0 comments on “At 6 weeks we found out… A Story of Loss”

At 6 weeks we found out… A Story of Loss

At 6 weeks we found out we were pregnant with twins. My husband and I were so excited because we wanted to have more children (we had a daughter already). We were scared at first because we wondered if we would be able to handle twins but as time went on we got more and more excited.

When I went in for my 12 week ultrasound the ultrasound tech started to look at my babies and we heard both heartbeats. She then momentarily stopped the ultrasound to check her computer to see which baby was Baby A and which was Baby B. When she started the ultrasound again she could only hear one heartbeat, even though both my babies were still there. My Baby B had died at that moment. She tried desperately to find a heartbeat and even went and recruited the help of other ultrasound techs to try and find it. She kept telling the other two utlrasound techs that the heartbeats were both there and now she could only hear one.

I was devasted! I wondered if perhaps this was a punishment for questioning whether or not I could handle twins. I cried so much that day and for the next couple of weeks.

It has now been 8 months since that loss and I have since delivered my Baby A and she is beautiful! Though my heart will always miss my beautiful Baby B and though I will never forget that I had twins inside of me, I will always look at my vanishing twin as a guardian angel for the little angel I was blessed with. I know how hard it is and I know that though other people try to be helpful they have no idea what you are going through.

Rejoice in the blessing you DO receive and I hope this gives comfort to anyone who is going through this great loss. Thank you for listening to my story.

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One year into our marriage…

One year into our marriage, my husband and I decided we were ready to start our family. To our surprise, we were having identical twin girls! My pregnancy progressed normally and I felt great. We had even named the babies. “Baby A” was named Lora and “Baby B” was named Lilly.

At 32 weeks gestation, I went into the hospital because the babies didn’t seem to be moving as much as normal. An ultrasound was done and to our horror, Lilly’s heart was not beating. I can’t even begin to describe the raw,deep pain my husband and I felt at that moment. Like we just fell off the edge of the tallest cliff. Our lives flashed in front of us. I can remember thinking and I may have even said it out loud, “No, this is not happening….if I close my eyes, I’ll wake up from this nightmare.”

After repeating the ultrasound numerous times and staring at that one little heart that was just as still as the air in the hospital room, it was confirmed. Lilly had died. Those memories are so vivid. My doctor put his hand on mine and said, “I’m so sorry….” And, the tears rolled from my eyes. Just as they are now, four years later. It was December 22, 2001. My world was torn apart. We had to make a decision. Deliver now through emergency C-section, wait and give me steroid injections to help mature the surviving twin’s lungs before delivery, or just wait for my body to go into labor. My words were, “Take her out now, we can’t lose her too….please…please save her”. So we did.

I remember the nurse asking my doctor if she should prepare for two babies and the knife that was in my heart turned a little deeper when I heard him say, “No, that won’t be necessary.”

My doctor performed the C-section. Lora was born first–2:49 PM. Barely breathing. The delivery room was so quiet. She didn’t even cry. I wanted to die. I really did. I couldn’t imagine myself making it through this. So many thoughts were in my head lying there on the operating table. My doctor let me know he was now working on getting Lilly out. I have never prayed so hard in my life….”Please God, please let her be alive…please let me hear her cry…PLEASE GOD…PLEASE GOD…PLEASE GOD…PLEASE GOD!” Silence. The most horrible silence. It was really true. Lilly was gone–2:51 PM.

In recovery, through tearful eyes, we met Lilly for the first time. We met her first, the nurses and doctors were busy trying to stabilize Lora enough to have her transferred to another hospital better equipped with a NICU. Our family met Lilly too. Everyone cried so much. We all loved her so much.

Two hours later, Lora was stable enough for the transport. We got to see her briefly just before the team took her into the ambulance. It was a very short 1st meeting…some alarms went off just before they slammed the incubator shut and stormed out of the room hurriedly. Lora was “crashing” again. In all of this horror, all I could do was pray. One of my babies had died and no one was sure if the other would make it either. The ambulance had to pull over twice to stabilize Lora on the 30 mile transport.

Lora was put on the ventilator for 4 days and stayed in the hospital for about a month. We made it through another hospitalization about 2 weeks after she came home. It was rough. But, we made it. She is now 4 years old, healthy, and functioning normally. Lora knows all about Lilly. We speak of her often. She is very much a part of our life.

