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Vivian Caldwell’s published books about twins:

– “My Babies, My Twins Big Sister
– “My Babies, My Twins Big Brother
– “The Twins New Baby
– “Twins In Summer

Why did you decide to write books about twins?

“I’ve always been a lover of children’s books sown from the gift of my own mother reading regularly to me when I was young. Likewise, I’ve held a natural inclination toward poetry and creative writing in private musings; as well as drawing simplistic cartoon characters on to-do lists. As fate would have it, these aspects all integrated when I was expecting twins. I began to think about my first-born daughter and how I would explain to her the process of going to the hospital and arriving home with two babies. About a month before our twins were born, I drew a cartoon strip of everything she should anticipate about my going to the hospital, when I would come home, what she can do with the babies. This cartoon strip became the inspiration for the “My Babies, My Twins…” books.”

Do all your books focus on expecting a new baby or babies?

“The first three titles are equivalent books related to expecting a new baby or babies. When I was initially creating the “My Babies, My Twins..” book, knowing how much my daughter likes to identify with characters in her books, I really wanted to depict both a big brother and big sister version. I most recently published a third variation for twins expecting a new baby which is “The Twins New Baby.” “Twins In Summer” is an exciting book for me. It pictures a typical summer day and features boy/girl twin characters. Not only was it fun to write a peppy, light-hearted poem and brainstorm how many times I could rhyme the word “twin;” I hope it appeals to all children in general as a celebration of the summer season.”

Are you working on a new book?

“Yes, my next book will be a fiction book based on a conversation I had with my son about fraternal and identical twins. It is my desire twins and singletons will find it helpful to the question of “what is a twin.” My daughter is begging for a book about her. I have several books written but not illustrated yet. I feel like my ultimate purpose as an author/illustrator is to bring a underlying theme of positivity to children, in the end I believe that appeals to twins, singletons and parents alike.”

What’s your best advice to parents with twins?

“I’m still early into navigating my own twin parenting journey, so I’m looking for advice as well. However, I would say to twin parents early on not to let the little joyous moments pass by. In the early days there’s definitely a fog with sleep deprivation, etc. I quickly had to abandon the idea of keeping up with a baby journal. So now, I quickly text my mom or mother-in-law every little moment, milestone, or funny thing the kids say and take a screenshot of it. Then I have a digital record and it works because Grandmas’ love to hear every anecdote too.”

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A group of researchers from Italy have looked into hypoxia and vaginal delivery of twins. Hypoxia is a condition in which the supply of oxygen is insufficient, and the baby does not get the required amount of oxygen. The study was published in April 2018 in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. The researchers wanted to assess potential risks correlated to the development of hypoxia in the second twin after vaginal delivery of the first twin. 275 dichorionic-diamniotic (di-di) twins were included in the study. Di-di twins have separate sacs and placentas. All fraternal twins are di-di twins. About one third of identical twins are di-di twins. All twins included in the study were delivered at 35 weeks or more.

Abnormal cardiotocography is a big risk factor

The participants were divided into two groups. One group contained all second twins who had developed hypoxia, and the other group contained the second twins who hadn’t. In total 3.6 percent of second twins developed hypoxia. The researchers found that abnormal cardiotocography during the inter-twin delivery interval was significantly correlated to second twin hypoxia. The inter-twin delivery interval is the time between the delivery of the first and second twin. Cardiotocography is used during pregnancy and birth to monitor the fetal heart and contractions of the uterus.

Breech presentation is not a risk factor

Breech presentation of the second twin did not show to be a risk factor for hypoxia. Breech presentation is when a baby lies with his or her buttocks or feet closest to the cervix. None of the second twins developing neonatal hypoxia were reported to have any disorder or disease of the brain as a result. The researchers concluded that only abnormal cardiotocography was an independent risk factor for second twin hypoxia. Inter-twin delivery interval was not correlated to hypoxia.

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A group of researchers from Canada, UK and India explores the long-term effects of Intrauterine Growth Restriction in twins. Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) is a condition in which one or both twins don’t grow well in the womb. A baby with IUGR is too small compared to other twins of the same gestational age. The researchers used data from 51 monochorionic twin pairs born in the north of England. They had a birth weight discordance of more than 20 percent. The twins were assessed at a mean age of 6.3 years. Their cognitive function and ability were assessed using the British Ability Scales. The British Ability Scales comprises of different tests for assessing a child’s cognitive ability and educational achievement. At birth the twins had a mean birth weight difference of 664 grams (1lbs, 7oz) at a mean gestation of 34+7 weeks.

