Cleaning up my diet: one week in

When Kevin and Catt suggested I try the Actual Nutrition program that goes hand-in-hand with their workouts at 3rd Degree Training, it actually intimidated me more than the idea of working out four times a week.

I have never once gone on a diet, and I hate depriving myself of treats. I have always enjoyed healthy foods, and once cut out sugar for a few months, but I have never followed a prescribed eating plan. I wasn’t sure if I could do it!

Still, I wanted to give it an honest shot, and share my experience so people can see what it’s like for a mom of three little ones trying to return to a healthy lifestyle.

The idea behind Actual Nutrition is simply to eat whole, real foods. Based on my age, current weight, activity level and particularly the fact I am breastfeeding twins, Kevin designed a plan that helps me chose what kinds of foods to eat at every meal and snack. Lucky for me, and the bonus 1,000 calories a day I burn by feeding my five-month-old twins, this means I get to eat a ton of food. But now it’s all healthy, rather than full of carbs and sugar, my weakness.

My favourite part has been that the outline gives me full control of what to eat: for example, I can pick 1.5 servings of protein for breakfast, along with 1.5 servings of complex carbs, a simple carb (fruit) and one serving of fat or dairy. This way, I find myself thinking about all the food I get to eat, rather than what I can’t eat.

The most significant adjustment for me has been the volume of protein I need to consume each day. I always suspected I wasn’t getting enough, but now I know this is sort of the secret sauce to feeling satisfied and keeping cravings at bay. I now eat three eggs for breakfast(!) plus toast or oatmeal, fruit and peanut butter or avocado. YUM! Also, salsa and hot sauce are my new favourite condiments. For dinner, I need to eat two servings of protein. Two chicken breasts! After eating a big old plate of food, my body no longer searches for that sugary goodness it once desired. And if it does, that usually means I didn’t get enough protein, fat or healthy calories during the day!

I feel like this solves a mystery that never should have been so tough to figure out. Protein will not only help me build muscle from my workouts, but it is also a key factor in maintaining my milk supply. I may even be eating more now than I was before!

Here are a few more early revelations:

  • I have spent a lot of money on groceries this week. I haven’t added it up, but I hope now that my house is full of healthy food, the bills will level out.
  • I used to avoid eating too much meat as a cost-saving measure but I’ve realized I was just spending that extra money on junk food we really didn’t need.
  • My husband and my three-year-old are eating a little better now too. Silas asks me if different things he is eating are healthy and if they will make him big and strong.
  • My taste buds have adjusted to savour the taste of real food. My sweets are now fruits. At Costco I had a couple of pitted dates they were handing out as samples and it felt like I was eating a jube-jube!
  • I went through a couple days of adjusting to not eating as many carbs later in the day. For dinner I just have one serving then it’s just veggies for snacks in the evening. One night I had two servings of salmon, 1/3 cup of brown rice, two servings of vegetables and felt completely full. Half an hour later, I felt peckish and was like, “How can this be?” I realized what I was missing was that sugar kick I usually got from dessert or filling up on rice/potato/pasta with my main course. The fullness I get from protein is so much nicer.
  • Eggs, so many eggs. I am eating so much for breakfast and just made a pot of hard-boiled eggs to have on hand for snacks. They pack such a punch and yummy too!
  • I actually enjoy all this clean eating and I don’t miss the junk at all. Will this stick for seven more weeks? I hope so!
  • I wonder how easy it would be to maintain this style of eating if I was working full-time in addition to managing family life with three kids. Right now this is like a project for me while on maternity leave to think up healthy meal ideas and take the time to make them, even if it’s while wearing a baby.
  • The eating really complements the workouts. I feel great during and after the workouts and I think the food aids in my recovery from sore muscles.
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Salad with hard-boiled eggs, chicken bacon, snap peas, mushrooms, tomatoes, hummus, sriracha and brown rice.

 

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The struggle is real: getting out the door to our first workout

I swear, it takes me 10 years to get out the door to do anything these days. And even if I budget myself tons of extra time, I’m always late.

So getting out the door with twins to our first Baby & Me class at 3rd Degree Training was no different. After a fairly good night with the babies and Silas, who was fighting a cold and fever, I managed to eat a healthy breakfast of eggs, toast with peanut butter, an orange and a coffee. I got the babies fed, dressed and threw on some gym clothes. The class starts at 10:30 and at 10 a.m. I thought I would start assembling the diaper bag, getting on snowsuits and loading into car seats, a task that always seems to take forever. My husband got the van out of the garage for me.

