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Suggested Reading List for Parents Expecting Twins, Triplets and More!

Forever Linked: A Mother’s Journey Through Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, Erin Bruch, Philatory Ink, 299 pages, $14.95US, ISBN 13: 978-1-936519-02-6

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a disease of the placenta and can affect monozygotic (identical) babies, including within triplets or more when there are monozygotics. It has a spectrum from mild to severe and if left untreated, can result in death for one or both babies, or put in jeopardy the complete pregnancy for triplets or more.

Erin Bruch explains what TTTS is, how it can happen, the need to have the diagnosis as early as possible in a multiple-birth pregnancy, about managing it and what it feels like for the parents and families to go through, sometimes with the loss of one or both babies. In addition, 21 mothers’ stories of their twin pregnancies are followed from finding out their babies had TTTS, the worry that knowledge carried, through their births and outcomes. Bruch has included a drawing of what a TTTS placenta might look like. It is a helpful visual in understanding what is happening with the babies and why their struggle with TTTS can be a life and death matter. I also find both the cover pictures to be important visuals of what the babies go through with their unequal sharing within the womb.

If your babies have or had TTTS and if you like first hand accounts, this is definitely a must-read book.

Twice the Love, compiled and edited by Susan H. Heim, in collaboration with TWINS Magazine, 2007, ISBN 1-891846-31-0, 208 pages, $13.95 US

Includes 82 stories from families with twins and more, and in some cases singletons as well. It is well worth the read. Pick it up and open it anywhere to enjoy entertaining stories, tales, joys, challenges, and adventures that belong to families with multiples. Or if you prefer, Heim has chosen to group the stories by subject, e.g. Becoming a Family, Trials and Triumphs, Mischievous Multiples (no kidding!). You are not alone in your journey and the bonding that goes on with other families with multiples in this delightful book proves it!

It’s Twins: Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence, Susan M. Heim, Hampton Road Publishing Co. Inc., 2007, ISBN 13: 978-1-57174-531-6, 306 Pages, $17.95 US

From the first few weeks through to 17 years, Heim covers many of the bases parents could expect to face and she doesn’t shy away from the tough discussion such as when bottle feeding is best for you and your twins. Two of my favorite Chapters addressed the advantages and disadvantages of being twins when the kids have reached adolescence. Even if you haven’t reached that stage yet, here are some thoughts for you to prepare yourselves. Another nice touch is each section has Points to Ponder with writing space for the reader to address those topics which are pertinent to them.

I liked that this book addresses the whole spectrum of raising multiples and did not just focus on the early weeks, months and years. Birthday party planning is important as is encouraging them to play with others, but so is dominancy, disabilities, when they mature at different rates, college – together or separate? and my favorite certainly as expressed to me by other parents with monozygotic (identical) multiples, the Old “Switcheroo.”

I found this book uplifting, informative, thoughtful and I wasn’t beyond laughing out loud at some points from understanding and having “been there, done that.”

Emotionally Healthy Twins: A new philosophy for parenting two unique children, by Joan A. Friedman, Ph.D., 2008, Da Capo Press Books, soft cover, 245 pages.

I am SO excited about this book! There, that’s off my chest. For anyone expecting or raising multiples, this book needs to be on their recommended reading list! There are several very good books which focus on the early (and intense) years of raising multiples. Friedman’s book addresses the early years’ challenges and explores the parenting scenario beyond, into the multiples’ young adult years and does so with insight and personal knowledge.

As someone working with multiples and their families for over 2 decades, I was pleased to note that Friedman encourages parents to look beyond their multiples’ unique bond and to focus as well on what makes them individuals. Every child, even if they arrive more than one at a time, needs and deserves the chance to discover his or her unique potential, and have ample opportunities to nourish and develop their individualities. Parents set the tone in their multiples’ development and Friedman asks them to honestly evaluate their contribution to encouraging their twins to become self-sufficient. Friedman provides several examples of twins whom have flourished within their “twinship” but floundered or were impeded when they needed to separate from each other. Her messages are some that every parent raising multiples needs to hear.

Friedman is a twin herself and has twin sons and 3 singletons, so she has many support bases covered. This book is an important addition to the reading resources for anyone raising their multiples.

Womb Mates: A Modern Guide to Fertility and Twinning
, by Gary D. Steinman, and Christina Verni, 2007, Baffin Books Publishing, 121 pages, soft cover

Any couple looking into infertility treatments to assist them in getting pregnant would benefit from reading this book before they begin their treatments. It thoroughly sets the stage for such families to understand the chances of them conceiving at least twins, how that might happen and the many possible ramifications. Dr. Steinman describes, in easy to understand language, how twinning occurs (the controllable and uncontrollable factors) and explores such topics as the risks of a multiple-birth pregnancy for the mother and babies and the different types of infertility assistance. Important issues for prospective parents to consider.

Healthcare and related professionals, researchers as well as some parents could get a lot out of this book. In other words, this book is very technical. I don’t think that it would be as valuable to parents who desire to learn how to get their babies on the same schedule or how to deal with sleep deprivation, for example. For most parents looking for ideas and answers in handling their new families, this is not a book I would recommend.

Nevertheless, this book belongs on the shelf of anyone involved with teaching multiple-birth prenatal classes, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants and those wanting to better understand how to better meet the needs of their clientele.

One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular, by Abigail Pogrebin, Double Day, 2009, hardcover, 275 pages, $26.95 US; $33.00 Cdn.

I’ve read a lot of books about multiples, and this one I could not put down.  It is one thing to raise multiples and address the unique challenges, joys and pleasures of doing same, but quite another to be a multiple.  In her research, Pogrebin has not only drawn on her experiences and journey with her monozygotic sister, but interviewed a plethora of well-known experts in the field of multiples (many of them being multiples themselves) as well as speaking with many sets of multiples across the U.S.  In addition she attended the International Society of Twins Studies Conference in Belgium to gather more data and attended the annual Conference of Twins held in Twinsburg, Ohio.  As most of us in-the-know are aware, this Conference is a melting pot for multiples from all over the world.
What follows is a riveting, entertaining, informative, insightful and educational journey which is MUST read not only for multiples themselves, but also for the parents who love them.  Pogrebin presents the many nuances of being a multiple, some complicated, some simple, how multiples are “entangled” and how both parties will usually attempt to seek individuality within their multipleship and when (e.g. marriage).  And some can’t see themselves apart, even for a moment.  In addition, she explores the unique circumstances around when one dies and what that event can mean for the survivor.

I could not put this book down, really.  For anyone involved with multiples in any form, this book is definitely the crème de la crème!

Blender Baby Food, Nicole Young and Nadine Day, 2005, Robert Rose Inc., 189 Pages, $19.95 Cdn., $18.95 US, softcover

For parents wishing to make their own baby foods or wishing to have some fun choices to offer toddlers, this book is a must have! It is broken down from when babies need to begin solid foods through 12 months and older and includes suggested meal plans for each age. There are 125 delicious recipes included for babies beginning solids, with hints and tips in the margins on how to “upgrade” each recipe for older children.

The authors begin with steps on how to recognize when your babies are ready to begin solids, address food consistency at each age and stage, answer safety with food issues (such as with eggs), choking hazards, storing, freezing and thawing prepared foods and offer a list of the equipment you can expect to use when preparing your own baby food. There is even a section covering salt, sugars and The Picky Eater. It couldn’t be easier.
Another great point – it’s a Canadian book!

The no-cry potty training solution: gentle ways to help your child say good-bye to diapers, Elizabeth Pantley, McGraw Hill, 2007, 174 pages, softcover, $12.95 US, $16.95 Cdn.

Here are two goals which can bring joy to a parent’s heart: “sleeping through the night” and “toilet trained.” For the latter, Elizbeth Pantley has scored again with her newest book on potty training. It isn’t unheard of for parents to find themselves in unpleasant, close enocunters of the potty-training kind when trying to train their toddlers. It doesn’t have to be so and Pantley gives us suggestions, not the least of which is to recognize the signs of each child’s readiness to be trained. If they are not physically ready and able, training can quickly move to a battle of wills, with no winners insight.

Right at the beginning, Pantley sets out a Readiness Quizz so that we know what signs of readiness to look for in our children. She addresses topics such as keeping it natural, making it a game, getting to the bathroom quickly (kids tend to leave it to the last second and when they say they “need to go,” time is of the essence), bathroom safety, how to teach your child to wipe properly and wash their hands afterwards.

There is a chapter on bed-wetting which is extremely helpful. Bed-wetting is more common with boys and during the night, the kidneys may not be sending appropriate messages to the brain to signal the need to go and/or the bladder is not fully developed enough to go through the night. Bed-wetting can sporadically last for years, or not. She provides constructive ways to handle bed-wetting and to help keep your child dry, without them losing their self-esteem in the process. Pantley even includes some suggestions for toilet training children with special needs.

While her book focuses on training singleton toddlers, there reference about training twins and more. She gives us notice that our children may not be ready to train at the same time – and haven’t we heard that before in other contexts! – and reminds us not to compare them regarding successes and failures – yet another common theme for parents with multiples. Each child having their own potty ensures that when the time is right, there will be no waiting in line for a turn and perhaps subsequent accidents.

While toilet training is long-past with my own children, I really appreciated Pantley’s easy writing style, identifying the challenges and offering suggestions, and positive approach to a topic which can be a challenge for parents as well as toddlers. She takes the pain out of it all for everyone and if your children are nearly ready to toilet train, this is one book you don’t want to miss reading.

