My body started changing immediately when I was pregnant. I was sick around 5 weeks, and before I was even 8 weeks along, I was in maternity clothes. I have a small frame, and with twins who were growing fast and right on schedule, space was tight!
We went to our appointments at UCSF just before 6 weeks along, and I think about 1.5 weeks later. I was nervous about having so many ultra sounds, but part of me also didn’t care. I loved hearing their heart’s beat and it felt so good to see that everything was ok. Things were changing fast and I started letting people know soon, because I was already showing, getting sick, and got light headed a lot. At this point I was teaching about 12 yoga and fitness classes a week. I think I told my classes when I was around 7 weeks along, just because I was already starting to have to modify and do way less. I was out of breath too, so often! I never wore a mic when I taught yoga, but I started wearing the mic because I was so out of breath all the time. That was a huge giveaway that something was going on, so I figured I’d better let everyone know. And we both thought of really creative ways to tell our parents. Ryan actually took a video our first ultra sound, where we found out we had two little sesame seeds growing. We uploaded that video to YouTube privately and sent it to our parents and had them watch it, while we were face timing with them, once we sent them the link. For the two of us not being too creative when it comes to announcements and things like that, I thought it was pretty clever and thoughtful!
We started looking at the calendar and planning for life ahead with two babies. I checked out tons of books on twins at the library and read all that I could. I started reading in forums and in mother’s groups online. I joined Facebook groups for multiples. We even joined the local group for parents of multiples and went to their informational meeting. We were shocked, nervous, and apprehensive, but more importantly, completely overjoyed and excited. We knew nothing could get us completely ready, and that was ok. We’d cross every bridge as we came to it, and we’d be by each other’s side doing the best we possibly could for our babies.
Nowadays when you are pregnant, you can take a blood test around 10 weeks and they can tell you the gender of the baby. I didn’t really want to know, but Ryan did, so we went ahead and did it. The tricky thing is, with twins, there is no guarantee unless you are having two girls. See, they detect the presence of the chromosomes. So if you are having two girls, they will only detect x chromosomes. But if even one of the twins is a boy, they will detect x and y chromosomes. So you can be sure you’re having at least one boy, maybe two, if at least one is detected. Ok, does that make sense? Hope so! We went ahead and did the test and I asked them to tell Ryan the results. Once Ryan knew, he created a whole scheme to have me do this little chemistry test to find out. He has a salt water fish tank, and he tests the levels in the tank often to find out what he needs to add to it. These tests show different colors when you add the chemical to the fish tank water in a small test tube. So, he devised this whole creative task where I had to take this bottle, put two drops in, then take that one, etc. It was honestly just so sweet and fun. We were so excited. So he had me do the little tasks and a few minutes later I got to the end and the test tube turned pink. Oh my goodness, two girls!! And then, all of a sudden, it went from pink to blue. We were having at least one boy!! We both cried and hugged. It was so such a precious moment we had been waiting for, for so long. It makes me sad that we didn’t share a lot of this with family. Well, almost any of it. Most family members didn’t even see me when I was pregnant, We have geographically distant family members on both sides and we didn’t talk to to them about a lot of this. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because the infertility journey had become so much our thing, that this felt like it was our thing too. It’s weird in a way, because you’d think we’d want to share it with family. And you’d think they’d want to share it with us. I still can’t make sense of all of this. I guess we all get really wrapped up in our own lives. And when it comes to loss, people get really weird. Grief brings out a strangeness in a lot of us that we didn’t even know was there. That’s because grief is uncomfortable, and grief shows us our own losses as well. But I’ll get more to grief in the next few posts.
