#240 | An Unexpected Twin Born at Home: Elizabeth Parsons of @PurelyParsons

November 22, 2023

Elizabeth Parsons of Purely Parsons is a mother of five, living on seventy acres in Appalachia, homesteading with her husband and children. For her fourth pregnancy, she had a planned home birth with her seasoned midwife. Despite having regular prenatal care and even an ultrasound the day before she went into labor, Elizabeth had an unexpected twin double breech birth at forty weeks! After the first baby was born, six minutes later, she felt the urge to push again and it seemed unusually intense for the placenta they all expected to emerge. Out came another baby -- born bottom first! In fact, both babies were breech, but nothing was so remarkable as an unexpected twin that evaded all prenatal care. Tune in for this inspiring, fun birth story affirming that twin, breech vaginal birth is a viable option, even at home. 

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What just happened? Like, how did this happen to us?

So you thought a placenta was coming out of your body. And when you the moment you felt you birthed the placenta, you found out it was another baby.

I wasn't shocked. I was. I was in a lot of shock. She never felt two babies. She never heard two babies. The twins were only six minutes apart. And so I thought that I was pushing the placenta out. And I hear her say, we have a surprise twin.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Hi, everyone, I am Elizabeth Parsons. I am over on Instagram at purely Parsons where I share all things motherhood, birth, wellness, they I talk about a lot of different things that I'm passionate about and birth is definitely one of those and I am so excited to be here today to share my last birth story which is a twin, surprise home birth story. Which is not something that you hear about a lot these days. But I'm grateful that it is mine to tell a little bit about me. If you are not familiar, I am a mama to five we have one on the way due in January. Confirmed just one. I am a former pediatric nurse I came home in 2020 and had been home with my kids ever since we homeschool we homestead we have 70 acres in the Appalachian Mountains. I'm sorry, Appalachian. We just moved here. And I've heard that if you say Appalachian people will be like they know you're not from here. And we have Cows and dogs and chickens. And so that's a little bit about me.

So I think you answered my question. My question was was your unexpected twin homebirth an unplanned home birth of twins or you were planning a home birth and you didn't know you were having two babies?

It was a planned home birth. And I didn't know that there was two. I had full prenatal care with a midwife of 40 years. Wow. So this was not something that was like negligence.

No, there were two. But you ended up being surprised that you had two babies that day. Did she just miss it? Or so she it was 2020. And I declined the 20 week ultrasound, which is usually the only one I get anyway. I declined it. And she was okay with that. Just because I didn't want to have to deal with like going into the hospital during 2020. And just deal with all of that. And so, but she never felt two babies, she never heard two babies. I did get an ultrasound. The day before I went into labor, just to make sure that positioning was good and that there was only one and they didn't see too. So

even on an ultrasound at the end of pregnancy. Only one baby was seen that is wild. It is a you must have been so shocked. Well and

I feel like when you're when you're living it, it's one thing but then like looking back people are like how did you not know that there was two I never really felt more kicks, I didn't feel any different. I'm not a small person. So I'm tall and broad. So the way that I carry my babies. I didn't look much different until the end. And I didn't really have any other symptoms other than just like being really, really tired. My hips hurt really bad. And I had the one thing that was different was I had a lot of swelling in my ankles towards the end. But I kind of contributed that to just I had three kids, we had a homestead. And nobody would

think that that meant that you were having twins. It must have been that one baby must have just been sort of hiding right behind the first baby. Yeah,

yeah. And I guess hidden twins or something that like I guess when you have one you hear about all the one all the other people that have had one but yeah, it's pretty it's pretty crazy that I even got a scan and they still didn't see it. So I just wasn't supposed to know. And I'm honestly thankful that they didn't see too on that scan because can you imagine finding out 24 hours before you go into labor? Hey, you're having twins and having to like mentally like, prepare for that whereas I just kind have like, it just happened. And I'm thankful for the way that it happened. And they were both. So, so healthy seven pounds, eight ounces and seven pounds, 12 ounces. So they were like full term babies, I went into labor on my due date. So they I carried them to 40 weeks.

