My twin pregnancy


From the very beginning, this pregnancy felt different. There was more nausea, more pelvic pressure and more belly. I had a job working from home until I was well into my second trimester, which was a good thing. Many days were a struggle, with low energy and a general “blah” feeling. I tried to press on, thinking it must be a combination of my “advancing maternal age” (34) and perhaps I was having a girl.

It wasn’t until close to 20 weeks, when we received the shocking news that we were actually having twin boys, that the fog started to lift. The second trimester is often referred to as the “honeymoon phase” of pregnancy, and for me this was also the case – despite the fact mine was technically considered a high risk pregnancy, as all twin pregnancies are. My energy returned, I felt motivated at my new job, and I enjoyed special moments with my toddler, who was growing up so fast. I beamed whenever I told someone we were having twins. I was ecstatic and embracing the challenge that lay ahead.

It all came to a smashing halt when, at one of my weekly medical appointments, my obstetrician warned that I had a “short cervix,” and ordered an internal ultrasound. This meant Baby A, Leo, was pushing down, narrowing the cushion of space that protects a baby from the birth canal. I was 28 weeks pregnant and suddenly terrified my babies would arrive early. That same day, we had a pre-arranged tour of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and I trembled with fear.

#28weeks and sh$t's getting real. #twinpregnancy #scaredandhappy

A post shared by April Cunningham (@aprilacunningham) on

It’s very common for twins to arrive early. In fact, more than half of all twins are born premature, or earlier than 37 weeks, according to the March of Dimes. But until this point, I was blissfully optimistic that ours would be perfectly full-term, arriving at 38 weeks, the general maximum for twins. Now I was imagining my tiny babies in incubators for weeks, and I was terrified. So was my husband.

I was told to take it easy and go on modified bed rest. This also meant taking an early leave from work. This was very upsetting to me, especially since other than a lot of heaviness in my belly and pelvis, I felt great. In hindsight though, I am so happy that I followed the advice of my doctors, giving our boys the best chance at a safe and healthy arrival.

Not long after going on sick leave, the real discomfort of twin pregnancy set in. I could no longer sleep. I couldn’t find a comfortable way to sit, stand or lay down. I was so easily exhausted. Tending to my three-year-old was increasingly difficult. I felt trapped in my home, sending my husband out for groceries and my son to daycare. I busied myself with projects like making photo albums and organizing my bookshelf and old computer files. My mother-in-law cleaned my house.

At 32 weeks, I had dilated by 2 cm. Although this didn’t necessarily mean labour was imminent, my doctor ordered a steroid shot to my hip to prepare the babies’ lungs in case of premature birth. I spent the rest of that day curled up in bed, teary, Googling things like ‘is backache a sign of premature labour.’

We had weekly appointments at my OB and well as the fetal assessment clinic, where nurses took my blood pressure, monitored the babies’ heartbeats. Their thumping hearts were music to our ears (Baby B, Callum, was also on the wild side, fitting his personality!). The fetal assessment nurse also performed a weekly ultrasound and always assured us our babies looked “perfect” and “beautiful.” Every three weeks I saw a fetal maternal specialist who performed a more detailed ultrasound to estimate their weights and keep an eye on my shortening cervix, which never got to the danger zone less than 2 cm in length.

By 35 weeks, I was no longer freaked out by the changes of giving birth early. I knew the babies were big enough to have a healthy delivery. I was no longer on bed rest but still took it easy because I had no other choice. I was extremely uncomfortable and couldn’t do much.

It’s difficult to describe what it feels like to have two little humans growing inside of you. The kicks and rolls from each baby were very distinct. Baby B, Callum, was higher and on my left side. Baby A, Leo, whose big head was pushing down for most of the pregnancy, was a little more subdued, and still is as a newborn.

I felt pressure on my lungs, my stomach and my bladder. My back hurt, my hips hurt. I felt numb under my chest, all the time. When I walked, I felt like a baby might just fall out on the ground. I was so, so physically tired. This was harder than any marathon. My body was pushed to its limit!


At 37 weeks and one day, my OB did a cervical sweep, which releases hormones to kick-start labour. I opted for the sweep so labour would have the chance to happen on its own. Although we were now confident our babies would be born strong and healthy, the reality of bringing home two infants to join our rambunctious three-year-old set in. Between medical appointments the day of the sweep, my husband and I visited a nearby beach and talked about our mutual hopes and fears. We both worried about how we would do it. But all we could do was wait, and hope for the best.

