Thursday, April 26, 2007

Twins!

I know I've told part of this story to some of you before, but wanted to mention it again here.

I was 9 weeks pregnant and the doctor wanted me to have an ultrasound to determine how far along I was.

I went to the u/s (for the uninitiated, that's an ultrasound) on my own - my husband had to work and we wanted to save money and his sick days.

In the back of my mind, I suppose I knew that there was a possibility that we could be having twins. I even mentioned it to my husband in the morning before I left.

But, with that caveat, no one in my large extended family had twins. My dad is one of ten children. Of the 40 first cousins I have and some 10 first cousins once removed (my cousin's children) - no incidence of twins. On my mom's side, while there are only 11 of us, no twins there either.

So you can't blame me for being shocked when the technician said that there were two. I'm trying to remember her exact words, if she said that there were two or if she first asked me whether or not there were twins in my family. Needless to say, I was not facing the monitor at the time.

My first reaction was to ask her if she was joking. The technician seemed very offended by this question (I'm sure I'm not the only one who has reacted this way to the news). She said in a very serious response, "I would not joke about something like this". Needless to say, she turned the monitor towards me and yup, there were two. They looked like little beans. (I would post the u/s photo here, but alas, my scanner is broken). I think she also mentioned that she had told someone about their triplets the month before. So that was reassuring. Yes, there were two, but they were not triplets.

Depending on the statistics you read, twins can be naturally occurring in 1 out of 90 pregnancies or 1 out of 35. When I say naturally occurring, I mean no fertility meds or IVF involved.

We have fraternal twins, meaning two eggs were fertilized. We know that we have fraternal twins since we have a boy and a girl - 99.9% of boy girl twins are fraternal. I think they are more common than identical twins. Most of you probably already know this, but you would be surprised how many people on the street still ask us, "Identical or Fraternal". Truthfully, every time someone asks me this question I become just a little sad in the state of public education, which is where most people are supposed to learn about the differences between identical and fraternal twins.

A multiple pregnancy is also automatically a high risk pregnancy. I had four ultrasounds (counting that first one) throughout my pregnancy. We were incredibly fortunate to deliver two healthy babies. But with two babies, it multiplies the chance that something could go wrong. I do know of three different families (friends of friends) who lost one twin or both twins at different points during their pregnancies. So I knew it was risky.

My advice for all twin moms that I talk with is 1 - be prepared to go on bed rest. You might think this sounds silly, but out of the 7 twin moms that I know personally (not including those families above), only one did not have to go on bed rest. And that does not include any of the celebrity twin parents (think Julia Roberts) out there. Granted, this is anecdotal evidence, but in my opinion, it's a strong indicator.

For me personally, bed rest was particularly difficult because I read too much.

Currently, there is some debate among physicians about just how good bed rest is, and whether or not it stops labor. Yet, despite this debate, around 32 weeks I was hospitalized for pre-term labor and put on terb (a.k.a. terbutaline). Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, until 37 weeks, I had to take a terb pill every four hours. The good news is, terb stopped my labor and I didn't have to be hospitalized or go on more serious medication (like Magnesium).

Again, I had heard horror stories about hospitalization and magnesium, so I'm incredibly grateful that terb worked. Also, that my two didn't end up in the NICU, which they most certainly would have if they had been born at 32 weeks.

Let me just say it now, bed rest sucked. It really sucked. Here I am, a very independent person, someone who likes to leave the house every day, and I am stuck at home for 6 weeks. Some people like to say "I'd love the time off!" - but what no one mentions is that sleep is difficult (due to the extra weight), you probably have back problems, you could have acid reflux or morning sickness, and there are two babies inside of you that are constantly kicking (they also hit or roll around, which no one ever mentions). Or - you may have contractions on and off that you need to monitor in case they become regular or strong.

To top it all off, you're worried that something could go wrong during labor, you have the ominous possibility of labor and delivery ahead of you, and the realization that you will not sleep well for the next three months to one year. I wanted to prepare for something that you cannot prepare for.

There are some things you can do. Thank goodness I was able to set up a recliner next to my computer. I played "Quest for Glory 2" - an old rpg game. The graphics are old school, to say the least. I watched lots of movies. My husband did all the shopping - something he was not used to doing. I couldn't do any laundry or housework - again, for me, stuck inside the house and just looking at whatever mess was there, was stressful. Before I was on bed rest, it wouldn't have been a big deal to pick whatever it was up. Now I just had to look at it and wait until my husband got home.

Thank goodness my mother in law and father in law were there and were very supportive. My mother in law helped with the cleaning, which again, given how independent I was, was difficult. If you've ever sat on the couch, watched someone else vacuum your floor and felt uncomfortable, that was me. My father in law took me to some of my prenatal appointments so my husband didn't miss more work. My husband actually was able to leave his cell phone on at his work (typically strictly forbidden) since I could go into labor at any time.

I'm not going to go into my frustration with my doctor, who was going to let me go to 41 weeks before inducing me. But thank goodness, at 38 weeks 1 day, I delivered two wonderful, healthy babies. My son was 7.5 lbs., my daughter 6.0 lbs. Yes, that means near the end I was carrying around 13.5 lbs. of baby. Their birth story I may save for another day.

After all that time on bed rest, and after the first six weeks without sleep, I was actually pretty happy to go back to work. It was nice to go back to a place where I knew exactly what I was in for. Although my cube had a fine layer of dust on it, everything was pretty much the same. After all the chaos in my personal life, the stability was appreciated.

4 comments:

Freckle Face Girl said...

I always wanted twins (before being pregnant w/one) & they do run in my family. The whole thing has to be tough. You are amazing!

aerin said...

Thanks FFG! You know, it's been an interesting journey. I have heard that from many people, that they wanted twins.

It is difficult, but there are some advantages as well. For example, we had to follow a routine with them when they were little - otherwise it would have been chaos. With one, it might have been easier to let things go - to slack off.

I just feel incredibly fortunate at this point - simply because I know just a little bit of the possible risks.

C. L. Hanson said...

Wow, I can't even imagine how difficult that must have been. So you were at least allowed to use the computer when you were on bed-rest?

aerin said...

Hey chanson -

Well, who knows if I was technically supposed to sit at the recliner in front of the computer. But as far as I was concerned, I wasn't out cleaning the gutters or gardening. And I was relaxing - I would sincerely have gone bonkers without being able to surf the internet.

I did have a do what you gotta do attitude near the end though. There's a point where you just don't have a choice - it helped to just let it go.