parenting your inner child

Celebrating my twins.
A birth story by Ben A. Wise


Rose is 34 weeks pregnant with twins – a boy and a girl. At 4 AM, she wakes up. She usually wakes up early in the morning and goes back to sleep soon after. This time, though, is different.

She has a vision. Not a dream, a vision. In it, she sees a tall, well-­‐built man, lying down on what seems like a hospital bed in a well-­‐lit room with white walls. He has curly hair and piercing blue eyes. He is gazing at her, softly, intently.


Lev is how we have decided to name the boy; the girl will be Harmony. Lev, in Hebrew, means “heart”.

The vision ends, and she feels something loosening in her uterus. Water comes streaming out. She gets up, wraps herself with several towels, and lies back down again.


At 6:30 AM I am sitting in the living room, writing, when she comes and tells me what is happening.

“Wow, so this is it…”
“I think so. Let’s go to the hospital…”
“Of course…”
“Oh, and, call the midwife…”

34 weeks is premature – over a month away from full-­‐term.

I call our midwife. It is 7 AM.

“Mmmmm. Hee… heelooo?”
She has just finished attending two births, working non-­‐stop for the last 36 hours.
“Hi, this is Ben. Sorry I woke you… Roses’s water… some water has come out. We were going to go to the hospital… what do you think?”
“How much? A lot? Is it clear?” she is lucid now. “How is she feeling? Is there any pain?”
“Hold on, let me check…”
Rose is sitting on the toilet. I can hear water trickling.
“Rose, she wants to know how much water has come, and if it’s clear.” “Quite a bit, yes, clear.”
“And how are you feeling? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine…”
I go back to the living room.

“Okay,” she takes a moment to think. “So her water has broken. Take your time. Go back to bed and finish your sleep. Yes, go to the hospital, see what they say.”
“What do you think’ll happen there?”
I want to be prepared, knowing that, ultimately, I cannot be prepared.
“They might want to administer antibiotics in order to prevent an infection, or they may want to induce labor. And, depending on the presentation of the babies, they might tell you that you need a C-­‐section.”
I breathe in deeply.
“Okay, thank you so much.”
“Good luck.”

I put the phone down and look outside. It is cold and rainy and windy.

Rose doesn’t want to go back to sleep -­‐-­‐ she’s hungry. I make her a generous helping of porridge with milk and brown sugar.

“Mmm, this is good…” she empties her bowl.
We start talking about Soham.
“I think it’ll be much better – for him and for us – if he spends the day with Ayla and Noori,” I say.
Ayla and Noori are sisters; the three of them are very good friends. “Okay, you feel that’s best?”
“Call Shafeeka then – organize it.”
Shafeeka is their mother.

At 8 AM I call.

“Wow, I am so excited for the two of you! That’s amazing!”
I notice that in her statement, there is no room for anything to go wrong; everything is as it should be.
“Let me know if there’s anything you might need.”
“Yeah… Would you take Soham for the day?”
I know that I am not imposing myself, and yet, I always find it difficult asking for help.
“Of course, of course. When should I come? Should I come now?” I pause to think.
“He’s still asleep… I’ll call you when we’re ready.”

After I hang up, Rose experiences two contractions, 11 minutes apart. Whether or not this means she has gone into labor, we do not know. Sometimes, the amniotic sac erupts without leading to labor. The biggest concern then, without the protection it affords the fetus, is infection. Some women have to spend weeks in the hospital on complete bed rest.

I pack a bag for Soham with a change of clothes, a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste. Who knows how the day will unfold…

A few minutes later, Soham walks out of the bedroom, rubbing his eyes. I lift him, cradling him in my arms for what seems like a long time.

“Mama and Papa have to go to the hospital to see how the twins are doing,” I tell him softly, nuzzling his ear. “Is it okay if Shafeeka picks you up soon, and then you can spend the day with them?”

He nods, nestling his head on my shoulder. He has always been cuddlesome when he wakes up, or is very sleepy; otherwise he is a kinetic ball of energy.

I call Shafeeka.

She shows up a little while later. Soham is fully awake by now, and eager to be going – a day with friends is more appealing than a day in the dour hospital. Shafeeka embraces us both, and wishes us luck. They are off.


