Whoa. Hold on. Sit back, relax, and prepare your eyes for a long story.
Let’s back it up a bit. Oh, and obligatory “possible TMI” warning.
June 28th, 2016, a month and 2 weeks after Rick and I got married, we made an amazing discovery. We’d be adding a pair of tiny little feet to our newly formed family! I was 3 weeks and 4 days pregnant. We were both super excited and a little nervous. A baby is a baby, a tiny little human being after all. But we knew that we wanted a baby soon, hence why we both made the decision to halt my birth control pills after coming back from our honeymoon. We figured it’d take us a few months to a year to get pregnant. Nope, 4 weeks was all it took. Fertile Myrtle became my nickname.
Insane morning sickness. Extreme fatigue. Constantly hangry. I was either having a big boy or… twins. Fifteen-year-old me wanted twins so bad. Prior to knowing identical twins are not a genetic thing and instead are random, my sister and I did a “twin power transfer”, in which we decided I would get the twins when it would be my turn to have kids. Why, you ask? Our maternal grandpa is an identical twin.
Fast-forward to August 1st, 2016. I could barely sleep the night before, excited to see little Tater Tot and make sure everything was honkeydorey with the whole pregnancy situation. I sat on the toilet earlier that morning, thinking to myself “I better stop thinking about this twin thing before I get disappointed at the ultrasound appointment today.”
I remember this vividly – I was lying back on the little seat in the doctor’s office, Rick sitting on a chair next to it. We were both intently staring at the screen, trying to look like we knew what we were looking at (HA, we didn’t). The ultrasound tech rolled the little scanner ball across my then-flat stomach for a good two minutes in complete silence. Rick and I exchanged worried glances. Had we lost the baby? Could she not find Tater Tot? Did she even know what the hell she was looking at?
“Would you start screaming if I told you it’s twins?”
I believe my sister and I legitimately cast an actual spell when we were 13 and 15 (or in actuality, just getting off birth control after 10 years might have done it). Just kidding. Our maternal grandfather is an identical twin as well, and we (as other people do) thought that identical twins ran in the family. They don’t. They’re a random act of nature as your egg decides to split into two after being fertilized. So yeah, we were having monozygotic-diamniotic twins, which is a very complicated term for identical twins. One big ol’ placenta, two tiny amniotic sacs. Two little Tater Tots. The center of their tiny bodies was flickering, their even tinier hearts beating like crazy. One of them was frantically waving what looked like a blob of an arm. There were no words to express how excited we were, let alone to express how much more nervous we instantly became. Not only do twins tend to come early, there could be complications since they were sharing a placenta, the pregnancy became a low high-risk pregnancy, and it’s two babies. TWO FREAKING BABIES. With no family in town, we were terrified of raising two babies alone (turns out we’re actually amazing at it).
At exactly 12 weeks, I started bleeding and immediately freaked out. My OB told me to come in immediately, and we performed an ultrasound. The Tots were fine, they were actually kicking each other like there was no tomorrow. I was informed of a tear in my placenta, put on pelvic rest (no sex for 2 weeks), and almost had a small heart attack. The tech focused on my left ovary. “This is either a second placenta or a cyst… Let me call the OB in.” Second placenta. That would mean triplets. I kind of had a mini panic attack. Turns out it was a cyst after all, one that grew along with the babies for the rest of my pregnancy.
At my next ultrasound, we met with a high-risk OB from the Strong Memorial Hospital OB facility and discussed the possibility of being on the Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) spectrum. That is a potentially fatal event in which one twin steals nutrients and amniotic fluid from the other. Our Twin A had a much bigger sac than our Twin B, and the babies had a small difference in measurements. That put us at Stage 0, which meant weekly ultrasounds for the foreseeable future.
September 30th, 2016. I was 17 weeks pregnant. Time for an anatomy scan with the possibility of finding out the sex! TWO GIRLS! Poor Rick. He’s 100% outnumbered. It took us a while, but we came up with names: River Genevieve and Lydia Rey (I’m totally not squealing with happiness because I love them so much).
As the weekly ultrasounds kept coming, the differences in the girls’ amniotic sacs and size/weight fluctuated. It took about a month for things to start evening out and I could have biweekly appointments instead. This was excellent news (and fantastic for our finances – high-risk OBs and weekly ultrasounds aren’t cheap at all)!
December 7th, 2016. My parents went to my ultrasound appointment with me. My blood pressure was at a ridiculous 170/100. I was told to lay on my left for a bit and relax, and that helped my blood pressure come back down. Once it did, we went ahead with the appointment and everything was still going great.
I traveled a lot while pregnant. Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Catalina Island, San Francisco. It was absolutely fantastic. Rick had to go to San Francisco again for work, and I almost went with him. But I decided to stay home because at 27 weeks I was a big as a singleton pregnancy at 40 weeks. H-U-G-E. I had been out of work since December 2nd on doctor’s orders, and I wanted to lounge around the house and play Star Wars: Battlefront with Gabby all day. Except it didn’t exactly go that way.
December 15th, 2016. I ate an entire package of Oreos. Don’t judge me. I went to bed at 11pm and shifted uncomfortably when I got Braxton Hicks. I was used to them at this point, except this time they went on for 2 hours. I was a little alarmed, but I did fall asleep eventually.
