Yoga instructor Chelsea Morriss Croy shares how her belief in the strength of her own body allowed her to give birth to unexpected twins—at nearly 41 weeks! She tells Adriana Lozada how even through this unforeseen surprise, she leaned on her birth team and trusted the process.
What was the biggest surprise of your pregnancy? We’re swapping stories @birthfulpodcast on Instagram!
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Related Birthful episodes:
- The Identity Shift of Becoming a Mom
- The Problem with Due Dates
- Newborn Sugar Levels and Breastfeeding
- Is Homebirth Right for You?
- All About Midwives
- Four Reasons to Practice Mindfulness during Pregnancy, Greater Good Magazine
- Community Outreach, Waimea Yoga website
One thing you can do for you is try yoga nidra, which is sometimes nicknamed “yoga sleep”. It’s an accessible form of meditation, and the iRest certification, which Chelsea has achieved, is specifically linked to benefits for veterans who have experienced trauma. The bonus is, yoga nidra is considered useful for people who are pregnant or parents of young babies, because this kind of guided meditation can help you feel rested and maximize the little sleep you may be getting. Drop into an instructor-led class or download a yoga nidra track, and try it for yourself!
The one thing you can do for the rest of us is help support veterans’ access to therapeutic modalities like trauma-sensitive yoga for PTSD, by donating to an organization that provides community outreach. Chelsea partners with Yoga Impact, a Hawaii-local nonprofit, to provide access to her healing work, and it’s easy to donate to their effort from her website.
[Birth Stories] How Her Preparation and Intuition Got Her Through the Homebirth of Her Twins
Adriana Lozada: Welcome to Birthful. I’m Adriana Lozada.
Chelsea Morriss Croy:
He looked at her and said, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” And I just look at him, I look back at the monitor, and then I was looking up at the ceiling. I had the hot flash and I felt nauseous, and oh my God, what is happening? And I just sat there thinking, oh my God, there’s two.
Lozada: That’s Chelsea Morriss Croy, a yoga instructor and studio owner who supports veterans affected by PTSD. And Chelsea was recounting the moment she found out she was having twins at 30 weeks into her pregnancy. Even though this was a big surprise and a curve ball, it didn’t derail Chelsea’s plan for a homebirth, but it did require adding a few more people to the birth team and figuring out the details of how to birth twins at home. Also, as we’ll find out, when it came time to push, this was not the only curve ball the twins had in store. You’re listening to Birthful, here to inform your intuition. Welcome, Chelsea. It is so wonderful to have you here on the show.
Morriss Croy: Thank you, Adriana. So amazing to be here. I’m super excited.
Lozada: Yeah. And I am excited to hear your story because you had twins at home.
Morriss Croy: Yes.
Lozada: And that’s not that common. So before we get to that, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you identify.
Morriss Croy: I identify as she/her. I am from the big island of Hawaii, born and raised here, and I’m a yoga teacher and have spent the last five or so years working with veterans suffering from PTSD. I teach a guided meditation, and I also own a yoga studio here in town called Waimea Yoga. My passion is really to help people to see that they have an innate wisdom to heal their bodies, and that’s led myself through my pregnancy and birth as well, was knowing that my body was able to do all the amazing things that it actually did accomplish.
Lozada: So when you got pregnant, what were your wishes? What did you envision for your birth?
Morriss Croy: So I grew up very… We had a lot of Eastern influence in our health and wellbeing. We went to acupuncture and chiropractic and massage, and we did all that before we would go to a Western doctor. And so I always had in my mind that I would have the least intervention kind of pregnancy and birth possible. And I have a bunch of friends that had homebirths, and I thought, why not? Why not have a homebirth?
Lozada: What did you do to prepare to have that calm birth that you envisioned?
Morriss Croy: Well, I listened to hundreds of hours of your podcast, first of all, literally. I meditate regularly, so I already was envisioning having healthy babies, having a healthy natural birth. And I do a lot of self-care and self-work, so to me, there wasn’t really a question in my mind that things were going to go exactly as they should, and that I didn’t really have much control over that. I just continued my meditation practice and my journaling. And actually, before I got pregnant, I had a vision board day with some of my best friends. And it’s very interesting as we get into my story. I’m not going to tell you guys yet, but it’s very interesting looking back at what that vision board looks like now before I got pregnant and what I found out.
