It Wasn’t Fair: The Road to Baby

(This post was submitted anonymously.)

When we first got married, we knew we both wanted kids. We knew we would be great parents. We just weren’t ready yet. The day would come, but in our early(ish) 20s, we wanted to enjoy the time that was just the two of us.

About a year later, a co-worker of mine got pregnant (as often happens with teachers) and I began to imagine what it would be like for us to have a little one. It was the first time that I really wanted a child, and I realized I was ready. While I was ready for the little one in my arms, I didn’t really like the idea of having my blood drawn every month (I was deathly afraid of needles and I had never had my blood drawn). I didn’t want the morning sickness. I was feeling icky about the idea of something growing inside me and kicking me from the inside. But still, the urge was there.

Later in the year, at a wedding of two of our dear friends, I spent time with the most adorable 1 year old, and I knew this was something I wanted. Really wanted. My poor husband was left thinking, “Wait, we were going to wait until we were 30, and we are only 25! Why did you change our plans?”

We talked and I knew that although we both still really wanted kids in the future, the time wasn’t right. So, given the choice between baby and dog, we chose a dog.

Well, in the fall of 2011, the urge for a child was still there for me, and it kept getting stronger. My husband and I talked often, and he understood my want and need, but he wasn’t ready for that commitment yet. I really have so much respect for him for standing up to my emotional fits and sighs upon seeing an adorable baby, a great nursery on Pinterest, or a happy pregnant lady. We decided that we would start trying during the summer of 2012. That would mean we would have our child in the spring of 2013, the perfect timing for a teacher. I would have my maternity leave, and then it would be summer! Plus, I would have my morning sickness during the summer months before school started.

We started trying in May 2012. We thought we would be totally fertile and get pregnant right away. In June, I got really sick and I was nauseous all the time, especially in the morning. I was sure I was pregnant. I went to the doctor, and she thought I was too. She started explaining (knowing how afraid I was of needles) that she would have to draw blood to test. For the first time, I was more than happy for that needle.

I got the call back the next day. Negative. She had no idea why I was so sick, prescribed me some nausea pills, and told me to contact her again soon if it didn’t go away.

Once the school year ended, the nausea went away sometimes. Some days it would be so intense that I would stay in bed most of the day, and some days it was bearable and I could have a normal summer crafting day.

Then my grandfather died. The nausea stayed away, but this was a grief that I had not experienced before. I struggled so much with this loss. When I found out that I wasn’t pregnant, once again, just a couple of weeks after his death, I could hardly bear it. I was hoping for a life to grow inside of me to help honor my papa. Instead, I felt that there was more death around us.

As the new school year started up again, the nausea came back. I started losing weight as I didn’t feel like eating. I had my endoscopy, x-rays, ultrasounds, allergy testing. Nothing definitive pinpointed the nausea. I realized in about October that it was gone. I didn’t have it anymore. I still have no idea what it was, nor do my doctors.

In October, we started to be concerned that I still wasn’t pregnant. I was no longer sick. I was at a really healthy weight again, I looked great, I felt great, but I wasn’t pregnant. We thought that maybe it was the stress from the past school year, being sick, and my grandfather’s death that prevented the pregnancy. I went to see my doctor. She confirmed that I was healthy and would have no problems getting pregnant. It was just 5 months of trying, after all. “Be patient. Relax. Stop worrying. It will happen for you. Come and see me again if you are not pregnant after 1 year. In the meantime, I’m sure I will see you next month with a positive pregnancy test.”

So, one more month of trying. One more month of negative tests. Since the summer, I had been charting my BBT (basal body temperature), peeing on a stick to find out when I was ovulating, and many other weird methods to make sure I was going to have the most success possible. Something just didn’t feel right. We were sure I was going to get pregnant right away! So why wasn’t I pregnant?

So, in November, we contacted a fertility doctor. I was surprised that I didn’t need a referral to see him. I just made an appointment (the earliest he would be able to see us would be January 17). Then, the most magnificent news came: he could see us for our initial visit on December 4! I felt like our luck was going to turn around.

On the day of the appointment, we were a bundle of nerves (mine were on the surface, as my emotions always are, and my husband was able to hide his nervousness). In this 2-hour consultation, the doctor talked to us about the difficulties of getting pregnant for normal people, checked me out (through an vaginal ultrasound), and then discussed all of the options for us. We found that, although we are both young and healthy, there were some issues which would make it hard for us to get pregnant. In the effort of keeping privacy, I will not go into those details, but it was difficult to hear. We were seemingly healthy! Our doctor said so! But we still had some other issues which would make getting pregnant difficult. Not just difficult, but near impossible. We were told we would have a 5% chance of getting pregnant without IVF (in vitro fertilization). That was really, really hard to hear.

This wasn’t fair! We had a loving relationship. We adored each other and our families. My friends were getting pregnant, having babies, enjoying their new families. Where was ours? Why were we given the short straw when so many others could get pregnant just by looking at each other?!

So, thus began the start of the emotional mood swings. If we thought it was tough over the summer, it was nothing compared to what was ahead of us. We lived in 2 Week Waits: trying to get pregnant and then waiting to see if I was pregnant (and repeat).

In December, after we found out about our fertility problems, we quickly started on our Road to Baby. The first step was to try and help jumpstart my ovulation by taking Clomid. (One of my issues was that I needed make sure that I was actually ovulating and releasing eggs.) December was the first month that I took this. Holy mood swings! Still, if it could help me get pregnant, that was worth it!

That first month, we had a few other tests done, including blood tests, a sperm analysis (immediate and 24-hour), post-coital test (to see if my body allowed the sperm to live or if it were a “hostile environment”), an HSG x-ray to check if my tubes were clear, and ultrasounds throughout the process. This is when we were told that Clomid alone wouldn’t do any good and we needed to look to take other measures, most likely IVF with ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection). We were heartbroken to hear this, but then we picked ourselves up and moved forward. While we were saving money to do IVF, we decided that we would try 3 months of IUI, take a month off, and then do IVF. We were hopeful that it could work. After all, it is said that the 3 months after the HSG x-ray, the woman is most fertile (the dye helps clean out the tubes).

One other thing that my doctor did to help was to put me on medicine for hypothyroidism. We didn’t find out until about a year later that I actually didn’t have hypothyroidism, but there was a new thought in the medical world that by manipulating the thyroid levels, it could improve fertility.

January: the first month of IUI. Clomid, watching with BBT and ovulation predictor kits, and IUI when I showed a positive test.

Then we waited 2 weeks. Then we took a test. Negative.

We picked ourselves up and tried again.

February: the second month of IUI. Clomid, watching with BBT and ovulation predictor kits, and IUI when I showed a positive test. We thought that we were probably about a day or two late, so we weren’t holding our breath.

2 week wait. Took a test. Negative.

March: the last month of IUI. We knew in our hearts that this month wouldn’t be successful either, so we were looking towards IVF in May. Our fertility doctor decided that he wanted to try a different course of medicines. My husband was taught how to give me injections of Follistem in my stomach. The doctor had me come in every morning for ultrasounds to check my follicles (numbers and sizes). We found that I had about 5 mature follicles, all racing to be The First to release the egg. Then, once I ovulated and we did IUI, I stared on estrogen patches and progesterone suppositories for two weeks. At the time of the IUI, we figured that I had released 2-3 eggs, which gave a much better chance at one of them becoming fertilized. The estrogen and progesterone was only done to help our chances of implantation.

