I've been so excited to share this dreamy newborn session with you all! This session was held in my studio. Leila (mom), Evan and Ellie (babies) arrived on one of December's coldest days, after a snow squall had left the Preston Connecticut countryside a serene winter wonderland. I heated up the studio to a balmy 85 degrees Fahrenheit and set up my miniature space heater so it would be nice and toasty to encourage sweet slumber for the babes. Mom had asked for some wintery themed photos, so I put together a snowflake "chandelier" of sorts, as seen below.
I asked Leila to share some of her pregnancy and birth experience with us. See some of her (and her husband, Ian's, too!) amazing responses below:
1.) How/when did you find out you were expecting?
Leila: I found out I was expecting at about 10 pm on April 17, four days before my birthday. I'd decided to take a pregnancy test since I had cramps but nothing else... When I saw the pink plus sign I kind of went into denial. I just stared at it for a while, then immediately took another pregnancy test because the first one I took was kind of old and I thought maybe it was just a fluke, but sure enough, the next one came back positive too! Ian was asleep when I found out and left for a business trip early the next day, so I waited until he got home to tell him in person (and took two more pregnancy tests during that time... just to be extra sure...). I bought a tiny dinosaur onesie and put it in a gift bag with the pregnancy tests, then told Ian that even though it was my birthday, I had a gift for him.
Ian: April 20. after the business trip to Washington D.C., with a " birthday present for me on Leila s birthday". The bag had a dinosaur onesie and 4 pregnancy tests. I somehow missed the onesie on top, so I wound up grabbing a handful of tests...
2.) What was your initial reaction to the news? And when you discovered you were having twins?
Leila: When we found out I was pregnant we were really surprised and excited. I'd gone off my birth control nearly a year before that, but I'd found out about 6 months later that I wasn't ovulating at all, which was pretty disheartening. I took two 10 day rounds of oral progesterone in December 2016 and March 2017 to get my body working correctly, but we hadn't really been actively "trying" and I expected it to take a lot longer before I actually got pregnant, so it was a pretty big shock!
I went to see my OB when I was just 6 weeks pregnant, so when he did the ultrasound he told me it was possible I was carrying twins, but it was too early to tell for sure and that it could just be a fluid sac. My gut told me it was twins, but they don't run in my family and oral progesterone does not increase the likelihood of twins, so I was in total denial and said "Nope, must be a fluid sac!" When we went back a couple of weeks later and my OB said, "Well, my friend, you're having twins!" I went into a total daze. I could barely speak and we were both really shocked and overwhelmed. I kept saying "How did this happen? How did this happen?!" We shared in some maniacal laughter once we got out to the car. It took us a few weeks to really come to grips with the reality of having twins and then we just got more and more excited every day!
Ian: Stunned silence (turns out it was too much silence). To twins - I had to sit down in the OB's office, hysterical laughter in the rain in the car after leaving the appointment. Nothing but excitement since.
3.) What was your pregnancy and birth experience like? What was the best part of your pregnancy? Worst?
Leila: My pregnancy wasn't too bad, but I didn't love being pregnant either. I got lucky during the first trimester and didn't have any morning sickness, in fact, I actually had very few early symptoms at all, which on one hand was good but on the other was kind of anxiety-inducing because I couldn't tell that I was pregnant and I worried a lot about losing the babies. I was really relieved to hit 13 weeks and enter the "safe zone" of pregnancy. During the second trimester my ulcerative colitis flared for about a month which was pretty unpleasant, but thankfully we were able to get it back into remission with medication. My two favorite parts of the pregnancy were feeling the babies kicking and telling people I was pregnant with twins. People LOVE twins and would get SO excited, which always made me happy. The worst part was definitely my final week of pregnancy. I was super swollen, could barely walk, had terrible heartburn, was feeling nauseous, and was just in pain the majority of the time. I had my babies 6 weeks early which was pretty stressful, but at the same time I was very glad to have them out of me!
Ian: Pregnancy wasn't too bad all things considered if you think about possible symptoms. Your poor ankles at the end.... best part was you were just excited to be a mommy! And the birth experience didn't look fun but guys have no perspective on what it's like for women.
