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Friday, September 11, 2009

Part One - So if I was having twins again: Pregnancy!

Wow - I just uploaded the picture of myself 37 weeks pregnant with the twins and just had to stop, pause and take a moment. : )
There is absolutely NOTHING in the world that can prepare you for finding out you are expectings twins.

And I even joked about it/half suspected it with how I felt and looked.

You still never think it will happen to you (I can't fathom what it feels like to hear triplets/quads or anything else for that matter too!).

It's the most extreme of all emotions.

Disbelief.

Overwhelmed.

In love.

Panicked. : )

In the matter of minutes and over the next couple of weeks, the entire guantlet of emotions gets traveled.

Yet one thing remains for certain as I look back on the experience.

Carrying twins was, by far, one of the most unique, miraculous, difficult and unforgetable experiences of my life.

I like to say it was a ONCE in a lifetime experience. : )

Very quickly, in our twin pregnancy, I was blessed by those around me.

Why?

I come from a church/family/friends that has known lots of twins.

So while, yes, I heard quite often, "Oh, poor you . . .etc" when someone discovered I was pregnant with twins who would be only 18 months younger than my daughter, I also heard lots of "HOW EXCITING" from individuals who truly meant it.

I can't tell you how much that blessed me.

It helped me choose joy, choose excitement and choose thankfulness even in the times I could feel overwhelmed by the prospect of 3 kids 2 and younger, the financial costs, or the extra worries/work that accompany twins and the pregnancy.

I can remember a conversation with Ryan when I shared, "I have a choice. I can choose to dread the next couple years of my life or I can choose to embrace it. I am determined not to just "grit and get through" years I will never get back. I don't want to live that way."

This helps me set up my #1 encouragment for if I was having twins again.

Enouragement #1: Choose Excitement.

Why?

When it comes to multiples of any number, there is always something to overwhelm you.

(although isn't that true about mommyhood in general?)

But how hard the coming months of pregnancy may feel will have a lot to do with your state of mind about it.

Carrying twins isn't easy.

But few people get that experience and I wanted to do everything I could to be grateful and proactive.

That said, let me deal with some realities and what was helpful for me! : )

A twin pregnancy accelerates and exaggerates the entire pregnancy experience.

You grow faster.

You tire easier.

You gain more weight.

You get more looks (and not the "oh, how cute" type).

You cry more. - oh wait, maybe that was just me.

Yet we live in a world that doesn't slow down.

After having a very active pregnancy with Ava, I realized pretty quickly this time around was different.

And that was hard on my "I do it my self" pride (ahh, maybe 2 year old Ava and I have lots in common).

I didn't want to have to slow down or accept help.

Yet you have to.

So encouragement #2?

Slow down.

Encouragment #3?

Educate yourself.

When I found out I was having twins, I dove into books (although that tends to be my personality).

Friends gave me some, I found others and I didn't stop my entire pregnancy.

I am a personality, though, that can get through most anything, if I feel like I understand it.

So knowing what was healthy for my body, my babies and how I could best prepare for them helped me so much when the process seemed just hard, overwhelming or never ending.

If I had to pick two books to read before your own twins arrive?

1. Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada (third edition). If you are considering breastfeeding EVEN A LITTLE, you need to buy this book. I call it the bible for breastfeeding multiples. I knew I wanted to try and breastfeed and after quite a few "mediocre" books, I noticed this book kept getting referenced. So I finally bought this one myself and never looked at another. It's fully informative and encouraging without the dogmatic push that some breastfeeding books can have that leave you feeling like a failure if it doesn't work out.

2. When You're Having Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Dr. Barbara Luke. I really liked how this helps a mom understand what she CAN do about taking care of herself while carrying twins. It provides lots of helpful advice without the doomsday approach I felt some books had as far as preterm labor and twins. It really helps with nutrition and weight gain which is important since the bulk of weight gain with twins needs to be in the first half of pregnancy as opposed to the back half for optimal baby growth.

Although when looking up this last book I found this site with a longer list of recommended books that could be helpful too:
http://multiples.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/aatpbooks.htm

Encouragement #4?

Listen to your body.

Putting everything else aside, carrying your babies as long as possible is your NUMBER ONE goal.

