Labour Bag Essentials – For Twins

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I originally posted this on my own blog after finally finding all my lists and lists of baby notes I made when I was pregnant. I decided to document this list in the hopes that it might be useful to other mommies out there. 

With twins, your chances of going into premature labour rises considerably. So once you reach the seven-month milestone, it might be a good idea to pack your hospital bag and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice. Here’s a list of the items you will need before, during and after delivery for both you and your newborn babies.

Paperwork

Get a file together with written dividers, giving you quick access to the exact paperwork you need This will not only make it fast and easy for you, but also for your partner while you have your hands full with the babies. Paperwork could include any or all of the following;

files

  • Your Id book
  • Hospital Registration Forms
  • Medical Aid card
  • Medical Aid Pre-authorization papers
  • Medical Aid Beneficiary addition papers for both babies
  • Multiple copies of your birthing plan
  • A page with your baby’s names and correct spelling
  • List of people to call

Also leave space for any paperwork you receive from the doctors, hospital, specialists, etc. This could include bills, prescriptions, birth certificates, etc.

Entertainment

This is not only for the hours you will spend in-between feedings and not being able to sleep but also for your partner’s sanity while you rest or feed your little ones. Remember to include chargers for all electronic devices even if they claim to last for days.

entertainment

  • Phone
  • Camera
  • IPad / E-Reader
  • Magazines
  • Novels
  • Baby/Parenting Books

Soothing Items

We all have those specific items that no matter what’s going on, will just take us to our happy place. Take things that will sooth you in the event of both a natural and a C-section birth.

soothing

  • Music
  • Your Favourite Snacks and Drinks
  • A picture of your kids at home (if applicable)
  • Lip Balm
  • Your favourite scented lotion
  • A soft pillow from home

Mommy’s Toiletries

With all the changes in your life, the best thing to do is to make yourself feel as comfortable as possible. Pack mini-versions of all your toiletries to save space, as you will only need a couple of days’ worth. Think of all the toiletries you use on a daily basis.

mommy toiletries

  • Facecloth
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shower Gel and Soap
  • Hairbrush, Hair Elastics and Clips
  • Lotion, Face cream, Hand cream
  • Deodorant and Underarm
  • Contact Lenses, Spectacles and Contact solution
  • Sanitary Pads for after the delivery
  • Nipple Cream and Disposable Breast Pads
  • Nail file
  • Hair dryer
  • An extra towel
  • A clock/watch to time contractions (and later for timing breastfeeding sessions)
  • Important medication, especially if you have a serious condition (make sure you inform/alert your doctor and the hospital staff)

Mommy’s Hospital clothes

The maternity ward is definitely not a fashion show, so this is the one time where you can put comfort first. Your body will be sore from both natural birth or C-section birth and the looser and lighter the clothing, the better.

HA0478 - Journey Planning. Lifestyle Images Portraying The Three Main Elements Of A Journey: Planning The Route, Travelling And Reaching Destination.

  • T-Shirts
  • Stretch Pants
  • Socks
  • Slippers
  • Flip-Flops for the shower
  • A Robe
  • Open-front pajamas for breastfeeding
  • Nursing Bra’s
  • Comfortable Underwear (High-waisted underwear in case of C-Section births)
  • Going home outfit
    • Keep it comfortable and pack a jacket and tekkies for incase.
    • You will still have a belly (it unfortunately doesn’t disappear overnight), so stick to your maternity wear.

Baby’s Toiletries

Most baby toiletries also come in convenient mini versions, so even though you might have an entire cupboard with huge 1litre bottles of baby shampoo at home, opt for the smaller versions in hospital to save space and make the trip to the nursery easier.

