An Updated Twin Registry

Now that we are two months into having our twins home, I wanted to take a look back at my registry list and revise it to help out MoMs. The items that are in bold are items that you should definitely have. The other items are good to have, but not necessary to start with. I would also highly suggest looking at my “New Mom’s Must-Have List” for the items that she needs to have when coming home from the hospital.

Updated Twin Registry - DoyleDispatch.com

Disposable Items

  • Diapers: preemie and newborn sizes (Keep in package, and you can return if the sizes are wrong.)
  • Wipes: any and a lot (We went with the Costco size box of them to start.)
  • Laundry detergent: Dreft or All Free and Clear
  • Vaseline (If you are having a boy that will be circumcised, this is required along with gauze.)
  • Aquaphor healing ointment
  • Shampoo/baby wash combo
  • Baby powder
  • Baby lotion (It’s good to have a regular one and a stronger one for those tough flakes)
  • Diaper cream: Boudreaux’s Butt Paste
  • Tylenol Infant Drops
  • Gas relief drops
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Saline spray
  • Disposable changing pads: blue pads from the pet store for pet training (We use these over our changing pad and changing pad cover. It’s so much easier to change this than the pretty changing pad cover!)
  • Nipple cream: Lanolin, Boob Ease, or Bella B Nipple Nurture Butter
  • Breast pads: disposable or (my favorite) Philips Avent washable nursing pads, Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads, and LilyPadz
  • Trash bags for diaper pail
  • Milk storage bags

Bath and Safety

  • Thermometer
  • Brush/comb (to stimulate the skin and help combat cradle cap)
  • Nasal bulb syringe (Just take the one from the hospital… it’s there for you anyway.)
  • Washcloths x8-12
  • Bath tub: 4Moms Infant Tub (not needed right away, as you won’t bathe your baby for a few weeks)
  • Nail clipper/emory board
  • Car mirrors x2
  • Hooded towels x2-4
  • Bath seat for adults
  • Suds and sun visor

Feeding Time

  • Bibs
  • Bottles x6 of small size: Avent Natural and Medela Calma (Only get one or two of each kind until you know what kind your babies like)
  • Double nursing pillow: “My Breast Friend” and “Twin Z Pillow”
  • Nursing pillow cover x2
  • Burping pads x24-30 (We probably have about 30-40 burp cloths, but we have also had a few days where every.single.one is dirty, even when we’ve done laundry every day. Babies are messy!)
  • Bottle brush and sanitizing kit (You can use dish soap and boiling water to start with.)
  • Hospital-grade breast pump: Medela Symphony (Insurance should cover this for most women)
  • Nursing cover with boning
  • Bottle drying rack: Boon Grass Drying Rack
  • Dishwasher basket for feeding accessories x2
  • Double-feeding seat: “Table for Two”

Nursery

  • Crib Sheets x4-6
  • Diaper caddy x2 (One is needed for the nursery, and at least one other diaper area with supplies.)
  • Video baby monitor: Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor with 3.5″ Color Screen and Wireless Camera with Pan, Tilt & Zoom and 2 cameras – MBP36
  • Crib mattress x2 (Just make sure it is something firm.)
  • 2 dust ruffles (You can see my DIY crib skirts here.)
  • Changing pad
  • Changing pad covers x2 (See my note from the Disposable section about the puppy training pads.)
  • Diaper pail: Ubbi (We LOVE this thing!)
  • Wipe warmer (We NEVER thought we would want this, but it was quite necessary.)
  • White noise machine: Homemedics SoundSpa Sound Machine (We have this thing constantly going when the babies are asleep.)

Large Items

  • Cribs x2
  • Car seats x2: Maxi Cosi Mico AP (Just make sure the car seats fit in your car so you can comfortably sit in the front. We didn’t check this, and it was a costly mistake… a new car costly mistake.)
  • Extra car seat bases x2
  • Double stroller: Baby Jogger City Select Double
  • Bouncy seat (We got a free one from a neighbor)
  • Swing/Jumper/Exersaucer: 4Moms Mamaroo
  • Highchairs x2
  • Pack N Play: S1 by Safety 1st Satellite Premier Play Yard in Kensington (We bought 2 of these- one for our room as a crib for the first couple of weeks after coming home from the hospital and one for the living room.) and Nuna Sena (for travel)

Other

  • Square Swaddle Blankets x12: Aden and Anais
  • Assorted blankets: flannel, jersey knit, gauze, cotton
  • Swaddle Sacks: Swaddle Me and Woombie
  • Diaper Bag: Ju Ju Be BFF
  • Pacifiers x4 (Just use the ones from the hospital at first. Make sure that they are completely rounded to avoid nipple confusion.)
  • Soothers/Teething rings x2
  • Play mat
  • Bumbo seat with tray x2
  • Babywearing wrap: Moby and sling
  • Car seat protection x4 (We wanted these for both of our cars.)
  • “Mommy Hook:” to attach to the stroller for carrying extra bags
  • Play toys for carseat handle
  • Button tunic shirts in size 0-3

Name Reveal

Our plan from the beginning of the pregnancy was to keep the names of our babies secret. It wasn’t that we wanted to drive our friends and family crazy (which we did). It wasn’t that we wanted to cause a commotion. It wasn’t that we wanted to be mean. We just had one ulterior motive: we didn’t want to hear opinions.

I told people that it was because I didn’t care what people thought about the names we picked.

I lied.

It was actually because I cared TOO MUCH about what people thought.

In the Jewish religion, you name your child after someone that has passed away and means something to you. The name is symbolic of that person living on through the next generation.

Too often, people (whether strangers, family, or friends) give their thoughts when it isn’t asked (“Why would you choose that?” “Ew, that’s the name you picked?” “What makes you think they aren’t going to get teased?”). For me, I had already gotten comments like this years earlier when I shared some names that I liked (long before getting pregnant). It hurt my feelings. After all, these names were after people that I loved dearly, and it hurt that I would share something intimate and then have someone turn it around into something so harsh.

So, I decided that this pregger couldn’t take the heat. My hormones and emotions are at weird levels anyway, so why risk breaking out into tears because someone gives their opinion when it isn’t needed?

Hence, the names were secret, although we had picked them out even before we knew for certain it was a boy and a girl. Remember, I had an intuition that it was one of each from about 8 weeks, so we already were talking names at that point.

As we were gearing up to celebrate Tim’s brother’s wedding, we realized something, however. We would never get our parents and siblings and Tim’s grandfather all in the same room again until long after the babies were here. Yes, our parents will be there right away, but it will be harder (and longer) for all of the siblings to gather with us as well. Did we want them finding out the names of their niece and nephew through a phone call or text? Not really.

So, we devised a plan to get everyone together immediately after my second baby shower. Everyone was in town already, so it was easy to get them all together.

A few days before, they got this in an email:

Name Reveal Invitation - DoyleDispatch.com

 

Of course, you can bet what everyone was thinking: “They are going to tell us the names!” We still played it dumb. “What, you think we would actually give up the names? Where in that does it say we are telling the names?”

So, the big day came. The shower was amazing. Then everyone left and the boys came over.

We wanted to make them suffer.

We started by thanking everyone for the incredible support they have given us. Blah blah blah lots of love.

We then handed out this coordinating survey:

Name Reveal Survey - DoyleDispatch.com

 

Can you see how it got everyone excited? They really thought we would tell them the names!

We dragged it all out.

