becoming mom

Becoming Mom…My Twin Birth Story

 skin to skin
Every wonder if you can have a vagina twin birth? Want to hear about a mom who has done it?  I am about to share my twin birth story.
The boys are at the end of their 2nd year here on Earth and inevitably I think about the day they were born.  A moment in my life that I hope, remains as clear as it was the night they were born.  During those first few weeks home with them, the next few months, leading up to the first year, I honestly did not see age 3.  Having a newborn is hard, newborn twins is insane.  There were many days I wasn’t sure I would make it until the end of the day, never mind three years later. I remember simultaneously wishing the days to go quick but the months to slow down.  But here we are, age 3.
 
I have found out that being a parent is pretty incredible, in so many ways.  But being a twin parents is beyond incredible. The hard work, exhaustion, guilt, and tears are ten-fold.  But the support from the multiples community, the sweetness of watching their relationship grow, the hysteria listening to them have conversations, the immense love, is even greater.
 
As we celebrate their 3rd revolution around the sun, the boys will eat cupcakes, open presents, have balloons and play with their friend, and I, on this day and every coming year in June, will think about our birth story and the day I became a mother to twins.
woman pregnant with twins

Pregnant with Two

How many children?
2, Twin boys age 2 (still hanging on for these last few days)

What was pregnancy like for you?
My pregnancy wasn’t too bad.  I was definitely a bit nervous during the first trimester as I had some spotting early on but then it went pretty well.  I started to slow down around 7 months, no more working out, became harder to sit for long periods of time. I did have to go to L&D at 29 weeks for contractions but after a few IV bags of fluid I was good to go.  
Things started to get pretty uncomfortable by 33 weeks, I felt like I had a baby up my throat and a baby about to fall out. I would set weekly goals, just make it to 30 weeks, 31, weeks and so on and thought I was well on my way to term until my hands and feet started to itch and I became diagnosed with cholestasis.
 
Mostly, I am grateful that a friend documented my pregnancy beginning at 15 weeks.  I wrote weekly letters and she took weekly photos and gifted me a book filled with them on the boys 1st birthday.  So my entire pregnancy is in writing.
 
Who educated you on being pregnant or what to expect?
Luckily, my friends all had babies right before me and were very forthcoming about their experience.  We also took a birthing class led by two doulas, which helped immensely. I also read a lot of blogs from twin moms and what their experience was like being pregnant with twins.
 
Did you take a birthing class?
Yes, led by two doulas.  It was one of the first things that my husband and I could really experience together in terms of my pregnancy.  I also realized there is a lot of misinformation out there and fear with regards to birth.
 newborn twins skin to skin

BIRTH STORY

What was your labor like?
Fast.  I was induced at 36+3 due to cholestasis.  We packed for a long haul expecting the induction to take a long time, as we had been told this by many who had been induced, and the nurse who was on duty.  They gave me cervital and said in about 12 hours we will give pitocin.  That never happened.  I started contractions rather quickly after the cervital. Because mine was a twin pregnancy I had to stay hooked to the heart monitors and have the port put in, even though I was not having an epidural.
 
I labored in the laboring room and was able to move around and get into different positions. Within a few hours I asked my husband to call our doula and by the time she showed up I was deep into labor.  Having her there helped ease any anxiety about labor as she was able to answer any questions I had on what was happening to my body.
 
The nurses had told me not to push because the baby would butt up against my cervix and it would be awhile until I was fully dilated but I kept feeling like something was coming out. They said no it is too early but I knew it was happening.   My doula checked me and saw Baby A’s sac pushing out.  She grabbed the nurses and suddenly it was chaos.  Trust your body lady’s!!
 
Where did you give birth?
In the hospital, in the OR
 
What was your delivery like?
In some ways it still feels like a blur.  Because I was having twins I had to deliver in the OR, and as they wheeled me down the hall from the laboring room, I can remember clinging to the bed rail trying to keep Baby A in, yelling with every bump the wheels rolled over “Giving birth is no joke.”
I didn’t expect as many people in the OR as there was, and I remember just looking around for Kris and my doula’s eyes.  Once I found them I felt settled.  The nurses kept trying to move me from the bed to the OR table but I wasn’t having it.  My body did not want to leave the position it was in and thankfully my OB, was super chill and not one for protocol.  She let me deliver in the position that felt right for me.  I will always be grateful for that!
 birth story
I didn’t push long and soon Kellan was born.  They put him on my chest for what seemed like a second then said Kris needed to take him so I could deliver Baby B.  I remember feeling confused as to why I didn’t have more time. For some reason I had envisioned a calm 20 minute skin to skin with Baby A before delivery Baby B.  That didn’t happen.
 
