Our Twin’s Birth Story

Our boys are here! Whitaker John (right) and Davis Ray (left) made their debut on May 9 at 2:46 pm.

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My radio silence the past few months has been in part to the difficult third trimester and birth I experienced. I’ve been focused on healing myself and the rest of our family. What follows is everything that happened from the start of my third trimester until the boy’s delivery day, so bear with me.

In my last post I told you about how the second trimester of this twin pregnancy was routine and positive for me. Well it seemed like the moment I hit the third trimester, that all began to change. First, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. If you know me at all, you know I eat a very clean, healthy Paleo diet, so getting hit with diabetes was a big surprise.

Apparently GD is very common with twin pregnancies because of the increased amount of hormones being pumped out by not one, but two placentas. My gestational diabetes was likely due to this influx of hormones, because my diet was already very close to what they recommend. In fact, their main advice for me was to eat MORE carbohydrates. Also my fasting blood sugar was the hardest to control, so they put me on insulin to try to manage it.

A few weeks after my diabetes diagnosis, the swelling began. It started gradually in my feet, then I noticed my rings no longer fit, then I got carpal tunnel in my wrist and finally by the end, I was swollen all up my legs the the point where if you pressed my skin, an indentation would be left for a few minutes.

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I also became increasingly uncomfortable. It was hard to walk for more than a few minutes without getting pelvic pain, rolling over in bed became an olympic sport, and my braxton hicks contractions picked up a lot of steam. I even found myself in labor & delivery at 28 weeks for non-stop 8 minute apart contractions. Thankfully after five hours, they ceased that night, but I continued to have contractions daily.

At 33 weeks I went to see my OB and my blood pressure was slightly elevated at 140/98. They asked me to monitor it at home and at my maternal fetal medicine appointment the next day. At that appointment, my blood pressure was up in the 160’s/100’s, so I was immediately admitted to the hospital for monitoring.

What followed was a week spent in the hospital and what was honestly one of the most physically trying weeks of my life. The first night there, they told me I would be delivering immediately because of my blood pressure. I was obviously totally freaked out at the idea of delivering the twins at just 33 weeks, so I pushed to just try to control my pressures with medication to buy myself some more time.

My doctor’s agreed and immediately hooked me up to magnesium in my IV. Magnesium helps calm your nervous system and prevent seizures in women with preeclampsia. It also makes you feel like your skin is burning off, you have a horrible flu and you are insanely thirsty. This was torturous considering I wasn’t allowed to drink anything – even ice chips – in case I ended up with an emergency csection.

Oh that’s the other thing, after weeks of baby A being head down and baby B laying sideways, both decided to flip to breech that day, so my hopes for a VBAC were dashed and I would definitely be having a csection.

After that first night, they were able to get my blood pressure back down into the 140’s/90’s and agreed to let me delay delivering if I stayed in the hospital for monitoring. If you’ve ever stayed in a hospital, you know that it’s not exactly the best environment to lower blood pressure.

Every hour through the night a nurse would wake me up to take my vitals, which meant I was severely sleep deprived. I had to lay flat on my back to have the babies monitored for about 4 hours a day, which any pregnant person knows is incredibly uncomfortable. Finally, I had a lot of doctors and nurses regaling me with tales of patients who died or whose babies died in my situation. Not the best way to lower my blood pressure!!

In addition to the preeclampsia issues, I also went into active labor two consecutive nights. My contractions were every 3-4 minutes and painful enough that I could not talk through them. So twice again I was wheeled into labor & delivery, prepped for a csection and not allowed to eat or drink anything for 12 hours. Both times my labor was stopped with a medication.

Throughout this whole time, Luke was by my side and my rock. He slept in a chair by my bed, advocated for me with the doctors and reassured me that everything would be alright. He even painted my toenails after I complained that I felt so gross and unattractive in the hospital.

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After a week of this crazy emotional and physical roller coaster, my blood pressure spiked one more time to 171/110 and the high risk doctor insisted that I deliver the boys the next morning. By this time I was officially 34 weeks, the boys had had a round of steroids to mature their lungs and magnesium to help mature their brains, so everyone felt comfortable with their prospects post birth.