4.) What were your first thoughts when you found out the sex of your babies?
Leila: With twins if you find out the sex at the anatomy scan, like we did, it's a little different than with a singleton because you find out one sex and then you have to wait about 20 - 30 minutes to find out the other one! I really really wanted to have a girl. I didn't mind if we had one of each, I just wanted at least one girl, so when they told us our first twin was a boy I was excited, but also in total suspense because I had to wait for what felt like an eternity to find out what the other one was. When I found out our second twin was a girl I was just overjoyed because Ian really wanted a boy, so we both got what we wanted.
Ian: Yes! One and done!
5.) You mentioned Evan and Ellie were born 6 weeks early. Do you care to share your experience giving birth to premature twins and their stay in the NICU?
Leila: Having the twins early was really challenging both emotionally and logistically. I had thought they might be born at 35 or 36 weeks (and I was kind of hoping they would be since I'd been feeling so awful), but I was definitely not prepared for them to show up earlier than that. My water broke at about 11 pm when I was 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I was definitely not expecting it, but I was actually remarkably calm at the time. When we got to the hospital the doctor told me that since there was meconium in my water, which increases the risk of infection, I wouldn't be leaving the hospital until the babies were delivered, but that he wanted to give me IV steroids to help their lung development before they could be delivered. It took about 6 hours for the steroids to work and then they had to fit me into the OR for a C-section (which I chose to have from the start), so I was in labor for about 9 hours total and it was pretty unpleasant. The day they were born I think I was still high on adrenaline from the labor and C-section, so I wasn't too concerned about them being in the NICU at that point, but the next day the reality of the situation set in and the postpartum hormones hit me hard. I was an emotional wreck and basically couldn't stop crying for the next few days. It was really hard not knowing how long they were going to be in the NICU for and it was devastating having to leave the hospital without them (I'm tearing up now just thinking about it). You always imagine leaving the hospital with your baby (or babies) and bringing them home. Going home without them and then recovering from my C-section by myself during the day, since Ian was at work, was one of the loneliest experiences I've had in a long time, but after a few days, it got better. I was given a room at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital so I could go visit the babies whenever I wanted, and they also provided me with numerous gifts and free meals. The Yale-New Haven Hospital staff was absolutely amazing and the nurses were especially great at keeping us informed and reassuring us that the babies were doing well. We ended up bringing home our twins a lot sooner than we'd anticipated. Ellie came home a week and a half after she was born, just in time for Thanksgiving, and Evan came home a few days after her. The NICU stay was difficult, but bringing them home was definitely the light at the end of the tunnel and we were just so overjoyed to have them both home with us.
Ian: The NICU staff were amazing, it was stressful and nerve wracking but they made it feel ok by pointing out how good our babies were doing all the time. I've basically memorized the list of names of the nurses for all time. The worst part was having to see them so little because I was working and driving to/from the hospital every night. I never really wanted to leave.
6.) What's the most exciting (or scary) part of having twins?
Leila: The most exciting part is seeing them interact with each other, though right now that mostly involves them randomly punching and kicking each other as they flail about. I also love seeing other people react to them because, as I said in one of my previous answers, people LOVE twins! I can't wait to see them grow up together and hopefully become best friends!
The scariest part is the same as any parent I think, just the fear of them getting hurt, sick, etc. and not being able to help them in some way.
Ian: There's twice the good stuff as well as twice the hard stuff.
7.) What's been the grossest thing you've experienced since becoming parents?
Leila: Honestly, most of the gross stuff doesn't really bother me that much, I guess because they're my babies and I love them so much, but since we've had issues with their digestion (soy and dairy intolerance) we basically have to inspect all their poopy diapers for blood, so that's probably my least favorite task.
Ian: My grossest thing was emotional and not physical. I was really bothered by how people had no problem asking very personal and sometimes upsetting questions. Hearing "so when are they coming home" with expectation from a stranger when you can't be with the kids or wife sucks a lot.