Once Kris took Kellan, my OB said Baby B was still breech and she had to go in and get him. At the time I was like whatever has to happen, is great.  I was ready for the contractions to stop.  Seventeen minutes after his brother, Atlas was born, feet first.
 
Was your husband in the delivery room?
Yes.  Three things that stand out regarding my husband.  He put his scrubs on backwards on the way to the OR and I was panicked he was going to miss the birth.  He and our doula were high-fiving each other as we rolled to the OR and I screamed in pain.  When he tells our birth story, you would think he had delivered twins, that’s how intense it was for him.
My husband and doula took a quick selfie as we made our way to the OR
My husband and doula took a quick selfie as we made our way to the OR
 
How long did you stay in the hospital?
Because we checked in for our induction in the morning but the boys were born at night, that counted as our first day.  So we only got 1 full day in the hospital, but a panicked call to my OB got us a late check out so technically, 2 days.  I was felt safe in the hospital with the staff of nurses and never wanted to leave them.
 
Were you happy with your birth?
Ultimately, yes.  I was sad I missed the “my water broke” scramble to the hospital. But, I got everything I wanted.  A natural, twin vaginal birth with no epidural and my husband and doula by my side, and most importantly, two healthy babies.  I actually loved the experience of delivering a baby and would totally do it again.  
Unbeknown to me at the time my doula took picture of my delivery and I am so grateful for those images. Like everything else, it went by so fast so I am so thrilled to be able to see the moment they both entered the world whenever I want.

FIRST FEW WEEKS

 
Who helped you?
My mom came for a month to help, which was 100% needed.  I was very overwhelmed with two newborns and I had issues breastfeeding.  My dad arrived about 2 weeks later and was on house duty. We have no family that lives close so once my parents left, I was on my own.  My husband works very long hours so for the most part, Mon-Friday it was just me, our dog and newborn twins.
 
Did your husband take time off?
I will always be grateful to his boss for giving him the week off.  He is freelance and in an industry where either you are working or you are not.  Plus he doesn’t get family leave, and she was incredibly supportive and made sure he got paid for that week. And she has been that way ever since they were born.
 
How did you feel postpartum?
I was a bit of a mess those first few weeks.  I felt incredibly overwhelmed and in a bit of shock over the massive flip our lives just took.  Even though I felt like I had a lot of experience with babies, nothing prepared me for having twins. It was a blow to my ego that I was struggling with breastfeeding and the intensity of life with newborn twins.
My doula helped with my breastfeeding issues and what was happening with my body.  My mom helped support the babies and keeping me fed.  But it took a couple of months for me to finally settle our new normal.
 
Did your doctor or anyone give support with breastfeeding, postpartum?
My doctor was great, I felt like I could tell her anything.  And my doula, Kate.  She was so supportive and helpful.  And having someone so honest and informed on postpartum, along with advice and tips on helping my feeding issues and body, was a lifesaver.
 
Where did you find support as a new mother?
The internet.  There was no one in my life who really understood what it meant to have twins. The blogs and support groups of other twin parents was a life saver, reassuring me that I was doing things right and what I was feeling or what was happening was normal.
 
My family and friends were supportive and I definitely asked their advice on basic baby care or milestones.  There are a couple of people who I will always be indebted to for doing, what probably seemed natural, but to me saved my life.  My mom, giving up a month of her life to be here when they were born and the weeks following.  My cousin, who gifted me a house cleaner.  That was such a gift, to sit in a clean home, when otherwise would have been a disaster those first few months, and at times have an adult to talk to during the day. And my best friend, who always brought me food, cleaned my house and would just sit and hold the babies so I could have a half hour with no one in my arms.  I still get overwhelmed thinking of those acts of love.
 
What was your biggest challenge being a new mom?
Newborn twins, no family near by, and struggling with breastfeeding.
 
