Friday, July 13, 2012

twin birth story: the pregnancy

Part two of our birth story. You can read part one here

Ahh, one year later. It is surreal to look back and reflect on where I was last year. 

In the beginning of November 2010, Andy and I came home from a two-month European adventure to no home, no jobs, re-vamped life plans, and...a positive pregnancy test. 

When we went in to hear the heartbeat, the midwife couldn't get a reading. She told us we could either go get an ultrasound or wait for another week or two and try again. The suspense was killing us, and after talking it through we decided to take a peek and see if our little baby was OK. Sitting on the ultrasound table, the tech said, "there's the heartbeat, all is well...and there's the second heartbeat!"

We were in shock. "Oh, crap," I said. The tech responded with a "oh, please don't," and Andy was just staring in silence. Then the laughter started, and continued for a few days after as we broke the news to family and friends.

After a long and sick first trimester, I finally started writing in my pregnancy journal, the italics below are snippets of a few entries. 

I'm 23 weeks along with Ruthie and Afton; I can't believe time is going by so quickly. Yet I feel as though I've been pregnant for a long time...the most interesting aversions have been salad (romaine lettuce, especially) and garlic, and the smell of coffee. I remember asking my midwife at Andaluz if it was OK that I had not eaten a vegetable for about a month, barring tomato sauce on pizza, which always sounded good - usually.

I joked that I had two jobs - a part-time position at the naturopathic medical school and a part-time job sleeping. It was like my body could not get enough. I dragged myself to work for four hours and came home and slept another handful. I'd wake up in time for dinner, try and force something down, then head back to bed. I remember so many times being on the verge of tears and desperate because I was so hungry but nothing sounded good to eat, except pizza.

I checked out, borrowed, or bought every book on twin pregnancy and birth available (there actually aren't many) and read them front to back, back to front. I read about how trying to gain 30 pounds before 30 weeks is the goal, because when there isn't any more room, you won't be eating nearly as much, and if you have heartburn (oh the agony!) you won't be eating then, either. The calorie counts were daunting, and I printed off the list from Dr. Brewer's twin eating plan to keep track of my meals. A Tillamook Cheeseburger and a small chocolate shake from Burgerville became a twice or thrice-weekly event and always hit the spot.

In addition to the daunting task of physically growing the babies, there's the psychological game you play with yourself, as you grow larger than the average pregnant woman and the weight of the babies start to get you down. I looked to others who had gone before me for advice:  

A friend at NCNM, who I had known throughout her pregnancy and birth of twin boys, gave me very good advice: you can't get emotionally psyched out, because the last months of the 3rd trimester are going to be very challenging. If you think it's bad now, and give up and give in, then you're totally screwed.

Soon after I wrote that, I had my first early labor scare. It was completely my fault, and I felt like a dummy. Being pregnant for the first time is so nerve-wracking, you think every twinge or pain is something going wrong. I'm also accident-prone, and it made Andy very nervous, especially on this day: 

Yesterday was a really weird day that didn't end until midnight - and we came home from the hospital! I fell getting on the bus and had the wind knocked out of me, I felt like a big idiot with my dirty knees and hands, stumbling out of the planter box after tripping over a huge tree root trying to escape from a guy smoking pot in the bus shelter! I felt sick-ish and crampy with pains radiating near my ribs and below my pelvis...I called the doctor on call and went in to L&D, they hooked me up to a monitor and recorded the contractions, and later, gave me a shot of terbutaline to relax the uterus. I wish I had refused it...I took the next day off work and have made it my goal to drink 2x the water, and I'm not allowed to to run to the bus anymore or play in any planters, ha ha.

I do wish I had refused the terbutaline, I feel like if I would have focused on rest and hydration, it would have been fine. And maybe even some Rescue Remedy. Hindsight is 20/20.

My favorite part of pregnancy was the quiet moments when the girls were moving around. It was magic. It is unreal. And with two, it was fun to try and guess who was where, especially earlier on when they had more room to move around. I felt the first little flutters around 16 or 17 weeks, and soon it was a nonstop party:   

Ruthie and Afton are so active. They punch and jab and roll and kick, and they are just THERE and all up in everything - pelvis, ribs, groin area; it's a tad bit uncomfortable. OK, VERY uncomfortable! And the heartburn! Oh man. It is so bad. Cal-Mag helps a little. And then there is the recurring nausea. I thought I was done with that?! My feelings at this point are - If I can get through 9 months of this twin pregnancy, I can surely get through 12, 24, 36 hours of labor. A drop in the bucket!    