With twins, it’s only really the diapers, wipes and cotton balls that need to be doubled.

baby toiletries

  • +- 40 Diapers / per baby (2 large newborn packs)
    • With twins it’s important to pack both premature and newborn nappies due to the risk of premature labour.
  • 2 x Baby wipes (for sensitive skin)
  • Baby Bum Cream
  • 1 large pack Cotton Balls
  • Nail Clippers and/or Emery Board
  • Surgical Spirits (for navel care)
  • Mild Baby Soap
  • Baby Shampoo
  • Baby Powder
  • Baby Oil
  • Baby Lotion (preferably aqueous cream, fragrance free)
  • 4 or 5 baby towels (a hooded towel works best)
  • Petroleum jelly (to help remove meconium from baby’s bum)
  • 4 or more burp cloths
  • Infant colic drops
  • Infant saline nose drops

Baby’s Hospital Clothes and Gear

This is where packing for twins becomes a little different than packing for one baby.

So for those having only one baby, just halve what’s in this list.

baby clothing

  • 8 long-sleeved baby grows
  • 8 body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 8 pairs of baby socks (even in summer)
  • 2 beanies or warm baby hats (a baby can lose a lot of heat through his/her head)
  • 2 warm baby jackets or jerseys
  • 4 pre-mature long-sleeved baby grows
  • 4 pre-mature body vests (long- or short-sleeved according to season)
  • 6 receiving blankets
  • 2 warm baby blankets
  • 2 pacificiers/dummies (optional)
  • 2 newborn bottles + small tin of formula (even if you don’t plan to bottle feed, keep something ready as a backup)
  • Breast Pump and Accessories (if applicable)
  • Nursing Pillow
  • In case of planned bottle feeding
    • 4 or more bottles
    • 2 tins Formula
    • Bottle brush and detergent
    • Sterilizing equipment
    • Formula powder holder
    • Bibs
  • 2 Car Seats
    • Install the car seats before-hand, ensuring you know how to use them before placing baby in the seat.

Packing for your Partner

With all the hours of waiting and worrying about you and your newborn babies, it might be a nice touch to pack some essentials for your partner.

  • Toothbrush
  • Slippers
  • Extra Clothing (incase the babies mess on him)
  • Jacket
  • Snacks and Drinks
  • Money for the vending machine
  • Magazines
  • etc.

Nice to Have’s

These are certainly no necessary but might come in handy.

  • Spare cash and Change for vending machines, gift-store runs, etc.
  • Extra Bag for all those hospital goodies and gifts from family and friends
  • Journal and pen to jot down notes and questions for the doctors or to record feeding times and other details of your babies.

These items will help to make your hospital stay as comfortable as possible. Packing all the above items will also have you fully equipped for the first few days with your newborn babies. Some of these items could also be obtained from your hospital pharmacy, but do keep in mind that they run office hours before relying on that fact.

Each maternity ward have their own preferred list of necessities for you and your baby, so be sure to check with them before finalising your packing.

Christine is a first time mommy to two beautiful 17 month old twin boys that have recently started walking and are now running in all directions. She’s wife to her high-school sweetheart – the man of her dreams and also a full-time software/web developer in the financial industry.
She mostly blogs about their experiences with the twins in their daily lives adding some tips and tricks they learnt along the way.

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Since You Are Spending SO Much More Time at Home…

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…here’s something to do with your time (as if you have free time!).

READ.

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I’m biased because I am an avid reader, but I devoured all things baby-related while I was preggers. Here is a collection of my must-reads, from books, to websites, to blogs, to apps.

Jessica shares her favorite parenting books, apps and websitesJenny McCarthy. Period. Here are the books she wrote:

Belly Laughs. A practical guide to pregnancy told with a biting humor that you don’t want to miss.
Baby Laughs. Same as above, with a view on Mommyhood.
Life Laughs. All about Mommyhood and Marriage.

Baby Whisperer. This book is a lifesaver. From talking about breastfeeding to her E.A.S.Y. method, Tracy Hogg offers great insight into the first few weeks with baby. You just have to get past all of the “mum” talk!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I consider this book a STAPLE. Track your baby’s development throughout your pregnancy with this classic book all about your baby bump. Watch the movie, too, while you’re pregnant. It’s a little cutesy, but you’ll definitely find that you can relate!

