It was the beginning of week 27 of my twin pregnancy. I had a pretty comfortable pregnancy so far. I only got up a couple of times with morning sickness during the first trimester and I had just came back from a nice vacation abroad. I had plans that night to celebrate a friend’s birthday after work. I had a regular check-up in the morning when my doctor said she would feel better if I’d go to the hospital to get checked. I didn’t think much about it, took a nice walk across the way, and registered in the hospital. It was the university clinic. We decided we wanted the babies to be born there because it was very close to home and there was a NICU in the same hospital in case anything happened. When the nurse read my obstetrician’s report they told me to sit down in a wheelchair… and that was the beginning of my 5-week stay on hospital bed rest.
I didn’t have any pain or feel sick. I didn’t even realize I was having contractions! After a couple of hours of being monitored the doctor told me I had to stay overnight, so I called work and my brother (my husband was out of town on a business trip) who luckily has a key for our apartment so that he could bring me my pajamas, a tooth brush, and the cell phone charger. The next day I realized I wasn’t going to go back home anytime soon. So I made a list of things I thought I needed: a laptop, my favorite romantic comedies on DVD, several pregnancy books, and ear plugs (I shared the room with a very nice woman who unfortunately had to get an insulin shot in the middle of the night).
If you find yourself in the same situation and are stressing out about how to get through this time, here are some tips to get through it:
Read a lot. Not just pregnancy or parenting books — I also read novels some friends brought that I wouldn’t have read otherwise.
Meet all the personnel at the hospital. I knew all the OBs, the nurses, the midwives… so for the birth I felt at ease.
Get a pedicure done. You won’t believe how terrible your feet look when you don’t use them. Call a local nail salon and see if one of their nail techs wouldn’t mind coming out for a special visit. Tell them your story and you’d be surprised at how willing people are to help.
Take long showers (sitting down). It is fantastic if you don’t have anything else to do.
Online shopping is very helpful to feel better, especially if you haven’t done any baby clothes shopping at all!
Massages! The doctor prescribed 2 physical therapy sessions a week, so I really enjoyed the massages.
Sleep! Even though breakfast was at 7 am, I was able to sleep afterwards, and then after lunch again… I just wished you could store sleep to use after they are born! 🙂
Make friends with other patients. I met 3 women with twins in the hospital and I still keep in touch with one of them. After sharing a room, your fears, and happy ultrasounds, you feel connected.
Some other things you probably didn’t know about being on hospital bed rest:
- My muscle mass diminished (not that I had much to begin with), but on the other hand I didn’t gain any weight. I was thinner after giving birth than before getting pregnant!
- You don’t need many maternity clothes if you stay in bed all day.
- You need to forget about work at the office, even though you might not have been able to transfer any knowledge to your substitute before you left… they’ll make it without you.
- You can prepare all the baby paperwork you’ll need after the birth ahead of time. Where I live, in Germany, there are many forms you can fill out in advance and leave the birth date blank to fill in after they are born. Take this time to also organize all your insurance, maternity leave, and other paperwork in an expanding file folder so you can keep everything together.
- You now have time to learn to listen to your body and your babies. I was finally able to feel the contractions and knew where to exactly place both CTG pads.
- You don’t have to go anywhere to get an ultrasound done, so you don’t have to wait for your turn since they pick you up with the wheelchair.
For your spouse, encourage them to spend time doing what they love in their extra free time. My husband was a little overwhelmed being home alone for so long, but on the other hand he was able to practice lots of new songs on his ukelele and the kids now love listening to him play. 🙂
The best motivation of all was knowing that each day the babies stay in the womb is great for them. And they were happily born (after, ironically, having to induce the birth) on week 36+2. They didn’t have to stay in the incubator and we were all sent home after a couple of days. Hang in there — you will get through this!
Marta Tolosa is a native of Spain and has been living in Germany for the last 12 years, where she met her American husband and raises her twin 22-month-old boys (who have 3 nationalities!) She studied computer science and works in IT. She likes to watch romantic comedies and walk back home from the movie theater.
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Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!
The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
What to Do When You’re Having Two is the definitive how-to guide to parenting twins, covering how to make a Birth Plan checklist, sticking to one sleep schedule, managing double-duty breastfeeding, stocking up on all the necessary gear, building one-on-one relationships with each child, and more.
Accessible and informative, What to Do When You’re Having Two is the must-have manual for all parents of twins.