Erin is a long time friend and has recently started blogging her adventures with twins. She’s funny, honest and an all-around amazing woman. I know you’ll enjoy her story!
My Birth Story
or Why I’m Never Doing That Again So It’s a Good Thing I Had Twins!
“Are you FREAKING kidding me?”
This is what I uttered to my doctor when he informed us that we were definitely having twins…maybe quadruplets. I didn’t use the word “freaking” either. He just nodded enthusiastically and told me very matter-of-factly that if I did indeed have quads that I’d be bedridden in the next few weeks and for the duration of the pregnancy. He did all this with a huge grin on his face, like this was the BEST. NEWS. EVER! I didn’t exactly see it that way. My next statement was, as I turned to my husband, “I told you we should have gotten the Honda Pilot! I can’t fit four baby seats in a CRV!”
The doctor went on to explain how unusual it was to have four gestational sacs in a natural pregnancy. Then he said I was old. Then he said that because I was old, my ovaries went off “like the grand finale at a fireworks display” and that’s why we had four. Also, this doctor could only be described as a human bobble-head doll. I was in the throes of major not-morning-but-all-day-sickness and he was making me incredibly nauseous, so he was not my bff at this moment.
Let me give a little background as to why I wasn’t exactly over the moon to be possible having quads:
This all happened in December ’09/January ’10. I had found out I was pregnant back in July of 2009 and was over the moon. Then we discovered that I’d miscarried and I required surgery to correct the situation. So this incredibly joyful occasion had turned into one of the worst experiences of my life. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it out of the operating room and I was scared out of my mind. The surgery went perfectly and recovery was smooth, but I was terrified of getting pregnant again.
So, when I spewed all over the bathroom two days before Christmas, I thought, “Well, this is familiar” and sure enough the test said I was pregnant. I called my wonderful husband, and between uncontrollable sobs and hyperventilation I managed to squeak out, “Aahhhh, ahhhmmm, I’mmmm pr, pr, pregnannnnntttttt!!!!” (continue with the uncontrollable sobbing.) I was sure this one would end the same way.
Because of the previous experience, my physician wanted to get me in for a blood test the next day (Christmas Eve) and confirmed that I was indeed pregnant, but this time they thought I was way further along than I could have been. Apparently my “mitichlorian count” was incredibly high. Higher than normal. *Nerd alert: I’m a Star Wars fan, and I use the term mitichlorian count to describe the pregnancy hormone they can detect in pregnancy tests because I can never remember the acronym for that actual name and I like to pretend that I am a Jedi and so are my kids.* I insisted that I was not that far along and they said they wanted to do an ultrasound right away to confirm. Here we go again. We were happy but really nervous.
Being the overachiever I am, I Googled what an ultrasound should look like at the time I figured I was in my pregnancy. So I was ready to go, but still nervous. We get to the ultrasound lab and we see on the screen two black orbs and two more orbs with little flickering heartbeats. Holy crap! I looked at the tech and asked, “Are we having twins?” She said, “Your doctor will talk to you.” Not the response I wanted. Ok, back to the bobble-head Dr. An HOUR AND A HALF LATER he did confirm that I was having twins and the possibility that the two other orbs could develop into embryos also.
This is where I started to panic. It is a cruel joke that I carried twins, let alone almost quads. I am only 4’11” tall. Not built for multiples. I was showing at 9 weeks. Like really showing. Like couldn’t-button-my-pants-living in-sweats showing. I also switched doctors. I didn’t like being told that 31 was old. We had ultrasounds frequently because, apparently, twin pregnancies are automatically considered “high risk” no matter how well it’s going. We didn’t have many options in the city where we live for alternative types of prenatal care, so our options for a home birth were immediately quashed and the midwife situation was less than desirable. She creeped me out and the doctor she worked with wasn’t licensed properly.
We looked for a triplet for 12 weeks and the final two sacs diminished and never turned into embryos. I think every twin mom should be told she’s having quads because then twins sounds so much easier!
The next months of the pregnancy were pretty normal except that I was sick for 20 weeks and had one good month, March, before I got so big it was incredibly uncomfortable. I always looked like I was two months farther along than I really was. Oh, and I was also working full time this entire time. I had just taken a new job, not knowing I was pregnant, and was a sales manager for a wine distributor. I was given the ok to keep lifting cases of wine until I physically couldn’t anymore. They are 42 pound per case. I did that until my sixth month when there just wasn’t anywhere for me to hold the case!
All this time we were planning for the birth. We moved homes, set up the nursery, picked names–all the normal things. We took a Birthing from Within class and created a natural birth plan because I was adamant that I was going to birth the boys naturally. I did the birth art. I did the yoga (as much as I could.) We read the books, and let me just tell you that the books out there geared toward multiples are crap! All of them! They are unhelpful and condescending. I threw most of them away. And What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The First Year are not much better. Literally one page of the whole book is devoted to multiples. And forget any books that help you out after the babies are born! Ok, stay on target.
My doctor was incredibly supportive and wonderful. I love my doctor. I recommend him to anyone in my area. I loved our birth coach. Dr. Smith is still my angel to this day. He was so encouraging and supportive. He still tells me that I’m the toughest twin mom he’s ever seen, in all his years. I am against invasive testing and he listened and never pushed anything I didn’t want. We did decide to have me get the steroid shots about three weeks before the boys were born and he says I was a trooper through that too. He even gave me the go-ahead to see Tom Petty in concert on June 12th, about 6 weeks before the boys were born and he gave me the handicapped parking pass because he didn’t want me waddling all the way through the parking lot! Have I mentioned how much I love him? Part of why we chose Dr. Smith was because of the framed Boston Marathon number and medal hanging in the hallway–I wanted a doctor I knew could run fast across the street to the hospital in case I went into labor suddenly, and partly because he was on board with our natural birth plan. I also love him because he didn’t judge when I explained that because I work in the wine industry, part of my job is to taste wine and he was supportive of that. My last month, he actually recommended I have a Guinness!