That is unbelievable. And I wonder if someone had planted the seed in your mind as society does in every woman's mind when she's carrying twins. Like we want to keep them in, keep them and keep them in. And you know, at the end of pregnancy, like we don't want them to come early, and women get so like they always say, if I go that long, if I make it that far, you didn't have a care in the world as far as when they when your baby would arrive. And they went all the way to 40. Yeah, and I want to strongly. Yeah, I carry my babies long. So I was planning on like, going past my due date. Because, you know, that's just what I've always done. None of my babies have come before their due date. And so I was just kind of prepared for that mentally. And so I think that helped. But yeah, there's definitely, especially in the Twin world like, heavy heavy intervention, and we're going to take them at 37 weeks, or sooner, you know. So yeah, so

I know everybody is wondering what I'm wondering, I'm sure you've asked yourself this question. Have you found out in that scan the day before you went into labor? Would you still have planned a home birth? Or do you think you would have reconsidered giving birth at home?

I think that I would have had to talk to my midwife. Because I don't, you know, obviously, it was, it would have been whatever she was comfortable with. If she was comfortable with it, I probably would have continued and done it at home, she might have wanted me to go to a birth center, which I probably would have been fine with. I definitely would not have wanted to go to the hospital. I have had three hospital births. And this was my first home birth and the baby that I'm expecting now we're going to do a home birth with it is just the difference between my hospital births and my home birth with surprise breech twins was just the differences were astounding. And I you know, you hear once you go home, you never go back. And I'm thankful for the modern medical care industry when we need it. But I think that birth is very over medicalized. And we treat it kind of like as this disease that needs to be intervened upon, where if you just leave it alone, I think I'm a prime example of that.

It usually turns out fine. And but the whole time so not only did you have unexpected twins at home, your they were both breech. Yeah, they were both Frank breech.

That's what I wanted to do. Can we go back and hear and there's like much detail as humanly possible because I can't wait to try to imagine that moment. After one baby was out. And you've all realized that wasn't there. I want that in slow motion, please. Like can you talk about like calling your midwife because you were in labor? And you didn't even know tell us the story? Did you know that first one was breech because of the ultrasound? Did you think you had one?

So the first so in the ultrasound, there was one, they saw one baby and he was head down and engaged. So they flipped during labor. So I wouldn't have even known. Even if I was doing it in a hospital, they wouldn't have known breech until they were coming out. Because what we think happened is, baby, I'm just gonna say baby a baby. So Baby B was the one that was seen in the ultrasound because she said he had a lot of hair. And only one of them had hair. And he came out second. So I think he was head down. And then at some point, he Baby A came and like kicked him out of the way. And he went up and then Baby Baby A came out first. So you are just so reaffirming that you were meant to give birth at home to these babies because the fact that it was missed on ultrasound that there were two babies, and that one was vertex and then less than 24 hours later with twins who do not have an easy time moving around inside your body at the stage of pregnancy at 40. I mean, hadn't had been had been a breech baby, or had they known you were having twins and certainly if your midwife knew it was breech twins probably wouldn't have been giving birth at home. Right?

Yeah. And there was a moment during my labor where I know when it happened, we can get there. Tell us tell us it okay. Well, there was my birth time labor start the story. Just tell them tell them.

