Dear Ms Mayer,
I know that you get a lot of flak. Because of your job as a relatively young female CEO of a high profile company, the world reads into your personal decisions all sorts of gender stereotypes and norms. You may have no interest in serving as a feminist symbol, whether icon or patsy.
I’m not writing to you as a feminist (which I am) or to criticize how you achieve family-work balance. Instead, I’d like to talk to you working MoM to working MoM. First off, congratulations on your identical twin daughters! I wish for you a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.
Welcome to the most wonderful club in the world, that of Parents of Multiples. While I’m sure that every parent of several revels in their children’s sibling relationships, there’s something magical and humbling about the wombmate bond. The identical bond is even deeper. I’m a mother of identical twin daughters myself, and close as we are, I can only marvel on the beautiful intimacy of their unique relationship.
The fact that you already know that your daughters are identical makes me suspect that your daughters may share a membrane and/or placenta. Of course, you may have conducted genetic testing and have a di/di pregnancy. If your girls do share a placenta, though, that makes your pregnancy a high risk one. Like you, I intended to work right until the moment that I went into labour, but the babies had a different idea. I started having preterm labour symptoms that forced me to reduce my work hours at 31 weeks gestation. Please listen to your body, which may not have quite the commitment to working all the way through your pregnancy that our work ethics have.
I wish for you your dream birth. However, we MoMs often don’t get that luxury. In fact, about 75% of twin births are C-sections. In my own case, I had to have an emergency C-section because one daughter’s water broke and both babies were breech. Even though it was only 3 hours from entering labour to delivery, Twin A was in distress by the time she was born.
Ms Mayer, please allow me to assure you that a C-section is major surgery. Yes, it’s standard surgery, but even a run-of-the-mill Caesarean involves cutting through multiple organs, each of which must heal. You’ll need time to let your body stitch itself together, ideally with minimal scar tissue. The scar tissue from my C-section has left me unable to have sex without excruciating pain. Like every other mother, your organs will be moving into their post-pregnancy arrangement, which may not look like where they were before you got pregnant. All this will be happening in the first days of your daughters’ lives, when they need you and you’re enveloped in visitors and well wishers. Allow yourself to heal, please.
I hope for your girls the full term gestation that my daughters were denied. I had a picture perfect pregnancy, but my sweet girls were still born at 33 weeks, less than 4 lbs each. They’re doing fine now, but they were in the hospital for just over 2 weeks. If your little babies were to follow the same schedule as mine, your commitment to return to work when they are 2 weeks old would put you at the office when they are released from the NICU. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Don’t get me wrong. I, too, considered returning to work relatively early. While my girls were in the NICU, I considered returning to the office. I thought this would let me have a few weeks home with them once they were released. I was ready to start the paperwork when a NICU nurse told me to hold off. Our daughters would be home in days, not weeks.
I honestly thought I was in control of the schedule, but pregnancies have their own ebb and flow, as do newborns. Our bodies and those of our babies run the show. I hope that you have everything you dream of, but in your commitments during this pregnancy and its aftermath, I ask you to leave room for the unknown. Identical twin pregnancy risks are all too real.