Lozada: Ooh. And I think that no matter what you envision, at some point pregnancy, birth throws you some curve balls. What curve balls did it throw your way?
Morriss Croy: Because I was planning a homebirth, I was working with a midwife, and I wasn’t planning on doing an ultrasound just because I was 33 at the time, healthy, everything was checking out great. My blood pressure was great. There’s no real reason for concern, except that my fundal height kept measuring quite large for my week. So I remember the first time it happened was at week 18, I measured at 24 centimeters. And if you’re not familiar, you’re supposed to be in line with your week, so at 22 weeks, you should have a 22 centimeter fundal height. So I was six centimeters bigger.
Lozada: The fundal height, for people who aren’t pregnant, it’s the measurement from your pubic bone up to where the top of your uterus is, so that as your babies grow, that also grows. Yeah. And they measure it literally with a tape measure.
Morriss Croy: A tape measure. Yeah. They’re literally… It’s not an exact science. However, six centimeters is quite a bit to be off. So she said to me, “It could be a couple of things. Either you’re further along than you think, like a month ahead, or it’s twins, or it’s your torso.” I’m pretty average size. It’s not like my torso is super short so the babies would make my belly go out significantly. So once she said I could be further along, I was like, “Uh-uh (negative). I know the day that we conceived. I could map it out for you. I for sure know the day that we conceived. I’m not further along.” So it was kind of in the back of my mind for a while that maybe it is twins, maybe it’s not. So we just kept moving forward. And my midwife said, “We’ll just keep an eye on things.” And I kept measuring big. Finally at week 28, she put her hand on my leg and she said, “Chelsea, I think you should get an ultrasound just to rule out twins.” So at 30 weeks, I wanted my husband, Cody, to come with me, and so we made it to the hospital at 30 weeks. And the ultrasound technician had the thing on my belly, and she’s moving around, and right away she said, “Oh yeah, there’s only one.” And my heart dropped. And I was like, “Huh, that’s interesting.” And then she kept mapping out my belly, and it was several minutes later that she moved up to the top left part of my abdomen, and she said, “Ha, just joking. There’s two.” And Cody’s face. He looked at her and said, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” And I just look at him, I look back at the monitor, and then I was looking up at the ceiling. I had the hot flash and I felt nauseous, and oh my God, what is happening? And I just sat there thinking, oh my God, there’s two. So we found out we were having twins at 30 weeks pregnant.
Lozada: And it seems that you already had that knowledge, that sentient knowledge in your body that there was. Did you feel that, with that disappointment, that makes sense to you?
Morriss Croy: Definitely. I think that I was mentally trying to say, “Oh, it’s only what one. It’s only one. There’s no way that there’s two.” But I think that deep down, I knew that there were twins. The vision board thing that happened was, looking back, I have all these little signs that there were two, such as I had the words printed out, make room, or leave space around the edges for unexpected joy, or coral, which our daughter’s name is Coral. So I have coral, and then I had a picture of a boy. And we’re all in this together. Just different things that was like, oh, maybe I did know subconsciously that there were going to be two instead of just one.
Lozada: Now, usually people find out if they’re having twins before 30 weeks.
Morriss Croy: Yes.
Lozada: And so almost before you can even feel baby’s movements, almost before 20 weeks, there’s that common 20 week scan. And I’m curious, how were the movements in your belly?
Morriss Croy: What was really interesting is, one thing that made me question if there was two is that I felt all the movement centrally located in my right upper ribs. And then with the ultrasound, we found out both of their sets of feet were right there. So they were just kicking and kicking, and that’s where all the action was. Every once in a while I’d feel something in my lower left pelvis or my lower right, but it was very centrally located, so that was interesting that I didn’t feel movement everywhere, but I did feel intense movement in that one area.