What was your partner’s role?
In the early weeks he was mostly support and an extra set of hands as I was breastfeeding. For the most part, when you have 2 adults and 2 babies, it is a man on man defense.
 
What was the biggest surprise the first few weeks home?
The schedule was overwhelming.  Even with tandem feeding there was not a minute of the day that wasn’t devoted to the babies. There was not sleep when they sleep, though is there ever??
 
Also, their personalities.  I think because we had two, it was so clear how different they were and what their personality was like.  It is a lot easier to notice when you have a comparison. It has also made it easier to see who they were the day they were born is who they still are today in the days leading up to age 3.  There was and still is, nothing like watching two people develop at the same time.
 
Lastly, their connection to each other.  It too, has been there since day one and it was so sweet to see in those first few weeks how they gravitated toward each other, even when they couldn’t really move.

 newborn twins snuggling

PERSPECTIVE

What do you see the biggest difference between raising children today vs. when your mother raised you? What is better today, what was better then?
Today there are more resources and support for women during pregnancy and postpartum. People are also more honest about birth and your body. Hopefully that open dialogue expands and continues.
 
Also access to information is better today.  It is incredibly helpful to being able to connect with people, especially when you have special circumstances.  Being able to speak to another mom virtually can make parenting twins less isolating.  But it can also be a curse, I try not to look up any ailments online but inevitably I do and the diagnosis is always grave, lol.
 
It seemed like there was more of a village when I was a kid, then now. I feel like we have to work harder to find a community.
 
Within the realms of society what is your biggest concern regarding your children (environment, race, education, etc)?
Sadly, as I write this our society has suffered another tragic loss of lives due to gun violence. So that is where my fears lie today. Working in government is supposed to be about public service and yet it has become an environment ruled by greed and money and it frightens me that my children’s lives are now at stake.
 
I also worry about raising boys in a culture of rape.  Not just them knowing and understanding what is consent, and having respect for women and equal rights. But also fear for what they might perceive as a threat to their masculinity within a world where an aggressive man is still considered better. I want them to be men who are feminists and not feel like they are less of a man because of it.
 
Best advice given to you when you became a mom?
Keep your twins on the same schedule, because a few months down the road you will actually get some breaks.  The best advice ever and very true.
 
My mother told me “it’s easier to train a puppy than a dog,” which sounds like a terrible comparison, but it has proven to be true.  I found that the earlier I decided to make a transition, the easier it went.  We lost the pacifiers, moved from bottles to cups and potty trained all on the early end of the spectrums and were better for it.  Their memory is short so it wasn’t a long tortuous process for them or us when we made a move.
 
Best advice you can give to new moms
Give yourself a break.  This is especially true for us multiples moms.  It is nothing like having one baby so don’t compare your experience to your best friend with a singleton. Reach out to other parents of multiples, you will find great comfort and confidence in them.
 
Twin parents – when you are crying with guilt because you can’t hold both at once or have to deal with one baby then another, just remember, they have been together since the beginning of time and don’t know any different.  No matter what happened the day before, my twins still wake up every day still loving me as much as they did the day before.  They are pretty incredible in that way.  
 
What was/is the greatest joy in being a mother
Watching their joy at life.  I hope as they get older a bit of that stays with them always. Yesterday at the park the maintenance guy turned on the sprinklers so the kids could cool off from the oppressive heat.  Watching them strip their clothes off and run with true wild abandon through the spraying water, squealing with delight the entire time, fills my heart.
 
Just watching twins go through life together.  They are so very different and yet have a relationship like none other.  We have been so lucky to see these two little people navigate this world hand in hand.
 
What do you know about your birth?
I was born 2 days early and because it was on the last day of the year my parents got a tax exempt.  It was a long labor and my dad fell asleep during my mother’s labor, defending himself to the nurse saying he was exhausted.  She was not sympathetic.
 
Any personal thoughts?
I think women rock!  I have always felt I was a feminist but even more so now since I have become a mother.  The level of respect I have for women has skyrocketed.  What our bodies can do and what we accomplish after having children is astonishing and should be respected by each other and society. I hope with each other and with our children we can keep having honest conversations about pregnancy and birth and SUPPORT women.
 

Check out When you Give a Woman Twins

Birth Story….Becoming Mom. Meet Mary, my Mom!

