Katrina- Her experience with having twins

We’d like to welcome Katrina, who has written about her experience of being a mother of not only twin girls but a son also.
Thank you Katrina for sharing your story xx

•If you would like to share a story, please email themummycode@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you.

For as long as I can remember my mum always said to me that one day I would have twins, yet the day I found out that I was indeed carrying two babies was nevertheless a major shock! My husband and our 3 year old son were sitting with me in the radiology room at the local hospital. The on call sonographer was asked to come to the hospital on this particular Sunday morning as I had had a suspected miscarriage the night before. The drive to the hospital that morning was sombre and we hardly spoke in the car expecting sad news. A couple of hours went by waiting at the hospital for the sonographer to arrive and we were finally taken around to radiology, with me being wheeled around on a bed. Once the ultrasound started I was holding my breath then I heard a bit of mumbling then “Oh, TWO heartbeats!”. I started involuntarily shaking and searching for my husband’s face at the end of the bed, it was an emotional rollercoaster- not only was it good news, we were having two babies! How were we going to cope? Was our house big enough for two more children? After planning on two children, could we afford having three children?While in the hospital with our phones turned off, our families had been trying to ring us to find out if I was okay. My husband told his parents that everything was ok, without going into detail. Our son was hungry and had been waiting for hours at the hospital with us so as soon as I was discharged and with all the emergency staff wishing us luck, we took the short drive across the road to McDonalds. I texted my mum to tell her where we were, she asked if I has having a “Happy Meal” and I texted back “A shocked meal”- I wasn’t going to tell her via text! We drove to my in laws nearby and then my parents to tell them the news in person. It didn’t seem real yet, I was still shocked with the news that we were expecting twins and they were identical! My dad had apparently joked to my mum that I was probably coming to visit to tell them I was having twins but of course they were still surprised when we told them! After the initial shock started to subside in the following week my need for information, facts, statistics, in fact anything twin-related, went into overdrive! I joined the local multiple birth association and later went to an antenatal night held by a family with twins and that night I met some others expecting twins who have since become my closest friends. My pregnancy the second time around with the twins compared to the first time with my ‘singleton’ (technical term for one baby I have learnt) was intense. Ultrasounds were every few weeks then became weekly, with ECGs at the hospital every two days to chart the heartbeats of both babies. At every appointment with my obstetrician I was reminded that twin pregnancies are high risk, especially when the babies share a placenta {due to the possibility for Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome} and that I may end up with “two babies, one baby or worse”. It was a physically and emotionally exhausting time and I was desperate for my son to nap so that I could rest or sleep too. Naps and nausea tablets got me through!! Our son was super excited that we were having two babies that he would tell every single person whenever we were at the shops or kinder and say and they are ‘I-DEN-TICK-LE’. At 35 weeks after months of agonising over the pros and cons I made the decision to have a c-section and shocked my doctor with the news. The babies needed to be delivered soon due to the slowing in the growth and also the differences in growth rates between the two babies was widening. We decided upon a date the next week at 36 weeks and the medical team was organised, it seemed very business-like. A few days before my planned c section I was at the hospital having a scheduled ECG and twin 2’s heartbeat could not be located after trying for one and a half hours. It was one of the few appointments my husband hadn’t attended so my mum had come to support me instead. The on call obstetrician was called and I was walked up to his consulting suites at the front of the hospital to meet him for him to try and find twin 2’s heartbeat. Within moments he located it and of course I was incredibly relieved. A few hours after going back to my parents’ house (I was told not to drive or be alone at this point) my obstetrician rang me and asked if I had packed my bag because she was admitting me for observation overnight. It was a long night with a big tummy, a very sore back, and a narrow, hard hospital bed, being woken every few hours for the nurses to do another ECG. The next morning radiology did an ultrasound and said I could be discharged, even though I was booked to come back into the hospital