When my husband, Brian, and I found out we were expecting twins we weren’t shocked or even surprised. No one fainted or vomited. The ultrasound tech didn’t ask “are you ready for the surprise of your life?” or “are you sitting down?” like you see on TV.
We had discussed the possibility of having twins before ours were even conceived.
Undergoing fertility treatment forces you to think through many parenting scenarios, including your willingness to welcome multiples. We considered our family planning goals, our finances, and our access to family and friends for help. We weighed the pros (two babies is better than no babies!) and the cons (the increased risks for mom and babies during pregnancy and birth).
Ultimately, we decided to transfer two embryos during our 3rd and 4th rounds of IVF (in vitro fertilization), after our first attempt was a non-starter and our second attempt, with one embryo, did not result in pregnancy. As a result, we were aware of the possibility of having twins while still being quite pessimistic about our chances of ever actually getting pregnant.
When you undergo IVF, you are advised NOT to take a home pregnancy test and, instead, to wait for your beta hGC blood test. I passionately disobeyed that suggestion and peed on multiple tests at home, so that my husband could (finally!) be the one to tell me that I was (finally!) pregnant. However, we had no clue whether I was pregnant with one baby or two.
Two days later I completed my blood test and the nurse called with the results: my beta was an impressive 268 (a beta of 50 is considered pregnant). Two days later my beta had more than doubled to 618, so I consulted the unofficial, but awfully reliable website, betabase. According to their data, there was a good chance that two embryos had stuck around in my uterus. The is-it-or-isnt-it twins guessing game began.
The speculation only lasted a few days. At five weeks and five days gestation, I started bleeding and landed back in the fertility clinic for monitoring. I had a transvaginal ultrasound that confirmed a sub-chorionic hemorrhage. We also saw two tiny black dots on the screen; one had a heartbeat and one did not (yet). Our team told us that anything could happen and refused to print us an ultrasound picture for fear of getting our hopes up.
But, for the moment at least, we knew we were pregnant with twins.
About a week later, we returned to our fertility clinic for another ultrasound. Both of our little black dots were still there and had grown and developed appropriately! Better yet, both those little black dots now had detectable heartbeats.
This advanced knowledge gave us a lot of time to mentally prepare ourselves for the joys and challenges to come. Having twins after infertility is an increasingly common, but still distinctive experience. It certainly takes time to transition your brain from identifying as infertile to double fertile!
Despite how soon we knew we were having twins, I spent a good chunk of my pregnancy referring to “the baby” instead of “the babies.” I had always planned to leave the sex of my baby as a surprise for delivery, but I needed this knowledge to make the twin situation feel more real. Ultimately, we decided to find out what sexes we were having so that I could mentally process their impending arrivals. Once we found out we were (definitely) having a boy and (probably) a girl, the reality of two new people joining us in the world sunk in a bit more.
Whenever I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the idea that I was growing two babies, I usually had an ultrasound around the corner to prove it. When I had the sub chorionic hemorrhage I had ultrasounds weekly, or more often. Then, it took three separate attempts to complete two anatomy scans, because the babies kept covering each other, shading their siblings’ body parts, and switching places! Next, I had 3 transvaginal ultrasounds to visualize the length of my cervix and monitor its ability to hold up the weight of two growing babies. In all, I had about 20 ultrasounds, and I was only pregnant for 29 weeks!
There was nothing old-fashioned about the way our twins were made. From the fertility treatments to the pregnancy blood tests, from the ultrasound monitoring to the gender reveal, everything about my pregnancy was quite new-fashioned, if you will.
Growing our family may have taken (a lot) more medical intervention compared to making a baby the “old fashioned way,” but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Did you experience a lot of medical (or other) intervention before or during your pregnancy? Do you think this makes pregnancy different than the “olden days”? What was old- or -new-fashioned about your conception, pregnancy or birth experiences?