Lozada: So did this realization of twins at 30 weeks change your plans in any way?
Morriss Croy: No, it didn’t. Well, actually, my first thought before it was even, oh my God, we’re having twins, my first thought was, I hope I can still have a homebirth. And I texted my midwife right away, and I said, “We’re having twins. Can we still move forward?” And she said, “Yep, absolutely. As long as everything checks out okay, then we can still have a homebirth.” I was, “Oh, thank God,” because I did not want to have to go through the hospital.
Lozada: And so everything checks out okay, what does that mean?
Morriss Croy: Just that the babies were healthy, they were reacting, their heart rates were good, which was absolutely the case.
Lozada: So then, okay, everything’s looking great. You’ve adjusted mentally to twins. Your husband has adjusted more to twins.
Morriss Croy: Yeah. I think he’s still adjusting. We both are.
Lozada: Yay. And so as the day arrives, what happens?
Morriss Croy: I’ll never forget it. We had our final dinner, our last supper at my mom’s house. She lives right next door. My sister was in town, so we had a family dinner and I, I had been saying for weeks, “Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night,” because everybody says that twins come early. Little did I know, diving into more research about it, is first of all, many moms are induced or have scheduled C-sections, so that’s a big reason why twins come earlier than full term. I personally think that if left to nature, a lot more moms would go more to full term. So I ended up going to 40 weeks, five days. And so from 36 weeks on, almost every night, I was like, “Tonight.” And it got exhausting. And then I remember the night that it actually happened, I looked at my mom and I said, “Mom, tonight is really the night. I actually feel pelvic pain.”
Morriss Croy: It was the first time I had actually felt pain. Prior to that, it was intense Braxton Hicks. So I knew something was happening, something was shifting. And I had an appointment with my midwife a few days prior, and I was two centimeters dilated already. So I knew some action was happening, so had a good dinner, came home, went to sleep, woke up at 1:30 AM, and I had strong contractions, three minutes apart. And so I tried to give my husband some time to sleep. I woke him up about an hour later. I was thinking, oh, I can handle this. Oh, I can handle this. But it was pretty intense from the beginning, so I called my midwife right away. I called my doula right away. Midwife got here around 3:00 or so, and doula shortly thereafter. I was laboring in the house, just walking around until morning time, and then went over to my mom’s house, which as I said, is next door, so I could walk outside and be in the sunshine and just a little change of pace. And then at 12 o’clock, I was eight centimeters dilated. And at that point, I got into the tub, the birthing tub, which didn’t really progress things. I remember getting in it and saying, “Oh my God, this feels so good I could cry.” It just felt so good, because my contractions were really intense and really close together. I just didn’t get a break at all.
Morriss Croy: So at that point I’m eight centimeters, and everyone’s thinking, okay, this is happening. She’s going to move into transition. She’s going to have these babies in the next hour. I was determined. I was like, “I’m having these babies within 12 hours.” So that would’ve been an hour later. At four o’clock is when my midwife actually called my mom and said, “Okay, things are really happening. It’s time to come over.” So they came over at 4:00, and I’m in the shower, Cody’s holding me. My doula is helping me. I think in the whole labor, I only really was able to rest once or twice where in between contractions I fell asleep for a couple minutes. But other than that, it was just pretty consistent and grueling and super hard work. So by four o’clock, Mom and the family came over. They’re just outside. I’m in labor land, don’t know what’s going on. And then it wasn’t until seven o’clock, so three hours later, three hours of pushing later, that the first baby was born, and John Michael had been engaged in my pelvis for weeks. Nobody thought there was any question that John Michael was going to be born first. Right? And it was minutes later that one of the midwives said, “Oh my God, it’s the girl.” And we were all like, “Oh my God, that’s crazy.”
