Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Twin Pregnancy and Birth and the Mid-Air Emergency

If you are the slightest bit interested in Twin Pregnancies and Birth then grab a cup of Tea as this is one of my longer Posts. If not, then please just wait till tomorrow when I can delight you with my orange-centred daffodils and latest knitting creations :-)

Following on from my last Post, I decided to go ahead and write about my last pregnancy and birth. I never envisaged these topics being written about when I started my Blog last year but seeing as I currently find myself 28 weeks pregnant with baby number 5, I feel it's not completely incongruous to enter the 'pregnancy and baby' space here on this Blog. I'm also feeling a little nostalgic and realise if I don't write about it here it will be lost in my memory. 

Twin Pregnancy - Early Signs

I suspected I was having Twins the very day I did the home pregnancy test to confirm my 3rd pregnancy. 

After hopping in the shower and feeling like my chest was being hit by a stream of high pressured cement I just knew I was pregnant.  We had visitors staying with us so I made an excuse to go to the pharmacy and then was too excited to wait till I got home so I stopped on the way home at the fast food establishment that is trashy but has clean bathrooms and did the test there. I'm all class, I know! Instead of the usual faint blue or pink line, this line was even darker than the control line and it appeared in a matter of seconds. This was very unusual for someone like me who wastes a small fortune on home pregnancy tests a few days in a row before it finally comes up positive with the faintest of blue or pink lines. It dawned on me then that maybe my hormone levels were really high and I might possibly be having twins.

Around week 6, morning sickness had started with a vengeance greater than the other pregnancies. I did whatever I could to function so I could look after the other two children, which meant a daily trip to the local corner store for their greasiest, most revolting hamburgers to keep the nausea at bay.

By week 12, I was seriously looking like I was a few months further along. Everyone kept saying it was just my 3rd pregnancy and you ‘pop’ out quicker and you are more tired if you have other children to look after, but I just had a feeling it was Twins.

My “Google-chondria” took hold and every day I was looking up “signs and symptoms you are having Twins”. Hoping. I was definitely one of those people that always thought it would be great to have Twins. I seemed to tick every box on the symptom front, except there was no family history of twins, a fact that is irrelevant in the case of identical twins but I didn’t know that at the time.

Needless to say I was counting the days until I could have my first scan. 

It’s Twins!

I will NEVER forget the day I found out I was really having twins. It was one of the most exciting days of my life. I tell people it's like winning the lottery but even better because you didn't even know you had bought a ticket. I just never thought I'd be a candidate for Twins. 

My obstetrician was away for a month at the time I would normally have had my first appointment and scan, around 12 weeks. Although I was initially happy to wait until he returned, I was getting anxious that maybe something was terribly wrong with the pregnancy. So at 14 weeks, I opted to have a scan at an external place and because I was so worried, The Pianoman decided to come along too.

This place was super fancy, with a massive TV screen and they darkened the room so you can see the first images of the Fetus.  Two big circles appear on the screen. The Pianoman says "Is that what I think it is?" There is the obligatory joke about the two-headed Tasmanian baby. I burst into tears, happy tears, and all I could say is "I knew it I knew it!!".  I tell the receptionist I'm having twins and she tells me to go home and have a stiff drink. I opt for a walk along 7 Mile Beach, up and back the entire length. I ring friends and family and tell anyone who would listen. 

In hindsight I wish I left my Twin news to myself for as long as possible because as I suddenly found myself at the mercy of people's (well-meaning?) responses:

"Oh you poor thing!" (Actually I'm pretty happy about this news)
"Wouldn't wish Twins on my worst enemy!" (Really? Why?)
"I knew someone who had Twins but lost one or both of them during the pregnancy, at birth, after the birth, at age 1, 2, 3..........." (Yep, there are no guarantees. Thanks so much for your supportive comments!)
"How will you cope with 4 under 4?" (No idea. Will do my best)
"That's high risk, you'll have to have a Caesarean" (So what? Couldn't care less how they come into the world, healthy Mum, healthy babies and all that)
"Are you sure you still have 2 in there, you don't look big enough?" (Um, well, there were still two at the last scan, will have to wait till the next scan and the next and the next........Ahhh please go away!)