Two weeks later, I woke up on the day that my prescriptions for the estrogen and progesterone supplements were up. I knew that I had to take a test to see if I was pregnant or call in to continue the prescriptions. I peed on a stick. I went to lay down again with the stick on the side table. I looked over once the time was up. Two lines. TWO LINES! I had never seen that before.

As soon as the office opened up, I called my doctor to tell them about the test. They ordered a blood test for us with a rush order for results. We raced over to the lab, then waited 2 hours, then got our answer. I was pregnant!!!! We got a congrats and then an appointment for 3 weeks afterwards for my first ultrasound.

I stopped taking my birth control pills in January 2012. We started officially trying in May 2012. I got my first positive in April 2013. Amazing.

Collection of Parenting Book Reviews from a Parenting Book Lover

I was so excited when Sadia thought we should do a week of parenting book reviews here on HDYDI. I love reading books, and especially good parenting books. I will be reading all the reviews my fellow authors will be sharing in the hopes of finding my next parenting book to pick up!

What's Up FagansOn my blog I have written several parenting book reviews, and I’d though I’d share a little blurb about each one (with a link to the full review on What’s up Fagans?) instead of reposting each one separately. Also, my personal affiliate links are used in this post.

Pregnancy and Birth Books

In one post I reviewed the six different pregnancy and birth books listed above, giving them all letter grades (for your convenience). I was researching and reading about natural childbirth at the time as I was preparing for the birth of my singleton. I desperately wanted to have a VBAC, and since I hadn’t actually experienced labor with my twins, I wanted to learn what to expect and how to handle it.

Beating Bed Rest

Our very own Angela gave me a copy of her Beating Bed Rest book which, had I ever been on bed rest, would have been a godsend! I am grateful for her honest perspective on something, that frankly, isn’t talked about at nearly the depth it should be in pregnancy books!

Christian/Religious Parenting Books

The Christian Parenting Handbook

I reviewed this book on my blog as part of the book’s launch week, and also shared about it on HDYDI that week as well. But, I do think it is one of my favorite parenting books. Despite being Christian-based, the principles apply to all sound-minded parents, no matter what religion. And the book isn’t judgmental, but very encouraging, helping you do more than just behavior modification. It’s helping you do heart modification. And that is what great parenting should really be about!

Together: Growing Appetites for God

I haven’t written a review of this book, though I’ve always meant to. This book is about how one mother decides that she is going to get her kids into the word of God by reading aloud, straight from the Bible (and not a Children’s version), cover to cover. She sets realistic expectations for it, leaving room for sick days, weekends, and vacations, and plots a course of finishing the Bible in… seven years. Yes, she calculated that it would take that long. Thankfully, it took only three (I think?). I loved her honest recounts of how it went, and how her family grew through the experience. I have tried numerous times to do this with my family, but usually only last a week or two, so I find this book inspiring!

Standing for Something

While not quite a “parenting book,” this book is all about 10 neglected virtues in our society and how we can reestablish them in our society and in our homes. I read this book when my kids were not even a year, but it’s a great book that gives us hope of great things yet to come, even in a world that too often seem amoral.

Other Parenting Books

Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age 5

This is a great book that I think all parents should read! Some parents drive themselves batty over the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under two have NO screen time, at all. This book, written by a mom, is well researched, but easy to read and understand. It helps dispel some myths and shared light on bigger issues than focused TV watching.

Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her House of Entitlement

This is a great parenting book, especially if you have fallen into the rut of believing that it is just easier to do everything yourself, instead of waiting for your child to do whatever chore. Each month this mom conquered a new entitlement and kept building from it. She repeated over and over again how she wished she would’ve started it much sooner, when her kids were younger, as the oldest one was the most resistant to some of her changes. In my review, I reflect on how I was raised (which things I was “entitled to” and which things I definitely wasn’t) and what I love about this book!

Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

This book is definitely different from most parenting books. The author takes a very reflective role instead of an authoritarian role, sharing and reminiscing about her son growing up. They often go walking in nature, learning about various life, but also strengthening their relationship. It’s a beautiful little read.

1-2-3 Magic:Effective Discipline for Young Kids

This book will be given a proper book review for HDYDI later today, but I wanted to share my review on this parenting book. Since reading this and many other books, I am on the fence sometimes about time-outs. I use them, but I really use them sparingly now (my twins are almost four). But, the thing I still think about from this book is the “Little Adult Syndrome!” I cannot tell you how many times I need to remind myself that they are kids, they cannot reason like me. Helps me keep things in perspective and not get so upset with my kids.

Have you read any of these books?

ldskatelyn is a stay at home mom of almost 4yo fraternal g/g twins and an almost 1yo baby boy. She loves reading books, especially parenting books! She writes all about her family and her simple life in Indianapolis over at What’s up Fagans?

Advice for Pregnant MoMs

You’ve just found out you are pregnant… and with twins! Congratulations! So many thoughts must be racing through your head. Are there really TWO of them in there? How did this happen? What does this mean? Can I still have a natural birth? What if they come early? Do we need to get a bigger car, bigger house? How are we going to PAY for TWO babies at once?

OMG what are we going to do?!?!?

Relax. You are in good company. We’ve all been through it, that’s why we are blogging about it now. It’s been a tough road for many of us, but hey who said raising kids was going to be easy?

If you are new parents, you will be evenly matched. If you already have an older child… well… better prepare your house for battle because YOU WILL BE OUTNUMBERED!

Here’s what you can do.

  1. Arm Yourself With Knowledge

    Read up on books which will help you prepare for twin mommy-hood. You could buy them from your local bookstore or online, borrow from a friend, get them second hand or borrow from the library. Our local library has an online book reservation system which made it really handy to place books on hold. You get notified when the books are in and they store them on a special bookshelf near the entrance which makes it quick and easy to pick up. Plus you can renew books online. All you need is a library card, which is almost always free!

    Some of the books that a very thoughtful friend gave as a gift:
    • “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins” by Marc Weissbluth, MD
    • “Ready or Not” series on raising twins by Elizabeth Lyon

    Not-twin related but still very helpful books I borrowed from the library:
    • “What To Expect When You Are Expecting” – with a special section on multiples
    • “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your baby” by Tracy Hogg
    • “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy” by Vicki Lovine
    • “Baby Bargains, Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on baby furniture, gear, etc” by Denise & Alan Fields

  2. Register for Bootcamp

    Find a prenatal class offered in your area either by your municipality/county, hospital or local Multiple Births Association.

    We took a combination of classes. First, we signed up for a local prenatal classes which at the time were a series of evening classes led by a Registered Nurse (RN) from the Public Health department. Now unfortunately those courses are only offered online with an optional one day workshop at the local library.

    Once we found out we were having twins, we then signed up for the Multiple Births Families Association (www.MBFA.ca) “Multiple Expectations” prenatal course where we met other families in the same boat.

    Finally, I signed up for a special Breastfeeding Multiples session at the local Hospital to get some “hands-on” training with dolls. It sounds funny but you will need the practice. It’s less nerve wracking to position 2 dolls and not worry about dropping them than a pair of REAL babies!

  3. Make Allies

    Start building your network with some of the couples you met at these prenatal courses. Join your local Multiple Births Association to meet other families. If you live in Canada, check the Multiple Births Canada website to find a chapter near you. It’s worth the annual membership fee, especially for the first couple of years.

    Again, it may sound funny to some (“They have a twins club for you guys?”) but trust me, if you meet another twin mommy with multiples close to your age, you will want to exchange numbers and stay in touch! Many of these clubs also hold events like: summer picnics; holiday parties; meet and greets; and playdates.

