“Man, this whole having kids business is really not for the faint of heart!” That’s what Len said a few months ago, as we left our doctor’s office after the most stressful and scariest visit to date.
This whole pregnancy has been one learning experience after another. And as I near the end of this journey, I want to reflect back on some of those lessons before a whole new journey begins and new learning experiences present themselves as our twins come into this world.
This is me at week 8, blissfully unaware that there are two in there…
We went for a dating ultrasound a few days after this photo was taken, at which time the tech told us, “so there was a bit of a surprise; I saw two in there!” Len started laughing hysterically and I think I exclaimed something like, “are you serious?!” It was quite the shock.
That was the first lesson in learning to let go of any preconceived expectations or semblance of control. To be perfectly honest, my first emotion upon hearing about the twins (after the initial shock started to wear off) was not one of elation, but of dismay. Not only were we faced with the overwhelming idea of caring for not one, but two, babies all at once, we also had to immediately let go of many wishes and preferences we had for the pregnancy itself. I had to mentally readjust what to expect, in terms of my level of activity, for how long I would be able to continue to work, how long I should take for maternity leave, and details in regards to labour and delivery. Also, we were in the care of a midwife group, but had to be transferred to an OB, as twin pregnancies (deemed automatically as “high risk”) are out of the scope of their practice. I was disappointed about that, as we had really wanted to be under the care of a midwife. However, it all turned out as it should, as I have been very happy with my OB, and as I write this from my hospital bed, I certainly have found out why twin pregnancies are considered high risk in the first place.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
After the initial disbelief passed, we quickly realized just how incredibly blessed we are to be given this gift. And that has been the pervading theme of this pregnancy since then. Through all the ups and downs, physical and mental difficulties that have come our way, I have honestly never felt more blessed, more thankful, more joyous in my entire life.
My first trimester passed relatively well; I was pretty nauseous most days, all day long, but thankfully nothing more than that. I managed to stay relatively active, including enjoying snowshoeing when Joe (Len’s brother) was in town (I’m at 13 weeks here):
Then just as I began to get over the nausea and start to feel like my old self again, we were faced with the next challenge, this one more terrifying than I could have ever imagined. We had screened positive for a neural tube defect and given odds of 1/19 of it being the case. That was what prompted Len’s remark about this not being for the faint of heart. I’d never felt so scared, so helpless, in my entire life. Needless to say, the 12 days that followed that appointment while we waited for the ultrasound were the longest 12 days of my life. The first few days were the hardest. I could not talk about it, even with Len. I was in the grips of a fear that I had previously not known could exist, and I often raged silently. I felt like I had done all that I was “supposed” to do in terms of taking care of myself before and during pregnancy, and didn’t understand how this could possibly be. Logically, I knew that these things just happen, and it’s not about what I did or didn’t do, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty and searched endlessly for answers. And I couldn’t talk about these thoughts because I felt like verbalizing them would somehow give them even more power over me.
But as is the case with most crises, I found that talking about it, reaching out to Len and to my friends, helped ease the unbearable intensity of these emotions. And the turning point happened one day when I came to the realization that I was, in fact, incredibly blessed. For a few days until that moment, I had only focussed on the negative, on the fear and pain of the situation. But then I found myself thinking about all the countless women in the world who have trouble conceiving, who would give anything to be in my position, to even have the chance to get pregnant and try for a baby. Let alone two babies at once. And I went quite suddenly from feeling sorry for myself to feeling so, so thankful and lucky and blessed. I realized that no matter what the outcome was, we had already been blessed with this amazing gift, that the 16 or so weeks of pregnancy I’d already had were truly the most wondrous and happiest 16 weeks of my life, and that nothing would change that very fact. And I also decided that I needed to enjoy this pregnancy to the fullest, that no matter how long or short or difficult this pregnancy was to be, I never wanted to look back with regrets or take a single minute of it for granted.
That was the most powerful lesson I’ve learned through all this. And it has coloured the way I’ve approached the pregnancy since then, especially now.
And thankfully, the ultrasound did rule out any neural tube defects. But of course, because that was ruled out, it pointed toward another probability, a placenta problem. And that’s where we’re at now.
But again, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…
The past couple of months have been lovely. It has been quite amazing (and at times, comical!) to experience all the changes to my body, and we were very lucky in that things have progressed relatively smoothly until now.
I worked until the end of June, which was my goal, so I was very lucky to be able to do that. Then the very next day, our friends threw us a fabulous, memorable baby shower (pictures to come!), after which I enjoyed a few glorious days off in the long-awaited West Coast sunshine. Then I came into the hospital last Friday for my monthly ultrasound, and suddenly found myself admitted here and put on bed rest. That placenta problem we were warned could happen has now shown itself; the placenta to Baby B is showing intermittent absent end diastolic flow, so I need to be monitored very closely. So far all the non-stress tests have been great, and the doctors are hoping to delay delivery for another week or two, putting me at 33-34 weeks.
As we knew this was a very real possibility from early on, we are just so thankful it didn’t happen until now. We are just taking it one day at a time, and hoping these babies stay inside for as long as is safe for them.
It has been quite the adjustment for me to go from being relatively active and feeling just fine to being put on bed rest. And of course, we have had to mentally readjust to expect preemie babies. But all the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way through this pregnancy are really helping me keep a good perspective on things and stay as positive as I can. I’ve written before about how hard it is for me to “go with the flow”, but for the first time in my life, it feels quite natural to do so. I know that I’m in the place that is safest for the babies, and that’s all that matters right now.
It helps, too, that the care I’ve received here at BC Women’s Hospital has been outstanding. I can’t believe how wonderful the nurses and staff have been. And a couple days ago, I was reminded once again just how blessed we are to be expecting. My awesome nurse, Lisa, revealed that she and her husband tried for 16 years to get pregnant, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be in that position and be a maternity nurse. And yet she speaks of babies and children with such genuine enthusiasm and affection, and is such an amazing, caring nurse. That was really inspiring for me.
And so that’s where I am now, at 31 weeks and 5 days, and feeling more blessed and thankful than ever.