We always knew twins were a possibility in our family as my Mom is a fraternal twin but we NEVER thought, or I never thought, it would actually happen! And it did, and boy did these twins rock our world and bring so many questions, worries, upset, amazement and joy to my pregnancy, delivery, family and world.
|Conrad and Walker (photo by Julie Rock Photography)|
|Our pregnancy announcement|
I'd like to share my twins birth story with you. When I was mentally preparing to have my twins, I searched for other peoples stories about giving birth. The doctors didn't tell me much nor did we discuss the birth until they were nearly here. I want to know everything I can about a situation I am in, in order to prepare myself for the situation. Usually when the time comes I can deal with it better that way. I'd like to share all of the details with you, hopefully you can get through the entire post being the first in the series.
The time came were we decided to grow our family. I was back to work and Hudson was getting into the groove at daycare. All seemed under somewhat control, why not change it up again because life can't be normal for us can it? Shortly after, I found out I was pregnant, I start feeling strong pregnancy symptoms. Perhaps it was the fact that I had a toddler to look after while being pregnant so I was feeling the effects of this pregnancy more? A doctor friend of mine joked that I could be pregnant with twins since I had so much nausea. I had an ultrasound at 7 weeks to confirm the pregnancy and to ease my mind that there was a living baby in there. A few minutes into the ultrasound the tech announced it was TWINS. I would have loved to have a video of this moment. My face must of been hilarious. I popped up and looked at her and said "No way". I laid down again, looking around in shock, I'm having TWINS??? She confirmed it was fraternal twins - two sacks and two placentas, fraternal twins. Wonderful.
I left the ultrasound and called my Husband to tell the news, his surprised response was to giggle! He always said with our second pregnancy (Hudson) that "when we find out if its one or two....", I would always say, "no its only one, stop saying that!". So in a way, he was right this time! I called my Mom afterwards and said I will need some advice from a number of Mom's we know (I listed their names) because we are having twins. Her response was "Really? Really?". I was definitely in shock and ended up telling my boss upon my return to work - how was I supposed to work after finding out I was having TWINS?
I had to many thoughts going into this pregnancy and during the pregnancy. Are we having twins to make up for our daughter we lost a few years ago? We are going to be thrust back into parenthood with double the amount of babies we were expecting - we are being challenged yet again, are we up for it? Yes of course we are, we can do this. We've been through a parents worst nightmare, this will be easy! It of course wasn't, but the resiliency and strength we gained by our losses, definitely helped when facing this extreme challenge. We have no choice, we will do this and we will hopefully do it well. I keep telling myself this, being my own cheerleader in my head :)
I was due August 2, 33 short weeks later, I was 7 weeks pregnant. Super nauseous, super tired, definitely had double the pregnancy symptoms and started to show quickly. I am such an open book, how would I hide this pregnancy until it was time to share the news?
Let's move forward a few months, as everything in between definitely deserves another blog entry and will be part of this series. I am so excited and want to introduce my boys to you all, so let's fast forward.
I worked up to 30 weeks pregnant when it was time to start taking it easy from work, my commute and anything extra in my life and to concentrate on keeping these babies inside of me! A few weeks went by and one night I started to feel that recognizable feeling, of my water breaking. My water broke with my other two pregnancies so I was pretty certain that is what was going on. My husband Sean, always calm, cool and collected wasn't phased by my calls from the bathroom to come inspect what was going on! I had originally started with a Midwife, had my care transferred to a high risk OB then transferred again to a more specialized hospital in Toronto. It was time to go downtown Toronto to deliver my babies, something I always worried about but knew it was the best place for these babes to be delivered.
My first two pregnancies I was induced after my water broke and essentially nothing happened. With Stella I progressed very quickly and with Hudson even faster. I went from 6 Cm's to 10 in a snap. I was adamant we go in!! Luckily it was 10:30pm and we wouldn't have rush hour traffic to deal with.
|A few days before delivery|
We made our way downtown, an approximate 25 minute drive. We passed by the Molson Amphitheatre where my friends (and I had thought about going, glad I didn't!) were attending the Dixie Chicks concert, bounced over the bumps on the Gardiner expressway and safely arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital.
