Better Birth Advocacy Network
Keysha's Birth Story
We tried to get pregnant for two and a half years, and it wasn't as easy as I thought. I ended up having all the tests done; they came out normal, I was structurally and hormonally sound. So why was it so hard? I was prepared to be a mother for a couple of years by now, but no one really warns you about the struggles you can encounter.
After we talked to each other, my husband and I decided to take a break from trying. I wanted to focus on losing some weight as that was the only possibility at the moment why I wasn't getting pregnant as fast as they all thought, but we then got very blessed. The day after I talked to my doctor about stopping trying, my husband and I found out I was pregnant! Funny how things work, isn't it?
I figured out I was pregnant in January 2021. We got our first Ultrasound when I was 5 ½ weeks. There was just a small little bean on the screen, I heard the heartbeat, but it still didn't seem real. I then began to go through my pregnancy one day at a time, with the help of hiring my Doula, Kaylee. With her knowledge and support, I knew I could get through this easier and be less stressed, and I was right. My stress came from the unknown; having a reputable source of knowledge and support at my side really created a perfect experience.
I was pretty lucky to have just mild symptoms. I fought nausea and Acid reflux, but overall it was pretty smooth sailing. I noticed I was getting a little bigger than most women, but this was my first pregnancy, so I didn't look too much into it. I know everyone and their bodies are different.
At my 19-week Anatomy scan, I went in and it took around 2 hours. The tech was extremely quiet and kept going back and forth to view the pictures. Finally, towards the end of the appointment she told me she was bringing in the doctor. While she was gone, I had to sit in silence, and of course, anything and everything was running in my mind. They usually only bring doctors in if something goes wrong or give you the news they cannot. Finally, he walked through the door and said, "I have a pleasant surprise for you today!"; it was at that moment that I connected it. I somehow knew what he was putting down, and I just kept shaking my head in disbelief until I heard him say, "yep, it is twins." The shock was there, but I also wasn't entirely surprised. I think I always had it in the back of my mind.
My husband wasn't allowed in the back with me during the appointment, so he waited out in the car. I came out and started crying. This was the appointment we were supposed to find out the gender but didn't, so I wanted to be a little sneaky with how I told him the news. I got in the car and told him, "I had some good news and bad news; what do you want to hear first?" His face was saddened to hear that there was any bad news, but he opted to hear that. I told him the bad news is, “he couldn't figure out the genders." When I said genders, his eyes widened and said, "genders?" to which I said, "the good news is, there are two." I am just saying if you can envision a man fidgeting anything he could touch around him out of pure disbelief, that would be him.
I couldn't believe how much I didn't know or already read about pregnancy, especially multiples: the before, while and afters. Every milestone is a different challenge, and I just took it one day at a time.
I felt blessed to have Mo/Di twins but scared about the pregnancy journey and the future. Every two weeks, I had to see a specialist to ensure they were growing okay and didn't have a weight discordance. The trips and the unknown were exhausting. Were they still okay? What were their weights this time? Is this the time I would have to be flown out to get Twin to twin transfusion surgery done? I just made sure I took it a day at a time and didn't try to get ahead of myself or use too much google.
Going into this pregnancy, I didn't have the greatest mental health. I made sure to help myself out and get the professionals to help when needed, but it was still a struggle. I knew I needed to be the best person for my babies, but sometimes you just fall back.
My water broke spontaneously one morning. I was lying down and felt one of the girls kick me really hard, and then I had a sudden urge to use the restroom. The waterfall from water breaking was real for me; I barely got from my bed to my bathroom without slipping on the fluid. I felt a weird calmness though, I was anxious and wasn't sure if today was "the day" that I would finally get to see them. So, I phoned up my wonderful Doula, Kaylee Wulff, and she headed her way to the hospital to meet me.
Because I was over 32 weeks, I was very lucky and could deliver them in Red Deer. I went straight to Triage and was instantly taken care of. The nurses hooked me up to the monitors to make sure the babies and I were doing well. I was just waiting to hear from the doctor at this point to see what the plan was. I felt some lower back pain, almost period-like. The contractions started getting stronger and stronger, but I was not sure how dilated I was. Finally, the nurses informed me that they were getting the OR ready.