    You can also join online communities such as right here on HDYDI to connect with other moms, either though facebook groups or blogging websites. Great way to connect with MOMs across North America!

    Another great resource we have here in our city is Breastfeeding Buddies. It’s another program offered by the City of Ottawa’s Public Health department for new moms with babies under 6 months old where they pair you up with another mom who has successfully nursed her baby or babies. I was grateful to get a phone call every few days from my BF Buddy to ask how things were going and encourage me along. If it wasn’t for her, I would have given up well before my twins weaned themselves off around 9 months.

    Yes, this person is a stranger to you but sometimes you can be more candid speaking with someone you don’t know very well. Plus, these ladies are screened and trained by a Ottawa Public Health nurse on being discreet. They are there to offer advice, not pass judgement. Check your county’s Public Health department website for a similar program.

  4. Select Your Gear

    Many people, when having their first child, will buy things brand new or get items as gifts from families and friends. That is not always practical when you are preparing for multiples.

    So in addition to joining your local Multiple Births chapter for the events, attend their Mom-to-Mom consignment sales. At our local ‘Twice As Nice’ sale, we have scored new or nearly new snowsuits and winter boots, not to mention toys, nursery essentials and big ticket items like high chairs and toddler bed frames. For more details on what these “Twins Sales” are about and why they are so popular, check out details on our local sale website here.

    Before you go, make a list of what you need so you don’t get carried away with buying too much or too little. Luckily, you DON’T need two of everything.

  5. Stockpile Supplies for Survival

    The biggest expenses for babies in the first year are diapers and formula. Now is a great time to start stocking up on those essentials.

    You will be needing diapers until your babies are at least 2.5 years old. When shopping for diapers, it’s handy to do a quick calculation on the cost per diaper to know whether you are being ripped off or not. Each diaper can cost between 16 to 40 cents.

    If you are using formula, you may want to wait until you figure out what your baby can handle. Not every formula is the same. We found the liquid Similac which the hospital gave us was easily digested but the more inexpensive powder form was hard on them and causing constipation.

    So we switched to the iron-fortified President’s Choice* baby formula from our local grocery store which often came on sale for $12.99-$15.99 for a big tin. (regular price at the time was $19.99, compared with $32.99 for other leading brands) A second brand we found worked well was Heinz. Find a brand and stick to it.

    Since we were doing both breastmilk and formula, we went through one tin a week for the first few months. Then 1 tin every 4 days until our twins were able to take cow’s milk at one year old.

    *President’s Choice label is only available in Canada at our grocery food chain, Loblaws. Their products (including affordable gourmet food items) are worth the trip up north!

  6. Line Up The Troops

    Make note of all the well wishers in your life that offer help, whether they be neighbours, parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, or co-workers. If you are like me and have a hard time asking for or taking help, pray that your family and friends know you well enough to know when you need it. We are fortunate enough to have both sets of parents in town, helpful aunts and uncles, friends and neighbours. They all came over on a regular basis (daily or weekly) to help out in some way whether it was taking over the kitchen, folding laundry, bringing over food, and of course caring for the babies.

    Have a short list of people you can reach out to by phone. These are well wishes who want to be there for you but can’t physically due to distance and their own situations.

  7. Have a Gameplan

    Manage your expectations and logistics of what’s going to happen when the babies’ arrive. Is your house going to be a disaster or will you work yourself to the bone trying to keep it clean? Can you afford to get outside help for a short time to help maintain it?

    Will you allow visitors in the hospital and in the early days at home? If so, ask them to bring lunch, or grocery essentials like milk and eggs. Tell them to expect you to open the door in your pyjamas. Let them hold the babies while you go take a shower or a nap.

    Are the babies going to sleep in your bed, your room or in the nursery? In one crib or two? Upstairs or downstairs? (depending on whether mom can climb stairs in the early days)

    Is hubby going to stay home for a few days, weeks or months? Will you invite your folks to move in with you for a short while? When will you go back to work? Will you go back to work?

    If you are nursing, will you hire a lactation consultant to help you? Will you consent to a wellbaby visit by a Public Health Nurse, if this service is offered in your area? Read a previous post I wrote on how to survive the first three months with newborn twins.

Pregnant with twins? Relax. It's going to be great. from hdydi.com

Hopefully these tips and suggestions will help you organize your thoughts and figure out how to prepare for your upcoming bundles of joy. Most of all, DON’T PANIC! Soon, you will find yourself saying you “wouldn’t have it any other way”.

Ambereen lives in Canada with her husband and Boy/Girl twins. They survived the first 3 years of raising twins and lived to blog about it. Check out her blog at www.2cute.intiaz.com or tweet her at @2cuteblog.

Twin-Z Nursing Pillow

Twin Z Pillow Review - Doyle Dispatch

A few months ago, I discovered a wonderful website called Tomoson.com where bloggers can apply to review items. Based on your qualifications, you may receive the items that you applied for. Well, there are lots of cool gadgets, new products, books, and items to try and “win,” and I’ve been really fortunate to be selected to review the Twin Z Pillow!

Now, I will preface this post by saying that my twins hadn’t been born yet when I wrote this, so my review will be based on what I know so far. I did not receive any compensation for my review, other than the free product.

When I first heard about the Twin Z pillow, I was a little hesitant. All of the MOM (Moms of Multiples) sites and groups recommended the My Brest Friend Twins nursing pillow, as that is the leader on the market. As these are our first babies, I suffer from “First Time Mom-itis,” which is defined as wanting only what is best for your child(ren), no matter the cost or hassle. Still, when the Twin Z pillow popped up on Tomoson’s site, I applied to review it (hey, free is free!), and then I scoured the internet for information about it. What I found surprised me. I saw review after review of it, comparing it to the My Brest Friend Twins pillow… and the Twin Z came out waaaaaaaaaay ahead. So, why was My Brest Friend’s nursing pillow the leader in the market? My thought is that it has to be tied to marketing, advertising, and product placement in stores.

Score Count: 1 (for previous reviews)

When I found out I won the Twin Z pillow in yellow, I was overjoyed! I was even more shocked when I received it less than a week later. I love a company that has such amazingly fast shipping, as I also suffer from I-Want-It-Now Syndrome.

Score Count: 2 (+1 for quick shipping)

Now came the actual product. I was so happy that when I opened up the box, the pillow was already inside its own travel bag. It looks like great water-resistance material with a nice drawstring top. I can imagine that this will be handy for traveling and storing, to protect the pillow itself.

Twin Z Review - Doyle Dispatch

Score Count: 3 (+1 for a travel bag)

We then had to put the cover on the white pillow. The cover was a super-soft yellow minky fabric, although there are lots of different colors that you can choose for the covers on their website. You can also order extra covers for $35.99, which we will be doing. Adding the cover was a two-person job. You had to start at one end of the pillow and stuff-and-pull, stuff-and-pull. It was a really tight fit, and I couldn’t have done it without Tim’s help as well. We then found the holes where the straps weaved through, got them out, and velcro-ed the pillow cover closed. It was a tight fit, but it was perfect. I can see why they made it so tight, as it made sure to keep the shape of the pillow.

Twin Z Pillow - Doyle Dispatch

Score Count: 5 (+1 for fabric, +0 for adding the cover, +1 for look when finished

Next came trying it out! Again, I am still twincubating until the fall/winter, so I can’t actually try out breastfeeding the twins on the Twin Z, but I want to say how much I love it already. There are 4 uses for the Twin Z pillow: breastfeeding, bottle feeding, tummy time, and sitting up support. After actually seeing how sturdy the pillow is, I have no doubt that I will be using this pillow for every single one of those purposes.