Becoming Mom

Some women were born to be mothers, my mother is one of those women.  She dressed up with us for Halloween, came on every school field trip, had home-made snacks waiting for us when we got off the bus, had warm mittens ready when we came to the door with frozen fingers, had home-cooked dinner on the table every night, even when she went back to work.   Among thousands of other things, my mother gifted me three that left a lasting impact on me and shaped the person I am today.  

The first is Independence.  If someone asked me what do you remember your mother saying the most growing up, other than, wear sunscreen, it is, “When I hear mothers tell their daughters to marry a rich man, I tell my daughter to be rich.”  I can remember her telling me that over and over throughout my formative years.  And while boys may have come and gone and heartbreak had, I never once felt that I lost myself in any relationship.  During the early teens years when we all tried to fit in, I allowed that little bit of myself that was different to peek its head out once in a while. And with complete truth I believe I have led a rich life thus far.   

The second gift is Freedom.   For any mother, plus for someone who has anxieties, it could not have been easy to have a daughter born with wings on her back.  I’ve always wanted to go, go, go.  During a time when emails and cellphones were not easily accessible, I traveled to countries that had no internet, often costing $7 a minute for a phone call, were littered with land mines and I would try to check in maybe once a week, if the town I was in permitted it or I remembered.  Nobody was traveling to Cambodia when I went to Cambodia and more than enough people told her, “you can’t let her go” or “she will be in danger.”  And yet off I went, following the footsteps of so many women whose DNA courses through me.  I am sure most of my emails home were huge stress-inducers, but she still had pride in her voice when she told people the places her daughter had traveled. And when I moved across the country and people told her “my children would never leave me” she knew I had a dream to follow and wasn’t going try to force me to live a life I wasn’t meant to live, no matter how hard it was to hear the lack of support from other mothers.

Which brings me to the third gift, Support.  It seems a given that a mother would support their child.  But for some reason that just isn’t always the case.  No matter what has happened in my life I have always known she is always in my corner.  She has traveled far and wide to be there for me when I needed her most, even if I didn’t know it at the time.  I’ve seen her support her family and friends with true loyalty and fierceness. I like to think my mother passed that trait on to me, to be a supportive, mother, daughter, family member, friend, and member of society.

For a bonus gift, hands down it is my skin.  Thank god I never had to suffer the social angst of having teenage skin nor did I get any stretch marks carrying twins.  Thanks mom!

So on honor of Mother’s Day, I want to share my mom’s birth story.  Because without her I would not be here; not have my incredible siblings, children, niece and nephew and really my great life.  Love you mom!!! 

Becoming Mom
How many children do you have
3
 
How old were you when you had your first child
22
 
What was pregnancy like for you
During all of my pregnancies, for the first trimester, I was very sick. I didn’t have just morning sickness, I had all day sickness and would vomit a lot. That part of pregnancy was very difficult. I loved the idea of being pregnant, but I found that when some people hear you were pregnant, they would often want to tell you horror stories, miscarriages, still births, “terrible” delivery stories, etc. I have always suffered from anxieties, so much of this “sharing” sent me over the edge.
 
 When I was pregnant with my first child, I went to my OB for a regular visit (second trimester). He told me that he thought that he could feel a large tumor on one side of my uterus. If that was the case, as the baby grew, there wouldn’t be enough room for the baby, and I could lose the baby. This was pre ultra-sound days. He sent me home telling me that we would know more at my next visit. I was twenty-one years old at time and my husband was away for two weeks with the National Guard. As you can imagine, I was hysterical. I drove directly to my mother’s. My mom lived with my sister Anne, who was furious that any doctor would tell me that without more information. Needless to say, it was a very long month until my next appointment. When I did go to my next appointment, I saw a different doctor in the practice. After examination, he told me that all was fine. What the other doctor had felt was probably the position of the baby who might have been curled up in a ball. You can imagine the relief!!
 
Who educated you on pregnancy
My mother had nine children, and three of my older sisters all had children. I was very young when my sisters had children . I was around for a lot of their pregnancies, so I guess I learned from what I had seen.
 
Did you take a birthing class
Yes, I took one before the birth of my first child and a refresher course before the birth of my third child. I loved them, and thought they were very helpful.

