It was an idyllic fall day. I was outside chatting with Ryan when all the sudden out of nowhere I felt ill. “Oh my gosh. I’ve got to throw up!” I announced before bolting into the house. The feeling passed a few seconds later.
“That’s weird.” Ryan said. “Yeah, maybe there’s a bug going around or something” I replied, thinking nothing of it. A few days later, on a whim, I decided to take a pregnancy test. Within seconds I knew. Oh my. We’d just gotten back from China two months earlier after adopting our two sons and surprised doesn’t quite adequately describe our feelings when we found out we’d be adding another little one to the mix. We were thrilled nonetheless and patted ourselves on the back…good thing we’d gone with the eight-seater van last time we were car shopping. We could still squeeze one more in. Phew. No need to buy another car.
I called and set up our first prenatal appointment. Since we’d had other babies before I was pretty certain I knew what to expect. We called ahead to make sure the appointment would be under an hour long. We did not feel comfortable leaving the boys with a sitter quite yet so Ryan met me at the doctor’s office and took the kids to lunch while I went to the appointment.
It’d taken me a bit of searching to find a doctor’s office out this way. All our other pregnancies were in New York and we had a midwifery practice there we loved. I was hoping to have a water birth with this newest one like I’d had in New York. There was only one hospital and one practice that offered water birth as a potential option, but it was an hour drive from our home. All our previous labors had gone as planned. In New York we didn’t mind a forty-five minute drive while in labor so fifteen more minutes wouldn’t be that much further if we could be at a hospital and with a doctor or midwife we loved.
As crunchy as I may be at times, I never felt one hundred percent comfortable with home birth for myself. I tend to worry and imagine every possible scenario while in labor and I know if I’d be laboring at home I’d be wondering if there was an issue and worrying about whether or not we’d make it to the hospital if necessary- not exactly the most helpful train of thoughts to be having in the middle of contractions. Then there’s also the issue of focus. During the last hour or so before baby arrives, I don’t really like people too much. I don’t want to be touched or talked to or even see other folks so to labor at home with all our oftentimes-nosey (bless their hearts) kiddos, would be challenging. I much prefer the quiet of a hospital room. You may be thinking a hospital is not all that quiet. Let me assure you. Compared to our house, a hospital is like a monastery.
With Ryan and the kids off to lunch, I strolled into the doctor’s office praying the visit would be super short so I wouldn’t puke on anyone. Although I’m sure that event would be a fantastic first introduction to my new doctor, I was really hoping to avoid it. I was so very sick this time around. All. The. Time. There was no food or drink that would alleviate the nausea. The only thing that would help was sleep. The minute I woke up until the time I went to sleep I was severely nauseous.
Soon I was checked in. The receptionist found out from our paperwork that we had adopted and had lots of questions about the process and our boys. The nurse also had lots of questions about our adoption. I told them how my husband and I would often joke during the adoption process that we could have had two kids in the time our adoption had taken start to finish. They laughed.
The doctor came in and estimated our due date to be May 19, 2018. She began to do an ultrasound to confirm the due date and make sure the baby was growing well. She quickly found the heartbeat. “Everything looks good!” she said. “The baby is measuring right on track.” She announced. She paused for a minute, “Wait, what’s that?! There’s something else in there!” She yelled, quite surprised, before turning off the ultrasound machine and demanding the nurse to call and request a more in depth ultrasound immediately. The nurse jumped to make the call.
“What do you mean there’s something else in there? Like twins?” I asked her in disbelief. “I’m not sure.” She replied. “Let’s get you down to the other ultrasound machine. It’s higher resolution.” With that she walked out of the room.
My mind was spinning over her “I don’t want to say” comment.” Cancer, some disease, another baby, were all thoughts running through my mind. She’d only found one heartbeat that I knew of. I anxiously texted Ryan that it’d be a bit longer. “They found something in the first ultrasound and are sending me down to get a more detailed one.” I knew it was getting to be late and the kids were probably about fed up with being in the car. My thirty to forty-five minute long appointment was quickly spiraling to well past an hour.
The nurse walked me down to the other ultrasound room (in a different part of the hospital) and left me there with the ultrasound tech. This was the first thing we saw when she touched my stomach with the ultrasound wand.
“Oh my God. There are TWO!” I cried. I started laughing. Then crying. Then a bit of both mixed with “I just can’t believe it. This is crazy. There are TWO! There are REALLY two!”
“Are there two heartbeats?” I asked, holding my breath. Before she could find out we watched as both babies began to kick and move all about. She quickly confirmed that there were two, healthy heartbeats.