Twin Z Pillow - Doyle Dispatch

The pillow is absolutely huge, and it is shaped like the letter M. Each of the “legs” is incredibly sturdy, yet it also can be manipulated and moved into different positions to accommodate the different uses. The clip helps keep it in its different positions. For breastfeeding or holding both babies, you would push the center “leg” up and use it as a back rest. I am actually sitting in it just like that as I write this, and it is heaven for my sore lower back! If you want to make sure the arms stay where you want them, you can clip the arms together. This is how I picture using the pillow the most, while I try to breastfeed both twins at once. With the “legs” clipped together, it brings your arms up to a good breastfeeding height, but with it unclipped, it puts the arms a little lower. I personally find it more comfortable to have my arms a little higher. I guess we will see what I like better with babies in my arms in a couple of months.

Twin Z Pillow - Doyle Dispatch

Score Count: 7 (+1 for breastfeeding options, +1 back support)

Unfortunately, I don’t have any babies to demonstrate the 3 other uses for the Twin Z, but I do want to show you some pictures from their website to illustrate how it can be used.

Twin Z Breastfeeding

The Twin Z used for bonding with the babies. Can’t you imagine a child using this as support to hold their new buddies?

Twin Z Bottle Feeding

Bottle feeding with the Twin-Z. This gives a great view of the backrest and the support that you would get.

Twin Z Bottles

This is how I imagine I would use the Twin Z to bottle feed the babies. This is shown without the “legs” clipped together. If the twins are smaller, you can clip the legs together to make sure there are smaller holes (so they don’t fall through).

Twin Z Tummy Time

Tummy time with the Twin Z!

Score Count: 11 (+1 tummy time, +1 bottle feeding option, +1 newborn/preemie size adjustment, +1 sitting up support- not pictured)

While the My Brest Friend Twin retails for $78, the Twin Z sells for $99.99 (which includes one cover). While the starting price is a little more, I just love love love the additional uses for the pillow after breastfeeding is over. I think that the additional $21 on the Twin Z is well-spent, given the additional purposes.

Score Count: 12 (+1 for affordability due to versatility)

So the final Score Count is 12/13, with the only negative being how you apply the cover to the pillow. Overall, I would highly recommend the Twin Z to a M.O.M. I absolutely LOVE the options available, and I feel like the different uses far outweigh the other options on the market.

It is also important to note the following about the Twin Z:

  • Made in the USA
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Foam Free
  • Lead Fee
  • No Chemicals Added
  • No Flame Retardants

If you want more information, please watch this video to showcase the Twin Z:

You can purchase the Twin Z pillow on their website: http://www.twinznursingpillow.com/, as well as see other pictures of the pillow in action. Like the Twin Z and just want more? Like Twin Z on Facebook.

6 thumbs up, Twin Z!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

*Part of this post originally appeared on Dory’s blog “Doyle Dispatch.” To read more posts about Dory’s pregnancy and nursery decorating on her blog, you can see the list here.*

The Straight Tuck Talk

Worth it 

Almost 7 years ago I gave birth to two beautiful, identical twin boys. It was not an easy pregnancy. I had gotten so big, so fast, that I developed horrible sciatic pain that lasted almost 8 months. My cute little chunkers continued to grow at such a rapid pace that at around 7 months they cracked apart the front of my rib cage when I sneezed…like a wishbone. If that wasn’t enough, the docs threw me on bed-rest for the last 6 weeks, much of it in the hospital. Of course, because the boys were growing so hearty and healthy,I continued to tell myself (and many people reminded me) that all the pain and suffering was worth it.

At 36 weeks they took me off bed-rest and told me to walk around. Unfortunately, because the twins were putting so much weight on my pelvis floor, it was almost impossible to move my legs without someone giving me a slight nudge from behind. I’m not kidding when I say that people would literally point and shout obscenities my direction when I walked by. (Like I couldn’t hear them!) The last measurement of my waistline before my delivery was 65 inches…the height of an adult person.

This picture was taken the night before the twins were born.

When they were born they were both healthy and almost 6 lbs each. It was truly the proudest achievement of my entire life. Immediately, the boys took to breastfeeding like champs; I quickly lost all my pregnancy weight, and then some. However, what they left me were two lifetime badges of honor – one called Twin Skin, and the other Diastasis Recti.

The Truth Set Me Free 

TWIN SKIN is the term commonly used for the (twin) postpartum skin that has been stretched passed its ability to re-conform to its original, pre-stretched elasticity. It has lost all its collagen, resulting in saggy, wrinkly, loose-feeling skin usually surrounding the belly button. Think of a balloon. Now blow up that balloon as big as you can without popping it. Let it all out quickly and take a look at what you’ve got. That’s the general idea of what I have been left with for the last 7 years. What’s worse, the more weight I lost the more skin I gained! Often it was so uncomfortable, that when I sat down, folds of skin were literally in my lap.

DIASTASIS RECTI is a vertical separation between the two abdominal muscles that cover the front surface of the belly. Think again of a balloon, but this time it’s one of those long children’s party balloons. Now imagine it is blown up, nestled between the bottom of your breastbone and your belly button. For many, the more you try to “work it” off in the gym, additional damage is done; strain on the muscle causes the size of the “balloon” to increase as well. And yes, I even tried following the Tupler Technique to a “t”, but found it to be useless. After 2-3 years of trying everything, I finally had to admit what several PT’s had been telling me all along: there is no non-surgical correction for muscle laxity this severe.

Nope, not pregnant.  This was me a few weeks ago.

I know that this is hard to hear, especially if you’re struggling with this condition. People get focused on their boot camp routine, and are hopeful that reaching their fitness goals will alleviate the problem. For some, the issue may not be as severe as my own. But for me, in order to feel truly good about myself, I needed to accept that surgery was my only option. And to be honest, this acceptance set me free. For several years, I felt strong,healthy, fit and able to keep up with my kids, as well as reach my personal fitness goals. I wasn’t fixated on changing anything about my stomach. Basically, I just ignored it’s existence; deep down I knew that one day it would be gone.

The Double Standard

Over the years, I tried to open up to other moms about how disconnected I felt from my battle scars. I’ve talked about how, over time, they have left me feeling less feminine, less like myself, and sometimes even less human (trust me, s**t got weird). Unfortunately, some folks felt the need to compare my feelings of distress I have about my twin pregnancy, and the travesty it has made of my body, to the amount of love I have for my children.

“But, you wouldn’t trade anything in the world for those kids, right?”

“The more you love your kids, every day, the more you will accept this as just a part of being a mom.”

F**k that. I’m sick of feeling ashamed of wanting to look human again. Or feel that, for some reason, I need to be a martyr for my children and wear some sort of “badge of honor” in the shape of flabby skin on an inflated tummy. Of course I accept that this is one prospect that can happen to some moms. That said, I don’t have to love it, and I certainly don’t have to feel like a bad mom for wanting to change it. Sure, my kids are worth every worry-line and sleepless night, every ruined blouse and scratched coffee table, every ache and pain and scream of every second of birthing my darlings. But I AM WORTH SOMETHING as well.

So screw the paradoxical notion that makes moms believe they have to trade being a proud mama for wanting to reconnect with their body. Once I started to listen to my heart without criticism, without judgement, and without fear, I allowed myself to be hopeful of the possibility of change. Thinking about the prospect of ‘wiping the slate clean’ gave me hope, and made me feel happy.