But that’s when Callum started making his “I’m hungry” sound. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, because they had both slept so well that night. I quickly fed both babies again (which wasn’t easy since I was already in my tight gym clothes), and got them packed away and out the door. They were crying. I was already out of breath. “I don’t know how you’re going to do this,” Mark said.

I arrived at the gym just as the workout had begun. Of course, I thought, I’m always the late one. I was frustrated with myself for being that person, again. I grumbled as I laid the babies on a blanket with some toys, slid on my running shoes and joined in.

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We made it

We did squats, lunges, sprinted on the spot, did push-ups (modified for me), jumping jacks (modified again, because… childbirth), supermans, and even burpees. The exercises were done 2-3 at a time for various lengths of time (ie 10-20 seconds) for a few sets. The workout just flew by! And the babies loved it, watching all the activity from their vantage point. My heart was racing, my face was red, and I was no longer grumpy. It was a mental and physical pick-me-up, just what any mom needs.

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Sure, why not another squat.

The great thing about this program is there are multiple class times every day open to members. The 10:30 a.m. Baby & Me class on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays works great for us, and I hope to bring Silas along at some point too. I’m hoping to try a 6 a.m. workout another day, because I have always aspired to be more of a morning person and love the idea of sneaking out when everyone is still sleeping (ideally!).

It feels so great to be making my health and fitness a priority again. If I see visual results from the healthier eating and exercise, it will only be a bonus because I already feel so good. I love the feeling of restful sleep after working out, and waking up with sore muscles. I am always inspired to eat better when I am exercising, and while the thought of eating “clean” for eight weeks is daunting, I know I can do it with some accountability. Keep following along as I share more about my nutrition plan and how I’m actually finding it hard to eat so… much… protein!

This is my ‘before’

The past few months, I have barely had enough time to look in the mirror, let alone think about my own health and fitness. And to be honest, I haven’t even cared that much. I haven’t run a single step since the twins were born five months ago. I take my babies out for walks, and we joined a mother/baby yoga class, but I certainly haven’t been in any rush to lose weight.

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Photo by Amy Stewart Photography

After giving birth the first time, I was anxious to get back in shape and find my running legs again. This time, I decided to give myself some grace. I am so grateful for my body and what it went through to bring my baby boys into the world. I don’t feel pressured to look perfect or thin, and I know I will return to running eventually.  I also need to make sure I have enough calories to nurse the twins.

It’s clear by the scale that I have been eating more than enough to feed those babies, and then some. I have rekindled my love affair with baked goods. Oh how I love the combination of butter, sugar and flour. Coffee with rich cream. Heavy home-cooked meals, pies, cake and brownies. And yes, fast food: pizza, McDonald’s, ice cream, you name it. There is something so comforting about eating fattening food when you’re tired and stressed. But this kind of eating isn’t helping anybody.

Now that the babies are five months old, I am declaring my free ride “over.”

It’s time to truly do my body a favour and eat better, get some exercise and get back some of that precious me time in the process.

My friends at 3rd Degree Training Saint John have offered me the opportunity to partner with them to try an eight-week fitness camp along with their Actual Nutrition program. I agreed, and I’m all in. That means before and after photos, measurements and aiming for at least four high intensity interval training sessions a week.

My main goal here is to get back to healthy, not necessarily lose weight. It’s about feeling good again, without the sugar, salt and fat. It’s about being a good role model for my family and preparing my body to run marathons again — without injury.

So here we go, I’m nervous to share this, but this is my “before” in all my postpartum glory. Help keep me accountable and follow along. Classes start Monday. Eek!

 

 

It takes a village

For many days and nights, the thought haunted me: I could not handle taking care of my three children on my own.

Holding one tender newborn in your arms can feel daunting, let alone two. But I had to figure out how to do it, while tending to our three-year-old, Silas — who was not only needy but, predictably, acting out now that the twins were home.

After the babies no longer needed top-ups at about 2.5 weeks old, I was on my own with breastfeeding. This meant my body was regulating exactly how much our twins needed. It also meant cluster-feeding. Translation: I was on the couch with those babes almost non-stop. If they fell asleep on my nursing pillow, I could rarely manage to transition them to a bassinet or crib without waking them. So I spent most of my time either holding or nursing babies.

Catching some 💤 #momlife #twins #callumandleo

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It was both beautiful and exhausting. Simultaneously joyful and dreadful.

As much as the twins needed me, Silas needed me too.