Morriss Croy: So at one point, they had shifted positions, which is probably partly why that pushing stage was so long, because they were vying for a position. What my midwife thought, Nina is her name, thought might have happened is that John Michael went more posterior, and then Coral scooted up and over, and her head went up and over and then she got in position. So they talk about the ring of fire? Oh my God, it is no joke. It was the hardest thing anyone can ever do. And you hear that all the time, but until you actually experience it, you have no idea. So they both had a really hard time getting past my pelvis, which is why it was such a hard pushing stage. And then once she came out, getting him out was another two hours. My body was not saying, “Yep, I’m getting this baby out right now.” My body was like, “No, it’s not really ready.” So I was on my back, which I didn’t imagine being, and my doula was holding one leg up, all the way up towards my ear. My husband was holding the other leg up. I was curling. I was doing a C curl as much as possible. I would push as hard as I possibly could and then only take one little sip of air and then continue pushing. So I had to keep the tension and then keep pushing. And I did that again and again and again and again until finally the baby came out, babies. I had two enemas, and I had to catheter twice because there just wasn’t enough space for the babies to come through, so they tried to empty my bladder. They tried all the more natural interventions without actually having to be transported to the hospital.
Lozada: At any point, did the babies show any sign of distress or you get to a point where you were thinking, “You know what, maybe we should head on over to the hospital”?
Morriss Croy: I never thought that, but Cody just told me last night when we were talking about things, that now I remember Nina saying to me after Coral was born, she said, “You have to get this baby out.” It got serious. It wasn’t another hour or so till he was actually born, but she was like, “You have to push.” And I kept saying, “Is he close? Is he close?” And she said, “You’re going to have to work really hard to get him out.” And I remember looking at Cody, and I remember thinking, I haven’t looked him in the eye. I need to look at Cody in the eye, and we need to do this thing. So I finally looked at him, and he was like, “You got this, you got this. Let’s do this, let’s do this.” And so it was another probably 45 minutes of pushing, but it gave me the strength to do it. And at no point did I think I needed to be transported, although Nina did give me that option. She said, “We don’t have to do this here.” And I said, “No. No.” And she said, “Okay, okay. Just want to make sure you feel comfortable.” I said, “Yep, no, we’re doing this.” I knew that I could.
Lozada: So once Coral comes out, did she come to your chest? Did you say hello?
Morriss Croy: She did. She came to me. We got to do skin to skin. She nursed right away. She’s my superstar breast feeder. And then as soon as my contractions started, I don’t know the timeframe, but they started, they took her. Cody was holding her. Well, she kind of went to my mom and to [Diesel 00:17:24] and to my sister, and then to Cody, and then to another midwife, while I was pushing to get John Michael out.
Lozada: And then when he came out, did you have him straight on your chest as well for a little bit? What happened then?
Morriss Croy: Yes. So this is where it got a little bit scary, because he was breathing, but he didn’t have a big cry. And so I was holding him, I was talking to him, I was coaching him. I’m like, “Okay, John Michael, here we are. Take a breath, take a breath. Give me that big cry. I want to hear that big cry.” And he just didn’t. He had some labored breathing, and muscle tone was okay and his color was okay, so it wasn’t like in that moment, something terrible was going to happen, but it was, as things progressed and he wasn’t taking that big breath and his breath continued to be labored, we got him on oxygen. I’m still holding him. I’m still skin to skin. We were able to extract a little bit of colostrum and gave him about a half teaspoon of that, which was great. So what happened is, at some point during the labor, and I always say, the kids are going to listen to this one day, but it’s Coral’s fault because she wanted to come into this world quicker. And she has a personality like me, which is like, let’s do this, and Cody’s more laid-back, and John Michael’s more laid-back. And so I think that during that vying for position, he got distressed. He had a meconium poop and then he inhaled it, which is what got potentially into his lungs and is the reason for that labored breathing. So after about two hours, we were running out of oxygen in the tank, and so Nina made the call and said, “Okay, this is becoming serious.”
Morriss Croy: She said, “The medics will come. They’ll take him to the hospital. They’ll do some tests, see what they need to do. Hopefully it would just be an overnight stay and get his breathing back on track, and he’ll be breathing on his own,” which unfortunately didn’t happen. So we live on Hawaii Island, the big island, which we don’t have a NICU anywhere on the island. So if anything serious happens, babies have to be medevaced to Oahu, to Honolulu where there’s a bigger hospital. That’s what ended up happening. I was never really worried about him because he was big enough. He was six pounds, 14 ounces, and Coral was five pounds, 11 ounces. He wasn’t this four pound baby in the NICU. They just needed to get oxygen back on track.
