Surprise TWINS !! The Keystone Cops Episode
One gorgeous lazy summer day in 1976– I got the call from the OB office (across the street) about 11 am.
Office Nurse: [matter of fact voice] “We’re sending over a woman with twins.”
Me: [Calmly] “Ok. Is she is labor?
Office: [still matter of factly] “She’s in very active labor, Dr. B just checked her and she’s 8cm.”
Me: [A little less calmly] “Whooo.. really?? We don’t have a doctor over here. Make sure Dr. B knows that. We’ll go get things ready. How far along is she?” (in the pregnancy)
Office:“She’s about 8 months maybe 35/36 weeks….. we aren’t quite sure, she just came into town– to the university — and this is actually her first visit”
Me: [Quickly] “Well — Ok- thanks, better get rolling! ”
Me- To our group: “Guys- we’ve got twins in active labor coming from office right now- she’s already 8cm!”
In those days, twins were always expected to be delivered vaginally.. I never even thought to ask about which pregnancy this was, presentation, (head down? breech?), membranes ruptured?……. not that I had much time to gather any history…
We began to pull some supplies out and open up the delivery room…
The next call came in about 3 or 4 minutes—-
Office: [anxiously] “BRING EVERYTHING OVER HERE….QUICK ! THERE’S NO TIME…. SHE’S GOING TO HAVE THE TWINS HERE !” Hangs-up
We couldn’t all leave… One of the labor nurses grabbed a precip tray (small tray of emergency delivery items for a precipitous delivery) , put on a cover gown and ran down the steps to go over to the office.
The two most experienced nursery nurses grabbed two sterile newborn kits (these had sterile towels, washclothes, blankets, cotton balls, cord clamp, and a sterile shirt etc..) and a few other supplies needed to care for the babies… opened the lid of the 2 Armstrong heaters and threw everything inside. —These old heavy metal heated units would open from the top and were on small little wheels. We usually used them to transport smaller babies from the delivery room to the nursery. They were already old back then and were not real easy to push.
This all happened very fast in a couple minutes. They were gone….headed down the elevator wearing their cover gowns pushing those old heated units filled with supplies.
I stayed behind with a couple other nurses to watch our other patients. We watched from the window over looking the street.
Both nurses, running on short chubby legs were pushing those Armstrong Heaters down towards the street. (Think Danny DeVito and John Belushi in scrub dresses and nurses caps!).
One of the general surgeons had just come out of the hospital, saw what was happening and ran ahead of them right out into the middle of the busy street, held up both her hands to STOP all traffic. (Think Jane Fonda in a lab coat!) If she had a whistle–she would have used it. From my window it seemed like the Keystone Cops.
They got into the office, huffing and puffing. They told me there were a lot of people already in the tiny exam room. Dr.B had already delivered 0ne squalling baby girl probably about 4 lbs, about 4 or 5 weeks early. She was pink with a lusty cry. Dr. B was always so calm.. he was telling everyone to calm down while he tried to explain to the mother and the very faint shocked looking father that there was ANOTHER baby coming! Remember this was her first visit to our doctors? Turns out, this was her first prenatal visit ANYWHERE!! You see….although Dr. B had told his nurses to call over to us a few minutes earlier with his findings, things happened so fast there in the office that he hadn’t QUITE really explained it yet to the parents. Twins were often a surprise in those days anyway, but this poor mom and dad had really just arrived in this country, let alone get in the door of the doctors office and promptly have TWINS!.
Back to the delivery. The second baby was coming frank breech. No worries, we did that all the time. They told me Dr. B asked the labor nurse who had arrived first to open up one of the sterile packs and use one of the sterile towels to help hold the baby’s feet while he skillfully delivered the arms & then head of the second squalling 4 lb baby girl! The 2 nursery nurses wrapped up the babies in the sterile towels and wisked them both right out of there in the Armstrongs, out of the office, back to the street. (I doubt they let the mother have any time with the babies. That’s how it was then…… 😦 ) Like a well rehearsed skit, our lovely lady surgeon was waiting and once again— held up traffic so the nurses and babies crossed quickly and safely.
I watched them coming back up the sidewalk and was waiting as they got off the elevator. They asked me to then help start the admission procedures in the isolation nursery. (They were born in that “dirty” office under unsterile conditions afterall!) At that time, babies delivered outside the “sterile” hospital were always watched in the Isolation Nursery.
The mom came over by ambulance up to the delivery room to deliver her placenta (one placenta- they were indeed confirmed identical). The father was scrubbed up, gowned up and finally allowed to really see his little baby girls. I was the one to bring him over to the heaters. He was crying so hard. He was really in a state of shock and so emotional. I thought he was so shocked from the surprise of twins and the burst of frenzied excitement the birth had been……
This is when he told me that one year ago, in their country, his wife had suffered thru the birth of a stillborn baby girl ……… and now they had TWO healthy baby girls!!! Can you imagine??
This family continued to grow as they stayed in town, both studying at the university. Her next baby was 10 LBs and born by C/S….. that’s another story.