Mathematics and memory skills were affected

The results showed a significant positive association of within-pair birth weight differences and GCA scores. The growth restricted twins had General Conceptual Ability (GCA) scores that were three points lower than their bigger co-twins. Mathematics and memory skills showed the largest differences. Also, the growth restricted twins were still smaller at school age. The mean difference was 2.1 centimeters (0,8 inch) and 1.9 kg (4lbs, 3oz). When it comes to behavioral issues equal numbers of smaller and bigger twins were reported to have difficulties.

Longer term follow-up is required

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that – in a monochorionic twin cohort – Intrauterine Growth Restriction results in lower neuro-cognitive scores in early childhood. Also, significant differences in size remain. The researchers suggested that longer term follow-up is required to determine whether growth or cognitive differences persist in later childhood or adulthood, and whether there are any associated longer term metabolic repercussions.

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A group of researchers from India has looked into twin pregnancies, and how chorionicity affects those pregnancies and the newborn twins. The results were published in the International Journal of Reproduction, Contraception, Obstetrics and Gynecology. Chorionicity relates to the number of placentas. Monochorionic twins share a placenta. Dichorionic twins have their own placentas. 232 cases of monochorionic and dichorionic twin pregnancies were included in the study. The observational study was conducted in a tertiary care hospital over a period of one year. Tertiary care is specialized consultative health care. It’s usually for inpatients and patients on referral from a primary or secondary health professional.

Planned c-section was done more for monochorionic twins

The 232 cases were followed up from first trimester. Two thirds of the pregnancies were dichorionic, one third monochorionic. The results were compared between the two groups. The results showed that the mean gestational age for monochorionic twins was 33+2 weeks. It was 35+6 weeks for dichorionic twins. Monochorionic twins had a much higher risk of being born prematurely compared to dichorionic twins. Planned c-section was done more for monochorionic pregnancies than dichorionic. The mean birth weight of monochorionic twins was 1.7 kg (3oz, 11lbs) compared to 2.1 kg (4oz, 10lbs) among dichorionic twins.

Low Apgar scores and asphyxiated babies

The results also showed that having monochorionic twins were significantly associated with pregnancy complications, and adverse outcomes during and after birth. The risk of an adverse outcome immediately before and after birth was associated more with monochorionic pregnancies (37.5 percent) than dichorionic pregnancies (11.8 percent). Low Apgar scores were seen in 31.3 percent of monochorionic twins compared to 15.8 percent of dichorionic twins. The Apgar score is an assessment of how a baby is doing at birth. The number of asphyxiated babies in the monochorionic twins group were 12.5 percent compared to 9,9 percent in the dichorionic twins group.  Birth asphyxia happens when a baby’s brain and other organs don’t get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth.

Chorionicity needs to be diagnosed early

The risk of being admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was higher for monochorionic twins (31.3 percent) than dichorionic twins (21.1 percent).  The researchers concluded that chorionicity needs to be diagnosed early, so that twins, who share a placenta, can be referred to a tertiary center with a Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU) and a NICU. This was deemed very important in order to reduce morbidity and mortality in monochorionic twins.

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A group of Chinese researchers did a retrospective study to explore the incidence of miscarriage of one twin in dichorionic diamniotic (di-di) twin pregnancies.* All pregnancies were conceived after in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo transfer (ET). The researchers also looked at how the miscarriage of one twin influenced the rest of the pregnancy. Results were compared to a singleton pregnancy group who also conceived after IVF and ET. The study was published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine in December 2017.  4447 di-di twin pregnancies were included in the study.  14551 singleton pregnancies were included as well.  All women visited the same medical center between 2009 and 2015.

* Di-di twins are twins who have separate sacs and placentas. All fraternal twins are di-di twins. About 1/3 of identical twins are di-di twins. 

Miscarriage doesn’t reduce the probability of taking home the other twin

Out of the 4447 twin pregnancies, 759 women miscarried one twin. This means that 17,1 percent of the women pregnant with twins experienced a miscarriage of one twin. 89,8 percent of those occurred at some point during the first trimester. The researchers concluded that a miscarriage of one twin is common in di-di twin pregnancies after IVF-ET, but it does not reduce the probability of taking home the other twin.

