Making It – A Story of Joy

My doctor sent me for my first ultrasound to see how far along I was as I was already showing at barely 3 months. The person doing the ultrasound turned and asked me if I took fertility pills or have twins in my family, I told her there are twins and triplets in the family. She then said well you are having twins. There are two heartbeats. I did not believe her so she showed me the two babies separately and together. I was overjoyed, my mom had suspected I was having twins because of my size.

I quit work 2 months before my due date which was Dec. 16/00. My first day off work which was Monday Oct. 23 I went shopping. At 12:00a.m. Oct. 24 my water broke. I called my doctor and he said to go to the hospital. When we arrived they said I wasn’t having contractions but my water did break and they were going to keep me in and try to stop contractions from starting. However at 3a.m. I started to dilate and was 1-2 cm by 5a.m.

At full dilation, twin A (Devin) was comimg out on his own and the nurse quickly took me over to the delivery room where the doctor was in attendance but the team from the N.I.C.U had not arrived. The doctor tried to hold Devin in until everyone was there and all set up, but he could not hold him in any longer so Devin was delivered at 5:11a.m. He was breathing on his own and weighed 4lbs. At 5:24a.m. Ryan was born however he had a harder time as he had turned and was [therefore] delivered bum first. He also weighing 4lbs.

During the night both boys went into distress and their lungs collapsed so they had to be ventilated and given drugs to inflate their lungs. Devin and Ryan were then transferred to a level 3 Hospital for three days then returned to the Hospital they were delivered at for the remainder of their Hospital stay.

[In total] they spent 23 days in the hospital with ups and downs from jaundice, oxygen levels, tube feedings and a bad diaper rash. I spent these days going to the hospital for feedings as many times I could in between picking up my other two children from school.

We made it through and the boys are now 3 yrs old and very active. The only outcome of being premature is that they have asthma and are on a compressor. They have been hospitalized at the same time for a severe asthma attack and they are small for their age. Devin and Ryan are happy boys, we just recently had DNA testing done to determine if they are fraternal [dizygotic] or identical [monozygotic] as I had two sacs and two placentas. I was told at my ultrasound they were fraternal, however the doctor who delivered them and the nurses in the N.I.C.U said they were identical. The results confirmed that they are 99.994% identical.

Our family is very busy with four children and both of us working and we just go from day to day. The birth of Devin and Ryan 2 months early was a difficult time for us and especially their siblings. Nevertheless, they all have a great bond with each other. We are lucky that everything turned out okay and it was an experience I will never forget.

Heather Kenning

A Tale of Twins

The story of my boys begins long before they were born. As a toddler, I experienced peritoneal infection following a ruptured appendix. The scarring of my fallopian tubes and my resulting infertility was not discovered until I had an ectopic pregnancy in 1997. My obstetrician immediately referred me to an IVF clinic. Being told we might never have children was an absolutely frightening experience.

Thanks to God and technology our daughter Abby Grace was born February 12, 1999. Ironically, her birth date is the anniversary of my appendectomy in 1972.

We experienced three failed IVF attempts over the next 2yrs. Those who have been there will be able to relate to the grief and fear that goes with such a loss. The emotional roller coaster you’re on when you go through an IVF cycle is hard to describe, regardless of whether or not a pregnancy results.

In July 2001, we discovered that science and God had come through for us again. Cramps and bleeding began at 7 weeks. I was alone at work, and panic set in immediately. I remember lying in the ER begging God, “Please don’t take my baby!”. Waiting for an exam from my OB I was thinking “maybe it’s a twin pregnancy and I’m only going to lose one.” It’s scary the thoughts that come to mind in those situations. I was somewhat relieved to hear that my cervix was still closed. An ultrasound showed two babies with normal growth parameters and great heartbeats! My tears of fear were for the moment replaced with those of relief and thanks.

My uneasiness and fear lasted throughout the pregnancy, as the bleeding came and went. I was hospitalized once just before Christmas, and again mid-January. On the morning of January 18, 2002, one of the baby’s placentas abrupted. I felt a fear and panic that I had never known before and could not describe easily with words. Thankfully I was already in hospital. I had an emergency c-section. I can remember waiting to go into the OR and thinking, “It’s so early. (31weeks and 5days)”, but at the same time I was relieved that it was coming to an end. I couldn’t stand the anxiety anymore. Alec and Ian were born at 0730 and 0733, weighing 4lb4oz and 3lb9oz respectively. Despite their small size, they did amazingly well. Neither needed any resuscitation. They were so beautiful! It tore at my heart that I couldn’t cuddle them right away.