 BIRTH STORY

What was your labor like
The labor with my daughter was very long. I started labor very early on Sunday morning and she was born on a Tuesday afternoon. When I called to report my symptoms to my doctor, I was instructed not to eat and stay at home until my labor to stronger. My labor was quite strong by Monday morning, so I was told go up to the hospital. After examination, I was told that I was in labor, but not far along for them to keep me. Home I went, embarrassed that I had bothered the hospital staff. I was so tired, so hungry and scared because I was sure that I would never know when to go back. When I did go back 12 hours later, I was totally exhausted and very dehydrated because I took the “do no eat” while in labor very seriously.
 
Where did you give birth
In the hospital for all 3 births
 
What was your delivery like
My first delivery was very painful. In those days, they gave what they called “spinals”.  The spinal didn’t take, so I felt all of the labor. What the spinal did was give me was nine days of terrible spinal headaches.  My following two deliveries were natural because I didn’t want to risk spinal headaches again.
With my second delivery, my son was a large baby so the doctor had to use forceps. Not having had a spinal, using forceps was very painful. With my third delivery, my son was head down instead of face down. Because this part of a baby’s head is much harder, as he pushed down, it caused my cervix to swell. I had to have medication and lay in one position for the remainder of my labor to try to get the swelling down so he could pass through the birth canal. It was a long, painful delivery. I came very close to having to have a section, but at last-minute, with the nurse holding my cervix back, he was finally born.
 
Was your partner in the room
Yes, he was there for all three babies.
 
How long did you stay in the hospital
2-3 days
 
Were you happy with your birth
Ha, I remember that when I was in the throes of the worst of my labor with my first child, I said to my labor nurse, “who the hell would do this again, who would put themselves through this again?  A year and half later, I was back in the same labor room with the same nurse giving birth to my son. She remembered me and what I said. We did have a laugh over it. I cannot say that I was really happy with the first birth, I was certainly relieved and delighted that my baby was really here, and most importantly, she was healthy and beautiful.

 FIRST FEW WEEKS

Did anyone help you
My mom stayed with me until my daughter was nine days old. I was very sick with spinal headaches. She did all of the cooking, helped with my daughter. My mother was a very calm person, and having her with me was wonderful. Having been around babies, and just loving babies my entire life, I was somewhat confident in my ability to care for my baby, though do remember asking my mom’s opinion on minor things, and it was so reassuring having her by my side. That time with my mom was so special. It was then that I realized that my relationship with my mother transitioned to not just mother and daughter, but she became my very dear friend. At that time, I realized that except for my husband, no one would love my child more than my mother. It was such a bonding experience for mother, daughter and granddaughter.
 My mom also stayed with me when my other two children were born. I will forever be grateful for those special days with my mother.
 
Did your partner take time off
No he didn’t stay home at all. No paternity days back then.
 
Did your Doctor give you support/advice regarding breastfeeding, postpartum
Absolutely not!! I really wanted to try breastfeeding with my daughter. During one of my last prenatal visits, I asked my OB about breast-feeding. He asked me if I had any doubts about it? I told him that I did. He told me if I had doubts then I shouldn’t breastfeed because I wouldn’t be good at it.
 
When my second child was born, I decided not to breast feed because I still remembered what the doctor said the first time, plus having a one and half-year old at home, I thought it would be easier to bottle feed. My pediatrician came in the room to check on my son, saw me bottle feeding him, and really let me have it for not breast-feeding. Told me I had bad a very bad choice and that he was very disappointed in me.                               
 When my third child was born, I knew that I wanted to breast feed. I did it, It went so well and I absolutely loved it. If I have one regret, it is that I didn’t breast feed all three of my children.
 
Where did you find support as a new mother
Without a doubt, my support came from my mom and my sister Anne. They supported me unconditionally.
 
What was your biggest challenge as a new mom
My first two children had a terrible time with colic. It was awful watching them scream and really not being able to do much about it. That and my anxiety/worry about something happening to my baby.  Other than that, I think all went well. I love infants and loved every change and watching them grow and develop.
Becoming Mom
 
What was your partners role
My husband was a very good dad. He had no experience with babies, but when my daughter was born, he did great. One of my sweetest memories was the day after my daughter was born. I was so exhausted and slept most to the day. I remember waking up at one point during the day, and he was sitting there feeding her. The nurse told me, they offered to feed her so I could sleep, but he wanted to do it. He didn’t have a clue what he was doing, but he wanted to feed his daughter. 
 