Your Premature Baby: the first five years, by Nikki Bradford, 2003, Firefly Books, 208 pages, $19.95

An excellent Canadian book offering detailed information regarding your premature baby. Why does premature birth happen?; What can you do?; how a premature baby may behave (looking at the body language of a premature baby), how the hospital can help, bringing them home, and feeding a premature baby are some of the topics covered in detail. The photographs of these special babies are simply fabulous. This book would be a great resource for those with a premature baby.

Expecting, twins, triplets, and more: a doctor’s guide to a healthy and happy multiple pregnancy, by Rachel Franklin, M.D., M.O.M.* (*Mother of Multiples), 2005, St. Martin’s Griffin, N.Y., 221 pages, $14.95 U.S.; $21.95 Canadian, ISBN 0-312-32823-0

Read my full review of this book

Dr. Franklin has a light-hearted, easy to understand writing style, generously laced with humour. Her book takes you through each stage of the pregnancy. She includes Chapters on learning the news “…and What To Do About It”, she addresses issues you might expect to face in each trimester of your pregnancy, focusing on nutrition, exercise, and preparing for the babies. .

Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding Twins, Triplets or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada from La Leche League

Covers every possible breastfeeding topic, with good photos and is very encouraging to breastfeeding mothers. Lots of other topics of interest to multiple birth parents.

Raising Multiple Birth Children – A Parent’s Survival Guide, by William and Sheila Laut, 1999

I haven’t yet read this book by parents of triplets but it has come highly recommended to me. Includes practical tips for getting organized, baby gear you will need, coping with sleep deprivation (I like it already!), gift ideas, funny stories (we can always use those) and more!

When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads by Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein, 1999, Harper Perennial

Twins From Conception to Five Years by Averil Clegg and Anne Woolett, 1983, First Ballantine Books

Multiple Blessings by Betty Rothbart, 1994, Hearst Books

The Art of Parenting Twins by Patricia Maxwell Malmstrom and Janet Poland, 1999, Ballantine Books

Finding our Way: life with triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets, Web Com Canada 2001

Double Duty, by Christina Baglivi Tinglof, 1998, Contemporary Books

The Joy of Twins and other multiple births by Pamela Patrick Novotny, 1994, Crown Trade Paperbacks

Twins: Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life by Connie L. Agnew, Alan H. Klein and Jill Alison Ganon, 1997, Harper Perennial

Twins, Triplets and More, by Elizabeth M. Bryan, St. Martin’s Press, N.Y.

New Father Book by Wade F. Horn and Jeffrey Rosenberg, 1998, Better Homes and Gardens Books

Feeding Your Baby the Healthiest Foods by Louise Lambert-Lagace, 2000, Stoddart Publishing

The No-Cry Discipline Solution, Elizabeth Pantley, due for release: June, 2007, McGraw Hill, softcover, 235 pages, Expected price $16.95US

Elizabeth Pantley has, thankfully, added another book to her “No-Cry” series. This latest one offers discipline solutions for toddlers and children, aged 2 to 8 years. All types of potentially difficult situatons are covered such as bedtimes, tantrums, not brushing teeth, hitting, bitting, meal times, inappropriate language use and more. She covers not only what the child might be feeling but also the parent’s feelings. A very helpful section looks at anger, what it means, possible triggers and how our own anger can affect the situation and sometimes make things worse. Pantley offers useful suggestions on keeping one’s own emotions in check, turning the situation around with distracting methods (make a song out of what you want done, use humour) and offers appropriate consequences when or if necessary.

My favorite section has to be Part 4: Specific Solutions for Everyday Problems.

When my girls were small (twins and a singleton 22 months their elder), I just didn’t have time to read psycyologically-based, drawn-out solutions for situations which generally had one child, one adult and the general message “follow this advice and all will be well.” Yeah right! Not in my house where the parents were outnumbered by little ones feeding off of each other’s behaviour. I needed quick, helpful, supportive feedback with several possible suggestions to consider in turning things around. Flying by the seat of your pants and/or “learning as you go” doesn’t always equal good parenting skills.

Pantley clearly and concisely states a situation, for example Sibling Fights. Each begins with a story from a frustrated parent. Pantley asks us to Think About It (in this case Sibling Fights) and addresses what such fights can mean for the child. She then offers step by step ideas on What to Do and, perhaps more importantly,What Not to Do. Pantley cross-references to other areas of the book for additional suggestions. In this case, Biting Other Children; Bossiness, Hitting, Kicking and Hair Pulling; Playtime Behaviour. Most topics are covered in two pages, making it quick and simple to grab the book (topics are alphabetically listed), peruse the appropriate area, absorb some techniques and get back to the home situation, all in a timely fashion. That’s my kinda guide!

If you have kids aged 2-8 years, this book is a must have. I hope that Pantley will soon add a “No-Cry Discipline” focused on preteens and teens.

NOTE: Don’t just limit yourself to books on multiples. There are some wonderful books on babies out there and here are a few examples:

  • What to Expect When you are Expecting
  • Dr. Spock’s Book – describes childhood diseases and incubation periods
  • The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, by Ann Douglas – an all-Canadian guide
  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg with Melinda Blau

DVD Reviews

Fascinating DVD regarding conception and gestational journey of Twins, Triplets and Quads. A must view for parents, grandparents, researchers, healthcare professionals and any one else with an interest in multiples.

Check it out at:  http://www.rocketrights.tv/womb/multiples.php?
PHPSESSID=15b23a92713177aa2c4be1065cfc2eb4

Your Babies’ Journey: Twins, Triplets, Quads, approx. 100 minutes

This amazing DVD out of the UK will no doubt be very well received not only by parents (and grandparents) expecting multiples but also by the healthcare professionals who look after them. The photography, graphics and sonagrams lets the viewer into the womb to watch the babies’ growth, development and interactions. It’s breathtaking and I was glued to the screen throughout. I found myself jettisoned back to my own pregnancy and was thrilled to observe what our girls were doing prior to their delivery. This fascintating documentary is an important and enlightened resource for anyone with an interest in multiple-births.

If I were to comment on anything, two little things stood out: l) Society often refers to vaginal birth as “natural birth.” Does that make a necessary c-section an “unnatural birth?” I think not. A “natural birth” is, in truth, any birth that ensures a healthy Mom and baby(ies), and that includes a c-section. Many families whom need to have a c-section feel guilty about having to do so and by changing our vernacular, we could make a positive difference. And 2) I would have liked to have heard more direct references to the fathers and their roles. Two parents are ideal in any parenting situation and this is partiacularly true in the case of multiples. Dad, an important part of the parenting equation, is almost completely absent from this otherwise stunning DVD.

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Vanishing Twin and Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction: New Reproductive Technologies, New Losses

There are two types of losses which, in my opinion, are often overlooked, not only by family and friends, but also by many professionals, including medical practitioners, therapists and grief counsellors. Those two losses are Vanishing Twin and Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction.

For reasons which can be understood, although debated, one can see why they might be marginalized (it’s an early loss…, “you hadn’t yet had time to bond with your child(ren)” or “at least you still have one [two]”). However judging by the number of e-mails I receive from families with questions, disbelief, concerns and aching hearts, I think, as a society, we need to take a hard and long look at how we are supporting (or seemingly not supporting) families experiencing such losses.

Vanishing Twin (VT) is a surprisingly common situation, certainly judging by how many questions I receive (it’s the most hit-on article on my site). Even as a young girl, I can remember a couple of my Mom’s women friends saying something like, “It’s the strangest thing;  I’ve been bleeding but the doctor tells me I’m still pregnant.”  In hindsight and prior to the advent of ultrasound, I bet some of these women experienced VT.  Not knowing that they did might indeed be their story, and they continued on with their lives, thankful for their healthy baby.

In the messages I receive, parents narrate their stories, desperately looking for hope regarding the empty sac and asking “over time will there be a baby in it?”  Then there is the worry about the effect of VT on the health of the remaining embryo(s). Because ultrasounds are regularly performed at 5-8 weeks, we learn very early that we are pregnant and with how many.  Hence, to learn by 10-12 weeks the situation has changed dramatically is devastating to many families.  Doctors, ultrasound technicians, grief counsellors, friends, family all need to realize that the loss of these much-wanted children is two-fold:  first there is the loss of a baby, and then there is the loss of unique parenting experience. Passing off an early loss as “at least you still have one” is not the way to comfort anyone and only adds to the confusion and disappointment these parents feel while also depriving them of a right to safely talk about their feelings.

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction (MFPR) is very complicated and in a recent 10-day period, I was contacted by six families facing reduction or who had just gone through it and were comfortable with their decision, and one who deeply regretted the decision and felt pressured to reduce or chance losing the whole pregnancy.  Here too, anyone coming in contact with families facing reduction needs to be in tune with the emotional strain, possibly lasting a life time, of having to decide to reduce.  Yes, a reduction offers a better chance to having healthy survivors; yes, a reduction improves the physical stress on the mother, and yes the brain tells us a reduction makes rational sense in so many instances.  None of this can be repudiated, but it isn’t just the brain making this decision; the heart is very much involved too and will not be ignored.  The heart is already in love with the babies within and wants desperately to believe that the pregnancy will continue to deliver healthy 3, 4 or 5 infants.

In some cases, it will and things work out, and sometimes things don’t work out so well for one or more of the babies.  There is the emotional strain of the decision:  Am I a killer of my baby(ies)? How will I ever tell the others?  When do I tell them?  Do I tell them?  My babies are already bonded in utero, how will a reduction affect the survivors?  All difficult questions and parents need informed guidance and support in finding solutions which will work for them.