We then read the names that everyone guessed. Some were funny. Some were serious. We had a great time with this, although Tim and I had the best time.

Then we decided to reveal the big “double announcement.” We handed out a folded piece of paper to everyone, asking them not to open them up until everyone got one.

Once everyone had it in their hands, we told them to open the paper. This is what they received:

 Gobble Gobble Oy Vey (Thanksgiving and Chanukkah Invitation)- DoyleDispatch.com

See? It is a “double” announcement! They would be able to celebrate Thanksgiving AND Chanukkah at our house this year (since we assumed they would be there anyway because of the babies).

Let’s just say that the looks on our parents faces were mixes of confusion, anger, upset, and let-down. This was NOT what they expected.

It was all part of our evil game.

I then looked at Tim and asked if we should give the second part out. He quickly ran back to our bedroom and got two boxes.

We asked our parents to stand together with their spouse to open the box.

Name Reveal - DoyleDispatch.com

Name Reveal - DoyleDispatch.com

With a countdown, we let them open up the boxes.

Doyle Twins Baby Showers - DoyleDispatch.com

This is what they saw:

Name Reveal - DoyleDispatch.com
Name Reveal - DoyleDispatch.com

 

They traded boxes to see the other name.

Earlier in the week, I had made onesies using heat-transfer vinyl to reveal the names of our babies.

Name Reveal - DoyleDispatch.comName Reveal - DoyleDispatch.com

Name Reveal - DoyleDispatch.comName Reveal - DoyleDispatch.com

Let’s just say that there was a lot of hugging and happiness and tears.

In case you are curious, here are how we got the names:

Audrey: my maternal grandmother who passed away in 2007. She was a beautiful soul who always treated everyone with so much love.

Olivia: named after Tim’s maternal grandmother (Olive Elmira). She really disliked her name and went by “Pat.” Because that is my mother-in-law’s name, we weren’t going to name her Pat, but we took a spin from the original name and got “Olivia.” Tim’s grandmother was a quiet, strong, caring woman that radiated love for family.

I was very fortunate and was able to know both of these women. My grandmother knew Tim and talked to him (and loved him), but they never met in person unfortunately. I was able to spend one Christmas up in New Jersey with Tim’s grandmother before she passed away. The “shopping girl” ornament she gave me still gets a very special place on our tree each year. Having known both of these women (both in person and through family stories), their names belonged together. They represent a strong and caring woman, someone we hope our daughter can become. 

David: Tim’s uncle “UD” (Uncle Dave) who passed away this summer from cancer. We loved UD so much, and it was so hard to say goodbye to him. From the moment we saw our baby boy on an ultrasound, we knew that he reminded us of UD’s spirit. This name was a no-brainer.

Alan: my maternal grandfather. Like UD, he was full of life and character. You can read about his life and personality in this post.

Papa Alan and UD met once at our wedding. One of our favorite wedding weekend moments was Papa and UD sitting at a table together during our rehearsal dinner. They were both talking at once to each other. We don’t know if they were hearing what the other was saying, but it was so funny to see them so animated and drawn to the person that was like their mirror. They were born to be friends, and it was perfect that our Baby Boy get named after both of these amazing men.

 

 

This post was linked up to: Made in a Day’s Made U Look Link Party #98 

2013 in Review (Blog and Personal)

I know it is a couple of days into 2014 already, but I’ve seen so many bloggers comment about the past year, and I wanted to play as well!

Personal: 2013 Year in Review

On a personal note, 2013 had its share of ups and downs. We celebrated love, life, and loss with friends and family in unmistakable ways.

2013 Doyle Year in Review Screenshot

Back in November and December 2012, we started getting much healthier, both in our eating habits and working out. We both lost a lot of weight and started feeling good! In January, we continued this trend. Tim worked out at our new, local ACAC (the gym we joined in 2012), and I started taking lots of yoga classes. I got hooked on yoga, and over the next couple of months, I really saw a difference in myself both physically and emotionally.

In February, we had to say goodbye to my grandfather’s twin brother Marshall Bedol, just 6 months after we buried my Papa Alan. It was an overwhelmingly hard goodbye, but we knew that Papa Marshall was at peace after missing his brother so much for 6 long months.

In April, we traveled to Savannah, Georgia, to celebrate our 10th dating anniversary and our 4th wedding anniversary. On April 5 (the day after our anniversary), we found out I was pregnant. On April 24th (my mom’s birthday), we had our first sonogram and found out it was twins! Our blog also got a makeover and a new domain name in April.

In May, we announced my pregnancy, and I also announced that I would not be returning to teaching in the 2013-2014 school year (in order to better twincubate and mother our twins after they were born).

Over the summer, we packed up my classroom for the last time, traveled to Alabama and Cleveland for family reunions, and did a lot of planning, blogging, and crafting for our nursery. We enjoyed these happy times immensely.

We also had to say an awful farewell to a dear friend’s baby before we could know her. It is a loss that I don’t think we will ever get over. To lose a child is unspeakable.

We also lost Tim’s Uncle Dave (UD) to kidney cancer, after an 18-month battle with the disease. He passed away after we were all able to say goodbye to him one last time. That is a final gift he gave us- the gift of closure. He will forever remain honored with our little David.

2013 also brought many happy family times, such as the October wedding of Tim’s brother Kevin to his college girlfriend, Lauryn. We are thrilled to officially welcome Lauryn into the Doyle clan, although she has been a part of our family for years. Now, she just shares a last name with us!

In November, I turned 29 and, two days later, we were blessed with the birth of Audrey and David. Less than a week later, we were able to reflect on their first Thanksgiving and Chanukkah.

In December, we had countless sleepless nights, lots of belly laughs, lots of tears of frustration and exhaustion, about a hundred different soothing techniques, lots of baby holding, the twins’ first road trip to Charlottesville, Christmas, and a barely-made-it viewing of the ball dropping at midnight on TV.

Yes, it’s been a year of ups and downs, but that is what makes the world go around. We can’t have the good times without the bad and vice versa. Although it wasn’t published on this blog, I wrote about this dichotomy on the blog “How Do You Do It?” in the post “Sad/Happy.”

Blog: 2013 Year in Review

Old to New Blog

One thing I love is that WordPress puts together a summary of our blog from 2013. Here are some stats (along with data from Google Analytics):

Number of Views of TimAndDory.wordpress.com from January-April: 31,000

Number of Views of DoyleDispatch.com from May-December: 55,405 (27,956 unique visitors)

Total Views of our Blog: 86,405!!!

Busiest Month: December (7,813 visits)

Top Posts of 2013:

Top Referrers: Pinterest, Facebook, TotallyTutorials.blogspot.com, FavoritePaintColorsBlog.com

On a separate note, I have quite a few favorite posts and pages that I’ve written this past year, of which I am particularly proud of. Get ready, as it is a rather long list! It’s always interesting to see which ones make it to the “most popular” list and which don’t.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

Our Birth Story

On November 10, we went to the hospital in the middle of the night for some monitoring. Everything was completely fine, and they sent me home at about 1 AM. Still, I was incredibly nauseous the entire time we were there (the room was hot, I had already taken pills that made me incredibly exhausted, and I was nervous that this was it). It made me realize that I actually was a little nervous about the labor and delivery part of the pregnancy. So, I started talking to Tim about my ideal birth experience. You can read about it here.

I never thought that our actual experience would be so close to my dream.

