When you hear about triplet births, many people assume that it means an automatic c-section should be performed.
But, Australian mother, Chenoa Trama who gave birth to “The Trama Trio” last month had other ideas.
She’d birthed her other two babies at home with the assistance of a midwife, and while she did think about birthing the triplets at home, she decided to find a doctor who would support her plan to birth her babies naturally.
Isaac, Dyland and Ailah were born within 14 minutes of each other on September 5th, 2012 and even though Chenoa and husband Daniel’s lives are now super-busy they want to share their message that Triplets can be born naturally!
Tracey (Natural Childbirth World): Tell us a little bit about your family life prior to becoming parents to triplets.
Chenoa (Triplet Mama): My husband, Daniel and I have been together for 11 years, married for three.
We are 30 and 31 and have two other children – Jordan (5) and Amali (3).
We live on a property on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast (Australia), with lots of room for horseriding and riding motorbikes.
I graduated as a primary school teacher in 2010 and worked as a supply teacher until I found out I was pregnant – with triplets on Februrary 21st 2012. What a shock!
Tracey (Natural Childbirth World): Were they conceived naturally or through IVF?
Chenoa (Triplet Mama): The triplets were spontaneously conceived (naturally).
Tracey (Natural Childbirth World): Do you have multiples in your family?
Chenoa (Triplet Mama): I have an aunt and uncle who are twins but that’s it!
Tracey (Natural Childbirth World): How many weeks were you when you found out you were pregnant? … and tell us a bit about what you were feeling etc.
Chenoa (Triplet Mama): When I first found out, I was 6.4 weeks along and it was a routine dating scan. I saw two sacks straight away which confirmed my thoughts that we were having twins.
I had not been able to sleep on my stomach since before I found out I was pregnant, it just didn’t feel right and I just had this feeling that this pregnancy was different.
I could also see a very blurry 3rd sac but the sonographer didn’t mention it.
I had to have an internal scan to check for heart beats in the sacs and as soon as that image came up on the screen there were clearly 3 sacs with 3 heart beats. The sonographer said, ‘well, there’s definitely 2 heart beats, and there’s a third!’
I swore, then apologised, then swore and apologised! I had a little teary moment, took a big breath and thought ‘ok. Here we go, lets do this’.
My husband wasn’t there (he was working away that week) so I had to break it to him over the phone. He was having smoko (a break) with his work mates and all I could hear was them hilariously laughing in the background once he told them. Needless to say he didn’t finish his lunch!
He was in so much shock that he then announced it on Facebook! The kids were so excited! But we had had a friend who had an early loss recently so I reminded them of that and that anything could happen. I am very open with my children.
Tracey (Natural Childbirth World): Tell us a little bit about your other children.
Chenoa (Triplet Mama): Jordan and Amali were both planned home water births with a private midwife. They were amazing experiences that I cherish deeply.
This was my biggest reason for choosing a natural birth. I couldn’t fathom having to recover from a c-section with 3 babies to care for, and I am petrified of having an epidural! And probably very stubborn too!
The benefits of having them vaginally far out weigh the ‘risks’ in my opinion.
I’m not sure of the official terminology, but when a baby is birthed vaginally their lungs are squeezed out which assists thsir breathing, making it far less likely that they would need ventilation or CPAP.
Also, all the hormonal processes they go through during labour assist them in those first few hours and days – something they do not get if they are pulled out of a tummy! This helps their ability to breast feed, and my ability to produce milk quickly – which I needed a lot of!
I did my own research, mainly faithful Google, but I also have a friend who works in medicine and she trawled databases for me. There are many articles out there that clearly state if vaginal birth is possible, it is better than a c-section.
Tracey (Natural Childbirth World): What other support networks did you have in your pregnancy?
Chenoa (Triplet Mama): I also joined international triplet groups and spoke to other mums who have had their babies vaginally.
Unfortunately most people do assume an automatic c-section. That is terrible!