His world had just been turned upside down. His mom, dad, even his beloved Nanny became engrossed in tending to those babies. He was left trying to make sense of this new reality. All while be urged to “hurry up,” “eat your breakfast,” “get in the bath,” “go watch your videos,” “go to sleep” and “DON’T WAKE THE BABIES.” No wonder he decided to fight back once in awhile.

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I used to be the one who would read Silas several stories at bedtime followed by a discussion about “our day,” and cuddling until he fell asleep. Now, with Mark back to work in the evenings, I could no longer do this without babies literally strapped to me in a twin baby carrier — a back-breaking thing that brought some semblance of sanity to our evenings for almost three months.

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Survival mode.

I felt sad that I could no longer provide the same level of attention to Silas. I wanted to hold him close but I also needed others to step in to care for him so I could focus on my newborns. It was hard for Silas to adjust to all these new realities but I had to hope that eventually, he would be better for it.

I am not sure how we would have survived the period from early October until Christmas without the steady stream of loved ones who arrived on our doorsteps: my mom and dad, my sister and my aunt, all from Ontario, all staying one week at a time. My mother-in-law, who would come evenings when Mark went to work to help get Silas to bed, even taking him trick-or-treating on Halloween and putting food in my mouth when my hands were full. Friends who made us freezer meals and friends who took Silas for the afternoon. Our child-care provider and our community preschool.

My mother, the twin whisperer. #thankgodformothers #callumandleo

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Holding and rocking babies, making nutritious food and giving us love and support went a long way. But late at night, it was all me. All three kids needed me, and I was having trouble figuring out how to handle it.

The problem was that since I couldn’t manage to peel the babies off me at night, I found the easiest way to sleep was to just lean back on the couch and close my eyes. It wasn’t good quality sleep but it was enough to get by. Silas knew I was out in the living room and he kept waking in the night, crying for me. I was stuck and if I tried to move, I would either wake the babies or disrupt their feeding. Even though Mark tried to escort Silas back to bed, he would fight it, cry, tantrum. Exhausted, we gave up, and let Silas pass out next to me on the couch. The next morning would be rough because we would all be tired, and barely make it through the day. I would put Silas to bed praying for a better night.

I was a human pacifier for all three kids. Silas needed to hold my hand to fall asleep and if he woke up, he needed it again. I knew I needed to teach Silas to fall asleep on his own, but the thought of going through “sleep training” with a 3.5-year-old sounded like hell on wheels.

I remember dropping Silas off at his child care provider one morning and asking her, with tears in my eyes, if she ever dealt with these problems with her boys. I was just trying to hold it together, but it was still so hard.

Eventually we did figure it out, using a series of sticker charts, a timer on my phone for cuddles, weekly donut rewards and lots of praise, but Silas is still a finicky sleeper and I think it’s just the way he is. I try not to beat myself up for not laying the groundwork for better sleep habits before the twins were born, because I believe Silas was going through so many changes that all this may have happened anyway.

Thank goodness for grandparents who take our little guy for sleepovers every once in a while, allowing us a little extra shut eye and fewer renditions of musical beds.

Early days with twins

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Leo and Callum

One of the things that seemed most daunting during my twin pregnancy was breastfeeding. I knew I wanted to at least attempt to nurse both of my babies. I had spoken to enough brave, strong women who had done so and encouraged me. I had been through the wringer with Silas, but I had learned a thing or two since then, so I knew I wanted to give it a go.

Breastfeeding two newborns is not for the faint of heart. The first night in hospital was fine because I was still on a high. The second night, the babies wanted to cluster feed — eat non-stop. That is difficult with one baby, but with two, for lack of a better word, it’s hell. I didn’t sleep, and although the babies were latching pretty well, I was in a lot of discomfort.

Sometime in the middle of that second night, nurses weighed the babies and found they had each lost nearly 10 per cent of their body weight. While this is quite common, it was enough that I needed to consider supplementing them with formula.

The nurse asked me if I had anything against using formula. I said no, so she brought some in the room and showed me how to get started. She also arranged for a lactation nurse to come visit us to help us figure out a new system.

Although this made perfect sense at the time, emotionally, I was crestfallen. As soon as the nurse left the room, I fell into a mess of tears. I tried to explain it to Mark as though it was like someone told me I wasn’t able to care for my babies on my own. Of course that wasn’t true, but it’s how I felt.

Of course, at that moment, I was going through the typical low feelings many mothers feel during the days after childbirth, known as the baby blues. You go from riding the wave of bringing a new life into the world, to feeling like the worst mother on earth, all in the matter of hours. Or at least that’s how I felt. Times two.