Rose and I realize that this is the first time – in a long time – we are alone. I hug her and ask her how she’s feeling; her belly is so big that when we hug, there’s at least a head’s distance between our faces.

“I’m okay. But I want to know what is happening with the twins. How about you? How do you feel?”
I take a deep breath and let the question hang in the air for a moment.
“Yeah, I think I’m fine. Let’s go find out what’s happening.”

We take turns showering and getting dressed. Rose packs a bag with a change of clothes for herself, putting a plastic folder containing our passports and her file from the hospital inside.

At 10:30 AM we leave the house. We are sitting in the car.

“You ready?”
“Let’s go.”

I start the car, and begin driving in the direction of the hospital. The roads are relatively empty and calm – I am glad it’s a Sunday.

On the way, I am feeling happy and excited. I recite mantras in Sanskrit, calling for protection and safe passage through what lies ahead: “Aum ānandamayi, chaitanyamayi, satyamayi, parame. Aum namo bhagavate”

Om, thou who art full of consciousness, full of truth, full of bliss, the supreme. Om, we bow to you, o divine.

“One’s true religious sentiments are revealed under duress!” Rose says half seriously, half jokingly.

“It is true Madame, I am an Indian at heart,” I say with a head wobble and an exaggerated Indian accent.
She laughs.

Clouds shroud the mountaintops around us.

“I can feel the difference in my womb. It feels like the cushioning is gone – like I’m feeling the bare skin against the walls of my uterus”
“Is it both of them or just one? Can you tell?”

We are getting closer to the hospital. The sky is lightening; slated mountain peaks glint in the sun. I start singing a tune, the melody from “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles, substituting the original lyrics with my own:

“Here come the twins
Here come the twins
And I say, it’s alright…
Little darlings, I welcome you upon this earth…
Little darlings, we love you and are happy that you’re coming… Here come the twins
Here come the twins
And I say, it’s alright…
Ti di da da di da da di da da da da da da…
Twins, twins, twins, here they come!

I sing the last two lines in a raucous, rock ’n’ roll voice, eliciting a laugh out of Rose.

“So you’re really happy, aren’t you?”
We stop at a red light.
“Yes, I am,” I say, nodding pensively.

We reach the hospital. It is almost 11 AM. I find a nice parking place right next to the entrance. I open the door for Rose.

I start rushing inside, stopping myself, realizing that Rose is behind me -­‐-­‐ she walks slowly these days. Inside, after explaining why we have come, we are told to go to the first floor -­‐-­‐ to admissions. Even though the place is relatively empty, the elevator takes a long time to come. There’s a sign on the other elevator – there are only two -­‐-­‐ in bad handwriting: “Out Of Order”.

On the 1st floor, a man is standing behind a counter, a pane of glass separating us.

“Yes, what is it?”
“I am 34 weeks pregnant… my water broke this morning.”
“Are you feeling any pain, contractions?”
“Then you must come back when you have pain or strong contractions. This is the weekend, there are only laboring women here.”
Has he heard her? Is he listening? 34 weeks is premature…
I signal to Rose that I’d like to have a word with him. She raises her hand and stops me.
“I don’t think you’ve understood,” she says, relinquishing politeness. “I am 34 weeks pregnant with twins. My water has broken this morning. 34 weeks is premature. I need to see a doctor.”


We are made to sit on chairs, on opposing ends of the admissions waiting room – there’s one side for female patients (this is a maternity hospital, there are no male patients), and another for those accompanying them. Our spirits our dampened by the discourteous man and by being made to sit apart from each other.

The screams of a laboring woman echo down from the labor ward at the end of the corridor.

I wave at Rose, moving my hand vigorously from side to side, flashing her a foolish grin, in an effort to lighten the situation. She waves back, pursing her lips and sighing heavily, but finally breaking into a smile, shaking her head at me.


We wait. We are in limbo.

Rose calls me over to talk to me. I walk up to an imaginary centerline and pretend I cannot cross. Rose is not in the mood for jokes. I take a big, exaggerated step over the line, and stand next to her.

“I want to go to a private clinic. I’m not liking this.”
“Okay, let me see what I can do.”

