It’s finally time to let the cat out of the bag…
Since our themed announcement doesn’t give quite all the details, here’s the scoop: we are expecting identical twin boys in February, 2016!
I plan to do a series of follow up posts on this long-neglected blog to give you a peek into what the last few months of my life have been like but, in the meantime, here are a few of the basics.
I’ve been referring to this whole thing as a journey because if would be wrong to call it anything else. After the Disneyland Half Marathon last year, we decided it was time to get a jump on starting our family. I’m super type A and started researching everything under the sun so we would be ready. While I know it can take a long time to be successful, I hoped that my age and completely boring health history would mean we would have a baby on board in no time. While I won’t go into a ton of detail here, it did not come as easily as we thought. I will probably never know fully but I have strong suspicion that the 30-40 miles a week I was running at the time had a bit to do with this. I significantly reduced my mileage (which combined with already being already frustrated was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do) and kept listening to my gut on what to do next. With some very minor adjustments (in the form of an Rx or two), we finally got to see that second line on the pregnancy test and life changed forever. To anyone out there who feels like it will never happen for them, just listen to your instincts, do your own research, and work to find the right doctors. I know the struggles that we faced are minor compared to those of so many out there but, whatever you contend with, it’s so worth it.
“Do you see what I’m seeing here?”
That very first ultrasound was probably one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Because the road to being pregnant felt like such a long one, I spent the first several weeks filled with anxiety that something would go wrong and we would have to start over. I felt like the ultrasound (and the presence of a fetal heartbeat) was the first big hurdle. At 6 weeks and 4 days (6w4d is the shorthand), we held our breath and went in for our appointment. Once the ultrasound began, the doctor was probing around for a while and not saying anything – I was worried. She finally freezes this image on the screen:
Despite checking out some early ultrasounds online, I didn’t really know what I was looking at. She then said “there are two embryos. You are having identical twins.” She seemed almost as surprised as we were. The chances of identical twins are less than half a percent so even doctors don’t see them all that frequently.
We cried some happy tears as she found two little heartbeats. That first week was just a constant waffling between shock and joy. I’m happy to report that it has since become pure joy. Don’t get me wrong, twins come with a whole long of pregnancy and birth-related risks. Since the health of your babies is the most important thing, I don’t think I would “choose” to have twins if it was something you could choose because of the added risk to them. Nevertheless, it’s crazy cool and a community that I never thought I would have the opportunity to join. Seriously, it’s twice the love and twice the joy. Before long, the “What To Expect…” and other pregnancy books I had purchased started gathering dust in favor of all the twin-specific reading I dove into next. Since I had a million and one questions (and people we’ve told have also had a similar amount), I wanted to create a quick FAQ for the remainder of this post.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Do twins run in your family? We have some fraternal twins on my dad’s side but actually, identical twins are not hereditary. Unlike fraternal twins, identical twins occur at a constant rate across all racial groups and geographic areas. It’s just sort of a random occurrence really.
- How do identical twins occur vs. fraternal twins? It’s pretty simple (although there can be variations even on these options, I’ll go through the basic origins of twinning in most cases). In fraternal twins, more than one egg is released and each egg is fertilized by a separate sperm. These babies are essentially no more or less genetically alike than any two siblings and can be the same or opposite sex. On the flip side, identical twins actually begin as a single fertilized egg that spontaneously splits into two identical embryos. As a result, the babies are genetically identical and are always the same sex.
- How do you know your twins are identical? Depending on when that embryo splits, identical twins can have a few different presentations in utero. For all babies, there are two “sacs” that play home throughout the pregnancy. The outer sac “chorion” and the inner sac “amnion.” If babies have separate outer sacs, you do not know via ultrasound whether they will be fraternal or identical. This type of identical twin represents the earliest “split” of the single embryo. You can see from the ultrasound image that I posted above, that my babies are in one outer sac (the black blob for lack of a better term). They are called “monochorionic twins” and share a single placenta. This type of twin is always identical. It just means the embryo split later in the process. Our twins each have their own amniotic “inner” sac (called “mo-di twins”) but, in even rarer cases, twins can share an inner sac as well. That’s the 5-second synopsis of twinning-basics!
- When are you due? Well technically, March 14, 2016. I will be 14 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Our doctor will deliver us at 37 weeks (instead of the usual 40 weeks that you aim for with a single baby) which puts us into February. Doctors feel it’s best for twins to be delivered at 37 or 38 weeks and because ours are monochorionic (which has its own set of risks), our doctor prefers this time table. I hope to keep them baking as long as I can but twins are also likely to come early – sometimes much earlier than you want. This can mean some time in the neonatal intensive care unit but we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.
- You’re having twins so you must have had IVF, right? We did not have IVF. It’s wonderful that IVF is an option for couples who need it and since many put two embryos in during the IVF process, fraternal twinning is more common than ever! This is a really common question that people probably should not ask since it can be a sensitive area – but I’m an open book and I have no issues sharing what we did and did not do. Again, identical twins are from a single fertilized egg splitting which seems to happen on its own and basically at random.
- Are you still running? Well, I was. I have continued to run throughout this first trimester as the doctors said it was not an issue so long as I ran at a pace where I could carry on a conversation and kept my core body temperature as low as possible. Now that we are having regular visits with a high-risk doctor (as is standard in twin pregnancies), he has a difference of opinion and has advised against continuing to run. Twin pregnancies are complicated enough on their own so, in his view, it’s better just not to add another variable. I am adopting a regular regime of walking on the treadmill though as staying active and healthy is still very important.
I think that’s the basics for now! I hope that you will follow along on our journey and that I can use some of my new-found non-running time to post regularly. I am happy to answer any questions you may have as you read, now and in the future!