December 16th, 2016. I woke up and went to use the bathroom, as any huge 28-week-pregnant-with-twins lady would. Surprise! My entire mucus plug (the thing that keeps your cervix closed and prevents bacteria from entering the placenta area) fell out. Numb, I instantly messaged Kimmy, an amazing mom of twins I had recently befriended, and she confirmed that it was the mucus plug and told me to call my OB.
“Girlie, you just scored yourself a one-way ticket to the hospital!”
Rick was in San Francisco. I couldn’t drive because I couldn’t fit in my car (H-U-G-E) and there was a bad blizzard outside. I quickly called my wonderful friend Marlea who dropped what she was doing and took my dog, Zelda, out for me and then drove me to the hospital.
The doctors assumed I was dehydrated, so they put an IV in my hand and started pumping me with hydrating shenanigans. Yep, I had to pee every 5 minutes now instead of 15. Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeat.
My work wife Krystina arrived, and stayed with me for hours. I had an ultrasound (I didn’t know it then that it would be my last one…. I wish I knew where I stuffed the pictures) and the girls were excellent. River (Baby A) was head down like she knew something was up. Lydia (Baby B) was being a yoga master, completely sideways and folded in half. My cervix was 90% gone. I was 1cm dilated.
Hospital stay, here I come! Yay for obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate roommate! But we did end up watching Frozen together, so that was nice.
They initially intended to keep me for a couple of days for monitoring. Meanwhile, Rick was freaking out in San Francisco trying to get home. My amazing coworkers were able to get him home when his flight cancelled, and he landed on Saturday afternoon. I had taken two shots on my butt and one on my arm by then. I hate needles.
December 17th, 2016. We toured the NICU. It was such a sweet, uplifting place. Rick and I kept telling ourselves we wouldn’t be needing to get familiarized with it, though, Bad juju.
December 18th, 2016. After a whole day without any contractions or pain or anything, really, I felt a familiar pain at around 4am. Felt like Braxton Hicks, but stronger. My back hurt along with it, and it hurt a lot. The pain was constant and intense for the whole day, with contractions getting closer and closer. I got up to pee and just started balling my eyes out from all the pain and the terror that it filled me with, thinking of how my body was giving up and betraying me, River, and Lydia. When I got out of the bathroom, the nurse looked at me with understanding.
“I’m going to call the doctor in, ok?”
I think I made some sort of relieved yet terrified noise back at her, hugged Rick, and he helped me back onto my hospital bed. The doctor came in and, as if on cue, so did my friend Deja. I still apologize to her a lot that she got to see the doctor checking my cervix.
Yay for a private room! No more roommate!
I was 3cm dilated. I remember getting even more worried. I was 28 weeks. 28!!! That’s 12 weeks short of a full-term pregnancy! That’s a whole 3 months early! WHY?!
Pain. Contractions. Back pain. Elaborated breathing. Crying. So much pain.
Pain. Contractions. Back pain. Deja put a compress on my forehead and told me I was breathing good. Breathing. Pain. Krystina! Krystina was in the room now, trying to stay calm so Rick would stay calm. Deja was basically my doctor.
8cm dilated. Magnesium. Ah…. Felt nice. The pain was a little easier to ignore.
“You’re going to have a c-section in 45 minutes, ok?”
Holy shit. They’re coming. This is really happening. Rick was my rock – smiling, excited about meeting the babies, lovingly kissing my hand and forehead.
They wheeled me to the surgery room alone. They told me to sit on the edge of the table and lean forward and squeeze the nurse’s hand and just talk and talk and to NOT MOVE – a task only easier said that done. It was time for the epidural. It did hurt when they first pricked my back, but as the liquid went in, I felt warm. They laid me back down and apparently hooked me up to a heart monitor, put a cannula on my nose, and an oxygen monitor on my finger (I only know this because Rick entered the room at that time and took a picture). The epidural wasn’t kicking in, so they tilted me head down to help the drugs flow a little quicker.
All I remember was wanting to fall asleep. It was the first time I had felt comfortable at all that day. Rick kept wagging his finger, saying “Don’t you dare fall asleep!”
11:47pm. A weird, kitty-like squeak filled my ears. “Here’s Baby A!” Dr. Harrington said as she held the tiniest baby I had ever seen (until 2 minutes later) above the curtain. River Genevieve was here.
11:49pm. The same squeak. “Here’s Baby B!” Oh my glob. She was even tinier. Lydia Rey was here.
Dr. Harrington told Rick to stand up and look at something. My cyst. I was quietly apologizing to Rick as she showed him this transparent sack of liquid from my ovary. She said she wasn’t going t remove it because it looked benign and that it’d most likely go away on its own.
She stitched me up rather quickly and they wheeled the girls past us one at a time, each with a team helping them breathe and stay warm in their incubators. They were strangely perfect. Born so early, yet so perfect.
I was so high from all the drugs they gave me that I got Facebook and text message happy. I was so happy to have had my babies. Was I a mom now, even if they’d be staying at the NICU for however long? Wait, I wasn’t pregnant anymore. Ice. I wanted ice in my mouth. I had 5 full cups of cranberry juice and ice.
I think I finally fell asleep at around 2am. I honestly don’t remember.
As hazy as that evening still is to me, I’ll always cherish every detail I do remember. I’ll always remember this short pregnancy as a fun one, because it truly was.
It was the beginning of our little crazy-in-a-good-way life.