My mental health took a huge dip during my third trimester and it made being pregnant almost unbearable. While there is so much to be said about the joys and excitements of being pregnant - we can’t excuse the waning and valid feelings of distress, depression, anxiety, and frustration too that we might feel. I wish people talked about it more because I was afraid that I would never feel like myself again. Towards the end, the well intended questions like “how are you” became redundant. If only you REALLY KNEW how I actually felt. I answered with a “Great! We’re so excited to meet the girls!’ I knew it was a temporary phase that I had to get through to become a mother.
On the day I was due to give birth, it was a really stunning Friday morning in Los Angeles. As usual, I did my pregnancy affirmations first thing and jumped into a warm shower and zoned out. One of the last showers I felt I could take my time in for a while. By 8am we checked into the hospital for my induction. Though I went full term, the risk of complications were higher as it is with most people who carry multiples. Typically doctors will deliver twins early, sometimes between 35-39 weeks, depending on whether the twins share a placenta. Driving to the hospital didn’t feel any bit foreign to me. Around 34 weeks in, I already was being monitored at the hospital twice weekly for non-stress test which combines fetal heart rate monitoring and an ultrasound for fluid assessments. This is a standard test - usually more standard across people carrying multiples. While the drive itself was second nature, there was a lot I was wondering, much to my thoughts - I wondered what my husband was thinking. He had such a strong poker face and I wondered if he was scared, nervous, anxious etc. My mother in law joked that God intentionally made pregnancy 9 months long because towards the end you’d do anything to get the baby out. All in all, I was very ready to meet my girls. Mind, body and soul - I was symbolically putting out my welcome mat ready for them to enter our lives Earthside.
My OB asked what my birth plan was and I told her that I trusted her and her medical staff fully and the only thing I wanted was to try vaginally. Though I felt confident in my decision, I struggled with it for the longest time. I didn’t want to risk delivering Baby A vaginally and end up with an emergency C-section for Baby B as I was likewise afraid to have to go through double the recovery time. I called my OB 2 days prior to my induction to switch from vaginal to a C-section, but to my delight it went to voicemail.
I was absolutely obsessed with reading other people’s birth stories online, it consumed so much of my spare time. I wanted to know exactly what could be expected - in its entirety - even if I was reading hundreds of people’s experiences. Despite hearing everyone say that everyone’s birthing story and postpartum recovery time is unique and a case by case experience - I just wanted to engulf myself in every possibility and be ready. The average childbearer from my research and from all the nurses I became friends with during NST sessions had told me that if it’s your first child, you will labor for 2-3 days. Not me. The risk of multiples being admitted to the NICU are significantly higher than a singleton. We were prepared for the worse, but alas that wasn’t our case. My mom told me that she couldn’t even walk to the bathroom unassisted for two weeks after giving birth and I was prepared to have a horrible recovery because *genetics* but also NOT ME. I was walking 10K steps by the end of my first week postpartum. I’ve read so many stories about how hard breastfeeding is in the beginning, especially when the mother and her child are first learning how to latch. Not me. It’s like the girls knew exactly what to do. I wish I could have saved all that time and energy spent preparing for the worse on something else. But perhaps its our maternal instinct to prepare for the worse - perhaps I was just coming into my own even if my experience was totally different.
We are inherently capable of giving birth, have a deep instinct about birth, and when supported and given free reign to find comfort - are able to give birth. Putting trust in yourself first and foremost is the most important thing. Second, knowing and trusting that your medical professionals know what they are doing (and that this isn’t their first rodeo!) is key too. They know that you are more than capable and your body knows exactly what to do. In terms of “keeping myself busy” (more so than I already was at that very moment!) I brought my laptop, a couple of books to keep myself occupied because like I mentioned earlier - I thought I would be at the hospital for a long time given the statistics of long labor and first time moms, but alas I didn’t really need most of those things. Checking in on Friday morning and leaving Sunday morning felt like it all happened in such a flash.
I would say the hardest part of this entire experience was the checking of how dilated my cervix was. Ouch. Coming into the hospital I was 3cm dilated and from there things were just happening progressively fast after. Though I didn’t have any pain at 7cm dilation, the team decided it was best for me to get an epidural. I looked over at my husband frantically “shouldn’t I get an epidural when I am in pain??” I didn’t feel anything even though I was having consistent contractions 2 minutes apart. Upon finding out that 40% of twins are delivered vaginally - getting the epidural would be the safest option. Likewise in the case that I would need an emergency C-section, the team wanted me to be pain free (for the most part). On Saturday at 2:30am my water broke - as the initiated wheeling me to the operating room, it was time to push. As there is always the small risk of an emergency C-section for the second baby, they felt it was best to prepare for the risks with the precautions - known as a double set up.
Much of childbirthing is based around the joys - which certainly there are a lot of, however rarely is it shared how sterile and cold it can be. I laid on the bed ready to push, and the fluorescent lights and cold room were probably not the most welcoming of environments to be in. Nonetheless, like I said, your mind is a huge tool. So I just kept imagining we were on a warm beach in Miami. Bringing me back to reality - the nurses said my OB wanted me to practice pushing before the real deal. We were pushing for about 10 minutes until I saw my nurse’s eyes widen when she told me to stop. Now known as Miae - Baby A’s head was actually showing.