We are in a public hospital -­‐-­‐ Mowbray Maternity Clinic in Cape Town – this is the hospital we have established as a backup for the home birth. Home birth… The words seem dreamy, irrelevant at this point.

I get up, walk back to the elevator, and call a private clinic in the area we’re staying. I feel awkward and self-­‐conscious – most people here can’t afford private care; I don’t want to be heard.

A woman answers the phone.

“Yes, how can I help you?”

“My wife’s water has broken this morning. She is 34 weeks pregnant with twins. I’m calling you from Mowbray Maternity Clinic. We’re waiting for the doctor to see her. Supposing we want a C-­‐section… what would that entail?”
A pen clicks on the other end of the line.
“You’ll need to get a referral from the doctor there and schedule an appointment with our gynecologist here.”
I feel like she is trying to decide if I’m worth their time.
“If he agrees to take your case, you’ll need to make a cash deposit with us.” “How much?”
It’s a big sum.
“Okay, thank you.”
“Not a problem.”

I take a moment to gather my thoughts. The private clinic is cold, calculated and efficient; the public hospital is jazzy, haphazard and colorful. Myself, I’d go with the latter.

I walk back to the waiting room and explain to Rose that irrespective of where she will give birth, this is where we need to be now.

“What’s more,” I say, “a private clinic is the equivalent of a C-­‐section, while that here, in the maternity hospital -­‐-­‐ unless contraindicated – they’ll let you birth naturally, be with the babies afterwards, etc.”
She nods at me silently.
“But you knew that, didn’t you?”
She twists her mouth sideway and takes a deep breath, exhaling slowly, bracing herself against what lies ahead.


After more than an hour, she is called in. I am told to wait outside. Initially, I am happy for the free time – I write, edit some documents and study French.

An orderly comes and sits at a table between the women patient row and the row of those accompanying them. He props his legs up on the table.

“Nice movie?” he points to my laptop.
“I’m not watching a movie.”
Nor am I interested in small talk.

He turns on a small TV mounted in the corner of the waiting room. A crass soap opera about gold-­‐miners starts blaring.

I start feeling impatient and anxious. A man takes a seat next to me, turning his head to the TV, shaking his knee nervously. Somewhere, a woman lets out a loud, agonized scream.

I get up and start pacing around. I call my mother and tell her what is happening. I call Rose’s mother. She doesn’t speak English, but I speak Spanish.

“Rose may be giving birth today, either naturally or via C-­‐section.”

She is not surprised. She tells me of a dream she had last night: she is with Rose by a clear, flowing river, in the woods. Rose is on her way somewhere. She clasps her hand.

Rose turns to her.

We talk about something else for a bit. I tell her I want to end the call. She says, “Vayan con dios,” and puts the phone down. Go with God.

I go out to the car for a drink of water and some fresh air. I walk back up to admissions, taking the stairs this time. The unfriendly man from earlier is gone, replaced by a younger, more amenable man. I ask him to bring a bottle to Rose -­‐-­‐ she must be thirsty by now. I walk around, stopping in front of the examination room.

“No peeking!” a midwife admonishes me from within.

I drift back to my seat.

Finally, they call me in.

Behind a curtain, Rose is in a hospital gown, lying down on her back, on a hospital bed. Under the bed, on the floor, there’s a clear plastic bag containing her clothes with a barcode patient sticker on it. A young, bright looking woman in a doctor’s gown is standing on the other side of the bed. She looks like she works hard and takes her work seriously. Rose seems to be at ease with her – meaning that I should let my defenses down. I don’t. I am apprehensive. We introduce ourselves and shake hands. I place my hand on Rose’s forearm.

“Your wife is doing well. We’ve done an ultrasound -­‐-­‐ the twins are also looking healthy and good, but they are both breech – feet down. I’ve examined her myself, and I can feel a foot close to the cervix; we don’t know where the other foot is -­‐-­‐ we couldn’t determine from the scan-­‐-­‐”
Rose experiences another contraction. She is closing her eyes, breathing deeply. The two of us remain silent until she opens her eyes again.
“…your wife is in the early stages of labor. Born vaginally, the twins could get obstructed or entangled; they could suffocate and die. Since this isn’t her first time giving birth, her labor will most likely progress very quickly. I strongly advise an emergency C-­section.”

