hoping that'll happen : /

  22. Gahhhhhhh I love stories of "home"-birthed multiples, and you took it to the extreme! I'm kind of jealous you got a bonus baby, haha, I keep hoping that'll happen.

  23. Holy crap!! I have chills. Amazing story! I bet you really did a number on the midwives' stats for that year:)

  24. Just wanted to say I have a little boy who is 4 1/2 who's name is 'Io! His name is Hawaiian, which means Hawk… full name 'Io Mele, Hawk Song. So cool that there are other kids in this world named Io! I've heard of two others… Love the story too! Way to go momma!

  25. Amazing story!! Thank you so much for sharing! You have a beautiful family, good luck to all of you. I wish you much happiness!!! Wow, what a pick-me-up to read during my lunch hour!!!

  26. i am also a mum to frat twin girls. sounds like you did an absolutely amazing job and your hubby sounds like a rockstar too!! congrats to you both xx

  27. Unbelievably beautiful, way to listen to your body sister!!(not always an easy task under certain circumstances) when I saw that lovely picture of your daughters I teared up. They were snuggled up in you like this, one sister holding the other. We should all do that for eachother once in a while. Just beautiful! You never know what to expect when your expecting

    1 agrees
  28. Yay for a successful VBAC but factor in breech and on the side of the road, it is downright amazing. I am gobsmacked that they missed twins at the midway point. They found my twins at 20 weeks and it was pretty clear right away LOL.

  29. Fantastic story! Thank you so much for sharing! There is something so very healing about vbac. 😉
    Incredible – twins! Congratulations!

  30. If I'd seen that in a movie I'd have said it was far-fetched but you actually did it!

    Birthing. Like a boss! :)

    3 agree
  31. 2 of my three placenta births were actually just as or more painful than the actual births of those particular babies. It was so painful for my third that i thought there was another baby in there so i totally understand how confused the author would have been. I think it was the stress i endured during those two traumatic births. I truly believe a stressful third stage labour can cause pain just as a stressful first and second stage can too. I wish we could increase awareness about the importance of maintaing calmness during the afterbirth…

  32. Congratulations! What a crazy and amazing story, and I am so happy that you saw the joy in the whole event instead of focusing on the unusual circumstances. I also have a daughter Calliope, this is the first time I have seen her name in print :) Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am sure your girls will bring you much joy…. and many more suprises along the way!

  33. I just can't get over how gorgeous your girls are. That has to be the most precious twin photo EVER.

  34. Way to go Momma!!
    Definitely brought a tear to my eye.. I am so happy you got to have that beautiful of a birth experience (though it didnt seem like it to begin with)! Nothing is more beautiful than having the birth of a lifetime :)

  35. Amazing! Tears in my eyes. This is such proof of what the human body is capable of. You're amazing!!

    1 agrees
  36. THIS WAS EPIC!!!
    I delivered my first baby last August and nothing went as planned. I had hoped for a birth centre birth but he came too early so I had to deliver at the hospital. It all went so fast I feel like I didn't enjoy it the way I expected to. I hope to be fully present for my next delivery.

  37. Wow! I'm in tears and I don't even know why. Just a beautiful story and the picture of the babies is so touching. Maybe it's because I'm 32 weeks pregnant but wow, such an emotional story!

  38. Wow! I'm in tears and I don't even know why. Just a beautiful story and the picture of the babies is so touching. Maybe it's because I'm 32 weeks pregnant but wow, such an emotional story!

  39. Wow, this is a wonderful and empowering story. All mothers wanting VBACS should read this. What amazing girls you have. They really listened to their mother's prayers.

    1 agrees
  40. Congratulations! A great birth story. To think they try to regularly stop VBACs and breech deliveries. Mamas can do it!

    1 agrees
  41. congratulations! what a powerful story. i also had a double breech homebirth vbac of twin girls! but i knew they were coming, and also that they were both breech…lol. you definitely take the wow factor prize…i hope you contact me as i would love to feature your story on my new website currently in development!

  42. Aw! Congratulations!

    And Calliope! My own little Calliope is 9 months old and wobbily crawling around at my feet as I type. She was my second HBAC.

    1 agrees
  43. Great story. Glad everyone is okay!

    Btw, I know they say ultrasounds aren't necessary unless there is a medical reason, but if I hadn't had my 20 week u/s my daughter would have died. She was coming out at 20 weeks and we would never have known on time to get the emergency cerclage. This is also true for my friend and several other women I know. Since many voiced the opinion here that they are unnecessary, I wanted to put in my own experience for thought.

    2 agree
  44. What a beautiful story! This made me want to have my next child naturally……..and outside! I can only imagine how great it must have felt to give birth in such a truly natural way. You're a strong woman <3

  45. This is a flippin' AWESOME birth story. I so wish my last two (hospital transfers) had turned out this way. I just can't get over it. Beautiful babies, beautiful story. Made me cry. You ROCK mama.

  46. I love this story so much! I know it's for safety reasons, but I hate how you "can't" naturally deliver twins these days.

    1 agrees
  47. I'm laughing and crying here at the same time! Such a beautiful story, told with such wit and tenderness – congratulations on your gorgeous (and gorgeously named!) twins.

  48. Truly amazing birth story! Good job mom! I'm sure your Hypnobabies practice helped you remain calm during that experience. Hypnobabies rocks!

  49. I have twin daughters. They were a beautiful natural VBAC in the hospital. It was all I asked for and more. It was very much like a home birth except if the things like rupture or prolapsed cord happened, I had all of the available resources. I believe in natural birth and women but know that nature sometimes is destructive. I am so glad your babies are okay and so are you. I know that it was a surprise for you although there was no mistaking twins!!!! I am glad that nature was on your side this day and you and your babies are okay. I pray that your story doesnt encourage another twin mom to go about a breech twin vbac without the proper resources because the end result could be devastating. I pray for wisdom for your caregivers b/c that was a huge miss.

    3 agree
  50. I love this story. I read it when I was pregnant with my third and came back to it today. It's like my worst nightmare and ideal birth all in one! ;o)

    Oh, and I LOVE the names you chose. We also picked Calliope for a girl, though as of yet, we're 3 for 3 with the boys so we haven't gotten a chance to use it. :o)

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