The boys spent 5 weeks in ICN, during which time they grew well and experienced only minor setbacks. It was rewarding to know that my breastmilk was doing such a great job for them, but man did I get tired of sitting with that pump!!! My husband, Shaun, created a little nursery humour by labeling all the jars of milk with names like “Carter’s Creamers”, and “From the twin peaks to the twins’ beaks”!

Breastfeeding got off to a slow start as it often does with preemies, but they were troopers by the time they came home.

Now, approaching their second birthday, they are happy, healthy, delightful children. Our days with Ian, Alec and their big sister Abby are hectic yet filled with smiles and laughter. I thank God for them every day, and reflect often on the technology that helped Him out. I’ve enjoyed connecting with other moms of multiples in our area, and am looking forward to continued involvement with MBC [Multiple Births Canada].

Speech by Joel Haslam at Multiple Births Canada’s Conference 2003

Recently, I was thinking about my very first “multiples moment”. Do you remember yours? Well, I don’t know about you but mine wasn’t exactly “Hallmark” greeting card material.

My wife, Pam was expecting (what we believed to be) our second child. Thanks to the miracle of fertility drugs, we had already been blessed with a beautiful baby girl–her name is Sydney by the way–who was about 2 1/2 when Pam got pregnant a second time. We were overjoyed. You see, we were one of those couples who were, supposedly, unable to successfully conceive. Suddenly, the wonders of science and, of course, the Grace of God had given us a child. Now, another gift was on the way. But right from the get go, our second prenatal experience was different. At just 7 weeks or so, I noticed that my wife was really hungry…really really hungry…all the time. I couldn’t make sandwiches fast enough. I was slinging food like a short-order cook. Of course, I never said anything because being pregnant, she was also really emotional…really, really emotional…all the time. So believe me I was really careful – really really careful…all the time.

With a raised eyebrow, I patiently awaited our first ultrasound at the doctor’s office which was just days away. Do you remember your first ultrasounds? We went in feeling quite confident about the experience because this was, afterall, baby number 2!! Old hat. We didn’t want to know the sex – we were just praying that the baby to be was healthy and presumably happy…. But almost instantly the doctor doing the ultrasound goes, “Hmmm”… And I go, “What?” And she says, “I don’t know if you saw those as quickly as I did? Hmmmm” “What?”, I say… “Two heart beats”, she says. Suddenly the room was silent. You could hear a pin drop. With tears in her eyes, my wife gives me “the look”. I’ll never forget it. I return her gaze…welling up equally…take her hand and say the only thing there was to say,”OH MY GOD!! OUR BABY HAS TWO HEARTS!!!”

It was my first multiples moment and I missed it.

Now, my wife and the doctor lock eyes and roll them simultaneously. “Joel,” Pam says to me, “twins, we’re having twins.” Now it’s my turn to lock eyes with the doctor. With a congratulatory smile, she nods. I immediately feel really blessed–really stupid–but really blessed-even chosen. Whatever did we do to deserve this? It was a question we would ponder on the long car ride home. Later, it was a question I would utter out loud–in a much less celebratory tone–just weeks after the twins were born.

Wow, those early days were exhausting…the bottles, the diapers, the numbing fatique. We burned out two coffee pots, which seemed to be dripping Tim Horton’s best at our place 24 hours a day. And then, there’s all the STUFF–the double playpens (and in some of your cases triple and quadruple), strollers, cribs, and highchairs. At times, it felt like we weren’t going to make it. Really. Those folks on those realityTV shows got nothin’ on us. We’re the original survivors. So what if you can eat bugs or swim with sharks. Just try a weekend on twin or triplet island when little Johnny and Susie are teething. We’ll see what you’re made of. And, of course, there are the memories. I won’t bore you with my mine. But this weekend you’ll keep company with yours as you meet others who understand and can relate to your multiple moments. You’ll remind each other that the extra work loads that come with multiples result later in lives filled with two, three, and four times the joy. And if you’re like me, you’ll wonder just where the time’s gone. My son Tait is 7 and a half, his sister Madison is just 5 minutes younger…Their older sister, Sydney is 10.

I may have missed my first multiple moment in the doctor’s office all those years ago but I’ve savoured everyone since. And you know what? Back then, I wasn’t far off saying my baby had two hearts. They bring so much love to my life that most days I just can’t believe their hearts are regular size. I’m just glad there will always be a special place in them for me. I’m lucky. So are you. Have a wonderful Conference.