My mind is racing. This woman knows what she is talking about, but I am wary when it comes to hospitals. This is a lot -­‐-­‐ a lot -­‐-­‐ to take in at once; I need some time to process it.

“Thank you, doctor,” I smile politely. “That was very informative.”
My eyes move back and forth between the two of them.
“Would you mind if I take a moment to confer with my wife, and then make some phone calls?”
She, too, smiles politely.
“Not a problem. I’ll be over there. Feel free to call me if you have any questions.”

She steps out. Rose and I are alone, separated from the bustle and drama of orderlies, midwives, doctors, and laboring women by a thin, white curtain. Rose looks serene, her features soft. I lean down and kiss her forehead.

“What do you think about all of this? Do you agree with everything she says?”
“Yes, Ben. When I came in she seemed very keen on me having a natural birth. They’ve all been very happy with how calm I am, saying I would make an ideal patient for a natural birth. But after seeing that the twins are both breech, and explaining the risks…”
A woman on the other side of the curtain says something in a clicking, African language.
“But I don’t agree with all of this rushing. I’d like to take my time and… wait-­‐”
Her eyes close, and she clasps my hand. A contraction. She breathes in and out slowly.
“-­‐let the labor progress. I was trying to get them to calm down, take it easy – I don’t like this rushing energy. I’d like to experience labor. I don’t want to be operated on right now. I think they’re being paranoid… it’s okay if it waits a couple of hours.”
“You mean that even if it’s a C-­‐section, you want it to be in context… with your body naturally ready to give birth…”
“Yes, exactly.”
“Hmmm… I still want to call Robyn and the midwife… for my own sake, to make sure this is all okay.”


In our last scan, about three weeks ago, both of the twins were breech.

“Unless they turned,” the doctor attending us was explaining, “Rose would need a C-­‐section. But they have time, even up to the birth itself. It’s just going to get increasingly difficult for them to turn, because they’re getting bigger…”

We tried many things to get them to turn: we prayed; we visualized them turning; we asked them to turn, explaining to them why it’s necessary; we played music for them close to Rose’s cervix in a ruse to draw their heads there, making them turn; I spoke to them through Rose’s vagina – Ben, what are you doing?! They won’t hear me otherwise!; Rose was instructed by a Shiatsu therapist to practice moxibustion on the small toe of each of her feet daily, which she dutifully performed for several days, at the appointed, auspicious time of day.

We even tried the advice of a witch doctor: one evening, after Soham had fallen asleep, as we sat down opposite each other in the living room, I dimmed the lights, and turned two eggs in a bowl filled with water while gazing at her intently.


“These twins are as stubborn as the rest of the family, and they haven’t even been born yet!” I say.

Our laughter ebbs away, slowly replaced by the gravity of the situation.

I hug her. Another contraction. She seems so serene, so centered through it all. Her acceptance and peace inspire me.

“Okay, let me go and call them – Robyn and the midwife. I’ll be right back.”

Robyn used to be a midwife. Now she works around birthing and parenting – empowering parents-­‐to-­‐be by teaching gentle, conscious ways to prepare for birth. Five years ago, we read her book about birthing, “The Mama Bamba Way”, and liked it so much that we decided -­‐-­‐ on a whim -­‐-­‐ to come to South Africa and participate in one of her antenatal preparation courses. If it weren’t for that, we probably wouldn’t have decided to come birth in South Africa, all these years later. Robyn was also to be Rose’s doula for the birth.

I can’t get a hold of Marianne – our midwife – but Robyn, who answers her phone, confirms what the doctor has said: considering the presentation, and the fact that these are twins (rather than a singleton), attempting a natural delivery is too risky.

I come back to Rose, and tell her what Robyn said. We call the doctor back, and explain how Rose is feeling, how she would like more time. The doctor listens to me, looks at Rose for confirmation, and says that as long as it is not too much time, and the surgeon – who should be out of the theater room soon – agrees, there shouldn’t be a problem. She leaves -­‐-­‐ there are other women around us requiring care.