On Monday, November 18, we went to our perinatal specialist (high risk doctor) for our weekly appointment and 36-week measurement. Baby Girl A measured at 6 lb 10 oz and Baby Boy B measured at 5 lb 7 oz. Their heartbeats and fluid looked perfect. We went in to my OB on Friday, November 22 at 3:10 PM for my scheduled weekly appointment. Here, they usually just looked at me (leaving the looking at the babies for the perinatal specialist). My stomach measured at 43 weeks pregnant (if I only had 1 baby in me). No swelling. My blood pressure was a little high. I also had been having slight bleeding during the day, leading up to the appointment. All week, I had been having some real contractions, but they were only 4 in an hour, and then we would have a few hours with nothing. So, they looked at my cervix, and I was 70% effaced and 4 cm dilated (only 1 cm change since the week before, and no change in effacement).

With my blood pressure elevated, our doctor wanted me to go to the hospital to get monitored, to see if we could lower it, and also to keep an eye on the babies. They didn’t have a double monitor for twins at their office, so off to the hospital we went (just through the hallway from the office to the labor/delivery floor). We were expecting to be there for a couple of hours until our doctor finished her office visits. We figured she would then come and check on us, and we would be good to go home.

3:45 PM

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

The nurse had me change into a hospital gown and go to the bathroom before I got hooked up to the monitors. I had planned on wearing a birthing skirt for the actual birth, but we left the labor bag in the car, so I just put on what they had for me at this point. The nurse was able to find the heartbeats relatively quickly, and we were very happy when she referred to them as “good babies” because they were so agreeable and easy to find. She also got me hooked up to the contraction monitor, so I had lots of things on my belly at this point. No bathroom trips for me for a while, unless we wanted to unhook all of the monitors!

At this point, I had Tim run down to the car to move it from the valet (so we could get into it after the valet closed at 5) and get the labor bag… just in case. The nurse asked me quite a few questions, but thankfully we had most of the answers already saved from the last visit, so we just had to confirm the answers. She also took the chance when Tim was out of the room to ask about history of abuse, at which point I could brag about my husband quite a bit, saying that he was “absolutely perfect,” and he did so much to take care of me. I also got chatty with her and told her that we were high school sweethearts, and a little bit about our relationship. At this point, I realized I was feeling great! I was in a great mood, and that was the kind of feeling I wanted to have on the day that my babies were born (totally the opposite of the visit to the hospital a week earlier when I felt so sick and hot). Of course, we still were convinced that “today would not be the day,” but I knew that THAT was the feeling I wanted on The Day.

While Tim was gone, he called our moms to update them that I was getting monitored for slightly elevated blood pressure, but it was probably just for a couple of hours and then we would go home. No need to hop in the car just yet.

We spent the next couple of hours being monitored and waiting. We talked to the nurse, I ate some ginger snaps and apple slices, and we kept an eye on my blood pressure. It didn’t seem to go down, but it wasn’t at a high enough point to be overly worried, either. I just stayed as calm as possible, and it was nice to just sit and relax with my husband and the nurse. Plus, both babies were doing great and not affected at all by my blood pressure, so there were no added concerns there. We turned on the Andrew Johnson Deep Sleep track to help me try to relax further and lower my blood pressure. We actually only got a few minutes into it, because we had so many people in and out of the room.

Tim and I talked as it got closer to 5:00 and my doctor would soon come in. We wondered what she would say. Would she give us the choice to induce today or not? What would we want to do? We had an induction scheduled for a week afterwards. Would we wait and keep that date, or would we just go for it since we were already there and feeling well. What would happen? We decided that, if given the choice, we would let the babies twincubate a little while longer. I was hesitant to come to this decision, as I was really uncomfortable all the time at this point in my pregnancy (although I worked really hard to hide it and not complain about it). I also was feeling really positive that day and not at all scared of being in the hospital (a great feat for me who used to be terrified of all things medical)… and that was just the situation I wanted to be in on the day I gave birth.

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

I started sending Facebook messages to my younger brother and mom, letting them know that we were probably going to get discharged in just a couple of minutes and head home. False alarm! No babies today! I think I got through the conversation to my brother, and then was starting to talk to my mom.

At some point, the nurse collected 3 vials of blood to check for certain issues. I can’t remember if this was before the 5:30 time or afterwards.

5:30ish

Our doctor entered the room, as she has finished her office visits for the day. She has already looked at my chart and the results so far. She asked how I was doing and then quickly said, “I think we’re going to have these babies today.”

What?!?!

Tim and I were shocked. Probably as shocked as when we found out it was twins all those months ago. We had just finished telling our families that we were probably going to be going home. We looked at each other. I think I said, “Oh s*%^. We’re having them today!!!!” The nurse and our doctor laughed at my reaction. We decided we needed to call our parents. Then I realized we needed to figure out how this would happen.

The Plan: They were going to start me on Pitocin through an IV. I was already 70% effaced and 4 cm dilated when we went in to the hospital, so they predicted that I would have the babies that day (11/22… a great twin birthday in my opinion). She thought things would move pretty fast once we got started. After starting me on the Pitocin, she would break my water for Baby Girl A. I asked about the epidural, because I knew I wanted that sooner rather than later. She said that she would call the anesthesiologist, but there was one on call only for the labor/delivery floor, so I didn’t have to worry about it being too long before getting it. I also wondered if I should get the epidural first so it would have time to work before we started on the Pitocin. Our doctor assured me that, because of my low weight and high health, the epidural would work really fast, so I had nothing to worry about.

The nurse got started right away on my IV. Looking back, this was probably the most painful experience of the day for me (maybe that statement will foreshadow what a great experience I had). She started to try to put it in my left arm, but although I had a great vein, she couldn’t get it set right. All of the digging really really hurt! She moved on to my right arm and was able to get it in easily. My left arm was in a lot of pain, but I tried to push it away and not think of it (and not move it either, in order to minimize the pain).

With the IV set and fluids starting, I had Tim get out my Frogg Togg Chilly Pad (like a wet washcloth that always stays cool). This was to keep me cool if I should start to feel overheated because I now had something stuck in my arm. He also got out my travel fan and attached it to the bed for a constant bit of white noise and moving air in our really dry room. I realized that I was starting to get a headache (only my 2nd during the entire pregnancy), and we thought it was probably because of the excitement that we had just gone through. We knew that the fluids would help me, but I asked for some Tylenol anyway, as that and a cool cloth on my forehead usually knocks out headaches.

We called my mom and gave her the update. She was obviously so excited and we warned her that it would take a while, so she didn’t have to rush over right that minute. We also let her know that it would probably be a very late night for all of us. She and I agreed… we didn’t care!

My doctor came in to break my water as I hung up, and I got into position. Tim started to dial his mom and she picked up, just as my doctor pulled out the hook to break my water. I said something short to him along the lines of: “Get your butt over here because they are about to break my water and you need to be here now because this is such a big deal and you can tell your mom later.” He actually didn’t realize that they were so close to doing that, or he never would have dialed the phone in the first place. Tim obviously hung up, telling his mom he’d call her in a few minutes (I really hope we didn’t worry her too much in that time).

They put the hook in (which I didn’t feel at all) and I then felt a gush of warm water. Ah, so this is what it felt like for my water to break! It simply felt like I had peed myself, but without the feeling of the bladder having relief. The nurse let it come out a bit longer and then she changed the pad under me.

