We were both ready to start a family a year before we got married. Driving back from a weekend in Bamburgh we thought maybe we could just give it a go for a few months and if it happened, it happened. I would just ‘push one out’ then get back to the gym and be able to fit in my wedding dress, which I had already bought. Oh how naive were we?! Ignorance is bliss. However, we decided against it and thought we had enough on our plate with finishing renovating then hopefully selling our house, finding and buying a house in Yorkshire, finding a job, oh and planning a wedding.
We started trying for a baby not long after we were married. I constantly googled ‘signs that you are pregnant’ and was convinced on our honeymoon in Italy, that I was. I did a pregnancy test whilst staying in Florence but it was negative. Whilst feeling gutted, I shrugged it off and continued watching Justin Bieber, “Sorry” on the music channel (it seemed to be played every other song.) Every month I did a pregnancy test and each time just one line appeared. This upset me. I became more obsessed with my pregnancy app regarding the best time of the month to try. Facebook used to annoy me as all I seemed to see was babies, scan pics and announcements of couples expecting their babies. By January, I realised this wasn’t doing me or my relationship any good so decided to delete the app, not go on Facebook very often and not to do a test until I was 5 weeks into my cycle. When I came on my period in January, I got upset in work and the school nurse told me start trying on day 10 (we started day 9).
Mid February I began to feel awful. I was full of cold, felt dizzy but I was still able to think straight. I felt very bizarre but I just thought I’d picked something up from work. On Thursday 11th February I dragged myself to the hairdressers as we were going skiing that Saturday. I explained how I felt and she suggested it sounds like I might be pregnant. I was five days late and had decided I would do a test on Saturday morning if I hadn’t come on by then. My dog, Mila was also acting strange and had started lying with her head on my feet every night, staring at me intently. She usually had no interest in Connor or me apart from when she wanted to be fed or watered. On Friday, I went and bought a pregnancy test to do when Connor got home. I remember being so dizzy with nerves/excitement that this might actually be the month. I phoned Connor and told him I wasn’t sure if I could wait until he got home so he said to just go ahead and see. One line appeared straight away and I got so cross that it just didn’t make sense but then slowly another line appeared. I was pregnant. I was so ridiculously happy. I phoned Connor immediately and he was in shock, fear and excitement. We were going to have a baby!!! On Saturday, we went round to tell my parents. My dad was out and he seemed to take forever to get back from golf. I can’t remember the exact words but they were so excited. There were tears and hugs, and excitement filled the air. Connor phoned his family and I phoned my brother and sister. At the beginning of the ski trip I felt amazing that my ‘little blueberry’ was safe inside my tummy whilst I cautiously skied down the mountains. (With the exception of when we missed the last ski lift and on the last day when it was a white out and I accidentally went off piste and had to be rescued by a ski instructor.) Safe to say I nearly shit myself. I got told to stay on piste, then got a bollocking from Connor, who had taken his skis off and was trekking back up the mountain. We got the next cable car down and went and spent the afternoon in Le Grand Spa Thermal in Brides les Bains. Bliss!
As the weeks passed, I felt more and more horrendous. I was never sick but just felt awful. By week 9 I could barely eat my cereals, which is saying something. (I once had to repack my suitcase before flying to Malia for a girls’ holiday because I had a box of cereal in it and it wouldn’t close.) At least Con felt fine though as he jetted off with the boys on another ski trip. That weekend I travelled down to London with my parents to go wedding dress shopping with my sister and her future mother in law. I could just about stomach some grapes, my mum’s yummy flapjacks and Gregg’s chicken bakes. We went out for dinner to this posh wine bar with my family and my sister’s fiancé and his parents. For some very silly reason I ordered a rack of barbecued ribs, took one mouthful and spent the rest of the meal trying not to throw it back up in Kirsty’s fiancé’s face.
At 11 weeks, on the Thursday before Easter weekend, I got up to go to work as normal but after going to the toilet, I saw with horror that I’d had quite a big bleed. With panic I phoned my husband. We couldn’t get a scan until Sunday at the hospital but managed to get a private scan booked. I was terrified, going dizzy and couldn’t stop crying. This was the first time I felt a mother’s fear. A feeling so strong, that you can’t focus on anything else. It makes you feel sick to the pit of your stomach. A feeling where you fear that no matter what you would do to protect your baby, you can’t do anything and things are out of your control.