The following two days were a struggle for me. I was crampy and down, wondering why I had agreed to the sweep (which guarantees discomfort but not labour) when I already had an induction date scheduled for a few days later. I worried about how “life would never be the same,” especially for our son Silas. I was tired and knew it was only the beginning of the extreme fatigue to come.

On Sept. 16, I was itching to get out of the house, so I went with my husband for a drive to my in-laws to visit Silas, who was spending the weekend there. I missed him immensely and although he normally adores sleepovers with his grandparents, he wanted to come home, too. After a quick stop at the grocery store to pick-up ingredients for a steak dinner (when I ended up chasing my child through the aisles), we went home for what would be our last night together as a family of three.

That evening, I thought I felt some contractions but I couldn’t be sure. They were faint and sporadic. I went to bed, and for the first time in weeks I slept soundly, through the night.

The morning of Sept. 17, a day before I was to be induced, I started timing those contractions. They were still faint cramps, and exactly 10 minutes apart. This felt nothing like the extreme agony of labour with my first son. Still, I called the hospital’s Labour and Delivery Unit and asked if it made sense to come in and get checked. They advised we were welcome to come, but not to worry… there would still likely be a long way to go.

After calling Mark’s mother to come stay with Silas during what we expected to be a quick trip to the hospital on a Sunday morning, we left home and rode the elevator to baby land.

Elevator selfie on the way to Labour and Delivery. Yes, I was in labour!

“You weren’t supposed to come till tomorrow,” the nurse said with a smile. I guess everyone knew about the the impending arrival of our twins.

Turns out I was already 5 cm dilated.  We were there to stay.


Twin FAQs

Q: Are you having identical or fraternal twins?

This was one of our first questions too, and it is surprisingly difficult to answer. Since we only discovered there were two babies at 20 weeks, apparently we will never be totally sure unless we have a DNA test done on the babies after they are born.

What we do know is that the babies each have their own amniotic sac and what appears to be one fused placenta. This means they are likely fraternal (dizygotic), or formed from two fertilized eggs. This is the most common kind of twin pregnancy. We are happy with this news because it generally lessens the risks associated with being pregnant with multiples.

Identical twins (monozygotic), who form from one fertilized egg that splits, generally grow in one sac and share a placenta. This can lead to risks such as Twin to Twin Transfusion. But identical twins can sometimes have their own sacs and placentas if they separate in the very early days of conception.

Clear as mud? Suffice it to say, we think they are probably fraternal, but we are not totally sure!

Q: Do twins run in your family?

Twins are all throughout Mark’s family tree. Mark’s siblings are twins, his mother is one of two sets of twins in her family, and his cousins are twins. In my family, twins are a less frequent: I have second cousins who are twins, but that’s about it.

Fraternal twins can run in families, and identical twins don’t.

This is because fraternal twins come from “hyper-ovulation,” or the release of more than one egg in a cycle, which is a trait that can only be passed down from the mother’s family. So even though the twin gene runs strong in Mark’s family, it has no link to our pregnancy!

Hyper-ovulation can also be caused by advancing maternal age, and I am 34 years old. It can also just be a random occurrence!

Put simply, we won the baby lottery, because the chances of having twins are 1 in 67. How lucky are we?


The biggest shock of my life

The night before my first ultrasound for this pregnancy, I was sitting in my rocking chair in the dark, just after putting Silas to bed. It was Mother’s Day, and I was reflecting on the new life growing in my belly. I was about halfway through the pregnancy at 19.5 weeks and had been feeling flutters for about a week and a half. I put my hand on my belly, which had really “popped” in the previous week, and felt so much movement. It was everywhere, from high up on my belly to my pelvic bone. How could this be? The baby was so small. Either this baby can move fast or… could it be? Twins? The thought was terrifying to me, and I quickly put it out of my mind.

The following morning, as we headed out the door for the ultrasound, I mentioned to Mark how I had the strangest feeling there could be twins. “No way,” he said, and we both laughed, as we buckled Silas in his car seat. Because that would be crazy.