When You’re Expecting Twins. I took this book out of the library hoping that it would be the twin version of What to Expect (see above). It was better! If you’re expecting multiples, GET THIS BOOK! It comes complete with a postpartum diet and exercise regimen to follow to help you shrink that giant baby bump that you proudly carried your little team of love around in for many months.

How to Rock Your Baby. This book offers a compilation of advice tidbits from experienced mommies, which is my favorite part. There are anecdotes and bullet points, and you will find advice that your mother would give on everything from what to pack in your hospital bag (I write about this here) to how to burp your baby.

Little Baby Garvin. This blog was not only my inspiration, but a lifeline for me while I was pregnant, and still is! Plus she has a great name (Jessica). She blogs about everything from recipes to adorable pictures of her daughter. A MUST READ!

The Bump. If you don’t know what this website is, then go back under your rock! The sister site to TheKnot.com, sign up for a free account and watch as your baby meets milestones, find checklists for everything from your baby registry to how to be nice to yourself during pregnancy, and tips on how to keep the romance in your marriage when all you talk about is baby. You can also create a baby website to share updates with loved ones (here’s ours). There’s also a free app!

Baby Center App (My Pregnancy Today). Use this free app to track your pregnancy day-by-day. I visited this app daily, and the message boards saved my life (and stole my sleep) many, many times!

What to Expect App. The companion app to the amazing book and movie, this app will help you to know what to expect, and to find foods that you can and cannot eat, and track the growth of your baby. Not as personalized as the Baby Center app, but still a good read.

What are some of YOUR favorite parenting/pregnancy books?  I’d love to hear all about them!

Hope this list helps to keep you busy for a while! See you again soon!

Mama of twin baby girls, Jane and Emma, Wife to Hershey, Teacher at her alma mater, poet, realist, kitty-lover, friend. She decided to blog because during her pregnancy, she could never find anything having to do with twins or multiples.  There was no advice out there for registries for multiples, or pregnancy, or life after delivery.  Jessica felt extremely alone, and spent most of her pregnancy in a funk.  Today, she is the happiest she’s ever been. She continues to improve her craft (teaching) through various professional development outlets, and learns something new about being a mother every day.  Jessica is in love with her girls, with being a mama, with her husband, and with life.  She is the one people go to when they want the truth.  You can find her at Leading the Double Life.

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Advice for Pregnant MoMs

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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: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth, MD
    Ready or Not series on raising twins by Elizabeth Lyons

    Not-twin related but still very helpful books I borrowed from the library:
    What to Expect When You’re Expecting – with a special section on multiples (free on Kindle Unlimited)
    Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg
    The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine
    Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on baby furniture, gear, clothes, strollers, maternity wear and much, much more! 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 (like ours or the official group for Multiples of America – formerly NOMOTC) 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.comHopefully 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.

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Surviving Morning Sickness with Twins

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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.*

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Premature in Hong Kong: My Twins Born at 31 Weeks

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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.


Leila and Rahul were born 2 months early, at 31 weeks in Hong Kong, where I temporarily moved a month before the birth, to access better NICU facilities.

At 29 weeks my contractions became more frequent, every 5 minutes. I was immediately hospitalized, for the 4th time during the pregnancy, given another round of steroid shots to speed up the babies lung development and put on a magnesium drip. The contractions were controlled at this fancy private hospital that didn’t have an NICU. So at 8am on Sunday morning, exactly 31 weeks gestation the doctor announced that I was in labour and had to be taken to the Queen Mary, a public hospital with an excellent NICU facility.

Rahul was low in the womb so a Cesarean section was risky. Leila was under my rib- cage and in a transverse position. A natural vaginal birth carried the risk that she might not turn head-down and an emergency C-section would then be needed.

Until then, my doctors had all been men who said I would need a C-section. That morning though, my husband Maher and I had to decide what to do on the spur of the moment, while I was contracting and in an emergency delivery setting.

The doctor on call was refreshingly a young woman who was insinuating that I opt for the natural birth. We didn’t have my blood-type on paper, so they couldn’t operate until they got the results. They drew blood soon after I arrived, late morning. They could not administer an epidural for the same reason. I secretly wanted to give birth naturally, and for the first time in the entire pregnancy I realized that it was possible, with risk of course, but we were accustomed to that by then. I felt I was in good hands. The efficient and natural way in which my case was being handled made me realise they did this often.