After never experiencing a doctor delivery, I wasn't used to going through triage process. Mount Sinai being a teaching hospital, I met with a resident doctor who checked me. I was 1-2 Cm's dilated. We then were moved to a delivery room a few hours later at 2-3 Cm's. I settled into a beautiful room with a city and CN Tower view and tried to get some rest. The nurse inserted an IV with fluids and antibiotics as I was so early I hadn't been tested for Group B Streptococcus. I was having some mild contractions every 10 minutes or so but I had been having what I thought was braxton hicks for a few days. Shortly after, I woke to a doctor and resident doctor by my side. They explained that it was still early for my babies to be born at 34 weeks and 1 day, they would like to keep them in longer, at least another few weeks and explained all of the risks and things to look out for. The long list of symptoms pretty much included anything other than the norm. They wanted me to stay in the hospital to ensure the babies stayed inside me. I had heard of this before, but never expected this would happen to me. I was of course was willing to do whatever was best for these boys of mine. They explained in a few hours time I would have an ultrasound to see how big the babies were and we would meet with some doctors after they start at 7am to discuss my case. Originally we had planned to meet with our team of doctors for a meeting the next day at 9:30am to discuss my pregnancy, this was definitely not happening!
|Sean taking it easy during my contractions|
My pain was getting more intense and contractions were about 8 to 10 minutes apart. Not that I was counting. Sean was relaxed and sleeping in the chair by the window in our gigantic delivery room. With Stella's delivery I was in a lot of pain as her heart rate was increasing so they had to decrease the oxi-tocin, being the drugs to induce labour and didn't allow me to have an epidural, as it could stop my labour from progressing. The pain at 5 Cm's was unbearable. With Hudson, we got everything at once, easy peasy, no pain - it was amazing. This labour was somewhere in between. I definitely was in pain but was ready to get some pain relief. A new and amazing nurse started at 7am and ordered the epidural as I was clearly in pain and ready for some relief. The anaesthesiologist was fabulous, so fast and efficient. I had a contraction before it was inserted, which was extremely uncomfortable while leaning forward and having to keep still. The epidural was inserted and I suddenly got this seriously painful contraction in my back and a few other areas! I lost all ability to explain what was happening, and only had a few words to explain the location(s) of the pain. It was different than I have ever felt! The nurse checked me and I was 10 Cm's, the doctor then started the epidural drugs. The baby had crowned and I was ready to go. It was time, I couldn't believe I was going to meet my babies soon.
|Early morning selfie|
Due to having twins, I had to deliver in the operating room. At my last ultrasound both babies were head down. That day, I had text Sean telling him it felt as though the babies were doing somersaults - that is exactly what happened. I was told Twin A was still head down and Twin B was breech, so there was a possibility of delivering one baby and having a c-section for the second.
An epidural at 10 Cm's doesn't normally happen but a must with a twin delivery for this reason. The nurse called the doctors on her nifty cordless phone and I was wheeled into the operating room filled with team of about 10 people. I can't lie, I said to my husband that I was scared. I had done this twice before but never like this. I was prepared and ready but was I really? I had no idea what was going to happen and hoped both babies would be alright. Being a planner, I like to know exactly what's going on and have an idea in my head as to what would happen, this was not possible with a twin delivery.
I was greeted by an OB, a fellow OB, a resident OB, 2 respiratory therapists, the anesthesiologist, 2 pediatric nurses, who am I missing?? The room was full. There were two isolets ready to hold the babies. They hooked me up to the ultrasound to see where the babies were and continued to monitor the babies heart rates. The anesthesiologist kept testing me to ensure I was pain free. He would take a small needle or sharp object and poke my arm slightly and my stomach - I could still feel the poke. He tried this several times and I kept feeling the pokes. This worried me as I wanted to feel minimal pain. Next they would try ice on my arm then on my stomach, I still felt it!! They kept trying which continued to worry me. Would I feel what was about to happen??