Also, this may blow your mind, but I’m not someone with low self-esteem. I feel good about who I am and even what I look like. I feel even better about what my body has been able to accomplish! I celebrate it! But in all honestly, I also felt I owed it the rehab/repair it deserved, from all the hardship it’s endured.

7 Years Later.

So what was I waiting for?? When the twins were 5, heading off to kindergarten, my husband and I finally decided to have another baby. The pregnancy had minimal complications…wretched back pain, an over-due delivery… but WAY easier than the twins. It did, however, make the diastasis recti worse. The twin skin? Oh, I was tucking it into my tube socks by then! (A slight exaggeration of course, but check out the size of me with only ONE baby in there!)

my singleton pregnancy, after twins

With our family complete, and once I was done breastfeeding my little dude around 14 months, it was definitely time to do something about this mess.

The first step, finding the right doc, was a piece of cake. My neighbor had experienced the same procedure earlier in the year and she loved her surgeon. At my first consult, I was also pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a car-salesman type white man, with slicked-back hair and big, super bright teeth. Instead, I was greeted by a tall, middle-aged woman with a gentle smile and very nurturing demeanor. She answered all my questions thoroughly (I had a list of THIRTY TWO), and I soon felt confident that I had easily found the best plastic surgeon in town. I was so excited! Then, two days later, her gal sent me my estimated total cost. WOWZA! Are you sure I can’t just do more sit ups??

So let me again remind you that this is only MY STORY. Abdominoplasty might not be for everyone, and I will be the first to admit that its f’n expensive. No, your insurance company won’t pay for it. Trust me, I tried everything. We wrung our hands for quite some time trying to figure out how to obtain the loans possible to pay for the procedure. In the end, I am so happy that we did. Even with my most recent bouts of recovery-induced pain, I have no buyer’s remorse.

I Did It! 

This was major surgery, and of course when the time came, I was terrified. I listened to meditations every night leading up to the big day. I tried to stay off the internet, where I was bound to find endless stories of botched jobs and regret. My husband continued to remind me of my courage and the strength in my family’s support of me. I continued to remind myself that I was finally at the end of a long journey that began 7 years ago.

I am now on day 5 of recovery from a 2-part procedure that fixed both problems: abdominal plication (the muscle repair) and abnominoplasty (the tummy tuck). Seeing as I’m not a doctor, and chances are neither are you, we’ll keep the explanation short and simple. 1) She cut my abdomen open, from hip to hip. 2) Pulled and stitched my muscles back together vertically, down the middle of my belly. 3) Cut off all the unsightly loose skin. 4) Pulled the skin tight. 5) Lastly, stitched me back up, from hip to hip.

STILL Worth It? 

So, while I’m currently in the “thick of” recovery, now might be a good time to ask… Would I do it again? Absolutely. That said, it’s not for the faint of heart. It is taxing on your wallet, your body, and also your relationships. Over the next several weeks I will be more dependent on others that I am usually comfortable with (as is the case for most mothers, I’m sure).

Recovery is difficult. These past 5 days have not been easy, but every day is 100% better than the one before. While my husband holds down the fort with all three boys at home, I’ve had the luxury of camping out on my mother’s recliner … a poor-(wo)man’s medi-spa if you will. I’ve been told I’ll be on pain meds for at least 2 weeks, and possibly up walking around slowly in the next day or two. The real kicker is the amount of time I will need to resist picking up anything heavier than 10 lbs… 8-10 WEEKS. That means my needy, fussy toddler and I will have to come up with an arrangement that works for the both of us. But I’m confident we’ll get through it.

I knew I wasn’t alone (check out the comments on this photo for example) yet I still think many women feel that they are. Because of this, I thought it was best to go public with my experience and possibly help another mama gain some perspective and a bit of hope. Whatever you decide to do with your torn up tummy, don’t forget to love YOU. Allow yourself the grace to feel good about whatever decisions you make that will ultimately help you become your best self.

My brood.  Worth it.

Surviving Morning Sickness with Twins

Oh My Morning Sickness - The Doyle Dispatch

Well, in the first trimester since we announced that we were expecting TWINS, it seems like my body just said, “Ok, Dory! Congrats! The whole world knows. Now here comes the morning all-day sickness!” Life was a constant circle of feeling ok, feeling AWFUL, feeling ok, feeling AWFUL.

I tried everything. Here’s the run-down of my list, and my reaction to them. Pregnant ladies, I hope that some of these can help you:

  • Crackers: I have warned Tim that once I am through this phase, we will never again have Saltines in our home. I can’t stand the dryness, the aftertaste, the saltiness, or the crumbs. Unfortunately, they worked when I was seconds away from being sick. Sorry kids! No Saltines in the Doyle house for you!
  • Pressure bands: They work if you don’t wear them 24/7.
  • Ginger candy: I had a HUGE aversion after a couple of days of them.
  • Ginger gum: Surprisingly, I am fine with this still, despite my distaste for ginger candy.
  • Rice cakes: This was a suggestion from my doctor after I talked about my distaste for Saltines. I love them, and they help, although not as fast as the Dreaded Saltine.
  • Preggy Pops/Preggy Pop Drops/Sour Candies: These were a staple for the first few weeks of the nausea. I was going back to Babies R Us a couple of times a week! Just like the ginger candies, however, I developed a distaste for them all of a sudden. Pregnancy is weird!
  • Peppermint: The gum works great if I’m in a bind and can’t find my crackers. The tea left me feeling awful. The smell was great for a bit, and then the aversion started.
  • Keeping food in my stomach: Easier said than done when you want to feel okay, but the mere thought of food (or even seeing it on the TV) leaves you wanting to rush to the bathroom. Eventually, after the first truly dreadful week, I was able to keep some food in my stomach all day (just a little bit), and it helped.
  • Celery: This was one I hadn’t heard about, but I tried it after a friend suggested it. It actually was pretty helpful, but then I had some really bitter celery, and I didn’t want to eat it anymore. Maybe I’ll try to get some new ones and try it again!
  • Resting: Ah, both a blessing and a curse. After my first truly horrendous week of sickness (losing 4 pounds in 4 days, no food, scary dizzy spells, light-headedness, etc.) I took half-days at school. I would work in the mornings to help prepare my students for their testing, and then I would take the afternoons off to go home, try to get something to eat, and rest up to make it through the next day. I would also sit down whenever possible at work. Once I returned to full days, I would rush home at the end of the day to lie down. Rest helps, but there are some days when it gets to be too much, and Tim and I try to get me out and about. I am just praying I won’t be put on bed rest at the end of my pregnancy.
  • Lemons: Early on, I had a lemon that I would keep with me to smell when the other aromas got a little strong. Then, that stopped working so well. Lately, I’ve been able to carry the lemon around again as I’ve been trying to do more running around and errands. Of course, I look a little silly carrying a lemon in a plastic bag, but it works!
  • Popsicles: My one true miracle cure. I swear by them! It doesn’t matter what kind, but they are no short of amazing! I found this out on the day that I announced my pregnancy to my co-workers. We had popsicles in our faculty meeting, and I was close to being sick. I started eating the popsicle, and it was like the heavens opened up. Now, when I am “on the verge,” I rush to the freezer, grab a popsicle, and it takes everything away. I must have about 5-8 a day, but it gives me a burst of sugar (and much-needed calories… I’m still not gaining weight at 11 weeks), and it seems to mask my ever-heightened senses. On a good day, I can actually sit around smelly food, sucking on my popsicle, and I am okay. Weird, but worth it! Now, my students know where I keep the popsicles in the teacher’s lounge, and I will sometimes tell a student, “Quick, please go and get me one,” and they do! At least they know about the pregnancy (and the twins), so it helps when I am trying to teach with bright blue or purple teeth and lips.