So I went I went into actually had a midwife appointment the day that I went into labor, and they got there at like, 10am It was my due date. And I was having contractions at that point. And I think that they could just kind of tell like, you could you know, this could be good turning into something And so she was like, well, we have another appointment after you. So we're gonna go to that you let us know if they progress at all. And then they left. And I think she had checked me. And I was like three centimeters dilated, I don't get checked usually until like, the very end, just out of my own curiosity, because we know that it doesn't really mean anything and it can change so quickly. But usually by the end, my willpower is, I want to know. So she checked me for the first time and I was three centimeters at that appointment. And then she said, Call us if anything happens. The appointment that they had was an hour and a half away. And she ended up texting me and saying, Hey, we're gonna stay close by, because I think that they just kind of knew. And from that time, my contractions had started to be more frequent, more intense, and she was like, time them, let me know. And I said, Well, they're coming like every three to four minutes, and they're lasting like 45 seconds. So she was like, Okay, well, we're gonna eat lunch and head back. And so that's what they did. And it was a really, really easy, great day like it was I just got the freedom to walk around our acreage, I had just like a sports bra. And so the sun was just like October in Texas, right? So it's like, gorgeous. And it was just perfect. It was calm, I was listening to my birth playlist. And I was just getting in that mentality that like, this is the day that I'm going to get to meet my baby. And so I labored that whole day into the evening, they were making sure I was eating and drinking, which is another thing that I'm just like, astounded by the fact that we are literally like starving women in labor in the hospital, like we are running a marathon, we need to fuel our bodies. And so they were, you know, encouraging me to stay hydrated, stay well nourished. And by like five o'clock, I wanted her to check me again. And she said I was a seven. So I was like, Okay, this is amazing. Like this is going to like I'm going into transition and transition. And historically transition was a pretty quick process for me. Well, that is not how it happened with the twins. So she told me I was seven. So we blew our we filled up the birth tub. And I got in labored a little bit in there. And then a couple hours later, I had her check me again, and I was still a seven. And she could tell I think that I was a little bit discouraged by that. And so she was like, why don't you lay down and rest and try and sleep take a nap. And I was like, You're crazy. Like, I'm about to go into transition. Why? Why would I want to lay down and nap. But I think that she just knew my body needed that like mental and physical rest. And I was actually able to sleep for like an hour, which is crazy. I mean, in between contractions I was able to sleep. And it was probably like, the best hour of sleep you had a few months. Yeah. Love all the sleep you can. Absolutely yeah.

And so I woke up and I got up and went to the bathroom. And I had the most intense contractions back to back to back, like three contractions in a row. And that is where I feel like instinctually I feel like that's when they flipped. And kind of got into place. And I think because because it was because they were breech. And because they were not fully engaged. I think that's why my labor was a little bit slower, you know, from transition on, but I went and I told them I was like, if that if this keeps happening like this is not going to take long. So this was around midnight, and they got me on the birth stool. And I labored on the Birstall for a little bit. And it was a really, really crazy experience I had when one of my regrets is that I did not have a birth photographer for this birth. Because I would have loved to like relive some of these moments like with good photos, you know, instead of like the grainy ones I have, but I was on the birth stool and my bag of waters started to inflate and like come out of my body like a balloon. And it was the weirdest sensation I've ever experienced. And I was like freaking out I was like it's gonna go everywhere. Like you're gonna get soaked and you know, just like the things that you think about that you're concerned about when you're like in labor. It's so silly looking back like they didn't care and it did it hopped in, it went on the floor and there was tarps and it was fine. And then after that, I got back in the tub and it was like I was in full transition getting ready to push. So I get back in the birth tub because they were having to like warm the water and make sure that you know it was going to be warm enough for the baby. And this was around 1am And so I get in the birth tub. And I historically do not push for very long I am I guess a very effective pusher. Which is you know, you can feel everything and you know when your contractions are coming and so I think I pushed for like five minutes and the baby came out which we had already named him Silas and so we started calling him Silas he came out and I heard my midwife say we have a breech twin or we have a breech baby and it's a boy, congratulations, like, you're amazing. You just delivered a surprise breech baby. Little baby knows. So you have not had any cervical exam. So she did not know until babies bomb was coming through that right. I didn't have any more cervical exams because I just told her I was like, I feel pushy. And she's like, just do whatever you feel like what did she say in the moment when she saw the blood coming?

Um, I don't remember if she said anything as I was pushing, because she wasn't really she just kind of let me push she I don't really even think she was really up there. Like, you know, so she was just okay. So you're kind of on your own. And she would maybe didn't even know that you were giving? Yeah.

And honestly, it's a little bit of a blur. She might have been, but I don't really think she said, yeah, she didn't make a big deal about it. But he, you know, she did get in there and catch him. I didn't like catch them or anything. So she knew at some point when he was coming out that he was breached, but I don't think that she said anything. I think she just handled it. This is what's happening. Yeah. Which is a far cry from the modern OB world where they're not really trained to handle breach. But it's a variation of normal.

