By Meghan Murphy
This is our story of how Luna and Maslyn came to be. There’s no dramatic climax, no goosebump moment. In fact, most twin moms would hate me if they knew just how easy my pregnancy and twin birth were. This should go to show that some moms of multiples do, in fact, have wonderful pregnancies and uncomplicated births. My hope is that whoever reads this is one of these moms.
Marcos and I had been trying to conceive for about a year and a half, which to those with serious fertility issues is nothing, but to me it felt like a lifetime. It seemed that everyone, everywhere was expecting, except for us. Kyla happened with two months of trying so I never expected this to take so long. For the last several months of our journey to conception we were using those ovulation predictors. In November of 2013 I kept getting negative reads on the pee stick and I assumed I wasn’t ovulating. Tired, ridden with frustration and disappointment, we decided to throw in the towel until after the holidays. That very same month we conceived twins.
When they said “two heartbeats” I desperately searched my mind for what birth defect causes two hearts. “Twins” never entered my mind. We don’t have any twins in either of our families and conceived naturally. The doctors said I must have hyper-ovulated; a common occurrence in women over 30. TWINS. TWO BABIES. I somehow managed not to fall off the table. I was thrilled, a little nervous about what it would do to my body, but I was elated. I also was in a state of disbelief. I had suffered two miscarriages, and I was terrified that I would lose one or both babies. Throughout my whole first trimester I refused to ever look at ultra sounds until they found the heartbeats; I would convince myself that my lack of pregnancy symptoms meant I had miscarried. I would make myself physically sick with worry.
As my pregnancy went on, I kept waiting for the exhaustion, the nausea, the moodiness to hit, and it didn’t (okay, so maybe my husband would say differently about the moodiness). I kept waiting for the varicose veins and stretch marks to appear, but they didn’t. In retrospect, I feel so blessed, but undeserving of the fabulous pregnancy. Still today, I feel so fortunate that it sometimes worries me that something bad is going to happen; like how can I possibly have it so good?
I continued working and feeling great. At my 25 week appointment I brought Kyla, my then three year old, to see the babies (who we now knew were girls) on the 3D ultrasound. Side note: another benefit of twin pregnancies are the endless 3D ultrasounds. I expected this appointment to be like every other except a couple of minutes into the appointment the doctors were placing me in a wheelchair and rushing me to emergency triage. My cervix had gone from a thick, healthy 4 to a .9 with funneling (amniotic fluid coming down into the cervix). After determining that I wasn’t having regular contractions, they scheduled me to return 24 hours later to have a fetal fibronectin or FFN test An FFN is a swab that determines if there has been a break down in amniotic material. A negative result is highly indicative that there won’t be premature labor. A positive result is not as conclusive but indicates that there is a 50% chance that premature labor will start within two weeks. I was sure that mine would comeback negative but I was wrong. They started me on a steroid cycle (injections in my hips) to help the girls lungs mature and ordered me to stay on bed rest until D-day.
Bed rest for me was just about as bad as it gets. I am a very active person and don’t do well being confined to my house, let alone, confined to a horizontal position. They said no more than 15 minutes on your feet per day. That just wasn’t realistic for me. I had a three year old daughter! In retrospect I could have done better at bed rest; in the beginning I wasn’t half bad. The hardest part for me was that I felt so good! It was so hard to imagine that there was any risk going on while I was feeling as great as I did. Week after week, I would go to my prenatal appointments and my perinatologist would say, “I cannot believe you’re still pregnant!” And every week I would think, this is the week. They said I would never make it to 27 weeks. A very long ten weeks later, at 37 weeks, 3 days, they decided to induce. My cervix had held strong a .9 and I was dilated to 1.5.
August 14th was the big day. I was as ready as anyone can be that is about to birth two babies. I was having the twins at the same birthing center where I’d had Kyla. The birth would be supported by an incredible team of midwives and two incredible OBs. Let me just say, my relationship with these women is part of what made my birth experience so incredible. My OB was all about a vaginal birth and was sure that I was going to rock it. The nurses that were working the night I went in to be induced were my favorites. One of the nurses had delivered Kyla, and the other one had actually chosen one of the twin’s names: Maslyn (French for little twin).