A sweet nurse called Angel held my hand through many of the growing contractions and Maher was by my side. I breathed in a gas mask, which would ease pain from the contractions. I remember frantically asking for Maher as I was being transferred from the ambulance stretcher that brought me in from the ambulance. I was wheeled through blue hallways, metallic elevators and ended up in the little delivery room. He wasn’t with me and I had no idea if he’d found his way.

He doesn’t speak a word of Mandarin, forget about Cantonese. The contractions were getting stronger, and longer and I didn’t realise that it wouldn’t be until 5pm that the babies would arrive. He made it. I relaxed a bit when as I saw him.

It was lunch time. The nurses insisted that he grab something to eat. There would be a wait before the delivery. My parents were waiting outside by then too. He took them down to the Starbucks that I would get to know very well over the next 6 weeks.

Between contractions Maher drew my attention to the view from a window next to my bed. It was beautiful. The afternoon sun was shining, the blue sea was glistening, and there was an island. The gas relieved some pain, but as the contractions became stronger I started to do bhramari (humming bee sound), and sheetali (sucking air in through a rolled tongue) breath work. It all came back to yoga, during the pregnancy and now. It was spontaneous. It kept me calm, grounded, and connected to a familiar practice. I used ujjayi breath all the time, contractions or not.

Just before 5 pm, I had fully dilated. The room suddenly filled up with nurses, doctors and two teams of paediatric specialists, one for each baby. Maher caught a glance of Rahul when he came out, right before he was rushed to the NICU. In the meantime a doctor was pushing on my belly to help baby 2 turn around. Another doctor had already given me an episiotomy and was ready to enter and manually turn Leila if needed. She turned on her own and was born 7 minutes after Rahul. She didn’t cry. There was some quick movement and maneuvering around her incubator for a few moments. They resuscitated and rushed her to the NICU.

A few minutes after all the delivery procedures ended Maher went up to the NICU to see our babies and to get some information about them. Only parents were allowed in during the visiting hours, 9am to 8pm. In the span of a few minutes, the room I was in went from being full of shouting nurses and doctors, to empty. I found myself alone, eating a bowl of rice and Cantonese beef or pork. I don’t remember which. There were two attendants who came in to ask which I didn’t eat – beef or pork. To them my brown skin automatically meant that I was either Hindu or Muslim. I asked for chicken.

The women then wheeled me to a room with thirty little cubicles separated by green plastic curtains. Each space fit a single, tiny bed and a little cupboard. I was to spend the next 3 days and nights there.

It was almost 8- o’clock, the end of visiting hours. My parents and brother-in-law who had just flown from Chengdu, made it in for a few minutes. They put my clothes, mobile phone, and whatever food they had on them in my little cupboard. I could reach for it from my bed. Maher came by for a minute with no news of L and R yet. The doctors were still preparing and assessing them and he hadn’t been allowed in. He rushed back to catch the 8pm deadline.

The attendant on duty who was changing sheets, cleaning the cubicles, handing over babies to their mums for feeds, and bed pans to others was not in a good mood, obviously bored and exhausted from her day in and out of dealing with new mums and their crying babies, and especially lacking patience for one who doesn’t speak Cantonese. I was exhausted but the adrenaline was pumping through my veins. My husband had seen the babies and sent me photos by SMS but they didn’t open on my phone. I spoke to family and friends. They were all upbeat and congratulating me. Maher was worried and I was reassuring him.

The room I was in was always awake, day and night, with the 30 mums trying to feed their babies, sleep, use the toilets and showers, and contain their excitement and pain.

