My husband Len and I have been married for 7 years, and our twins Elizabeth and Nicholas are 4 1/2 years old.
How we found out: Getting pregnant was not easy. So when we finally received the word that we were pregnant it was such an amazing feeling. We had an early ultrasound at 6 weeks gestation when we found out that we were having twins. But while that was the good news, the not so good news was that both heartbeats were lower than average and the doctor looked at me and said that it was a 50/50 shot that either baby would survive. I could not believe how unemotional the doctor was in delivering such news, and with tears I asked what I should do. He said that if I was drinking any caffeine that perhaps I should stop, and otherwise I should return in 10 days for a repeat ultrasound. That evening when I came home from work, my husband said he bought me a lunch bag and that I need to eat properly and take better care of myself. He began making lunch for me every day. I called my dad who said that doctors are supposed to just state the facts and that I should not worry…the best thing to do was to just love those babies a little bit extra. After 10 days of intense worry, we heard those tiny hearts beating fast and strong!
Pregnancy/Delivery story: After that initial scare, my first and second trimesters were mostly uneventful. I love to eat and am without a doubt a carb junkie. But during my first trimester the only way to satisfy my appetite was with meat, and I gained 30 pounds. Just before Thanksgiving we went for an early ultrasound at 17 weeks and found out that we were having a boy and a girl. They measured my cervix at 3cm and said that it was closed. Not really fully understanding what any of that meant, I didn’t think anything of it. Somewhere during that second trimester, I also discovered that my blood pressure was slightly higher than normal and my resting heart rate was around 100, which concerned me. But the doctor said that was all quite normal, especially while carrying twins. We went on vacation to Mexico and a month later went to NY and PA to spend Christmas with family. I had not slowed down much and felt great.
We arrived back in OR on December 26. On December 29 I went for an ultrasound growth check. My husband stayed for the abdominal part of the ultrasound, but then left back to work just before they checked my cervix with a vaginal ultrasound. Twenty minutes later I called my husband in tears. I was sent to the hospital – 70% effaced and 1 cm dilated at 24 weeks gestation.
I spent the next 6 weeks in and out of the hospital on full bed rest and as given steroid injections to help the babies’ lungs at 26 weeks. The babies were fine and I was never in active labor. But I was slowly dilating. At 29.5 weeks when I finally felt like we were hitting a safer zone for the babies, I was home when my daughter’s water broke in the middle of the night. Back in the hospital I went, but I only lasted 4 more days. Our babies came into the world at 30 weeks gestation and just over 3 lbs each. Elizabeth was born vaginally and Nicholas by c-section. All the nurses said that they were great size for being born so early…I guess all that meat I ate in the first trimester helped.
Elizabeth and Nicholas stayed in the NICU for over 50 days. They were the most difficult days of my life. They were both on CPAP for breathing assistance for over 1 month, and Nicholas had surgery to close an open duct in his heart when he was 1 month (34 weeks gestational age) old and weighed less than 4 lbs. They finally learned how to eat and came home only a few days apart. Nicholas, who was definitely the sicker baby in the NICU, but had no significant issues at home. Elizabeth suffered from reflux and colic. Feeding schedules were totally out of sync, but we did whatever we needed to do to make it through!
After a very difficult pregnancy and first year, Elizabeth and Nicholas are happy and healthy 4 yr old kiddos who fill our lives with infinite joy (unless they are fist fighting with each other or talking back to mommy and daddy)! They never required any early intervention, and to date have met every developmental milestone. Whew!!
Occupation: Before going on bed rest, I was a process engineer for 12 years at Intel, but never returned to work. When the twins were 18 months, I was lucky enough to find a part time sales position in a similar field, through a family friend. But since I am no longer an engineer in charge of equipment, the demands are much more manageable for me. I love the flexible schedule that allows me to be with the kids as much as possible, while still allowing for some “me time” that I really need.
Favorite aspect of being a twin mom: So many people say that you shouldn’t compare kids. But I think that has been the best part of watching two kids the same age grow up. Their personalities were apparent even as tiny preemies in the NICU. Our kids are so different, yet they are the best of friends.
Advice for new moms: Take time for yourself, in whatever form as long as it gives you the balance that you need. Ask for help, surround yourself with family and friends, and enjoy every day with your children.