Normally I wouldn't care about what people say but when you're pregnant and fragile a lot of rationality flies out the window. After 2 standard pregnancies, I really worked myself into quite a lather with the Twins. My obstetrician told me to tell everyone to bugger off, that we will proceed as normal, that given my previous normal births and pregnancies a normal delivery is recommended as long as the Twin closest to the starting line has its head down, that he won't let me go over 38 weeks, that he is quietly confident all will be OK. Relax. Enjoy.

As far a Twins go, mine were Di-Chorionic/Di-Amniotic Twins meaning they had their own Sacs and Placentas and as far as Twins go they were the least risky. Having separate sacs is normally indicative of non-identical Twins but if an egg splits in the first few days Identical Twins can also have their own sacs. So based on their presentation it was 60% likely the Twins were non-identical and 40% likely they were identical. Obviously if they were boy/girl twins, they would be 100% non-identical but we didn't want to find out what we were having so the Obstetrician didn't give that information away. In my mind I thought they had to be identical since I didn't fit the criteria for having non-identical twins. So I guess I was expecting 2 boys or 2 girls.

The pregnancy progressed as normal until my pelvis packed it in at the halfway point when I developed Symphysis Pubis Diastasis, a normal but painful condition during pregnancy. Basically, the pubic bone loosens up for the birth and starts to separate, causing great pain, even while walking. This is great for childbirth but not so great for the months prior.

And then there was the Mid-Air Emergency scare.

The Mid-Air Emergency

At 26 weeks pregnant, I was on a flight from Hobart to Heyman Island in The Whitsundays for my friends Wedding when I started feeling light-headed and dizzy. I went to the bathroom to splash water on my face and I start de-robing myself to cool down. Suddenly I felt like I was about to faint. Just prior to fainting I pressed the big red Emergency button. When I came to there were 2 flight attendants standing over me. I was wearing nothing but those ugly compression stockings and I'm on the floor of the revolting toilet and quite embarrassed. They tell me I've fainted and see that I'm pregnant and ask if I'm having contractions. No. One flight attendant tells me she went into labour at 27 weeks on a plane and this information causes a wave of panic to come over me. They put my dress back on and carry me to a chair and there is a call over the loudspeaker for a Doctor or Nurse. 

A Nurse comes over and starts taking my blood pressure etc. She says she can barely feel a pulse and my blood pressure is dangerously low. She looks concerned and I experience another wave of panic. I was on my own, the Pianoman back at home with the Kids for the weekend. I really start thinking I was dying or something. There was chatter about diverting the plane to Canberra instead of Sydney but they couldn't get clearance and we were almost there anyway. Sit tight. There's an ambulance on the Tarmac waiting for you. Oh my goodness! I have never been so worried in my life - 26 weeks is way too early for Twins to be born.

We touch down in Sydney and I'm carried down the stairs by 2 Ambo's into the Ambulance and we are on our way to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, sirens blaring and everything. First trip in an Ambulance. They start performing some basic tests on me and tell me the instruments the nurse was using must have been faulty. I wasn't dying. My heart was fine. More tests and Ultrasounds were performed at the Hospital. I had low blood pressure and was treated for severe dehydration but the babies were fine! Must drink more water! A few hours later I was discharged and Jetstar arranged to have me put up in an airport Hotel and my flights were changed to the following morning. It happened to be the same flight as my friends' parents and some other friends, which was great because I was slightly nervous about getting on the next 3 flights to get to our destination after my little adventure the previous day.

The Wedding was gorgeous and the final 12 weeks of the pregnancy was thankfully uneventful.

The Birth

By 38 weeks I was so huge and uncomfortable that I could barely walk or sleep or eat without immense discomfort. I was beside myself and didn't think I could cope any longer. At my final Doctor's appointment, the Doctor looked at me and said "right, come in tomorrow and we'll get this show on the road!". Thank Goodness! If I could, I would have jumped over the table and given him a huge hug right there and then. 38 weeks is considered full term for Twins so I was not the slightest bit worried about being induced.

This was the last photo taken of me pregnant with Twins - a day or two before they were born. I still can't believe how big I got - not even my clothes would fit anymore!

38 weeks pregnant with Twins

I was told to be at the hospital at 8am the following morning to be induced. However, I started having contractions in the car during the 20 minute car trip and burst into tears (as one does) because this time things were supposed to be a bit more planned and controlled.