Outcomes not inferior to the singleton group

Premature delivery rate, live birth rate, take-home baby rate, gestational age of delivery and neonatal birth weight were significantly better in the group who experienced a loss of one twin compared to the group with twins who didn’t. The group who experienced a loss of one twin had outcomes not inferior to the singleton group. The results showed that the take-home baby rate was significantly lower in the twin group who didn’t experience a miscarriage.

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About Twins by Kate Phillipa Clark - 1M ago

A new book sheds light on lone motherhood and the associations between lone motherhood and depression. The American authors did a co-twin control study using information from the Swedish Twin Registry. The Swedish Twin Registry is the largest twin registry in the world containing information about 85.000 twin pairs. 1316 twin pairs were included in the study. They answered questions regarding parental status, depression score, education level and number of children.

Younger mothers are more prone to depression

The findings of the study indicate that there is a link between lone motherhood and depression. This is in line with previous research suggesting that lone mothers are three times more predisposed to poor health and depression than their married counterparts. Previous research has also established that younger mothers are more prone to depression than older mothers. More children increases the risk of depression as well.  Even after controlling for number of children, education level and age, the researchers found that there is still a significant association between lone motherhood and depression.

Targeted mental health support

The research team concluded that lone mothers seem to be missing more than the financial contribution that a partner would make. They suggest, based on their findings, that lone mothers are offered more targeted mental health support. They should also receive individual support based on their life circumstances.  Policies should aim to broaden their scope to include other life aspects that lone mothers might be lacking, such as psychological support.

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A UK study has examined the effects of smoking on facial appearance. The results were published in Royal Society Open Science in December 2017. Participants were presented to images of identical twins. One of the twins was a smoker, and the other one had never smoked or had smoked at least five years less. The researchers wanted to find out whether facial appearance alone provides an indication of smoking status, and how smoking affects the attractiveness of faces. The participants were asked which one of the identical twins they believed were the smoker. They got another set of images when asked about which person they found more attractive.

Smoking negatively impacts facial appearance

The results showed that smoking twins were judged to be smokers more often than non-smoking twins by both male participants and female participants. Overall, females were marginally more likely to judge smoking twins as smokers than males. The results also indicated that the participants found the non-smoking twins more attractive. That was the case for both female and male participants. The researchers concluded that the study results indicate that smoking may negatively impact facial appearance, and that facial appearance may provide information about smoking status.

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Are twin pregnancies with birth weight discordance associated with higher rates of maternal morbidity? This question was the aim of a Canadian study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health in November 2017. It was a large retrospective population-based cohort study of twins born in British Columbia in Canada from 2000 to 2010. 12,656 twins participated in the study. Pregnancies with a gestational age of 20 weeks and longer were included in the study. Twins who suffered from major structural congenital anomaly or Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome were excluded from the study. This was also the case for twins with a birth weight below 500 grams (1lbs, 1oz), single stillbirth and pregnancies with Vanishing Twin Syndrome.

Stillbirth and neonatal death

The researchers got information about the pregnant women’s backgrounds, for instance age, education, smoking habits and pre-pregnancy weight. They also got obstetric information such as antenatal visits, and whether or not the mothers had a history of delivering babies with conditions such as low birth weight or macrosomia. Macrosomia are newborns with excessive birth weights. They also got information about whether or not the women had previous pregnancies that resulted in stillbirth, neonatal death (after birth), or babies that had congenital anomalies. The women’s medical information and history of hypertension, prior insulin-dependent or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, and complications of pregnancy and labor were also gathered.

Higher frequencies of preterm labor

The results showed that maternal complications are associated with growth discordance. Women carrying growth-discordant twins had higher frequencies of hypertension disorders such as preeclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Preeclampsia is characterized by the onset of high blood pressure and often a significant amount of protein in the urine. Pregnancy-induced hypertension is high blood pressure that often develops after week 20 in pregnancy. Women carrying growth-discordant twins also had higher frequencies of preterm labor and cesarean delivery compared with growth-concordant twins. They also stayed more than three days in hospital.

