Exactly four years ago today, after a grueling 21 hours of labor, G-Dog was born. And exactly one hour and 37 minutes later, ConMan followed.
My twinlets (or how about doublets?) were conceived using in-vitro fertilization, and so I have earlier pictures of them than most mommies: seven cells and eight cells. I'm not sure which is which, but if you look carefully, you can count every single cell. I am awed, humbled, amazed every time I look at these, which CPod affectionately referred to as our Embies:
When I was six weeks along, I was pretty sure I was in the midst of a miscarriage: spotting, cramping, and a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. CPod was working over an hour away, in the town where MommyJ was then living. I called my reproductive endocrinologist, and the nurse practitioner told me to come right in. MommyJ piled her three kids (including tiny twins) into the car, picked CPod up at work, and met me at the office. CPod came back with me for the ultrasound. I was used to seeing these -- during the IVF process, they do ultrasounds nearly every day. I saw on the screen what I thought were several follicles in an ovary. I asked the nurse which side we were seeing and she said, "Honey, that's your uterus." And then it clicked: I knew they had put two blastocysts back in after fertilizing my eggs; and both had implanted.
We still don't know why I had the cramping, but everything turned out just fine.
One of their first twin portraits, with G-Dog in the foreground:
Two days old, significantly less swollen and better colored, just before we came home from the hospital:
I spent the last six weeks of my pregnancy with the twins on bedrest. Those of you who know me well can imagine what a challenge this was. I am not used to sitting still. At all. I go. I do. I work. I get things done. But for six weeks I sat. I learned how to knit. I read a lot of books. And I incubated two babies, so I guess I still got things done.
Finally, my doctor was merciful. I had an ultrasound every week so they could measure the babies and make sure there was enough amniotic fluid in each sac. (Short reproductive genetics lesson: My twins were diamniotic, meaning separate amniotic sacs, and were also dizygotic, meaning they came from separate eggs. Fraternal -- FRAternal as in brotherly, not PAternal as in fatherly -- twins are always both dizygotic and diamniotic. Identical twins are always monozygotic, meaning one egg was fertilized and then split later on. But identical twins may be either diamniotic or monoamniotic depending on how early that split occurs, either before the development of the amniotic sac of after. And since identical twins have exactly the same genetic material, identical twins will always be the same sex. Hence the term "identical".)
At my 37 week ultrasound, the perinatologist measured a slight dip in the amniotic fluid index of Baby A, who turned out to be G-Dog. The perinatologist told me he'd see me at 38 weeks, but when my OB got the results, he had mercy upon me and said he thought we should probably induce because of that low fluid. I cried. And then I hugged him.
We went to the hospital early on Friday morning, February 4th, expecting babies sometime that day. Eavly the next morning, after protracted labor and extensive use of pitosin (I can't even tell you how many bags of fluid were infused into me . . . after all that labor I swear I peed two liters) finally I had progressed enough to deliver Baby A, G-Dog. G-Dog didn't cry. He laid there content on the warming blanket, listening to the sounds of his brother joining him in this life. Finally, when ConMan was born over an hour and a half later, G-Dog drifted off to sleep, but only once they were close enough together to touch. They were healthy and beautiful and fat: G-Dog weighed in at 6 lb. 7 oz. and ConMan was a whopping 7 lb. 1 oz.
I delivered in the operating room because there is such a risk of emergency c-section with twins. Usually, they don't let anyone into the OR who doesn't work for the hospital except for the daddy. But we'd been laboring for so long that they made an exception. My mom, MommyJ, and my sister-in-law Melanie (who is a labor and delivery nurse and came in very handy) attended the births. I will be forever grateful to my drill sergeant nurse because she was the one who told them all to suit up and come in the OR before she changed her mind.
They slept close together in the same bassinet until they were three or four months old. Even then, we kept them in the same crib. They sometimes held hands.
Every day since then has been an adventure. It has been a study in nature versus nurture, because these boys have been apart only a handful of hours in their four years, and they are so completely different, so absolutely individual, that I can't believe how such identical circumstances have yielded such different results.
It has been hard -- I won't lie. There were dark, dark days in the beginning when they slept hardly at all and I, even less. When the ratio of little to big is 2:1 there are never enough hands to take care of every need. I'll repeat the advice MommyJ gave me that I pass on to every new mom I can: If your babies are crying, they're not dead. So sometimes, you just have to let one cry while you take care of the other one for a minute.
Every day presents new challenges and new solutions and new joys and new adventures. And it has gotten easier as they have gotten older. I delight in the opportunity to observe them as their personalities develop and their spirits mature.
So, happy birthday to my twin tadpoles. They have brought more joy to my life than I ever thought was possible. My blessings are immeasurable, in large part because I have the privilege of being their mother. G-Dog and ConMan: May you live long and happy lives; may you give me many grandchildren; may you find joy in you special bond as twins; and may you forever know how special you are -- not because you're twins, but because you are you -- individually, uniquely, perfectly YOU.