Lozada: And they are quite big for twins.
Morriss Croy: Yes.
Lozada: And that has to do probably with them being in there until 40 weeks, five, right?
Morriss Croy: Yes.
Lozada: 40 weeks, six by the time they’re born.
Morriss Croy: Yes.
Lozada: Which is actually quite on average for a first time birthing.
Morriss Croy: Right.
Lozada: So how were you feeling through that process? Because even though the midwife was very calm about it, that sounds scary.
Morriss Croy: I was very calm as well. And I think we had a lot of support, and the way Nina put it was like, “They’re going to do what they need to do to take care of him.” And Kapi’olani Children’s Hospital is incredible, so I knew that he was going to be in the best possible hands. And just his weight alone made me super confident that he’s going to be in and out of there in no time. And I didn’t believe that he was going to have an infection, and he didn’t end up having an infection. His white blood cell count was really high, but that’s normal in a situation like that. It doesn’t mean there’s an infection, it means the body’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, which is fighting whatever it is that it needs to fight.
Lozada: And I’m sure that, playing devil’s advocate, people would say, “Well, things would’ve been different if you were in the hospital.” However, is that the case? Giving a baby that has some meconium aspiration in utero and comes out, is there any different protocol at the hospital that would make things different?
Morriss Croy: No, the same, which is another reason why I was confident in doing a homebirth, is that if I was at the hospital, they would have to do the same thing, which is get him on a flight over to Oahu. The difference would be, they probably wouldn’t have let me labored so long. They probably would have highly suggested… I mean, I guess they can’t force me to do anything, but they probably would’ve wanted to get things moving a lot quicker, and potentially I would’ve ended up having a C-section or getting induced. I did end up having to go get non-stress tests regularly at the hospital. And I felt way unsupported, not by the nurses. The nurses were amazing, but by the doctors who would tell me absolute worst case scenario, not if this thing should happen, but when it will happen, such as when baby a takes the nutrients from baby B, you will need an emergency C-section or all the worst things that could happen. And that was really frustrating because I consider myself confident and intuitive and I feel empowered and that was a really disempowering experience to have somebody of a higher level tell me what my body is capable of doing without knowing any background of me. Not knowing that I had an extremely healthy pregnancy. I had like a textbook, healthy pregnancy. People were amazed at how well I was doing. I was amazed at what my body was able to do. And yet. X Y and Z is going to happen, you know? So that was really frustrating.
Lozada: Did you feel you had to prepare yourself differently to have a homebirth in terms of responsibility? That’s a little bit different of the responsibility of the birth when you are at a hospital, for example.
Morriss Croy: I think the biggest thing was just taking care of myself, making sure that I was rested and eating well and doing my own research and talking to the right people, and doing enough research but not too much that I would freak myself out, and watching just enough homebirth videos but not too many, and kind of that fine balance between information overload and going in blind. And listening to your podcast, honestly, was one of the most helpful things, just listening to other stories. And having friends who had done the same thing, not with twins, but just homebirths, and knowing… You know what? And Nina, my midwife, has been doing this for over 30 years, and so I was really confident with her. And we live two miles from the hospital, so I was confident that if something should happen, we would go to the hospital, and that’s what we had to do.
Lozada: So it sounds like everything was set up with plan A’s and plan B’s and plan C’s, that you felt, all around, it was a safe situation?
Morriss Croy: Yes, absolutely. And when people would ask me, “Oh, you’re going to do a homebirth?” And I would always answer, “My intention is to have a homebirth. My intention is to have both my babies born healthy at home.” I am not in control of whether or not that’s going to happen, but that was my intention.
Lozada: And last thing, what was the most transformative part of all this for you?
