Finding out the news that we are expecting TWO changes everything.

Celebrating identical twin GIRLS!

Now I have an explanation for my horrific bouts of morning sickness early on (illness tends to be exacerbated in moms carrying multiples).

And I understand what people mean when they say, “You need to be flexible about your birth plan.” I’d always thought -“Sure, I’m flexible! I want a natural childbirth…but I’d be open to getting an epidural.” Ha! Now I’m likely going to require a planned c-section.

Suddenly I don’t feel bad about the more-than-expected weight gain.  Now, rather than gain 25-35lbs the doctors say I’m supposed to gain 35-45lbs (or more – apparently some extra weight can buffer the babies against some challenges they may be facing in utero)

Oh, right. And I said “doctor”….not “midwife.” Because I can no longer go through my midwife practice.

I’m now considered to have a “high risk” pregnancy.

I’ve been googling my heart out about all the risks related to identical twin births. Although multiples, in general, are higher risk than singleton births…identical twins are even higher on the “risk-factor” scale. Here’s why:

“A single placenta normally supports a single fetus. When the situation arises in which two fetuses have to share a single placenta, complications may sometimes develop.When two fetuses share one placenta, their umbilical cords may implant anywhere – there is no set or predictable pattern – and depending on where they implant, one fetus may get less of a ‘share’ of the placenta than it’s co-twin, resulting in less blood flow and nutrition to one fetus, with more to the other (unequal placental sharing). As a result, although identical twins usually share the same genetic material, they may actually grow differently.  In these instances, there may be significant transfer of blood from one twin (the so-called “donor”) to the other twin (the so-called “recipient”), resulting in twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS).” (source)

Given that the babies are both the same size right now – it’s a very good sign of their health. But, I have to be watched carefully over the rest of my pregnancy. Apparently I”m not “out of the woods” for the next 6-8 weeks. Of course, complications can always arise due to the nature of a twin pregnancy (e.g., premature labor), but after 6-8 weeks I’ll be cleared of the highest level of risk associated with an identical twin pregnancy (i.e., TTTS).

If I do develop TTTS, the most aggressive treatment requires immediate surgery. Let’s just hope we don’t have to cross that bridge.

Apparently there is nothing I can do to prevent TTTS. Nothing has been studied in clinical trials, etc. However, some websites suggest that a high protein diet may help lower the risk of TTTS, so you better believe (even though it’s medically unverified), I’ll be loading up on MEAT in my diet. Can’t hurt, right?

Also, to keep an eye on me, I’ll now have doctors’ visits every 1-2 weeks and likely have an ultrasound at every appointment. In a few weeks I’ll be going twice per week! Goodbye free time! Thank goodness I have a flexible job!

And of course, there’s the imminent possibility of bed rest – particularly toward the end of pregnancy. And my “due date” (although officially still scheduled for August 17th), has been moved up by a month or more. The doctor says we will absolutely NOT go full term….that I will likely be scheduled for delivery around 36-37 weeks (as opposed to 40 weeks….putting my new “due date” in the mid-to-late July range). Of course, this is all contingent upon me NOT going into early labor. We shall see…

More about twins:

Identical twins only happen in about 1 in every 250 births (though fraternal twins are much more common – about 1 in 60 births).

The average twin pregnancy lasts 35 weeks (as opposed to the “normal” 40 weeks of singletons).

As of yesterday (Friday) I am at 20 weeks. Instead of being “half way” through my pregnancy, I likely only have about 15 weeks to go.

Better buckle up – the roller coaster is just beginning!

20 weeks!!!