It was time to push. The fun part. Two short pushes later baby A popped out and was lifted into the air by the resident, to show us. There he was, screaming and peeing everywhere! Walker Michael was born at 9:26am. The doctors counted down in unison for delayed cord clamping. It was pretty neat to hear them counting together. The resident said, "Dad do you want to take a photo?". Although I wasn't sure if I should post this photo or not, I've decided to include it as it illustrates the moment so well. It's not perfect and I don't look perfect (luckily it doesn't show anything but my legs and stomach) but that's birth for ya! Here is the photo. You can see the silver bracelet I was given by another Mom after Stella passed away and I have worn it everyday ever since. He looks like he was sent from heaven with the light shining down on him. I was able to hold Walker after birth and then he was whisked away to another room.
|My favourite photo of Walker's birth|
|Walker moments after birth|
The OB kept an eye on the ultrasound and the monitors for Baby B. The doctors were searching for his position and his legs. I don't know exactly what happened and I wish I knew more. The resident had a hard time finding the baby properly so the fellow took over. I remember them looking quietly at each other. I tried not to read into the looks. They were looking for what I think was a second foot. It seemed like forever, the OB had put on his gloves to find Baby B's feet and take over the delivery but the fellow was able to locate the baby and we were ready to go!
|Conrad moments after birth, bruised legs from a breech delivery|
Pushing a breech baby is very different experience than I ever had before. It was intense. I had to push several times in a row without breaks in between. Hard pushes, fast pushes, efficient pushes. That I knew I could do!! But could I push this baby out feet first? YIKES. This is crazy to me but I knew I was in the best place I could be to deliver a baby this way. I had been worried about Baby A my entire pregnancy and now I was worried about Baby B. I think it was around 5 - 8 big strong pushes, where the doctors asked me to push again, push again and again. Baby B was then born 13 long minutes later at 9:39am, Conrad Graham was here. We weren't able to do delayed cord clamping as he was in some distress and tired from a rough delivery. They described him as being floppy. They took both babies to the room next door and I was left to deliver the placenta and for some minor stitch work. Sean went to the room to meet our boys.
|I finally get to meet our boys|
About an hour later, I was wheeled in the gurney out of the operating room and into the room where my babies were being attended to by the nurses and respiratory therapists. They were breathing oxygen on their own but were hooked up to cpaps, which help the babies push the air in and out of their lungs. Conrad had a heat pack on his legs as they were bruised due to the breech delivery. They also had feeding tubes down their throats and IV's with sugar water, heart rate monitors on their chests, and saturation monitors to record the oxygen levels in their blood. I only had a short glimpse of my tiny babies and were told Walker weighed 4 pounds 1 ounce and Conrad 5 pounds 7 ounces. Not bad for 34 weekers! I wasn't until 3pm that afternoon that I finally saw the babies again.
Let's skip forward a few months and formally introduce our boys, Walker and Conrad. They spent 2 weeks at the Level 3 NICU in Toronto then were transferred to our local Level 2 NICU closer to home. Conrad was released a week after that and Walker spent another 8 weeks there. I didn't get my twin-Mommy moment holding both boys together until they were 3 weeks old.
|I finally held both babies together at 3 weeks old|
We were told they were fraternal, 2 sacks and 2 placentas but when they were born they told me the placentas were fused. I didn't think much about it. Before we left Mount Sinai NICU we had blood work done and it was later confirmed the boys are in fact identical!
The boys are now 4 months and 12 days old (3 months adjusted) and doing very well. Walker is about 4 pounds smaller than Conrad. He has a wise and sweet look to him. He is a calm and independent baby who doesn't cry often and is rarely fussy. He will stare at your with so much love and kindness in his eyes. He has a tiny cry, when he does cry, and loves to chat, watch what you are doing and put weight on his little legs!
|Conrad and Walker|
|Walker and Conrad|
Conrad is playful and sweet. He has these big smiles and smiley eyes. He is strong and observant and loves to pull himself up to standing. Conrad loves to cuddles and will daze into your eyes with so much love. He is also chatty, not a surprise to those who know me. Conrad is breastfed and tends to get fed first as we have some health concerns with Walker that require me to concentrate on him for longer periods of time. I will write more about Walker in another installment of the series.
|My 3 Boys on Hudson's 2nd Birthday|
Hudson is happily a wonderful big brother and we are so happy to have 2 babies in our home! It definitely takes more work than a single baby but you figure it out. Our journey to get where we are today was a rocky one that I never expected we would have to endure after everything we went through already in our life, but every experience makes us stronger and more educated about our children and their health.
|Brothers hanging in the backyard|