They took my legs off the strapping device and closed my legs until my OB got there. While we waited for approximately 20 minutes, the nurses continued saying how my labour and delivery was such a “dream.” Unbeknownst to them, all I could think about was how Miae’s head was just chilling in my pelvis. Again, snapping me out of my thoughts, my OB barged in and it was go time. I felt like I was in a stadium with bright lights blaring at me. All eyes were literally on me. And the moment that I have been anticipating for days, months, and years had come. I took a deep breath and pushed my baby down after a couple of contractions while I followed my body’s tempo. Before my breath finished, Miae came sliding out of me at 5:20am and Kaia shortly after at 6am. Very Ryupure babies. I looked over at my husband and I’ve never seen this man in such awe.
Q & A
What was the most unexpectedly hard thing about giving birth?
Giving birth itself wasn’t hard nor painful for me. In fact, it was a beautiful and peaceful experience and I’d do it again if I didn’t have twins. Fear of childbirth is universal though. Many women, myself included, do not believe in the power of their own bodies and often hand over control to fear because of the stories of bad experiences. And for first time childbearers - it is a terrifying thing to imagine - a whole baby coming out of our bodies! It wasn’t until after giving birth that I recognized how powerful and amazing our bodies are and all the lengths it can go.
Dealing with (if you do) with postpartum depression/ body dysmorphia —
There is such a duality to a postpartum body. On one hand, I recognize the miraculous things that my body did - like growing two human beings and making milk. On the other hand, I harbored a new hatred for how I looked. Despite all my readings, no one told me that you’d still look 4 months pregnant after you give birth. I guess most people are engulfed in the beautiful moment that is welcoming your children Earthside, and enormously give into the idea that now you’re a mother and everything else about you comes second. It didn’t help that people were saying things like “are you sure you didn’t have triplets and there’s another one still in there?” I wanted to love my new body and to be an advocate of normalizing the postpartum body. Instead, I was avoiding mirrors altogether. I dreaded getting dressed each morning because nothing seemed to fit because I had gotten rid of all my pregnancy clothes thinking I’d jump right into my old clothes. When my husband caressed me tenderly, I sometimes recoiled from his touch. Try as I might, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d lost a piece of my old self. Today, I am 8 weeks postpartum and things are a lot better. Your body knows exactly what to do like it did in the moment of childbirth and just remember that if you are newly postpartum, you don’t have another baby in utero. This post-baby body experience has taught me I have to keep working towards correcting my negative thought patterns, especially for my girls. It’s easier said than done and something I’m still working on till this day.
How do you pronounce your girls’ names?
Miae = Mee-ey
Kaia = Kai - a
How have your wholesome eating habits helped affect your emotions during and after pregnancy?
I know the foods that I need to eat to feel my best. I’m lucky to have found a routine and diet that makes me feel so amazing both physically and mentally so it was a no-brainer to stick with it during and post pregnancy. Luckily I didn’t have to adjust much food wise, and I kept remembering in terms of breastfeeding - quite literally what I put into my body is being filtered in some way to my girls. Food is energy and what we eat matters. It’s important to note that 90% of the serotonin receptors are found in the stomach - what goes in our stomach communicates with the brain (and vice versa). I also think walking helped me deal with my emotions during and after my pregnancy. It was a constant / comfortable area I knew, as I had been hitting my 10k steps long before my pregnancy. So being able to match this (in any shape or form) was comforting and empowering too.
Lessons learned —
A lot of society pushes for mothers to trash everything about themselves and only focus on their children. Nothing matters - only the wellbeing of your kids. And I hugely disagree with this. Just because you’ve become a new mother, does not erase you as a person first & foremost. All these years you have been building yourself as a person, as a human, as a vessel. To be the best mom to your children, sometimes you have to tend to yourself and do what it is that brings you back to your 100% healthy, empowered, happy self.
Your husband's reaction to everything —
As a physician this man has seen some things. So, going in I guess he had an advantage that most husbands don’t have. He was just amazed how smoothly everything went. My husband did mention that the hardest thing was seeing me immobile after the epidural.
Everything regarding twins and carrying twins. I've never heard people's experiences with twins —
Being a mom of twins is the loveliest, loneliest, most exhilarating and most exhausting experience I’ve ever known. With twins you have to do everything TWICE. You have two babies to feed, two babies to burp, two babies to change, dress, wash, two babies to wake up to at night, two sets of bottles to clean, diapers to change. It’s great because my husband and I were forced to work as a team and our communication has never been better. If anything, having twins has really pushed us to be the ultimate parents to the best of our abilities. No one person is holding all the duties, both myself & my husband share equal responsibilities and it’s been really amazing to see us flourish and step up to the challenge.
With that being said, I can't imagine one without the other. I can't imagine my girls as anything other than they are.