By the time we were called in for the scan I was in quite a state. Lying there, the sonographer showed me my perfect healthy baby. I’ve never felt relief like it. There was my little baby, so happy and safe inside my tummy. Perfect and healthy. I was on cloud nine watching my baby and hearing its heartbeat. The sonographer then calmly said, “There’s one, and there’s the other.” Oh my goodness. Twins. I was having twins. I was just getting bigger, twice as fast. I was now nervous but ridiculously, excited nervous. My crying changed to laughing and then I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry so went a bit hysterical. Connor on the other hand didn’t talk. We just stared at each other and then stared at the screen and back at each other. With disbelief he said (in his Northern Irish accent), “Twins, Amy?” He just looked baffled. He had a facial expression which said “You are joking me?” I was smiling and crying, “Twins, Connor, we’re having twins.” I was just in complete shock, in such a happy shock. I felt so elated that not one but two of my babies were safe and healthy. It was just such an exhilarating feeling. I was ecstatic. It was such a special moment seeing two babies wriggling around in my tummy.
As soon as we got in the car we phoned family and friends and there were shrieks of excitement. I think the first thing Con said was that we needed to get a new car. He didn’t talk much for the next two days. That afternoon he cleaned all the rust from the railings outside the house and the next day he painted them. He was so funny. His dad, Aunty and brother phoned and just laughed saying it could only happen to him. All he could say was “Twins, Amy.” and “We’re having two.” I just lay on the sofa in a lovely cloud that my two babies were healthy.
I often joked with Connor, that maybe because I was feeling so ill it would be because I was carrying twins but I never believed it. I would joke saying “Twins, Basil!” Connor would turn around and say “Look, Amy, I’m not even having this conversation with you as there is no chance it is twins.” Did twins run in the family? Yes, to my knowledge my Aunty had twins and my Grandad had twin brothers. Connor didn’t know of any family history of twins. Once we found out I was having twins, we soon learnt there were twins everywhere in both families, especially mine.
My entire appetite had gone, which was a shock because I always have an appetite. I ate mainly Babybells, Skips and Quavers. I once went to Sainsbury’s and spent over £160 and we were not able to make one meal from it – Con went a bit ballistic!! The smell of hot milk, especially in a cup of tea, really turned my stomach. Connor, being the gentleman that he is, made me tea most nights as I was just so tired and in bed by 6pm. I often couldn’t manage it and used to say “I’m so sorry Con, it’s not me it’s the babies.” I think he thought, “Yeah right.” On top of the nausea, I was often in quite a bit of pain. As there were two, my body was being stretched twice as fast. I often had pains in my tummy, aching ribs from the positions they were lying in and I had to go for physiotherapy as my pelvis was very sore and painful. They gave me a variety of exercises and two Tubigrip bandages around my bump (because I was having twins). I also soon learnt that I couldn’t run anymore. After a day in York with my uni girls I ran across the road for a bus. By the time I got off the bus, my pubic bone felt very uncomfortable. After the 40 minute drive home, I couldn’t get out of the car. Connor practically carried me inside and I wasn’t able to walk for two days. Oh dear, my body had changed.
At 17 weeks, when I was reading my emails at lunch time I felt like my tummy had just flipped, and a little butterfly was fluttering around in my tummy. I could feel them move. It was the most exciting feeling and I hid in the stockroom and phoned Connor. I spent the rest of the afternoon telling everyone. I was as high as a kite. Driving home, I could feel them fluttering around, dancing to the radio. It felt incredible and I was filled with happiness all the way from my boots.
I really struggled with work as I just felt so nauseous. I felt like I couldn’t keep on top of the work load and I could feel my anxiety creeping back. At 18 weeks I went off work on sick leave with anxiety. I felt terrible leaving the kids in my class so made an effort to write all their end of year reports. I would feel my anxiety rising and panic settling in when my sick leave was coming to an end. I spoke to my twin midwife and GP and they reminded me I needed to focus on myself and my babies. This made me feel a little better and that I was doing the right thing but I struggled with trying to not feel guilty about not working.
Connor had always wanted to find out what they were. When we found out there was two my friend shared some advice that she had heard from other twin mummies. She explained that the mother who found out what she was having, felt like she bonded with each baby, felt more organised and by the end of the pregnancy knew which one was kicking. She felt more emotionally prepared. The other mummy, although was excited to wait in anticipation, in hindsight wish she had found out. As let’s face it, it’s pretty daunting expecting your first baby, let alone expecting babIES!! A multiple birth. We decided to find out.