My doctor wasn’t able to deliver me until 2:00 pm, so again I spent another night with nothing to eat or drink past midnight + a nice big bag of nasty magnesium pumped into my IV. By the time I was wheeled into the delivery room, my body and spirit were so weak, I was just ready to have the boys out.

My surgery went well, and at 2:46 pm Davis Ray was born first with his brother Whitaker John coming almost immediately after. The doctor actually said she pulled Davis out and Whitaker reached his arms out after him almost saying “wait! come back!”

The doctor lowered the screen so I could see them both being born and they were brought over to me and Luke to hold and snuggle for a new minutes.

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The boys were a great weight for their gestational age and for the fact that they are twins – Whitaker was 6 lbs 3 oz and Davis was 5 lbs 8 oz. Both had no issues breathing, maintaining their temperature or really anything else. However, due to their gestational age, they were immediately admitted to the NICU.

Probably the hardest time for me was after their birth. They were gone in the NICU and I was not allowed to be with them for 24 hours because I had to be hooked up to magnesium yet again post delivery. They would not allow me to do my magnesium up in the NICU because a nurse had to be with me at all times and they didn’t have the staffing to allow that in the NICU.

I was in an immense amount of pain post surgery and was begging the nurse for more pain medication. My body was shaking uncontrollably from the pain and shock of the surgery. Worst of all, I was alone for much of it because Luke was up with the babies. My mom came to be with me eventually. Those first hours in recovery were some of the most painful in my whole life. Nothing like my first csection. Plus I had no babies with me to distract me.

One thing I was at least looking forward to was the large pizza and chocolate milkshake I requested my Dad bring me. I hadn’t eaten barely anything for the whole week I was in the hospital, so this was a very exciting “first meal.” But wouldn’t you know it!? The nurse wouldn’t let me have any because she said it was “too rich” for me to eat while on magnesium. That one earned a few tears.

Finally after my 24 hours of purgatory were up, I was able to be wheeled up to the NICU to finally see my babies. The NICU at Toledo Hospital is nothing like I imagined. I thought it would be a big room with a bunch of sick babies and super stressful, but it’s actually very peaceful and quiet. Each family has their own private room too.

That first night I got to hold my sweet boys skin to skin and I finally was able to exhale and feel joy in my heart at the miracle of these two boys. After such a long, hard journey they were here. My heart sang!

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They are the cutest babies too. Despite being twins, they look very different (to me at least). Davis looks a lot like Lila did when she was a baby, with dark hair and coloring. He also likes to stare at you a lot, just like Lila did. (Lila on the left, Davis on the right)

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Whitaker has lighter hair, a rounder face and looks a lot like his daddy did as a baby. (Luke on the left, Whitaker on the right)

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It’s been 21 days since their birth and Davis came home from the hospital two days ago.

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Whitaker is still there working on taking his bottles better. Both boys biggest hurdle is just gaining their strength to take all their feeds. Whitaker is our sleepy dude who likes to snooze right through meal time, but we’re hopeful he’ll be home very soon.

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As you can imagine juggling babies in the NICU, a 3 year old at home and me recovering from major surgery has been a lot to handle. Thankfully I am getting better and better each day and we’ve had a lot of support from family and friends, namely my mother who has been over nearly every day to help with Lila or the babies. She has been a godsend!

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I am feeling almost back to myself. I lost 45 pounds in the first week alone after losing all the water I was retaining. What a relief that was to be rid of! I gained 60 lbs in total, so I have 15 more to go.

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Another positive is that my milk supply has been ample. I am pumping enough to cover both boys feeds and overflow our freezer at the same time. What a blessing!

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We are slowly settling into life as a family of five. Lila loves “her babies” and has proven herself to be very patient at the hospital and very loving to the boys. She showers them with kisses and head rubs while saying “coochie coochie!” or “awww they’re so sweet!” or “he’s sooo cute!” She’s going to be a great big sister.

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I am beyond thankful my body stuck it out until 34 weeks and that these boys were born healthy. Although it was a tough road to get here, these sweet angel boys make it all a distant memory. I can’t wait to watch them grow up, develop that special twin bond and bring so much joy to all our lives.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us and sent us positive thoughts. We’ve also had a huge outpouring of local friends dropping off meals, running errands, mowing our lawn and bringing by presents for the boys. The support means more to us than you will know!! 

