Positive Natural Birth Story… With Twins.

I am so glad I can finally share Jolene’s incredible birth story! It doesn’t get more inspirational than this. It’s so empowering to deliver your baby vaginally and naturally… but with twins?! If she did it, we can all do it. I hope her story inspires and empowers many.


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“Five days after conceiving, I knew I was pregnant. I had not yet missed a period, but I was sure. A week and a half later, I cried tears of joy as my husband triumphantly held up the positive pregnancy test.  I would once again cry tears of joy at my first sonogram, when we were told we were having twins.

I talked to my obstetrician about my plans for a vaginal delivery. She explained that there were many factors that would influence my ability to deliver vaginally. Her biggest concern was that there were two babies and it was my first pregnancy. I was told all the risks, and began to feel unsure of my choice after the conversation. I continued to hope for a vaginal delivery, but didn’t feel supported and therefor did not push the issue at my doctor’s office.

As happy as my first few weeks of pregnancy were, those blissful days were followed by fear and uncertainty for the remainder of the pregnancy.  I suffered multiple bleeds, weight fluctuations between the twins, a suspected kidney abnormality of one twin, and bi-weekly perinatologist visits.  At 28 weeks, I was placed on strict bed rest for a thinning cervix.  As the pregnancy progressed, and my cervix thinned more, I just prayed my babies would be born healthy. I abandoned my plans of a vaginal delivery, and justified that as long as they’re born healthy, I will be thankful. What happened to my joyful pregnancy? I felt so out of control.

On a Friday morning, 34 weeks and 2 days into my pregnancy, I woke up in labor. My water broke at 9am and I took my time getting ready to go to the hospital.  About 45 minutes later I was bent of the sink in the bathroom crying in pain and frustration. My husband helped me into the car for the half hour drive to the hospital. On the way we tried counting the time between contractions, but it felt like the pain just kept coming without a pause. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately taken to the OR. The doctor on call checked me and said I was fully dilated. Everything was happening so fast, and I was overwhelmed. The anesthesiologist came in and asked if I wanted an epidural. I did.

As I lay there with 15+ people in the room- NICU nurses, NICU doctors, labor and delivery nurses and the delivering doctor- I made the decision to deliver with no medication. It was the first decision I had been able to make about my pregnancy and body in a long time. I decided that I needed to maintain control of my body the one way I could, which was to deliver my babies vaginally and to do it my own way. Once I accepted the pain and birth in its entirety, I began to feel empowered. My desperation was replaced my determination. I was acutely aware of every aspect of the delivery going forward- I felt every push as my daughters head moved down the canal and her beautiful face emerged. She came out screaming! After a brief moment in my arms she was whisked away to the NICU. I wish I could have held her just a little longer.

At this point the staff realized I meant to deliver both my babies vaginally, and I was taken into a regular delivery room to deliver my son. They asked me again if I wanted an epidural for his delivery but I declined it. I delivered my tiny son 2 hours later with no pain medication.

I still don’t know exactly how to answer when people ask me how I delivered twins naturally. I think the strength came from a part of me that wanted to feel the raw emotion of the delivery. My entire pregnancy I had so few choices.  I spent more time being scared than preparing for my babies. Delivering naturally with no medication was the only thing that was truly my choice. It was my moment, and I followed my instincts.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and the most rewarding.  When other women who are considering natural birth ask my opinion, I tell them to trust themselves. I tell them to listen to their bodies, and not allow others to discourage them.

My story is so different (and much less glamorous) from most of the birth stories of women who choose to deliver naturally. Yet, it needs to be shared just the same. Writing this story has been therapeutic and I hope I’ve inspired at least one woman to advocate for themselves during pregnancy.  Not every woman has the choice to deliver vaginally and with no pain interventions, and I feel privileged to have had the experience.  And maybe, just a little bit, like superwoman. All of us mothers are, after all.”

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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