I look at the time. 3 PM already. No wonder I’m feeling so hungry. I ask Rose if she’d like to have some lunch. She can’t – no eating before surgery. She tells me I should go eat, and get some maternity pads and premature baby diapers on the way back. Premature baby diapers… Is this really happening? So soon?


Going out of the hospital, I expect to feel more clarity regarding the unfolding of events. I don’t. Instead, I feel an admixture of excitement and apprehension:
Yay, the twins are coming! But… What are the risks associated with surgery, will Rose be okay? Are they really going to cut her belly up?

I make it back to the hospital at around 4:30. It takes me longer than I thought because of the traffic and I have an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach, worrying I might be late. I run up the stairs, arriving at admissions slightly out of breath.

I am not late. Rose is still inside. I take a seat outside and wait.

A woman, lying on her side facing away from me, is being wheeled out.

Hey, that’s Rose! My heart sinks. I get up and walk over to her other side so she can see me.

Her thick, curly hair is unruly under the hospital cap.
“Hey, my Love, how are you?”
“I’m fine.”
“You look so peaceful and enlightened!”
“I am,” she smiles. “I’ve been making everybody laugh!”
I smile at her and feel my eyes moisten. The orderly starts pushing her toward a pair of revolving doors at the end of the corridor.
“Are they going to operate on her now?” I ask him. “Yes.”
The wheels of the bed emit a funny squeaking sound. “I love you,” I tell Rose.
Love knows not its depth until the hour of surgery.

I place my hand on her shoulder and walk with her towards the end of the corridor. The doors swing open just before we reach them. There’s a man standing on the other side; he does not look happy.

“Why are you bringing a patient in?”
“We were told to bring-­‐-­‐-­‐“
“No one said to bring a patient in. Take her back!” he barks at them, and disappears whence he came, doors swinging behind him.
“She’s a human being, you know.” I interject. The comment feels appropriate, and yet inappropriate.

Rose is taken through a side door to a spacious room with a single bed in its center and medical paraphernalia behind it. They carefully lift and place her on the other bed, and then try to adjust its height.

Part of the mechanism drops suddenly with a loud metallic clang.
“Be careful, you’ll break it!” one of them says.
“You’ll break me!” Rose says.
We all laugh; the tension from the incident at the revolving doors subsides.

A nurse straps two heart monitors onto Rose’s belly – one for each twin.

“This way we can monitor them, to see if they become distressed,” she explains.
“When will they bring me in?”
“You are at the top of the list.”
“How long?”

They tell her they don’t know -­‐ something about an anesthetist borrowed from another hospital so they could open another operating theater because today is especially busy and crazy.

”We are doing what is best for the babies, my dear,” a stocky woman – a nurse -­­‐ with short hair and a round face says.
“What about the Mama,” Rose says. “Doesn’t she count?”
“No, only the babies.”
“They both count, the babies and the Mama.”
“No, my dear, we have to do what is best for the babies, you are not important.”
“It’s okay, you are right and I am right.” Rose says with a smile, and takes the nurse’s hand in hers, rubbing it gently.
“Naughty, naughty patient you are,” the nurse shakes her hand from side to side, smiling.


They have all left, and I am relieved, happy be able to spend some time alone with Rose. For the most part, I didn’t get to accompany her throughout the labor.

I take a photo of Rose and show it to her. She looks ridiculous with her tight, curly hair escaping the fringes of the cap. We laugh. I bring a chair and sit next to her.

We start talking about something insignificant. Rose has another contraction, shushing me. We try again, but there’s another contraction soon after. Rose is writhing and groaning. Her contractions are becoming increasingly intense.

“I feel so uncomfortable. These heart monitors on my belly… so uncomfortable…” her eyes are half-­‐closed. “Take them off.”
“What? Really? Won’t we get in trouble?”
“I don’t care. I want them off. I’ll say they came off because I was moving around.”

There is gel on my fingers after I remove them. The belts would never have come off on their own: they are buttoned in. Rose breathes in relief.

But now she is shivering. It is not cold in the room. I wrap her legs with my sweater. She’s still cold. I stand up, walk to the next room, and ask someone for a blanket.