The night before the scan, I was going through different name combinations and when I said two girls’ names, Connor asked why I had said that. He was certain at least one of them was a boy and hadn’t even thought of the idea of it being two girls. Uhoh!! We were so excited to find out. At the scan the sonographer confirmed Twin 1 was definitely a girl and she was 80% sure that Twin 2 was a girl too. Wow, two girls. I at first was a little disappointed as thought I was having one boy and one girl but then the sonographer explained how they might share similar likes and play better together. I instantly warmed to the idea and loved the idea of having twin girls. Now Connor was definitely outnumbered and began to warm to the idea that girls might enjoy setting up and playing with the Scalextric set in the loft too. I couldn’t wait to dress them. I decided I wouldn’t dress them the same though. I thought I would keep the nursery neutral (but as soon as they were born, I painted it in a very delicate Farrow & Ball ‘Middleton Pink, just like them.) I couldn’t wait to tell everyone. All the girls at my Aquanatal classes were waiting in anticipation to find out too. I loved my Blooming Babies Aquanatal classes and you normally get a round of applause once you get to 37 weeks, but because I was carrying twins I got a round of applause too. I felt very special.
Although I was very nervous prior to the scans I always looked forward to seeing them. I loved seeing the different positions they were lying in. In one scan Twin 2 was sitting on Twin 1’s head. They didn’t have much space so they were often squashed and it was tricky to get all their measurements. I used to study the pictures to see if I could notice any similarities and differences between them. I loved that on each pic it said Twin 1 and Twin 2. Twin 1 was a rascal during the scans and always faced away or wriggled during measurements. Once when the sonographer was taking Twin 1’s measurements, she moved and it looked like she stuck her middle finger up at us. Connor and I both looked at each other and said with disbelief, “Did you see that?” Oh dear, we were in for trouble with this one. Twin 2 used to pose beautifully and give us a great profile and scan picture. I loved getting to know their little personalities already and couldn’t wait to see if this is what they would be like growing up.
I enjoyed talking to people and hearing their stories about twins and seeing people’s reactions when I told them I was expecting twin girls. I joined the Leeds Twins Multiples group on Facebook. I found this really exciting to hear what twin mummies got up to, how they were coping bringing up two and I was soon going to be part of their club. I picked up quite a few hints. I started following mother_of_daughters on Instagram and got so excited. I began reading her blog, ‘Gas and Air’ and was fascinated by her stories and posts about bringing up twin daughters. She inspired me to buy the YESMUMtobe cards (Empowering women in birth and motherhood phrase cards #yesmumcards) I enjoyed sharing her stories with Connor and told him he should definitely start following her husband, father_of_daughters on Instagram to help prepare him. I plucked up the courage to read her delivery story and began to feel quite nervous. She is a midwife and advised not buying anything until you are 28 weeks pregnant. I kept this in mind but couldn’t resist trips to The White Company. I bought two pink pram blankets and they only had one pink cot blanket in stock so I bought that too. On another trip there I bought a beautifully soft grey fur blanket. I imagined sitting on the sofa with a girl in each arm, snuggled under the blanket watching films.
Twins were likely to be born between 35 and 37 weeks so I organised my baby shower for the Sunday of August bank holiday. I imagined it was going to be so exciting and I couldn’t wait. I used to think about what size I would be by then and google ‘twin mums 35 weeks’. Oh my, I was going to be big. I started a Pinterest board and spent hours planning and dreaming of decorations and games to play. I was hoping it would be a hot day and Connor would do a barbeque for us too.
I loved my forever growing bump and enjoyed feeling their little movements. By 21 weeks the sickness had finally lifted, the anxiety had shifted and I felt great. At long last I had the ‘pregnancy glow’. Since we were having two we thought we’d better get cracking with the loft conversion, so we moved in with my parents on the first May bank holiday. I’d picked the colour scheme for my house and begun spending my time learning how to make curtains. Our bed now had very little room for Con as it was taken up by me and my very big pillow. Connor was not in the least bit impressed. I couldn’t sleep very well and spent the nights going to the toilet, swigging Gaviscon (peppermint flavour rather than the aniseed flavour as that felt like swigging shots of Sambuca, bleurgh!!) by the bottle and awkwardly moving from one side to the other. They always seemed to move when I paid for something or dance and wriggle when I was driving and listening to the radio. I loved lying in bed in the morning and at night and getting Con to feel their kicks. They were rascals though and kept moving. I was now catching up with the other mummies at Aquanatal and filling my swimming costume despite being two months behind them. I loved the attention I got when I told people I was expecting twin girls and no, they weren’t identical and yes, twins run in both sides of the family. I loved them.
Before writing this entry I honestly felt like I couldn’t remember being pregnant. If I was to think back about being pregnant I would need to look back at pictures of my bump. I knew I loved being pregnant, especially once the nausea passed and I loved that I had two little girls in my tummy. I put this down to the trauma of the summer. But as I started writing, I couldn’t stop and more and more memories of each step of my pregnancy kept flooding back. This filled me with strange emotions: excitement; sadness; a feeling of an empty space in my life, something missing, one of my baby girls; broodiness; craving for my bump back with my girls safely inside; and, a sense of relief that I have survived and I am out the other side watching my beautiful girl grow up.