C-sections definitely have their place and serve a great purpose. But why do you need to be told at 6 weeks that you are having one!? Multiples can be birthed naturally, and there are huge benefits.
However, finding a supportive OB is the tricky part.
A friend of mine is onto her 5th hospital in the search for a supportive OB. She’s 31 weeks pregnant with triplets. That’s cutting it a little close, but she is determined and desperately wants a vaginal birth.
There are a few women in Australia that I am in contact with who had their triplets vaginally, I gathered lots of info from them to help me.
I found an amazingly supportive OB, Dr Ted Weaver who said ‘why not?’ when I told him if I wanted to have them vaginally. He has attended a few vaginal triplet births, and c-sections, so he was the best of the best in my opinion.
He was fantastic, putting meetings together with staff to discuss the birth and all the possibilities of things that could go wrong. He was very thorough with me and we went over the birth plan and alternate options many times leading up to the big day.
I also kept my home birth midwife on board for this pregnancy, it would have felt rather weird if she had not have been there! I was very lucky that my OB was at my local hospital.
I initially went to Brisbane thinking they would let me, but was told by a lovely OB down there that he would have loved to have let me, but the higher powers would say a definite no. He was the one who got me on to Dr Weaver at Nambour, I am forever grateful for him for that!
My friends and family took it as a given! I think they were just glad I didn’t say I wanted to have them at home – which I did consider!
Unfortunately I didn’t always feel supported.
Having a c-section is considered the ‘norm’ for triplets. Birthing them the way nature intended is not the ‘norm’.
I am part of a wonderful Facebook group for Higher Order Multiples (HOMs – triplets and above) and they are extremely supportive but when I spoke on there about vaginal birth I was made to feel sometimes like I was endangering my babies or that I was trying to ‘be better’ than the others and I felt like I had no one to speak to.
Myself and another triplet mum created the ‘Birthing Multiples Naturally’ Facebook group, where it was a safe and supportive place to chat about our births or the birth we hoped for. We have midwives and doulas on there too, and are growing steadily. It is a great group! Once I had given birth the support was overwhelming, and it came from all directions.
Leading up to the birth (for months actually) I would visualise birthing my babies at night.
My OB and I would go over the birth each week, making sure we both understood and respected each others wishes. My home birth midwife and I discussed the breech baby and they way he would be born. I was very supported from the medical side of things!
Tracey (Natural Childbirth World): Can you please share your labour and birth story?
Chenoa (Triplet Mama): On Wednesday morning I made (yes, made) my poor, suffering husband do the deed – first time in a long time, then sent him on his merry way to work.
I dropped the kids at school/kindy and made my way home to await the arrival of Emily Black, my birth photographer who was flying up from Melbourne for the birth.
Meantime, my best friend, Taryn came around to straighten my hair and spend some time with me.
Yes. Straighten my hair. Trust me, I’m really not much of a girly girl but I figured I wanted my hair to look nice for the photos. Taryn knows me so well – I was going to ask her but she beat me to it!
While we were waiting for Emily to arrive I was getting little tightenings which continued throughout the day.
Danielle, my home birth midwife also arrived, followed shortly after by Emily. I’d never met Emily, but we clicked straight away and the whole birth team, (apart from Daniel) got to spend some time together before the big event.
Danielle gave me a stretch and sweep which made me begin to loose my mucus plug for the next few hours. I was determined these babies would be born tonight!
Emily did a few maternity shots around our property, all the time worried about me walking – walking is good to bring on labour!
That evening I sat down with the breast pump and began pumping 5 minutes on and 10 minutes off.
As I went to put the 3rd round on, I got a great contraction – wahooo – this was working!
During the third round I got another one and during the fourth, at about 8:04 my waters broke!
Needless to say, I was stoked! I said ‘honey, my waters just broke!’ He pretty much jumped up and said ‘have you called the hospital?’
I started to reassure him that all was ok, I’d call and discuss with Danielle first.
Then I tried to explain it to Amali who had snuck out for a cuddle with Daddy on the couch. I told her the babies were in balloons in my tummy that were filled with water and one had just popped. She took it all in her stride and went back to bed.
