When it came to my twin pregnancy, I considered myself blissfully unaware of how bad it could’ve been. If I had paid attention to the horror stories I was told or read any books or articles on twin pregnancy, I probably would’ve been more anxious. Even after it was discovered that I would be delivering mono/di twins, as long as the doctors kept telling me everything was looking good, I was a happy mama. When I delivered 13 pounds worth of twins at the 38 week 4 day mark, I considered myself very lucky and haven’t stopped counting my lucky stars in the five and half years since Eva and Ruthie were born.
I had faired through the first 11 weeks of my pregnancy pretty well. Of course, I had no clue that I was carrying twins yet! Hard to tell whether the queasiness was morning sickness or nerves, but most of my day to day activities were not hindered. I was still working and finishing my internship at a state historic site. I scheduled my first OB appointment for a Monday in early August with the same doctor who had delivered me 23 and a half years earlier. He might not have remembered me exactly, but he certainly enjoyed the little joke he got to play on my mother.
After giving me an ultrasound and clearly seeing two healthy heart beats, he gave me very little time to adjust to the news before requesting a nurse ‘get grandma’ to show her. Although my mom was admittedly rusty at viewing an ultrasound, she picked up pretty quickly to the doctors exciting news. It still didn’t stop her from shouting “TWINS!?!”. And that was the end of the first trimester of my first pregnancy, a twin pregnancy.
It was a month later, at that same doctors’ office, that I received, without a doubt, the scariest news of my pregnancy. Another peek at the babies revealed no sure sign that they were in separate amniotic sacs. The quickness in which I was scheduled to see a high risk doctor was a pretty good sign that it was a serious situation. In less than 24 hours between appointments, I ran every “what if” in my head and looked up more scary statistics than I ever had before. By the end of the high risk appointment, all was well: my babies were stacked like pancakes, one atop the other, putting pressure on the very thin membrane that separated their amniotic sacs; making it practically invisible. It was then explained to me that everything looked great and because of the difficulty finding the separation, I was having identical twins. Mono/di identical twins; one placenta, two amniotic sacs.
The next 15 weeks went by in a bit of a blur. I had monthly visits with both the delivering doctor and the high risk doctor and almost every visit was so routine I could answer all the questions before they even asked. I was feeling fine, no concerns, they kicked like crazy. I appreciated the “normalcy” of these low drama visits. I had started to feel a bit like a freak show; friends and strangers alike asking what we’ve all come to know as annoying twin questions. I was even in the habit of carrying sonogram pictures because almost no one believed I was carrying twins. I felt strong and healthy; very proud of my body for taking care of these babies so well.
I had surpassed everyone’s expectations of early bed rest and instead hunkered down for the winter, and the last ten weeks of my pregnancy, the second week of December 2010. It was as soon as I had ‘slowed down’ that some of the late stage pregnancy symptoms occurred, like nesting and having to eat more frequently. I was feeling great. I loved the newfound flexibility and although certain foods gave me heartburn like none other, I had high hopes that meant they would have hair. It wasn’t until my birthday and the end of January that I hit the second ‘speed bump’ in my pregnancy, one that had everyone but me very nervous.
Let’s just say I enjoyed my birthday dinner a little too much. I spent the whole night sick to my stomach, unable to keep even water or an antacid down. Finally, around 5 a.m.,we contacted my doctor who said to meet him at the hospital. After the nurses argued over how many monitors to put on my belly and an IV was started, my doctor strolls in dressed in scrubs. While I was adamant I had just eaten too much, he was concerned my liver was being compromised. When he found out that the babies and I were in no danger and exactly how much I had eaten the night before, I received a stern lecture. Looking back, I think we had him a bit rattled. The babies and I had, once again, dodged a major health crisis. I was sent home after a few hours of observation with orders of a bland diet and rest.
At my 38 week mark in early February, I marched into my weekly high risk appointment ready to head to the hospital. When the high risk doctor called the delivering doctor, he was very blunt. “I’ve got 13 pounds of twins here, what do you want me to do with them?” I very grudgingly went home with no answers but received a phone call later that afternoon that Thursday morning was set for us. That gave me three days to finish preparing for twins; like I would ever be prepared enough for the instantaneous roller coaster that is motherhood.
I was too nervous to sleep the night before the birth of my twins and in typical Leah fashion I was painfully early for my 5:30 a.m. check in Thursday morning. The area had been dodging snow storms all week and over night had left a fresh blanket of snow. Driving the quiet, snow covered streets helped calm me a bit. Past checking in I had no idea what was in store for me. I was fairly confident that the girls were healthy but having a c-section was still surgery, and that made me the most nervous.
Once in the operating room, I took it as a good sign that the delivering doctors, a father/daughter duo, were talking about future travel plans and what movies they had seen. Every once in a while they would tell me what was going on or what stage of the procedure they were at; a nurse would ask me questions, or the anesthesiologist would cover me with a warming blanket. Over all, it was pretty quiet until they announced the first baby was ready for delivery. I remember holding my breath until I heard her big cry and saw their pediatrician come through the door. 47 seconds later her sister was born; her cry was softer than her sisters but strong.
Then it was a rush of nurses and yelling out numbers; APGAR scores and weights. The high risk doctor was spot on, the girls together weighted 13 pounds, both 19 inches long. As is protocol in that hospital they were taken into the NICU for the traditional check up, blood work, and cleaning. That was all the time they spend in the NICU. By the time I was rolled back into my room, Eva was practically waiting for me and I spent my two hour recovery bonding with my girls. Eva with one bow ‘glued’ to her head and Ruthie with two. All three of us continued to do well and we went home after three days in the hospital.
Even now, five and a half years later, my girls continue to thrive. Eva is still my mover and shaker; Ruthie is still stubborn and they are the true definition of identical, never being more than fourth of an inch apart in height or a few pounds difference in weight. They beat the statistics and people are still shocked to hear about my complication free pregnancy and their healthy birth weights. I really do count my lucky stars that I was blessed with my girls; however confusing and frustrating raising identical twins might be. Among other things, they have taught more to never take anything for granted; their story could’ve gone very differently and I’ve never forget that. I’m glad I didn’t heed every horror story I heard or read any articles and books that would’ve made me believe healthy, full term twins wasn’t possible.
Leah Bryant is a stay at home mom of three, identical twin girls and a son. She is a proud Kansas native (insert favorite Toto quote here) and currently resides in the Kansas City metro area. Besides being constantly surprised by the wonders of raising twins and caring for her family, Leah’s hobbies include cooking/baking, gardening, reading actual grown up books along with Dr. Suess, and cheering on her favorite home-grown sports teams. Leah also meets the challenge of keeping up with Sonny, the newest member of the family. He is an American Eskimo dog the family adopted after he was rescued from a puppy mill. While Leah is active on most social media sites, you can find her family blog at http://twinsplusabe.tumblr.com/.\
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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.
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