A nurse came by to check my blood pressure. It was high as it had been for the last few weeks. I was not to leave the bed until early the next day. She also handed me a syringe and showed me how to express milk by massaging down on my breast, and then pushing in and down, but not squeezing. I slept for a few hours before I had to pump again, and then again. In the future I was to wash my hands thoroughly before expressing, clean the nipple and make sure the syringe was always in its wrapper. This I did every 3 hours that night, and for many months after. The nurse was surprised by how much colostrum I managed to express. Each syringe had to be labeled clearly and precisely with the date, time, and babies names, and then kept frozen until I could take them to the NICU in the morning.

The NICU story is a post on its own. After the stressful entrance into the world L and R are now healthy 4-year-olds. For almost a year now we’ve been living on Koh Samui, a magical island in Thailand. Living a dream.

photo(2)Natasha is mum of 4-year-old fraternal twins Leila and Rahul. She moved to Koh Samui, Thailand with her children after spending 7 years in China. Her husband travels back and forth because work is in China. She has started practicing her yoga more regularly again, and even teaches a few classes a week, after a 3 year break. She blogs at her personal site Our Little Yogis and at Multicultural Mothering.

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MoM Elevator Pitch

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Categories Ask the Readers, Pregnancy, PrematurityTags , , , , , 3 Comments

Today, I went into the local Army medical center in an attempt to untangle a sitcom-worthy set of mixups of appointments, referrals and prescriptions. While I was waiting, I got to talking to the visibly pregnant lady next to me. She was 25 weeks pregnant with twins, and wasn’t looking forward to her appointment. Since one of her babies was low on amniotic fluid, she was anticipating being checked into the hospital, something she really didn’t want to have to do quite yet. We happened to leave the clinic around the same time, and she gave me an update. Although she wasn’t being hospitalized, she was being put on bed rest. She lamented not being able to be more available to one of her soldiers whose wife is also expecting twins.

In the few minutes I had, I told her that I also had twins, and that I’d delivered them 7 weeks early. Although it was scary at the time, they spent less than 3 weeks in the NICU, and are now flourishing. If bed rest was what her babies needed, maybe holding on to the thought that she’s doing it for them would help the time pass faster. I told her that I’d be thinking of her, and that I hoped that her babies stayed healthy and in her womb as long as they could.

If you had just 2 or 3 minutes to comfort a scared mother-of-multiples-to-be, what would you say to her?

Sadia is an army wife and working mom of 5-year-old identical twin girls. She and her family live in El Paso, TX, where her husband is stationed at Ft Bliss.

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Multiple Perspectives: Interview with a MoM-to-Be

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I’m excited, of course, when friends tell me that they are expecting, but I’m quadruply so when they tell me they are expecting multiples. My co-worker and friend Rachel has met my twin daughters only three or four times, but she became an instant favourite with them because of her warmth and humour. You can imagine my excitement when she showed me an ultrasound image with two separate sacs on display. I talked to her about her impending mother-of-multiples status.

1. What was your reaction when you found out you were pregnant with two babies? [Your husband] Scott’s?

People ask me a lot if I was surprised by the fact that I was pregnant with twins. I’m fairly sure the subtext of that question is, “Were they spontaneous twins?”  Generally, I reply, “I think everybody is surprised by twins!”

In my case, my twins weren’t spontaneous; I’d undergone an ovulation induction cycle, and I knew that the risk of multiples was higher. However, I was also under close observation, and we never had any reason to believe more than one egg had been released.  My hormone levels rose higher than I was expecting them to, so I did wonder if something was up, but at around 5 weeks, 3 days, when I had my first ultrasound, the doctor only saw one gestational sac at first.  The second little peekaboo sac was definitely a surprise!

Scott wasn’t able to make it to that first ultrasound, so I called him at work afterward to let him know.  I told him, “Everything looks good… but we may need to think of some more names.”  He knew what I meant immediately.  He’s a low-key guy, but he was excited, and I’m sure a little bit nervous, when he found out.

2. How did your expectations of parenthood change when you discovered that you would be a mother of multiples.

I was always fairly sure that, despite not having a ton of experience with babies and small children, Scott and I could probably figure out how to raise a child on our own. Raising twins, I’ll admit, still sounds like a much more formidable task than raising one.  You can check with me again in a year to see if I’ve broken them yet.