Most common outcomes

The most common maternal outcomes for women who had twins with a birth weight discordance were:

  • Hospital stay more than 3 days: 83.2 percent
  • C-section: 66.2 percent
  • Preterm delivery: 60.9 percent
  • PROM: 47.1 percent*
  • Pregnancy induced hypertension: 15.1 percent

*Premature rupture of membrane (PROM) is when a pregnant woman’s water breaks more than 1 hour before the onset of labor.

The frequencies of other adverse maternal outcomes were less than 11 percent.
The researchers concluded their study by suggesting that clinicians who diagnose birth weight discordances during ultrasound, should monitor potential adverse outcomes in the mothers rigorously.

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We’ll continually publish twin birth stories. Please like our Facebook page, and be notified when new twin birth stories are published. Also, please visit our TTTS and TAPS survivors stories if you want to read about mothers who’ve been diagnosed with TTTS or TAPS during their pregnancies.

Twin birth stories – Stephanie’s twin birth story

Mother: Stephanie Joy
Children: One older child, identical mo-di twin girls (born in November 2008 at 37+2 weeks – vaginal birth) and one younger child.

How did you feel during your pregnancy?

I went to the doctor due to pain on my right side, I thought it may have been an ectopic pregnancy. The doctors did an ultrasound, and all they were able to see was a sac. I was concerned, so at 9 weeks I requested another ultrasound – that’s when I was told they saw the baby, and then they saw another baby…. TWINS! I actually felt great during my pregnancy. I lived in the city and walked all the time. I worked until I was 32 weeks. Walking started to become a bit of a struggle after 32 weeks due to pressure, but overall I felt fantastic.

Did you experience complications?

Yes, at 32 weeks I was experiencing contractions. I was admitted for three days. It was the worse thing I have been through. I was given magnesium to stop the contractions and steroid shots for my babies lungs. I met with doctors from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to assure they would do everything they could to help if the babies were born.

How did you feel?

The magnesium was the worse part aside from the fear of giving birth to my daughters early on, it made me feel like I had 105 fever. I could barely see and couldn’t move. I became completely weak. I felt so defeated till the point I thought it was okay if my daughters were actually born at that moment. Nurses had to come into my room wearing coats because my window was wide open, and my room was freezing although I wasn’t. Finally day three my contractions stopped. I hadn’t had a bite to eat in days, and my body was still weak from laying down all day. My doctor wouldn’t let me leave unless I could walk out of the hospital on my own. I walked at turtle pace holding onto a wall, but I made it out. I was put on limitations meaning no more work.

Did you do something to prepare for delivery?

Actually I had five doctors – yes five. I told each and everyone that unless our lives were in danger, I did not want a c-section. This was the only prepping I did, I prepped my doctors. I’m glad I did.

What were your thoughts about giving birth to twins?

I feared many things. I think this is normal. I feared everything you usually hear, babies being born early, having to have surgery, but at the same time I felt so blessed.

When did you go into labor?

I was 37+1 weeks pregnant. I had a routine appointment. My doctor checked my cervix and told me “You’re 4cm, go to the hospital.” I went shopping – it sounds crazy right? But I knew these girls weren’t going to make a quick entrance, and I was three blocks away from the hospital. I went to Babies”R”Us and got them their first Christmas onesies. I don’t advise anything I did, but I know my body. I even got Chinese soup because I knew I would go a while without eating. YAY ice chips.

How did the labor progress?

I was stuck at 6cm from 6pm until 9am. I was given Pitocin* which didn’t work at all. I will add during the night I heard major screams in the hallway. I thought people were so happy a baby was born, but nope, Obama became president. This was such a funny moment for me. My doctor broke my water at 9am, and finally my cervix decided to do its job.

*An induction with Pitocin means your doctor or midwife will induce your labor using a medicine called Pitocin, which is a synthetic version of oxytocin. Pitocin can be administered if you aren’t contracting quickly enough or aren’t in labor at all.

What happened next?

I decided to get an epidural at 9cm, I know, really late, most doctors wouldn’t even do an epidural so late. I felt twin A’s head coming down as they were doing the epidural. The only reason I got it was because twin B decided to move from head down to transverse to footling breech.* I wanted to be awake just in case a c-section was needed.

*Transverse lie means that your baby is lying sideways across your tummy. In a footling breech position, one or both of the baby’s feet point downward and will deliver before the rest of the body.

What happened then?