Two years later we were blessed with the birth of our second set of twin girls. Both survived and are doing fine. Lora is 4 years old and Lauren and Lindsay are 2 years old. Both pregnancies were conceived naturally. The second pregnancy was extremely stressful, of course, but everyone made it through just fine.

We are blessed to have our own little Angel watching over us. God, I wish she were here, but…she has gotten us through many of life’s whirlwinds. We owe it all to Lilly.

Love your children. Tell them everyday how much you love them and how lucky you are to have them. They are such precious gifts.

In loving memory of our little “Lilly.”

0 comments on “A day in the life of a mother of twins”

A day in the life of a mother of twins

Hi everyone, hope you are all doing well! Since I never have time to talk on the phone anymore, here’s a long update email. I can’t believe I’m telling you that our babies are already two months old – amazing. They are doing just great. Brandon is now wearing 3-6 month clothing for the most part, and Cara is starting to fit nicely into her 0-3 month clothes. Brandon is approx. 10.5lbs and Cara is approx. 9.5lbs. Although their weights aren’t much different, Brandon is thinner and longer which means he needs bigger sizes.

We are hoping to get some portraits taken this week (could be an interesting juggling act!) and the babies will be having their first vaccinations on Monday. We are very thankful that we did manage to find a wonderful pediatrician who agreed to take us on – poor guy had no idea what he was getting into!. (Not sure if it’s the case in Newfoundland/Labrador, but here it’s very hard to find doctors taking new patients – almost impossible.)

Cara is now starting to really focus on things around the nursery and she often holds our fingers and sometimes grabs our clothes while we feed her. Brandon is still our lively boy who just desperately needs food the minute his eyes open. He is always looking for the next source of food and I had a good laugh yesterday when he was lying next to Cara in her crib and he managed to latch onto her cheek! She got a slurpy kiss that she wasn’t expecting!! He did a sweet little cooing noise and grinned at a picture on the wall that Aunt Barbara made this morning – his first coo! Cara is getting more smiley all the time, and thankfully she continues to be patient and relaxed. She really enjoys the swing.

Yesterday Keith and I managed to get out for breakfast and get through the entire meal with both babies sleeping. Woo hoo! Babies get tons of attention when we are out. At first this was thrilling for me, but already I find myself sometimes pulling down the sun shades on their stroller so that we can get in and out of stores without too many people stopping us.

Since Grandma and Poppy left last weekend, we’ve hired a nanny named Tiffany to help me out during the day. She’s a part-time university student. She’s really nice and is great at helping out whenever and wherever needed – she seems to be enjoying getting to know the babies and dogs. I must admit that although I first thought I could easily do this myself, I really appreciate the second set of hands and being able to run a few errands during the day that would otherwise have to be done when Keith’s at home.

That’s all for now- Cara’s waking up and Brandon is asleep on my chest… so time to do another switcheroo!

Tracy

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Delayed Speech or Autism?

Hi my name is Laurie. My husband is a twin and I am a twin. He has a twin sister and I had a twin sister who died 5 days after birth. Neither my husband nor I are monozygotic twins. We have dizygotic twin boys who are very different. One is more talkative and the other is very laid back.

A pediatrician recently said that there was a possibility that the laid back twin may be autistic. We are in a speech play group to help him with his words. It has been a wonderful experience and we feel that he doesn’t have autism but rather speech delay, as his brother has always been the one to ask for things and lead the way. Austin (the talker & and first born) will ask for a cookie and Colton (the laid back one) will automatically get one as well. Because he doesn’t have to ask for it, he doesn’t get to practice his verbal skills.

Colton is doing much better now we realize how to assist him with his verbal skills and he will continue to improve. My husband (David) and I have decided not to send Colton to be assessed. We feel that if there are problems, that a few months more of waiting and encouraging him will not hurt him. The Speech Pathologist feels that we are doing everything we need to be doing and in her professional opinion, if he is Autistic, it is a very mild case.

I would love to chat with other mothers in the same position. The boys turned two years old in April of 2002. I can’t stress enough how important a schedule is with newborn twins. Please e-mail me at ajpcdw@msn.com.