Just like that, I realized that I got to see them finally, but it still didn't feel real. Very surreal. Like, is this finally it? The OR room was packed full of nurses and support. The doctors were very quick with the actual procedure, and my anesthesiologist was crazy nice and helpful. He made sure I was numbed really well, and everything was always explained to me. As someone with severe anxiety, I process things differently, so this really helped ease my mind. Is it weird to think I felt so ready for this, though? I had such a natural maternal feel to the whole thing and really felt like I was meant for this. Your body does incredible things and acts on its own when it needs to, especially with a baby you created. Then about 45 mins later, I saw two little pink babies being hauled upside down to their pods to be looked after. While I was getting sutured up, Dad got to go with them to the NICU. All the nurses I had looking after me and the team were extremely friendly. I never felt awkward or uncomfortable ever. They made the process as easy-going as possible, and the primary nurse looking after me almost acted as a mother figure.
The girls had to go into the NICU for 15 days. Baby A had wet lungs when she was delivered, so she had to be intubated right from the get-go. Twin B was able to go on the CPAP. Both had Jaundice for a little while and some minor blips from spitting up to just being so young they needed the extra time and love to grow. Both were otherwise thriving and great weights for preemies. Twin A (AKA Valkyrie) was 4lbs 11 oz, and Twin B (AKA Athena) was 5lb 6 oz, and if they went to full term, they would have been a whopping 9lb babies. Let's just say I'm feeling blessed a little that didn't happen for my own sake.
Every nurse we had really got to get to know the girls well. They were very personal and took great care of us; if we had any concerns, the charge nurse would be sure to follow up and let us know if there were any changes in their routine or orders the doctors prescribed. We were also able to call the ward anytime we wanted to help ease our minds. With our own special code for the girls to make sure it was us calling officially as everything is confidential.
A thing that made my birth hard, I would say would be all the unknowns—going into a multiple pregnancy, I had to learn all about the different types of twins and the risks involved. I thought twins were just twins, you know? There are Fraternal twins (two placentas, two sacs), which are the less risked twins. They are also the most common! After that, you have Mo/Di twins (one placenta, two sacs), which are riskier but still pretty safe. They are both taking nutrients from the same place. These are Identical! After that, you have Mo/Mo. These twins, who are also identical, have only one placenta and share a sac, so there is a high risk for cord entanglement and danger to the babies.
I had a great team looking after me while I was pregnant, and even after they helped me a lot by educating me in postpartum. I had my regular GP, Obstetrician, and the Maternal-fetal medicine team in Calgary. Besides being pregnant with twins, I had other health conditions that they watched over me for. I will have to say that I was extremely blessed and grateful for the teams that helped my babies and me. All the nurses, techs and doctors were really kind and helpful. I was never pushed into anything I didn’t want to, and the nice thing was that they all communicated together. So, I felt like I was being REALLY taken care of.
What made my birth special was having two. But, this is also what made it hard. All the extra steps and precautions that had to be done were challenging and at times, it was overwhelming. It tested us a lot. But, seeing them on the monitor squeezed beside each other was really special. I always felt a sense of calm and excitement. It was actually hard to leave sometimes when I began to feel really connected to them.
I don't think I would have changed too much while I was pregnant. Maybe I can be a little easier on myself because I felt I could do a lot like I used to before pregnancy and then get upset when I couldn’t. I found myself missing being pregnant. Even though I had just spent eight months with them inside me and it was a lot of work, I missed the connection of having someone with me all the time. The little kicks and heartbeats I would experience were something so special. You really need to treasure those moments. It is just so crazy how things are always changing and they are always growing but every milestone, even while you are pregnant, is something you need to cherish. It goes by too fast. After having them, I think I would have tried to fight to breastfeed more. I felt like the girls were too small for breastfeeding and it didn’t work out much in the NICU, so it discouraged me from trying and hoping to do it when they got a little bigger. I wasn't able to meet with a lactation consultant while in the hospital, and I think it affected my breastfeeding journey and I missed that connection. I was going into it very blindly, and I think if I had that support from the get-go, I would be exclusively breastfeeding them right now.
I was kind of numb to a lot of the experience of pregnancy, giving birth and afterwards. I always tried to keep an open mind and just take things as they come, which helped me a lot with less stress in the whole process, among other things. I try to take care of myself the best that I can, but I find that after having my girls, I feel down a lot. Postpartum Depression can be really upsetting and affect everyone around you, especially your babies. I sometimes just want to run away; I cry a lot and don’t take care of my health in general. I always think to myself if I am doing the right things for the girls or if I should be doing them better. It's a rollercoaster of what Ifs and wanting to give up. The most important thing is communication, whether it be to a friend, doctor or loved one. As long as someone knows how you are feeling, it is important and honestly a great first step for you to take to recover.
Every day is a learning experience. I'm learning from them and they are learning from me. My body has changed and so has my mind. My outlook on life is different and even though some days are hard, I will keep fighting. I will continue to learn and educate myself for my children, giving them things I never had and giving them the most life experience they can have.
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