I was really tired, and had started cutting back some of my classes when I was around 8 weeks pregnant already. I went from about 12 to about 7 classes a week. And I thought I could manage until I just couldn’t manage anymore. I barely had enough energy to go around the block on a walk. I remember talking to someone and they said to me “But why are you so tired, I was never this tired when I was pregnant”. Well, I was growing two babies. And I was sick. And it was taking a lot out of me. Every mother’s body responds differently to her pregnancy, and every pregnancy is different. There is no need to compare or analyze because we are all so different. And when it comes to nausea, what works for one pregnancy may most definitely not work for another one! So yeah, the unsolicited advice continued, but I wasn’t out and about too much, so it was only here and there. And I tried to use it as an opportunity to educate, instead of just play along and answer because I didn’t know what else to do. I’d try to actually have a conversation with the person about it in a more meaningful way. It wasn’t easy. Humans are weird, we almost like to do those hit and run comments and hide away. But again, it’s ok to get uncomfortable.
Things were going along ok, but again, I was tired, and sick. And I was going to bed at like 7pm every night. One Saturday morning I woke up and went to the bathroom and there was blood. I was around 9 weeks along, and already showing quite a bit. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen. We rushed to the doctor’s and found out I had a subchorionic clot, which are actually fairly normal in pregnancy. I was ordered to immediate bed rest. The babies were doing really well and the clot wasn’t too large so my doctor was optimist that it would start to shrink. And after a week of bedrest, it did start to shrink! I remember going in about 1.5 weeks later (the bleeding stopped after about 3 days) and the clot had shrunk to about 70% of the original size. We were both so relieved and amazed. What an amazing thing the human body is, to grow these babies, to take care of the clot, and everything was going to be ok. I stayed on bed rest because I was really tired, and I wanted to make sure the clot was completely gone. I did not have any intention to go back to teaching my classes if I didn’t need too. These two little precious bundles growing in my womb were so much more important. They were everything, and they were worth the sacrifice.
Another two weeks later, I was around 13 weeks, we went to our next appointment. We were both ready to see that the clot had completely shrunk, since I had had no bleeding, and couldn’t wait to see how our little ones had grown. And of course, hearing their hearts always brought me so much joy, comfort and excitement. This appointment turned out to be very, very different.
The doctor, not mine but another doctor at the practice, was very matter of fact. She said she did not see any amniotic fluid and my uterus was full of clots, clots larger than the sacs the babies were in.
She had to be wrong. These machines aren’t always accurate. Maybe there was interference. Maybe something in the machine was broken. Maybe it was off and there was just no explanation for it. No amniotic fluid? How could that have been? They looked perfect just 1.5 weeks before, absolutely perfect. In fact, baby A was actually doing somersaults in his sac! This had to be wrong, it had to be. We were both shaken beyond comprehension. Our perfect babies, our perfect family that we had waited for, for so long, had just had a major crisis and we had no idea what to do. It was a Friday, and we had to wait until Monday to go see the specialist at the high risk clinic. I could barely breathe. What the hell was going on with our babies, and what were we supposed to do?
Monday confirmed our greatest fears and had me sobbing uncontrollably on the examination table with the doctor as I was receiving an ultra sound. Our boys had no amniotic fluid. And it was completely a mystery, as they were fraternal twins and they could not hypothesize how they could have both lost their fluid. I was on bed rest, and I didn’t have any rush of fluid come out. On top of this, my uterus was full of clots, clots larger than the babies sacs. There were at least 6 of them. The doctors only way to make sense of this was to guess that the clots had put so much pressure on the sacs that they had ruptured.
Then she held my hand and told me, told us, something that no parent ever, EVER, wants to hear about their children. You can choose to let this go on naturally, or you can choose to end the pregnancy. I was sobbing and in complete and utter shock. I can’t even write this right now without tears streaming down my face. Their hearts were beating. They were ALIVE. How were we supposed to take them away from us when they were ALIVE and we wanted them so so so so so badly. That was not an option. I didn’t allow myself to think of it for even a second. I would carry them to full term and even if they were stillborn, so be it. I couldn’t even think of having to make such an awful decision. And then I realized, parents probably have to do this every day. Their baby’s brain isn’t developed, or their heart is outside of their body, or they don’t have all of their organs. My eyes were opened to a whole new world that I had never even acknowledged or knew that it existed. We were both in utter shock and complete disbelief.
We walked out of that office with a resolve, that we would do everything we possibly could, absolutely everything and more, to save our babies. There was no other choice. As their parents, it was the only thing we knew how to do.