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Monday, July 21st, 2014
As surreal as it is to even write this, I’m officially winding down my pregnancy now, with just days to go until I meet my twins. Since I expect this will be my only pregnancy, it’s with a mix of deep emotions that I experience these final moments. (Emotional?! During pregnancy? Shocker, I know!)
Every pregnancy is completely unique, of course. I felt deep relief to have suffered no nausea or fatigue—no major symptoms at all, really—until I neared my third trimester, which, if I’m being honest, has been physically pretty challenging.
Looking back and surveying the whole journey (and there is truly no better word to describe pregnancy), here’s what I see as among the highlights and lowlights.
What I’ll miss about being pregnant…
The special bonding time with my husband. I wouldn’t trade the five years I spent with my guy before babies for anything in the world. But so special, too, has been our time together as a couple during pregnancy. My heart explodes when I see him beaming as he glances between me and pictures of our future kids on the ultrasound machine at doctors appointments (and I might add he’s never missed a single one). And our European babymoon was probably the most romantic trip we have ever taken together—after filling our passports since our wedding. Yes, there are many unglamorous moments too—here at the end, he’s practically had to serve as my nurse—but the bond we’ve shared through this totally singular time in life has been nothing short of magic.
A real connection with strangers. Yes, pregnancy has provoked a lot of negative attention from people on the street (and I’ll get to that later), but it’s also sparked a few incredible personal connections among random folks I never otherwise would have gotten a chance to meet. Just last week, while cruising Target in my motorized cart, my ginormous belly caught the attention of another twin mom, now expecting a third. It was the most surprisingly fulfilling time I’ve ever spent in a frozen-food aisle, and I learned so much, and was so inspired, by the conversation and guidance. She’s one of several strangers I met in such situations with whom I hope to remain friendly on the flip side!
Some special perks. I have not waited in a bathroom line for months, nor have I had to stand if there was a single chair available in a crowded room. I even got a few inches of extra legroom by way of free economy-cabin upgrade while flying (alas—no first class). When you’re obviously pregnant, you’re a target for little perks like that, and it’s been fun while it lasted!
What I won’t miss about being pregnant…
Acid reflux. Need I say more? Nothing defines “bummer” more than the fact the reflux strikes just as you try to get comfy in bed either. As if a pregnant woman isn’t deserving of her good night’s sleep! Thank you, modern science, for Tums and Zantac.
Physical impairment. I’m a generally fit person—or at least I was. In fact, I’ve written here before about scheduling entire days around gimmicky workouts. But I wasn’t prepared for just how limited my mobility would be during my last trimester of twin pregnancy. (See above: confined to motorized carts!) Now at 37 weeks, I can’t so much as flip over in bed without assistance from hubby, nor stand through a whole shower (thank you, newly remodeled bench seat)—let alone manage a walk in the neighborhood. I’m eager to get back into a fit lifestyle—and I have many fantasies (which I hope will soon become reality) about such things as beach walks with my Bob Revolution Flex Duallie double stroller (which I’m told all the fit parents swear by), or hikes with my kids in front-and-back Ergos!
Negative attention. Many women who have ever been pregnant are quite familiar with the tactless “you’re ready to pop” line of questioning from strangers, or the unwelcome rubbing of the belly. (Seriously, were people raised in barns?) Because I’m carrying multiples, I’ve received, ahem, copious feedback from strangers since about 24 weeks. Yes, my belly is big. And no, pointing it out is not flattery—it makes me feel conspicuous and much worse. For instance, when a cashier tells me I look like I’m going to pop when I’m only at 26 weeks, and my specialist has just undescrored the dangers and my high risk of early delivery, that stranger is playing on my deepest fears, and making me feel like a time bomb when all I wanted was to order a burrito. There was one day in particular when I felt so targeted by so many gawkers, I came home and cried it out, and wrote a list of “what not to say to a woman pregnant with twins” on my personal blog. Then I went out at night for one last errand before the day was done, and the store clerk pretty much went through each verboten item on the list I’d just written, one by one. Finally, she asked when I was due, and then fired off this kicker: “July?! You’ll be absolutely bedridden by then! I hear that’s very depressing.” Yeah, thanks. Cue the waterworks again. I will not miss those entitled invasions of privacy nor the total suspension of decorum.
Now I’d love to hear from you: What were your most and least favorite things about pregnancy?
Pregnant? See what to expect week by week. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!
Photo courtesy of Alesandra Dubin
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Thursday, June 19th, 2014
I’d heard the term “night nurse” (sometimes called a “baby nurse”) floating around for a while earlier in my twin pregnancy. It sounded luxurious, but I investigated just to be sure. When I found out the going rate was about $35 per hour here in Los Angeles, I balked. In fact, I clearly remember telling my husband, “Oh well! I guess night nurses are just luxuries for celebrities only.”