On the other hand, especially since we struggled with conceiving, I had developed a lot of ideas and theories about how we were going to raise our hypothetical only child. In some ways, finding out that we were expecting twins was freeing. Even in my naivete, I know that there will be times when I can’t meet both babies’ needs at the moment those needs arise. I feel like I’ve been able to give up my expectation of being Super Mom before the kids have even arrived.

3. Can you tell me a little about your experience with doctors specializing in multiple pregnancies? How did you find them, and how do you think working with specialists has benefited you?

I bought Dr. Barbara Luke’sWhen You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads,” not long after seeing the babies’ heartbeats at 6 weeks gestation.  I found the information in the book helpful but general, and I wanted advice more closely tailored to me.  I spent a lot of time searching the Internet for resources on twins, especially locally.  While I didn’t find a whole lot locally (aside from the Moms of Multiples group), I did find the Texas Children’s Hospital Program for Multiples in Houston.  I was most interested in the nutritional assessment they offer, to see how it compared to the one in Luke’s book.  Generally, it was fairly similar, but with a stronger emphasis on lower-fat foods. They also follow similar 20 pounds by 20 weeks guidelines.

My twins are dichorionic and diamniotic, and I’ve really had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy throughout, so I think the program was less helpful for me as it would have been for, say, parents of identical twins with a higher risk of TTTS. But I learned a lot about my babies and was very relieved to have a clean bill of health as we finished up the first trimester. It’s a great program, for those who are able to get to Houston, and it was completely covered by my insurance.

4. What personality traits do you predict for your babies, based on feeling them move?

Even before I could feel them move, I could see the differences in my babies on each ultrasound.  Starting at 8 or 9 weeks gestation, it became apparent that our little boy, Baby B, is quite a wiggler.  Our girl, Baby A, does her share of moving as well, but she’s never been nearly as active as her brother.  I anticipate we’re going to need to get Baby B involved in lots of physical activity to burn off all that extra energy.  On the other hand, our girl really likes to kick her mama in the bladder, so I’m predicting a typically complicated mother/daughter relationship with her!

5. What reactions do you get from people when they learn that you are expecting twins?

The most common reaction I get is, “Do you know what you’re having?” And when I tell them we’re expecting a boy and a girl, they almost always reply, “Oh, wow, that’s perfect! You can be done!”  As though we would have been required to keep trying for the opposite sex if we’d had two boys or two girls.  Or an only child, for that matter.  I’m learning a bit of zen, when it comes to responding to curious comments.  People generally mean well, and I don’t think they really think through their response. It’s as much small talk as anything.  (I’m sure I’ll be less patient when we can’t walk down an aisle at the grocery store without being interrupted, but people generally can’t tell I’m carrying twins, so I feel like I’m undercover for the time being.)

6. You are 33 weeks into your pregnancy right now. How do you feel, physically?

I’m definitely starting to feel tired and uncomfortable!  I anticipated that I would feel progressively worse as the pregnancy went on.  In actuality, it seems a little more cyclical than that. I hit a wall every couple of weeks, then I adapt and feel better for a while.  My quarter-mile walk to the office is definitely starting to feel like a long way, though!

7. What do you know now about multiple pregnancy, or pregnancy in general, that you wish you’d known earlier?

I spent the first two-thirds of my pregnancy mentally preparing myself for the possibility that I might be on bed rest or out of work for a long time.  I didn’t expect that I’d actually be pretty good at carrying twins, and still working at 33 weeks.  Knowing that would’ve saved me a lot of worrying early on!

8. You and Scott will both be returning to work after parental leave. What will your childcare arrangements be? How are you going about choosing?