Morriss Croy: Oh, just stepping into motherhood has been so incredible. Being able to see my mom be a grandmother and see my husband be a father and step into motherhood in the lens of all of that has been really, truly amazing. And I had a textbook healthy pregnancy. People were amazed at how well I was doing. I was amazed at what my body was able to do. So it feels good to still have had something happen, which is John Michael had to go to the hospital, and yet I still got the birth experience that I wanted, which was to do it at home with the support around me. But that is my passion, is helping people to understand that you are the expert of your body. Whether you’re birthing or you’re doing a marathon, or whatever it is, you are the expert in your own body, and getting in tune with that is the most valuable thing that you can do in your life. So I’m really grateful and excited to continue on this journey.
Lozada: Chelsea, thank you so very much for sharing your story with us and for being such a Birthful fan. And oh my goodness, I am honored to hear your story and so happy that everything worked out with your twins.
Morriss Croy: Thank you. Thank you, Adriana. This has been amazing. I’m super excited to have this recorded so I can share it with my friends and family, and the twins one day when they’re old enough.
Lozada: That was trauma-sensitive yoga instructor and new mom of twins, Chelsea Morriss Croy. You can find Chelsea on Instagram at WaimeaYoga. I hope that your main takeaway from our conversation is that because birth is such a big event that involves all of your aspects, taking the time to prepare at a mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical level during pregnancy is truly crucial. This well-rounded preparation is going to help you feel grounded in your choices and can also help you navigate the unexpected when and if it arises.
Lozada: One thing you can do for you is to try yoga nidra, which is sometimes nicknamed sleep yoga. Yoga nidra is an accessible form of meditation, and the iRest certification, which Chelsea has, is specifically linked to benefits for veterans who have experienced trauma. The bonus is, yoga nidra is considered useful for people who are pregnant or parents of young babies, because this kind of guided meditation can help you feel rested and maximize that little sleep that you might be getting. Drop into an instructor-led class or download a yoga nidra track and try it for yourself.
Lozada: The one thing you can do for the rest of us is help support veterans’ access to therapeutic modalities like trauma-sensitive yoga for PTSD by donating to an organization that provides community outreach. for example, Chelsea partners with Yoga Impact, which is a Hawaii local nonprofit in order to provide access to her healing work. And it is super easy to donate to their efforts from her website at WaimeaYoga.com/outreach.
Lozada: You can connect with Birthful on Instagram at BirthfulPodcast. And to learn more about Birthful and my birth and postpartum preparation classes, go to Birthful.com. Birthful was created by me, Adriana Lozada, and is a production of LWC Studios. The show’s senior producer is Paulina Velasco. Jen Chien is executive editor. Cedric Wilson is our lead producer. Kojin Tashiro is our associate sound designer and mixed this episode. Thank you so very much for listening to and sharing Birthful. Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcast, Goodpods, Amazon Music, Spotify, and everywhere you listen, and come back for more ways to inform your intuition.
Lozada, Adriana, host. “[Birth Stories] How Her Preparation and Intuition Got Her Through the Homebirth of Her Twins.” Birthful, LWC Studios, October 13, 2021. Birthful.com.
About Chelsea Morriss Croy
Waimea Yoga owner Chelsea Morriss was born and raised in Waimea, where her fascination with the human body began. She is a life-long learner and holds a B.S. in Human Physiology from the University of Oregon as well as M.A. in Elementary Education from University of New Mexico. Her curiosity led her to her first 200-hour teacher training in 2013 and was the beginning of her yogic studies. She went on to become an Ayurvedic Specialist, health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and studied with Nancy Candea to receive 500 more hours of training focusing on the therapeutics of yoga. She also attained her K-12 YogaEd certification as well as level 2 iRest training. Through this certification she has had the opportunity to work with veterans suffering from PTSD for 5 years and looks forward to continuing to serve them.
Chelsea’s passion is to bring together all the knowledge she has learned through her many teachers she is ever-grateful for as well as her personal experiences to offer students a chance to be in their bodies, and to use their innate wisdom to heal and thrive. She firmly believes yoga can be accessible for every body and wants to serve all bodies, from keiki to kupuna.
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