It's a variation of normal. When he came out. She said, like, congratulations, you have a breech, baby boy, she said that because he was already out. She said, she

said you just delivered a breech baby like you're amazing. Like, you know, because we didn't know he was breech. And she was just like empowering me like, you just did that and you're amazing. And so I had them on my chest and you know, just the afterbirth. Hi, you're just like, You're so happy and there's nothing like it.

And then you're thinking What more could I possibly want right now and then. So what happened? Like go really slow here. Like what is that? Okay. Anyone had an angel details? Person? Baby in there? Did you birth a placenta next?

No, what exactly?

Okay, what exactly happened? So I was on my knees is how I birthed Silas. And so I had sat back, and I was holding him on my chest and just like crying and just really happy and my husband. He wasn't in the birth tub with me, but he was behind me. And he was just like, you did it. You did it. Congratulations. And I do have a couple pictures from in between the twins, where I have Silas on my chest. And I can send it to you. It's pretty crazy to see now because Silas is on my chest and you can see my belly. And it was like there's another baby and they're like, oh my you know your your belly still is it looks about six months pregnant after you push the baby out. But this was like it still still looked like there was another seven pound 12 812 ounce baby in there. And I don't know at what point my midwife knew. Like I don't know if she had she knew right after that, but she definitely knew at some point and didn't say anything because there's a video where I am contracting you know you have afterbirth contractions to get the placenta out. And those usually aren't like anything super intense. But I was like, they were like contractions like I was like, pushing like I was bearing down. And

yeah, that's what happened with within.

And I heard her say, Are you are you having another contraction like in kind of like a very inquisitive like, what's going on here way? And so I think definitely at that point, she was like, something else is going on here. So I just I just contracted for the twins. We're only six minutes apart. And so I thought that I was pushing the placenta out. And I hear her say we have a surprise twin, also breech and that she just puts them on my chest and you know obviously there's like a little bit of a little bit of like frantic I had Three midwives in the room. And so they're trying to like record everything and check. Gideon is the second one that came out and make sure that he was like breathing and all was well and yeah, and so I'm just like in shock, like, how do you even like how do you even process that did when he was emerging and then seconds later he was on your chest? Did you have almost no time to process it until he was Oh, nope, no time at all. She didn't. She didn't say I see another but she didn't say there's another baby coming. The only thing I remember is her saying, we have a surprise twin and, you know, also breech. They were both Frank breech. So they were but first you thought a placenta was coming out of your body? And when you the moment you felt the birth the placenta, you found out it was another baby? Yeah.

And it it felt very similar. Like, once you've pushed one baby out, it's like pushing another one out is it wasn't really painful at that point, because it's stretched out. So it you know, it didn't feel really much different than I would imagine, like just like birthing the placenta. But um, yeah, I didn't know until he was literally on my chest.

What happened? You went into shock talk about that. I wasn't shocked.

I was, I was in a lot of shock. I think like my husband was just there. And we were just both like, we just kept looking at each other. I'll send you that picture too. Like, I have a picture of us just like looking at each other. He's got one baby, and I've got the other one. And we're just like, what just happened? Like, how did this happen to us? And, yeah, so I, she, she wanted me to get out of the tub at that point into the bed so that she could examine things. So I actually birth the placenta in the bed. And it looked like there was just one. So we thought that they might have been identical. But there was it was like to kind of combined, they looked like one placenta because it was just so big. It was like over three pounds of placenta, then I think I just had lost, I was in shock. And I had lost so much fluid and like tissue and baby so fast that I required a little bit of oxygen and some herbs that she had given me to stop some bleeding. And I did have a little bit of retained placenta. So I remember she said, we can either like I can either get in there and get it out. Or if we leave it in your body is going to think that it's still needing to flush so I can get in there and get it out. Or we can go in and they can numb you up. And I was like absolutely not. We're not doing that. Let's just do it. Like just get it out. Like I just birthed surprise twins, like, you know, like, I'm not going anywhere. Like I'm just you're gonna stay here and I'm going to grin and bear and do it and it was not pleasant. And it took her about she worked on me for about an hour getting, making sure that everything was out. My husband had taken the twins because I had I had had a chance to do skin to skin and nursing and all of that at this point. And so he took the twins all of our other kids were asleep. And he just got to like kind of have that bonding skin to skin time with them for a little bit while she worked on me. And he said he was just out in the living room like praying for me and my safety and because it did get I mean, it's scary to see your wife like pale and, you know, it was something that needed to be handled. And she was so skilled and I'm so thankful for her knowledge and her like calm head. And she was able to to handle it and yeah, so it was It was wild. I'm trying to think if there was anything like major I did get up to go to the bathroom. And I remember I remember feeling like lightheaded which is understandable for what I had just gone through and I I didn't like pass out and like fall but like I just felt very faint. And I remember them lowering the onto the floor. And then they brought me some lasagna. And I ate like a whole thing of lasagna and I was like golden I just needed some some fuel. Absolutely.

