So Molly and I went to a class geared for parents expecting multiples. It was put on by Molly’s health insurance/medical provider, it was free, and we figured we might as well go if they really have two full hours worth of information just for those expecting more than one baby. It is still rather early (23 weeks and 5 days) for a lot of what was presented – heavy on labor and delivery issues – but I know someone from my school who is pregnant with twins (just 11 days ahead of Molly!) and she and her husband were signed up for it, too. We went to breakfast with them before the class, and it was nice to be able to get to know her outside of classes and meet her husband as well.
The class was…OK. Though I really don’t think my expectations were very high to begin with. The presenter’s awkward jokes made me feel like I was watching bad late-night stand-up on Comedy Central…and could hear the crickets chirping in the background after she delivered what (I think?) was supposed to be the punch line. As usual, we got a ton of handouts, including ones on developing a birth plan, how to know when to go to the hospital and what to expect there, NICU visitor policies, schedule of appointments/immunizations for the babies after birth (now there’s something I need to read up on!), tips for breastfeeding multiples, and circumcision (research in progress!). Most of the class was about learning what the hospital policies are, especially around labor/delivery issues; most of it I could have gotten from reading their policy handouts on my own time, but I’m sure it was nice for Molly to be able to commiserate with other pregnant people expecting multiples about the woes of heartburn, back pain, and sleeping problems. It’s also nice now to have a list of the policies we should be familiar with, instead of having to look them up ourselves, so we know what to expect going into it, instead of being surprised while we’re both stressed out because the babies are about to be born. I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises we’ll have to deal with at that time anyway.
Molly and I are planning to have professional maternity photographs taken as well as an infant session where they can get those precious shots of babies sleeping in adorable positions. We’ve also talked about having the birth professionally photographed, and I think (I hope) we’ve found a photographer that takes photos in a similar style to our wedding photographs. I cherish our wedding photos so much, and I think having photos like that of our children being born would be such a blessing. In the labor/delivery room, where people with singletons could deliver vaginally, you can have as many people in there as you want, including a professional photographer. However, all twin pregnancies deliver in the operating room (instead of the labor/delivery room), regardless of it being a vaginal birth or C-section. I guess even if you are trying for a vaginal birth, it could always turn into an emergency C-section if the second baby isn’t cooperating. The hospital’s policy is that no still cameras or video cameras are allowed in the operating room…so, forced to deliver in the OR means no cameras and no photos of the birth for us. Upon questioning this policy, the presenter said we should talk to our OB about our desire to have the birth photographed, and that way it would at least get put in the medical record. But the ultimate decision would be left to whoever is actually on call the day of the birth and delivering the babies, who is unlikely to be our own OB. And even if the delivering doctor decided to bend the rules for us, I forsee it being an issue anyway, because another policy is that they only allow one support person in the OR. Obviously, I’m going to be there, and so having a second person in there to take photos would violate a second policy. I’m all for pushing boundaries, but I’m also realistic in that the chance we’ll get away with bending two rules is probably pretty slim. Anyway, I’d still like the photographer to be there because I’d love to also preserve those first precious moments of holding, feeding, etc.
One good thing we learned is that each parent visiting a child in the NICU can bring one person with them into the NICU. So if Molly and I are both there, we could have two people with us. We’ll probably only have one person here (Molly’s mom) for the first bit of time after the birth, but if they need to stay in the NICU for an extended period of time, it’s nice to know that we can each bring someone.
Above and beyond learning the hospital policies, attending the class was a very eye-opening experience. There’s so much talk about preterm labor and early delivery that quite honestly it’s starting to scare me. The class presenter has nine year old twins, and she said she delivered at 34.5 weeks. One of the mothers in the class is due in mid-April (still 2.5 months away!), and she’s already been to the hospital twice for monitoring. Three things I know for sure: Molly’s due date is May 28th (40 weeks), the average twin pregnancy lasts 37 weeks, and our hospital will induce a twin pregnancy at 38 weeks. We could only be so lucky that they keep cooking until 38 weeks, at which point they will be born no later than May 14th or so. But I realized that I never even considered that they could be born in April. I never even truly thought that was a possibility. I just assumed that they would stay in there until at least 36 weeks. Why did I assume this? Where did I get the magical number of 36 from? I have no idea. I think I was going through this process with the ideal in my head that one night, probably at 2:00 AM, Molly would wake up with strong contractions, we’d go to the hospital, her water would break, and a somewhere between four and 24 hours later we’d have two healthy babies that maybe needed to spend a night or two max in special care. But the class made me realize that the scariness and uncertainty of false labor is going to happen. There will be times where its too early for them to be delivered, we go to the hospital, they do their medical interventions to slow or stop labor, Molly may need to spend a night or two there, then be sent home. Wash and repeat. And maybe repeat again. All at once I feel, again, like we’ve come so far but yet we have so much further to go.
The very fact that I had been assuming we’d have my ideal labor and delivery process is a testament to how far I’ve shifted my mindset from where it was at the beginning of this pregnancy. During those first 8-10 weeks or so, my “default” was that something bad was going to happen, and I was so worried I wasn’t going to be prepared for it, I couldn’t, wouldn’t due to my anxiety, even consider just being happy about the pregnancy. Contrast that with now where my “default” is so obviously that everything is going to be fine, the irony being that this mindset actually truly risks not being prepared. I think it’s good to have these revaluations. I know I can’t let this stuff scare me. The ultimate testament is that, despite knowing that assuming the best will leave me at risk for not being prepared should something bad actually happen, this awareness doesn’t make me want to discontinue assuming everything will go on normally. I think this is due to a continued strong sense of resiliency. Whatever happens, we can handle it. We will handle it, even if that means needing to go to the hospital five, six, seven times, Molly getting put on total bed rest, or anything else that may happen. It also helps that I just can’t avoid feeling joy about the true reality that our lives are forever going to be changed in just a few short months by two precious little lives…