When we got home, the first time I went out, I can remember coming home, walking in to her room. My poor husband had a total look of terror on his face. She had pooped and he was in total panic. When I was very tired, he would promise to take a night feeding. Well, the man sleeps like he is in a coma. By the time, I kicked him several times, he would finally get up, all the lights went on, made so much noise heating up the bottle, the baby would be screaming and my stomach would be in knots. He always promised to do better, but never was. Bottom line, it was never worth it!! When our children were sick or hurt, he was wonderful, would step right in, stay totally calm and do whatever had to be done. At the end of the day, he wasn’t as involved as dads are today, but he did participate in their care. 
 
How old were you when you had your last child
29

 PERSPECTIVE

 
What do you see the biggest difference between raising children today and when you were a new parent?  What is better today, what was better then?
I think the biggest difference I see now is that new moms rely so much on what they read on-line or in books. When I was having children, my friends and I relied more on our mothers, sisters or friends. In other words, we were much quicker to ask for advice from someone with experience rather than what a book will tell you. My mother’s outlook on raising was very simplistic and much less complicated. I had many books, and would occasionally look something up, but I definitely leaned more from my support system.  For me, back then was much simpler and easier.
 
What is better now, is definitely how much more fathers are involved. As it should be, many dads really do a lot. I also think they know a lot more about what is going on with their children. That certainly wasn’t the case when my children were growing up.
 
Within the realms of society what was your biggest concern for your children (i.e. education, environment, danger, a “hot” topic )
Since I was always such a worrier, my biggest concern was certainly always, “what if something happened to them”? When they were little I worried terribly about their safety and illness. As they got older, it was drugs, drinking. When my daughter went to college, I remember the fear of date rape drug made me crazy. 
As most kids, mine thought I always over reacted with my worry. I was very open with talking to my kids about all of the things that I thought could do them harm. They would often shut me out, so I was always cutting out articles and hanging them in their rooms. Of course, I would never know if they would read them, but I just knew that I had to do anything and everything to keep them safe, and if they did read the article maybe they would learn something. To this day, my three brats still laugh at me for all of those articles I hung in their rooms.
 
Best advice given to you when you became a mom
Oh my mom said so many great things to me. One, regarding potty training, she told me to start when they were very young. She said, it is easier to train a puppy than a dog. All of my children were potty trained my age two. Two, don’t try to be their friend. She said, they will have a lot of friends, but only one mother. She said, when they became adults, that would be the time for friendship. 
 
Best advice you can give to a new mom
Keep it simple. Be willing to listen to the advice of other mom’s (including your own); at least be open to what they have to say.  
 
My other advice, put down the electronics, especially when you are all together as a family. Whenever possible, sit around the dinner table (without television or cell phones) and have family time. Except for rare occasions, we sat down for dinner every night. It was the one time, my children shared the most. Some of my most treasured memories are all of us sitting around the dinner table together.
 
Also, work together as a parental unit, not mom against dad and vice versa. I never kept anything from my husband. If my children made a “bad choice”, they knew that they had to deal with both of us.  Lastly, but maybe most important to me, I truly believe, “children do learn what they live”.  They watch their parents very carefully and take it all in.  
 
What was/is the greatest joy in being a mother  
So many things. I loved being a mother. My mom always said, children are like rosebuds, they open a little at a time. They made me laugh, they certainly made me cry, but I cherished them. I was one of those crazy moms who would be so sad when they would go back to school at the end of the summer. My three children have grown up to be strong, independent, good people, and my husband and I are so very proud of all of them. I don’t believe that just happened. My husband and I worked very hard at parenting. I can tell you that I put my heart and soul into raising my children. I certainly wasn’t a perfect mother and I made many mistakes, but what I can say is, as a mother, each day, I did the best I could.
 
What do you know about your birth  
I was the youngest of nine and born when my mother was forty-six years old. Child number eight, my sister Kathleen was nine years old. My mother told very few people that she was pregnant and never received prenatal care until her last trimester. I know that I was a born in a hospital on a Sunday afternoon. I weighed over nine pounds and my mother was put to sleep when she delivered me.
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