I was wheeled into the operating room. I had four doctors, two nurses, the anesthesiologist and two student nurses watching at the door. I was pretty famous for a sometime. I knew when to push since the epidural was in for a short time. I pushed twin A out with three pushes, one doctor delivered her. Then my favorite doctor came to deliver twin B, three pushes, he grabbed her feet and told me when to push and when to stop pushing. My girls were two minutes apart, and they were so small. My best example of what it felt like pushing them out is a fart bubble stuck in your cheeks.

How big were your babies at birth?

Baby A was a peanut. She was 4lbs, 7oz (2012 grams) and 17 inches long (43 centimeters). Baby B was 5lbs, 6oz (2438 grams) and 18 1/2 inches long (47 centimeters).

When did you leave the hospital?

I left the hospital about three days later, but baby A was in the NICU for 12 days for jaundice and low birth weight. This part was heartbreaking, I visited her everyday.

Any advice for future twin parents?

Breathe. Time goes by so quickly, the fears will pass, and they grow so fast. Enjoy them, accept help, bundle your little ones up and take a walk, you’ll need fresh air. Lack of sleep doesn’t last forever, it doesn’t get easier, each stage is just a different transition, a different experience. Just love your babies, because in the blink of an eye they will no longer be babies.

Would you like to share your twin birth story with the readers of this site? Please write an e-mail to kate@about-twins.com. We would love to publish your account. Twin birth stories will continually be published on this site. 

Twin birth stories – Lisa’s twin birth story

Mother: Lisa Krnyaich
Children: Older brother Levi and identical mo-di twins Jason & Craig (born in January 2014 at 31+6 weeks – VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section)).

When did you find out that you were having twins? How did you react?
My husband and I found out when I was at my first OB appointment at 8 weeks that we were having twins. My husband saw two white dots on the ultrasound screen before the doctor, since the screen was facing towards us. The doctor moved the screen toward her, and she confirmed it. We were in TOTAL SHOCK! She went on with the ultrasound, and my husband said he had to sit out in the waiting room. While he was out there he told everyone in the room. When I came out, everyone was telling me congratulations.

How did you feel during your pregnancy? Did you experience complications?
I was 39 when I was pregnant with my twins. I felt fine, except I had some bad heartburn. I did get winded some when I’d walk around in stores. I didn’t pass my 1 hour glucose test. I failed by 1 point. I took the 3 hour test and failed again. I guess I had gestational diabetes. I was referred to a diabetic counselor. I was prescribed a glucose meter and strips and told to check a few times a day. I kept track of my readings for a week or so and was prepared to discuss them with the counselor, but my water broke unexpectedly on January 3, 2014. I was 31+2 weeks pregnant.

When did you go into labor?
I woke up early on January 3rd to go to the bathroom. My hips were hurting so badly at that point in the pregnancy that I was sitting on the edge of the bed to help with the pain before I laid back. While I was still sitting on the bed, I had what I thought was another urge to go to the bathroom. I stood up and took a couple of steps toward the bathroom and my water broke. My husband was sleeping in the bed. I woke him up and told him my water broke. I believe he asked, “Are you sure?” I wasn’t due until March 5th, so we didn’t have a bag packed for the hospital.

How did the labor progress?
At about 4:00am he drove me to the hospital where my OB/GYN was. I was hooked up to fetal monitors and was told by several nurses and perhaps a doctor that I’d be having the babies that day. I had read several things on the internet that women had had their water break and they had their baby/babies days or even weeks later, so I wasn’t sure why I was told that I would have the babies that day. One woman examined me, and I was several centimetres dilated. That’s when the decision was made to transfer me from the hospital I was at (Wheeling Hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia) to a bigger hospital that had a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), since Wheeling didn’t. I was transported via ambulance to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was given a steroid shot at Wheeling before being transported, to help the babies’ lungs develop. At West Penn, my labor was stopped once.