Do you remember at what point it sort of like, hit you that you just had two babies instead of one and the reality of like, oh my gosh, we now have doubled the children that we were expecting. Yeah,

we went from three to five and that's that's a big jump especially when you're not expecting it. I think it was probably like a slow I don't think it was ever like you know, I think being in the bed and like having to figure out like how am I going to put To on my boobs at the same time, like, I think that was probably one of the moments where I was like, oh my goodness, like, there's there's two. But I think I was just in such shock. And I think that probably lasted for a couple of days.

And how about your husband, your other children? Like, what were their responses?

They were my husband was amazing. He's such a good support system. And he's always kind of joked, like, it would be so fun to have twins. Because like, if you're gonna have, you know, two babies, like just get him just knock them out and just have twins, and how fun would that be? And so be careful what you wish for. So he was, I think he was, you know, obviously also shocked, but he was thrilled. And then my kids the next morning, they came in to the bedroom and I was holding Silas. And they were young at this. I mean, my oldest was seven. And so I had a seven, five and a three year old. And so they came in, and we were like, here's Silas. And then we were like, look, go look at the crib. They like went over there. And they were like, what, there's two. So they were they were surprised as well. I don't think they were at the age where they could really like, understand what had happened like that we weren't expecting to. And then two came out, like we didn't really, you know, go into that great deal of depth of detail. But now they understand. And they were so excited. I mean, they get to like babies to hold and to take care of and we got to tell our families and we kept it at this point, I had a following. But it wasn't like, close to what I have now. But it was still to the point where I was like, how am I going to share this because, you know, people knew that I was in labor. And they were like expecting the birth announcement. So we took a few days to ourselves, and just to like, be able to tell are all of our family members and because we didn't have anybody living in Texas, so everybody was remote. And yeah, we just kind of hunkered down and it was so so nice that we didn't have to scramble to like, buy another car seat to take the baby home in and like you know, it was just like, you're just home. And my midwives stayed with me for a you know, a few hours after and then she came back and checked on me at like 48 hours and my healing was was great. I had really, really bad like, after, what do they call them after birth, after birth contractions like for a little while. But other than that, like, for having surprised twins, like I was up and moving, I do remember it being a lot more painful to get up and move around the first couple days than any of my other births. But I healed great I didn't tear.

that pain that you felt might have been because she was inside handling your uterus so much for whole hours, she was probably like scraping the interior wall of the uterus that that would just be that was honestly that was the worst. That's I can't believe it lasted that long. I guess she was very slow and gentle. She was probably very slow and gentle. It was very tender.

And I mean, you know, if you've ever gotten stitched like it's so tender down there. Even when they do numbing stuff, it can still be really tender, but and I didn't obviously have anything to numb it. So not pleasant. I don't ever wish to have that happen again. But yeah, it was I had a great healing process. And my emotions were great my like, I didn't have postpartum depression or baby blues or anything like that. So it was it was amazing. I was just extremely sleep deprived for like six months. I think I slept in like 15 minute increments for the first two months. And so I was very thankful that my husband had a flexible job and it was 2020 Again, so he was already working from home. And so he was able to like let me sleep in the mornings and get some rest and other than the sleep deprivation and I had some like we had to supplement unexpectedly like other than those two things like everything was great other than just like you know, getting adjusted to the hugest surprise of our lives.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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