We arrived at the hospital and went straight to the birthing suite where "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" was playing on the TV. The sight of Liz Hurley exposing her melons certainly broke the ice. The film was so inappropriate for such a momentous occasion but the distraction was somehow relaxing so we kept it on.

The Doctor was there waiting as well as a lovely midwife. Due to it being a Twin Birth, there would be an additional Midwife and a Paediatrician making an appearance as well. There was actually a few more people in the room at the end but I honestly couldn't care if the entire medical faculty was there as long as the babies would be OK.

The Doctor wanted to monitor the babies heartbeats while I was in labour which was fine by me as long as I could wear the monitor in the shower. The hot shower is my drug of choice and I generally stay in there until right at the very end. I like to be alone and I'd find having The Pianoman fuss over me quite irritating and distracting. Pampering during the Pregnancy is an entirely different matter though :-)

After an hour or so in the shower things were getting intense so I came out and told The Pianoman it was time. There was a flurry of activity as no one was expecting it to happen so quickly. It was all going to be done and dusted within 2 hours! I close my eyes and focus through the contractions. I then hear The Pianoman tell the midwife to get the Doctor quickly because "she get's like this at the end". He's helpful like that. I don't like happy gas as it makes me queasy but I was offered to suck on the oxygen mouthpiece. I grabbed that thing and practically chewed the entire end off it. The Doctor arrived just in the nick of time and the first baby is born. I finally open my eyes.

"It's a Boy!", I hear someone say.

I am completely overwhelmed with joy as he is brought straight up to my chest. I forget about everything else and the fact that there is another one to be born until I hear the Doctor say, "OK, lets get the other one out. Give me another push". You've got to be kidding me! It felt like an eternity but only 4 minutes later the contractions start again and I give birth to the second baby. It was not as painful as the first twin, very similar to the placenta being delivered - another thing I totally forgot about until the Doctor kindly reminded me there was one more push to go before it was all over.

Birth photos are not particularly flattering but I'm ever so grateful for the extra midwife in the room who saw the camera there and took these shots. I don't think you'll ever see a photo of me looking so relieved and happy.

With one baby in my arms, this is my surprised face as I hear someone say,

"It's another Boy!!!"

 Of course I launched into the "ugly" cry too.

So two healthy boys, around 6 1/2 pounds each. It was all over within 2 hours of arriving at the hospital. I couldn't believe it!  I was so high on happy hormones I told the Doctor I wanted to kiss him, to which he replied "I better wait till your Husband has left the room first". Funny guy. His parting words were "you're going to have so much fun with these guys!". Incidentally, he has identical twins boys himself and he certainly wasn't wrong about the fun bit. I also remember him looking at their ears and saying that he's pretty sure they're identical, which I thought was funny. A blood test and DNA test later down the track confirmed it.

I hop in the shower again, this time quickly so I could get back to my babies. I then had to decide which baby to wheel back to the room while the other was wheeled by The Pianoman, a decision that stupidly tore me up at the time. However, it would be the first decision of hundreds I would have to make over the next 4 years and I still struggle with. Who gets picked up first, who gets fed first, who gets the good cot, who gets the dodgy cot, who do I now make a knitted toy for first, who will get his brother's hand-me-down soccer boots and who will get brand new ones..........it never ends!

I settle into my room where I stay for the next 4 nights, loving every second of my babymoon holiday in the hospital and getting the hang of breastfeeding two babies at once.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics were on TV and all I could think was that I had my own 2 Gold Medals right here.

The Kids meet their new baby brothers

The home-coming - Let The Games Begin!
However, little did I know that the real games would begin when I stepped inside my front door for the very first time with these two boys.

The rest, as they say, is history...

So, did anyone make it to the end? 

Is your tea still warm? 

Do you like birth stories?

Is anyone pregnant with Twins or do you have a similar Twin story?


  1. Great post!

    I love those first few photos of you after the birth.