So . . . after a tearful goodbye to my then three year old [could not possibly imagine a.) her not being my only child and b.) loving another baby, let alone two, as much as I love her], we drove to the hospital for a 10pm appointment. The plan was they would use a cervical ripener overnight, give me a dose of sleeping meds, then call hubby to come back in the morning once they started the pitocin. A couple of hours after inserting the cervical ripener, I was having intense lower back pain. So much, in fact, that I couldn’t sleep, despite the sleeping medication. After a couple hours of moaning in my private dark room, I paged the nurse. I told her what was going on and asked for some tylenol. While looking over my contraction history she grinned, “Meghan, your contractions are less than a minute apart. You are in labor”. They proceeded to do a cervical check and sure enough, I was dilated to 4! “Call your hubby, these babies are coming tonight.” LOL. 12 hours later, still no baby. I asked for an epidural and so began the game of balancing the pitocin and the epidural strength. Finally around 3pm it was time to push.
As soon as I heard it was time, exactly as it had happened with Kyla, I became panicked. It suddenly became very, very real. Terrified of the twins’ birth and my future as a twin mom, tears streamed down my cheeks while I gripped my husbands hand. Then something incredible happened. As they rolled me into the OR (this hospital’s procedure is to do multiple deliveries in the OR), I was overcome with feelings of such peace and love. I could not have asked for a better, more supportive team of people to help bring my girls into the world. And they were all so genuinely excited to be there and believed so much in me . . . I was so deeply touched and my fears seemed to fade away.
At 3:21pm I began to push. At 3:23pm Maslyn, my little twin, came into the world screaming. I could not believe how quick it was and how tiny she seemed. She was as fair as could be with blond hair and big blue eyes. Had she not just emerged from my body, I wouldn’t have believed she was mine. My husband and Kyla are so dark, we just expected the girls would be, too. They laid my tiny blonde haired, blue-eyed baby on my chest and I just cried and felt exhilarated. She was finally here! I did it. They took her to weigh her and clean her up and then it was suddenly time to push again.
I wasn’t sure what was happening but I could see the looks of concern on my doctors face. I even heard someone say “prep her”. They said the baby had managed to get her hand out (my sister says she was reaching for her twin) and that they were trying to turn her but weren’t having much success. I was exhausted by the sheer thought of pushing out another baby but pleaded with them to let me try. I pushed and pushed and pushed and finally said a silent prayer to my dad and to God and to the forces that be to give me strength. After the longest 9 minutes ever, Luna emerged into the world, quietly and then just loud enough for us not to worry.
She was absolutely beautiful, with tan skin, chocolate hair and huge brown eyes. My heart melted. And there I was, on the table holding these two beautiful beings and it was just surreal. Life was exactly as it was meant to be.
Maslyn and Luna needed no NICU time and went home with me after two days. Here we are, almost 6 months later and life is still exactly how it’s meant to be. And it is pretty perfect in its messiness and filled with so much love amidst the chaos. Life is good. I had spent so much time during my pregnancy worrying about how I would handle two babies but surprisingly twins were not the hardest part. Kyla was. Kyla had been our everything for almost four years and it rocked her world to have two little creatures invade it. Today, it is a million times better. She is the kind, loving, maternal big sister that I had imagined she would be. Raising twins is tough but it is so much fun. I just have to laugh at the small stuff, know the hard times won’t last forever, do what works for me and enjoy each second as much as I can before it passes.
Looking back at my birth, having my twins via vaginal delivery feels so empowering, but when it comes down to it, having a vaginal birth was luck. The stars seemed to align, both girls turned head down, and my body cooperated. My heart aches for those mothers who don’t the birth experience that they hope for and I realize how blessed I am. This is the best advice that I can offer to moms of multiples: stay grateful. Gratitude gets me through it all. There are women who would do anything to be a mom, but cannot conceive; moms with babies in NICU and no end in sight; and mothers that have lost their babies far before their time. So, when I haven’t slept in days because Kyla brought home head lice, Mazzy has a respiratory infection, Lu an ear infection and the twins just won’t stop crying, I remind myself how blessed I am to have these three incredible girls to take care of. I think I am the luckiest woman in the world.
Meghan Murphy resides in San Francisco with her husband Marcos, daughter Kyla (4), and twin girls Maslyn and Luna (6 months). While Meghan has worked in social work and child care, she presently owns two italian restaurants. Meghan is active in the local community, enjoys all things nature, camping, playdates, good food and good friends. Meghan’s real passion, however, is being a mom to her three girls.