Friday, August 15, 2014

Twin Birth Story: Amanda

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Where do you currently live?
Dallas, Texas

How far along were you when you found out you were expecting twins? 6 weeks
Any issues during your pregnancy?
A few days before my 30-week appointment, I was at work and started to see some flashing lights and blurry shapes in my peripheral vision, kind of like what you see when you stare at the sun too long. I called my doctor to let her know and she wanted me to come in that afternoon to get it checked out, just to be safe. So I left work early and headed to my appointment. My blood pressure turned out to be a little high, so my doctor decided to admit me to the hospital “for a few hours” that evening to monitor it. Well a few hours turned into overnight, which turned into staying there until the boys were born, 29 days later. I was on bed rest for hypertension and possible pre-eclampsia, although my blood pressure and platelet levels never really got to the levels where they technically called it pre-eclampsia. I had to stay at the hospital because my doctors worried that my blood pressure could suddenly get high enough to possibly cause a stroke. So I waited it out, thinking every day could be THE DAY, hoping first to make it to 31 weeks, but eventually making it all the way until 35 weeks before the boys came. I did finally have a day of steady high blood pressure, which made my doctor decide to deliver that day.

I will say that hospital bed rest is not for the faint at heart. When I first found out I was expecting twins, my doctor warned me it was possible I would have to go on bed rest. I secretly thought it sounded fun – relaxing all day and taking it easy until the babies arrived. But spending a month in a tiny hospital room with nothing to do but watch mindless TV and scroll the Internet was incredibly boring. Most of the time I was alone since my husband, friends, and family all worked. Stir crazy to the max. I was so ready to have those babies and get back to my life, no matter how busy it was going to be! Staring at the same four walls day in and day out was emotionally draining.

Memorable/funny moment when you were pregnant: 
We were very excited to find out the sex of the babies, and when we learned we’d be having one boy and one girl, I started planning for ways to coordinate them with each other. My mom and I came up with a boy/girl nursery design and she helped me make bedding for their cribs, one set in coral, one set in navy. I shopped for little boy and girl outfits that matched each other (this was way harder than I thought it would be!) and we registered for things in both pink and blue. Mark and I talked about names for months and finally picked out the perfect pair – Henry and Annabelle. Anyone who asked what I was having (family, friends, coworkers and even strangers) all had the same reaction when I’d tell them – “A boy and a girl? How perfect!” We couldn’t wait to meet our son and daughter.

Fast forward to their birth. Everything went pretty normally, and I remember when my doctor showed us our first baby and said, “Here’s Henry!” Minutes later she pulled out Baby B and exclaimed, “And here’s Annabelle!” They were both doing great and we were excited and relieved. I had a C-section, so Mark went across the room to be over by the babies while they finished up surgery. I was very sleepy, but remember hearing a nurse say, “Oh, we have a surprise!” Then moments later, “We have two BOYS!” At this point I was thinking Whaaat?? They must be talking about someone else. That can’t be our babies. (Who else they would be talking about, in our operating room, I have no idea!? I was a little loopy.) Mark came back over to me and asked if I had heard the news: we actually had two little boys! Even the nurse who stayed next to me throughout the surgery told me she had never seen this happen during her entire career. I must have had close to ten or twelve sonograms during my pregnancy and EVERY one showed one boy and one girl. We were shocked!

I went on to the recovery room and kept falling asleep, waking up and wondering if I was in a dream. Did I really have two boys? Yes! It was fun breaking the news to our parents later that day. No one could believe it. We even became small celebrities in the hospital. Everyone was talking about the twins who were “supposed” to be a boy and a girl, and turned out to be two boys. Our sneaky little Baby B didn’t even have a name for his first night in the world. He surely couldn’t be Annabelle! Mark and I knew right away what we wanted to name him, but decided to sleep on it before we told others. Henry and Parker. Our two boys we were always meant to have, who prove to us that God does have a sense of humor!

Looking back, what is one thing you would tell your pregnant self? I would tell my pregnant self, “Hey, you can do this! Hang in there!”

Until I was admitted to the hospital, my pregnancy was actually very easy. I was never very uncomfortable, only had about one week of mild nausea early on, and was able to keep working (as a first grade teacher, on my feet all day!) without any problems. Throughout it all, I was very laid back. I did not stress about the babies or the delivery, and I was pretty relaxed about all things baby. But then the bed rest hit and I because an emotional mess. The weeks of doing nothing all day, with an endless amount of time of the same stretched out before me, really drove me crazy. Looking back, in the grand scheme of things, my time in the hospital was only a blip on the radar. The twenty-nine days I spent on bed rest felt like FOREVER, but now they seem like a lifetime ago. I would tell myself, or anyone else feeling run down by any aspect of their pregnancy to hang on. This too shall pass and before you know it, you’ll be up in the middle of the night feeding two babies and not even remembering how you ate the same exact hospital cafeteria pasta for lunch for four weeks straight. I even kind of miss that pasta now!

