Monday, January 23, 2017

Finding Out You're Expecting Twins

The moment is still clear as day in my mind, even two years later.  "Well, I can give you two good reasons why you've been feeling so sick", my doctor said.  I knew it.  I really, truly knew it in my soul before he ever confirmed two sacs, two babies, and two blissful heartbeats.  I was just over six weeks pregnant and at my first ultrasound.  Although it is standard to not have the first ultrasound until 8-10 weeks, I had a history of pregnancy loss and complications so I was scheduled early.  When my first blood test confirmed I was pregnant I had a nice healthy HCG number, but one that was significantly higher than my first count when I was pregnant with my daughter.  "You can't tell anything by the HCG number", the nurse assured me.  I dutifully retested 48 hours later to find not only had my number doubled, as hoped, they more than quadrupled.  Now for some this level of HCG was standard for just one baby, but having a previous singleton pregnancy to compare it to, I knew something was definitely up.  When my third blood test, another 48 hours later, showed growth at the same rate, something clicked deep in my bones that I was having twins.

Finding out you're expecting twins is a surreal experience.  You may have had a long history of struggling getting pregnant, or staying pregnant, and finding out you get not one, but two babies is the like hitting lottery.  Or you may be on the opposite end of the spectrum; completely terrified.  I would like to say I fell somewhere in the middle.  Ecstatic and grateful that I conceived so easily and there were two heartbeats, but instantly slammed by waves of anxiety and worry about how in the world we were ever going to do this.  Here is a quick run down of what went through my head...

We have to move.  I need a new car.  My baby girl is barely one year old, how can we do this to her?  Isn't this high risk?  How will I survive a twin pregnancy while taking care of a toddler and working?  I'll never sleep again.  Thank you God we're going to have three perfect babies!  Oh my God we're going to have THREE babies.  What if I have to exclusively pump again?  My stomach will be destroyed.  I wonder what they'll look like.   How do I feed two babies at once?  What if something happens to one of them?  Or both of them?  

And so on and so on and so on.  That constant loop of questions and thoughts ran through my mind at warp speed, 24 hours a day for the next few months.  I was terrified.  And ecstatic.  And it is the only time in my life I've ever felt both feelings so strongly at the same time.  And let me be the first to tell you, it is normal.  In those early months of my pregnancy I scoured the internet at all hours of the day, trying to find something, anything, that would answer my questions without terrifying me or making me feel even more overwhelmed.  So here is what I wish I would have read back in those early days.

It's going to be okay.  No really, it is.  Almost every aspect of your life is going to change, and that's okay.  It won't all be easy and some of it won't be much fun, but it will also be the greatest joy you will ever know.  And maybe not at first, but you'll get there.  You will figure out how to pay for diapers and what the best way is to feed your babies.  You will figure out which cry belongs to which baby without even looking at them.  You'll come up with a way to wear one baby while you're holding and feeding the other one.  You will figure it all out...and it will all be okay.

Go easy on yourself.  Your body has just been tasked with creating two human beings, at the SAME time!  That is just craziness when you really think about it.  Take it easy as much as possible, as early as possible.  You need to fold baskets of laundry?  Pile it on the bed and do it sitting down.  Your desk chair kills your back?  Talk to your boss about a solution.  You have other children?  Ask your partner/parents/friends/neighbor etc to take them for a bit so you can put your feet up.  It's no secret that a twin pregnancy is rough physically and emotionally.  Doing even the littlest of things to make something easier on yourself is beyond worth it.

Trust your doctors, but also trust your gut.  Because of some of the issues I had in my previous pregnancies I was a ball of nerves, but my doctors never really were.  They were honest and upfront, and certainly conservative, but everyone seemed to think everything was going to turn out just fine.  I learned to trust them and believe them.  That being said, I switched OB practices at the beginning of my second trimester.  I did not have a good experience with the birth of my daughter or with the complications I had after her birth.  I never fully trusted those doctors again, no matter how hard I tried in those early weeks of my twin pregnancy.  After asking around and doing a lot of research, I switched practices and never looked back.  Finding a practice where you like and feel comfortable with the majority of doctors is integral to your well being throughout your pregnancy.  If something doesn't feel right, trust yourself.  You aren't crazy and you are the only one who can advocate for yourself and your babies.

Keep your eye on the prize.  Now for some women, expecting twins is a walk in the park.  They don't have an ounce of morning sickness, no aches and pains, and have to be induced because their babes are just so happy being inside them.  In reality, the shit is going to hit the fan at some point in your pregnancy.  Although twin pregnancies aren't really "high risk" the way they used to be, there will come a point when you feel like you can't go on.  For me that came at about 30 weeks.  I just could not conceive of them staying in me a day longer.  I watched my belly grow day after day and wondered how I would ever recover.  I had never felt such constant pain and discomfort and feel completely helpless to do anything to fix it.  But at the end of the day, the goal is to birth two healthy babies and to keep them inside you for as long as possible.  Motherhood is all about sacrifice, so think of this pregnancy as your first sacrifice for your babies.  And as a former NICU mom, trust me when I say you want to do anything you can make sure your babies are going home with you.  

There are a select few of us who are initiated into the twin mom club.  It's a privilege.  An honor.  And one that is bestowed to the most brave and wonderful mothers.  Congratulations!

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