MFPR is not a topic that can be easily discussed with family or friends.  The decision is usually made by the parents in conjunction with professionals and peer strangers who are located on the internet (e.g. other families experiencing or looking at reduction, caring support people and organizations who guide them along the rocky path).  Parents can feel very isolated, frightened and alone in making a decision which bears such significant and life altering impact.  If the discussion to reduce does include family members or friends, then it is no longer a “secret” and telling the kiddies of their origins takes on a new urgency so that parents have control over how and when the children are told.

There are no easy answers but one thing is for sure and that is these grieving families need society’s support, comfort, and understanding in a non-judgmental way.  They are mourning their losses and like any grieving individual, deserve a safe place to do so, with caring people all around them who do not minimize or de-legitimize their loss.  It is the least we can do.

By Lynda P. Haddon, Article copyrighted.

Multiple Births Canada
www.multiplebirthscanada.org

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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 Extraordinary Birth (Six Days of Labor, 33 hours between births, two healthy babies)

Part I: Once Upon A Choice

It wasn’t that I set out to be an enthusiastic proponent of homebirth.  As a matter of fact, I hadn’t thought much about what kind of a birth experience I would like to have until I got pregnant.  Somehow when I found out that I was carrying a baby (or what turned out to be two babies in my case), it became clear that it was my greatest desire to allow these children to enter the world in the most sacred, peaceful, loving way that I could imagine.  The more people gasped in disbelief of the possibility of having a natural home birth with twins, the more I wanted this experience to be the first gift I gave to my children.  This is my tale of the miraculous labor and highly unusual births of my twin boy and girl, Zaanti and Miela.

When I was 6 months pregnant we relocated to Southern California and I began looking for prenatal medical care there.  Most women have already chosen their doctor and figured out a birth plan by then, so I was a little concerned about being able to find the right prenatal care.  Moreover, I had been reading books about birthing written by midwives, yoga teachers and psychologists and was really considering having a homebirth with a midwife.  In the stories about homebirths the women went through amazing vision quests, discovering their own strength and softness and molding into the divine feminine.  I wanted one of those experiences where I came to a seemingly insurmountable mountain, scaled it, and then I did it again and again.  I wanted to bond with my partner Francis and feel the primordial creative force coming through us as we journeyed together with our babies through the transition from the unseen world into the material world. And I wanted to feel everything, yes, everything…the joy, the fear, the pain…. I wanted to feel what millions of women have gone through since time began.  And nowhere in this vision of mine did I see bright lights, hospital gowns, being hooked up to an IV and immobilized, being told what to do and when to do it, etc…

I faced resistance from some friends and acquaintances after sharing with them my desire of giving birth at home, so I stopped talking about it except with a few select friends who were supportive and encouraging. Francis and I had to put aside the naysayers’ words about the impossibility of a vaginal delivery, the hopelessness of finding a midwife when I was seven months pregnant, of birthing drug free, etc.

Miraculously, I found a wonderful OB/GYN who agreed to do my prenatal appointments and be a backup doctor for my homebirth.  Now I just needed to find a midwife willing and capable of safely delivering my precious twins at home.  This proved to be no small feat, but where there is a will, there is a way.  After speaking with a dozen doulas (birth assistants) and midwives, writing emails to every Southern California birthing center, and talking to anyone and everyone who knew anything about giving birth naturally, I finally found an amazing midwife who has delivered 14 sets of twins and over 500 singleton births.  We drove 3 hours to meet with Brenda and at that first appointment I knew that I found the person who I trusted enough to be the first one to touch my babies.  She was mama earth embodied: nurturing, grounded and serene.  Moreover, being a midwife is truly her calling: she is passionate about giving women like me a choice in how we brought our children into the world.  After weeks of searching for a midwife, I knew she was the one we’ve been looking for!

I was so grateful and relieved to have all the birth plans finalized.  At 36 weeks, we went in for a routine appointment with the doctor found out that Zaanti (Baby A – the first one in position to come out) was footling breech and Miela (Baby B) was vertex.  She said that she no longer felt comfortable being a backup doctor for a homebirth and strongly suggested that I schedule a C-section at 38 weeks.  My heart tightened. My throat narrowed.  I felt as if I was breathing through a tiny straw, getting just enough air to get by.  Tears welled up and I told myself to be composed enough to thank the OB/GYN for her opinion, tell her we’ll think about it and go process this news at home.

As soon as we left the office, I became hysterical, and Francis had to physically hold on to me so that I didn’t fall.  This news was so sudden and so directly opposite of the birth experience we had been wanting that it was difficult to digest.  It was at this time that I worked through and accepted that what I can control is setting a clear intention of following my own Wisdom; the rest was out of my control so I needed to surrender to the events as they unfolded.  Whether it was a C-section or a vaginal birth, I wanted it to be conscious and with a conscience.  Francis and I decided to gather some more opinions before we chose to either schedule a C-section, plan for a hospital delivery after going into labor or continue with our intent to birth at home.

I have spent almost a decade practicing and teaching yoga, meditated for countless hours, participated in a 10-day silent meditation retreat, but nothing even came close to what happened in the week after that last OB/GYN appointment.  I entered a period of the most intense spiritual living so far in my life.   I meditated, prayed, journaled, spoke with every ‘expert’ I could on the topic, and even consulted with a psychic.  But mostly I listened.  Not to the outside, but to the inside.  I closed my eyes wide open to the internal compass leading to a birth that honored me, Francis and the babies.

When I spoke with our midwife about the news, she didn’t seem concerned.  Brenda had delivered many breech babies, even breech twins and two footling breeches.  In the spirit of full disclosure she told me that she had one footling breech baby that died, but after the coroner’s report came out it was clear that it had nothing to do with the positioning of the baby during the birth.  I asked Brenda if she would need extra assistance during the birth or if this latest development changed anything.  She said no, that I can always have an extra midwife or doula, but that is not necessary and is up to me.  I felt reassured and comforted by her confidence that nothing is out of the ordinary in the babies’ positioning.  If I had no physical symptoms and if I  put all my trust in the Source of Life within me, I knew all will be well with the homebirth.

I connected with a gynecologist who has been practicing for 42 years and he told me that before they started using ultrasounds routinely they delivered babies in all kinds of positions, and doctors back in the day knew how to deliver healthy babies in a variety of presentations.  He was not concerned about the footling breech position, but mentioned that with twins it was usually the second twin that had difficulties.  He suggested that I wait to go into spontaneous labor and then bring my midwife to the hospital to help with the delivery. I also emailed a doctor who is a vocal supporter of midwives and he wrote back a very caring email saying that even though he felt the birth may be safe, his knowledge of western medicine and liability reasons mandated him to advise me to birth in a hospital, probably through a scheduled c-section.

One of the midwives I spoke with told me that if she were having twins, she would trust Brenda above anyone and everyone she knew and that as long as Brenda, Francis and I felt comfortable still proceeding with a homebirth, then there is no reason not to.  She explained to me in detail that a baby who had a foot sticking out can tuck it back in at any moment and vice versa.  And since babies change position all the time, it is more likely that I would have a breech than a footling breech baby.  What shocked me is that my gynecologist didn’t explain that to me.  She seemed to think that if Baby A was footling breech now, he may be footling breech in two weeks when she wanted to schedule a C-section.  If it is possible that the babies may still shift position, why would I have my babies cut out of me two weeks early?  Hmmm, my internal compass was starting to really lean in the direction of the homebirth.

What sealed the deal in our decision was speaking with a psychic.  I never felt the desire to speak to a clairvoyant before, but I wanted to explore all of my options so I spoke with her for about half an hour.  She exclaimed: “No wonder you intuitively feel like you don’t want to go to the hospital!  I have a vision of you having more complications than usual and being totally unconscious in a hospital setting”   Whoa, that sent a chill down my spine.  Who wants to be unconscious while you have two newborns wanting to be held by their mommy?  On the other hand, who wants to lose a baby?  I asked her if she saw me losing a baby or having complications if I were to birth at home.  She said that one of the babies might take a few moments to find its breath, but that besides that she saw two healthy happy babies.  I cried when she said that. It is not that I thought she could see the future, but her words really resonated with me.  I was (and still am) willing to go through any lengths to have healthy and happy babies.  To me, that meant staying away from unnecessary interventions and allowing the animal in me to give birth in a natural and instinctual way.  I believe that homebirth is not for everyone, but so is the case with hospital births.  I would love to see our culture moving in the direction of having lots of birthing options easily available so that a woman could choose the option that feels safest for her.

Ultimately, Francis and I had a heart to heart and, being the amazing partner he is, he said that he trusted whatever decision I felt was best, but that he felt most comfortable with a homebirth with Brenda.  We agreed that we would try everything in our power to turn Zaanti (baby A) around and barring any health complications we wanted to labor at home.  I saw a chiropractor who performed the Webster technique to help turn Zaanti vertex.  A couple of days later I saw an acupuncturist for the same purpose.  The night after my acupuncture appointment there was so much movement in my lower abdomen that could have signaled Zaanti turning down.  For better or for worse, I never had a chance to confirm what position he was in for sure because I went into labor the next day.  Either way, all of my contemplative practices clearly pointed me in the direction of keeping the initial plan of homebirth, while still covering all bases by pre-registering at a local hospital in case I needed to go there.

Part II: Zaanti’s Birth

On Monday of my 39th week of pregnancy, my water broke.  I was so excited I could hardly talk when I called Francis and told him to hurry home. Then I called the midwife and told her to hurry because I thought I may deliver the babies before she had time to make the 3 hour drive. After all, my mom’s labors were both very quick.  Well, Brenda arrived and my contractions were still mild at best.  I had called my mom in the Bay area after my water broke and told her that I will call her when the babies have arrived.  However, my mom was so excited that she left work and drove straight to Southern California.  After she arrived, my labor slowed down so much it was almost non-existent.  Brenda said: “Babies come at their own time” so I just needed to be patient and to let nature do its job.