Silas and Mark waited outside while the ultrasound tech took measurements of our little baby. We were so excited to find out the sex, and she suggested letting them wait outside before the big reveal. Time ticked by in the dark, quiet room and she moved the wand around my little bulging belly (to me at that point, it looked lopsided, which I thought was kind of funny). I felt very relaxed and let the tech do her thing. At one point she said, “I don’t want you to worry, I am just taking a while to get all the measurements.” I wasn’t worried at all. In fact, I was glad she was taking her time, because I know these ultrasounds are so important to finding any defects as early as possible. My mother’s instinct told me everything was fine.

Finally, she peeked at me over her glasses. “I have something to tell you,” she said, with a little smirk.

I gasped and looked at her eyes. “You do?” And I knew exactly what she was going to say.

“There are two.”

I threw my head back on the pillow and put my hand over my eyes. “Oh my God, oh my God.” I was crying. I could not believe it. She reassured me that everything looked great. But there were definitely two. “Congratulations,” she said. She turned the screen so I could look.


My mind started racing and all I could think about was: How am I going to do this? Having one newborn is challenging enough – but two?

And, to make life that much more interesting, I had only accepted a new job offer – pregnancy and all – the previous week. Now, I would be going into a new role pregnant with twins. And, returning to work next year as a mother to three young kids. Three children! Something I never once in a million years imagined. HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS?

These fears raced through my mind. It was combined with amazement and joy, for sure. But the fear was gripping.

The tech went to go get Mark and Silas. I was lying on the bed with tears streaming down my face, and I was smiling. But I must have looked scared.

“Everything is OK I said,” I said, sniffling. “But there are two babies!”

Silas was studying me carefully and stuck close to Mark. He knew mom was a little off her rocker.

I was ready for Mark to turn white and pass out on the ground. But he smiled, looked at the tech for confirmation that I wasn’t joking, and touched my arm. “That’s wonderful news.”

He was so genuine, and it was just what I needed to hear.

It truly was wonderful news. It’s a miracle! And most certainly the biggest shock and surprise we have ever received.

The tech then asked if we wanted to find out the sex. We did, and she showed us. Two boys! We were going to be the parents of three little boys. That made it seem even more real.

Yes, we suddenly had a million things to figure out: Is our house big enough? Do we need a new car? How will this affect my new job? What does this mean for the pregnancy and childbirth? And how in the world do you breastfeed and care for two newborns?

But just a few years after deciding to have children, we suddenly found ourselves a soon-to-be family of five.

Life is crazy, and amazing, and so full of surprises.

20 weeks pregnant with twins – May 17, 2017

Making it work: marathon training as a mom


Silas is almost 2, and as I look back at my running achievements over his short life, I can’t help but feel proud.

Last year included two half-marathons and a number of shorter races, which I managed to train for while working a full-time, demanding job. Now I am less than two weeks away from running my first marathon.

  • I ran 20 km on Sunday in one of my final long runs. Not pain free, but got it done. Stats here. 

Logging miles upon miles to get to the finish line is never easy. Throw a child into the mix and the dynamic of finding balance in life becomes even more tricky. But I am here to tell you it is possible – not only that, but it makes you feel good.

Running is a gift. It’s a place to focus, work out the day’s problems, dream and plan. It’s for me and me alone. This might be why I enjoy running solo. It sounds cliche, but I know that if I am at peace with myself, I am a happier person and a better mother.

It’s also a way I can take control of my body and my health. To work on improving my speed, endurance and strength (both physical and mental).

Everyone is busy, not just moms. But there is a particular part of motherhood that involves giving of your whole self every waking moment. It often feels like there is absolutely no time to spare.

So here is my secret to fitting running into the equation: make it a priority.

The top priorities in my life: 1) family 2) career 3) running/health

When you have that figured out, you quickly realize all the rest can fit in the tiny cracks that surround your busy schedule, and it doesn’t matter if that other stuff (i.e. house cleaning, Facebook, painting my nails) doesn’t get done.

Everyone has different priorities, but I have chosen to make running mine. It matters to me and I know it makes me a better person.

