by Coach Debbie
Click HERE to read part 1 of “Babies in My Womb”
A quick recap. My now late husband and I had 2 boys in 16 months, followed by 2 early miscarriages, then news that we were expecting identical twins BOYS (four boys, oh my!).
When asked if they were conceived naturally, I always respond that they were made without drugs in our bedroom.
Things were progressing in my twin pregnancy and I eventually made it to the 16 week mark where nausea gratefully came to an end. I was in the grocery store around 17 or 18 weeks when a stranger looked at me and said I must be “just about done” as large as I was. I informed the random woman, “I sure hope not. They’re only halfway cooked!”
To make an extremely long story as short as I possibly can, I was diagnosed with Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I was put on immediate bedrest (for 4 long months). One baby was taking all the blood and oxygen from the other baby, and both babies were at risk. I learned all kinds of science but as a mom it just translated to scary. So my mother-in-law lived with us, parenting two toddlers and running our household while I was forced to lie on my side for 120 days (I was allowed to shower and pee). By walking across my house, I’d pull from the twins’ oxygen supply by raising my own heart rate, so I was told to be as still as possible so that the two could have better chances.
Pregnancy makes us feel like a vessel, doesn’t it? You’re just the supplier of life and sometimes you wish you could just breathe fully or eat without heartburn or you could turn over in bed in less than 3 minutes. I struggled with the vessel role. Friends rarely visit, you miss fresh air, and suddenly grocery shopping with toddlers becomes things of fairy tales. I knew it would be worth it in the end and I was doing my job to let those two lives marinate.
Aaron and I flew to Ohio to receive care from specialists in Twin To Twin Syndrome. There was a whole team that met in a conference room to discuss the contents of my womb. The odds of losing one or both babies was very real and statistics made me freak out. I had to be prepared for premature death(s) at any point.
I had an amniocentesis, where two liters of amniotic fluid was drained (think of an instant weight loss system, yay). As that procedure occurred, they do an ultrasound and I could see one baby reach for the “straw” that sucked out the fluid, which was so cute. Unfortunately, that procedure did not reverse the disease.
Next, I had an MRI. I swear that is what hell is like; one long MRI. It was so awful being stuck in a small tube with babies somersaulting inside of you. The image was fascinating, but it was really emotionally draining.
I then underwent a laser procedure on my placenta. They burned any vessels that the twins shared, in order to make them 2 separate beings still connected to the same food source but without any transferring. Basically you’re forcing kids to not share, ha. They burned 39 vessels as I was drugged. This procedure caused contractions, which are super bad news when you’re only 19 weeks pregnant. I got drugs to counteract that which made me want to crawl out of my skin.
I missed my kids at home, who were trick-or-treating without us. I wanted normalcy. I cried to Aaron that I wanted the pitter-patter of little feet on earth, and couldn’t stand more of our babies going to heaven. We had a very active prayer life.
In Ohio, I had so many ultrasounds that lasted an hour or two, that I would literally fall asleep during the scans. The science was above my head and I only wanted to know if the babies would live.
We flew home, still unsure of the future. I had lots of appointments, which became outings I looked forward to. Any chance to be vertical was very special to me.
As my belly expanded, we made it to the 3rd trimester. The team in Ohio said to get excited if I went past 24 weeks, and I sure did. Friends and family were praying for these babies that God was knitting together. I made it one week after another, thankful that this allowed time for one baby’s heart problems to heal in utero. I asked my doctor how likely it was for me to have one or two babies when everything was said and done. I had to be prepared for loss. “Debbie, you’re having twins. You’re going to have two babies. It’s happening. They’re doing well and this is good.” I cried happy tears!
We selected an induction date for 37 weeks (full-term for twins). I begged the doctor to just let them stay in because I knew I’d never sleep again. He told me the risk increased for them after 37 weeks and that they had to exit. I was lifted from bedrest at 35 weeks. I was able to do anything I wanted (though I was pretty weak and couldn’t do much). And I was enormous; like a house.