Tuesday came and went and Brenda stayed with us to monitor me.  I was taking lots of Vitamin C and Echinacea in order to prevent any infection since that is a concern after the water breaks.  The babies heart-beats were both great and it seemed that Zaanti was making his way down.  So Brenda, Francis and I prayed, meditated, waited, and waited and waited.  By Tuesday evening I knew something was off and I spoke to a therapist in Germany named Kim.  She is a friend’s therapist and as many people in my life, she appeared at the perfect time and was a vital resource for me during labor.   Kim told me what I knew in my heart was the truth: having my mom there slowed down my labor because I was focusing on my mom and picking up her nervous energy and therefore I wasn’t directing my attention to tuning into my body and communicating with the babies and.   Francis and I agreed that we needed to get my mom out of the house and I was nervous about asking her to leave.  However, I was a mother now, and my unborn children needed me to place their needs (and my own) above my mother’s.  This was one of the lessons I learned: now I had my own primary family to take care of and therefore everyone else needed to take care of themselves.   Francis managed to explain to my mom that we love her and understand why she would worry about me and the babies, but this was not what we needed in the house.  My mom was wonderful and understood that the best way that she could help me now was to go to a local hotel and hope for the best.

After she left on Wednesday afternoon, my contractions got steadily stronger and by Thursday afternoon I was in full active labor. It has been such a journey to get the opportunity to labor at home that I hadn’t even thought about what it would actually be like to go through contractions without any pain medication.  I was so grateful to feel every contraction and every movement in my body, but I certainly reached a point when I was starting to doubt if I could do this.  After about 14 hours of active labor, I told Francis and the midwife that I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this birthing thing.  I knew from my Bradley (husband-coached birth) classes about transition phase and it was pretty obvious that I was at that place of total doubt, and feeling terrified that there is no point of return: these babies had to come out one way or another! Francis kept reminding me how strong I was and how this was going to pass. Brenda prayed over me and assured me that I am no different than any other woman and that I can do this. They trusted in me and that helped me trust in myself.

By midnight I was almost fully dilated.  I had been in the kiddie pool Francis set up in the bedroom and needed to go to the bathroom.  When I was on the toilet I finally felt the urge to push.  I was enjoying pushing in that position, but Brenda asked me to lie down so she could have access to our breech firstborn.  I lay down on the floor and immediately the pain became unbearable.  The only thing better than feeling the doubling-over pain of the contractions was the doubling-over pain of pushing.  After a few pushes Brenda said: “Reach down and feel your son’s balls.”  This got me laughing and as I reached down I could feel teeny tiny little testicles.  I thought to myself: “This is one ballsy guy!”  After another push, Zaanti’s butt came out and Brenda adjusted him so that he would slide out in the next couple of pushes.  I felt so much trust in Brenda and in the holiness of the moment, I never felt any doubt that Zaanti would come out perfectly healthy.  Finally I gave one last push and Zaanti’s head came out.  After a total of 21 hours of sacred, pain-transcending, mountain-moving, roaring labor Zaanti was born at 1:45 a.m. on September 17th, weighing 5lbs 6 oz.

Brenda put him on my chest and I was in awe of his tiny face.  His eyes were wide open and he looked me right in the eyes.  The Love-Joy-Ecstasy I felt in that moment was indescribable…  Then he lifted his eyes up and looked right in Francis’s eyes.  Brenda said that in her 20+ years of catching babies she has never seen a baby make direct eye contact on the day of his/her birth.  At that moment, I could palpably feel how special this boy was.   I was instantly bonded to this tiny creature and felt as if Francis, Zaanti and I were moving in an ecstatic dance, looking at each other in turns, feeling our bodies close, breathing deeply and syncing the beat of our hearts.

This is the time when most women relax and enjoy the time with their baby.  I had one more in me though!  Thank goodness my friend Susie flew out from San Francisco and arrived a few minutes after Zaanti’s birth.  She is a mother of two who gave birth at home and was a tremendous support for me during the pregnancy and labor.  It was her therapist in Germany that has been helping me.   As much as I wanted to keep cuddling with Zaanti, I let Susie care for him and just bring him in for feeding and cuddles.  I knew I had to focus on my little girl Miela coming out.  The thought of going through another skin-ripping delivery was frightening.  But I knew that if I could do it once, I could do it twice.

Part III: Miela’s Birth

As soon as Zaanti came out, my attention split into two places and has remained that way since.  One part of me was with Zaanti and the other with the unborn fetus in my belly.  I kept checking in, wondering if contractions will start again.  A few minutes passed after the first birth and nothing.  I kept holding Zaanti and now another 10 minutes passed.  I got cold so I climbed into bed.  At this point it has probably been about 30 minutes and I asked Brenda if she could check me again and see what was going on.  Miela’s heartbeat was steady and strong; I was dilated about 8cm, but had no contractions.  I ate an enormous meal that was waiting for me and started to feel incredibly tired.  It was already around 4am so Brenda suggested that I sleep a little and call her when the contractions recommenced.  Francis and I cuddled up together and slept a few hours.  I woke up a bit anxious for Miela to come out, but I was still strongly feeling a divine presence around me and felt very connected to my Inner Wisdom.

I took a walk, kept putting Zaanti on to nurse, ate, prayed, meditated and waited.  It was tough for me to wait and allow the process to unfold.  That was certainly one of the major gifts that these births have brought me – learning patience and allowing things to take the time they need.  I ended up speaking with Kim in Germany again and she put me in an amazing frame of mind, welcoming this journey just as it was and connecting with Miela and asking her what she needed from me.  It was very clear that there are two of us going through this birth and Miela had just as much of a role as I did.  And this girly girl was so comfortable in the womb that she was in no rush to come out!  At a certain point in the afternoon Brenda discovered that Miela had decided to play around since she had so much room – this lady went transverse (sideways) on me!  This was the one and only time I had a hint of panic.  I knew that transverse babies could not be delivered vaginally and I certainly did not feel that I had come so far just to have a c-section with the second birth.  I turned within and searched for an intuitive guidance, and it became clear that I needed to use my resources and try everything I can to turn Miela around and give birth to her at home, unless there was any danger and we needed to rush to the hospital.

Having problems gives us the opportunity to experience the joy of coming to a solution.  As I again connected with Kim in Germany, I instantly felt that I tapped into Spirit through her.  She asked me to have Brenda check Miela’s heartbeat, estimate her positioning and find out if one of the placentas was blocking the cervix.  Indeed that seemed to be the case.  Then Brenda left the room and Kim guided me into a sort of trance.  I entered a hyper awake state, completely lucid, but surreal.  Kim and I worked together to connect with Miela, to encourage her to turn head down.  I did certain hand movements over my belly and visualized what I wanted to happen.  I imagined Miela and me together arranging the perfect space for her to turn and come out easily and effortlessly.  I was in such a place of trust, felt so present, so aware of the physical and non-physical, that I may as well have been high.  I’ve always said that I’m not interested in drugs because I am high on life and this time I was really living it!

And it worked!  When Brenda came back in the room about 30 minutes later it was game on – the placenta had moved out of the cervical opening and Miela was in a vertex position and making her way down!  I was still dilated 6-7cm.  Apparently Brenda could feel contractions happening, but I couldn’t really feel them.  Whew, what a difference from the day before with Zaanti’s excruciating labor.  Like this, I could give birth all day long!

A few hours passed and Zaanti finally started breastfeeding.  Evening turned into night and my contractions started getting stronger.  In the early morning on Saturday, the contractions kept growing, but Miela was still not descending enough to push so I asked Brenda to break my water.  I was getting tired and I was ready to stop walking around with the cord to Zaanti’s placenta sticking out a few inches between my legs. But most importantly, I wanted to hold both of my babies safely in my arms and kiss the bejesus out of them.  So Brenda did the one and only intervention during the entire birth process.   Around 9am she used some kind of a midwife tool to break my water.  Within minutes my contractions got real strong, real fast.  All of a sudden I remembered what it was like to have waves of pain come crashing over, but this time I knew how to relax into the sensations, allowing them to wash over me instead of fighting them.  And it helped that I was too exhausted to even care about the discomfort!  Soon, I felt the urge to push and after only a few pushes, Miela was born at 10:45am, 33 hours after her much older twin brother. She weighed 6lbs 6oz, a whole pound heavier than her brother, even though they were the same length.  Healthy, pink, chubby baby was squirming and screaming in my arms.  My heart was overflowing with so much love for this amazing creature who taught me so much already.  That’s when I finally released more fully than I ever thought possible.  I cried out in intelligible howls, holding Miela tightly to my heart, shaking and wailing.  I did it!  WE DID IT!  My children were both here.  They were healthy, beautiful and with all their parts in place.  We were at home.  I was in MY bed.  I was a champion!  I felt such a flood of emotions come over me that I think only Francis understood what I was saying because he was also floating in the Love-Joy-Beauty that surrounded us.   I’ve had an evolving spiritual relationship with God/Spirit/Source, but at that moment it was clear: I was touching the Unnamed and it was holding all of us in its divine bliss.