Laurie, Fort Frances, Ontario

0 comments on “Postpartum Depression and Mothers of Multiples”

Postpartum Depression and Mothers of Multiples

This article offers general information regarding Postpartum Depression for general educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare professional if you or someone you know is in need of health care support.

Postpartum Depression (PPD), in some areas, is also known as Post Natal Depression (PND). This article uses the term Postpartum Depression.

The medical dictionary defines Postpartum Depression as: A form of severe depression after delivery that requires treatment. It is sometimes said that postpartum depression (PPD) occurs within 4 weeks of delivery but it can happen a few days or even months after childbirth. A woman with PPD may have feelings similar to the ‘baby blues’ — sadness, despair, anxiety, irritability — but she feels them much more strongly than she would with the baby blues. PPD often keeps her from doing the things she needs to do every day. When a woman’s ability to function is affected, this is a sure sign that she needs treatment. While PPD is a serious condition, it can be effectively treated with antidepressant medications and counseling.

Some statistics about PPD

  • one in ten new mothers suffers from PPD (a new mother being one with a newborn infant, not necessarily a first time mother)
  • PPD is Five Times more common in mothers of multiples than mothers of singleton newborns. LaTobe Twin Study calls this twinshock*.1
  • based on these two statistics, we can estimate that there is a greater chance that PPD will affect new mothers of multiples.
  • 76% of all mothers of newborn twins felt constantly exhausted as compared to only 8% of mothers of singletons.2,1

It isn’t uncommon to confuse the Baby Blues and PPD. Baby Blues is a hormonal and physical condition that often occurs within the first week or so of childbirth and lasts just a few days or weeks. Medical professionals estimate that as many as 85% of mothers of multiples experience Baby Blues to some degree.

Baby Blues feelings can include

  • feeling tired and exhausted
  • bouts of crying for inexplicable reasons
  • insomnia
  • feeling easily irritated

PPD can begin as Baby Blues and last weeks or up to two years after birth. PPD occurs more frequently than many other pregnancy related conditions such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm labour, and yet new parents know less about PPD than they do about these pregnancy conditions. PPD is often viewed as a stigma or as a result of the new mother’s inability to cope, thus making it more difficult to seek professional help.

Depression is a mental illness which, in the extreme, can render an individual’s normal day to day coping mechanisms completely ineffective. The simplest tasks can take on enormous proportions and make everyday, common tasks seem impossible.

Signs of PPD can include

  • crying for no apparent reason
  • chronic fatigue or hypersomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling overwhelmed and hopeless
  • doubt or guilt
  • compulsive over the babies’ care
  • ignoring the babies’ care
  • feeling worthless, unable to cope
  • anxiety attacks
  • inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • in the extreme, thoughts of suicide

If a mother of multiples is experiencing such symptoms, don’t dismiss them as being part of the extra workload due to having multiples. The more of these symptoms the mother is feeling, the more likely it is that she is suffering PPD. Consult a doctor immediately.

Causes of PPD

While a specific cause has not been determined, hormones in the woman’s body can trigger symptoms. During pregnancy, two female hormones estrogen and progesterone are greatly increased. After birth, the levels of these hormones drop dramatically. Such changes could lead to depression.3 . A new mother should not feel guilty if she experiences PPD. Whether or not she does and to what degree, is beyond anyone’s control.

  • lack of social support from one’s partner and families can be a key contributor. Before the babies arrive, it is important to have good support systems in place.
  • if a mother has had PPD after a previous pregnancy, she is more likely to have it in subsequent ones. Arrange appropriate support systems before the babies’ arrival.
  • Cesarean section is a major contributing factor to depression. Some Cesareans result because something has developed with the babies that requires their immediate birth. It can be difficult to be excited about the babies when the mother is in pain.
  • there may be a greater risk if the birth does not go as planned.
  • if the babies are premature, they could be away from the mother in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, adding to anxiety and depression.
  • feeling guilty about not being able to cope, take care of everyone (including other children), having a preference between the babies.
  • the inability to begin breastfeeding or to continue breastfeeding may cause concern in the mother.

