The GOOD Effects of My (Twin) Pregnancy

When I found out I was pregnant, I felt I had a pretty good handle on what would happen, what I could do/couldn’t do while pregnant, etc. because of the many older women in my life who have had children, and have told me their stories over the years.  When I found out I was having twins, I sort of panicked.  (As all couples first do when they find out they are actually getting double what they expected.)  I immediately began researching and reading everything I could about twin pregnancies, mothering multiples, and how to handle two infants at one time ’round the clock.  To make my panicking worse, it seemed like everything I was reading was a highlight of all the negative aspects of mothering multiples.  I understand now that all the blogs I read just wanted to give an honest perspective so other future mammas out there would have no surprises, and would be ready to handle all the sh*t that (literally) comes flying their way.  But it made me angry when I then tried to search for someone’s, anyone’s, account of the positive parts of any of pregnancy, and I came up empty-handed.  I swore to myself then and there I would write blog posts in the future for all the panicking parents out there to know how much of a blessing children can be; and how twins are a double-blessing. 🙂

This post is just for the good parts of (twin) PREGNANCY.  Good parts of parenting (twins) is next!

1.  More Calories Allowed!  Cheers All Around!
The first thing that started immediately was, “Hello extra calories!”  Before I got pregnant, I was actually in pre-wedding dieting mode.  This means my calories not only went up to the standard amount meant to evenly sustain my body and lifestyle everyday, but then I was allowed an extra 600 calories on top of that (300 for each baby)!!!  It was fun. 🙂

One of the plethora of snack plates brought to me by my amazing husband while I was on bed rest. 🙂

2. An Ultrasound at Every Single OB Appointment
Twin pregnancies are considered high risk pregnancies because there is a lot more going on than during singleton pregnancies.  Because of this, they want to keep an extra close watch on how the multiple individuals inside of you are growing at the same time so they do an ultrasound at every single appointment!  We got to actually see our babies moving and hear their heartbeats regularly throughout the whole pregnancy, and that was extraordinary. 🙂

24 weeks, 5 days ultrasound of both boys!  Would you believe me if I told you I can tell who’s who just by looking at their profile?

3. More of an Excuse for Totally Irrational Behavior
Irrational behavior may or may not tend to be a side effect of pregnancy, occasionally, and you know… that’s fine.  You have a whole extra set of hormones surging through you as your body attempts to figure out how to remain functional while supporting a new life and body that it puts before yours.  When you have twins, you have double these new pregnancy hormones, and the wonderful people in my life let me get away with a lot.  Did I yell at people? Yes.  Did they care? No.  Was I immediately regretful and terribly sorry? Yes.  Immediate forgiveness, clean slates, and understanding was always coming my way!  Thank you amazing people in my life! 🙂

“Don’t mess with me while I’m on the prowl for food!”
One of the only ways to calm me down from double pregnancy hormone irrational behavior…hubby being goofy. 🙂


4. Double the Presents and Hand-Me-Downs
When people find out you’re having twins, everyone’s hearts immediately go out to you.  They think to themselves, “You’re having two babies, you need double the stuff (Though, as it turns out, you do not actually need two of everything);”  and the donations come pouring down.  We had someone donate us their entire stock of 30 cloth diapers in great condition!  It was amazing!  At our shower, everyone practically gave us two of everything.  Also, our parents really kicked it into high gear, and gave us about triple the help.  Okay, maybe they would have helped us that much anyway. 🙂

Usually stuff comes in one day at a time, but this was a fun day. 🙂
How could she make only one? 🙂


5. Double the Excitement from Everyone!

One of my favorite parts about finding out we were having twins was that we had already told people we were pregnant, and then we got to go back to those people and mention, “And…oh yeah….IT’S TWINS!”  Everyone had amazing reactions, but my own mother in particular began screaming, dropped the phone, continued to scream, had her husband come in the kitchen to see if she was okay, screamed to him the news, and then the pair of them continued screaming together!  At some point we decided that everyone we would tell from there on out, we would say, “T’s pregnant,” wait for a response, and then add, “With Twins!”  It was incredible. 🙂

6. Getting to Experience Two Babies Inside at the Same Time!
Once upon a time, having more than one baby grow inside of you at a time was something only about 1 in 60 women for fraternal twins and 1 in 250 for identical twins got to experience.  Nowadays, for multiple reasons, the numbers have climbed dramatically, but still only about 1 in 30 women get to experience a pregnancy with multiple babies.  I can tell you from experience, it is tear-jerking and awe-inspiring at every corner.  Just remembering feeling them both kicking from different places at the same time is making me tear up all over again!  Also, my babies moved in different ways with different forces and different levels of activity.  Because there were two in there instead of one, I could already begin to see their personalities emerging, based on their differences.