 

 

Keeping Perspective

Tomorrow my two best friends are hosting a small baby “sprinkle” to celebrate our twin boys. It feels so amazing to be at this point, with a healthy pregnancy, two babies on the way and my closest friends & family nearby.

A year ago I honestly wasn’t sure we’d ever get to this point again. That was dark time for me personally. One that was consumed with worry, anxiety, sadness and fear. It was around this time last year that I realized I was quite literally obsessed with my fertility or lack there of. It was all I thought about, talked about and even dreamed about. And it was draining.

I knew I had to do something to break out of my own head!

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My aunt had previously told me about how she started volunteering for Hospice in Cleveland and after hearing her describe her experience, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Have you ever had something call to you over and over again, so much so that you cannot keep ignoring it? That’s how I felt about volunteering for Hospice. It was something that just kept creeping up into my thoughts.

I kept putting it off, citing my stress around infertility as a reason to not take on anything new. But once I thought about it, I realized volunteering was actually EXACTLY what I needed to stop obsessed about myself so much, so I signed up to begin volunteer training.

I am so glad that I did because being a Hospice volunteer as been the most rewarding and uplifting two hours I spend all week. I chose to join the Threshold Choir for my volunteering. Each Tuesday a group of ladies meet at the Hospice center and sing at bedside for Hospice patients. We sing soft, sweet, lullabies for patients in varying stages of death.

Sometimes they’re alert and singing along with us, while other times they are close to passing and our songs are meant to let them know they are not alone. They say hearing is the last sense to go before death, and I’ve witnessed first hand patients, who have not responded to family in days, open their eyes and respond to our music. It’s a powerful moment.

At first I thought volunteering at Hospice would be too scary and depressing for me. That it would only add to my anxiety and stress. Oddly enough that has not been my actual experience at all. It feels like the biggest honor ever to contribute to making someone’s end of life even a tiny bit better. I always leave feeling so happy and at peace.

Plus the women I sing with are some of the sweetest, most uplifting people I have met. I’ve had to take a leave until the babies are here because I can’t stand for two hours, and they surprised me with baby gifts for the boys and many for Lila too.

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And when it comes to my own selfish reasons for signing up to volunteer, I will say it worked in helping me see the big picture of my life. I became less bogged down in the day to day happenings of my fertility and noticed my existing blessings even more. It also helped renew my courage to go on pursuing growing our family, because I saw how important family and children are to patients at the center.

Hospice is always looking for volunteers, so if you want a way to give back that is insanely rewarding, please look into your local organization. Volunteers help in a variety of ways, including meeting 1:1 with patients to talk or provide companionship, relieving a caregiver so they can get a few hours break, singing or playing music, cutting hair/doing nails, quilting or even arranging flowers for patients rooms.

I’m so grateful for my time at Hospice. If you have any questions about what it’s like to be a volunteer, please feel free to reach out!

 

 

Twin Pregnancy Update: Second Trimester

Yesterday I turned 26 weeks pregnant with our twin boys. Only two more weeks until the third trimester, which seems crazy! After a tumultuous first trimester, I’m happy to report that the second trimester has been smooth sailing.

I’m currently huge … measuring six weeks ahead (32 weeks) and am daily getting the “any day now!” comments from nice strangers. The look of horror on their faces when I tell them I’m not due until June is pretty funny. :)

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The boys are growing healthy and strong from what we can tell. They’re both measuring the same for estimated size … 60th% for all babies, and have strong heartbeats. They’re being cooperative guys for now and are in the optimal head down position side by side. Baby B is very active all throughout the day and night, while baby A is quiet except for at 4am when he gets his groove thang on.

I’m feeling good, other than typical pregnancy complaints. Namely bloody noses, leg cramps, back pain, insomnia, shortness of breath, exhaustion and broken blood vessels on my face. I also am at the point where I cannot walk more than four blocks without feeling pain and pressure. But for a twin pregnancy, this is all par for the course, so I am not complaining.

The biggest worry right now is pre-term labor. 51% of twins are born preterm, which can mean a nicu stay and possibilities for long-term disabilities. Thankfully my body seems to be handling the pregnancy well so far and I don’t have any signs of preterm labor.