Once diagnosed, some ideas for coping with PPD

  • some PPD mothers having difficulty bonding and relating to their babies. Being proactive and treating the PPD is helping your babies.
  • always say ‘Yes’ when help is offered.
  • if you need help, ASK for it. Most of our family and friends are willing to help and respond favorably when asked to.
  • tell your partner how you feel, keep the lines of communication open.
  • if you need to, seek professional intervention by visiting your doctor regularly. You may, for a time need counselling and/or medication. Not all people like to take medications but they can help you get back on track and make it easier to work on behavioural strategies. Counselling could be alone or as a couple.
  • keep your stress levels as low as possible, stay flexible.
  • breastfeeding can elevate a mother’s spirits.
  • keep your daily activities and expectations to a reasonable level, e.g. vacuum one room of the house and not the whole house.
  • don’t isolate yourself. It is important to maintain contact with others.
  • plan one night a week, or every other week, when a baby sitter will come in and spend time as a couple.

Hints for Partners

  • learn all of the signs and symptoms of PPD. In some cases, you may need to take the initiative, step in and make an appointment with your partner’s doctor. Attend the appointment with your partner.
  • organize household help. Participate in baby care, ask friends or relatives to pitch in, or hire extra help for the first months;
  • organize care for older siblings.
  • be patient and understanding. Don’t take your partner’s words or actions personally. PPD is no one’s fault and to answer back may only escalate the situation.
  • listen (you don’t always have to have answers), sympathize, empathize.

Remember

  • Awareness of the signs and symptoms is the best defense against PPD.
  • BOTH parents need to know the signs and symptoms of PPD and, if necessary, the partner needs to take the initiative and make an appointment with the doctor on behalf of his/her partner.
  • PPD is an illness and it can be treated.
  • PPD affects everyone in the whole family.
  • By looking after yourself, you are also looking after your family.
  • Although rare, fathers can experience PPD too.

Lynda P. Haddon, Multiple Birth Educator, www.jumelle.ca

David Hay, Professor of Psychology, Curtin University, Australia for his help and feedback on this article.

*The term ‘twinshock’ was originally coined by Pat Malmstrom, founder and President of Twin Services Inc. in California, U.S.A.]

Bibliography

  1. David Hay, LaTrobe Twin Study, Australia
  2. From work by and conversations with Alex McPhail, Ottawa
  3. Article, ”A common illness, not uncommonly overlooked,” by Lisa Priest, The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, 14 th December, 2004
  4. Emotional Health During Pregnancy & Early Parenthood: An Information Booklet for Parents of Multiple Birth Children, beyondblue: the national depression initiative www.beyondblue.org.au

Other Resources

For Partners

 

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Dad / Partner’s Role

During pregnancy and childbirth, it is not unusual for the other partner to feel somewhat left out and unimportant. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth!

Dad’s role as supporter, labour coach, listener, evaluator of when Mom may be in (preterm?) labour, baby handler/changer, cook, cleaner and, did we mention listener? – is not to be underestimated. Children thrive under the guidance and nurturing of both of their parents. However, when children are born two or more at a time, it is imperative that Dad become proactive in the care of the babies. Multiple birth babies can cause a lot of stress in the family and being aware of this ahead of time can be important. Taking the initiative in child care, communication and sharing of thoughts and tasks is essential for the well-being of all concerned.

Note: The following has been prepared in order to assist the partner in being supportive of the pregnant woman. It is acknowledged that not all relationships are composed of a mother and father. For ease of writing, the “partner” throughout this article has been referred to as “dad”.

Night Feedings

5-first-year-challenges-with-multiples-360x240
It may take several days before you find a routine which works well for the whole family. One family of twins worked out a system whereby when a baby awoke, Dad would get the baby, change him and bring him to Mom to feed in their bed. He would ‘sleep’ until they were finished, take the baby back to his crib, wake the second baby, feed her and bring her to Mom to feed and then return her to her crib when feeding was finished.

A variation of this style of feeding would be to wake both babies and feed them simultaneously, thus shortening the awake time.

Some families agree that since Dad probably works in the daytime, he needs to sleep the night through. Two possible scenarios could help you if this is your decision:

  1. If bottlefeeding, Dad could do the last night feeding, say at 11:00p.m. and the first morning feeding, say 6:00a.m. Both parents can there get some extended sleep time.
  2. If breastfeeding, Mom could get up to do the night feedings and try to catch up on some of her sleep during the next day when the babies are also sleeping.