How many weeks/days were you when your twins were born?
35 weeks

Baby A's Information: 
Henry Alan
October 29, 2013
4:21 pm
5 pounds, 9 ounces
18 inches

Baby B's Information: Parker Alan,
October 29, 2013
4:23 pm
5 pounds, 3 ounces,
17.5 inches

Are your twins identical? No  

Did you have a c-section or natural delivery? Like I mentioned before, I had a c-section. My experience with it was very positive and the operation itself was even borderline fun. Thanks to the epidural, things that should have seemed scary or weird to me totally did not bother me at all. I was in such a happy and carefree state of mind! I will say that I had a weird experience with the epidural. When they first gave it to me, I was in a labor and delivery prep room, with Mark, a nurse and the anesthesiologist. I was lying on my side because of my high blood pressure, so I had to curl into a ball while they gave me the shot in my back. First off, curling into a ball when you are 35 weeks pregnant with twins is IMPOSSIBLE. And second, I had seen women getting epidurals on TV a million times (Hello, A Baby Story) and they were always sitting on the edge of a bed, hugging a pillow. So I was caught off guard by that. Then, it took a long time before I started to actually feel numb. Every time the anesthesiologist poked my leg, I could still feel it. In fact, he ended up completely taking the epidural out and redoing it again in the operating room because it wasn’t kicking in. I have heard and read about a lot of women who feel literally nothing during their c-section, but I felt a lot of it. It didn’t hurt, but I could feel more than just “lots of pressure.” I even felt the incision being made, but it just felt like a tingly tickle across my belly. So maybe I am not as sensitive to epidurals? Something to remember for future babies!

Any NICU time? If yes, for what reason and how long? 
Both boys went to the NICU for “growing and feeding.” They had just not developed the suck/swallow reflex yet, so they were not able to eat enough without falling asleep. This meant they had feeding tubes and would eat as much of a bottle of breast milk or formula as they could finish in twenty minutes, and then the rest would be given to them through their tubes. The doctors did not want them to eat for more than 20 minutes at first, because they would be burning more calories than they consumed. Once they could finish all eight feedings in a day on their own, they could come home. Henry came home one week after I was discharged; Parker came home two weeks and one day after I went home.

The NICU stay was hard, but having them come home on a schedule that the nurses set for them was the silver lining. We’ve had good sleepers ever since their first night home!

Did you have any complications after delivery?
Other than the usual c-section recovery pain, I did not have any issues after delivery. But fiber and Gas-X were definitely my friends.

How long did you (the parents) stay in the hospital? 
4 nights

Did your twins stay with you or in the hospital nursery at night?
Since they had feeding tubes, they could not stay with us all night. We could feed them in our room, but they would have to go back to the nursery to finish their tube feed.

What are three things you are so glad you had (or wish you would have had) at the hospital? 
Since I literally left work one day to see the doctor and then came home one month later with two babies, I did not get to pack any kind of hospital bag! Everything I had, either my husband or my family and friends brought up for me. My top three for the birth and days following were:

1. Comfy clothes. I lived in the Gap Maternity tees, tanks and yoga pants.
2. Slippers. You have to walk the halls pretty frequently after a c-section and some warm slippers were way better than those terrible hospital grippy socks.
3. Juice. For the first day or so, I could still only eat liquids. The hospital had little cartons of cranberry-grape juice that Mark and I would hoard in our room. When all you can consume is liquid, anything with flavor tastes AMAZING. To this day, we still buy the cranberry-grape juice to have at home.
Describe one of your favorite moments while you were at the hospital:
The night of the boys’ birth was my favorite time at the hospital. We were so excited and still so surprised to have two sons. I was in zero pain (thank you epidural), so everything was just so fun and relaxed. Mark and I chatted about what we would name Parker while we waited for Henry to come up from the nursery (Parker was already in the NICU at this point and could not come to our room that night). We were finally a family (of four!). It felt so surreal and special, like we knew we would never have another night like this again.

If you had one piece of advice you could give an expecting mom of twins, what would it be?
My biggest piece of advice is to be a team with your co-parent. This sounds cliche and obvious, but it needs to be something you consciously decide to do. There are going to be times when you are at your wits end and you have no idea how to help your crying baby (or babies). You will be frustrated and crying and angry and you will take it out on your spouse or partner. You will yell at them or make some snide remark or just generally be mean. We had a few spats or angry outbursts like this early on, especially when Parker was very young and had colic. But then we made a conscious decision to be a team and know that, even if we didn’t know what the heck we were doing, we were going to do it together and help each other without judging or getting snippy. We are laid-back and don’t let the little (or big) things get to us. Are we doing this right? Are we doing that right? Is it okay that we fall asleep on the couch at 3:30 AM while we are giving Henry a bottle? Who knows. But we are doing it together and supporting each other. Having this attitude and relationship is 100% keeping us sane. We truly do not let each other get stressed (or at least not very often) because we know, no matter what, we are in this together.

Amanda's Blog: Bright As The Dallas Sky

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  1. Amanda, I am so proud of how well you handled all those bumps... I couldn't believe it when you said there were two boys either!! You are doing a great job, mama!!