Well, the birth plan changed. Six weeks before they were born, Harry decided to wedge himself butt-first in my cervix. He wasn’t going anywhere. Jack was transverse and wasn’t going anywhere either! Ok, plan B. C-section. Again, I’m so glad that I had my doctor because he gives “the fastest C-sections in the west!” Or so I was told by EVERYONE! Good deal. The month of July sucked. I was in active labor for a good four weeks before we decided that the boys were doing all the things they should be doing and if we waited any longer, I could go further into labor and we’d have to have an emergency C-section, so we scheduled their birth for the 22nd of July. My parents were in town and I was soooooo ready!
Amazingly, my naturally neurotic brain was calm and it was my husband that was nervous. I was on the phone with a winery taking care of business when my doctor came in and took my phone away saying, “Get off the phone! You’re having babies today!” The epidural and spinal block went perfectly. I was joking with the crew about how I needed some Led Zeppelin or AC/DC playing in the operating room. My husband came in and did great, and even joked about how many people were in the room and my junk was hanging out! I had asked to see the operation, but they didn’t move the curtain, so I didn’t exactly know when Harry was born until I heard the tiniest little voice. He sounded like a dove cooing. They wrapped him up and I got to hold him for about 20 seconds until they whisked him over to “Baby A” station. Dr. Smith said, “someone wants to say hi” and he held Jack up over the top of the curtain. He was whisked over to “Baby B” station and they were both given oxygen.
Harry and Erin just after birth
After that, everything happened so fast. My C-section was about 8 minutes, start to finish. The boys were taken directly to the NICU and I was wheeled off to recovery. I asked to see my boys and I was informed that I had to be able to walk there on my own. This did not jibe with my plan to breastfeed immediately so I said that I needed a breast pump right now. I was pissed! No one warned me that I might not get to at least go see my boys after giving birth! I felt a little like Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill as I stared at my unmoving feet and repeated, “Wiggle your big toe.” Finally the lactation consultant came in and I was hooked up to the breast pump. We discovered that I had enough milk to feed the entire NICU!
Eight hours later,Christopher finally wheeled me into the NICU. Nothing prepares you to see your tiny babies in a plastic box. They wouldn’t let me hold them or feed them. They both had IVs, and oxygen masks on their faces. It was horrible.
A little twin love...
Finally, I was able to hold Jack–24 hours later! I was also told that I could start breastfeeding for short amounts of time. Everything was so structured and limited! But I was wheeled or trudged down to the NICU every 4 hours to feed the boys.
You'd be fussy too!!
For those of you who know me, I lean toward the hippie-ish when I’m needing to be comfortable. Oh, I also have tattoos. Lots of tattoos. I’m up to a full sleeve on my right arm, but at the point when the boys were born I just had a half sleeve of my wedding flowers. Very pretty. I’m also pierced. Nose, ears, etc. I had purchased a couple of those scrunched top maxi dresses because they would be great for tandem breastfeeding. They happened to be tie-dyed.
On my second day after giving birth, I finally got to shower and felt semi-presentable.
I had my hair in a bandanna and was dressed. I arrived at the NICU and was asked by the nurse on duty, as she looked me up and down, what kind of drugs I had taken during my pregnancy. WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I couldn’t believe that she just asked me that! I looked at her and said I had only taken my prescribed prenatal vitamins! She said, “It’s just that your babies are really fussy. You know, fussy like drug babies.” I replied that I’d be fussy too if I was new and someone stuffed me in a Tupperware box and glued felt sunglasses to my head and stuck a feeding tube up my nose and poked me with needles every few hours! Chris and I were livid and we filed a complaint with the hospital.
Day five brought the great news that the boys could be moved up to the Pediatrics ward. This was awesome! Their first night out of the NICU was Christopher’s and my 2nd wedding anniversary. He got us our favorite food from our favorite local restaurant and we spent our first night as a family on our anniversary. The boys got to come home with us the next day. It is indescribably scary to bring your tiny babies home and go from having them attached to heart monitors and then to nothing! We were so happy to be home and in a comfortable environment though. Home, where we could feed them without someone hovering over me!
Harry & Jack
The boys are humongous now and you would never know they were four weeks premature. They are smart as whips–too smart, like evil-genius smart, Jedi smart. They have achieved their milestones ahead of schedule and ahead of schedule for most full-term babies! We love and cherish every moment, even when those moments are trying and tiresome. Christopher and I are a united team when it comes to child raising and we share duties equally, especially now that we are both working full time. He is a totally hands-on Daddy and has never balked at anything the boys have thrown at him (or peed at him, or pooped or puked, etc.!)
I am glad that I can look back on my pregnancy with humor, because it was dreadful when I was going through it. I have never been sicker, more uncomfortable and in more pain than during those eight months. I am also glad that after the miscarriage, we were blessed with twins, because I am never going to do that again!
Erin and Christopher with Harry & Jack
My life has gone from relatively simple to Mayhem, Chaos and complete insanity in the short span of four years. I married the love of my life in 2008, got pregnant, gave birth to twin boys in 2010 and am the tasting room manager for a local winery. My husband and I live and breathe wine, and it’s a good thing…I’ve completely given up on keeping my sanity! Just call me Mayhem.
You can read more of Erin’s writing at her blog, http://justcallmemayhem.blogspot.com/