Our Mommy DO Guide’s reply: It’s tough, but it gets easier! One of the best pieces of advice I received was: When one baby wakes up in the night, wake the other one up to eat, too. Tickle her toes, sing a little song, do whatever you have to do to wake her up. The goal is to get both twins on the same schedule. Otherwise, you’ll feed one baby, then go back to sleep, and then the other one will wake you back up!
—Jennifer Gilbert, DO, a mom of three-month-old twins and an ob/gyn at Paoli Hospital in Pennsylvania
Our Mommy MD Guide’s reply: I had invitro fertilization to become pregnant with all my kids. When my first born turned 1, I was 34 years old. All of the literature says that after 35, even healthy women’s fertility nosedives. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, so I knew that my graph would be even lower.
I went through one more IVF cycle again, and as I had with my daughter I had three embryos transferred. But whereas two of the three had died in the first trimester during my first pregnancy, during this pregnancy, at week 12, they all looked great! My ob-gyn said, “I think this time you’re going to have all three babies!”
For the first few months, my husband and I were in denial. This isn’t happening to us! My husband was especially in denial about needing a minivan. He checked into every single SUV, but of course none of them could accommodate four babies. (Our daughter would only be 20 months old when the triplets were born.) And so we bought a minivan.
We also needed to buy three more cribs, but we had no place to put them. We had just built a new house, but we never imagined we’d have four kids. Our master bedroom was downstairs, and we had three bedrooms upstairs. So we all moved upstairs. My husband and I took over the guest bedroom, we put our daughter in the second bedroom, and we put the triplets’ new cribs into the third bedroom. We do use our downstairs master bedroom closet and bathroom, but I won’t feel comfortable sleeping downstairs while the babies are upstairs until I know they know that they are old enough to know how to escape from a fire or any other emergency.
The preparations for the triplets were made even more challenging because my ob-gyn said I was full-term size at 22 weeks and needed to go on bed rest. I pushed it another three weeks and kept on working, but at week 25, he put his foot down and insisted I stop working. He asked me, “What are you trying to prove? You’re a rat in a rat race! If you have these babies prematurely and they get complications from prematurity, you’ll feel guilty about it for the rest of your life.” In hindsight, he was right: I was putting my babies at risk just to work another few weeks! And so I went on modified bed rest at home.
It’s a good thing my specialty is radiology because I was able to set up a reading room in my laundry room at home. My boss and the rest of the colleagues were extremely supportive and they were all rooting for me to go all the way to full term gestation. If I had been a clinician, this wouldn’t have worked. I couldn’t have patients coming over to my house! I was able to work at least four hours a day.
I continued to work until a week before the babies were born. I couldn’t sit down without having terribly painful swelling in my legs. Fortunately, my mom came from Pakistan to help. She took over the house—cooking, cleaning, caring for my daughter. I truly believed that helped prolong my pregnancy. I’m 5 feet, 2 inches, 130 pounds, and I carried my triplets to 36½ weeks! This was almost a miracle; my ob-gyn had said he’d be surprised if I made it to 30 weeks.
My healthy triplets were born at 6 pounds, 10 ounces; 6 pounds, 8 ounces, and 5 pounds, 11 ounces. Today they’re 18 months old and weigh more than 30 pounds!
—Sadaf T. Bhutta M.B.,B.S., a mom of a three-year-old daughter and 18-month-old triplets and an assistant professor and the fellowship director of pediatric radiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, both in Little Rock