The last thing left to do was birth the placentas.  Once they came out I intended to encapsulate them and take them for hormonal balance, nutrients and milk production.  Brenda checked the placentas and came to the bed exclaiming: “Zaanti is a miracle baby!”  It turns out that he had a huge blood clot between his placenta and cord.  That was why he wanted to come out early and it also explained why he was a pound less than Miela.  This boy was so smart to break his water and signal to me that he needed to get out.  Luckily, the blood clot did not affect him adversely as both of the babies had high Apgar scores.   Miela, on the other hand, was as comfortable as could be and was in no rush to leave the womb.  I already knew that they are their own people, with different personalities, but now I tangibly felt how unique they each are.  And they’ve got separate birthdays to prove it!

Part IV: Happily Ever After

This miraculous birth passage certainly would not have been possible without all the amazing people who came to support us during this time.  Although there were many that did not believe in our endeavor, the ones that trusted us showered us with their love and faith.   I am so grateful for our lay midwife Brenda Capps who went above and beyond the call of duty by staying with us the whole six days and monitoring me and the babies closely the entire time.  She is truly an earth angel!  I am also incredibly grateful to the therapist in Germany, Kim Hutchinson, who was an inspirational and transformative guide for me during this birth.  My friend Susie Small was also instrumental in our experience and to her I am forever indebted. Moreover, countless friends and family members were keeping us in their prayers and wishing us well.  I am certain that their positive thoughts tremendously helped us in our birth journey and for that I am eternally grateful.

In the end, this unbelievable birth experience taught me so many wonderful lessons and has been the gift that keeps on giving.  I learned to allow things to blossom at their own pace; just as an apple seed will take its own sweet time to become an apple tree.  Patience was never a virtue of mine, and I used to think that sitting back was being idle.  Now I feel that while it is essential to hold a strong intention, it is just as important to relax and enjoy the journey while it meanders.  I now recognize more clearly that I am not in control and that I don’t need to try to fix things or figure them out all the time.  I have grown to appreciate uncertainty and trust that the old proverb about everything happening for a reason really is true.

Another wonderful lesson has been to discover that there was a well of knowledge within me that was richer than any outside source.  Had I relinquished my internal compass to experts, I would have had a very different birth experience. Had I ended up in the hospital, there were at least three instances during my labors that would have resulted in a C-section.  Moreover, I would not have had the opportunity to build confidence in my intuition and my ability to manifest things that seem virtually impossible.  It is amazing to live life recognizing that there is a sage inside of me and being able to communicate with this wisdom.  I now viscerally feel an internal guidance that helps me make decisions, both big and small.  I am convinced that everyone has their own guru inside and if they take the time to listen and then find the courage to follow this guide, they will be living a life of truly limitless and unimaginable proportions.  If I can create this kind of a birth, what else can I create in my life?  Truly, all things are possible – for me and for you!

The victory I felt as a result of this extraordinary birth experience was incredible… and necessary… because now I needed to manage breastfeeding and caring for these two angels.  That is another story within itself that I will share with you another time.  All you need to know is that we are still breastfeeding 9 months later and are all healthy and thriving!

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My Miracle MoMos – an Aussie story

I have always loved babies, and so I was thrilled when, after 6 years together, my husband agreed we were ready to have one of our own!

After a fairly uneventful pregnancy, and a fast but fantastic water birth, we were blessed with a beautiful boy – Hudson. Delicious, fun-loving, bright, adventurous child – and thus a good advertisement to sell hubby on the idea of having more! I promptly started to hint that another child would complete our family. As we also had a 13 year old daughter from my previous relationship, a new baby would make 3, so it would be a bit of an adjustment…but we wanted Hudson to grow up with a sibling close to his age…and hopefully a daughter so Adam would have a son and daughter of his own.

Not one to leave things to chance, I followed my cycle with a vengeance. I ate all the stuff to “make a girl”, we took all our zinc and folate and everything else that was recommended…..then New Years Eve…a few drinks and a fun night out and…Success! A positive test 8 days after ovulation! We could hardly believe it. was soon tired and nauseous, but we were thrilled and excited.

After a nasty bout of the flu at 10 weeks, I dropped in to see my Ob before my first scheduled appointment – just to check all was okay.

“Let’s just listen to the heartbeat and check there is only one” he joked. I laughed absently.

As I lay on the bed looking at the blob on the screen, I couldn’t understand why the Dr was giving me the peace sign with his fingers.

“There’s 2.” he repeated.
“What?” I was confused.
“2 babies.”

Well that moment changed our lives forever!

As I lay there gob-smacked and freaking out, the Dr went on to tell me that the babies were Monoamniotic / Monochorionic identical twins, due to the egg splitting 8-13 days after fertilization. So I had known I was pregnant before they even became twins! Splitting just one day later could have meant conjoined/siamese twins. He continued explaining they have no dividing membrane – they share the same amniotic fluid – and are given a 50-70% chance of surviving the cord entanglement they create by twisting and turning around one another. Only 1% of all identical twins are MoMo. As they grow, it gets more and more dangerous, as the larger the baby the less room there is, and thus they can actually compress each others cords and cut off the vital supply of blood and nutrients from the umbilical cord. They also have a much higher rate of defects and anomalies. Thus we would have all the risks of a normal twin pregnancy… and much much more.

The Ob declared I should probably not tell anyone I was pregnant and wait for nature to take its course – a likely miscarriage. Needless to say I decided he was not the right doctor for me.

On shaky legs I left the clinic and phoned my husband – his first day at a new job. A memorable day for sure! We weren’t sure if we should rejoice or cry. We did a bit of both.

We started seeing a maternal fetal specialist, with fortnightly ultrasounds. There were so many decisions to make – how much monitoring, when to deliver, when to start steroids for their lungs etc.. There is so little research on these twins – they are so rare, making studies hard to conduct. Through the one support group in the world (www.monoamniotic.org) we learnt of the most successful treatment plan – and we fought for it every step of the way. Our new specialist agreed to allow us to be part of the decision-making process. She was wonderful, compassionate and positive; a pioneer in her field and world-renowned. In a tragic twist of events, she took her own life when I was 19 weeks pregnant. We were saddened and bewildered.

Assigned a new specialist, we fought all the battles again, and a plan was roughly laid out: weekly scans from 24 weeks, then by 28 weeks to be inpatient at the hospital to be monitored daily. Then if all went well we would deliver by c-section at 32 weeks (a vaginal delivery was out of the question due to the danger created by the cord entanglement, as well as the risk of cord prolapse). We were given the option of termination due to the stressful nature of the pregnancy, and the uncertain outcome and risks…but we had already fallen in love with our little blobs!

When MoMo’s survive they are known to be the closest twins of all as they have been in physical contact since conception, they have been seen holding hands and sleeping forehead to forehead in the womb…. and then similarly once born. Some of the ultrasound pics are amazing. 2 little bodies wrapped around one another in a tight cuddle……2 faces looking eye to eye at one another…..we couldn’t wait to see our girls share this bond. Through our 31 ultrasounds we were indeed witness to much cuddling and spooning – and some kicking and poking!

The weeks slowly pass – my concerns allayed with frequent MFM appointments, and a home hand- held Doppler for reassurance.

At 28 weeks I became a resident on the maternity wing. I cried for days – missing my children, my husband and my home. Frightened for my babies and daunted at what lay ahead. My poor husband had the task of running the household, cooking, cleaning, working full-time, taking kids to school and day care etc etc .…as well as making sure he visited me every day without fail! He was a true hero – my rock. My wonderful mother brought Hudson in twice a week to spend time with me, and my daughter Xani often came after school and sat on my bed and kept me company.

We were told not to set up a nursery as it would make it too hard if we lost one or both the twins, so I spent time pouring over catalogues wondering what if anything I might need. We discussed what car to buy to accommodate our large family…and we discussed whether we would get the same car if only one baby survived. We discussed whether we would want to try for another baby if they both died. We could hardly believe the things we were discussing…

I had CTGs 3 times a day to check their heartbeats, an ultrasound every second day to monitor the cord entanglement (which was evident from 12 weeks), and steroid injections weekly to prepare their tiny lungs for their early arrival.

Finally my 5-week stay in hospital was coming to an end – we had reached 32 weeks with few scares, only to be told the NICU was full and we would have to wait another day. After a sleepless night, we awoke to again be told all of Brisbane was full, and we would be flown elsewhere – to just await the announcement.

As we ate breakfast suddenly midwives arrived with a gown and the news 2 beds were now free and we were to deliver our babies immediately.

I was terrified, so the lack of time to ponder what was about to happen was probably just what I needed; as well as some expert hand-holding and brow-stroking from Adam. I had previously had 2 natural drug-free, full term births – so this premmie, high-risk c-section was daunting to say the least!

In no time at all our 2 tiny girls were born within minutes of each other – the girls screamed as they entered the world, and continued to breathe on their own! Harper 1.9kg and Cleo 1.5kg – tiny but perfect. They got an 8 and a 9 on their apgar scores. They never needed oxygen, or any meds at all. They were even brought straight to us (after a quick once over) for a cuddle….I cried and cried as I never expected to see their little faces before they were covered in tubes, and put in humidicribs. I really had never let myself believe they would make it…. It was an incredible moment!

As the cords were examined a shocked silence fell over the room. The girls had survived horrific entanglement, with a true knot at one point. We delivered them just in time…..they were truly our miracle MoMos.

They were in NICU overnight, then much to everyone’s amazement moved straight to Special Care. They had gastro tubes for feeding…but breastfed from 33 weeks once a day…by 34 weeks it was twice a day…  I pumped hourly to increase my milk supply….day and night. Let-down was so hard to achieve without my babies…often I wondered if I had even had babies as I rarely held them, there was no nursery for them  and I hardly fed them. But we were lucky – we saw many other families facing much harder journeys in the nursery.  Still, the Special Care experience can hardly be described…it is an exhausting rollercoaster ride, of guilt and worry. But for us it was a strange relief to see them in the crib with their monitors and tubes! This to us was the best possible outcome of a treacherous pregnancy.