Here are a few other ways I make running fit in my life as a mom:

  • Plan ahead: I roughly know what days I’m going to run, the distance and what time will work best. On my days off, I typically run during nap time to maximize time with my son. On weekdays, I opt for early morning runs.
  • Be flexible: Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Like I am just about to head out the door for an early morning run and I hear “mama!!!” So I keep on my running clothes and try for a lunchtime run. If that doesn’t happen, nighttime treadmill run it is.
  • Use the running stroller: We usually get out for one stroller run per week. It’s tougher than running without but my son loves it. He says “wheeeee!” when we go fast and “runrunrunrun!” I love it.
  • Set achievable goals, gradually: I didn’t start running again until a good two months after giving birth. After that, my first goal was a 5K by Christmas, when Silas would be six months old. I was so proud to finish! Then, four months later, I ran a 13K race with another mama. Three months after that, it was a half-marathon, followed by another one in the fall. I kept running through a December run streak to keep my base strong before launching into marathon training this past January.
  • Be realistic: I don’t try to be perfect. I miss some runs and mis the mark on my mileage many weeks. I love French Fries and McFlurries as much as I love a good protein smoothie. Many  days, I don’t get enough sleep or drink enough water.

Sometimes I feel like an imposter in running gear.

But I guess that’s also part of the appeal. I’m working on becoming someone I never realized was possible. And that will always be a work in progress.


What to look for in a jogging stroller

New mothers are often faced with overwhelming purchasing decisions on everything from cribs to car seats, cloth diapers to breast pumps. For many of us, jogging strollers are just another item to worry about as the baby’s due date approaches.

For a mom who runs, a good stroller can be your ticket to freedom, fresh air and exercise. But how do you know what stroller is for you and your wee one?

We own a BabyTrend jogger, which is OK but certainly not the Cadillac of running strollers.



Caroline Mackay, registered nurse, StrollerFit Saint John instructor and self-described stroller “connoisseur” offers her wisdom on the topic. She has owned several strollers and has taught StrollerFit for five years.

“I would like to offer some guidance to those who feel they don’t know where to start in this area which can be very overwhelming,” she says.

Read on to find out what jogger she recommends, and tips to help you decide what stroller is right for you. (Please note this post is not sponsored, and is solely based on Caroline’s opinions and experiences.)

Post-baby fitness: a Q&A with Caroline Mackay

Running after baby

How do you know if you should invest in a jogging stroller? 

Jogging strollers help with the ease of pushing your little one while moving at a faster pace than walking. They are often three-wheeled, with a front wheel that either swivels or is fixed. (You want to have your wheel fixed when jogging). Four-wheelers exist but look like all-terrain vehicles. This was my first stroller, the Quinny XL. It could go over sand, snow, or dead bodies. This is the stroller you want in the zombie apocalypse, but turn on a dime – it does not. 

Jogging strollers are often adjustable in the handle bar height, lighter weight, and have air filled tires for a smoother ride for both pusher and passenger.

You want something that can be used for everyday use though; you don’t want five strollers in your garage – one for shopping, one for walking the dog, one for traveling, one for running… many husbands will attest to this as it takes up garage space. Also, with most strollers, you want one that will accommodate your growing child.

It is not recommended to run with a child under the age of six months but most moms want to be out walking before that. A stroller with a car seat attachment is nice for when baby is young so as to not wake them so mommy gets her sane time. Having the three-wheel stroller in a swivel position will allow you to maneuver easily at the grocery store, etc. whereas a fixed wheel tends to be longer (think yacht) than many strollers. 

What qualities should a mom/dad look for in a jogging stroller?

Value for money is my goal but it is like a car and has to feel right or you won’t want to use it. The stroller has to be the right height for you and if there is a second user, ie. your partner, you may want to take that into consideration. Wrists need to be aligned with forearms, not at an angle. 

The angle that your child sits is another consideration. The BOB strollers have a reclined angle that older children don’t love if they are not used to sitting back. The Joovy is the same way though, as a friend who owns one points out, if they don’t know any different, it doesn’t bother them. The Chariot is pricey but super versatile and can convert to winter mode with ski attachments and bike attachment. I think that brand has the best set-up for infants I have seen- a sling/ hammock inside with a sleeping bag over top. You never have to worry about your child getting cold in that thing. 

That’s another feature to be aware of: a weather shield. High-end models have accessories that cost extra but weather shields fit snug and keep rain and wind out and are totally worth it when you run into bad weather. Also, babes are usually lulled to sleep by rain and they must take pleasure in the fact that mom is drenched and they are snug as a bug.

Would you ever recommend buying second-hand?

Absolutely! Buying baby gear is sort of like renting… you pay to use it, then sell it to someone else. The top-end brands hold their value and keep performing well if looked after. I bought my BobStroller second-hand and well-used for $300 and it is still my favourite stroller. I can lock the front wheel if I like, it is light, easily foldable and durable.  If you are lucky enough to find a Chariot second-hand, it will be worth the money. Always test out the gear before buying though, a broken brake or missing piece to a harness to be a deal-breaker.