So, mommas and mommas-to-be: have you tried any other tricks to battle the all-day sickness? I’m sure I’ve left some of the ones I’ve tried off the list. Leave a comment with any that you may have tried out!
*Part of this post originally appeared on Dory’s blog “Doyle Dispatch.” To read more posts about Dory’s pregnancy and nursery decorating on her blog, you can see the list here.*

Sad/Happy

I am 36 weeks pregnant. I have had a very healthy pregnancy, despite the concerns over us having twins. I see my OB and a high-risk doctor, and I have fantastic care with both offices. I have beaten the odds. My babies are doing great. I should be happy 100% of the time. I should be. When I think about my babies, I am. When I think about the struggles that so many others are going through, I just can’t be 100% happy.

Last Monday, we went in for our 35 week scan. The nurses looked at us in amazement as they looked at the ultrasounds. Heartbeats are perfect. Amniotic fluid is perfect. Both babies are practicing breathing. Then they hook me up to the monitors for 20 minutes to check their heartbeats further (to make sure they are raising and lowering as the babies move). The babies pass the NST (non-stress test) within minutes, although they keep me hooked up for the full 20 minutes anyway. The nurses can’t believe how successful a pregnancy I am having. Seriously, they stare at us because here we are at the HIGH RISK DOCTOR and we are showing signs that we are passing with flying colors. Last week, our doctor used the terms “gorgeous babies” and “hitting it out of the ballpark.” We are thrilled. They are sad that I am not delivering at their hospital, because they all want to come visit us. They are happy with our fairy-tale pregnancy, as I’m sure they don’t see many being a high-risk office.

I know that others are hurting, and it pulls me out of this dream land that I’m in. I really struggle with this mix of happiness and devastation.

My grandfather passed away last summer, and his twin brother passed away 6 months later, in February. To say that I was sad is an understatement. I had to learn how to function again without my grandfather. At least I had his twin brother as my surrogate. Losing him hurt in an entirely new way. The very next month, however, I got pregnant with our twins. Our family was in the depths of grief, yet my pregnancy and the idea of new life gave a bit of light, hope, help to recover out of the dark times.

positiveIt seems like life has a funny way of doing this. We are faced with horrific situations. Then something wonderful happens. Maybe not to us, but maybe to someone around us. It provides just a bit of light. It allows us to feel like maybe there is something positive that can happen in our lives too.

Maybe we are in such a dark place that we just can’t see it. We don’t want to see it. We aren’t ready to see it. That’s okay too. We will see the light when we are ready to. Until then, it’s okay.

Does that mean that those of us that have been privy to the light shouldn’t revel in it? I don’t know. I struggle with this daily. I want to be thrilled. And when I think of my babies, I really am thrilled. I can’t think of anything happier. But I do think of the sadness that others are feeling, and I do forget about my babies and my happiness. I do grieve. I do cry. I do want to be in that dark place too. But right now, I can’t. Right now, I have to be a mother and give these babies the best chance they can get. And that is by providing them a happy, light-filled surrounding for them to be born into.

Did I pay attention to the election this year? No, because I didn’t want to be brought down by the negative campaigns.

Do I watch the news about the devastation from the typhoon? No, as I can’t bear to hear about the loss of life as I am about to bring in two lives myself.

Can I bear to even watch Grey’s Anatomy? Barely, as I just can’t allow myself to witness that tear-jerker (even though I know they are only actors on a fictional TV show).

It doesn’t mean I don’t know they are happening. I know they are. I’m not completely shut off from the world. I know there is suffering. I know that so many friends and loved ones are suffering. So what do I do? Do I let myself be sad right now? Do I let myself be happy? Can I be both? I try to do both, and I struggle. I really do struggle. I wish I could just be 100% happy right now. I want to be for my two babies.

Life has both awful and glorious moments. If it were all terrible, we wouldn’t have a reason to face another day. If it were all incredible, we wouldn’t understand how magnificent those special moments are. Right now, my “job” is to provide a light-filled moment. I hide my achy back and sore hips. I take a shower every morning, straighten my hair, and sometimes even put on some makeup. I put on a big smile and am grateful for the gift of these babies that I have been given. I will provide the brightness for those around me, if they want it. It doesn’t mean that I am not struggling inside. I doesn’t mean that I am not hurting for them. I just know that I have allowed myself into that dark spot other times in my life. Now is my turn to help give relief to those that need it.

*You can read more about Dory on her family blog, “Doyle Dispatch.” To read more posts about Dory’s pregnancy and nursery decorating on her blog, you can see the list here.*

Seeking Supplemental Prenatal Care

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


When we found out that I was carrying twins, my husband and I were both thrilled and terrified. I imagine this is a common response among expectant parents of multiples. On one hand, I was excited to be able to complete our family in one fell swoop, but on the other hand, I was keenly aware of the potential complications of a multiple pregnancy. In my own circle of friends, I know one mom who lost her twins prior to viability and I’m good friends with Sadia, whose girls arrived at 33 weeks and had to spend some time in the NICU. Meanwhile, I wasn’t aware of many moms of twins who had managed to carry their babies to term.

Between having suffered a prior pregnancy loss and the stress I felt over the possibility of serious pregnancy complications, I dealt with a lot of anxiety throughout my pregnancy, but especially in the early months. My worry led me to do a lot of research on twin pregnancy and to seek out supplemental care in addition to my normal prenatal care.

It is important to note that while my outcome was a healthy pregnancy and two full-term babies, the supplemental care I received did not directly lead to those great results. I happen to have been one of the fortunate ones whose bodies handle a twin pregnancy relatively well. There was nothing I could do to guarantee a healthy pregnancy for myself and for my babies. My goal in seeking out more care was to try to detect and adjust for any major complications as soon as possible. As it turned out, my complications were all pretty minor, but some of the supplemental care I pursued could come in handy to other moms of multiples.

I faced a conundrum when I was choosing an OB practice to visit during my pregnancy. On one hand, I wanted the best care for multiples that I could get. On the other hand, I was committed to giving birth to my twins in a well-equipped medical setting but with as few interventions as possible. To that end, I chose a practice that prides itself on a low rate of caesarian sections, but that has plenty of experience with twin births, as well.  The standard of care is for each patient to visit with all the health care providers in the practice over the course of her pregnancy, and while my twins would ultimately be delivered by a doctor, much of my care early in the pregnancy was handled by certified nurse midwives.

I was generally confident in the care I was receiving from my midwives, but it was important for my elevated anxiety levels to have medical twin experts keeping a closer eye on my pregnancy, as well. To that end, I did a great deal of research on twin pregnancies and discovered that the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX, has a dedicated Program for Multiples. For the cost of an insurance copay and a tank of gas, I was able to receive a personalized assessment including a comprehensive ultrasound, genetic counseling, and, most important to me, individualized nutritional advice.

As it turns out, my assessment indicated a clean bill of health for my fraternal twins and me at around 13 weeks of pregnancy. Had I been carrying identical twins showing signs of Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, the ultrasound could have detected it early, and I would have been referred for further treatment and, hopefully, a successful outcome.