After only 30 days in hospital, Cleo and Harper came home and have never looked back.

After two previous singleton, natural, yoga-filled, water-birthed pregnancies and babies, this fully monitored, medically overdosed, terrifyingly uncertain pregnancy with a caesarean and long term hospital stay, plus NICU and SCN for our premmie babies….sure was a test on our marriage, our strength , our positivity, our emotions, and our ability to look beyond and into the future.

We made it and will be forever grateful we were lucky enough to be blessed with our miracle twins.

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Triplets: Luke, Trent & Brandon Clawson

Dave and I had been trying for over 2 years to get pregnant. We were on our 6th try of artificial insemination with fertility medication. On this magical 6th try I had been told that we would get on the waiting list for invitro 5mths early. Just hearing this made my stress level drop tremendously. Finally, I felt the pressure lift. Like every other time

I went into the clinic with Dave’s magical swimmers hoping it would work. I had 7 eggs ready and I felt like that was a heavenly number. So on 30Mar07 I was inseminated with Dave’s swimmers. I went home and went about life just like I had before, but this time it was different. I had 4 babies growing inside of me. At exactly 2 weeks later, I took a pregnancy test at 0615 in the morning. I didn’t wait to miss my period like I normally did because I actually had a symptom of being pregnant, wait make that 2 symptoms. I was unusually tired and my breasts were tender and sore (which hadn’t happened since we started the fertility treatment). So as I watched my urine absorb across the result window I noticed 2 lines and not just one. I immediately ran to Dave and woke him up and exclaimed “We are Pregnant!” He asked me “are you sure, you better take another one to be sure” I knew I didn’t need another one because as a lab tech I know that false positive pregnancy tests almost never happen. I told him I would get another one done when I went into the doctor

I immediately got dressed and went out the door to the OB clinic at WHMC. It wasn’t even 7am when I arrived at the clinic. I was then told I had to wait until 0830 to have the test ordered. So, being a lab tech I just marched upstairs to the lab and went ahead and had them draw my blood so I wouldn’t have to wait to have it done later. Once the test was ordered I had to wait one hour for the results. I wasn’t worried, just excited to see the results in the computer that I was officially pregnant. A quantitative test was ordered and when the results came back I almost fainted because the number that came back was a sign straight from God to me that everything would work out. The number was 714 which is my birthday. All of my life that number has meant good things for me and I knew this case was no different. The reassurance that number gave me made me feel so loved by God. At this time, we had no idea more than one baby was growing inside of me. To confirm pregnancy a scan was done on me at 7wks and while we were waiting to hear word from the doctors doing the scan I felt worried something was wrong. Instead of asking what is wrong I decided to take a positive approach and ask if there was more than one baby and they said “There are 3 babies” At that moment I felt great, not overwhelmed at all because I knew it was a blessing. Then Dr. Retzolff did the scan again and found a 4 th heart beat. All of a sudden I was terrified. I had known many triplets to carry a long time, but quadruplets? I wasn’t sure how long they could be carried and what problems could arise. He called the high risk clinic right away and let them know my situation.

My first appointment at the high risk clinic was the next day. They explained to me all of the risks and problems associated with quadruplets. They also explained to me that it might be better to selectively reduce to triplets or twins. Deep with in me I knew there was absolutely no way I could do that and once I confirmed Dave felt the same way I knew we would have 4 babies. At 9 wks the infertility clinic did another scan to confirm multiples and at this time we learned that the 4 th baby had reduced on it’s own. We felt very sad, but we knew it would be for the best. Triplets are born so much healthier. We trusted that God knows best and in our situation it must have been best for us to have triplets and not quadruplets. We did mourn the reduced baby and Thanked God it happened as early as it did instead of later.

We had our next appointment at 13wks and everything was going great and from that point on we had appointment every 3 wks until 20 wks. At 18wks we got to find out that we were having 3 Boys!! We called everyone we knew to tell them about the boys growing inside of me. I felt much better about telling people that didn’t know at this point. I was already showing so much, so everyone I worked with and came across could tell. I would kindly ask everyone that knew to pray for us because we needed it. I know prayers get answered and the more people that prayed the same prayer of healthy 36weeker triplets, the more attention God would pay to our prayers. At 20 wks I started to feel them move on a regular basis which to me was the best part of being pregnant. It is a connection I know I will never feel again (unless I get pregnant again).

At 25wks I felt a dull constant pain in the left side of my upper belly for over an hour. I decided to go in to the triage nurse and get checked out. I was not sure if I was having contraction and Thank God I wasn’t. It was too soon to be having our babies. I was sent back to work and told that if I felt tightening of my lower stomach that would be contractions. Once I got back to work, my boss decided it was time for me to be on half days. The half days were an absolute blessing because I was so tired. I would take a nap everyday after work as it was.

At 29 wks I started having contractions regularly at work, so I walked over to the hospital to get checked out again. This time I was indeed having contractions and they decided it was best to admit me and monitor me for 24hrs. My contractions were not regular enough for them to think I was in active labor, but they were concerned. They gave me Turbuline to stop the contractions. The medicine worked and I stopped having regular contractions, so the next morning they released me to bed rest at home. Dr. Striteman informed me that if I came back in for contractions they would admit me.

I was thrilled to be on bed rest, but I knew it would be very boring. I wasn’t suppose to do anything but lay around, go to the bathroom and sleep. I of course could not follow the strict orders I was given. I still cooked for myself and Dave sometimes. Dave did most of the work though; I really couldn’t do any house work. I would usually go outside and sit in the sun for about 15 minutes a day (this helped my mood tremendously). I watched a lot of TV. I got hooked on TNT which had Prime Time in the day time, so I was not watching soap operas. The babies moved all the time so that kept me entertained most of the time. If they didn’t move for awhile, I would push on my tummy where I thought they were to make them move.

During my 33rd week I got up to go to the bathroom and as I was walking to the bathroom I slipped and fell on my side. Thankfully I did not fall straight forward. I was still worried something could have happened inside to the babies, so I called the triage line. I was told to come in and get checked out and be observed for 4 hours. My mom was visiting, so we all went into the hospital. I thought for sure they would have to admit me. I had my bag and everything. I was having some painful contractions, but after an hour or so they subsided. They released me after about 6 hours. My blood pressure was a little high so I had to do a nasty 24-hour urine collection to check for protein. Thankfully it was normal and I did not have pre-eclampsia at the time. I was good to stay on bed rest at home. Every day I stayed pregnant was so good for the babies. I was at the point of average delivery for triplets.

I had one more growth scan to check on the babies at 34wks. Each baby estimated about 5lbs which was mind blowing. We were so blessed. Just had two more weeks to go to reach our goal of 36wks. Plus my mother-in-law would be here during the 36 th week so we really hoped I would have the boys during her stay. She arrived on Sat. the 17 th to stay until Sun. the 25 th

We all went into antepartum testing on 20Nov07 to make sure everything was ok with the boys. I was 35wks and 5 days along. Upon checking my blood pressure, they discovered it was a little high (which can indicate pre-eclampsia). They had us wait in the waiting room. Dave went to the chow hall and got us some lunch, Thank God because unknown to me it would be my last actual meal until Friday. The doctor’s decided to admit me and run a 12hr urine protein. Before I even started the test, Dr. Shields decided to induce labor that night. I still completed the urine and it indeed came back high, so I had pre-eclampsia. I called my mom to let her know what was going on. She decided to leave early the next morning to get here to be with us. She arrived the next morning around 9am.

Around 9pm on November 20 2007 I was given prosatglandins to start the induction process. Early the next morning they decided to do a foli-bulb because I had only dilated ½ a centimeter. Once the foli-bulb came out on it’s own that would mean I was dilated 4 to 5 centimeters. The foli-bulb process was pretty intense and it took a good 6 hourrs for it to come out.

At 330pm on 21Nov07, the doctors decided it was time to try and speed the process of labor up, so they broke Luke’s water. Around 7pm I got my catheter and epidural put in. They started Pitossin as well. The epidural stopped working around 4am on 22Nov07 and I really felt the contractions. The contractions would start in my back radiate around to the front. It was beyond any pain I had ever experienced. Before the shift changed at 0630 the doc came in and told me I was 7 centimeters dilated which was good. Then, around 0830 the next shift of doctors arrived and the doc that examined me said I was only 5centimeters. I asked how long I could go without delivering and I was told a couple of days. I was really worried about infections for Luke at this point and in so much pain. I asked for pain medicine because my epidural was not working no matter how much medicine they gave me in it. I received the pain medicine around 0900 and at 1000 Dr. Retzolff came in and told me it was decided that a c-section would be best since I was not progressing. I felt so relieved because I knew the longer I had waited for labor to progress the higher the chances for Luke to get an infection. I hadn’t showered in 2 days, so I knew my normal flora was getting out of control. The last thing I wanted was for my newborn baby to have an infection that could have been prevented.

At 1115 I was taken to the OR to get set up and have the c-section. Dave was able to walk down to the room with me, but he had to wait until I was prepped to enter the OR. When I was wheeled into the OR, there must have been 20 doctors in there and it was not a big room. They had 3 warmers with a team of doctors and nurses for each baby ready for them. They switched me from my hospital bed to the operating table, had me place my arms down and placed blankets on them so I wouldn’t accidentally raise them during the surgery. They cleaned my stomach with iodine, shaved my pubic region, gave me all kinds of numbing medicine thru my epidural, gave me another iv for more anesthesia and once I was all set up they let Dave in the room. They checked to make sure I was numb enough. My right side was completely numb, but my left side was not. They decided I was numb enough to perform the surgery. I remember feeling the sensation of being cut open, but not any pain.