By Joel Haslam

Joel Haslam, Host/Producer Regional Contact, CJOH TV (CTV Ottawa), speech given at Multiple Births Canada’s Conference, May 2003.

Premature Delivery of Twins

I found out I was having twins when I was about 23 weeks along. I thought I was having twins right from the get go though. At 25 weeks, I went into early labour. I was stopped and ordered on to strict bed rest. Premature delivery is not so convenient when you have a 3 year old and 18 month old at home.

All was well until Jan 29 2002. My due date was April 9. I awoke at about 6:00 am with a little pain and a rock hard belly. I sat in the tub for most of the morning. The pain got a little better as the day went by. My best friend was a little concerned and dragged me to the hospital. The Dr. on call came to look me over and said I was 1 cm dialated. I did not see anything wrong with this [as] I had been 1 cm for three weeks.

The contractions were consistant, about every 2 minutes or so but did not hurt too bad. He let me be for a bit [and] to get rehydrated to see if that would help. I felt better but was now 2-3 cm dialated. I was now starting to worry. It was now after midnight and I was tired and hungery. They would not feed me though. He had given me some steroids to help their little lungs develop and called an ambulance to bring me to the hospital. He came into my room with the ultrasound machine to take a look at the positions of my girls and of course they were lying sideways.

By this time it was about 4:00 am and the peramedics were finally there to take me away. That is when I became scared. I did not want to go in the ambulance by myself. I did ok though. I was transported to a high risk hospital and another Dr to come in and ask if I knew what a c-section was. Of course I know what a c-section is I told him and he handed me a piece of paper and told me to sign it. I did as he asked and away he went. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor for a few seconds and then they wisked me away. I had to have an epidural. My other children were natural delivery’s no i.v’s or other kind of meds.

At 30 weeks gestation, Jenna Mae or baby A, as they called her, was born at 5:47 am weighing 3lbs 3oz’s and 16 1/2 in long, followed by her little sister, Emma Leigh, at 5:49 am weighing 2lbs 15ozs 16 in long. Jenna cried for a few moments but Emma did not move or make a sound. So off to recovery I went and it was the NICU for the girls. Nobody would tell me if my sweet baby girls were ok. They kept telling me they were being stablized.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon and still no sleep for me, a nurse came in with the NICU Dr to let me know that they were fine. Jenna had been able to breath on her own for about 10 minutes before being vented. Emma was vented right away but resonded well and pinked up as soon after. They told me it was ok to go and see them. So off we went. I was wheeled into the NICU by my best friend and we washed up. A nurse came out to get us so we could see them. I do not think I had ever seen such little babies in my life. I reached out to touch my beautiful girl and the nurse grabbed my hand. You can only lightly place your hand on them she said. I must have gave her quite the look because she quickly explained that if you rub them even lightly you can rub their skin right off. So of course I was now afraid to touch them.

Emma got well right away. She was off the ventilator after 5 days. Jenna took a turn for the worst at 1 week [old]. She got an infection called NEC [Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A gangrene-like condition of the intestinal tract which can afflict premature babies] and had a blood infection. Emma came home weighing 4lbs 9ozs at 5 weeks old. Jenna came home weighing 6lbs 5ozs at 4 months old.

They are now 20 months old and Emma weighs 24lbs and Jenna 21lbs. They are trying hard to walk and talk. They are very determined little girls and I feel that once they catch up, they will not be stopped.

Erika

Early Delivery

I am very interested in sharing my story of my early delivery, premature, low birth weight babies. I am happy to say I am the mother of wonderfully healthy and beautiful four-year old twins who have been amazing to watch develop. I had a fantastic, problem free pregnancy and was loving every minute of it.

At a routine ultrasound at 30 weeks, I was told my twins were not developing equally and would have to be delivered immediately – I was not given any feedback as to what the problem might be. I was induced within three days (of my ultrasound) and delivered a 4lb. 3oz. boy and a 3lb. 8oz. girl. Very big for 10 weeks early.

As it turned out, they were both developing very well, were close in weight and did not need to be delivered so early. It was a very truly, frustrating and scary time for us.

Of course we ran the gamut of incubation, tube feeding, long hospital stays, no sucking reflex, breast pumping every two hours, one baby home while one remained in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, living in a new city with no family or friends close by, guilt for letting them be taken from me needlessly, and lots more.

But we were so lucky there were no major health problems and I did learn a life-long lesson about being an advocate for my children. This is just a small part of our story and I would love to be able to help others by sharing it.

Thanks,

Michelle, St. Thomas, Ontario