"My Greek Grandmother Had Twins": a birth story

Don’t you love it when people tell you stories about how their grandmothers gave birth?

One of my favourite grand mother stories was told to me by a client. My client was a Greek woman who only came to see me because she was “dragged” by her (also pregnant) friend.

This lovely pregnant Greek woman was terrified about having her second baby because she had had a bad forceps pull out with her first born. She wanted me to coach her in the hospital and protect her from interventions. One prenatal visit, she told me the story of her grandmother’s birth, as follows:

“My grandmother was expecting her first child. She lived in a small village in Greece where everyone knew each other and knew everyone else’s business, too. She was overdue and everyone would make remarks to her about “When are you going to have that baby.” She felt so huge, fed up and discouraged, she decided to ride her donkey to the next village to visit her married sister for the day.

Pregnant woman on a Donkey

On the way back home, she realized she was getting stronger and stronger cramping and, she finally had to get down off the donkey and squat down. When she did that, she gave birth to the baby. With the placenta still inside her, she wrapped the baby in her skirts and got back on the donkey to continue on home. She hadn’t gone too much further along the road when the cramping returned and she again got off the donkey, squatted to give birth to the placenta, but, no, it was another baby. . . . she had given birth to twins! The placenta came out shortly after and she wrapped the two babies and the placenta in her skirts, mounted the donkey again and rode into her village a proud mama.”

When I heard this story, I knew that the grand daughter would give birth just fine, too. I said to her “You are from good childbearing stock and all we have to do is keep the medical people away from you.” Her birth was great. We got to the hospital when she was at 9 cms dilated. We went into a nice room where she immediately released her membranes on the floor, squatted down at the end of the bed, doctor came in and caught the baby down on the floor. The legacy was returned to this family. Gloria

19 thoughts on “"My Greek Grandmother Had Twins": a birth story

  1. Beautiful, magical, inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing this Gloria.
    My mom’s mom died when I was six, but she had 8 children at home. I wish I’d been able to talk to her about it! My other grandmother and I have talked about it, she loves my birth stories and gets a sad, wistful look on her face when talking about her four births in the 50’s….she says she enjoyed labour but was knocked out for the actual deliveries.
    I’ll be sharing this with all the moms I know!

  2. Good story. When my mother would tell us the stories of our births she did not have any drama about it. It was always just “I went into labour and you were born” she was always very matter of fact about it. Now, why we had such long drawn out labours is a whole other story . . .

  3. Love that story! My grandmother was born at home but unfortunately she had my mom and my aunt in the hospital. I think she may have even had twilight sleep for one but I’m not sure. My mom had me in the hospital too, but at least it was a natural birth and she demanded that the nurses leave me with her. I’m glad I’ll be able to tell my granddaughters how I birthed my (second) baby in our bathtub at home 🙂

  4. Great story! I love those! My grandmother had her twins at home. No midwife available, as she was the local lay midwife. I do not know very much about it. Only that both boys were born at home and healthy. I do not know whether one of them was breech or both or neither. I do know that for her breech was normal. Baby photos showed nicely big babies. This was in 1935. My daddy was one of the two. They were baby number 6 and 7 by the way. After that she only had one more child. She lived till 96.
    According to my grandmother the whole medical stuff was all ridiculous and unnecessary. She was the one who talked to me about how birth is normal and this made me totally relaxed about birth, which resulted in a UC 3x as its just a normal process of life. No biggie.
    My mother was also born without any medical assistance. Only her paternal grandmother was there. So both my parents were born without medical assistance. I was also born without medical assistance. The GP had been there, but it took very long, so he went home to sleep, next thing, I was born.
    So coming from that back ground, to me birth was just normal. I never gave it much thought. The one real thought was that a hospital stay would be unnecessary, expensive and ridiculous. So after a midwife assisted birth with my first, I came (insecurity on my side) to the conclusion that it was nothing and decided to go without for the next ones 🙂

  5. Hmm. I have a donkey… maybe I should take a ride when our next baby is due! 🙂 This is an awesome story though! Our 2 kids were born at home, maybe the 3rd will be born in the field. 😉 Thanks for sharing. This story is inspiring, especially for those having twins! It’s so sad that the norm for having twins nowdays is via c section. So many mothers just give up on the idea of a natural birth once they find out they are having twins. 🙁

    • Yes, Aimee, you MUST get on that donkey and write a full report. Perhaps we’ll start a new birth movement and, instead of taking pools to births, I’ll be bringing a donkey in a trailer 🙂

  6. My grandmother had undetected twins, too. They were delivered by a family practitioner. The doctor said, “Here comes the second one.”
    She said, “the second what?”
    “The second baby,” he replied.
    She was so shocked(and she had lost quite a bit of blood), she passed out. She delivered the second baby while unconscious!

  7. My great-grandmother birthed her 5th child (my grandmother) in a tent the day after she set it up herself in an oil-field at 10 months pregnant. I believe she’d been living with her mother-in-law up until that point. The neighbor lady came to help, but fainted. My great-grandmother birthed the baby and cut the cord herself.
    My fourth baby was born unassisted in my aunt’s home in a birth pool with my aunt and my mom there. I waited until the cord was limp and white and cut it myself.

  8. My Scottish grandmother remembered every detail of her births right up until her 90s. My father and aunt were home-born (she said she “shouted like an Israelite”) and her second two babies were born in a cottage hospital with no drugs in the 1930s in Australia. Her memories were positive and the births were hers – so unlike the average birthing experience in Australia these days.

  9. My ex MIL was born in a cave in 1948 during the Nakbah in Palestine, now Israel. They had been forced from their village and were refugees on the road when her mother was full term. They ended up in a refugee camp eventually and were never able to return home. Tough conditions physically and psychologically to give birth under; what a strong lady Sitti was!

  10. I also come from a greek background. I heard from my Aunt’s that my grandmother gave birth to two of her kids out of seven in the fields while picking crops. One story said she walked home with a baby wrapped in her skirts in one hand and a watermelon in the other. Unfortunately she passed away when I was 4 by I wish I could have heard more stories!

  11. My great great grandmother had a cold so was told by the doctor to not be in the room when her daughter was giving birth. She was not a woman to be told what to do, especially by a doctor, so she hid in the closet and peeked through the slats to see my Granny being born. (1930s Vancouver BC)

    When my Granny was in labour with her 4th child the doctor told her that it would be hours until the baby came so he was going home for dinner. She told him it was going to be quick and she was right. He didn’t make it to the hospital doors before he had to rush back just in time to catch the baby. (1950s Burnaby BC)

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