“Better?” I ask, after wrapping her carefully.
She nods.

Another contraction surges through her. She moans loudly. She wants to sit up but can’t – there’s a short IV tube stuck in her hand. She is extremely uncomfortable. It is painful seeing her like this.

“If only I could walk around and move freely…” her voice is but a whisper. I feel helpless, crestfallen.

Another contraction. They are too close together now; the labor is progressing rapidly.

“Ben, I think you should call someone.”

I get up to look for someone. I try telling a nurse and an orderly but no one seems to care -­‐-­‐ they just tell me we have to keep waiting. I go back to Rose.

Another long, intense contraction.

She says they’re painful now, as if something is being obstructed inside. Something is wrong: the contractions are too intense, and if she was supposed to be the next one to go into surgery, too much time has passed – at least 30 minutes.

I stand up, feeling resolved to make something happen, and try again to get someone to come. Two women come over. One of them is the lady who told Rose that she is not important.

“Why are the heart monitors not on? We have to be able to monitor the heartbeat of the babies!” the nurse whose hand Rose rubbed earlier says.
“I couldn’t move… I wasn’t feeling comfortable…”
“We can’t do our work if the monitors are not on,” she says, acrimoniously. I feel tense.
“Listen, please listen to me. I’m having very intense contractions. I think I should be brought inside. When can you bring me inside?”
“I don’t know. We can’t say. We serve a very large area, you know… another woman was transferred, bleeding… her babies were in distress. Your babies are not in distress, you are okay,” she says, her tone sharp and admonishing. This feels wrong – a laboring woman should not be spoken to in this way.

She starts off on another rant. Meanwhile Rose is writhing in pain. This is starting to feel like a nightmare. I am deeply concerned for Rose’s well-­‐being. She needs help, now. I look up at the other woman who came with the nurse, pleadingly. She starts saying something but the stocky nurse interrupts her. I turn to look at Rose, trying to cocoon her into safety with my intentions, while the nurse continues on her diatribe. I feel absolutely dreadful inside.

Now she wants to examine Rose. Rose will never let this woman touch her. Never.

“Unless you allow me to examine you, we cannot do anything for you,” she says, threatening.

Another intense contraction; Rose writhes and breathes her way through it. I am desperate.

“You said she was next in line, but now you’re telling us you have to examine her before doing anything,” I say. “What is happening here?”
“We do what is right for the babies,” she says, repeating that hollow mantra.
“Your babies are fine.”
“Does she look fine?” I point at Rose.
“Yes, her babies are fine.”
This is useless. I decide to try something else.
“Where’s the doctor who examined her earlier, in admissions?”
“She’s busy right now in theater. She won’t come and see you. She is doing something import-­‐”

And just then, like a ray of light piercing through storm clouds, the doctor materializes along with another capable looking woman. The obnoxious woman and her colleague leave.

I am immensely, indescribably, grateful.

“Hi Rose, how are you feeling?” she asks gently.
“Very intense. I think the babies are coming. If you’re going to operate on me, now’s the time.”
Roes is lucid -­‐-­‐ she knows what is required.
“Okay, but we can’t bring you in just yet. There was a woman who was transferred to us. She was bleeding profusely…. We had to let her in before you.
Can you please let me examine you?”
“If you can’t do the C-­‐section now,” Rose says, impatiently, avoiding the question, “transfer me somewhere else where they can!”
Rose wants her babies delivered safely, now; nothing else will do.
“Well, we have other options. We could inject you with something that will stop the contractions and prevent you from dilating further.”
“How long will it last? What are the side-­‐effects? Will it interfere with the anesthetics that you’ll be giving me for the C-­‐section?”
I am impressed by how present and thoughtful Rose is.
“It’ll give us an hour – enough time… It won’t interfere with anything. It’s 100% safe. I promise you…”
I am so happy that this doctor is taking Rose seriously.
“But we need to examine you first.”

Another strong contraction. We all wait through it.
“But look at me, is it really necessary to examine me? Isn’t it obvious?”

Rose does not want anybody’s hand inside of her – be it friend or foe. She wants to be taken to the operating theater, now.

