My girls turned one! Life with two toddlers.

2015-328-6

So, I haven’t been writing blog entries as I planned to, but I do hope to become more active from now on. I hope to blog about raising twins, twin mother rants and of course about life in Japan, where I permanently reside.

Last week my girls turned one year old. A day I never thought I would see during my turbulent pregnancy (which I have described in detail on this blog in a previous entry).

2015-328-21

We had their pictures taken in a studio in Osaka city to celebrate them reaching the one year old milestone. It was my plan all along to have this photo shoot so we’ll always remember how they looked like when they turned one, since we all know that children grow up too fast. The girls were not happy about it and there for a lot of crying and babies trying to escape the scene, but we still got some decent pictures, which was convenient considering the fact that pictures like these are not cheap. We got 140 pictures taken and you know you’re in the hands of a professional when they’re actually able to capture pictures worth framing, since all mommy and daddy remembers are tears and screaming… or chewing on things.

My girls are officially toddlers now and they’re everywhere! When you have a baby, you desperately want them to do things, smile, sit up, crawl, talk and other expected human behavior, but when they actually start doing those things, you begin to have fond memories of the days where you could put a baby down for a minute and still find it the exact same place you left it. With toddlers, just doing the dishes takes forever since I have to keep an eye on two kids, who’ll try to climb the shelves, rewire the TV or pull out every single object in your drawers.

With toddlers you also get to keep the baby crying, but on top of that you get the added bonus of screaming and hysteria, like when I try to keep my girls from playing with the toilet or eating the dog food. They have ninja like movements and you know nothing will be left untouched. You laugh when family members tell you “I’ll keep an eye on it” after you warn them about their empty plate on the table, because you know that your toddler can get their fingers in everything within seconds – you never see them coming and with twins there’s always one who can distract, while the other do the deed.

The house is a constant mess and a toddler’s idea of playing is pretty much throwing everything around, either their toys down onto the floor or any other surface. You always have to keep an eye on the floor, because it’s like a minefield – littered with small things just waiting to be stepped on.

My girls will try to eat anything, paper, leafs, dog hair, tape and rabbit poop, but any actual food I’ve spend precious time on cooking will end up on the floor without a second look. The only thing I can get them to eat in the moment is pasta and raisins (of course not in the same dish).

Their naps are getting shorter and shorter, but they’re just as tired.My girls spend 80% of the day fighting over toys or space. They sound like alley cats fighting over garbage, they scream, hiss, scratch and bite and there’s a whole lot of crying.

Everyday is a battle, a war zone and I’m exhausted.

Welcome to the life with toddlers.

Happy birthday, girls.

2015-328-48AdobePhotoshopExpress_2015_10_23_15-34-29

Rants of a twin mom #1 – socially accepted mean comments

SONY DSC

As a mother you’re automatically under the watchful eyes of the society around you.

People will praise you, people will criticize you, people will agree with you and people will try to convince you that their way is the correct way – because… let’s face it becoming a parent doesn’t come with a license and when you have twins you’re just scrambling to get by.

As a twin mother you can expect to listen to less nice comments, personal questions, annoying statements and overall ignorance when it comes to twins and twin pregnancy. That’s why I decided to make a series on my blog called “Rants of a twin mom”

To be honest, I’ve never wished for twins and I never considered myself eligible for having them either, but when I did end up becoming pregnant with identical twins I was surprised about the “honesty” I met from people, both from friends, but also from people on the street. I kept wondering when it got socially accepted to pity a twin mother, which is the topic for my first rant: socially accepted mean comments.

Random stranger: Wow, you’re big, you must be due any minute.

Me: No, I’m actually only 7 months pregnant. I’m carrying twins, so I’m a bit bigger than average.

Random stranger: Twins?! Oh my! I’m glad it isn’t me.

How many twin mothers have gotten similar comments? I’m a member of several twin communities so I can answer: A LOT!

And I also know most twin mothers want to say this as well: “Yes, I’m happy they’re mine and not yours too”.

People would never ask a pregnant woman about the gender of her baby and say “oh, a boy? I’m glad it isn’t me”. That would be considered rude and distasteful, but when it comes to twins it’s suddenly accepted? Aren’t twins human beings as well?

I understand that for a lot of people, twins are a scary thought, but it’s like people forgot the fact that people doesn’t choose to become pregnant with twins. Some people are prepared for the possibility if they have undergone IVF or hormonal treatment, but for the average person, ending up pregnant with twins is out of our hands. Especially the chance of conceiving identical twins is 1 in 285, so people’s surprise is expected, but personally I think the negative comments are out of place.

We don’t need comments such as, “Oh, glad it’s not me”, “It’s going to be very hard”, *You’ll have your hands full”, “the first year will be awful” and etc.

We all know that having a baby is hard work, so most of us can imagine that two won’t be like a spa weekend, but making twin parents feel like we’re raising undesired children is out of place. Are the negative comments supposed to be funny and make us laugh? Let me tell you, most twin parents do not think it’s amusing.