Overall, I had a very healthy and "easy" twin pregnancy.

Yet my doctor cut out all unneccesary activity around 24 weeks, I believe it was.

It was also shortly after that when he told me he didn't even want me on my feet for cooking beyond absolute essentials.

Yet when the guilt came as I looked at a messy home or our carryout/simple freezer meal, I had to keep reminding myself what my goal was: babies coming home with me from the hospital.

Over and over, that is what I'd have to remind myself.

By the end, I was so uncomfortable on my feet that even though I wasn't "officially" on bedrest, I half lived like I was. : )

Bottom line? eat when you need to, lay down all you need to, and accept help whenever it is offered.

So what practical things can you do to help the process/prepare?

1. Invest in a maternity belt. I pretty much lived in mine the entire last half of the pregnancy. It helped so much with carrying the extra weight around and with my back.

2. Make lots of freezer meals during your second trimester. These are NOT for after babies. These are for the end of your pregnancy. I had just happened to start making them for after the babies and had my meals pretty well cleared out by the times babies arrived. But it helped us eat a little more nutritiously and inexpensively when I didn't have the ability or energy to cook in the end.

3. Nap whenever you can and let someone else do what needs to be done. Your job is carrying babies. Period. If during this period of your life, your husband or someone else does all the cleaning, cooking, laundry . . ..IT IS OK.

4. Start talking through expectations/visions for after the babies come with the people you know will be your largest support/help at home now.

We had people scheduled at our house SOLID (24/7) the entire first month, pretty much most of the second month, still 3 days a week the third month and 2x a week the fourth (Aren't I spoiled?!?! I'm so thankful). That isn't everyone's experience but with Ava being 19 months old and me nursing, I couldn't have nursed without that kind of help.

However, that isn't much personal space. So talking through some of the details now will make it easier then. Even just who can do what/when or what you would prefer. Starting the dialogue now will make it easier for when changes come or are needed after babies come and you're tired and emotional. : )

5. Last but not least? ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT PROGESTERONE SHOTS. My doctor's practice is to give these shots to all high-risk pregnancies every week starting at 18 weeks because he has seen such a huge difference with them in his patients. They help relax your muscles, prevent pre-term labor and are a HUGE help with ligament pain.

I got my shots every tuesday starting at 15 weeks due to awful ligament pain. Without fail, by sunday night or monday before I would get my shot, I'd notice ligament pain and braxton-hicks contractions. I'm convinced the shots played a huge part in me carrying the girls to term.

Not fun, but oh so worth it. : )

I could go on and on (and already have), but more than anything I want other moms carrying twins to know you can do it, even enjoy parts of it, and survive it!

I'm more than happy to answer more specifics from my own experience. Leave me a question or feel free to email me at shineon915@yahoo.com.

5 comments:

Jami said...

Hey Amber - not that I'm having twins but this was a great post! Thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

Went to set up for the Mothers of Multiples Garage Sale tonight and met someone who can beat all us twin moms . . . she has a 7 month old baby and is expecting TRIPLETS (totally natural and a complete shock)!! She really needs our prayers. So . . . things can always be A LOT MORE stressful - another thing to think about - God will only give you what He can help you handle!!

Melodee :)

Amy Cherise said...

You are amazing!! xoxox

J Gutwein said...

Hey Amber! Our blog URL changed. It is:http://web.me.com/lgutwein/web.me.com_lgutwein/Blog/Blog.html.

Love, J

Carolyn said...

Here I am, a total stranger, and so glad you posted all you have about expecting and having twins! A friend (who doesn't know you either) found your blog and showed it to me. Creepy, right?! Hope you don't mind! I have an almost 5 year old girl, a barely 3 year old girl, and now expecting twin girls due this April! I totally get your list of emotions when finding out about having twins. Anyways, thanks for the posts and all the links. They have been so helpful. I'm only 19 weeks pregnant and last night I started thinking I might be feeling Braxton Hicks but thought I was just being overly cautious. It's good to hear that you started feeling things at 15 weeks. I'll talk to my doctor. I plan on nursing also, so I loved your breastfeeding post! Thank you thank you thank you!
~Carolyn