Tim then called his mom back and let her know our exciting news. She was up in New Jersey with Tim’s dad and grandfather, and they would be coming back to Virginia the following day. We promised we’d keep them updated and send pictures just as soon as we could! Still, we were excited that the babies had lasted long enough for them to finish their visit.

With the Pitocin going and the water broken, I asked when I could get my epidural. They assured me that, just as soon as I could get down one IV bag of fluid, I would get some relief. Come on, veins, flow!

6:30ish

The anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. If you read my post about what I expected to be my big worry moments, they were when I got the IV and when I got the epidural. I survived the first one just fine, and so I expected this to be fine as well.

Leading up to this moment, the Pitocin had definitely kicked in, and I had felt 3 or 4 really strong contractions. For those who haven’t experienced it, it feels like your worst menstrual cramp, just amped up. The pressure, pain, and discomfort simply radiates throughout your body, although the majority is in your uterus and along your lower back. It really does freeze you in your tracks, even if you are already lying down on a hospital bed.

So, when the anesthesiologist came in, I told him that he was already my favorite person. True, I hadn’t experience labor pains like some women, but I experienced strong ones because of the Pitocin, and that was enough. Plus, with the constant and extreme discomfort and pain in my last 2 weeks of pregnancy, I was ready for a break from it. I probably should have said a little goodbye to feeling my peanuts moving on the inside, but I was so excited for the relief, I was ready to get on with it.

He put a sheet on my back and administered some local anesthetic. He warned that I needed to stay really still, but there was still a tiny back cramp because of this medicine and I think I arched my back in a reflex. He got me to stay still again and checked to be sure I couldn’t feel anything. Then, I guess he started the procedure.

We had been warned from our birthing instructor that the epidural would take 15 minutes to administer and 30 minutes (at least) to kick in. Boy, was she wrong. Less than 5 minutes later, the “procedure” was done. 5 minutes after that, and I had complete relief. It was amazing!

I didn’t feel the contractions anymore, but I did feel a pressure in my lungs (I likened it to being difficult to breathe, but not a scary difficulty) whenever a contraction was about to start. This was actually a good signal for me to still be aware of my lower body. I could feel tingly sensations when someone touched my lower half, but I couldn’t feel temperatures or have control over anything down there. It was actually quite a neat feeling to be so out of control of my body. Not at all frightening as I had been warned. I also started getting a little relief with my body temperature, as I didn’t feel as hot, and my headache started to alleviate.

7:00ish

With relief from the pain, the nurse had me lay on one side and the turn sides every 30 minutes to help the epidural administer effectively. I loved that I could lay on my hips and not be in tears over the pain anymore. Because I couldn’t eat, I asked for apple juice and popsicles (a treat I hadn’t had since my nausea ended in the first trimester). I had as much of these as I could manage.

Then, we just waited.

Because it was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, we turned the TV on to a history program. Only Tim and I would spend the last few minutes of being a family of 2 watching a historical program. We are such nerds!

7:30ish

Around 7:30, my doctor came in to check on us and see how I had progressed. I was at 100% effaced and fully dilated. That was fast- just 2 hours after the start of the Pitocin!

Now, we were just  going to wait for a little while until things got a little more settled. Although both babies were head down (“vertex”), we needed to wait for the real pushes until Baby Girl A was low enough. So, we did what they call “laboring down.”

“Laboring down” is a very passive form of labor for those of us that have had an epidural. We are more relaxed because we aren’t feeling the pain of contractions, but we also don’t want to start pushing until the right time, because then we could be pushing for hours and hours. If we “labor down,” we basically let the uterine contractions help push the baby into position, and then we can just actively push at the very end.

The nurse got me a peanut ball, which looked like two large exercise balls fused together, and she put it between my legs to help keep them separated to assist with laboring down. More time to relax and let my body do its thing.

From time to time, I would ask Tim if I was having a contraction, because I could feel the loss of breath in my chest. He would comment about some being really big contractions, but thanks to the epidural, I didn’t feel any of it. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing!

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

Also in this time, I pumped my body full of popsicles, water, and ice chips. I was trying to trick my brain into not being hungry.

8:30ish

The doctor came in to check on the position of Baby Girl A. While I had my legs open (and facing the door), we had a knock on the door and it started to open a crack. My parents and Tim’s sister had arrived with all of our hospital bags and some other gear that we left at home since we didn’t think that today would be The Day. Tim quickly ran to the door and told them that they would have to go to the waiting room, because we weren’t ready for people to come in (especially in the position I was currently in). They dropped our things in the hall for Tim to get later, and they went just down the hall to waiting room.

9:00ish

A little while later, we were able to call them back in, where we had a nice short visit. They saw that I wasn’t in any pain. I think my exact words when I saw my mom were: “I’m feeling so great! I love epidurals!” She laughed, but I’m sure she was also glad to see how much I was loving my pain-free existence.

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

After a short visit, it was time for us to start getting to work, so we had to say goodbye and we’ll-see-you-once-we-are-parents.

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

I think it was at this point (after our family left) that the nurse came to empty my bladder. She inserted a catheter (I couldn’t feel a thing) and got out all of the urine that she could. This is not a very glamorous part of pregnancy or labor, but extremely practical.

9:30ish

While we were still in the comforts of the beautiful and large labor/delivery room, my doctor wanted me to practice pushing. Because I couldn’t feel a lot of sensation (only pressure) in the lower half of my body due to the epidural, it was important that I understood how to appropriately push. She also wanted me to have most of my pushing done in a quiet and calm environment, instead of the cold, bright, harsh environment of the operating room.

We waited until I had a contraction starting (we could see it through the monitors, and I could still feel the tightening in my lungs). Tim held one foot and our nurse held the other. The doctor was in her position as well. When it was time to push, I doubled over (as best I could) and rounded my back, holding onto the back of my legs. I pushed for 10 seconds (the doctor counted), I would stop/relax/take another deep breath, push for another 10 seconds, stop/relax/take another deep breath, and push for a final 10 seconds. So each “push” was really about 30-35 seconds long and consisted of three smaller pushes.

As I mentioned, the point of this practice was to have me understand and visualize where I needed to push. It also served another purpose: we needed to get Baby Girl A engaged and further into position. With every contraction during laboring down, she was moving further south, but she would also slide up a little bit when the contraction was over. This was totally normal. Instead, we needed her to be engaged and to stay there.

We did these practice pushes for about 30-40 minutes, until she was in position and staying there. At this point, I could feel more pressure where her head was located, but it wasn’t painful at all. The doctor and nurse left to get ready for the OR, and they brought Tim some sterile scrubs to put on for the OR as well. While they were gone, I had a few contractions where I had the urge to push. I did everything in my power to relax past this urge, since we didn’t have any of our medical team with us.

10:30ish

After what felt like forever of waiting in our labor/delivery room, the nurse came back to get us to bring us to the OR. This was strictly a formality, as they wanted me to deliver there, just in case something went wrong and they needed to do an emergency c-section, which isn’t unheard of for twins. They wheeled me down to the OR with Tim there by my side (carrying my water, Frogg Togg towel, fan, ice chips, phones -his for pictures, mine for music-, and our big camera). Once we got in the room, they moved me onto the new stretcher/table (much less comfortable, but I didn’t care because I was so excited to meet my babies), and they set up my feet in the full-leg stirrups. These were actually really comfortable, if you ignored the fact that you were spread wide open. It’s amazing how all modesty goes totally out the window when giving birth!