We took a class at our delivery hospital called “parents-to-be of multiples,” and one of the key takeaways was how essential such help is, and how it’s some of the most important money you can spend. I believe the language the instructor used was, “I’d take a second mortgage if I had to, and it would be worth it.” We heard this sentiment echoed dozens of times throughout the parents of multiples’ groups we joined on Facebook and IRL. I was scared straight. (I also remember thinking how specialized was the advice being given and discussed among the patients at what is well-known to be one of the country’s toniest hospitals. The patient demographic’s ability to make it happen was presumed.)
I resumed my night nurse search, and I learned a lot more about who they are and what they do. For one thing, they are not actually registered nurses (for which you might expect to pay double the above-mentioned going rate). For another, hiring such a person isn’t really just about the luxury of a better night’s sleep—it may be an investment in your entire first year with your children, given the nurse’s experience with sleep- and routine-training. Think about it: With multiples, you may not just feed and hope to go back to sleep for two- to three-hour stretches, because you’re feeding multiple babies in sequence. Your total sleep yield could equal zero without skilled intervention. You’re paying not just for an extra set of hands, but for an expertise that I can only imagine will seem worth its weight in gold in those early first weeks when we are blind and batty with fatigue.
I also learned that it’s possible to find really wonderful night nurses who ask less than the going rate, especially through friend referrals and negotiation. I learned that they offer whole range of personalities and philosophies, including how early and aggressively to sleep train babies. And I learned (the hard way) that you should act fast if you find a night nurse you like and trust. Their world is one of unpredictable scheduling, especially where multiple deliveries are concerned, and they might vanish if another family delivers earlier than expected and snags the chunk of your candidate’s schedule that overlaps your due date. They frequently ask for a week’s deposit to secure that time period, and they include a buffer around your expected date.
By the time we made our decision and wrote our deposit check, we were thrilled to have the reassurance of a night nurse lined up. Yes, we’re dipping into our savings. And yes, the whole thing makes us question every other purchase and defend its importance and its value before pulling the trigger—even for small stuff. And yes, the cost of the five-week commitment we made to her is equivalent to the cost of some of the most extraordinary, far-flung vacations we’ve ever taken. But I think we made the right choice. And I’m hoping it might help us be a little more present—and maybe even be able to have some fun—in those bleary, unsure, and probably terrifying early days.
Are you considering a night nurse?
Pregnant? See if you can afford to stay at home. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!
Sleeping babies image courtesy of Shutterstock
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Friday, June 13th, 2014
We’ve heard of twins technically being born a year apart, thanks to a holiday delivery. And one of the twin moms in my multiples Facebook group posted that her twins were technically born in separate months, when the calendar page flipped during her delivery. I thought those stories were amazing enough until I saw this week’s news of the twins born 24 days apart. And “wow” is all I can say.
Massachusetts parents Lindalva DaSilva and Ronaldo Anlunes were excitedly expecting twins, slated to arrive this June—but daSilva’s water broke in February, just 24 weeks into her pregnancy. Naturally, she was terrified of losing the babies when the family rushed to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and doctors scrambled to manage the contractions with drugs, and provide antibiotics and brain- and lung-maturity medication to protect the babies, according to Today.com.
The first twin came on March 2, weighing just one and a half pounds—but he survived, with intensive care to keep him alive. Recognizing the extreme danger to the other twin if he were to be born at the same time, doctors made the exceedingly rare decision to keep him and the placenta inside. It was a move that Tufts chief of maternal-fetal medicine Dr. Sabrina Craigo told Today.com she’d seen maybe only 10 times in her 20 years of practice.
All the family and medical staff could do was wait and monitor the situation while DaSilva remained in the hospital. Her labor didn’t begin again for nearly a month, with the second twin finally arriving on March 26, weighing a full pound more than his brother. By then, he’d cooked for 28 weeks, when babies’ survival chances soar to 90 percent.
Both twins have been in the NICU since their births, but both are now close to seven pounds and are breathing on their own.
It’s an amazing story, and one that surely provides some measure of comfort for multiples moms fearing early delivery—a fear which has plagued me for the duration of my twin pregnancy. Pregnancy and birth may be frustratingly—even terrifyingly—unpredictable, but it’s very reassuring to have modern medicine on our side!
Pregnant? Find out when your baby is likely to make an entrance with our due date calculator. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!
Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
If you’re like I was when I was pregnant, I was reading everything about pregnancy that I could get my hands on. It was great to be informed, but at times I thought I’d drive myself crazy trying to self-diagnose what I was feeling after reading all of the various ways pregnancies can be complicated (for the record I developed gestational diabetes but otherwise had a healthy pregnancy, and a very healthy son).
One of the big baddies is preeclampsia, a condition usually occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy and characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, liver disease and blood-clotting abnormalities. Nearly seven million pregnant women suffer from it a year (including stars like Angelina Jolie, Faith Hill and Jennifer Lopez and rumor has it Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears had it too), and it’s the leading cause of death in pregnant women.
When a pregnant woman develops preeclampsia in the second trimester, her infant often must be delivered prematurely to avoid severe maternal complications, like stroke (similar to the eclampsia death on Downtown Abbey).
But there’s a silver lining to this Debbie Downer of a disease. To prevent the dangerous disorder, The U.S. Preventative Service Task Force is recommending 81 milligrams of low-dose aspirin daily—after 12 weeks of gestation—for pregnant women at high risk. Women are considered high risk if they’ve had preeclampsia in a previous pregnancy, are expecting multiples, or if they have a history of diabetes, hypertension or kidney disease.
This recommendation follows other medical organizations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Heart Association , which have also advised that high-risk women use low-dose aspirin.
However, the task force also recommends that expectant women with multiple moderate-risk factors may also benefit from low-dose aspirin. These risks include obesity, a family history of preeclampsia, women older than 35, and African-American women.
Research shows that “low-dose aspirin every day lowers the risk of preeclampsia by 24 percent,” says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the co-vice chair of USPSTF. “And it lowers the risk of pre-term birth by 14 percent.”
As always, consult your doctor before taking any medicine—including over-the-counter drugs—while pregnant.
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Image of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, Celebrity pregnancy, Diabetes, Faith Hill, High Blood Pressure, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, low-dose aspirin, Multiples, Preeclampsia, pregnancy, pregnant, Premature Births | Categories:
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
With IVF treatments, twins have basically become the new norm—46 percent of IVF births are multiples, mostly twins. But now fertility experts want to change that. The new goal: single births, even when using IVF. Why? Twins have a much higher risk of being preemies and having serious health problems that could potentially last a lifetime.
The most recent info from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 37 percent of IVF babies, who are multiples, are born premature, while only 3 percent of babies born without fertility treatments are twins, and of those about 12 percent are preterm.
Many women who’ve struggled to have kids are excited to have twins—even asking their physicians for twins—because they may not have the money for multiple IVF treatments (each round can cost up to $20k!), or they would love to have two kids at once, and never have to go through pregnancy again! But doctors fear that couples are making a rash decision without really knowing the increased medical risks for babies and moms (risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are higher).
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s recent guidelines state that women should be counseled on the risks of multiple births and embryo transfers and that this discussion should be noted in their medical records. According to the guidelines, “for women with reasonable medical odds of success, those under 35 should be offered single embryo transfer and no more than two at a time.” They are open to more embryos being implanted, if the woman is over 35.
According to Valley News, with stronger screening of embryos, success rates for single embryos could be nearly as good as when two or more are used, say experts. The new techniques include maturing the embryos a few days longer, improving viability and allowing cells to be sampled for chromosome screening. Embryos can be frozen to allow test results to come back and more precisely time the transfer to the womb.
Taking these steps with single embryos results in fewer miscarriages and tubal pregnancies, healthier babies with fewer genetic defects and lower hospital bills from birth complications, many fertility specialists say.
I’m really torn on this subject, because I don’t think any of us want more Octomoms running around out there, or kids with health problems. But—and it’s a big but—all of the women I’ve known who’ve had IVF (and I should note that all of them have been over 35), have had twins, and are beyond thrilled with their decision to have multiple embryos implanted. Many of them did have complicated births—including extended bed rest, spotting, C-sections, and breathing problems in the children that caused them to stay in NICU for weeks, up to months after their births.
All of that said, as far as I know every single one of them is a happy, healthy kid with no lingering medical issues (at least so far—fingers crossed!). And even though the pregnancies and births were more complicated, required more doctor visits, and now they have twice the expenses with two little ones running around at the same time, the parents’ love for their two cuties made all of that initial anxiety worth it for them, and they would never, ever want to have traded that experience in for a single birth.
TELL US: Do you think women should be discouraged from having twins? Do you have twins? Tell us your story!
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Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Bed rest, C-section, Cesarean Section, fertility, Gestational Diabetes, In Vitro Fertilization, infertility, IVF, Multiples, Preeclampsia, Preemies, pregnancy, pregnant, Spotting, Twins | Categories: