Prepare for your birth journey today with our birth class

Episode 184

Amanda Callan

In this week’s episode I chat to Amanda Callan who shares the unique and somewhat overwhelming experience of discovering she was pregnant with twins at 26 weeks. Having experienced a hospital and homebirth previously, she opted to keep her community midwife on for the postpartum period and sought the care and guidance of a private obstetrician who supported her plans for a natural twin birth without epidural. Amanda talks candidly about the emotional journey of bringing the twins into the world and the mental and physical challenge of birthing one baby, bonding with him and then preparing to birth the second. She offers a refreshing insight into the complexities of twin birth whilst also reflecting on the births of her older children. Consider it a must-listen.

Download Episode

Amanda’s first pregnancy was a welcome surprise when she was 25 and had just moved to the Northern Rivers with her husband, Andrew. They booked into Mullumbimby Midwifery Program with the intention of having a water birth at the birth centre. “We had a pretty cruisy pregnancy. We did all the antenatal classes and all those first time parent things. It’s nice being pregnant with your first and doing all the preparation, I remember it quite fondly.”

Her labour was incredibly painful due to Banjo lying posterior. After spending a few hours in the bath at the birth centre and failing to experience any relief from saline water injections, Amanda agreed to be transferred to Tweed Heads Hospital as Banjo’s heart rate wasn’t as stable as they would have liked.

 “When we were in the ambulance when the midwife warned me that they may want to do a cesarean when we got there. They were really insistent on getting him out by a certain time and I looked at the clock and was determined to birth him beforehand so I was on all fours or on my side and I ended up birthing him without intervention after 9 hours of labour. We discovered that the cord was wrapped around his neck hence why his heart rate was dropping. He latched really easily and we had a cruisy run with breastfeeding. I think I’ve always looked back on that time and just been really grateful that it turned out like it did because it could have been quite different.”

Amanda was still breastfeeding Banjo when she fell pregnant with Percy and decided to wean him a few months into the pregnancy. She chose her local midwifery program and was assigned a beautiful, intuitive midwife. “Our home is actually closer to the hospital than the birth centre is so our midwife talked us into the ease of a homebirth. We ordered a birth pool and set it up in front of the fire a few weeks beforehand and we just waited. I was always very conscious of Percy’s position throughout the pregnancy as I really didn’t want to experience a posterior labour again but thankfully he was in a great position and the birth was a breeze. Labour was only three hours and I actually asked if that’s all I had to do after he was born, it really was so easy compared to Banjo’s birth.”

Percy lay on Amanda’s chest after the birth and when it was time to deliver the placenta she stood up in the bath to allow gravity to help in the process and she fainted. “The midwives had to scoop Percy out of the water and Andrew made sure I was ok. It was really scary for them but we were fine and I can’t remember any of that so I still think it was a great birth.

They felt complete with their two boys and Amanda fed Percy till he was two-and-a-half. “I was happy not to have to do labour again and we just kept saying we were done. Then we went overseas for three weeks by ourselves for a friend’s wedding and we kind of got a bit bored of each other so we decided to go again.”

They fell pregnant easily, had the harmony test at 10 weeks to make sure there were no abnormalities and found out the gender so they could reveal it at Banjo’s birthday party. The planned another homebirth with the same midwife and decided not to do the 12 week scan as they’d done the harmony test so Amanda intended on getting scanned at 20weeks but life got in the way. It was at 26 weeks that she walked into the ultrasound clinic to get the biggest surprise of her life.

Our good friends Hana and Jeremy (you can listen to Hana’s twin story on episode 138) had just had twin girls and everyone joked that we’d have twins too. On the way to the scan our friends texted and said: make sure you send us a photo of the twins! It was just a joke we all had and we even mentioned to the sonographer that we were there just to make sure it wasn’t twins.

“She just went silent, and then she said: look there’s one head and there’s another head, you are having twins! I was laughing and crying at the same time and Andrew was just in shock.”

They had to change their birth plans as homebirths are only for low-risk pregnancies. They sought the care of an obstetrician in Lismore who supported their plans for a twin birth with minimal intervention, no epidural or induction. Both babies were breech with their heads sitting under Amanda’s left ribs so she tried everything she could to turn them.

“If both babies are breech we could attempt a vaginal birth but ideally Twin A needed to be head down as it makes it easier to deliver Twin B even if Twin B is breech. I was doing all the exercises recommended for spinning babies and I saw a bodyworker and an acupuncturist. We had an appointment with our OB at 34 weeks to plan what we were going to do and when he scanned me we realised that Twin A was head down, just in the nick of time.”

In the final weeks of pregnnacy Amanda was feeling really heavy and had lightening crotch. She had regular appointments with her OB and by 39weeks she was already 5-6cam dilated so she suggested a stretch and sweep.

“We thought  we’d hang around Lismore for a few nights and I walked and walked, only feeling contractions if I was moving. We went into the hospital and the midwives were great and I just felt pretty content to be there. I was already 7cm and my OB said that if he broke my waters labour would be on and he was right. I laboured in the shower and just before Twin A was born I demanded that everyone fill up the bath regardless of the fact that it was against hospital policy to have a twin water birth. I was checked again and there was no cervix left so I got up on the bed on all fours and Reggie was born soon after.

“I had such relief but an oh my god moment when I realised that I had to do it all over again because there was still a baby I had to get out. It was such a weird feeling. I was so tired, I was shaking, it had been four hours since they’d broked my waters. Reggie was out and we did delayed cord clamping and once it had stopped pulsing we released Reggie from the cord and then it was time to birth Herb.

“People had said the second one just falls out, that it’s so easy. All the twin mums had said once the first one is out it’s smooth sailing, but Herb was bigger and had turned posterior. He wasn’t in a great position and my contractions had slowed down. The logistics of what to do between the twins being born hadn’t been discussed and I was doing skin-to-skin with Reggie but passed him to Andrew so I could focus on birthing Herb. I was getting really tired and my OB decided it was best to break my waters again and get contractions going before I was too tired to push.

“My friend, Courtney, was talking to me and making me laugh and that brought on contractions. I remember thinking that I only had a few pushes left in me so i gave a really big push and he came flying out and I thought: thank god, I’m done. But then the placentas! I did delayed cord clamping again and then I had them both on my chest but I also just wanted to wrap it up so I had the syntocin and delivered the placentas.

“There were two separate placentas as they were fraternal twins but the placentas were in the same membrane so the midwife said there is a chance they could be identical and a lot of people do say they’re the most identical looking twins they’ve ever seen.”

Amanda and Andrew stayed in hospital for the night and the next day she expressed colostrum and fed Herb with a syringe as he was quite sleepy. They were discharged soon after and returned home just as Covid lockdown was announced which made for a slightly anxious first few weeks.

“We decided to keep the boys home from school so we had everyone at home from the first day home from hospital. It was lovely but intense, I feel like we got robbed of the quiet newborn stage. It was a weird time for everyone and I was a bit anxious about them getting it too as they were so young and vulnerable.

“I feed on demand now, sleep with them in a king bed, one on each side and basically feed them all night and feed them all day. I wondered if I’d have enough to feed twins but I’m eating lots of food and I’m on herbs so they’re chubbing up now.”

Amanda admits that having twins is full on but of course, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The big boys aren’t good at sharing anything so I’m not sure what we would have done with one baby.”

Topics Discussed

Growth scans, Surprise twins, Natural twin birth, Twin birth no epidural, Posterior, Home birth

Episode Sponsor

Today’s episode of the show is brought to you by Hypnobirthing Australia. Hypnobirthing Australia are offering Australian Birth Stories listeners 15% off their online courses for a limited time (Thursday the 16th of July 2020- Monday the 20th of July 2020) with the code: Lockdown15. To find out more about these incredible courses head over to the link HERE

Sign up to get the latest updates, freebies, podcast releases straight into your inbox