The doctor turns to her colleague.
“Can’t we just give it to her? She looks like she’s in the final stages of labor.”
“No, we need to examine her first.” her colleague responds, loyal to protocol.


“Rose, my Love, let’s just let them do this,” I say, trying to reason with her. “Regardless of what happens next they need to examine you.”

Reluctantly, she nods consent.

We act swiftly – all of us -­‐-­‐ getting her on her back – she was on her side -­‐-­‐ while the capable colleague slaps a glove on. In goes her hand. Rose groans painfully and tries to remove the hand. The doctor and I restrain her.

The capable colleague palpates something inside; her expression changes.

“There’s a foot coming through. I’m going to have to keep my hand inside. SOMEONE GET READY TO REPLACE MY HAND INSIDE!”

“CAN I GET A NURSE IN HERE -­‐-­‐ NOOOOW!” the friendly doctor shouts down the corridor.

A nurse shows up. They wheel Rose in through the revolving doors. Apparently, they have just finished with the woman who was bleeding heavily. The timing of this all, is frighteningly, maddeningly, critical.

“You have to change before you can go into the operating theater,” someone says and points to a door.

I hurry inside, wear scrubs over my clothes, and put my hair under a cap. I dash into the operating theater.


Someone else has her hand inside of Rose now – the OB in charge of delivery.

Rose is lying on her back on a large bed in the center of the room, legs spread apart, surrounded by at least five people.

“Are you the father?” someone asks me.
I nod.
“Come support her neck!”

I rush over to Rose, take her hand in mine, and hold her neck up with my other hand.

“You’re going to have to push now,” the OB says.
“Push? I thought we’re doing a C-‐section!” Rose is confused.
“It’s too late, we don’t have time for that. You’re going to deliver these babies vaginally, now.”
“Will the babies be okay?”
“Yes. Push!”

A contraction surges through her. She groans, and pushes. Meanwhile, the OB has managed to locate the other foot -­‐-­‐ the one that was being obstructed against the cervix, causing Rose so much pain. This is good.

Two miniscule feet pop out. This is happening incredibly fast.

Ironically, this is exactly like those melodramatic hospital birthing scenes in the movies: a woman lying down on a hospital bed, doctors leaning over her, enjoining her to push.

We all laugh. Laughter is a balm; it soothes anxious minds.

A brief hiatus stretches between contractions.


Rose pushes while the hand inside of her pulls. Tiny knees and thighs leave the comfort of the womb.

The third contraction follows quickly. Tiny buttocks, a penis, and a chest twist out. Lev! He came first! The vision…

Only the head is still inside. Another contraction.


The head pops out, and the OB places a tiny baby on the bed. The pediatrician steps in and quickly clamps and cuts the chord.

He’s not breathing. Is he okay? How can you tell if he’s alive or not?

Several excruciatingly long moments later, his lungs obey a perennial reflex and start pumping air. He is breathing. He is alive.

Lev starts wriggling around and emits a soft cry. The gratitude I feel is big enough to envelope the hospital. He stops crying, is lifted by the pediatrician, and placed on a small pedestal at the back of the room. There are two powerful light bulbs over it, providing warmth, and a host of medical devices by its side.


Harmony is still inside of Rose, and the OB does not want to waste any time delivering her in case she is distressing.

“Time for the other one – are you ready?”
“What?” Rose says, “But isn’t the other baby going to be delivered via a C-­section?” she is confused.
I empathize with her – she’s been through so much.
“No, you are going to push the other baby out, right now”

Rose turns her head to me and asks, pleadingly, “How is Lev?”

I go to where the OB has placed Lev. He is tiny and precious. The pediatrician is busy poking and prodding him. She attaches him to several devices for the purpose of monitoring his life signals -­‐-­‐ making sure there is nothing critical to attend to. I gently place my index finger in his palm. Tiny fingers curl around it; he is calm.

“How’s my baby? Is my baby okay?”

I pull my finger out from Lev’s grip. I’ll be back soon. He does not want to let go; his grip is strong. I walk back to Rose and reassume my place, holding her hand and supporting her neck.

“He’s perfectly fine my Love,” I reassure her, “you’re doing absolutely great.”

