Emergency C-Section in Egypt

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated April 9, 2013.

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Premature twin in incubator

The twins spent their first few days in an incubator in the NICU in Egypt.

To say I was excited when I found out I was pregnant would be an understatement.  I had dreamed of being a twin when I grew up and always thought I would love to raise twins. Still, I’m not sure anyone can be totally prepared to hear they are having twins! This excitement quickly turned to fear though when I realized I would have to birth twins.

I really wanted to avoid a C-section and I planned and prepared all throughout my pregnancy.  We were living in Egypt and my doctor strongly encouraged me to have a planned C-Section.  When my boys were breech and not changing positions we made plans to return to the states where my doctor was still keen to let me try to birth them vaginally.

breastfeeding premature baby

First time to attempt breastfeeding my twins – 26 hours after birth.

Fast forward to January 24th. . . I was 32 weeks, 3 days pregnant without problem. I felt great, well, except for feeling like a blue whale, but don’t all pregnant women feel large at the end?!  I was packing and preparing for our return to the states just four days later.  That morning I woke up around 8:00 a.m. and felt mildly uncomfortable in my still half-asleep state. I tossed and turned a little and remember saying, “I think I’m having a contraction.” My lower abdomen was tightening, but I figured it was just Braxton-Hicks . . .

After getting up and taking a shower, these mild contractions suddenly turned into intense labor with contractions coming almost on top of each other.   We called my doctor (who had been quite relieved when he learned we were going back to the states) and we headed to the hospital in Egypt instead.

syringe feeding colostrum

Since they were losing weight at the breast I syringe-fed my colostrum to the boys.

We arrived at 9:45 a.m. and I was already dilated to 8 cm. Since they were breech the hospital doctor wanted to prep me for a c/s but I refused. I was taken upstairs to labor and delivery and I could feel the contractions change and I had the urge to push – I knew I was now fully dilated. But, I didn’t feel a peace to work with the contractions and push those babies out without my doctor there. (I look back now and have to laugh at this scene because here I am on a bed in the hallway because the medical staff at the hospital didn’t know what to do with this foreigner who was refusing a c/s – and they didn’t know how to help me birth breech twins! We were all just waiting for my doctor to arrive.)

My doctor did arrive and said on the way he’d been thinking about it and he had decided he would give me the opportunity to birth them naturally. I was so thankful. He went and washed up and I went to the delivery room. However, when my doctor checked me his entire demeanor changed and I could sense the intense worry in his eyes. He said he had talked with the neonatologist and both really recommended a c/s.  I just didn’t have a peace to do this naturally without his support – especially since just a few minutes earlier he was okay with me trying for a natural delivery.

Syringe feeding colostrum when my newborn preemie was unable to latch on.

Syringe feeding colostrum when my newborn preemie was unable to latch on.

At this point I didn’t even have an IV so they put me under with general anesthesia.  They put the mask on my face and I was out.  They were born within a couple minutes – which makes me thankful that James and Luke still didn’t get exposed to much anesthesia.

James was born first (3 lb, 15 oz.), and then Luke (3 lb, 13 oz). They received a surfactant lung treatment since there had not been time to give steroids to me to boost their lungs before their birth. They also had extra oxygen to breath for the first 24 hours (their heads were under an oxygen bubble) and the next day they were breathing fine on their own.

We were in the hospital for six days before bringing our twins home.  (I realize that they would have probably stayed much longer had we been in the states as they were just 3 ½ pounds when we brought them home!)  You can read about my journey breastfeeding these little guys here.

Premature baby's hand

My boys were both under 4 pounds (1.8 kg) at birth.

Though this birth was nothing like I’d planned or hoped, I am very thankful they were born healthy and safe.  It is okay, and important, to grieve a birth that doesn’t go as planned.  I took comfort in knowing that I had done everything I could to prepare for a natural delivery – even to the point of buying plane tickets to another country!  I wonder sometimes what would’ve happened if I’d just pushed them out.  I do wish it hadn’t ended in a C-section but, more importantly, I am thankful they are safe and healthy.  And even though there were many “strikes” against us making breastfeeding difficult (preemies, twins, emergency C-section, not breastfeeding for the first time until 26 hours after delivery, no skin-to-skin after birth, and more) we made it.  Determination can overcome these barriers and more!

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