When did you go into labor again?
I started to go into labor again the evening of January 6th. Pretty early on, I was offered an epidural and gladly accepted! I was able to relax and tried to get some sleep, but I had nurses and doctors coming in every few hours. The next morning I was checked and told I was fully dilated. I was offered the opportunity for another c-section or a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC). I opted for the VBAC. I was wheeled into the delivery room where there were 21 nurses, doctors and students! We weren’t told how many people would be in there and were shocked! I couldn’t feel anything below my waist, and, therefore, couldn’t tell when I was having a contraction. I was told when I was having a contraction. I was told when I was having one and when to push. Baby A (Jason) was born at 10:48am, and Baby B (Craig) was born at 11:03am on January 7, 2014. Jason weighed 4lbs, 9oz (2069 grams) and was 17 1/2 inches long (44,5 centimetres). Craig weighed 4lbs, 10oz (2097 grams) and was 16 1/2 inches long (42 centimetres).

How were your babies doing?
They both needed some oxygen for a day or two and needed to be in an incubator for about a week or so. They were NICU feeders/growers. They were in the NICU for 28 days. I think I went home on January 9th. They came home on February 3rd.

Would you like to share your twin birth story with the readers of this site? Please write an e-mail to kate@about-twins.com. We would love to publish your account. Twin birth stories will continually be published on this site. 

Twin birth stories – Liselotte’s twin birth story

Mother: Liselotte Wiberg Larsen
Children: Identical twins William and Victor (born January 2013 at 32+0 weeks – c-section)

When did you find out that you were having twins?
I had my first scan, when I was in week 6. I needed to know for sure that there was life inside of me. I’d been pregnant once before, but lost my son in week 38 due to early SIDS. My children’s father and I were a bit surprised that we were having twins, but not very. There are a lot of twins in my family and we had joked about us having twins as well. Nevertheless, it surprised us to learn, at a scan in week 12, that we were having identical twins. We were sure that they would be fraternal, like by big sister’s twins.

What else did they tell you at that scan?
We were told that the babies shared a placenta and the outer fetal membrane. They had their own separate inner membrane.* We were told that I would need a scan every two weeks in order to make sure that they didn’t develop Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. We hadn’t heard about the disease. It was very reassuring to be monitored closely.

*This makes them mo-di twins. Read more about how identical twins are formed.

How did you feel in your first trimester?
I was very nauseous and vomited quite a lot. I went on sick leave in week 8 or 9. I was very tired and couldn’t really focus. I got some pills from my doctor, but they didn’t help. I had biscuits next to my bed and brought food with me wherever I went. I had to relax a lot, whenever I did something, I became dizzy. I could do a bit, for instance participate in a family member’s birthday, but I couldn’t go shopping or anything else that tired me physically. I wasn’t surprised about that. I experienced the exact same thing in my previous pregnancy.

Did you feel better at some point during your pregnancy?
Yes. Around week 15 I started feeling better. I wasn’t so nauseous and I didn’t tire that easily. The dizzy spells improved. However, I took good care of myself and was very careful not to do too much.

Did you experience any complications during your pregnancy?
Yes, but not until week 27. In week 27 the hospital staff found out that William’s umbilical cord didn’t connect well to the placenta. This resulted in him not getting enough nourishment. His body tried to counteract by draining a vessel in his brain of nourishment. This could result in brain damage. They monitored me weekly, when they discovered it. Victor, our other son, wasn’t affected by it and was doing well.

How did the following weeks progress?
In week 29 I got medicine to speed up our babies lung development. The doctors knew that they would be delivered prematurely. I was scanned twice a week at this point. The children’s father and I were eager to have the babies delivered. We were scared, because they couldn’t do anything to help William, as long as he was still in my womb. I told the doctors to take them out, no more children should die inside of me. In week 31 we were told that they would do the c-section, when I was 32+0 weeks pregnant. This was the week where our children would no longer be considered very preterm. Have a look at WHO’s definition of preterm birth.

Did you do anything to prepare for the delivery?
We visited the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) a few days before the delivery. We saw the incubators and they explained to us, that this was where our sons were going to stay. We were also told that I shouldn’t expect to see them in the delivery room. That was quite hard to learn, but of course I understood. They needed to focus on helping our children. It was a good visit and we received a lot of useful information.

How did you feel on the day of the c-section?
I wasn’t nervous. I felt that we were in good hands. We went to the hospital at 7.30 am, but had to wait until 2.30 pm. That was a bit tough. I was fasting and very hungry.