I started pushing in my 3-at-a-time pattern whenever a contraction started. We must have done this 7-8 times when my doctor said that she thought it was only a few pushes left. Just 2 more and Baby Girl A would be out (so if you are keeping score, that is actually 6 pushes, but I’m counting the 3-at-a-time as one push)! I was getting exhausted, and so someone mentioned that I may want to see her head via a mirror to see my progress. In our birthing class, I knew this was an option, and I had told Tim then that I didn’t want to do this at all. Yet, in the excitement of labor, I really wanted to see her head! They brought in the mirror, I got a quick glance, and then I told them to put the mirror away or cover it up. I had also asked about hair color, and our doctor told me that it looked like she was going to be blonde (like Tim and I were when we were born).

At this point, her head was lodged in (“crowning”), but it still wasn’t painful. It was just a big pressure down there. Someone had explained it to me as when you have a poop that is right there and won’t come out. This is a similar feeling, but just in a different opening. *Sorry for the graphic mental images.*

I pushed a total of 4 more times (just two more than my doctor’s estimate), and I felt this immediate release of pressure down there as we heard Audrey Olivia’s strong and beautiful cry. She was born at 10:59 PM. I surprised myself by not bursting into tears but just being so excited that she was here. They put her on my chest immediately, even before they cleaned her off. It was amazing! Tim and I looked at each other, kissed, stared at her, and time seemed to stop.

Time really didn’t stop, though, because everything was still moving very fast.

They took Audrey away to do some required testing, and because my job wasn’t totally done. Tim went with her, as I wanted him to, but when he realized that his son was going to be born any minute, he rushed back to me.

My doctor put her hand on my stomach, right where Baby Boy B was situated. He had been head down (and very low), and with all of the room that he now had, we didn’t want my little acrobat to flip or get out of position. My doctor told me that I would have to push right away to get him out before my cervix had time to close up. I pushed once and he was almost out! They asked if I wanted to see the mirror again. Tim warned me that there was more blood for this one, which was good so that I wasn’t too taken aback when I saw. I took a quick look (enough to see his head), and asked that they take the mirror away again.

One more push, and I felt that same pressure and release as David Alan was born at 11:07 PM. 8 minutes apart. That is almost unheard of for a vaginal twin birth. They are usually much further apart, so I’ve been told. It took him probably about 3 seconds to cry, but those 3 seconds felt like an eternity as I waited to hear the first sounds of my little boy. Once he did, I think I put my head back on the table in relief. They brought him right to me as well, and I was amazed at how much smaller he was than his sister, but he was just as aware and healthy. I had two perfect little babies, and soon I  had both of them lying on my chest, one in each arm. They didn’t take David away to clean him- they just did that as I held him.

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

Our first family picture, just the 4 of us. You can see Audrey’s head, but you can only see the back of David’s head.

I stayed on the table for a while longer, as I had some slight tearing that needed stitches. Again, no pain! I was in a euphoric state, drunk in the immediate and magnetic love for my babies.

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

With my OB, after the birth of the twins!

At some point they made me push to get the placentas out. I don’t remember it, but I’m sure they took my babies away for that time so I could effectively go back to work for a mere moment. At another point, they did some APGAR testing, and we found out that they were both 8 (1 minute) and 9 (5 minutes)… great scores for preemie newborn twins (it is out of 10)! We let the babies explore with skin-to-skin contact, and they loved that closeness, although neither was interested in rooting or feeding as we had previously thought they would.

After the work in the OR was done, we were wheeled back to our labor/delivery room. I thought they let me keep the babies on me as they wheeled us down the hall, but Tim later corrected me that they were wheeled in their bassinets.

We must have spent another hour or sowith our babies in the l/d room before we texted my parents to let them know that the whole family was welcome to come. We also asked if they wanted Jimmy Johns, as they delivered directly to our floor. I had waited 9 months for a Jimmy Johns sandwich, and I was happy to make that my first post-pregnancy meal.

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

Jimmy Johns!

My parents arrived and we gave them their sandwiches. My brother had ordered a pizza to split with Tim’s sister, so everyone had food. They then took one baby at a time to get weighed, measured, get ointment in their eyes, and do further standard testing.

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

Twin Birth Story - DoyleDispatch.com

At some point, they were ready to move us to the Mother/Infant Unit, where we would stay for the next couple of days. Each baby got their own bassinet, and I got in a wheelchair. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and Tim all grabbed our many bags, boxes, food containers, etc. and we all made the trip to our new home for the next few days.

After a few more minutes, we said goodnight (good morning?) to our family and we were left as a family of 4. We did a practice nursing session with the help of our new nurse, and then they took the babies to the nursery for a few more tests and so we could get a few minutes of sleep before our Life with Twins started…

Review: Binsi Birth Skirt and Extras

*I received the items below for review. All thoughts are 100% my own.*

I am thrilled to introduce something that is perfect for the birthing experience and beyond: the BINSI!

Here is something about the BINSI company:

“We’re a small-but-growing company founded and firmly grounded in a desire to help women feel beautiful, powerful, healthy and in control as they enter their amazing journey into motherhood.

A letter from Carri, owner and founder of Binsi Inc.:

At the birth of my first child, I wore a standard hospital gown. Clinical, uncomfortable and immodest! I felt like a patient: scared, powerless and at the mercy of others; not a healthy excited woman about to become a mother. Later, as a doula, I learned to help other women feel more confident and comfortable through labor and so began the idea of Binsi.

I wore the first Binsi skirt at the birth of my second child. It changed everthing for me. I made skirts for my clients. I gave them as gifts. And suddenly, I had a company firmly grounded in my desire to help women feel beautiful, powerful and in control as they enter their amazing journey into motherhood.

I hope that you too will have a beautiful and fulfilling birth experience.”

I knew from early in my pregnancy that I would have a few non-negotiables. 1. I would be giving birth in an operating room, even if we didn’t need to do a c-section. 2. I would be having an epidural, because they needed me to be ready for anything after Baby A arrived. 3. I would have constant monitoring, to make sure that neither of the babies went into distress. 4. From early on, I would be prepped for an IV, so they would have easy access.

All of these made me realize that I had to be pretty go-with-the-flow with the whole thing. Still, I really wanted to try having my own clothes for the process, just to make it seem more normal. In addition, I knew that if I were too warm, I would feel nauseous, and by having just a skirt and bra on, that would help me to stay cool.

As you will see from our Birth Story post (when we are finished writing it and are able to post it), unfortunately I wasn’t able to wear the skirt during labor or delivery, but that had nothing to do with the skirt itself. Frankly, I didn’t have time to put it on! Everything happened so fast, and by the time I knew that Friday, November 22 was The Day, we barely had enough time to call our parents, let alone go to the bathroom to change out of the hospital gown. This was my only regret from that entire day.

Still, I’ve worn the skirt plenty before giving birth and afterwards, so I feel like I can talk about how much I love it!

I have tried a few of the BINSI items, and here are my highly-positive thoughts about them:

This is the BINSI Prima Mama Original Birth Skirt. I originally saw a birthing skirt on one of the laboring mamas in the childbirth video from the class that we took, and I knew that I wanted one. After looking around, I found the BINSI, and it looked perfect! It is a great twill material with an adjustable drawstring waist. There are snaps down the entire front, so it can be removed easily if needed. It also has two slits on the sides for easy maneuverability during labor. Finally, it’s not too short or long, so you can still be modest when needed.