Danielle and I agreed that it would be best to wait maybe half an hour and see what the contractions did. I started to gather the rest of the things I’d need all the while stopping and easily breathing through the contractions which I could feel were opening up my cervix really well!
I decided to ring the hospital at 8:36 and they said to come on in. I reminded them that Dr Weaver had agreed to come in when I called and to please ring him.
I’d also called Taryn and Emily and my Mum by this stage. Daniel went to get dressed and he really didn’t take very long but I had 3 contractions during that time. They weren’t intense, I could easily breathe through them but their speed was what was concerning me.
By the time Mum had arrived, we we were ready to get in the car and they were 3 minutes apart.
Just as I was about to climb into the front seat (with Daniel’s help of course), I got another, more intense contraction that made me breathe harder and faster.
This was not a cervix contraction. This was different!
I started to think maybe things were happening a lot faster than I thought.
Now, if you have seen our driveway you’ll know what I mean – it was torture!
It’s 1km long, straight, flat but with lots of pot holes and bumps.
And … I was sitting on a car seat, not standing like I would like to during a contraction. Daniel ended up doing about 5km/hr.
We eventually got on the bitumen and during contractions I tried to get Daniel to calm down. ‘Take 10 deep breaths honey’ to which he replied. ’3 will do’. And then did 3 rather shallow breaths! Mind you it did seem to do the trick.
It takes us about 20 minutes to get to the hospital from our place and in the last 10 minutes I had 8 contractions.
Some were cervix contractions, some were far more intense, and I tried so hard to not increase my breathing for fear of freaking Daniel out even more (You have to remember that this was a new experience for us, as both Jordan and Amali were home births!).
We got to the large set of lights near the hospital and it was red. ‘Run the light’ I said. Daniel took one look at me and politely obliged with a look of terror on his face!
We pulled up at emergency and he grabbed me a wheel chair and a lovely lady on her coffee break to us through a side entrance so I didn’t have to go through the ER.
I continued having contractions on the way up to birth suite, and Daniel wheeled me into our room, number 6. I asked where they wanted me and was told to hop onto the bed so they could do an internal and find out how far along I am. I joked that they’d find a head. How true that statement was about to become!
As I stood up on from the wheelchair a whopper of a contraction came over me. I looked up at the Registrar and Midwife who were in the room so far and in me most demanding voice said:
“I need to push. NOW.”
Honestly, the looks on their faces said it all. Oh Fuck!
I started pushing and could feel Isaac descending through the birth canal. At this point Daniel walked back in from depositing the wheelchair took one look at my face and new what was happening. Then there were people everywhere.
‘Where’s the Paeds team?’
‘Are the OBs here yet?’
‘Get her on the bed’
You can imagine their panic! It affected me for a few minutes until my birth team walked in, Danielle, Emily and Taryn.
Danielle had been at my last 2 births, we knew each other well. She could tell I was a tad shocked and scared that it was all happening too fast, she said nothing, she couldn’t reach out to me, but the look on her face calmed me instantly.
The staff were brilliant, but I could tell they were shitting themselves really!
During contractions I had a guy putting a cannula in my arm and a midwife trying to strap 2 CTG monitors onto me – not part of the birth plan Ted and I had agreed on.
I started arguing with her that this was not needed and they should be using a doppler. In the end neither of them got turned on.
They got me on the bed, and without having seen the video, I’d say I had 3 or 4 more pushing contractions and he was out.
There was no pain, only pressure.
I felt him crown, then his little body came and he was handed to me. He was just perfect!
I got to spend a few moments with him and then the next few waves of contractions started to they took him and checked him over before passing him to Daniel.
I was always sure it would be Ailah who came out second, but it ended up being Dylan, 11 minutes after Isaac.
They scanned me and he was right there, but they couldn’t quite tell if they were looking at a bum or a head! So an internal soon proved that it was a bum.
