“Please Let It Be Multiples.”

by Shelley Sadler

In July 2010, I had a miscarriage. To say it was hard is an understatement, as anyone who has gone through one can attest. At this particular moment, we were having some personal struggles in our family, so that made the loss of something so special even harder. My youngest child at the time was two years old, so I figured we’d give it a try again soon. Our personal issues seemed to progressively get worse until I decided it would be detrimental to another child to have to be born into our mess. Over the next six years, I went back and forth between wanting another child, as did my husband, but our backs and forths never seemed to match up. By the grace of God, we were able to receive the help we so desperately needed in our family, and from that moment on, we both felt like growing our family was finally a good thing! In April 2016, we had a very brief discussion and both agreed that if we were going to do it, it had to be that moment! Five weeks later, my pregnancy was confirmed.

Since the miscarriage in 2010, whenever I was “on again” about the idea of having a baby, my prayers went a little something like this:

“Father in Heaven, if I ever get pregnant again because you want me to have more kids, please let it be multiples because I’m not sure we’ll ever be on the same page to do it twice or three times. Plus I’m getting old.”

In that five weeks until I knew for sure I was pregnant, those prayers increased. I pretty much knew I was pregnant after only about 3 weeks because I was already starting to get sick. Which was different. I already had 3 boys, so I was certain it must be a girl cause I was getting very sick, very fast.

We told our older boys (ages 12, 10, and 8) that I was pregnant at about 7 or 8 weeks because they all thought I was dying as they watched me throw up all day and not be able to do anything except lay on the couch. They were super excited and without any coaching from me, started to wish and pray that we’d have twins!

At 10 weeks, we had our first appointment with the OB/GYN. My husband wasn’t sure he’d come, but decided to join me at the last minute. While I lay there on the exam table, she started the ultrasound. We saw a picture, and of course to our untrained eyes, had no idea what we were looking at until she said,

“Here’s your baby!….Here’s your other baby….” And the waterworks started flowing.

There is nothing you could have said to me in that moment that would make me believe it was a coincidence. God gave us those twins because for some reason he felt like we deserved what we had asked for. After an overabundant feeling of gratitude I was immediately overwhelmed. My doctor could only see one placenta, which meant they were identical, however it also meant they were high risk for Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). She told us all the scary things that parents never want to hear, including a rundown of how many weeks we have to make it to in order for our babies to survive, how many we had to make it to in order for them to not have severe handicaps, how many we’d have to make it to in order for them to have no risk of handicaps, and how many we’d have to make it to in order to keep them out of the NICU.

So the countdown began! We were optimistic simply because being pessimistic isn’t exactly a great way to live. Well, my husband was optimistic. I thought I was going to pass out or die every other second. I spent most of the next few months in bed, writhing in pain. When I was up and going I had no energy at all. People even had the nerve to tell me how awful I looked!

“You look like death!” They’d say.

“You are so pale!”

“Do you need to go lay down?”

“You look terrible.” But it was okay. At least they were confirming that I looked as bad as I felt and I could get away with not doing much in regard to my regular life. One huge blessing was watching my husband and my boys take extra good care of me. They sat in the bathroom with me when I threw up, or held the bowl when I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. They cooked, they cleaned, they helped get each other off to school and work, and they did everything I normally did. My heart grew three sizes during those months! My husband and I grew closer to each other as we anticipated the future. He started to do those little things again that he used to do when we were newlyweds. He brought home flowers, he rubbed my feet, he did the grocery shopping, and he told me he loved me every time I felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore.

At about 17 weeks, we had our gender-revealing ultrasound. Having three boys already, everyone was rooting for girls. I just couldn’t say what I was hoping for because I didn’t want to feel bad if it was opposite. So, I resigned myself to being happy no matter what. If I was having girls, that would be different and exciting! If I was having boys, I’d have a whole basketball team! To announce the gender to our 3 older boys, we colored either HE or SHE in blue or pink on a Hershey’s candy bar for each of them. After the appointment, we made them close their eyes and I put the bars on their laps. At the count of 3 they opened their eyes to find a blue “HE!” Yep, two more boys for our little family! I don’t know if my boys could have been more ecstatic than they were. One of them even fell off the couch (though it may have been a little bit of purposeful drama ☺)! From that moment, they discussed their upcoming future with an entire basketball team for a family. They “practiced” holding babies with their stuffed animals, and even rocked them in the chair. It was sweet to watch them prepare for their new brothers.

My twins were considered mono-di, which means they had one placenta, but were in separate sacks. The membrane separating the two was extremely thin, sometimes even hard to find at all, but they always eventually found it intact. I spent a lot of time going to doctor appointments! For the first five months after the original appointment, I saw my regular OB once a month, and a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist twice a month. I had an ultrasound at every appointment to be sure we heard the two different heartbeats, saw equal growth with each baby, and could see the membrane. For the next month I saw both doctors twice a month. For my final month and a half, I was in either doctor’s office twice a week to do non-stress testing and to measure the babies.