  2. I made it to the end. ;)
    I thoroughly enjoyed this post and reading about your journey having twins.
    I never thought about it before about how you would decide who would get this and that first and who would get the better cot.
    Beautiful photos with your boys cuddling up to you.
    Thank you for sharing. x

  3. I love your twin story. I had absolutely no idea with mine because they were the first. There was nothing to compare to. At the 18 week scan the doctor said, "So you know you are having twins?" and you can see the film jump in unison with the startled parents. Similar boys, separate sacs and placentas but quite different boys especially in personality. I hear your conflict on who should do what first but they have always kind of worked it out for themselves. Its still and adventure at 13 and they are lots of fun. Our obstetrician had twin girls and his advice was to buy a couch for feeding them in their room. Funny guy 2!

  4. I did make it to the end! Having five birth stories myself I am always good for another...I am always fascinated by the miracle of it all. The photos are gorgeous!

  5. I loved hearing your birth story and yes I made it to the end, even a little teary myself! As one who would have loved twins (my brother has girl twins) I thought it was lovely. Sadly we only have one son now 17, but I love to hear about bigger families. cheers Wendy

  6. I loved reading this.
    You are AMAZING woman!
    :-) xx

  7. Great birth story! Lots of deje vu there for me! My about to turn two twin boys were also dichorionic/diamniotic identicals & I remember that strong blue line that almost jumped off the stick (but it didn't set off any alarm bells for me. I almost had a heart attack while my doctor, laughed his head off & waited for me to twig to the ultra sound image (same doctor too, by the sounds of it -I'm in Hobart).My birth at 38 weeks sounds very similar to yours too. My daughter had just turned two, so my hands were not quite as full as yours, and while I adore my boys I still struggle to see myself as lucky to have twins, so it's lovely to read stories about people who do :)

    1. Oh Anita, it gets easier I promise! Those first couple of years are hard!! Take it one day at a time and soon you will be rejoicing that there are 2 to keep each other entertained. And I think it is the same Dr. I can tell. He played a very nasty trick on me this time around showing 2 heads on the screen and causing a near heart attack! Take care :-)

  8. Oh Mel, I have tears running down my face. YOU are such a beautiful Mama and woman and could NEVER do an ugly cry. Those images of you straight after the birth are incredible. Just gorgeous. I am completely in awe of your journey and loved every word you wrote. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story and the magic pics of your darling boys. Twins! Personally, I think they're a dream come true.

  9. Just revisitathanor thought that those are some of the best birth photos I have ever seen!
    Your profile pregnancy shot reminded me of how hard it was to sleep. Rolling over was a major exercise and I used to sleep with a body pillow we called the boyfriend pillow to hold that bump up when I was on my side. Hilarious and magical to recall. Thanks!

    1. I totally forgot to mention the pillow! It was referred to as "my other boyfriend". It has made a reappearance this time round as well. And yes I remember needing help to roll over in bed too :-)

  10. Such a gorgeous birth story and so beautifully written. As for the photographs, they are stunning!!! xx

  11. I loved reading this Mel!! What a story with the whole plane incident :) And giving birth so quickly... wow... very envious (and gas made me queasy too by the way). Mel, I think you truly look so stunning in your labour shots - the one where you're first holding your two boys made me teary - so precious! And I love the last shot xx

  12. Oh Mel that was such an interesting read and you write so beautifully. How did you stay so glamorous in the delivery room? Such gorgeous photos too x

  13. You've made me tear up, this was a lovely story and thank you for sharing! However I agree with the above comments, did you have a hair and makeup artist with you during delivery? :)

  14. What a great story! I love the pictures of you with your newborn boys, too. My husband and I are adopting newborn twins in about three weeks. It's great to read stories from a Mom who really loves having twins after all the negative/pessimistic comments we've received. These will be our first kids and I'm so excited to see them grow up and have fun together.

  15. A beautiful story. Loved reading this!!

  16. I loved this post, very inspiring. Congratulations.

  17. Gorgeous things. That was quite a bump! Such wonderful memories for you x

  18. Oh Sweetheart. What an astounding post. And the photos are even better. You clever, clever mama. My, we have so much to catch up on! J x

  19. I am so overwhelmed with all your lovely comments. Thank you so much! And no, there is definitely no hair or make-up going on in the birthing suite. Look at my eyebrows!! I changed the photos to black and white before I posted them as there is quite a lot of blood on their heads and on my pillow and my husband thought that was a bit too raw. And I think the B&W photos have hidden a multitude of other sins - my face is really quite red with patches of white where the sweat and tears have crystallised :)

  20. Wow, that was some bump. You look radiant Mel, and who wouldn't.

    I'm often sorry I stopped at four. But can you believe one reason for that is that we have so many twins in the family my chance of conceiving twins were huge. My first four were singletons though and I just didn't feel I could take the risk of number five arriving with a number six! That really would have been a stretch.