Ted had told me they’d put me in stirrups for the breech birth, and they did. It was quite candid, there was the Registrar and a midwife telling me to ‘push, push push’, and being quite intense about it, and then next to them was another midwife saying ‘just wait for the contraction and push when it’s right’.
Needless to say I focused on her. I even vaguely remember someone counting to 10 near my head.
It was a bit weird, I felt like I was on an episode for One Born Every Minute!
No one has ever told me when to push – really – who needs that unless they have an epi in place!!
It wasn’t until later when Emily showed me a pic of him entering the world that I realised he was a double footling breech! I hadn’t even realised I had pushed out his legs. I heard them say ‘here comes a bum’ and although I kept pushing it didn’t feel like anything was happening – but it was – and he slid out easily.
He was passed to me and I got my hands around him but they soon realised that he needed a little help so they took him back without him getting to cuddle. At least I got to touch him
He needed CPAP for a few minutes and was a little stressed so they took him straight to Special Care Nursery (SCN) and I sent Daniel with him.
While Dylan was on CPAP, Ailah made her entrance. Very, very fast! Exactly 3 minutes after Dylan came out to be precise.
Again, they gave me an internal and there she was. That was probably the only thing I was slightly concerned about – how they would all line up – but I needn’t have worried.
She probably came out within 2 contractions and that was it!
She was placed on my chest for a cuddle before being taken away and I was handed Isaac back, nicely wrapped up.
They asked me if I wanted the Synto injection to assist in the placental delivery, and I had already agreed with Ted that I’d do this as I didn’t want to risk a post partum hemorrhage and not be there for my babies.
I’m not sure exactly how long the placentas took, but it wasn’t long!
The babies had all been taken up to the SCN by this stage so I got to have a good look at the placentas while the midwife examined them.
Isaac and Ailah’s had fused together and Dylan’s was joined by some membrane. The three of them made one huge mass, it was quite amazing to see and know that it had been in there too!
So, I guess you are all dying to know – where was Dr Ted??
The whole time I was labouring I was thinking the same thing.
The on call OB walked in between Dylan and Ailah, 2 other paediatricians walked in towards the end – all dressed in their street clothes – as they had been called in…..but never Dr Ted.
I was a bit too concerned with other matters to start asking where he was, so I let it slide and figured I ask in the morning.
So, who do you think popped his head in my room the next morning? – yup – Dr Ted.
I said ‘where the bloody hell were you last night!?’ His reply – ‘they didn’t call me’.
Well, to say that my jaw dropped would have been an understatement.
He went on to say that he thought it must have happened too quickly so that’s why they hadn’t called him.
Then I explained I had called them an hour before arriving at the hospital and reminded them to call him.
I think he was a bit shocked to say the least. I felt for him. He had agreed to let me have this birth, we had a great relationship going throughout my pregnancy, and then he was let down by someones stuff up.
I don’t think much would have gone differently, but I’d say the staff would have been calmer with him rather than a Registrar, and maybe Dylan’s birth would have been a little more ‘hands off’, but all the babies are healthy and safe, as am I.
It had all happened mind blowingly fast, a little too fast, as I spent the next hour or so with my legs shaking uncontrollably! But I had done it, I got the vaginal birth I wanted!
Here are the stats:
- labour started just before 8pm on Wednesday 5th September
- waters broke around 8:04pm
- rang the hospital at 8:36pm
- arrived at the hospital at 9:30pm
- Isaac arrived at 9:46pm
- Dylan arrive at 9:57pm, 11 minutes after his brother
- Ailah arrived at 10:00pm, 3 minutes after her brother
You can follow the Trama Family journey at Chenoa’s blog HERE
WOW! What an amazing story Chenoa! – Thank you so much for being so generous with your precious (and probably limited) time and sharing it with us.
I know your story will help many women pregnant with multiples start to ask their care providers questions and look into natural birthing as an option.
But, it will also inspire women just like me who only had one baby to understand the power and fulfillment from labouring without intervention.
QUESTIONS: If you have a comment or question for Chenoa, please write it in the comments section below.