Our “goal” is 36 weeks gestation, with 38 weeks being ideal. I’d love the boys to have a birth weight above 6 lbs each, which is great for twins. Lila was just 6 lbs 9 oz, so we’ll see. Finally, I am hoping to avoid any nicu time and have the babies with me immediately.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to move around or if I’ll have to be on bedrest, so I’ve been nesting a little earlier than a typical pregnancy. We have the nursery mostly ready. We did a travel theme this time complete with a vintage map wall mural, antique suitcases as a nightstand and a cool vintage globe. We still have to get another crib, bedding and Luke is working on building storage into their closet so I can start organizing the massive amount of baby boy clothes my friends have handed down to us.

Travel nursery decor We also got Lila situated in her new room. I read that we should do it early, so she doesn’t feel like it’s a punishment once the boys arrive. We got her a new pink chandelier to make it special for her.

Pink, green and blue girls room Pink chandelier

 

We’re all starting to get very excited to welcome these boys into our family. The next few months are going to be tough physically for me, so prayers and encouragement are appreciated. I know it will all be a distant memory once those babies are laying in my arms.

 

 

All About Our Good News!

If you follow me on Facebook, then you likely saw our recent announcement. If not, here it is…

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We are expecting twin boys!! We are beyond excited!! Here’s how this blessing came to be.

If you’ve been following along on our fertility journey, you know that we had unexplained secondary infertility after an early miscarriage. After undergoing a surgery this spring, we decided to try on our own for another six months before seeking more help. That six months went by without any luck, so we turned to our amazing doctor, Dr. Shamma here in Toledo for assistance.

We followed his advice to a T and our treatments were successful. I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Shamma and his staff. They made a very stressful situation as positive as it could be.

My first trimester started off filled with excitement and joy that I was finally pregnant. Soon enough morning sickness reared it’s ugly head and I was so sick it was debilitating. I was pretty sick with Lila, but twin sickness was a whole new ballgame.

Thankfully I started taking Diclegis, which is a morning sickness medication made up of B6 and antihistamine, that took the edge off enough for me to be functional. Before that I was literally laying on the ground trying not to vomit much of the day. Even on Diclegis I had serious food aversions and  all-day nausea. Lets just say I have a TON of respect for women who have hyperemesis gravidarum. 

Other than morning sickness I had a very stressful and scary two weeks around weeks 12-13. I began spotting and then bleeding every night around 4am. It would stop in the morning, but each night I woke to the same nightmare. After having a miscarriage and infertility, any spotting is terrifying. Every time it happened, I would get an ultrasound, both babies looked great and there was no visible reason for the bleeding. Then around 14 weeks it stopped and hasn’t happened again. Thank goodness.

While I was so sick and having spotting, I was essentially on bedrest, which put a huge burden on Luke and our extended family to help out. Lila was definitely impacted by it all and for a few bad weeks was very angry with me. I went from her full-time caregiver to barely around. She would hardly even look at me for awhile! Thankfully I begin to feel less nauseous around week 16 and our relationship rebounded instantly.

19 weeks with twin boys

I am 20 weeks today and besides some exhaustion, I am feeling good. My bump is pretty large and the babies are big as well. At my last appointment at 18 weeks, my belly was measuring 7 weeks ahead (compared to a singleton pregnancy)! However, I’m not too uncomfortable and am still sleeping well, so no complaints here.

The boys are fraternal twins, meaning they are like two separate siblings just born at the same time. I had my anatomy scan a week or so ago and both looked perfectly healthy and ACTIVE! On the ultrasound they were already rough-housing, with the top boy smacking the bottom one in the head. Don’t worry, the bottom one quickly retaliated and hit his brother right back. It was hilarious to watch.

I have a long way to go in this pregnancy and I’m sure pretty soon it will start to get uncomfortable and challenging, but for now I am just basking in my happiness about bringing two precious boys into our family. Lila says they’ll both be named “Lila” and can wear some of her jammies that are in boy colors. :)

Our journey to conceive these babies was not easy, but I would go through it all again to get to this same conclusion. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for encouraging me to keep going when it got tough.