This July, we spent our fifth wedding anniversary shopping for infant childcare, three months in advance of the anticipated arrival of our twins, and six months in advance of when we’d expect them to start daycare. It felt really unfair that we had to choose a childcare provider to care for our kids when we haven’t even had a chance to meet them or get to know them yet.  We visited four childcare providers and finally chose a Montessori school with an infant program in our neighborhood.   The rates were comparable to most of the other infant daycares in town, but we were impressed with the age-based Montessori classrooms, and we had a great rapport with the teacher in the infant room.  She lives in our neighborhood, as do many of the kids in the school, and she has twin grandsons.  We felt that our babies would be in good hands in her care.  Picking a place close to home means it’ll be equally convenient for Scott or me to drop them off and pick them up, and we hope we’ll be able to get to know other parents and kids in our area.

9. What have you already done to prepare for your twins’ arrival? What do you have left to do?

I feel as well prepared as a naive almost-mom can be. Our nursery is packed full of onesies, diapers, and random plastic baby accoutrements. We have places for the babies to sleep (though they may have to share for a little while). We’ve got a double stroller.  We’ve got infant car seats, and we’ve installed them into one of our two cars.  We’ve gone to all the classes we plan to go to in advance of their birth, and we’re trying to enjoy some nights out together before the nuclear bomb that is parenthood drops on us both.

I do still have a rigorous nap schedule to try to maintain for the next three to five weeks.  And a lot of work to wrap up.

10. What questions do you have for other parents of multiples?

I feel like I’ve heard the answers to most of my questions, and they all seem to vary from family to family. (How long did it take to feel like you had everything under control?  Were you able to breastfeed two babies at once?  How do you handle the financial burden of two infants at once, especially when you add in the huge expense of childcare?)

I’d rather hear words of reassurance.  Tell me when multiples get to be fun!

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What Should You know?

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I have decided to step outside of my normal blogging trend today to post this “guideline” of questions to ask for those of you who are fairly new to your pregnancy with multiples.  I did not ask many of these questions myself simply because I did not know.  I have compiled this list after two years of reading message boards and hearing other MoM’s stories.  Of course, I will need to throw in my own experience (or lack of) as well.

Can I stay with my OB or do I need to see a  Peri/MFM?

Many women want to know if they can stay with their OB or if they need to see a Peri or a MFM simply because they are pregnant with multiples.  This could be argued either way until the cows come home.  There are many women who have stayed with their “regular OB” and delivered their twins or triplets without issue.

I called my doctor a “high risk” doctor.  That is what everyone at the hospital referred to him as.  No one ever said, “He’s a MFM and this is different from an OB because…”  I was seeing him before it was discovered that I was pregnant with triplets because of the stillbirth of my first baby.  I didn’t even know what a MFM was until AFTER my girls were born and I joined the wonderful world of message boards.

A MFM is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist.  An OB who practices maternal-fetal medicine is called a Perinatologist.  So in basic terms, a MFM and a Peri are essentially the same.  These specialists have training in high risk pregnancies and have been credited by many women for discovering problems and saving the lives of their babies.  The best advice I can give is to ask questions.  How many patients has this doctor seen who have had pregnancies similar to yours?  If you are pregnant with one or more babies sharing a placenta or amniotic sac, you will want a doctor who has had much experience with complications related to such.

Those pregnant with identicals will want to discuss twin-to-twin transfusion.  How will the babies be monitored?  If your babies do start to show signs of twin-to-twin transfusion, what will be done?  Do they have contacts with specialists in this area?  Across the country?

How often will I have appointments, ultrasounds & non-stress tests?

You should be able to map out your appointments with your doctor.  How often will you be seen?  How often will ultrasounds be performed? 

Near the end of my pregnancy, I scheduled to go three weeks between ultrasounds.  At that point, my girls had never shown any signs of twin-to-twin transfusion and they were developing on schedule.  I felt very uneasy about waiting three weeks for another ultrasound, especially considering my previous loss and the fact that the excess fluid in Baby B’s brain was being monitored.  I expressed my concerns to my doctor and without issue, he scheduled me for an ultrasound.

What should I do if there is an emergency or concern?

Who should you call in case of emergency or if you have questions?  Do you want to go to the local ER or would you rather be seen at the Labor & Delivery unit of the hospital where you will delivering?