7. The 2 for 1 Deal
You know I prefer to highlight the good parts of things instead of ever pointing out anything negative, but it’s not exactly a secret that pregnancy for most women isn’t how they would prefer to spend the rest of their lives.  So, if you’re wanting to have multiple children (like we were) anyway, getting two children out of one pregnancy is really a DEAL!  Believe it or not, I’m sort of hoping if I get pregnant again, it’s another set of twins!  The only reason I would not want this would be just so my family can actually experience what one child at a time is like. 🙂

8. When/If People Ask, “Is it twins,” You Can Actually Say, “Yes!”

At the end of my pregnancy, I looked like this:

People definitely started asking me, “Is it twins?”(Usually preceded by “Good Lord, you’re huge!  You can barely walk!  You look like you’re ready to pop!  Any day now, right?”)  Luckily for me, I was able to say, “The TWINS are getting up there in size!”

9. Priority Parking

Okay, so this one is just a general benefit of pregnancy for ALL mothers, but how could I leave it out?  I was SO. EXCITED. when my husband and I pulled into Babies R Us, and we actually got
priority parking!
10.  Using your Stomach as a Table
After many years of seeing other people (perhaps mostly on T.V.) do this, this is the one I have been looking forward to all my life.  It is quite convenient (especially when you eat all the time anyway), and you can bet if you have twins in there, you’ll be able to do this sooner! 🙂
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11.  Better Marital Sex.
Am I allowed to say that out loud on the internet?  I’ve been married for two years, and I conceived and birthed twins, but it still feels weird to admit out loud that my husband and I are intimate.  I said it because (mostly during the second trimester) it was true, so it’s a valid positive, and the world needs to stay positive.    Sorry, Dad.

5 Ways to Stay Fit During Your (Twin) Pregnancy

I’ve now had a few people ask me how I stayed “so small” for so long during my twin pregnancy.  I was blessed in many ways during the pregnancy to present this illusion, so I figure more people may ask so here we go…

Week 9
But don’t worry world….I had what was coming to me by week 37….
Woah!  Yep…that’s actually my stomach.

There’s a few more photos in my post on my weekly pregnancy log.  Week 23 looks to be where my babies didn’t want to stay hidden anymore. 🙂

1st)  Well the very first thing is though I was pregnant with my first and second baby at the same time, it was my first pregnancy.  It is a well known fact that if your uterus has not yet been fully stretched out by a full-grown baby, it takes a lot longer for your belly to start looking pregnant.  This has been confirmed by some good friends of mine having their second and third children.

2nd) The second thing I had going for me is I really do think I was carrying my twins very high.  The way I know this is my pre-pregnancy jeans actually still fit my entire pregnancy.  I wore maternity jeans because they were MUCH more comfortable, but I tried on my pre-pregnancy jeans towards the end of the pregnancy just to see, and they still fit; which just says to me that I must have really been carrying those babies very high.  I recently spoke with another mama who is pregnant with twins who told me she couldn’t even wear her maternity jeans anymore because they cut into her stomach too much.  We compared notes, and while I was the pregnant lady getting kicked in the ribs, she is the one getting kicked in the pelvis.

3rd) When I got pregnant, I made sure I did not use it as an excuse to just eat anything I wanted.  In the first trimester, I went through extreme food aversions, and the only thing that sounded edible for a while was Arby’s, but after that ended, I went back to eating how I had been eating before, only making sure to add 600 calories a day for the twins.  But, I figured my twins weren’t going to grow healthy and strong in there if I just ate junk all day, so I still paid attention.  At around 23 weeks, I switched to a different OB, and my new OB was concerned that I wasn’t gaining enough weight to make my twins gain enough weight before their almost inevitable early arrival, so I started to eat a LOT more.  This is when I feel like I very suddenly “ballooned.”