How much should you expect to spend for a decent jogging stroller?

Strollers are on par with road bikes it seems. You are looking at about $700 to start for a new jogger. Accessories are extra, i.e. the Chariot does not come with a jogging wheel and runs about $100+ and note that all jogging stroller front wheels are different! I foolishly made this mistake when I went to a bike shop looking for a wheel to fit my import. I ended up paying big time shipping fees for a special wheel. This is why second-hand is the best way to go.

What are your top three recommendations for running strollers?

1. Look for a stroller that will meet multiple needs in your growing child’s life and won’t take up too much garage space.

2. Make sure the stroller is the right height for jogging – this is higher than walking.

3. Shop around, ask your friends (and me!) what they like about theirs and why. And then try theirs out. And then ask them if they want to sell it. Top Brands are: BOB for jogging and everyday use, Chariot for versatility in multi-sports and infant-carrying, Quinny XL for multi seat configuration.

Any other helpful tips for buying strollers?

I do want to note that jogging strollers are for people who are serious about running and need to get their running fix. Running with a stroller is not like running solo, you use different muscle groups and it is a heck of a lot harder. If you are someone who just wants to get out with baby, attend Stroller Fit classes, then most strollers will do the trick.  Even the classic Graco strollers will meet most needs of moms who do Stroller Fit. Those things are super light-weight, durable, fold down like a dream… and are considerably less expensive. 

What stroller do you recommend?

The BOB Revolution.

A mid-week run

My training plan calls for four runs per week for a total of 16 weeks. It all seems very doable right now.

But still, there are days, like today, when even a 5 km run seems nearly impossible.

I was originally planning on getting my run over with first thing in the morning on the treadmill, but that plan was thrown out the window after Silas ended up waking up in the middle of the night and moving into our bed. There would be no sneaking away to run.

After patchy sleep, my energy was lagging all day. But the afternoon sun and bare pavement were beckoning. I instantly regretted not taking advantage of a lunchtime run, and vowed to get out after work with the jogging stroller.


It was glorious! Just above zero Celsius and it was so nice to take advantage of the extra daylight we have been experiencing. Spring was certainly in the air.

My pace was slow – close to 7 min/km – but it was steady. It was so sweet to look down and see the little pom-pom on my son’s hat, and his mittens grasping the stroller tray. We saw dogs, kids and city buses and heard “choo choo trains.” We went “wheeee!” and “bump, bump, bump.” Running with a toddler is fun, almost working the same way a podcast or great music can take your mind off things.

As we rounded the final corner onto our street, I heard his sweet voice say, “hommme.”

This was just another lesson that even 5 km runs can seem daunting, but they are always worth it in the end.



Never regret a run

Life has been crazy, but I’m still running.

Thank goodness for that.

My training has been far from perfect, but it’s happening. Through being on solo mommy duty during weeknights, through a persistent bug that went through our house, through travel, through work stress and somehow, through my very, very limited “alone time,” I’m finding (making) time to run.

Signing up for races is the best way I know how to make it happen.

So since my last post, I’ve signed up for another half-marathon. I’ll be running the half at the PEI Marathon on Oct. 18. Prince Edward Island is our family’s favourite place in the Maritimes, so it should be a treat.

Since I ran 10K at the Halifax Blue Nose in May, followed by the half at Marathon By the Sea in Saint John then the half at the PEI Marathon, I should technically qualify for the Maritime challenge medal. Unfortunately, I signed up one day late and so I’m out of luck. Wah-wah. I’ll have to settle for being a Maritime champion on the inside.

So here I am, three weeks away from half-marathon no. 6. Crazy! I’m trying to stick to the plan as closely as possible, but I’m really only squeaking out three to four workouts a week. Still, I feel like I’m improving very gradually, getting stronger as the season progresses.

A couple weeks ago, I ran the Hampton 5-miler for the fourth time. I did not beat my personal best time of 42:30 from 2013, but I definitely held my own at 43:58. To be honest, the whole time I was thinking about Silas, who was under the weather. I felt kind of selfish for even wanting to do the race.

I often wrestle with this kind of guilt, especially when running takes time away from him. But I keep telling myself that taking care of my own health and making time for exercise will make me a better mother.

I may find it hard to get out the door, but I never regret a run.