It's funny, I write in bed and this journal is propped up a little below my belly, and the girls keep kicking it - they also do that if some low pants cut into them too much, like a specific pair of Gap maternity work pants that I am growing out of - they let me know! It almost feels like Ruthie (she's below) is pushing it out of the way. Need my space, mom!

By the end of the second trimester I felt huge and so heavy, but I was carrying low and apparently didn't look that ginormous to people. I kept my belly measurements out of fascination and compared them to my cousin, who came to visit me at the beginning of my third trimester. I also relied heavily on my chiropractor to keep putting my ribs back and helping with the discomfort.  

Measured my waist circumference with Britt - at 26 weeks I'm 42". Britt was 44" at full term! This is going to be a looong 3 months! Went to the chiropractor yesterday and was in uncomfortable pain, mainly in the ribs. She said my pelvis is still well-aligned (yay!) but my right rib cage was splayed out like open fingers, which explains the rib pain! She put the ribs back and I'm icing the area every day and doing some exercise that will hopefully help.

I gave my notice at work near the end of May and planned to stay through the beginning of July. I loved my job and was sad to give it up, but after doing the math, it was in no way conducive for me to keep working. We don't have family here, and childcare is so expensive. But near the end, I was ready to be done, and my doctor soon agreed. 

One more month of work left! I can do it! I can make it! All I want is to be home but we really could use the money and I am just resolving to finish. I'll be 32 weeks when done, and hopefully I'll have most of July to rest and prepare for our little daughters - I catch glimpses of my nesting instinct but it hasn't hit strongly yet. I'm ready and waiting!

I'm slowing down, and from what I hear and have read, it will just get slower and slower. Then the girls will be here and it will be an entirely different type of slow. As for our little ladies, they are super strong and very busy. I read the perfect description: like two active puppies. So true. Two roly-poly puppies. Ruthie gets the hiccups and Afton kicks anything that pushes on my stomach. We are SO EXCITED for them to come and to see them and find out who they are. 10 more weeks and they will be here! 

Up until then it had been a by-the-book healthy pregnancy, with no signs of trouble. But at the beginning of June, right after my beautiful baby shower in Southern Oregon, I was put on bed rest, went into pre-term labor, and was banished to bed rest until they came in early July.

Bed rest and labor story coming up next!

Did you keep a pregnancy journal? What is your favorite pregnancy memory?


  1. Gah! I love it...I have been waiting forever for this haha!

    Okay, I couldn't STAND coffee when I was pregnant with the twins either! I even had bought decaf, but no way, the smell was awful.

    I did keep a journal, and I love looking back and reading similar things about who might be kicking who and what part of my body and how I was feeling.

    Beautiful belly my friend.

    1. Thanks :)

      Yeah coffee was TERRIBLE!!

  2. Love this:) the girls are so lucky to have you and your worlds.

  3. ...and that was supposed to say "words" :)

  4. I blogged way more than I journaled ... I love reading your little snippets! The girls will too someday :)

    1. Yes, I was the opposite. I hardly blogged. I blame it on the brain fog every time I sat down at the computer, but I could write a few lines before bed every night and be OK. I love your letters to Jemma, I totally wish I had done that...although I suppose there is still plenty of time! :)

  5. I'm so behind on reading my favorite blogs that I'm just now getting around to this post. I love that you're sharing so much of your intimate journey carrying your beautiful twin babies -- and I'm curious based on one of your journal entries excerpted above how early you named them? Have I missed a post somewhere along the way where you talk about name significance? Just wondering :)

    1. It's a short story, really. I had two girl names. No boy names. FOR THE WIN! :) I should write about their names and the meaning behind them...I'll do that! Thanks!

  6. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for info on cloth diapering and EC...and I'm glad I found it! I wish I was keeping a journal during my (first, and twins!) pregnancy. It was the expectation but sadly, not the reality--30 weeks pregnant and I have one entry...

    I was lucky enough not to have too many aversions and/or morning sickness in the beginning. My greatest pains though, have been in the ribs, between the shoulder blades, and swollen feet. I look forward to hearing more from you!

  7. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for info on cloth diapering and EC...and I'm glad I found it! I wish I was keeping a journal during my (first, and twins!) pregnancy. It was the expectation but sadly, not the reality--30 weeks pregnant and I have one entry...

    I was lucky enough not to have too many aversions and/or morning sickness in the beginning. My greatest pains though, have been in the ribs, between the shoulder blades, and swollen feet. I look forward to hearing more from you!


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