“I can’t believe this,” she said. “They are identical! It’s very rare for us to ever get to see identical twins! This is only the second set I’ve ever done.” She shared.
“It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen to see two babies floating around and kicking together. Praise God! I am in awe of His workmanship.” I wrote later that evening in my journal.
The rest of the ultrasound I alternated between laughing, crying and laying there in complete shock, watching the babies kick away. The tech finished taking all the measurements and announced, “They’re growing just fine. Everything looks great.” She turned off the machine, gave me a few pictures and sent me back to the doctor’s office.
As I soon as I got back to the doctor I asked if I could leave. I couldn’t wait to see the look on Ryan’s face when I told him. I was so shocked, amazed and just plain tickled at God’s sense of humor.
After congratulating me, the doctor went over a few more things. As she talked the nurse began taking blood so I could leave as quickly as possible. By this point the appointment was pushing three hours. The doctor told me I couldn’t have a water birth because any twin pregnancy is high risk. She also said identical twin pregnancy is particularly high risk. “I wouldn’t tell anyone just yet.” She said.
“Why?” I asked. The ultrasound tech had just said everything looked great.
“It’s relatively common for one twin, if not both, to not make it with this type of twin pregnancy.” She shared. “If they do, they will most likely be quite early because this type of twin shares a placenta. There are a lot of complications that could happen.” Despite her words of caution, I was still over the moon excited. Regardless of how things could potentially turn out, I was simply in awe of seeing two babies moving around inside my body. What a miracle.
I hurried out to the van where Ryan and the kids were waiting. He jumped out of the van. “Is everything okay?”
“Here! Look at this!” I said showing him the ultrasound picture. He gave it a quick glance.
“Oh, only one huh?” He replied. Every pregnancy he’s hoped we’d have twins.
“Ry! Look closely! There are TWO!!!!” I exclaimed. He grabbed the ultrasound picture before bursting into laughter. We were completely surprised, shocked and overjoyed by the whole thing.
Given the news the babies may come quite early and having been told a water birth was not an option, we decided to switch to a doctor who practiced at a hospital with one of the top NICU’s in our area. It was quite an experience being pregnant with twins. The sheer number of doctor’s appointments alone was staggering. The way my body grew so quickly to accommodate two babies was astounding. It seemed like I couldn’t walk around very well in no time at all. It was like being stuck in the ninth month of pregnancy indefinitely. God was so faithful during that season to bring so many people alongside to help without us even asking. People brought meals. People helped watch our children for the many, many doctor’s visits. People brought groceries. People helped with laundry. They were all such instruments of God’s grace and goodness.
Five months after that first ultrasound, Pippa Josephine and Georgina Rose, were born via c-section at 32 weeks, bringing immeasurable joy to our family. Pippa (left) was 4 pounds, 4 ounces and Georgie (right) was 4 pounds, 11 ounces. They spent six weeks in NICU before coming home.
For that month and a half our family was at a standstill. I spent most of every day at the hospital with the girls. We are forever thankful to the NICU doctors and nurses. They saved our girls lives on more than one occasion and the images of them bending over our daughters’ ever so tiny bodies to help them breath again will always be etched in our minds.There were three nurses who primarily cared for our girls. One was in the operating room when our girls were born. She was with us the first week of their lives when the girls were struggling to stabilize. She was there when we held Pippa for the very first time.
She was the one who gently told us we could not hold Georgina quite yet during the first few days because Georgie was not yet stable. She was there when Georgie had grown strong enough to hold, arranging all the wires and cords and coordinating all the doctors and specialists to be in the room just in case Georgie did not do well. She was just as excited as we were when the girls went down to a smaller nasal cannula. She saw Pippa’s first smile with us and celebrated when the girls no longer needed feeding tubes and were able to wear clothes. She was there helping us pack everything up the very last day we were in NICU. As I drove away from the hospital, she was right out front waving goodbye to us.
This past weekend we were able to go to the NICU reunion hosted by the hospital. It was such a blessing to see all the girls’ nurses and they all loved seeing how the girls have grown and meeting the rest of our children.
Today our girls are happy, healthy six month olds who continue to keep us on our toes. They’re busy rolling over, giggling and stealing toys from each other, much to everyone’s amusement. They have quite a fan club with five adoring older brothers and sisters. We never imagined we’d be twin parents, but here we are. Oh, and that van…it had to go. We upgraded to a larger van this spring that can fit all our kids plus a double stroller plus a walker plus a wheelchair plus the kids port-a-potty and well, you get the idea…