How did the c-section progress?
Our children were delivered 3 minutes apart. William didn’t have any amniotic fluid left. The doctors struggled a bit getting Victor out, but nothing major. The children’s father and I knew roughly how big our children were, due to the many scans, I had in the last few weeks prior to the delivery. Nevertheless, the doctors, who received the babies, didn’t. They were quite surprised, the children were much bigger than they anticipated. William weighed 1580 grams (3lb, 7oz) and measured 39 centimetres (15.35 in). Victor weighed 2065 grams (4lb, 8oz)  and measured 46 centimetres (18.11 in). The doctors thought that the children would each weigh around 800 grams (1lb, 12oz). For some reason they had received old weight indications from a scan done many weeks prior to the delivery.

How were the babies doing?
We got to see Victor briefly, William needed a bit of oxygen. They went to the NICU almost immediately and their father went with them. We had been told prior to me giving birth, that even though William was the one struggling in my womb, he would probably be the one who would do best after delivery. Victor had been living the sweet life in my stomach and would need time to adjust.

How did the following weeks progress?
We were in the NICU for 6 weeks. In the evening on the day of his birth, Victor went on life support. It was tough to watch him. He seemed completely gone, he didn’t make sounds or cry like William. He had a tube in his mouth and a drip in his hand and in his navel. When he was removed from life support, he got CPAP* treatment like William. William lost 200 grams (7oz) and weighed 1300 grams (2lb, 13oz). I thought that he was very small, almost unmanageable. I felt like he could break. I was allowed to hold them after a couple of days.

*Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open.

What worried you the most during the weeks in NICU?
The alarms that kept going off and also the other children around us. While we were admitted, there were another couple who had twins much smaller than ours. They weighed around 700 grams (1lb, 8oz)  and died two days apart. It affected us, even though our boys were responding positively to treatment. What if they took a turn for the worse? However, doctors and nurses assured us that they were doing fine.

How did feeding them go?
It was difficult teaching them to eat probably. We used baby bottles with expressed milk. Victor eventually had formula and William continued getting my expressed milk, because he was smaller. It was tough to prepare around 16 bottles a day while having to express milk several times a day. I did it for the first three months and then shifted to formula.

What about the first weeks at home?
Our children pretty much slept and eat for the first few weeks. They slept 3-4 hours at a time. The first few nights I went over to their crip a lot, checking if they were still breathing and doing okay. When Victor was about 3-4 months old, he had a heart scan, because a previous scan had shown that his ductus arteriosus wasn’t closed.* It had closed, but they saw something strange around the aorta. We were afraid that there was an issue with his heart. Luckily it turned out to be false alarm, nothing was wrong.

* In infants born at term, the ductus arteriosus normally constricts after birth and becomes functionally closed by 72 hours of age. In preterm infants, however, closure is delayed.

Looking back, when did you struggle most having twins?
When they were around 6 months old. They slept 15-20 minutes at a time, both during the day and at night. They took turns waking up. It was extremely hard. I was told that it’s due to them being preterm. They’re almost four years old now and it’s better, but they still wake up a couple of times every night. They need to know that I’m there and then they fall asleep again.

Did you do anything that helped you through that tough time?
Where we live, families with young twins are offered free help from the local government.* Earlier on I had turned them politely down, because I thought things were going well. But I contacted them again when the children were six months old, and asked if it was still possible. They sent a lady who came 3×3 hours a week and entertained the children. That was a big help. I could go to the doctor or dentist without them and prepare dinner in peace. She helped us for 3-4 months.

* Some – not all – local governments in Denmark offer free help to families with young twins.

Looking back, if you could do anything different, what would that be?
I would hire a house cleaner and ask for more help from my family. Looking back, I wish that I’d asked them to take the children for a few nights during the weekend, so my children’s father and I could have nurtured our relationship. I felt bad asking family members for help, because the children had so much trouble sleeping. I felt that it was my choice to have children, so why burden others. I didn’t feel comfortable asking them, but that’s on me. I think they definitely would have said yes, if I had. My children’s father and I split up in January 2016, when the children were 3 years old. Of course there were other issues as well, but not taking good enough care of the relationship contributed to it.

Any advice for future twin parents?
Nurture your relationship, remember to be a couple. Get a sitter for the children, if you feel exhausted. I’ve learned that there’s no shame in that. You need to continue living your life and not be tied down 100 percent. That’ll run you down, especially if you’re not getting any sleep. Let the mess be and don’t fuss over cleaning.

Would you like to share your twin birth story with the readers of this site? Please write an e-mail to kate@about-twins.com. We..

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