Pregnancy Update / by Martha Keyes

Brandon and I just celebrated three years of marriage together on the 16th of August! It has been such an amazing three years--so far surpassing anything I could have imagined for myself. I'm so grateful to be married to such a constant, kind, and caring person. I know our lives are about to change in ways we can't even imagine, but I'm so glad we're in it all together. 
The week before our anniversary, we were in California with my whole family, and we had a day to ourselves when we went kayaking together at Carlsbad Lagoon, which we kind of considered our anniversary activity (plus boogie boarding at the beach together every day). Once we got back home, Brandon had a lot of work catch-up to do, but on our anniversary, we got to go to an appointment with our OB and see the babies! Probably the best way to spend part of our anniversary! Being pregnant with twins, I'm automatically categorized as having a high-risk pregnancy. That means that I see my OB every four weeks and then the perinatologist every four weeks--so I see a doctor every two weeks. This will get more intense later on in pregnancy as they monitor the growth and well-being of the babies and myself. The OB I see does an ultrasound each visit to check the babies' heartbeats, and the perinatologist does a growth ultrasound each visit since the only way to check the growth of more than one baby in utero is to do so via ultrasound. That means we get to see our babies a lot--by far the greatest blessing of a twin pregnancy, as I'm sure other twin moms would agree. By and large, carrying more than one baby means more of all the unpleasant pregnancy symptoms (and earlier on), so the perk of extra ultrasounds really helps offset all of that. 

Coming to terms with twins

When we found out that we were pregnant with twins, I was shocked. I was extremely grateful that we were finally successfully pregnant, but man, oh man, it threw me for a real loop! It took me a good couple weeks to come to terms with the fact that Heavenly Father seemed to trust that I could handle carrying, birthing, and mothering twins. I still have moments where I'm reading up on handling life with twins and feel overwhelmed by the thought of it all. Though I'm ashamed to admit it, sometimes I have a little pang of envy for those whose introduction to motherhood will be absent of the chaos of juggling two newborn feeding and sleep schedules or the extra risks and pains of a twin pregnancy and delivery. Each time this feeling rears its head, I feel guilty for feeling it and know that it doesn't come from Heavenly Father. It's always a short-lived feeling, as I recognize what an incredible blessing it is that we are able to welcome any children at all into our home, to say nothing of two children in one go. And as time passes and the somewhat nebulous idea of pregnancy and parenting starts to feel more tangible due to kicks and a growing belly, that recurrent but fleeting feeling has almost entirely been replaced by gratitude for the opportunity to care for these two beautiful babies. I feel so much gratitude that Heavenly Father has entrusted these two spirits to our care (and am also grateful that we won't know any better than life with twins since they'll be our first). I'm trying to have more faith that, even though I feel completely inadequate, my adequacy is only a part of the equation. He will strengthen Brandon and me to be the parents we need to be to these two sweet babes if we look to Him for that strength. 

God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability! -Neal A. Maxwell

The Pregnancy Experience thus far

Some people seem to breeze through pregnancy fairly easily. Either that or people really just don't tell you any of the rough parts about pregnancy. Our battle to become pregnant wasn't breezy, so I think that somewhere inside I figured that we would be due for a break. My pregnancy definitely hasn't been as difficult as some people's (hats off to you ladies who suffer through HG!), but nor has it been a breeze by any means. Sometimes I feel like I've had every possible symptom in the book for how far along I am (obviously not true). Everything from intense fatigue (3 naps a day sometimes) to crippling nausea/vomiting (still going strong with on-the-verge-of-vomiting nausea about half the time here at 19 weeks) to meralgia paraesthetica (numbness in my left thigh) to infections (going on 9 weeks battling one of two current infections) to round ligament pain (ouch) to peeing every 5 minutes (literally every 5 minutes sometimes) to nosebleeds and headaches and back issues to lots of stuff noone wants to read about on here. I have to force myself to stop and remember that my body is growing two entirely new human bodies simultaneously, all while maintaining its own most important functions. I am, in partnership with my husband and God, participating in the formation of two entirely new creations the world has never seen and will never again see. There have been some pretty amazing new inventions over the span of human life on earth, but they all pale in comparison to the miraculous creation of a new being! How amazing is it to experience that and to be the vehicle for it?!

Feeling (and seeing) movement

My experience with pregnancy is frequently experiencing strange (sometimes uncomfortable or painful) sensations in my abdominal area. Never having been through pregnancy before, I had no idea how to identify movement from the babies. I read descriptions of it and wondered if I had felt them. Just before my 17 week mark, Brandon, my parents, and I hopped on a plane to fly back to Salt Lake from California. On the plane, as we waited to take off, I finally felt it and knew it. It was so amazing! Since then, those movements have become much more frequent, to the point that I get a bit nervous if I go a few hours without feeling them. When I feel those kicks, and when we go to our ultrasounds, all the difficult parts of pregnancy really fade away, and all that matters is the health and well-being of those babies inside me. Brandon is anxious to feel the babies move, but in the past few days, he has been able to see my tummy move with some of the kicks! It makes it so much more real for both of us, even though it's really weird at the same time. I'm trying to enjoy this time where I can feel them moving without their movement really affecting my personal comfort level. That will not always be true!

Gender Reveal Mishap

When we went to see the perinatologist at 14 weeks, we knew we would likely be able to find out our babies' genders. When we got there, though, they told us it was too early on to be sure. We were fairly bummed, since we had planned a little get together with my family to announce the genders. We had brought a piece of paper for the sonographer to write the genders on so that we, too, would be surprised when we lit the colored smoke bombs we had. The sonographer technician said she'd see what she could find, but Baby A wasn't cooperating at all (a trend, we have found). When the physician came in afterward, he reiterated that it was too early and that he could only be sure 30-40% of the time that early on. As he said that, he rubbed the ultrasound wand on my belly and then blurted out, "I know what they both are." Since it was that clear to him that quickly and that early on, we were pretty sure we could guess what the genders were. He agreed to write the genders on the piece of paper, and we excitedly prepared for the little party that evening at a park with my family. 