I checked with my hospital, and they were totally fine with me wearing it during labor, even if I were to have a c-section. Because of the material, it would have been easy as pie to clean (we know that labor and delivery can be a little messy). I love the way it fits, both before and after babies.

In addition to the Prima Mama Original, they sent me a couple extra items.

Next is the Hairdo-La, a stretchy hairband to help keep the hair out of my face. I love this, because I am not a fan of the plastic or tight headbands (can you say ouch-y headache?). This does what it needs to do, whether my hair is in a ponytail already or down. Plus, I will love to use this for years to come as a mommy hairstyle when I just don’t have time to wash, dry, and straighten my hair.

They also sent me some Labor Soothing Bath Salts, some combs, and a wonderful beaded bracelet. You can find the bath salts and combs as a part of the Go Time Bundle (although it includes much more than just these items).

I want to talk for a moment about these bath salts. They are incredible! When I was 35 weeks, I was preeeeeetty uncomfortable. My hips and pelvis were just one giant ache. I really couldn’t find too much relief. So, I drew a warm bath (I wanted it to be hot hot hot, but I knew that’s not allowed in pregnancy) and put in a couple of handfuls of the bath salts. Oh my, the smell instantly hit me and gave me this great sense of relaxation. It wasn’t too overwhelming, either. Just light and calming. Once I got in the water, I knew I was in heaven. The salt crystals had dissolved easily, and I was just surrounded by warm, delicious-smelling (but not overly so) water. Yes, heaven. Oh, and I’m not a bath person, so for me to say this, that is truly something.

I can imagine that, for a laboring mama, that bath would be incredible! Unfortunately, because of my twins, I knew that I would be constantly monitored, so I wouldn’t be able to do any baths at the hospital. That’s ok. I’ll happily use the bath salts at home!

Dreaming of an Ideal Twin Birth

*This post was written 5 days before giving birth to our twins, although it wasn’t published until about two weeks after their birth.*

 Dreaming of an Ideal Birth Experience - DoyleDispatch.com

From the moment we found out accepted the fact that we were having twins, we knew that our birth experience would not be standard or planned. We constantly got the question from friends: “So, will you have a c-section?” to which we would answer, “We aren’t sure. The doctor thinks that we will be able to avoid it.” In our childbirth class, as the instructor discussed birthing techniques to minimize pain, I let my mind wander, knowing that I was going to have an epidural no matter what, just in case Baby B made it harder to come out (they didn’t want me to feel anything if they had to do some other techniques to get him out). Laboring in a bathtub? No chance, as I would have constant monitoring bands around my stomach to check on the babies.

In the past 9 months, I haven’t been in control over my body or these babies. For a Type A person like myself, I strangely handled it very well. Finally, however, I knew there were some certain things I could expect out of the birthing experience, and it was nice that some decisions were made for me. In this way, I was even more prepared than a “singleton” pregger. Yes, there would still be a lot of unknowns, but some things were set in stone: epidural, delivery in the OR (just in case), many more nurses ready for different situations.

Even so, no twin births are alike, just as no singleton births are alike. It’s just that, when you are pushing out two little bodies, there is even more uncertainty. Still, I never thought I would get to 36 weeks with these little peanuts (I always prepared for the worst so that when it was better, I was happily surprised). Now that we are here and at “full term” for twins, I am letting myself visualize what MY ideal birthing experience will be:

Tim and I are at home, and we have had a (relatively) restful night/morning. I’ve taken my shower and already finished straightening my hair (to help me feel normal, despite not leaving my house). Either my water breaks (hopefully a trickle and not a gush) or the contractions come at every 10 minutes for 2 hours. We call the doctor and head to the hospital with our labor bag, 2 hospital bags (to leave in the car until after the babies are born), and the babies’ bag (also to be left in the car for a while).

Once I get to the hospital, I don’t let the nerves take over. I don’t start to feel warm or nauseous, as can sometimes happen. Instead, I am perky and talk, excitedly, to the nurses as they start the long check-in process (despite the fact that I’ve already pre-registered). Tim gets me my coping items: a cup of ice pellets (my favorite), a hospital mug of ice water, 1-2 washcloths soaked with cool water, the fan out of the bag, the speakers for the quiet music, and possibly some juice or popsicles.

I change into my BINSI birth skirt and black nursing bra (if it won’t cause a problem to wear these with my impending epidural). Once I am checked in, Tim will turn down the lights and we will start keeping me calm and rested as much as possible. I will ask to go to the bathroom once more before they hook me up to the monitors.

Pretty soon after arriving, I get prepped for the IV and possibly even my epidural (because I have already progressed so much in the weeks leading up to this point). I know that this is when my nerves will get the best of me. I will start feeling warm and nausea waves will sweep over me. Tim will take over answering questions as much as possible, although we will both engage the nurses and anesthesiologist in talking during both times. Talking and hearing someone else’s story helps me to get through medical events that I don’t enjoy.

Once everything is in place, I will be able to calm down again. Tim will keep feeding me ice chips, water, rubbing me, washing me down with a cool, wet cloth, talking to me in his calm voice. 

Eventually, I will get to the point when we are ready to push. I won’t feel anything, because of the magical epidural. Thank you, modern medicine!

They will wheel me into the operating room, and Tim will (for the first time) not be by my side as he gets his gear on. He will join me soon enough. I will push, but hopefully not feel much because of the epidural. Because Baby Girl is head down and so low, I won’t need to do much to get her out.

She will be a great weight and cry right away, and I will get to hold her immediately. I will burst into tears upon holding my baby girl, calling her the name that we have kept private for months. Tim will fall even more in love with her than he already is. This is his daddy’s girl. I won’t even notice when I have to push out the placenta.

They will take her away just in time for me to get ready to push out her brother, Baby Boy. He may move and squirm and possibly change position on us while he is still in utero, because he is my wiggler and not used to having so much space in there. Hopefully, the doctor won’t have to do too much in order to get him ready and in position. Just a few more pushes, and he is here too! Both of our babies are brought to my chest and we can love on them and let them start breastfeeding.

We will get an hour with them (called “The Magic Hour” by the hospital), before our families will be invited in to meet them. We will get that initial bonding, loving, and smiling/laughing/crying before we have to share them with anyone. Our little family just grew by 4 feet, 4 hands, 20 fingers, 20 toes, 2 hearts. We are now complete.

The doctors have said that I have had an ideal pregnancy up until this point (after finishing the first trimester). It’s okay to dream about this ideal scenario, isn’t it? After all, we did make it further than we thought possible! A girl can dream…

Labor/Delivery/Maternity Nurse Thank You Gift

We knew that we wanted to do something for the nurses that would help us in the hospital, but we didn’t know what. Then, I realized that I had 16 small mason jars that were just laying around. Perfect! I put together a very simple gift, but one that I hoped they would like:

Nurse Thank You Gift - DoyleDispatch.com

The note says:

Thank you for being a “Lifesaver” and not having “Butterfingers” with our “Twinkies!”

We appreciate everything that you have done for our little family!

Love, Tim and Dory


Nurse Thank You Gift - DoyleDispatch.com

 

Nurse Thank You Gift - DoyleDispatch.com

 

Welcome, Audrey Olivia and David Alan!

Audrey and David - 1 Day Old - DoyleDispatch.com

They are here! Audrey Olivia and David Alan were born on Friday night, November 22.

Audrey was 6 lb 3 oz and 19 inches long. She was born at 10:59 PM.