EVERY appointment caused me tons of anxiety and stress heading in, even when they were twice a week. After finding out we were having twins, we heard a million horror stories. Everyone knew someone who had premature twins that died, or who lost them at a very young gestational age, or who had one miscarry and the other lived, or who had TTTS so one baby struggled more than the other. Horror story after horror story! I’m not sure what makes a person feel like they need to tell you all the scary things they’ve heard about your particular situation, but it happened over and over again and I was a mess inside, though I tried hard not to let it show.

At about five months, I finally stopped feeling sick! It was great! Instead, I felt hungry all day long and ate and ate and ate. It didn’t last long, because just a few weeks in, I started to have horrible heartburn and my feet started to swell. My belly was growing at an incredible rate, and by six months, people started their surprised looks and their “Wow! You must be having twins!” comments. Even though they were right, it still made me laugh that people would be so forward as to assume that just because of how ginormous I was. What if it wasn’t twins? I think I’d feel bad! ☺

By seven months, I could hardly move. I just felt like sitting in my recliner all day long. Even that wasn’t very comfortable, and I had already been sleeping there for a few months, so I felt like a beached whale! My ankles and feet were huge at this point and I had four feet up in my ribs and two heads down in my hips, which was uncomfortable but comforting all at once. I really wanted a vaginal delivery because I have a fear of being cut open, so a cesarean was just out of the question! Those two heads between my hips were another blessing!

It was about this point that all my thousands of questions suddenly felt like a reality. I needed these things answered!!

It’s been eight years! How do you take care of babies again?

How do you bathe two babies?

Should I buy two swings and two bouncers or just one of each?

How do you feed two babies?

What do I do if they both cry at the same time?

Will I ever sleep again?!

Luckily, I have a few good friends with twins, so I had some great resources for those answers.

It’s like riding a bike. It’ll come back to you!

You don’t bathe two babies. You do one at a time until they’re older.

Yes, buy two of each.

Buy a twin breastfeeding pillow, feed them at separate times, or prop them up on a pillow and pop a bottle in each of their mouths.

Call for help!

No. You will never sleep again.

The questions just kept coming though because I didn’t do anything but sit and think all day long, so there was a lot buzzing around in my head. I thought I would never get it all figured out!

At 37 weeks, I was induced. We had planned this for about a month because both of my doctors agreed it would be best not to wait much longer. I had never been induced before, so I was nervous about that. I asked my sisters and my friends who had done it about their experiences, and it seemed like it would be easier and more relaxed than going into labor, so that was a relief!

The morning I went in, I had already been having contractions for weeks, so it didn’t really feel any different than with my other kids. They started me quickly and I asked for an epidural right away because I had already felt the pain of contracting before the hospital and I was too wimpy to wait around for them to get worse! I labored for six hours until I started to feel more pain than I thought I should. Of course, it was just my luck that something was disconnected with the epidural drip! I was glad it happened though, because since I felt the pressure, I was able to ask the nurse to check me, after which the doctor was immediately called and I was promptly whisked away into the operating room!

I loved, loved my doctor! She was honest with me the whole time with the millions of questions I came to her with. She never left me thinking everything would be perfect because the reality is that it’s usually not! In the operating room, everyone got suited up, I went through a few rounds of pushing, and Baby A was born! It was, by far, the easiest delivery of my life! 5 pounds, 7 ounces and screaming like a banshee! She placed him up on my tummy and waited 60 seconds before cutting the cord. My husband and I were so in love! It’s crazy how you immediately feel so overwhelmed with love for these little ones! Seven minutes later, and Baby B came into this world as easily as his brother, and just as loud! 6 pounds, 6 ounces. Another beautiful little boy! Not only were we in love with our new babes, we were even more in love with each other. You just don’t go through something like that and not come out with stronger feelings. We had done this together. With God, we had brought these babies into the world. And only we could do it. Only we could have these two specific little boys. God trusted them to us to take care of together.

My husband went with the babies to be measured and cleaned up before returning with one in each arm. It was the most blessed sight! They are five months old now and I still fall in love when I watch him with them. He becomes this person that I somehow missed when we had our older 3 boys. And he still takes great care of me because I’m the mom and he loves me for everything I went through to bring these babes into the world. We may have started this journey in a whirlwind of struggles, but we are a lot stronger now and able to brave the storms together. Our 3 older boys are also incredible. I just want to snuggle them all the time just like I snuggle the babies. Although they pretend to be big, tough, basketball-playing, video game-loving teens and tweens, they are serious softies! They will change diapers, talk in a baby voice, dance with the babies to calm them down, and even give me parenting advice. They are the BEST big brothers I’ve ever met!

At times during this journey, I honestly thought I was going to die. I’ve never felt like a strong person. I don’t work out regularly, so I’ve never been buff. My relationship with God has just always been there, never weak, but never overwhelmingly strong. I had mental ups and downs my whole life, but never felt like I had it all together. But not anymore. I am strong. I can carry 57 pounds of babies and car seats! I can do hard things. I have a relationship with God that I never knew existed. I know He knows me personally. I have a totally new respect for other moms of multiples, and I’m proud to be one of them!

After all the throwing up, the anxiety, the stress, the doctor appointments (I believe I had 28 total), the questions, the sleepless nights, the discomfort, and heartburn, the swelling, the horror stories, and the never-ending wait, God blessed our lives and gave us two little miracles!

And it was so worth it. I’d do it again