4th) When I got pregnant, I did not stop moving.  For most pregnancies, doctors tell women they are allowed to remain just as active as they were before they got pregnant, but no more.  This would have given me a lot of freedom, but my first ob was EXTRA cautious and did not want me to let my heart rate get above 140.  Not knowing what this would be for me, I bought a heart rate monitor, and wore it everywhere for a little while, until I got used to exactly how much effort I could exert.  When you’re pregnant, your heart is pumping for your baby as well as yours, and when you’re pregnant with twins, it’s pumping for 3.  This means my resting heart rate was around 115 towards the middle of the pregnancy, so it did not take long for it to get to 140, but YouTube offers a plethora of prenatal workouts you can do that are not necessarily cardio. 🙂  My job as a speech-language pathologist at an elementary school also had me walking approximately 5 miles everyday (as measured by runkeeper) by picking up and dropping off kids every half hour all day long.  (And the nearest restroom was seriously about .1 miles away!)  The picking up and dropping off got slower….and slower as time went on, but I still had to do it until my doctor said no more!

5th) I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that right when I got pregnant, I was in the best shape of my entire life.  I ran cross country (approximately 30 miles a week for about 4 months) for 6 years, but I was in much better shape when I got pregnant than I ever was during cross country.  I was about to have my wedding so I was paying extreme attention to everything I ate, and I was halfway through full marathon training.  If you’re thinking about having a baby, I highly recommend getting into the best shape you possibly can beforehand!  This will be good for 3 reasons. 1) Your body will have a great starting point, and it will take much more work and time to get it out of shape and push your muscles aside 2) Every OB tells their pregnant patient that they can continue to exercise at exactly the level they were exercising before they got pregnant (as previously mentioned).  If you were already in a great workout regime, just imagine what you can continue to do while pregnant!  3) Lastly, for the most part, after the baby comes out, your body bounces right back to what it was before you got pregnant!  At least, this was true for me.  I have seen it in others, and of course just as before, you have to work to keep it that way, but….HOORAY! 🙂  But remember, you can’t expect your body to go back to something it wasn’t before. 🙂

My Road to Pregnancy…A Childhood Cancer Success Story

I have known my whole life that I wanted to have kids when I grew up.  Thus, my road towards having kids began.  It was not yet known at the time how children would come into my life, but we know now. 🙂

My road towards pregnancy started out different from some people’s.  I say “some” because, did you know, according to statistics:

In 2014, it is estimated that 15,780 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 years will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 will die of the disease in the United States.”

“About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.”


 

This is how my road started.
After being diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer, and therefore signing on to become a guinea pig for scientists at Duke University in North Carolina, I underwent chemotherapy treatments with the highest dosages of cytoxan any child had ever received at any Children’s Hospital at that time.
Side note:  I just googled, “late effects of chemotherapy for those with childhood cancer,” and “infertility for childhood cancer patients,” so that I could learn more about it to shed some more light on the subject.  After only a few minutes of reading, I felt myself tearing up and becoming downright DEPRESSED, and I don’t like to subject myself to that!  If you would like to know more about the facts, look it up yourself! Haha!
So what I do know is anyone who has had the full-body-destroying chemo as I had is at an increased risk of infertility.  Unfortunately, given a higher dose than anyone else, they weren’t yet exactly sure what my chances were.  Furthermore, genetics always play a role in these things, and my own mother struggled to get pregnant with me for a year, and then had to have a hysterectomy.  But, there’s always a bright side, right?  My bright side was that I received all my chemo before puberty.  My doctor told me this meant I still had hope.  He has pretty much been telling me my whole life that I would have trouble getting pregnant, but that he would never completely discount something; I still had hope.
But, after about 15 years of my pediatric oncologist (I still see him every year in the long-term clinic) telling me these things, I had long since accepted adoption as my path in life to have children.  I have 3 wonderful adopted cousins, and cousins who are now wonderful parents to beautiful and great kids thanks to the adoption process.  They are my inspiration.  I had actually grown quite fond of the idea of adoption.  I mean, besides saving kids, I also had cancer.  I had the thought, “Can my genes really be that great anyway?”