Audrey Olivia Doyle - 1 Day Old - DoyleDispatch.com

David was 5 lb 1 oz and 19 inches long. He was born 8 minutes later, at 11:07 PM.

David Alan Doyle - 1 Day Old - DoyleDispatch.com

Both babies are doing so well! We will have many updates to come, including the birth story, how we have survived (thrived?) in the first week, how we picked out the names, many more pictures, and information on their personalized name fabric.

Thank you so much for the love and well-wishes. Tim and I are in heaven with our little peanuts.

 

Prenatal Care for Twins

*This post was original published as a part of Prematurity Awareness Week 2013 on “How Do You Do It?” where Dory is a contributing author. You can find the original post here.*

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


 

 

I will start out by saying that I have never been pregnant before now. This is my first pregnancy and I have been thrown in head first with this new world of twins. So my experience is different. I didn’t know what to expect when going into it all. I had other friends that had been pregnant with singletons, and so I wasn’t completely naive, but I also really learned as I went. So, here is my experience with various aspects of prenatal care for our twins.

Prenatal Vitamins

I had wanted to be pregnant for a while, so I started taking prenatal vitamins very early on (well over a year before actually getting pregnant). I knew that the benefits were only going to help me, so I had no problem taking them long before we actually started trying for our baby. I have quite the sweet tooth, so I took the gummy prenatals with extra folic acid- two before bed- and it was quite the delicious pre-bed treat. Because I am also lactose intolerant, I also took a calcium supplement (gummy version) and a multivitamin (also gummy). After about a month of 6 gummies all right before bed, I started spacing them out a bit more and went with 1 of each vitamin at lunch and 1 of each before bed.

It ended up being a very good thing that I started this so early, because once I got pregnant, I had major trouble stomaching any vitamin supplements at all. I literally couldn’t do it. I felt so guilty to be denying my babies these added nutrients, and I talked to my doctors and nurses quite often about this. Thankfully, they said that I had done the right thing by starting so early, because my body had a built-up supply of the nutrients, and my babies would still benefit, even if I couldn’t take them every day.

Once the 2nd trimester hit and I started to get over the morning all-day sickness, I got some Flintstone vitamins, upon the suggestion of my doctors. I actually could take these just fine (2 at night before bed), and I felt like I could do something again for my babies. This didn’t last, however, and once I got to about 28 weeks, I had trouble with the nausea again, and I had to stop taking them. Thankfully, my pregnancy diet (and cravings) included lots of fruits and veggies and protein, so I knew that I was doing what I could. Plus, the babies were growing really well and the doctors were happy.

Moral of the story: start taking your prenatals EARLY, but listen to your body. It doesn’t help you to get sick after every vitamin, when it may be better to rely on those better vitamin-rich foods instead. And no matter what, talk to your doctor. I felt guilty each time they asked about prenatal vitamins, and I had to say that I wasn’t taking them. Then, they would respond that it was ok. I was doing well, and I shouldn’t worry. Oh, I love getting support like that from a doctor!

The First Appointment

Thankfully, I knew what to expect at my first appointment, so this wasn’t a surprise, but I can understand that some may have been taken aback if they weren’t prepared.

Because we had been seeing a doctor for a short time leading up to getting pregnant, my appointments were on the fast track. Please don’t worry if you don’t have all of these appointments right away.

I took a pregnancy test on April 5, when I was only 3 weeks 5 days pregnant. When it came back positive, I called my doctor immediately and he scheduled me to get a blood test done that day (a Friday). We went in the moment they opened the doors and I happily gave them my arm to draw the vial (and I hate getting blood drawn). They told me that they would fax the doctor the results in about an hour.

An hour passed, and we didn’t hear anything. Because it was a Friday, I knew our doctor would be closing early (a half day), so I didn’t want to have to wait to find out if we were going to be parents. I called and spoke to the secretary (whom I had become really close with due to our visits), and she was able to tell us the great news: it was positive! I asked about the HCG levels, and they were a good steady number. We set up an ultrasound date for 3 weeks later, and I dreaded having to wait that long for the final confirmation and heartbeat.

Finally, the big day arrived (6 weeks 3 days), and my husband and I nervously went in to the office. I got undressed (waist down) as I knew that they would be needing to do an internal ultrasound. This is because the baby/babies are too small at this point to be seen using the stomach ultrasound. They need to get closer, which is why they have to make it internal. If you aren’t prepared for this, I can understand how this would be scary and uncomfortable. Prepare yourself, though, because it really isn’t painful if you are ready for it. They insert a stick-like wand “up there” right against your cervix. There may be moments of being uncomfortable, but they really try to make it as pain-free and quick as possible. I promise that, once you actually see your baby/babies heartbeat(s), you will totally forget about anything else except this miracle that is happening to you.

People have asked us if we were surprised it was twins. In a short answer, yes. Although my doctor wasn’t. When we went in, I was joking with him in order to cover up my nerves. I was convinced that something had happened in the past 3 weeks and I had lost the baby. I didn’t have any proof to confirm this, but I just was worried. 3 weeks felt like a long time to wait in between the blood test and the ultrasound! So as we were joking, I told him that I hoped I was still pregnant. He told me that he knew I was, and it was just a question of how many. I asked him if he would buy us dinner if it was just one. He happily agreed (knowing through the HCG numbers that it would be two). Well, he was right, and we didn’t get a dinner from him. Oh well!

When he was looking at the ultrasound, he quickly (within seconds of any image on the screen) said, “Yes, there they are.” We were shocked. My jaw hit the floor. Thank goodness I was already sitting/laying down. The nurse turned to my husband a few times to ask if he needed to sit down, but he was frozen to his place. Two heartbeats. Two strong heartbeats. Twins.

At our office, we got lots of pictures and even a flash drive with all of the pictures and a video of the heartbeats. We went home to share the news with our parents via Skype (they already knew we were expecting, but they had no idea about the next doubly exciting chapter to this story).

Perinatal (“High Risk”) Appointments

When you are expecting multiples, you are categorized as a “high risk” pregnancy. Many people, upon hearing this, get scared or confused. To someone not facing these appointments themselves, they may wonder why it is “high risk.” After all, there are so many more twins born now. So is it really “high risk?” Yes, it is. Now, this is not to say that you will definitely have problems with your pregnancy. I didn’t have any complications after the first trimester.

Those of us blessed to carry multiple babies at once are considered high risk because bodies simply weren’t made to carry more than one baby at once. We can do it and be successful at it, but we do need to be carefully monitored.

Be prepared to see a perinatal specialist, a “high risk doctor.” They will focus on your babies’ needs throughout the pregnancy. For us, once we got in the groove of appointments, these were our ultrasound visits. We started by going once a month (plus a couple of additional appointments due to scheduling issues). They did a full tummy ultrasound (no more internal ultrasounds unless they had trouble seeing your cervix), where they would focus on measuring the size of the babies, the amniotic fluid amount, the length of my cervix, the cord and placenta placement/size, and check the vitals of the babies.

Then, once we hit the third trimester, we went in for a couple of appointments every 2 weeks. They still only did the measurements once a month, but they just wanted to check and see the babies a bit more often. They also wanted to make sure I wasn’t going into pre-term labor.