My pregnancy was otherwise fairly unremarkable until my blood pressure began to creep higher around 26 or 28 weeks. At that time, I was referred to a MFM doctor in town, who provided more supplemental sonogram to monitor the growth and development of my babies. Each ultrasound indicated that growth was steady and my babies were stable, but by 32 weeks, it became increasingly clear that they were locked in a breech position and didn’t have much room to rotate head-down.  Knowing that my chances of getting them to turn were small, and that my doctor could not deliver them vaginally if they were breech, I had time to mentally prepare myself for the possibility that I would need a c-section after all.

At 36 weeks 6 days, an ultrasound indicated that growth had stalled, and my MFM and OB conferred and decided that my twins would be delivered the next day. My c-section was scheduled, and I was left with about 18 hours to wrap up my preparations and finish up the work I had planned to do before going on leave.  The next day, my twins arrived, weighing 6 lbs 15 oz and 7 lbs 1 oz. They required no time in the NICU.

twins2-sm

James and Rebekah, 6 days old.

Ultimately, beyond listening to our doctors’ advice and taking care of our bodies during a twin pregnancy, we can do very little to control the outcome. According to the March of Dimes, 60% of twins are born prematurely. I was one of the fortunate 40% who managed to carry my pregnancy to term. But I feel it’s important to share my story during Prematurity Awareness Week to let those expecting twins know that a successful pregnancy is possible, and that seeking out supplemental care early on could help you identify warning signs for complications and improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Prenatal Care for Twins

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


I will start out by saying that I have never been pregnant before now. This is my first pregnancy and I have been thrown in head first with this new world of twins. So my experience is different. I didn’t know what to expect when going into it all. I had other friends that had been pregnant with singletons, and so I wasn’t completely naive, but I also really learned as I went. So, here is my experience with various aspects of prenatal care for our twins.

Prenatal Vitamins

I had wanted to be pregnant for a while, so I started taking prenatal vitamins very early on (well over a year before actually getting pregnant). I knew that the benefits were only going to help me, so I had no problem taking them long before we actually started trying for our baby. I have quite the sweet tooth, so I took the gummy prenatals with extra folic acid- two before bed- and it was quite the delicious pre-bed treat. Because I am also lactose intolerant, I also took a calcium supplement (gummy version) and a multivitamin (also gummy). After about a month of 6 gummies all right before bed, I started spacing them out a bit more and went with 1 of each vitamin at lunch and 1 of each before bed.

It ended up being a very good thing that I started this so early, because once I got pregnant, I had major trouble stomaching any vitamin supplements at all. I literally couldn’t do it. I felt so guilty to be denying my babies these added nutrients, and I talked to my doctors and nurses quite often about this. Thankfully, they said that I had done the right thing by starting so early, because my body had a built-up supply of the nutrients, and my babies would still benefit, even if I couldn’t take them every day.

Once the 2nd trimester hit and I started to get over the morning all-day sickness, I got some Flintstone vitamins, upon the suggestion of my doctors. I actually could take these just fine (2 at night before bed), and I felt like I could do something again for my babies. This didn’t last, however, and once I got to about 28 weeks, I had trouble with the nausea again, and I had to stop taking them. Thankfully, my pregnancy diet (and cravings) included lots of fruits and veggies and protein, so I knew that I was doing what I could. Plus, the babies were growing really well and the doctors were happy.

Moral of the story: start taking your prenatals EARLY, but listen to your body. It doesn’t help you to get sick after every vitamin, when it may be better to rely on those better vitamin-rich foods instead. And no matter what, talk to your doctor. I felt guilty each time they asked about prenatal vitamins, and I had to say that I wasn’t taking them. Then, they would respond that it was ok. I was doing well, and I shouldn’t worry. Oh, I love getting support like that from a doctor!

The First Appointment

Thankfully, I knew what to expect at my first appointment, so this wasn’t a surprise, but I can understand that some may have been taken aback if they weren’t prepared.

Because we had been seeing a doctor for a short time leading up to getting pregnant, my appointments were on the fast track. Please don’t worry if you don’t have all of these appointments right away.

I took a pregnancy test on April 5, when I was only 3 weeks 5 days pregnant. When it came back positive, I called my doctor immediately and he scheduled me to get a blood test done that day (a Friday). We went in the moment they opened the doors and I happily gave them my arm to draw the vial (and I hate getting blood drawn). They told me that they would fax the doctor the results in about an hour.

An hour passed, and we didn’t hear anything. Because it was a Friday, I knew our doctor would be closing early (a half day), so I didn’t want to have to wait to find out if we were going to be parents. I called and spoke to the secretary (whom I had become really close with due to our visits), and she was able to tell us the great news: it was positive! I asked about the HCG levels, and they were a good steady number. We set up an ultrasound date for 3 weeks later, and I dreaded having to wait that long for the final confirmation and heartbeat.

Finally, the big day arrived (6 weeks 3 days), and my husband and I nervously went in to the office. I got undressed (waist down) as I knew that they would be needing to do an internal ultrasound. This is because the baby/babies are too small at this point to be seen using the stomach ultrasound. They need to get closer, which is why they have to make it internal. If you aren’t prepared for this, I can understand how this would be scary and uncomfortable. Prepare yourself, though, because it really isn’t painful if you are ready for it. They insert a stick-like wand “up there” right against your cervix. There may be moments of being uncomfortable, but they really try to make it as pain-free and quick as possible. I promise that, once you actually see your baby/babies heartbeat(s), you will totally forget about anything else except this miracle that is happening to you.

People have asked us if we were surprised it was twins. In a short answer, yes. Although my doctor wasn’t. When we went in, I was joking with him in order to cover up my nerves. I was convinced that something had happened in the past 3 weeks and I had lost the baby. I didn’t have any proof to confirm this, but I just was worried. 3 weeks felt like a long time to wait in between the blood test and the ultrasound! So as we were joking, I told him that I hoped I was still pregnant. He told me that he knew I was, and it was just a question of how many. I asked him if he would buy us dinner if it was just one. He happily agreed (knowing through the HCG numbers that it would be two). Well, he was right, and we didn’t get a dinner from him. Oh well!

When he was looking at the ultrasound, he quickly (within seconds of any image on the screen) said, “Yes, there they are.” We were shocked. My jaw hit the floor. Thank goodness I was already sitting/laying down. The nurse turned to my husband a few times to ask if he needed to sit down, but he was frozen to his place. Two heartbeats. Two strong heartbeats. Twins.

At our office, we got lots of pictures and even a flash drive with all of the pictures and a video of the heartbeats. We went home to share the news with our parents via Skype (they already knew we were expecting, but they had no idea about the next doubly exciting chapter to this story).

Perinatal (“High Risk”) Appointments

When you are expecting multiples, you are categorized as a “high risk” pregnancy. Many people, upon hearing this, get scared or confused. To someone not facing these appointments themselves, they may wonder why it is “high risk.” After all, there are so many more twins born now. So is it really “high risk?” Yes, it is. Now, this is not to say that you will definitely have problems with your pregnancy. I didn’t have any complications after the first trimester.

Those of us blessed to carry multiple babies at once are considered high risk because bodies simply weren’t made to carry more than one baby at once. We can do it and be successful at it, but we do need to be carefully monitored.

Be prepared to see a perinatal specialist, a “high risk doctor.” They will focus on your babies’ needs throughout the pregnancy. For us, once we got in the groove of appointments, these were our ultrasound visits. We started by going once a month (plus a couple of additional appointments due to scheduling issues). They did a full tummy ultrasound (no more internal ultrasounds unless they had trouble seeing your cervix), where they would focus on measuring the size of the babies, the amniotic fluid amount, the length of my cervix, the cord and placenta placement/size, and check the vitals of the babies.