Most women that I know see a doctor with a practice that uses a hospital for deliveries.  My situation was a bit different in that the hospital I was deliver at had it’s own team of doctors.  If I had a question or concern, there was a number I could call 24 hours a day and I always received a prompt response.  I made two trips to L&D due to dehydration and the staff did a thorough job of checking the babies, my contractions, etc. 

Will I have to go on bedrest?

This is the million dollar question.  When I had that first conversation with my doctor after my triplets were discovered, I remember asking when I would be placed on bedrest.  The misconception amongst those inexperienced with multiples (like I was) is that you will HAVE to go on bedrest.  This is not always the case.

There are different variations of bedrest – from full out, in the hospital bedrest to modified bedrest.  My doctor did not believe in bedrest unless there was a medical reason for it.  Being pregnant with triplets was not a medical reason.  I eventually ended up just staying off of my feet.  My doctor knew that I was doing so and reminded me of it.  I listened to my body and knew my limits.

I should note that I have heard of doctors that will place their patients on bedrest at a certain point in the pregnancy simply because those patients are pregnant with multiples. 

Will I need a cerclage? 

A cerclage is when stitches are placed in the cervix to keep it from opening.  With many pregnancies, cervical issues arise suddenly and emergency cerclages are needed and are sometimes not effective because the cervix has already been compromised.  You should discuss with your doctor their procedures for monitoring your cervix and what will be done if any issues arise. 

If you are considering a cerclage, you should also discuss and research the risks and benefits to this type of procedure.  Although not seen very often, there are doctors who will want to perform this procedure on all of their triplet patients “just in case.”

Will the hospital be able to care for my babies if they are premature?

Ask many questions as to the NICU and other nursery services at the hospital where you will deliver.  You cannot assume that you will make it to the point of having take home babies and I’m sure the last place you will want to be is a hospital different from that of your babies. 

In addition, there are hospitals that do not offer an “overnight” nursery.  This means that, assuming no NICU, your babies will be rooming with you the entire time.  Not that this is bad but you may want to be prepared and expect to ask for and/or need help. 

What will happen if I go into pre-term labor?  

We all know that there are drugs out there that can stop/slow down pre-term labor contractions.  The question you should be asking is what is your doctor’s position and what actions will be taken?  Again, the risks versus the benefits need to be weighed.  Since delivering my girls I have read several articles where my doctor opposes the position taken by another “famous” doctor of mulitple pregnancies in Arizona in the usage of tocolytics.     

How early is too early?

This is something that no one wants to think about (and I don’t even like to write it) but you need to know at what gestational age the hospital will try to save your babies if they are born too early.  Most hospitals are at 24 weeks. 

How long can I carry these babies?  When will delivery be scheduled?

For a “standard” triplet pregnancy, you are looking at 36 weeks, give or take a few days.  You may want to discuss this with your doctor.  Don’t assume that what you read on the internet will apply to your situation and/or doctor’s position.

There are some doctors that may schedule your delivery weeks in advance to hold the date.  My doctor would not schedule anything until I reached 34 weeks.  Even then, the delivery date of 36 weeks and 4 days was moved up by 5 days (at the very last minute) due to scheduling issues. 

Will I have to have an amnio before delivery?

This may sound far-fetched but there are some hospitals (probably only a handful) that require an amnio be performed to check the lung development of the babies before a c-section will be performed if that c-section is to occur early.  What is early?  Usually before 37/38 weeks.  I agree that this is somewhat odd in that a women is not going to carry triplets to 38 weeks and will have to deliver regardless of lung development but for some hospitals, this is a standard procedure and those triplet moms have had to have an amnio.

Although highly unlikely, I mention it here because over the past two years I have heard of a handful of women who were quite surprised to learn of this late in their pregnancies. 

Will I have my own hospital room?   What accommodations will be made for my spouse/partner?

Although not as important, this may be something you will want to know.  I knew about the possibility of room sharing but it did not sway me from changing hospitals.  I have to tell you though that sharing a room that first night after my c-section was absolute torture.

I am sure I have missed some items.  Does anyone want to add any or tell of their experience?  What do you wish you had or had not known??

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