At 32 weeks, we started our weekly perinatal appointments. They scheduled the measurement ultrasound for every 4 weeks still (32 and 36 weeks), but I would be getting additional ultrasounds each week as well. During these, they would check the amount of amniotic fluid (to make sure it wasn’t leaking out). They would check the stomach cavity and diaphragm. They would also look at and measure the heartbeat and heart chambers. Finally, they would look to see that the babies were practicing breathing. Now, they don’t actually breathe when inside the womb, but they do pretend to do this. After 3 weeks of this, I realized that Baby Girl A would pass this part of the test with flying colors, as she would always show this. Baby Boy B, however, would get jostled a bit to wake up and show us something. I asked our doctor about this- should I prepare myself for issues after they are born with his breathing? She told us not to worry. They give themselves a window of 45 minutes per baby to watch for signs of breathing practice. If the baby hasn’t shown it in that 45 minute time, then we would worry. Baby Boy always took longer than his sister, but never more than 5-7 minutes, so there is nothing to fear. In addition, there are many other aspects that they look for during these ultrasounds, not just breathing. All of the results as a whole are much more important than just any one part.

Finally, in these weekly visits, they do the Non-Stress Test (NST). After the ultrasound (and they’ve figured out where the babies are), they hook you up to these monitor belts. They will put some jelly on these discs and place them on your stomach where each heart would be located. Once they find the heartbeat and can hear it clearly, they will attach the disc to an elastic belt, wrapped around your waist. Then, they find your second baby and do the same thing with another disc and belt. Finally, they will put an additional disc on the top of your uterus to measure contractions. You will be hooked up to this for 20 minutes.

During the NST, they are looking for changes in your babies’ heartbeats. They want to see them rise and fall, as the babies move around. If they don’t see much variation, they may do a few different things to get a reaction. First thing is they will ask you to drink some cold water. Cold liquids and foods often get those babies jumping. Jumping babies = rise in heartbeats. I also tried eating some apples that I brought with me, as that often got them moving and shaking. When that didn’t work, they brought in the buzzer. It is a mini airhorn of sorts that they put against your stomach. It vibrates and emits a buzzing sound. When they did it, both babies jumped and started kicking like crazy (and I started laughing because it was so funny to witness. Well, for me, they jumped but Baby Girl didn’t show a change in her heart rate. That’s when Daddy stepped in to the rescue. He came over to me and put his hand over Baby Girl. As she always does, she jumped to life at his touch. Then he started talking to her and coaxing her into getting excited. It finally worked, and both babies passed this test.

Regular OB Appointments

In addition to your perinatal appointments, you will still see your OB, who will actually do the delivery. If they are in the same practice, you may schedule these on the same day. For us, however, we didn’t have this luxury, so we had extra appointments. We made the decision that we would both go to all of the high-risk appointments, because that was when we could see our babies. My husband didn’t want to miss that! For the OB appointments, they focused on my care, and he really didn’t need to be there for them. He came to a few early on to meet our OB and discuss her thoughts on twins and twin deliveries. As I started going more often (and more quickly) to these visits, I gave him permission to save up his doctor time for the other appointments.

During the OB visits, they will take your weight (to make sure you are growing at a good rate) and blood pressure. They will also have you pee in a cup to check your protein levels (to check for signs of preeclampsia). Then you will go back and meet with your OB. She will ask about how you are doing. Sometimes you will get a cervix check (be prepared for this to be a little uncomfortable, as your lady parts are a bit more delicate when you are pregnant). She will also order blood tests and your gestational diabetes test.

Gestational Diabetes Test

I documented my experience (and nerves) about this test here. It really wasn’t bad, but I worked myself up to a bundle of nerves.

Dealing With It All

It all has to do with attitude. I loved going to the doctor so often, because it meant that they were really thorough in making sure that we were all okay. Because I had stopped working after the first trimester (I was a teacher and I finished the school year and didn’t return for the upcoming year), I could be flexible with my appointment times. I also didn’t mind if they took a while. Having this laid-back attitude definitely made a difference in what could have been a very stressful situation. I looked at my appointments as adventures. After all, I got to see and talk about my babies. I got to express fears or concerns and get to know what was going on in my body. I took advantage of the Do-you-have-any-questions? section of my visits. I stayed positive. I listened to their advice and did what they said to the best of my ability. I kept a smile on my face. It really helped.

We had one ultrasound tech that we kept getting that would rush through our ultrasounds. This meant that we got poor pictures and felt like we couldn’t appreciate the experience during those weeks. After the first time this happened, I left the office in tears. I just wanted to see my babies, and I hated that I had to wait another month to get the chance. Well, after a few times of this with her, I realized this was just her style. So, one day I went in and told her, “We aren’t in ANY rush today! I’m feeling great (a lie). It’s beautiful outside, and we don’t have anywhere to be! We are at 34 weeks, and who knows how many more of these appointments we will have left. So, feel free to take your time during this ultrasound!” It did the trick. She commented that she couldn’t take forever because they had a very hectic schedule during the rest of the day. BUT I noticed that she took a little longer on their faces, even though it wasn’t medically necessary. AND we finally got two more pictures of our beautiful babies (which we hadn’t gotten for a few weeks). We didn’t have to be rude or spiteful or call her out on her previous rudeness. Just a upbeat, passive comment was all it took to win her over and get what we wanted in return.

“Are They Here Yet?”

At full-term for twins (something I never thought I would get to), this is a question that I am faced with every single day.

“Are they here yet?”

“When are they coming?”

“Haven’t you had those babies yet?”

Believe me, I am just as anxious (and waaaaaay more so) than you!

But they aren’t here, and they are quite comfy where they are. I know that is a good thing. I know they are safe and happy and healthy, and each day they are in utero, they get stronger, but I am just ready already.

I recently turned to my group of How Do You Do It? (hdydi.com) authors for advice. They are all moms of multiples who have been where I am now. How can I stay sane when I just want to have these babies already? Here’s a list of their advice to me. Many of these I had already done, but I thought the list was fantastic, and it may help someone else in the same situation (whether you are having one baby or multiples):

Are They Here Yet? Surviving the Last Few Days of Pregnancy - Doyle Dispatch

1. Try to enjoy this time alone, because once they are here, you won’t have it anymore.

2. Put your feet up when you can

3. Drink tons of water

4. Do a small project for yourself for the hospital (something that will bring you comfort)

5. Check, double check, pack, repack the hospital bag

6. Get into a new TV show through Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, and watch a million episodes a day to distract yourself

7. Stay focused on the positives:

  • going past 37 weeks is almost guaranteed no NICU time
  • bigger babies eat less often in the beginning
  • the longer you wait, the more likely you will go into labor spontaneously (easy, “regular” delivery)

8. Take lots of hot showers to relax

9. Take some time writing welcome letters to them (dreams and love for them, what their personalities were like in the womb)

10. Get copies of “Oh the Places You’ll Go” and get friends and family to sign them

11. Enjoy the sleep

12. Eat a few more milkshakes

13. Make sure your home is in order: sort mail, file bills, schedule payments… try to get into a position that things will be ok if you don’t touch them for a couple of weeks

14. Enjoy the time. It’s much easier to look after the babies when they are inside than when they are outside.

15. Do something for yourself: get a pedicure, read a book, write

16. Pack your bag

17. If you are doing baby books, fill out the pre-birth stuff (genealogy, how much milk costs, etc)

18. Try to do one errand a day, if you can tolerate it (run to Target, grocery store, or library)

19. Take naps when you can, since you aren’t sleeping at nights

20. Use an exercise ball to stretch your back and hips

So, my friends, what advice do YOU have to stay sane during this waiting game?