Then, once we hit the third trimester, we went in for a couple of appointments every 2 weeks. They still only did the measurements once a month, but they just wanted to check and see the babies a bit more often. They also wanted to make sure I wasn’t going into pre-term labor.

At 32 weeks, we started our weekly perinatal appointments. They scheduled the measurement ultrasound for every 4 weeks still (32 and 36 weeks), but I would be getting additional ultrasounds each week as well. During these, they would check the amount of amniotic fluid (to make sure it wasn’t leaking out). They would check the stomach cavity and diaphragm. They would also look at and measure the heartbeat and heart chambers. Finally, they would look to see that the babies were practicing breathing. Now, they don’t actually breathe when inside the womb, but they do pretend to do this. After 3 weeks of this, I realized that Baby Girl A would pass this part of the test with flying colors, as she would always show this. Baby Boy B, however, would get jostled a bit to wake up and show us something. I asked our doctor about this- should I prepare myself for issues after they are born with his breathing? She told us not to worry. They give themselves a window of 45 minutes per baby to watch for signs of breathing practice. If the baby hasn’t shown it in that 45 minute time, then we would worry. Baby Boy always took longer than his sister, but never more than 5-7 minutes, so there is nothing to fear. In addition, there are many other aspects that they look for during these ultrasounds, not just breathing. All of the results as a whole are much more important than just any one part.

Finally, in these weekly visits, they do the Non-Stress Test (NST). After the ultrasound (and they’ve figured out where the babies are), they hook you up to these monitor belts. They will put some jelly on these discs and place them on your stomach where each heart would be located. Once they find the heartbeat and can hear it clearly, they will attach the disc to an elastic belt, wrapped around your waist. Then, they find your second baby and do the same thing with another disc and belt. Finally, they will put an additional disc on the top of your uterus to measure contractions. You will be hooked up to this for 20 minutes.

During the NST, they are looking for changes in your babies’ heartbeats. They want to see them rise and fall, as the babies move around. If they don’t see much variation, they may do a few different things to get a reaction. First thing is they will ask you to drink some cold water. Cold liquids and foods often get those babies jumping. Jumping babies = rise in heartbeats. I also tried eating some apples that I brought with me, as that often got them moving and shaking. When that didn’t work, they brought in the buzzer. It is a mini airhorn of sorts that they put against your stomach. It vibrates and emits a buzzing sound. When they did it, both babies jumped and started kicking like crazy (and I started laughing because it was so funny to witness. Well, for me, they jumped but Baby Girl didn’t show a change in her heart rate. That’s when Daddy stepped in to the rescue. He came over to me and put his hand over Baby Girl. As she always does, she jumped to life at his touch. Then he started talking to her and coaxing her into getting excited. It finally worked, and both babies passed this test.

Regular OB Appointments

In addition to your perinatal appointments, you will still see your OB, who will actually do the delivery. If they are in the same practice, you may schedule these on the same day. For us, however, we didn’t have this luxury, so we had extra appointments. We made the decision that we would both go to all of the high-risk appointments, because that was when we could see our babies. My husband didn’t want to miss that! For the OB appointments, they focused on my care, and he really didn’t need to be there for them. He came to a few early on to meet our OB and discuss her thoughts on twins and twin deliveries. As I started going more often (and more quickly) to these visits, I gave him permission to save up his doctor time for the other appointments.

During the OB visits, they will take your weight (to make sure you are growing at a good rate) and blood pressure. They will also have you pee in a cup to check your protein levels (to check for signs of preeclampsia). Then you will go back and meet with your OB. She will ask about how you are doing. Sometimes you will get a cervix check (be prepared for this to be a little uncomfortable, as your lady parts are a bit more delicate when you are pregnant). She will also order blood tests and your gestational diabetes test.

Gestational Diabetes Test

I documented my experience (and nerves) about this test here. It really wasn’t bad, but I worked myself up to a bundle of nerves.

Dealing With It All

It all has to do with attitude. I loved going to the doctor so often, because it meant that they were really thorough in making sure that we were all okay. Because I had stopped working after the first trimester (I was a teacher and I finished the school year and didn’t return for the upcoming year), I could be flexible with my appointment times. I also didn’t mind if they took a while. Having this laid-back attitude definitely made a difference in what could have been a very stressful situation. I looked at my appointments as adventures. After all, I got to see and talk about my babies. I got to express fears or concerns and get to know what was going on in my body. I took advantage of the Do-you-have-any-questions? section of my visits. I stayed positive. I listened to their advice and did what they said to the best of my ability. I kept a smile on my face. It really helped.

We had one ultrasound tech that we kept getting that would rush through our ultrasounds. This meant that we got poor pictures and felt like we couldn’t appreciate the experience during those weeks. After the first time this happened, I left the office in tears. I just wanted to see my babies, and I hated that I had to wait another month to get the chance. Well, after a few times of this with her, I realized this was just her style. So, one day I went in and told her, “We aren’t in ANY rush today! I’m feeling great (a lie). It’s beautiful outside, and we don’t have anywhere to be! We are at 34 weeks, and who knows how many more of these appointments we will have left. So, feel free to take your time during this ultrasound!” It did the trick. She commented that she couldn’t take forever because they had a very hectic schedule during the rest of the day. BUT I noticed that she took a little longer on their faces, even though it wasn’t medically necessary. AND we finally got two more pictures of our beautiful babies (which we hadn’t gotten for a few weeks). We didn’t have to be rude or spiteful or call her out on her previous rudeness. Just a upbeat, passive comment was all it took to win her over and get what we wanted in return.

*Dory is currently pregnant with boy/girl twins. She blogs on her personal blog Doyle Dispatch. To read more posts about Dory’s pregnancy and nursery decorating on her blog, you can see the list here.*

The Signs of Premature Labor

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


The premature births of all my babies (see full stories here and here) — my singleton, born at 31 weeks, and then my twins, born at 27.5 weeks — obviously affected our family very profoundly.

In addition to the many other hats I wear, I chair the Multiple Births Canada’s Preterm Birth Support Network and work in my local multiples group as a peer support worker.  In these roles I have the opportunity to speak with expectant mothers and fathers, and a big part of my message is to educate them on the signs of preterm labour.

The day you find out you’re having multiple-birth babies is a day filled with excitement, wonder, and even concern about how you’re going to do it. While preparing to have multiples you will be focusing on doubles, triples or more of many big ticket items and you will be very focused on the babies who are on the way. It will be equally important to remember to focus on yourself; get enough sleep, listen to your doctors’ instructions and be fully aware of preterm birth labour symptoms.

When it comes to expecting multiples, you should be prepared for the possible early arrival of your little ones, as multiple-birth babies are more likely to born premature than their singleton friends.

It is my experience, though, after speaking to hundreds of expectant mothers, new mothers and well-experienced mothers alike that the majority just don’t know what the preterm labour symptoms are. So here is a list of a few of the common ones, with a link to a longer list to be aware of:

  • Low, mild backache
  • Menstrual-like cramps
  • Pressure (as though the baby is pushing down)

Read the full list HERE and consider posting this on your fridge as a quiet reminder.  Ensure your spouse/partner and family are fully aware of the preterm labour symptoms as well. Sometimes as moms we can think we are strong and know our bodies, but miss some obvious signs, so our family can monitor our behaviour and ensure we get the help we need if symptoms of preterm labour present themselves.

Maintain an open dialogue with your doctor.  No question or concern is too silly.  While preterm labor is not completely preventable, education and awareness are important keys in working towards a healthy delivery.