    I just love the way your boys are recognisable as your boys as newborns :D

  21. Oh i've had terrible internet & have tried to read this 4 times this week, finally here. Gosh, your twin experience is so like mine, although my twins are in the middle of my 4 children. I knew i was having twins, just had to be as i went from a trim size 10 to size 14 pants in 8 weeks, just kaboom, mid waist explosion of baby. I was hospitalised for morning sickness the weekend before my 14 week scan so just discharged & all but said to my OB "just confirm there are two, there has to be two" & of course, "Congratulations, it's twins." We were thrilled, i always wanted 4 children, this was a free pregnancy & one less round of morning sickness (24/7/9!!) I got up to 130cm & yes, 37 weeks was enough. I had very simple twins like yours - own sacs, just like having two babies at once, only girls. Simple deliveries too, one head first, one breech, pushed them out easy peasy & that extra midwife was handy with the old camera also. My parents watched, so they got to hold one new baby each, they LOVED that. Certainly heading in for a single after twins was a breeze, just one baby, ahhhh. I loved every minute of twins (now aged 11) as they have been twice the fun, the reason i quit full time work & never went back, they are the most lovely members of our family, so content, twin fed, absolutely easy & filled with joy. Congratulations on your beautiful boys (& other boy, & girl, & new baby) & enormous kudos for surviving the drama on the plane, that would have been alarming. I went to a wedding while 8 months pregnant with twins (locally) for academics, let's just say - not the having babies types - & spent the whole evening saying "yes, two, i know, more than one, did you know i already have one child" & they just couldn't understand WHY i would have so many babies. Um, you can't plan natural twins, hello?? Especially in your mid 20s, pretty rare but incredibly special.
    FYI didn't you love the following a) are they all yours, b) twins, boys, identical, breastfeeding, vaginal delivery - from complete strangers while arguing that they are identical, even when they are not, c) people standing in front of your pram, to say to your same size/ same age/ same family babies "are they twins??" & trapping you in every shop. I just laughed & always introduced my other children first, so they felt special too. Good luck lovely Mel, this baby will be a breeze, already an international jet setter too!! Love Posie

  22. Loved, loved, loved this story. I'm new to your blog after seeing you comment on Artistica Domestica. I think birth stories are the sweetest and loved the fact that you were so excited to be having twins.


  23. Sounds amazing and gorgeous! I have been confirmed that i have twins and so happy 14 Weeks Pregnant Signs

  24. Wow, that bump looks familiar! Mine was just as big. The photos of you holding your boys are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I'm happy to have chanced across your blog xx

  25. oh Mel, I'm so glad I read this!!! how wonderful your story is, besides the emergency bits, although they do make for a great story!!! Your photos are abosultley beautiful...you are absolutely beautiful and I can only imagine what fun twins would be!! thankyou for sharing this wonderful journey x

  26. oh wow! I love a birth story and this one is doubly good.

    Your post birth pics are truly stunning. I've never managed to get any, since I'm usually the one behind the camera!

    ... and i think i shall now quit complaining about lugging this single bay in the belly around after seeing your impressive effort!

    rachel xo

    ps ... thailand, yes, so amazing!

  27. yes, I love birth stories and your ugly cry was beautiful. extremely belated congratulations x

  28. Congratulations (4 years late!)
    My Dad is an identical twin and at 63 they still speak on the phone to each EVERY SINGLE DAY. xx

  29. Thanks for commenting on my blog! I didn't realize you had twins also when I read your yarn along post. :) I loved reading this! I'm not sure if I'm sad or relieved that the struggle of making decisions like that (who gets what first etc) goes away ... I struggle with that so much! But it's good to hear I'm not the only one. :)

  30. Mel, i also have twins (boy and girl), http://goodmorningbeauful.blogspot.com/2013/09/30th-august.html.