Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our twin pregnancy journal: First Trimester

What I have here is a retrospective pregnancy journal. Month by month, I've written the highlights of life with two babies on the way. I know I'll be glad to have even this in the coming years, both for us and for others who wonder what it's like to be pregnant with twins. I can't tell you what it's like for everyone, but I happen to be an expert on what it was like for me!

Month 1:
We only knew I was pregnant for sure during the end of the first month, although I'd suspected I was for about a week prior to finding out. I was incredibly exhausted, and my sense of smell kicked into overdrive right away, although the smells weren't nauseating, just irritating. We only told close family members and close friends at first, eagerly awaiting the day when we could tell everyone.
It's so strange to feel your own body behaving just like a book says it will! All of my symptoms seemed very pronounced, and since running felt so strange, the doctor told me to give it up until further notice. We wondered what was going on, but had no idea what it might be.
Aside from the ban on running and some restrictions on lifting (no more than 10 lbs, be careful not to strain muscles around hips), the first month ended quietly and uneventfully. An otherwise routine visit to my doctor to have a nagging foot problem investigated provided a blood test to confirm what we already knew. Little did we know what the next blood test would have in store for us . . .

Month 2:
I began the second month with some trepidation: according to What to Expect When You're Expecting, morning sickness usually hits during this month. And hit it did - the morning I turned 6 weeks, I attempted to get out of bed at 5:30 am and was struck by overwhelming nausea and dizziness. I crawled back in bed, called in sick, and spent the rest of the day in a miserable, nauseous heap. Morning sickness? Let's try all-day-long-and-sometimes-at-night sickness! I had to learn how to get out of bed and get something in my stomach quickly; otherwise, I'd throw up. Orange juice, which had always been my go-to morning drink, turned my stomach horribly. Coffee smelled awful, even to this former Starbucks addict. Milk seemed to do the trick, though. Water helped too. If I drank something and then ate, the nausea subsided for a little while - long enough to get ready for work. At my boss' suggestion, I stopped working opening shifts, as this routine was time-consuming and didn't always work. After a couple of weeks, though, it became easier to anticipate and fend off a bout of nausea, and I got used to the constant queasiness. Overall, I think I was very lucky. I know mamas who were much, much sicker than I was.
As I mentioned above, I'd had a blood test around 4 weeks confirming my pregnancy. At 5 weeks and a few days, my OB/GYN's office had me come in for a second one to check my progress. The results were apparently noteworthy, because I got to go in for a third test about a week later. Based on that test, they scheduled an ultrasound. The nurse on the phone who scheduled the ultrasound explained that I was definitely pregnant, and read me my hCG levels from the two tests. I don't recall the first one, but the second one had come back at 102,000. What to Expect When You're Expecting listed "normal" levels as ranging from a few hundred to around 7,000 at this point. The author reassured readers that levels could be outside these numbers and still be normal, but that very high numbers could mean miscalculated dates or a multiple pregnancy, among other things. No wonder this warranted an ultrasound!
I mustered up the courage to ask my mom if there was any - any - chance I might be pregnant with twins. To my surprise, she replied that my grandmother, her mother, had been pregnant with twins her first pregnancy.
I won't say I was terrified, because I wasn't. In fact, Dan and I discussed it briefly on a trip to the coast the day before the ultrasound. I was 7 weeks pregnant, and we really were excited about being parents. I was much more terrified that we wouldn't see a heartbeat on the screen. So when I laid down on the table and the sonographer gelled up my belly and focused in on two dark spots, I panicked. Holes? I wasn't supposed to have holes. My anxious mind didn't get any farther than that, because just then I heard the sonographer's voice. "There's one baby . . . and there's the other baby!" she announced cheerfully. Dan and I were so relieved, we both laughed. The two "holes" were their sacs. Looking for all the world like tiny grayish gummy bears, the two babies both had strong heartbeats. I couldn't stop staring at them in delight. We'd prayed all weekend for a heartbeat, and there were two! We were having twins!
Our first glimpse of our twins - 7 weeks

Month 3:
We'd shared our fantastic news with the rest of our friends and family after our ultrasound at 7 weeks, and after that, weeks 7-11 were fairly uneventful. I was still nervous that something would go wrong and prayed several times daily that our babies would join us, happy and healthy, sometime in June.
The week before Christmas, just after I'd passed the magical 12-week mark, I started bleeding profusely. What had been a routine day at work turned into a terrifying evening in the ER. Because we knew we were having twins, the doctor ordered an ultrasound to check on our babies rather than relying on hearing a heartbeat. Dan wasn't allowed in the tiny ultrasound room with me, so I took my phone with me to update him. I was relieved beyond words to see their tiny, wiggling, kicking bodies on the screen. They were so active, in fact, the sonographer had to take measurements for over an hour to get their approximate age estimate. She finally said they measured around 13 weeks (way to grow, babies!) and looked healthy as far as she could tell. She also saw the source of the bleeding - a clot behind one of the placentas. The ER doctor didn't seem too concerned, although he said I could be in danger from the bleeding and needed to come in if it continued over the weekend. My OB was much more concerned. She said I needed to reduce my activity - meaning bed rest. Worse than that, she said she couldn't guarantee things would be okay. With heavy hearts, we headed for our tiny apartment, my 24-hour-a-day home for the next 17 days.
Since I was still nauseous and tired, lying on the couch or in bed all day didn't present much of a problem. The trip from our bedroom to the couch meant a walk of approximately 7 feet, so I was able to minimize my exertion. I read all I could about my condition, called a sub-chorionic hemorrhage (SCH). Women who had healed from these talked about drinking lots of water and adhering to bed rest as strictly as possible, so I did. My days passed in a haze of Food Network and Cooking Channel, naps, and the occasional magazine. Dan kept me company in the evenings, bringing or preparing me dinner.
In early January, when I was almost 15 weeks pregnant, I was cleared to return to work 4 hours per day doing desk work. Even better, about a week after I returned to work, I woke up one morning feeling . . .normal. I wasn't nauseous! It was as though I'd been lifted out of a pool of murk into a bright, sunny day. I had energy and felt revitalized. Life suddenly seemed less scary. I was allowed to go to work again, I felt like myself again, we'd made it through the first trimester, and we were still expecting two babies!

Me, 15 weeks pregnant


  1. That must have been quite an experience for you! Well, expectant mothers usually go through these pregnancy phases quite differently. But having twins or multiple pregnancies is far more different. Since you are carrying two babies, extra precaution is needed. In terms of bleeding and spotting, this usually happens on the first trimester of pregnancy. But do not ignore this condition as spotting can speak volumes about your pregnancy. But the good thing is that you are okay, and your two little ones are well and healthy!

    -Chelsea Leis

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  3. Wow :) I've got my first ultrasound this week and wondering if it could be twins as we have loads in the family!! I bet its double the work but double the fun too :)

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  6. Girls have to bear a lot of problems in pregnancy i have seen my wife in this duration my behaviour was more than good with her due to her condition and after reading twins journal i am shocked