It’s not like we can change our minds or try to give our babies to someone else. What are the negative comments even meant for?

Most people are surprised, chocked and often scared when they hear that they’re expecting twins, so people should actually be supportive and make it sound like twins are the best thing ever (because they are). When people give birth to a healthy baby, it’s a joyous occasion, which causes for celebration, it should be the same when two healthy babies are born – especially since twin pregnancies are more risky and stressful.

In the end, most twin parents get over the initial shock, we get over the sleepless nights and days filled with cries and we feel blessed. We got two babies instead of one, we get to experience something not everyone is able to experience and we believe that we have given our children the best gift, a friend for life.

So people’s pity is not just unwanted, it’s unneeded. We’re glad they’re ours and not yours.

Outings with twins – in Japan. Are they boys?

SONY DSC

This is how most outings with twins look like.

The picture is taken in Himeji Zoo last week when we went to see the cherry blossoms at Himeji castle. Just making it from the car to the castle took quite some time, due to not only the fact that the site was booming with tourists (both Japanese and foreign), but also because a good amount of these people wanted to say hello to the girls.

I don’t mind people’s curiosity or them wanting to chat for a bit. The girls actually seem to make the Japanese overcome their fear of talking to foreigners, of course they do often show great signs of relief when it turns out I do speak Japanese.

The attention does get a bit more complicated when people just decide to stop and stare and thus block passage ways, both for me and others. It still amazes me, how two simple twin girls can make such an amount of people stand in awe, hovering their jaws close to the ground. It’s just twins, not sextuplets.

I also have to come to terms with the fact that no matter how I dress the girls, people will always ask if at least one of them is a boy. No matter how much pink they wear, how frilly their dresses are or how much flower pattern they have on their shirts, for some reason people assume they’re boys. I simply don’t get it.

I know babies are hard to tell on their face alone, but shouldn’t their gender being hinted by their pink clothes? When we went to see cherry blossoms, Yurina was wearing a pink dress and Miharu was wearing a white dress and people actually asked if Miharu was a boy, since her dress was white… even it was blue, would you make a boy wear a dress?!

Let’s not forget the fact that their stroller is quite pink.

People seem quite obsessed with the whole idea of boy/girl twins and even when I tell them that they’re identical twins, people still ask if one of them is a boy.

I also know there’s quite a lot of people from Danish pregnancy communities who would hate taking their babies to Japan. Those kind of people who can’t stand the thought of people talking to their babies without permission or even worse – touching them. If I’m talking the girls farther away from home than the supermarket, I must expect at least one of two old ladies will touch their feet or hands.

I don’t really mind, the old Japanese ladies loves the girls and if the girls can bring them smiles they can touch their feet all they want, or at least until one of the girls starts crying and scare them off. I just find it interesting, being from a from a culture which is very strict with how you act with strangers’ babies and suddenly living in Japan where apparently having a cute baby is an invitation to let people touch them.

I do think the girls enjoy the attention. Not that they understand why people look at them, but the attention brings extra people who can do funny faces, entertain them and make them laugh. A good day for a baby.

The planned pregnancy that I didn’t expect.

How my pregnancy was far from how I imagined it would be, how I was given 50% chance of success and why I’m glad it’s over.

SONY DSC

Let the worries begin.

When my university graduation came closer, my husband and I thought it was a good time to start trying to have a baby. I would graduate around June 2014, I thought it would be good to be pregnant around that time, I just wanted to avoid suddenly going into labour during my finals, so I wanted to make sure that the baby’s due date was not during those early summer months.

I also had to consider the fact that my husband and I were still long distance, him working in Japan and me studying in Denmark, meaning hitting the right fertile timing would be a bit harder than for the average couple.

We started trying in December 2013, when my period came as usual a few weeks later I was devastated, even though I knew that it was normal not getting pregnant after the first try. Due to the distance, our next try was February 2014 and this time I tried to not listen to any symptoms or putting my expectations to high.

I started feeling extremely dizzy, when laying down, my bed seemed to spin around, I was seeing black spots and I started feeling sick and nauseated and when I tested a few days after my expected period, the test was positive. I was over the moon.

The next weeks were spent with feeling sick and tired. I was exhausted. I could sleep 16 hours a day and still feel sleep deprived. I spend too much time online reading stories of miscarriages, so I was a nervous wreck, expecting to see blood every time I went to the bathroom. When I was around 8 weeks along and did see blood on the toilet paper, I decided to pay for an early scan to calm my nerves.

I kept telling my mother that my pregnancy wasn’t “normal”, even though it was my first time. Something felt off. So when the staff at the scan clinic got ready to scan me I was expecting the worst, but nothing had prepared me for what I would hear next.

“Here’s the first one, let’s see if I can find the second”.

The second?! What was she on about?!.

I was baffled. The scan revealed, not one, but two babies. I was in total shock. I never considered the possibility of twins.

