Who knew back on January 27th that our journey toward parenthood would be so challenging? In the beginning, it was all just so amazing and exciting. After 12 years of marriage, we were so excited to learn that we were pregnant for the first time. It was an absolute surprise, not only for us, but for both of our families as well. Then, on February 14, our OB told us that there were 2 babies! Twins! Again, we were beside ourselves. How could we be so lucky?
Technically, Eddie called it from the beginning. The day we discovered we were pregnant, he started telling me that we were probably having twins. I, of course, told him he was insane and that "there better only be one baby in there!" Now, I have to take that back and apologize to the twins on a daily basis for swearing there should only be one of them.
Dr. Hartford warned us from the very beginning that a twin pregnancy is not the same as a singleton pregnancy. He talked about things like bed rest, c-sections, possible pre-term labor...All of which I blew off thinking "Oh, that won't be me! That's other people." I should have gotten the hint when I started having "all day" morning sickness. While I did not throw up more than twice, I was constantly nauseous and very little made it better. I went searching for different "cures" for morning sickness and came across a crazy idea to use Sea Bands. Eddie took me to the drug store on a Friday evening and I put them on as soon as we paid for them. Amazingly, they started working right away! They did not make the nausea go away completely, but they took the edge off and that is all that mattered. The nausea stayed with me all the way through the first 18 weeks and finally trailed off, coming and going when I least expected it.
One thing I did not expect was that very few people could relate to all of the things I was going through. Very few understood about the constant nausea and still others could not relate to my absolute lack of an appetite. Some kept saying I was experiencing things too early or that I couldn't possibly be feeling the things I was feeling yet. So many people wanted to help, but were not sure that their experiences with singleton pregnancies would help them relate. It made it hard to get advise!
I finally bought a book by Dr. Barbara Luke called When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads, Revised Edition: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy. At first, I thought it was written to scare me to death, but I soon realized it was trying to tell me what I hadn't heard when Dr. Hartford tried to warn me that my pregnancy would not be the same as everyone else's. As I read about pre-term labor, the need to gain weight quickly, and stays in the NICU, I began to realize that maybe Dr. Hartford hadn't been trying to scare me. The best part about reading that book was that when things went crazy in June, I was ready for them.
By the time we reached our 12th wedding anniversary, I was 20 weeks pregnant. My tummy was starting to show my pregnancy, but not enough for people to really see. The best way to see where the twins were growing was when I was lying down on the bed. Looking at my belly today, it was really small back then! I knew it would get bigger, but geez! I remember being really tired all the time. I just did not have energy to do much, but I never seemed to rest completely. I had so many things to do and never seemed to get ahead of them. I was still very "Pollyanna" about my pregnancy. Summer School was coming and there was no way I was going on bed rest. I think even then, my body was lobbying for bed rest. I was wiped out driving home from school and it was torture to get up every morning.
Eddie and I planned a Babymoon for the first week of June. We knew that I would be working through the first week of August on Summer School, so we decided we needed to get away on one last "Just the Two of Us" trip. We drove to Monterey and spent 4 days exploring Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, and the surrounding areas. Looking back now, my body was seriously overtaxed. The drive from Sylmar to Monterey was torture and I had a lot of contractions that week. I was so tired that Eddie had to travel out to bring us meals several times. I just couldn't leave the hotel room. On a happier note, we really enjoyed our drives and spending time together. We laughed a lot and talked about things like baby names and what the babies would look like. It was a wonderful trip. Little did we know that the next week would bring a medical emergency.
On Monday, June 11, I started feeling like I was having a lot of contractions. I noticed some changes in the feelings in my stomach and realized that my contractions felt different. When I went to see Dr. Hartford on Tuesday, he did some tests and sent me home, telling me I needed to be on bed rest. One of the tests he did, a fetal fibronectin test came back positive later that day. The test is used to test the possibility of pre-term labor starting. I completely freaked out when they called to tell me that it was positive. I had forgotten everything Dr. Luke had said about the FFN test and my stress level went through the roof. Crying, I heard the nurse say that they had ordered a terbutaline pump that would keep me from going into labor, but before that could happen, my contractions started to escalate. I started timing contractions and, an hour later, we were told to go to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. Dr. Hartford was there delivering another twin mom who had made it to 28 weeks. He was pretty stressed out and seeing that I was in preterm labor at 23 weeks and 5 days did not help his stress level.
There, Dr. Hartford discovered that I was having labor contractions and they attempted to slow them by giving me injections of terbutaline. For most women, terbutaline works to slow contractions. Mine did not slow. At some points, I was having contractions every 3 minutes! Eddie sat by my side in Labor and Delivery, holding my hand and drying my tears. He worked so hard to distract me that he even read to me!
They decided to admit me and I was put on magnesium sulfate to try to stop contractions. Luckily, the medication worked and the contractions slowed. I was hooked up to a monitor for the contractions, most of the contractions were just Braxton Hicks contractions. They did an ultrasound the following day and both of the babies looked totally fine. Their heartbeats were strong and they were moving around. My cervix, which the night before had started to become effaced, measured at 3.4 cm. This made the doctors very happy. They decided that I had a good chance of holding on to the babies as long as we kept the contractions from returning. The plan was to obtain a terbutaline pump for me and send me home.
Unfortunately, when the terbutaline pump arrived 4 days later, it did not work for me. As soon as the magnesium sulfate was removed, I started having contractions again. They tried upping the doses, but that only made my heart beat like crazy and my hands shake so hard I could hardly eat. The doctor decided to put me back on the magnesium. Soon after, the contractions slowed. The whole thing was very scary!
Because magnesium sulfate has some nasty side effects, I had to remain hospitalized. Nurses needed to check my breathing, reflexes, and kidney response often. Mag sulfate can be toxic if it builds up too much in your blood stream. This translates to an extended visit to the hospital. Considering the last time I had stayed overnight in a hospital was in 1974, I was a little discouraged. Eddie spent the night with me for several nights in on a cot next to my hospital bed until I sent him home. It is really hard to get a full night's sleep when there are nurses coming in and out of your room every 4 hours.
As the days passed, I still felt worried that the babies could be born at any second. Somehow I hadn't gotten the message that the babies had chance of staying inside me. The positive fetal fibronectin test predicts that you have a 40% chance of going into labor in the next 2 weeks. I took that to mean that the babies would come in the next 2 weeks. I did not even think that I might make it past that time. All I knew was that the babies were TOO small and they had a 70% chance of survival.
Flash forward 7 weeks...
Today, I have made it to 31 weeks! I can't believe it. Back at 24 weeks, I could only focus on making it to 28 weeks. Anything past that was a dream. Now I am looking forward to 34 or 36 weeks. How amazing!