My family doctor, Dr. Ross, who is wonderful, came to visit me and the babies around the same time as my OB, Dr. Patterson. I was crying and couldn’t control it, and I felt so embarrassed. I felt disappointed that I, an experienced mother, could not produce enough on my own to feed my babies. While it’s true that there wasn’t enough for those little baby boys in the early hours, I didn’t realize that with help, I could produce enough — and I would! All I thought was my hopes of feeding the boys on my own had been quashed.

I know this all may seem silly. Just give them a bottle already! But it’s hard to explain how important this was to me. It almost felt primal.

Luckily, we had Rayma from the Saint John Regional Hospital’s Mother/Baby Clinic. She came to my room and noticed tears were at the surface. “This is your sad day,” she said. She allowed me to have it. Then I would be on my way to bringing two healthy baby boys home!

Rayma showed us a way to nurse and bottle feed each baby followed by a pumping session for me. It was rigorous and needed to be done every three hours. But with another person, it could all be done under an hour. And the best part was, with formula filling their tummies, that babies would sleep well between feedings.

Formula was all new to me, but my husband and mother-in-law actually loved being a part of their early feedings. For weeks, we meticulously kept track of how much they ate, how long they nursed, what time and what was in their diapers. We returned to the mother/baby clinic every day for a week following the twins’ births. While it was annoying to pack up the babies and go to the hospital every day, it was so much better than staying there. Rayma patiently answered all my questions about the pump, which intimidated me. We adjusted the babies’ top-ups daily based on how much they were gaining and taking from me.

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One day I remember leaving the clinic and Rayma was on the phone providing updates to Dr. Ross. My doctor must have asked Rayma if we handling everything OK as parents. Rayma, “They’re rocking this thing, being twin parents.” It made me smile, even though I was still scared as hell, and I think Mark was too.

Eventually we were allowed to bring a scale home, so we could continue daily weigh-ins without having to trek to the hospital. It became a numbers game. We could figured out exactly how much a baby took in breastmilk by weighing them before and after a feeding, then determine exactly how much they needed in formula. Then, I would pump to continue to build supply. Every time I pumped, I would set aside that milk for the next feeding.

Rayma was my lifeline. She called to check in every day, even on Thanksgiving weekend. I looked forward to her call. She made me feel secure in what we were doing, and that my babies were going to be OK.

Eventually the top-ups were all breast-milk instead of formula. That’s when we knew we didn’t need the formula anymore.

“Go home and feed your babies,” Rayma said. It was music to my ears. Especially the idea of not having to be hooked up to a machine every three hours. But I was cautious. I knew it meant we would be off our three-hour schedule, and back to “on-demand” since we would no longer know exactly how much they getting during a nursing. That also meant cluster-feeding would likely be back in the picture (so exhausting!).

Through the same period, Rayma was encouraging me to tandem feed whenever possible. This means feeding the babies at the same time, holding one under each arm like a football, resting on a big pillow surrounding my body. It was intense, but the most efficient way to go. Tandem feeding on demand meant I was back to taking on feeding my babies on my own, which was great, but also exhausting.

So our breastfeeding journey was over the first hump. The babies were gaining well, healthy and at home. While it was surely a beautiful thing, my stress didn’t waver. We still had a three-year-old to entertain and care for, and I still wasn’t sleeping much. I knew it would get better, but it was still so hard. Especially when I couldn’t get the babies to sleep other than on my chest, and Silas starting waking in the night demanding my attention, refusing to settle down with his father.

Yes, we were in the thick of it, still. Parenting 2.0.

 

 

Our twin birth story

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Callum and Leo

When we arrived at the Saint John Regional Hospital in labour on the morning of Sept. 17, 2017, I was very calm. My labour pains were far apart and not very intense. It felt like something you would see on TV, breathing through each contraction — and nothing like the horrific pain I felt with my first labour, when contractions had me doubled over for hours until I gave in and got an epidural.

This time, I had no qualms about getting an epidural when and if necessary. But at first it seemed like things would progress quickly on their own. I was already 5 cm. Nurses hooked me up to a monitor and I breathed through each contraction every 10 to 15 minutes. After an hour or two, there wasn’t much progress. Dr. Sheppard, the on-call obstetrician, told me they would manually break my water if it didn’t happen on its own. He suggested that if I wanted an epidural — something they highly recommend with twins in case of emergency c-section — I should do it sooner rather than later, when the anesthesiologist was available.