I made it to 37 weeks by the grace of God. Those little squirrels were about 6 pounds each with zero health problems, praise Jesus! I was overwhelmed with joy and relief! I didn’t even have a c-section. It was love at first sight! God healed them fully and had sustained them for 9 months. For you reading, I know you could also share so many God miracle moments, right? He is so kind!
Those twins just turned 8 years old. Yes, I know which twin was “taking” all the good stuff from the “giving” twin, haha. Trust me, I now encourage them to share and they both alternate with giving and taking. They are so different, even in their looks (the first few months we painted a toenail on one baby to tell them apart). They are reminders of God’s power. Having four boys in four years was not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My heart is full and my house is loud.
So let me shift to being bossy.
- If you see a potential set of twins, instead of asking the parent, “Are they twins?” you can ask, “How old are they?” If the age is the same, they are twins.
- If you see a potential set of twins, instead of asking, “Can you tell them apart?” know that they can in fact tell them apart, so simply ask, “How do you tell them apart?” or just comment on how good looking they are.
- If you see a potential set of twins, instead of commenting, “Double trouble” or “You must have your hands full” or “How do you do it?” you can simply say, “Wow, you’re doing a great job with your beautiful well-mannered children!”
- If you decide to compare yourself as a mom of multiple children with a “mom of multiples” by saying, “Yeah, I have two kids close together so it’s like twins,” don’t say it out loud. Two kids of different ages is nothing like having twins. The true mom of multiples will think very bad things in her head about you.
- If you feel like telling a parent of twins, “Oh I know some twins!” know that the parent does not care one ounce. Instead say something awesome like, “Wow, look how strong your arms are from carrying those double delights!”
IF YOU ARE EXPECTING TWINS (OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS), HERE IS MY 2-CENT WISDOM IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER BECAUSE THAT TAKES TOO MUCH TIME:
- Keep in mind I am WAY past infancy and toddlerhood and my memory is foggy (yours will be too). The first year is challenging but you will survive, simply because there is no other alternative.
- If you have identical twins they have the same DNA but different fingerprints. You can tell them apart by their belly buttons since those aren’t genetic. I painted one baby toenail blue.
- Get ready for strong arms (constant workouts).
- Focus on surviving, not thriving. Lower your standards in EVERYTHING. Your husband will still want sex, so don’t neglect him. Use paper plates, order takeout, become a slob.
- Get help in any way possible (meals, babysitting, cleaning, errands, sleep, etc). People will only offer to help at the beginning so take advantage of it. Maybe join a support group.
- Twins have no built-in hierarchy like older siblings with younger siblings. They are evenly matched and know it and have power struggles that will be off the charts. Stay strong (you are bigger).
- You don’t need 2 of everything. You can put one babe in the exersaucer while the other babe is in the bouncy seat. They can share a crib for a little while and may sleep better when near each other (so cute, right?). I had a side-by-side stroller and an in-line stroller; if you have to pick, go for in-line so you can go through store doors without being committed.
- You will need 2 of a lot of things. In the first 60 days you will go through 1,000 diapers. That is a real, factual number. No exaggerating. STOCK UP. You will need 2 carseats, high chairs, pacifiers, and plenty of burp clothes and wipes and bottles.
- Keep them on the same schedule for naps and eating. Do not skip this step or you will hate life.
- Do not call them “the twins” (at least to their face) if you can help it. They have names. They don’t need to share classes at school (that’s creepy, it just is, and they need to be their own person). They each get their own birthday cake (sharing a cake is mean).
- Enjoy that they have a built-in playmate so that you can sit on the couch and likely fall asleep sitting up without them noticing. Treat them fairly, which may not translate to treating them equally.
- Breastfeeding is doable and fabulous. Get a great nursing pillow (not a boppy) for twins and be prepared to be the topless lady who makes no dollar bills. Feed them at the same time on the boobs if you go the breastfeeding route. Enjoy burning twice the calories (your free hands can be used to shovel in food). If you’re a bottle fan, plop one or two in a carseat to drink.
- Trust your instincts. Go with your gut. Know that they will turn out really great and be buddies. Don’t listen to idiotic advice, especially by people with singletons who aren’t in the know.
- You’re awesome.
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