Exactly 8 minutes and 3 contractions after Lev, Harmony is born -­‐-­‐ much in the same manner as Lev – with the OB locating both feet and pulling her out while Rose pushes.

Cord clamped and cut, and the same primordial urge coaxing her lungs into life, she is placed next to Lev. They rest their arms on each other’s chests. They look serene together: having spent 34 weeks together, I imagine that being with one another brings comfort, solace. Will they always have this effect on each other?

“Okay, my dear, only the placentas left now,” the OB says.

The placentas are pushed out quickly, with relative ease, like an afterthought. An assistant sutures Rose – she tore slightly while pushing Lev out.

Rose looks tired. Tired but relieved.

“You did it!” I smile at her while caressing her face. “You did so well!”
“How are they?”
“They are absolutely gorgeous.”

She can’t see them from where she is. I go back, take a photo of them with my phone, and show it to her. She smiles. Her eyes soften, and she lets her head fall back onto the bed. She has just performed one of the most wondrous, astonishing and arduous feats of her life.

I go back to the twins and gaze at them. Everything happened so quickly, and the shift between the hopelessness of the situation while we were waiting to be called in to the operating theater, to the urgency, then the crescendo, and finally the catharsis -­‐-­‐ is too much to take in at once.


“Thank you everybody!” I look each and every one of the doctors and assistants in the eyes. I am filled with gratitude.

But we are not in the clear, not just yet. Because they are premature, the pediatrician has to ascertain whether or not their lungs are developed enough for them to breathe on their own. Lev is fine, but Harmony is struggling, her breathing fast and irregular, her oxygen levels slightly low.

The pediatrician’s assistant gently places Lev on Rose’s chest.

Rose looks at him, her face glowing. “Ben,” she says, while still examining him, “he looks like Soham!”

They place Rose on a different bed, and wheel her out to a recovery room somewhere else.

Harmony is placed in an incubator, tiny tubes affixed to her nostrils -­­‐ oxygen to help her breathe. Fortunately, Rose can go and see Harmony, hold her, and allow her to nurse, whenever she wants – Harmony will not spend her first night alone.

The medical team starts preparing the operating room for the next patient – blood is mopped from the floor and bed sheets are changed. I am asked to leave the room.

For us, this has been a momentous, singular event in our lives. For them, it is but one in a series of cases -­­‐ some uneventful, some straddling life and death.

Outside the operating theater, the pediatrician is seated next to a desk. Harmony is in an incubator beside her.

“May I put my hand inside and touch her?”

“Yes, you may.”

I spend about twenty minutes resting my hand on her chest, feeling her little heart fluttering, while the pediatrician finishes writing her report. I must get going – I need to make sure Rose is okay and then go and fetch Soham. I want to tell him of everything that has happened and to assure him that all is fine. With my touch and my intentions, I communicate to Harmony that she is loved, and that this momentary separation from her parents is insignificant in the greater scheme of things.


The birth transpired in a wildly different way than how we had thought it would: we imagined candle‐lit, tenebrous privacy, soft, soothing music playing in the background, a meditative ambiance, and a thoughtful, caring support-­‐team that would uphold our intentions with sacredness and love -­­‐ all in the comfort of our home. Instead, we got 7 hours in the hospital, in which we experienced the whole range of human emotions and attitudes, both ours and those of others – from bleak desolation to elation and triumph, from being treated horribly and obnoxiously to compassionate, capable and professional care, and from long hours of waiting to the most intense, critical and event‐laden minutes of our lives.


interpersonal hypnotherapist


As a certified birth and postpartum doula, lactation counselor, and hypnotherapist, I specialize in using Hypnotherapy to enhance the childbirth experience. I offer both in-person and virtual sessions to guide you in connecting with a deep inner state of calm and ease during labor, no matter where you are. My sessions in Soul Connections and Clinical Hypnotherapy are designed to release fear and tension, nurturing a profound, meaningful connection with your baby. With my expertise in Transpersonal Hypnotherapy and Soul Integration, I help you connect with your inner wisdom, empowering you to become a mindful, present, and spiritually aware parent. My holistic approach supports you in cultivating trust and confidence throughout your pregnancy, birth, and beyond.


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