Some families have hired a night time nanny instead of a daytime nanny. This could be especially helpful for parents of higher order multiples.

Another breastfeeding twin family used this idea, which worked for them. Mom would continue pumping her breasts after each feed during the week, collect and freeze the milk. Friday and Saturday nights, each parent would take a child to a different part of the house and Mom would breastfeed while Dad bottlefed the baby the expressed breastmilk. This guaranteed each parent longer periods of sleep time at least two nights a week.

You will need to communicate often with each other and establish a routine which works not only for you but for your babies too. It may take some time to work out, but don’t give up. Ask other parents of multiples how they worked out the night feedings and be creative with what will work for all of you.

Some Things Dads Need to be Aware of

Father with twinsIt is important that each parent remember that in times of stress and sleep deprivation, things may be said to one another that are unintentionally hurtful. If Dad is the main source of family income, he has the opportunity to leave the home, engage in adult conversation, have uninterrupted bathroom and coffee breaks and he receives positive feedback for achievements. Mom, at home, doesn’t have these small, but important, luxuries. Further, Dad leaves his work and comes home to a new routine. As the stay-at-home Mom, she is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is not unusual for Mom to be waiting at the door for Dad and to thrust a baby into his arms. Getting away to shop for groceries or run errands can provide a much needed change of scenery for Mom.

Sick, cranky or colicky children can cause tears, anger or venting by Mom when Dad returns home at the end of his workday. If you find yourself in such a situation, please remember not to take it personally. An acknowledgement of the situation: “It sounds as if you have had a long and tiring day” or “My how did you manage to do all of that?” is an important validation of what Mom has been dealing with all day. Nothing is going to change, the children aren’t going to “be returned”, but sometimes a validation of our exasperated feelings and a realization that we are together and not facing the situation alone, can make a huge, positive world of difference to all. Listening and acknowledging another’s business in any situation can never be the wrong thing to do.

Remember that each of you are learning how to take care of children from Day One. Women are not born knowing how to look after children and babies don’t arrive knowing how to suckle. Child rearing is an on-going learning situation and Dads are learning too. He needs to learn to diaper, bathe and dress babies. While of course you are assisting your partner in taking care of your children, you are also developing a close rapport with your babies. This is an extremely important and beneficial side effect for all of you.

Little Things Mean a Lot

  • If your partner has had a cesarean section, you may need to do all of the shopping and carrying for the first few weeks;
  • This may be the time to hire someone to cut the grass or shovel the snow. Make your life as simple as possible over those first few weeks;
  • If there is another child(ren), take her grocery shopping with you. This changes the dynamics at home and provides quality time with your other child(ren);
  • You might take one baby grocery shopping. Strap him on into a baby Snuggli and away you go. This is helpful for everyone and allows for important one-on-one time with each child plus encourages each child to become independent and separate from the others;
  • Bring home supper once in a while;
  • Hold/pick up a baby whenever necessary. Don’t wait to be asked to do so;
  • Give Mom a chance to bathe or take a shower, uninterrupted and at her leisure;
  • Learn how to work the washer and dryer and throw in a load of laundry;
  • After the babies are in bed, take some time to be together. You can talk, cuddle, share a glass of wine, offer a back rub to each other or simply sit together. It is important to remember how you got to this place and to take time and space for each other as well;
  • Listen to each other! This cannot be emphasized enough;
  • Provide time for your partner to go out somewhere with friends, alone or to a multiple birth support Chapter meeting;
  • Bring home flowers once in a while;
  • Keep a sense of humour;
  • Join a fathers of multiples support group;
  • Enjoy your children. They will make you feel very special and proud.

Additional Resources

The Art of Parenting Twins by Patricia Maxwell Malstrom and Janet Poland
Twins, Triplets and More: Their Nature, Development and Care, by Elizabeth Bryan, published by the Multiple Birth Foundation, London, England
Twin Care: Prenatal to Six Months, Multiple Births Canada
Finding our Way: Life with Triplets, Quadruplets and Quintuplets, published by Triplets, Quads, Quints Association: http://www.tqq.com
The Joy of Twins and Other Multiple Births by Pamela Patrick Novotny

Written and Developed by Lynda P. Haddon and Sandra Tompkins, 1998