I agreed, and the doctor soon arrived to administer the epidural, which involves getting a needle in your spine — not a pleasant experience, but not really painful either (especially compared to the pain of contractions). After I got the epidural, I had only dilated another centimetre or so, so Dr. Sheppard decided to go ahead and break the water of our Baby A, Leo. It was a weird experience, and kind of felt like a little poke inside, then wetting the bed.

From that point, my labour progressed almost immediately. I felt the contractions much more consistently and they actually hurt, even with the epidural. To any woman who has never given birth, I compare contractions to extremely intense menstrual cramps that radiate through your back (with Silas it felt like someone was hitting my back with a hammer). I remember the anesthesiologist asking if I wanted to increase the dosage of the epidural and I said, “naw, I can handle this.” My husband looked at me and narrowed his eyes. “Don’t be a hero, April.” I quickly agreed, kind of like when someone suggests to go for ice cream.

Within the span of about an hour, Leo was ready to be born. Dr. Sheppard checked me and suggested we try a push to ensure Leo was facing down, rather than “sunny side up.” It felt like a long, hard pregnancy and a short day of waiting had led to the moment of truth. Feelings of excitement and fear washed over me.

On the next contraction, I pushed, only a little, and Leo was “right there,” and facing the right direction.

Suddenly there was a rush as the medical team prepared me to be wheeled into the operating room, which is normal procedure for twin births, just in case of any issues with Twin B. Someone gave Mark a set of scrubs to put on. Nurses wheeled me down the hall and I waited in the OR, legs spread-eagle and shivering — partly because I was cold and excited/nervous and partly because of the epidural. Then I saw it: bassinets with marked “Baby A” and “Baby B.” For some reason, this is what put me over the edge. I started to cry, realizing I would soon have two more children, and my family would be complete. I would meet our baby boys in a matter of minutes!

During twin births, there are always many health professionals in the room — one set for each baby. Nurses, respiratory therapists, the anesthesiologist, the obstetrician and in my case, a resident. The twins and I were in excellent hands. I wasn’t worried at all. With both babies head-down, I had every confidence an emergency c-section wouldn’t be necessary, but even if it was, I knew everything would be OK.

When everyone was set up — and it didn’t take long — I started looking for Mark. He was the last person to enter the room. He waited next to my left ear, and my delivery nurse, Rachel, guided me through the process. She kept reassuring me every step of the way, and I often think about how wonderful she was.

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On the next contraction, I pushed two or three times, and Leo was born. Just like that! It felt like I had lost 100 pounds, a massive relief. I had felt so much pressure there for so long. He looked wonderful, pink and healthy, and my heart swelled and my tears flowed. I kissed him, then Mark held him while I readied myself to give birth — again!

There were actually close to 25 minutes between the births of Leo and Callum, but to me, it felt like no time at all. It took a few more pushes and contractions, but Callum was on his way. Earlier, I had asked the doctor if they would need to break Callum’s water too, and the doctor said it would happen on its own.

Sure enough, while I was pushing Callum, there came a huge gush of water that seemed to burst across the room. “My shoes!” Dr. Sheppard said.

Then, the doctor and nurses started talking about Callum’s heart rate, which was dropping. At the time, I thought they just couldn’t hear it on the Doppler. I’m glad I didn’t realize what was going on or I may have panicked. Rachel kept me focused and calm.

Dr. Sheppard helped Callum move down the birth canal with a vaccuum. He was born just after 7 p.m. and again, a feeling of relief and joy washed over me.

This was such an incredible experience. Two healthy babies and I was fine, too. When the nurses weighed them and shouted out their weights: 6 lbs, 5 oz and 6 lbs 15 oz, Mark and I were shocked and elated. Big babies for twins! We were so pleased. This would mean no time in the NICU.

I feel incredibly grateful and fortunate that everything went as smoothly as it did. For a few days I guess we were known as the rockstar twin parents, because our delivery was so flawless. We even got it done before the 7:30 pm shift change.

Holding two babies in my arms was incredible. They felt heavy and awkward but I had all the love in the world on my chest. I just loved the whole experience, and it was even better and less scary the second time. Each baby latched on with no issues, and I was so confident feeding would go more smoothly than it did with my first child.

I was on top of the world. We were up much of the night, feeding, changing, doting on those babies. The whole next day was beautiful, too, as Silas got to meet his brothers. But night number two was when things started going downhill. Or, rather, I went downhill. My hormones dropped, oh so fast, as did my confidence as a new twin mom.

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My twin pregnancy

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.