It was a Monday evening, I tentatively walked up the flight of stairs to the gynecologist’s office. My mind raced with all the different reports I may hear from the doctor, and none of my ideas were positive. I was over twelve weeks pregnant and had been experiencing spotting for almost a week. After going through a painful miscarriage less than a year before, I was scared. I climbed onto the ultrasound table and held my breath. The doctor prepared his equipment then asked my purpose for doing the ultrasound. Briefly, I filled him in on what I was experiencing. As the ultrasound progressed he got quiet, and I got more nervous. “Well,” he finally said, “You have a right to be concerned, you are having twins.”
“What!” I screamed, jumping from the chair. “That’s not possible!”
“Congratulations,” He replied. “Just get some rest and you should be fine.”
My husband had been picking up the children from school and came to pick me up from the gynecologist’s. I met him on the top of the stairs. Quietly, tentatively, I broke the news. His response shocked me. He jumped and shouted with joy. A far better reaction than I had to the news. It was always his desire to have twins, but I did not like the idea. Having had three children before and experiencing a miscarriage, I knew the risks involved in having just one child. Having twins meant double the trouble.
As the pregnancy progressed, the babies grew healthily. I on the other hand had a very difficult time. I was teaching the second grade and I lived an hour from work. It was rough. Fatigue was a normal part of my day. On top of that, my mother-in-law passed just weeks before I gave birth.
As a precaution, my gynecologist scheduled me for a C-section on the day I turned twenty-seven weeks. My babies had their own plans however and decided to come a day early; twenty-six weeks and six days. I traveled two hours to the hospital, early in the morning, only to be rushed into an emergency c-section because baby one was breached. It was no wonder that right out of surgery, my blood pressure went extremely high. It was a nerve-wracking time as I was kept in monitoring until it went down. After nearly two weeks, both babies and I were safely home. We were past the worst. Or so I thought.
I was expecting to feel joy and excitement similar to what I had felt when my other children were born. Instead, I was sad, scared, and anxious. I even felt guilty for feeling this way. I had heard vaguely about Postpartum depression but I thought that would never happen to me. I came from a family where giving birth was always easy and that was the experience I had before. I mean, only women who had fertility issues got depressed, right? I was so wrong. For days I was sad and afraid. Most nights I could not sleep. My doctor had to give me a moderate allergy medication that would help me sleep. I cried to my husband who couldn’t understand what was happening. He had no idea what to do. Our support systems were low. We didn’t have a lot of people to look to. Postpartum wasn’t given much attention in our culture. And so, I struggled.
Finally, I reached out to a friend who had gone through a similar experience with her second child. This friend was also doing her Master’s in Counseling Psychology. Even though our conversations were over the phone she walked with me and prayed for me through the whole period I was struggling. She encouraged me to look forward to a day when it would be better, and I did. And after many months it did get better.
So what did I learn through that whole experience?
- Postpartum stress/depression is real.
- It can affect anyone.
- Having community (family or friends) support is integral in managing the birth of any child.
- Seek professional help if you are experiencing Postpartum stress.
- With the right help and support you will get better.
So, today my twins are one year and six months. They are healthy and active. I am enjoying the fact that I have twins, except when they tag team and tear the house up. I am grateful for the blessing they are and I continue to learn and grow as a mother of twins.