Once I was cut open, they started pulling and tugging on all of my insides to get to the babies. Then at 1149am my first baby was born and like the most heavenly music to my ears was my Luke’s cry. They showed him to me and not even one minute later Trent was born and again I heard his beautiful cry. It seemed like forever until Brandon was born because I was so tired from the pain medicine, anesthesia, epidural and the process of labor. However, only 2 minutes had passed since Trent’s birth to Brandon’s birth. And once again I heard the beautiful cry of another healthy baby boy. After Brandon’s birth I fell asleep for a few minutes and woke to the slight pain of them cutting out Brandon’s placenta. I fell back asleep and woke up in the recovery area. All of a sudden I was so thirsty and all they could give me was a couple of ice cubes because they were waiting to see if I was going back to the OR. My uterus was so stretched from having 3 big babies in it that it was tired and wasn’t contracting and clamping down like it should.

So, I was bleeding and not stopping. I must have been stable enough to make it to the recovery room, but things could change at any moment. I am not sure how long I was in the recovery room because time seemed to stand still. I just wanted to see my precious babies and hold them like I knew everyone else was getting to do that was there at the hospital with me. Not that I didn’t want anyone to hold my babies, but I wanted to hold them. I had worked to hard to have them and I felt jealous that everyone else was getting that chance and not me. I knew I was so blessed that they were born healthy and at that point in the recovery room I didn’t even know how healthy they actually were. I wanted to get out of the recovery room and get to my room where someone could tell me what was going on with my babies. If only I could have gotten out of my bed by myself. Plus, I knew once I returned to my room I could get something to drink and I was so thirsty that if I was able to get up from this bed I felt trapped in I would walk to my room demand to see my babies and get something to drink.

The ladies in the recovery room were very nice and only doing what was best for me. They checked my blood pressure again and I stabilized even more so they called the docs to find out if I could return to my room to continue my recovery there. They got the okay from the docs, gave me a few more ice cubes to suck on and wheeled me up to my room.

Once I returned to my room, only my Mom was there because Dave had taken his Mom to see and hold the babies. I felt so tired that I fell asleep and woke up to 2 doctors telling me how low my hematacrit was (21%) and that I needed blood. So by all means give me the life-saving blood I needed; they was no need to ask me. I received two units and while receiving the second unit I woke up and as the blood was going in it stung. I informed the nurse and she said that was normal, so another sigh of relief. Once Dave returned he told me all about our beautiful sons. I wanted to see them so badly, but I didn’t have the energy to go to the NICU. I asked how much they weighed. What a Miracle They all weighed over 5lbs. Luke weighed 5lbs 4oz, Trent weighted 5lbs 14oz and Brandon weighed 5lbs 7oz. I was absolutely amazed and so Thankful to God. I made it to 36wks exactly. We were told that our triplets were the healthiest triplets ever born at Wilford Hall. Since they were so healthy, they got to room in with us after only 12 hours in the NICU which is unheard of.

My sister, Dione, and my brother, Matthew, arrived around 8pm. Dave’s brother had been in San Antonio for 4 weeks so he was also at the hospital.

The babies finally were brought to my room around 11pm so I could hold them. They were so beautiful! They were wearing crocheted Christmas hats, little Wilford Hall t-shirts and all wrapped up in blankets. They were wheeled in a cradle. So, sweet and tiny! How could anyone love so much? I was so happy to finally see and hold our baby boys. They were so sleepy. I didn’t blame them, we had a rough few days. We finally had our family.

The nurses had to take the babies back to the NICU for another hour (hospital policy). Dave had to go down there to prove he could take care of them. It took him 52 minutes to change all three diapers! I even called him to see what was taking so long. He finally brought them back to the room. The NICU nurses were so nice and helpful. They came to our room every couple of hours to check on the babies. The hospital staff was absolutely wonderful to us. We couldn’t have asked for better. We were released together 3 days later on Sunday Nov. 25 th. When we got home Dave, Dione, Chris and my Mom started moving furniture so we were better set up to take care of our new babies. Dione left later that day. My Mom stayed for one week. Then Chris went back to Germany on December 6 2007.

After that we were on our own. We handled it pretty well for about a week, then it got too hard. We decided to go to New York for the Holidays and get help. We were absolutely blessed we were able to go. We had a wonderful time there and we got the help and rest we needed. We came back to Houston so I could stay with my family and Dave could go back to work and get the house ready for us to come home. We finally felt like we could take care of them ourselves once we left Dione’s. We have been doing great ever since.

We thank God everyday for the blessings he has given us and our beautiful family. We are so very happy.

Mommy (Destiny) and Daddy (Dave) Clawson

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A Special Surprise: Twin Boys

My husband and I married on March 26, 2005 and decided on having a baby right away. On September 15, 2005, our doctor told us that our wish had come true. I never thought I could be so happy in my entire life. A baby, God had answered my prayers. Then on the Saturday before Thanksgiving we went to the hospital to have our first Ultrasound and there we got the most surprising news ever:  we were having TWIN BOYS!

I couldn’t believe it.  Twin boys. My husband and I just held each other and cried. I know that a multiple pregnancy is high risk, so I went online and looked up everything I could about a twin pregnancy.  Luckily my pregnancy couldn’t have gone better.

I was able to carry my baby twin boys full term for 38 weeks and on April 19, 2006 via C-section Jorden or baby A was born at 10:44 am weighing 5lbs 3ozs., 18 inches, and Jayden, baby B was born at 10:46am weighing 4lbs 12ozs., 18 inches. We stayed in the hospital for three days then we were all able to come home together. I thank God every day for this blessing he has given our family.

Clarissa

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Twin Birth Story

My husband and I were your everyday common couple. We met, we married, we wanted a family. After seven months of trying to become pregnant we discovered one Sunday morning at 4:00 am when the test came back blue that we were pregnant. After visiting the doctor they set our due date to be October 10, 2005.

All was going fine, no morning sickness, no odd or unusual cravings, until on March 9thI started bleeding at work. A co-worker rushed me to the doctors for an ultrasound. The first thing that goes through a woman’s mind when she is pregnant and bleeding is she is loosing the baby. I called my husband and told him to meet me there [at the ultrasound clinic]. I hopped up on the ultrasound table and at 9 weeks you have to have the internal ultrasound. They inserted the “magic wand” and the next statement I hear from the ultrasound technician is “Mrs. W. did you know you are having TWINS…” I looked over to the monitor and there they were. My two little peanuts on the display screen. I burst into tears thinking not only am I loosing one baby but both.

It turns out all was well, no complications or problems. Now I had to tell my husband we were having twins. He arrived just as I walked out to the car in the parking garage. I ran up to him, hugged him and told him “we’re fine; me and both babies; we’re having twins!”  My husband and I never took fertility drugs, and it wasn’t until we announced to the family that we discovered that twins ran in the family.

All went well during my pregnancy. I was able to carry my twins to 34 weeks gestational term. I began having contractions and after a week of bed rest, we went to the local hospital for a c-section delivery. My twins were born at 10:27 AM and 10:28 AM on August 28, 2005. Baby A weighed 5 pounds 6 & ½ ounces. Baby B weighed 5 pounds and ¼ ounce. I was blessed with a blonde and a brunet. Both babies stayed in the hospital a total of 7 days before being released to go home just in time for Labor Day.

Today they are 7 months old and doing well. I feel very fortunate to have healthy, happy babies. I see changes in their personalities on a daily basis.

For any mother about to give birth to multiples, I can only offer one piece of advice: Ask for help, take it when offered, and remember that you are truly doubly blessed.

Heather, Mommy to Breanna and Kayla

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Our Christmas Miracles!

I went for my routine scan and it was to be an internal one. The doctor could see something other than a baby’s heartbeat. It turns out it was another baby’s heartbeat. We were having TWINS!

I was only 6 weeks along and already they could see that they were identical twins, both sharing the same placenta, but separate amniotic sacs. I was shocked. My partner wasn’t because he has them in every generation of his family.

I was transferred from the anti-natal unit to the neonatal medicine unit where I was scanned every fortnight [2 weeks]. Then at 13 weeks, I went for my routine scan and it was noticed that the babies had Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion syndrome (T.T.T.S.). It was quickly becoming an issue for the babies. My counsellor told me what to expect. My case showed that there was a 10% chance of survival of one baby and barely any of two surviving. There was also an 85% chance of brain damage or celebral palsy to one or both babies. All we did was cry. She told us we should think about ending the pregnancy as it takes a very strong person to look after one disabled child never mind two, our working days would be over and they would need 24/7 care, by both me and my partner. I very nearly gave up but my partner gave me hope, so on we went with our pregnancy.

We discussed other options such as laser surgery and amnio-reduction. My placenta was lying across the front of my stomach so laser surgery was out of the question. The placenta in such a position worsened our case as laser surgery has a better chance of survival. Amnio-reduction was the next best thing so we chose that option.

Amniotic fluid was drained from around the bigger baby’s sac to even out the fluid, but after a few weeks the fluid crept up again. We had a foetal doppler scan and discovered hydrops had developed on one of their hearts, which can cause heart failure. We were then sent to a consult in women’s hospital in Birmingham. I went on to have another amnio-reduction in Birmingham. This time they took off quite a lot of fluid, so I had to stay overnight and the hope was that I would get to about 32 weeks to give the babies a better chance.