My favorite nurse, Robbie, and me after she found out I was pregnant.  She was ecstatic 🙂
Dr. B and Me.  I said, “Did you ever think I’d be sitting here pregnant.”  He said, “No.”
So then, I met D.  After meeting the man of my dreams, who was everything I thought a person should be and more, I just wanted to know if I at least had the chance to replicate him into tiny humans.  It was something I thought about the whole time we dated, and I told him upfront about my potential fertility issues.  He continued to pursue me anyway! 🙂

We got engaged 2-4-12, and when I finally graduated and moved to Cali in 2012 to be with him again, I began my search for an OBGYN based on ones who were close in proximity, highly rated, and also specialized in fertility.  I found a WONDERFUL female OBGYN in Mt. View, who I was sure was going to help me through this process…eventually.  D and I weren’t even married yet, but I was thinking about our future. 🙂  Once D and I were married on 10-11-12, my mind immediately came back to the subject of my possible infertility, and I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to be tested for fertility.  I wanted to know if D and I had a window for having a child ourselves, and of course, what exactly that window looked like.

When my test results came back, D came with me to the appointment, and she was able to tell us two things:
1. Half of my egg supply had been wiped out by the chemo.
2.  Every month, a woman usually has about 16 eggs that go through the selection process until 1 egg is selected for possible fertilization.  I have about 2-3 eggs going through this process every month.

At that point she looked at us, and said, “My advice?  Don’t wait.  If you want to have kids, don’t wait.”

Despite expecting this my whole life, we were shocked.  (Much like learning later that there were actually TWO babies growing inside me!)  We were living 2500 miles away from most of our friends and all of our families in a 4 bedroom house with 3 of our best friends.  We had only been married for a couple of months.  We had not yet had our big wedding celebration in Tahoe with all our friends and family.  We knew we wanted a family, but like all our other friends our age, we wanted to wait about 5 years and get a head start on our life goals before children, so that when we had children we could truly focus all our attention on them. 

“Uhhhhh,” my husband finally managed to get out.  “When you say, ‘don’t wait,’ do you mean like another day or another year?”
       

The doctor encouraged us that based on the results, it was not in our best interest to wait at all, but we begged her for an actual time frame.  She took my age (25) into consideration, and said if we were not pregnant within a year, we should come back to begin fertility treatments.  

We needed time to process and discuss.  With having 3 roommates at our house at the time, we went to a Chinese buffet with paper and pen and laid it all out on the table.  We made a list of our goals in life.  Then we looked at the list differently for the first time, and decided whether or not we could accomplish those things with kids in our life.  We decided there was nothing on the list that we could truly be held back from by having kids.   It was an exciting and scary moment at the same time.  
 
We picked some things off the lists that seemed would indeed be easier to accomplish without kids, and we began working on them immediately.  We figured the road ahead towards getting pregnant would probably be a long one, so we had time anyway.  D got to work becoming the co-founder of a company, and I began training for my first full mountain marathon, The Big Sur Trail Marathon.  I signed up and paid to run it on September 28th, 2013.  I got really into the training.  I recruited for myself multiple unofficial running coaches, bought new marathon training tools,  recruited multiple running partners at work and at home, and made sure everything about my body was running smoothly.  Good nutrition, ample sleep, and lots of scheduled and calculated training.  I was in the best shape of my life, and the healthiest I have ever been.  About halfway through the “marathon” training, on a normal after-work run one day, I noticed myself feel extremely sick and almost like fainting after only the first mile on a flat surface.  Low and behold, I had been training for a different marathon all along.
This was taken about 10 days before my 1st pregnancy journey ended. 🙂

 

But, do you know what?  4 days after the birth of our sons, the gaming company D has been working on (Not Robot) was *officially* founded, and they will be releasing their first mobile game (Wave Crash) soon!  Additionally, 9 months after their birth, D and I completed our first half-marathon with their double jogging stroller in tow!  Are we going to go on to pursue our first full right now?  Who knows?  But, we have a good start. 🙂

My AMAZING husband ran hundreds of miles pushing this thing…and I ran a few. 🙂
This Half Marathon was the ‘Monster Dash,’ and had a costume theme.  Meet The Justice Family of America.

Our lives have gone on just as they were going before, but so. much. better. now.  We have much clearer priorities, direction, and motivation to accomplish the goals we set before ourselves.  (Not to mention the abundant giggles, love, and heart-melting. 🙂 )

  
P.S.  The title of this post should really be “My Guided Path Towards Pregnancy,” because I know God laid the whole thing out for us, and as you can see, he has been with me the whole time, guiding me, and holding the light during the times of darkness.