the next day. I spent the rest of that day with my son at a playground watching him playing and thinking how our lives were going to change forever the next day.A mixture of excitement, nerves and an empty tummy due to fasting and I didn’t feel crash hot. My husband and I dropped our son off to be minded and headed to the hospital early. The hours went quickly, we chatted about the names we had chosen (last minute indecisiveness kicked in!) and I was soon being prepared for the trip to theatre. I wasn’t nervous until I reached the holding area and my obstetrician held my hand for reassurance while my husband went to change into some very daggy scrubs! Theatre was cold but buzzed with a large team of people doing different tasks. Once they started, I looked at the clock and saw it was about 4pm. Minutes later the first baby was held up for us to see then taken over to be checked by the paediatrician. Almost as soon as the first baby, Audrey, was held up for me to see her sister Elodie was born. After both bundles were placed on my chest for a moment, they then had to go to the special care nursery. My husband accompanied them while I was in recovery, fortunately we had talked about the possibility of this situation and I had said I wanted him to go with them. Being separated from my babies so quickly was strange, but every few minutes my husband would run up the stairs from the nursery and show me photos and videos of the girls and I was asking ‘who is that? Which one is that?’ trying to work out any differences between them. That night back in our room on the ward, the nurses brought Elodie in for a cuddle and at around midnight Audrey (who was smaller), was able to visit our room briefly for a cuddle with her daddy before going back to the nursery and joining her sister. After a few days of pumping around the clock and making a slow walk to and from the nursery to see my little princesses and having kangaroo care cuddles, I was discharged but my babies weren’t ready to come home. Knowing we would need all hands on deck for a while at home with the girls my husband kept working while they were still in the nursery so I spent nearly all day, every day in the nursery, missing our son…then when I was home I was missing the babies. It was tough and I was torn. Elodie was ready to come home, but Audrey was not. We decided to keep them together and on the same routine until they came home after 18 days in the nursery.
Once home I thought my four-hourly-feeding, then sleeping-the-whole-time-between-feed babies were a dream! This twin gig seemed so easy! Ha! Very soon I learned feeds and settling were a logistical challenge and juggling the constant changing, feeding, washing and settling for two newborns, with only one pair of arms and a busy toddler was hard work. Keeping in contact most days with other mums who had twins around the same age and a similarly aged toddler was a fantastic source of support and we helped each other through, laughing about the funny things and sharing stories about people we had met that day. Having twins apparently turns you into some sort of a celebrity for all public outings, while pushing a double pram on a time restricted mission to get something from the shops it isn’t uncommon to hear whispers of ‘twins’ or ‘did you see?’ as people pass and think you are out of ear shot. In the first year I found I was having my pram blocked by people who wanted to look at the girls and talk to the person with them about the girls but not say a word to me (rude!) and I frequently fielded inappropriate comments like ‘urgh, double trouble’ (no they aren’t actually…), ‘twins, glad it’s you and not me!’ (yes, me too), ‘are they natural?’(…is it any of your business?!), ‘she’s pretty but she’s cute’ (1, they are identical, 2, they are both beautiful), ‘how long have they been twins for?’ (…what?!…). The attraction seems to have died down now that the girls are 21 months and are cheeky toddlers rather than placid babies. The second year has certainly been easier, while life is still busy we are getting more sleep and I’m enjoying watching the girls develop their unique personalities and seeing how they interact with each other and people around them. There are still logistical challenges most days like how to get a double trolley when you have to carry two toddlers from the carpark to the supermarket to the specialty trolleys first, or juggling a basket of groceries in one hand while pushing the double pram with the other hand and using your foot to open a door at the same time. When running errands and things all seem a bit ridiculous I try to laugh at my ‘travelling circus’ of a family. Next time you see a mum (or a dad) with twins please ask them ‘can I help you somehow?’ or tell them you think they are doing a great job rather than trotting out the overused and unhelpful ‘double trouble’ comment, I am sure they will appreciate it and what harm is there in adding some positivity to the world too!
Katrina xx

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