Back in my local hospital, I was 27 weeks and there was a reverse endystolic flow in one of the babies’ cords. I was advised to burn one the babies’ cords to give the other baby a stronger chance although there was still not a definite chance for the survival of either of them. Further, due to possible strokes because of the two different blood pressures in the cords, there was a chance we could lose them both at birth. On yet another routine scan at 30 weeks, it was discovered that the reverse flow was back and much worse. I was kept in over night and received steroid injections to help develop the babies’ lungs. I was scanned on the 15th December 2004, 10 weeks before my due date and we were told the worst and the best thing: our babies were coming into the world the next day.

Thursday, 16th December 2004, I went down to theatre [delivery room] and at 13.07pm Twin 1 (BRANDON) was born weighing 3lb 2oz. Then three minutes later Twin 2 (BAILEY) was born weighing 3lb 15oz. They were whisked off to S.C.B.U. [equivalent to North American NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)].

I didn’t get to see them until the next day. It was the best day of our lives; we had two healthy boys. We are so very lucky and give special thanks to all the staff who looked after us and our two little miracles right through the pregnancy. They were in S.C.BU. For 6 weeks. We were constantly there feeding and changing. They finally came home beginning of February 2005.

We were so very lucky and they are our Christmas miracles. We thank everybody involved in bringing these two bundles of joy into our lives. They are now 9 months old and an absolute joy to have. We just can’t believe how lucky we are. Thank you. We hope this story helps other people in the same situation as us.

Clare and John, United Kingdom, Proud parents of Bailey and Brandon.

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One, two, three…and then one more..by Andrea Berg

After trying for only a few short months to get pregnant I went in to see my doctor. I had been pregnant once before but it had ended in a miscarriage at 13 weeks and we had to wait until I was able to try again, it seemed like forever…. It actually didn’t take that long, compared to some people. I used the Basal Body Temperature charts and took my temperature every day, but my charts didn’t look right to me, at least not the way that the sample ones from the internet looked.

So after five months of chart taking I brought them in with me when I went to see my doctor. She looked at them and said that I was clearly not ovulating and since she knew I could get pregnant, she would prescribe a fertility drug for me to try.

I went to the drug store to fill my prescription for Clomid and immediately went home to take the first pill, as they have to be taken in the first days of your cycle. From there it was a waiting game. Even before my next cycle was due I knew that I was pregnant. I started to feel the same way I had the first time I was pregnant, so I went out and bought a pregnancy test kit. It was positive! Then I went to see my doctor to confirm that I was definitely pregnant and I was! I was so excited to be pregnant. There was no way that I could wait for 3 months to tell people. My friends at work started to dote on me, telling me not to pick up heavy boxes, or to play baseball with my students (I am a teacher). Little did they know…but taking their advice my have saved my pregnancy.

One night, at 10 weeks, I began throwing up and couldn’t stop. I was feeling very exhausted and so my husband took me to the hospital. There they gave me 2 bags of fluids to rehydrate me. While there a resident checked for the baby’s heart beat; we heard a faint heart beat and I was very relieved as I had never heard a heart beat with my first pregnancy. At 12 weeks I began spotting and was immediately worried that I was having another miscarriage. I went to see the doctor as soon as possible. She told me that it was probably old blood and not to worry too much. She gave me a requisition to get an ultrasound done anyway and so when I was 13 weeks my husband and I went for the ultrasound. Lying on the table and looking at the monitor I immediately saw what I thought was two babies. I was so thrilled! Twins run in both sides of my family and my husband and I were ready for the possibility of twins. The doctor doing the ultrasound continued to move the image around and then said, “You know you’re having triplets, don’t you?” WOW! I thought having twins would be great, but triplets…even better! My husband and I were thrilled!

As soon as I saw my doctor after the ultrasound she said to me that she was hoping that I wouldn’t be working at all anymore. I mentioned to her that I was only going to be substituting and therefore wouldn’t be working every day anyway. She said that was fine but that I would probably have to quit around 20 weeks. (At 15 weeks I ended up in the hospital again for dehydration, but that time I had to stay over night. I know I was dehydrated and completely out of it because when a nurse asked me if I was pregnant though IVF I said I didn’t know!) When I began subbing at the beginning of the new school year, I soon decided that working full days were getting too hard so I resigned myself to only working afternoons. A few days after that I was told to quit altogether, which was fine by me as I was too exhausted to work anymore. I was never told to have strict bedrest, but rather it was recommended I stay at home and rest as much as possible. When my husband and I wanted to go out Christmas shopping that November he pushed me in a wheelchair! I did what I knew I needed to do.

My pregnancy was going fairly well. Nothing too out of the ordinary for a triplet pregnancy, or so I thought. At 29 weeks I began to have some symptoms of early labour (back pain and diarrhea) and after seeing my doctor was admitted to the hospital. I was already 2cm dilated. Once I arrived I was immediately hooked up to a monitor for contractions and fetal heart monitors. Indeed, I was having contractions. I was given something to stop the contractions, which soon worked and they stopped. My doctor told me I would have to stay in the hospital for a few days, possibly until the babies were born, which she was hoping would be 6 more weeks. That wouldn’t be the case.

One early morning, at 2:00am, I began to have contractions again. This time the contractions were not as easy to stop and I had become 3cm dilated. Around 2:00pm the doctors were satisfied that the contractions had stopped and I was finally allowed to eat! (They wouldn’t let me eat all that day in case I needed surgery). An hour after I had lunch I went to the washroom and began to bleed – LOTS. My contractions couldn’t be stopped this time and I had dilated to 6cm. The babies had to be born. At only 30 weeks I immediately went in for an emergency c-section. On December 11, 2002 at 4:29pm Max Austin Berg was born weighing 2lbs 11oz, 14 3/4″ long; at 4:30pm Dexter Calvin Berg was born weighing 3lbs 1/2oz, 15 1/2″ long; at 4:31pm Joshua Ivan Berg was born weighing 2lbs 13oz, 16 1/2″ long. Each of them were born breathing on their own. The steroid injections I received at 28 weeks for their lung development really helped. Their small sizes didn’t surprise us though; we were expecting that, but we were surprised by the fact that they were all boys!

After spending a few hours in recovery I still wasn’t feeling well enough to get into a wheelchair to go to the NICU to visit the boys. The next morning I couldn’t go due to the nurses’ shift change and then doctor’s rounds. By the time I was able to go, I decided to wait for the nurse to take out my IV and I was finally able to see them again around 2:00pm the next afternoon. I was told that Dexter had to be put on a ventilator for a few hours overnight but it was already out by the time I saw them. Joshua and Max were on oxygen as well as other tubes and monitors. Max was on some antibiotics as he had swallowed some blood during delivery and he wasn’t able to eat until his stomach cleared out.

Being in the NICU isn’t something any parent would want to do. It is very hard to be in there and have other people tell you when you can or can’t hold your children. It was a long 49 days until we were able to bring home our third baby, but we trudged in there day after day. I wouldn’t allow myself to take “a break” and not go visit for a day. There were the good, the bad and the horrible days. The first good day was when the boys were four days old and one nurse asked if I had held any of them yet. I had told her, “No, the doctor said maybe next week.” She said she would have to take them out of their isolettes later to weigh them, so why not hold them each for a little bit? I was so excited! That was one of the best feelings in the world. The bad days were any day when there was a set-back with any of the boys. Those seemed to happen often, but the boys nevertheless continued to improve.

My most horrible experience in NICU happened on Christmas Day when the triplets were two weeks old. It wasn’t just because that it was Christmas Day and my children were in the hospital, but I think it was because some of the nurses were short on compassion as they had to work on Christmas Day. I had previously held Dexter and Joshua almost every day. Max, however, was still having some problems with his stomach and they didn’t want me to hold him until they saw some significant improvement. I didn’t have a problem with that. My problem began the moment I walked up to their isolettes and saw that on top of each isolette was a picture of all three boys being held by someone – and this person wasn’t me!! I think that someone had very good intentions of trying to give us a nice Christmas present, but they have no idea of how much that hurt and still hurts me to this day [that these pictures of them being held were not of them with their parents]. The one thing I had been trying to patiently wait for since I knew I was expecting triplets [i.e. holding them all] was taken away from me by some nurse, a stranger. What’s worse is that even though all of them had obviously been out of their isolettes to be held that day already, I, as their mother, wasn’t allowed to hold them individually, except for Dexter. They still told me that Max was too frail to hold and Joshua’s nurse had to help out another nurse with an emergency. Some Merry Christmas, eh?

The boys continually improved with Dexter always being the first to accomplish each little milestone. He was the first to be in a bassinette, the first to be bottlefed, have his leads off, etc. Joshua was always next and Max always crept along behind. When the boys were one month old, my wish for holding all three together came true. We had a wonderfully understanding nurse that day and I asked to hold all three and she agreed! I don’t know what the doctor would have said, but I didn’t care! That was the first moment where it finally felt like we were a family.

At 6 weeks and 2 days Joshua (4lbs 14 1/2oz) and Dexter (5lbs 11 1/2oz) were allowed to come home. It was great to have them at home, but at the same time a little tricky with having to have someone to babysit them the day after their arrival home so I could go back to the hospital to visit Max. I was determined to visit Max every day too. I thought he’d be in there for about 1-2 more weeks, but five days after the first two came home so did Max, at just 4lbs 5 1/2oz. I think they let him go a little early just so it would be a little easier for me. I didn’t care about the reasons why…having all three at home was fantastic!

Andrea Berg