We got the camera set up to record things, set out the food (including a box of Twinkies aka TwinKeyes), and then things got crazy. My brother's 4-month old twin boys were strapped up in their carseats nearby. My sister's sweet and hefty dog was also in attendance. When the smoke bombs were lit, the dog panicked (never has had an issue with fireworks before) and scrambled to run away, getting her head caught in the carseat of one of the nearby twins, causing the carseat to flip a couple of times before she was able to break free. Can we say FREAK ACCIDENT?! Thank heaven little baby Harrison was okay--shaken up and crying, but otherwise unharmed, thanks to those carseat straps! I didn't see any of this, as I was looking at the smoke bombs intently, but Brandon did. So right as the smoke bombs are starting to emit color, Brandon's head is turned, his eyes wide with horrified surprise, completely oblivious to what's happening with the gender reveal. It was crazy! Needless to say, we decided not to post that video. I have, however, included a screenshot of the moment of truth so you can see just how not-as-we-planned it went.

Me completely oblivious to the chaos happening off-camera. Brandon completely oblivious to the news being revealed on-camera.

Me completely oblivious to the chaos happening off-camera. Brandon completely oblivious to the news being revealed on-camera.

Instead, we waited for our anatomy ultrasound to have the genders confirmed, and then we posted a new video using some colored chalk we have had in our closet for almost three and a half years (since our dating days)!

WE'RE HAVING TWIN BOYS!

It's pretty crazy, especially since our twin boys will be less than a year apart from their twin boy cousins--my brother's babies. What are the odds?!

The anatomy ultrasound was incredible. Both Brandon and I were pretty nervous the entire time (an hour and a half long), but also in awe of our little boys! They have grown so much since our last growth ultrasound (currently 10 and 11 oz), and they were quite the active little guys. Baby A was vertex, and Baby B was breech, which meant they were basically kicking each other in the head the entire ultrasound. It was completely amazing to see the 4 chambers of their little hearts pumping, to watch the sonographer struggle to take measurements due to their constant movement, to simply be mesmerized by all the things that technology allows us to see. Brandon's mom is a twin, and his grandma had no idea she was pregnant with twins until she gave birth! How insane would that be?! Can you believe Brandon and I actually have videos of our twins when they were only one cell each? And now they are both the size of a zucchini with incredibly complex human biology! It is mind-blowing! 

Baby A on the left, Baby B on the right. It took a lot of maneuvering to get that profile shot of Baby A, and you can see Baby B's foot right above Baby A's face.

Baby A on the left, Baby B on the right. It took a lot of maneuvering to get that profile shot of Baby A, and you can see Baby B's foot right above Baby A's face.

Odds and Ends

Now that we know the genders of the babies, we have been thinking a lot more about names. There are precious few names that Brandon and I can both get behind, which makes choosing two names slightly difficult. One thing that we both feel strongly about is that these two babies are individuals before they are twins, and we want their names to reflect that. It's very common to pick matching or rhyming names for twins and to dress them identically, but that's not the focus we want to have. They will share a special bond that is unique to twins, but they will also be two completely different people with different missions to fulfill and different lives to touch. They will both need alone time with mom and dad and for us to recognize their individual strengths and weaknesses rather than always pairing them together and expecting the same things of both. 

I can't believe I'm over halfway through this pregnancy! Twins are considered full-term at 37 weeks, and most doctors won't let you go past 38 weeks due to risk of still-birth, so I am over halfway done! We would like to keep them growing inside me as long as possible, but I've read enough to know that we have to be prepared for them to come anytime in December or the beginning of January. The average twin pregnancy lasts 35 weeks. Trying to prepare ourselves for all the possible labor and delivery situations is kind of overwhelming, but I just want these babies to be as healthy as possible, and I trust our OB to do what's in their best interest.

Meanwhile, I've been reading, researching, and trying to prepare myself in all the ways I can. I'm a planner, and I've found that there are so many things I can't really prepare for--I will just have to take them as they come and do my best. Funnily enough, many strangers will try to help us in our preparations, though usually they aren't nearly as helpful as they think they are ;) As people find out we have twins, we tend to hear the same few comments or questions every single time. 
1. Do twins run in your family?
2. Do you have names?
3. Double trouble!
4. Get all the sleep you can now! (If only we could stockpile sleep...)
I swear more than half the people we talk to either feel the need to inform us of just how hard it will be (as if I haven't stewed night and day for months about how to meet the demands of having twins) or to minimize how hard it will be (saying that two close in age are harder than twins, they know someone with triplets, etc.) My understanding is that this only gets worse after they come. Every time you go out, you're the recipient of all sorts of stares, comments, questions, and conversation--some of it is gratifying, some of it downright impertinent. I've read many comments about twin moms who are told by strangers that their twins aren't "real twins" if they were conceived with the help of fertility treatments. I laughed a lot when I watched this video, and I'm sure I will laugh more when the babies are actually here. People mean well, but man! Sometimes. I hope I can handle it all with more grace than I generally handle such things.

Lastly, Brandon and I just booked flights for a little babymoon/birthday getaway in a couple weeks. Thanks to all the points we've accrued travel hacking over the last year, we paid $22 total for our flights. We're excited to have a little time together relaxing and enjoying our last vacation as a childless couple (and before I'm too big to function)!