One baby was already measuring smaller than the other, which worried me to no end. More worries. I was especially worried about the fact that they were identical twins, meaning they shared a placenta and a quick search online gave me several horror stories about TTTS (Twin to twin transfusion), which means that the twins have an unequal share of blood, one twin, the donor, gets too little blood and the other twin, recipient, gets too much, which can cause, brain damage, heart defects and death. 10-30% of identical twins fall victim of TTTS, which is also means that you get scanned every 2 weeks from 12 weeks gestation.

When I was scanned around 12 weeks, there were still two babies in there wriggling around. There was still a size difference between the two and the small twin had a cyst on its’ cord, which worried the hospital staff. They convinced me to get a sample from the placenta to check for any chromosomal issues.

It took a week before the hospital finally contacted me with the results. Two babies with normal chromosomes and even better, they were girls.

Fifty percent chance of success.

My biggest dream of having girl(s), would be coming true. I was relieved and happy. I had never seen myself as the mother of boys. My mind was running on glitter, big dresses and Disney princesses.

I started having regular scans every two weeks. My little girl, twin B, kept measuring small, but no signs of TTTS and her flow was normal. When I was 16 weeks along, a doctor wanted to discuss my options. My husband was in Japan and I was alone in the room. The doctor told me that she feared something was wrong with my smaller twin and combining the risks of TTTS, she would only give me 50% of having a successful pregnancy.

I was stunned.

The doctor continued to tell me to consider getting an abortion before it was too late and she didn’t see me carrying my girls past week 32. I told her that neither my husband nor I would consider getting an abortion, especially now where everything looked fine.

On the way home I cried.

Two days later I felt my girls move for the first time.

I graduated from university and moved in with my mother, waiting to move to Japan after my pregnancy. Due to the move, I changed hospitals and I was looking forward to a second opinion.

The new hospital was more positive and they were happy with the sizes of my girls. As long as the small twin followed her own curve there should be no reason to panic.

The two weeks between my scan I was a nervous wreck. Constantly worried about the girls’ movement and of any signs of TTTS, some nights I would start crying due to being exhausted from my constant worries, but all scans told me the girls were doing well.

My husband and I decided on two names for the girls. The big girl would be Yurina (友利奈), her first character being “friend”, I imagined a strong and kind girl, who would have a lot of friends. The little girl would be Miharu (美晴), written as beautiful, clear sky, she was small, but, beautiful.

When I was 29 weeks along, my little girl fell off her own chart and wasn’t growing properly. She went down to minus 34% below average, my bigger girl was around 12% below average, so the hospital decided to give me steroid injections to mature the lungs of my girls, if I were to have an emergency c-section.

The final stretch.

The extra scans showed that the flow of the small twin was normal, so they wanted her to stay in as long as possible. During my next scans she started to grow faster and faster and like a miracle she started to catch up to her sister and suddenly there was only an estimated 100 gram difference on them.

I got past 32 weeks and saw it as my own personal victory.

When I was 35 weeks along, the hospital detected protein in my urine, my blood pressure was high and a blood test showed that I was developing preeclampsia. I was then hospitalized.

My kidneys were no longer functioning correctly and my blood plates were decreasing, so the remaining days of my pregnancy we spent in the hospital, getting blood tests several times a day. The good thing was that I got to hear the heart beats of my girls every day, but they started to move less and less. I knew that they were getting big and had a lack of space, but it still worried me. I kept telling the hospital staff that I was worried about their movement and I had nightmares of stillbirth. The pregnancy had taken its’ toll on me, both physically and mentally.

I was getting huge, even walking became painful and I couldn’t sleep at night, but the 8 months of worries was the worst part. My sanity was wearing thin and I wanted it to be over. The hospital wanted to deliver them at 38 weeks, but I wanted them out sooner. A midwife listened to my worries and consulted a doctor for me, he agreed that they would deliver them at 37 weeks. I got the news when I was 36 weeks and 4 days along, so only 3 more days. I couldn’t sleep that same night. Something kept me up. The next day my preeclampsia got worse and they told me that I would deliver that same day. 7 hours later my girls were delivered by c-section, (they were in breech), and they came out screaming and healthy.

When my first girl, Yurina, came out the sound of her crying brought tears to my eyes. It was like I had run a marathon for 8 months and I finally reached goal. I was relieved. Then Miharu was born, emotions I had never felt before was fighting within me and I was just crying.

Today my girls are 5 months old, they are healthy and perfect. They bring me joy and sleepless nights. They’re something I didn’t expect, but they brought me everything I needed.

SONY DSC

When life takes a new turn

SONY DSC

I have been gone from this blog and other social sites for a very long time, first due to me finishing up my bachelor thesis and then my husband and I decided to try and have a baby and I quickly became pregnant a few months before graduating university. An early scan showed that I wasn’t just expecting one child, but two. Identical twins. Later tests showed that my dream of baby girls would come true.

Then followed the stressful months caused by the label of “high risk pregnancy”. A pregnancy that caused me great worry everyday. I carried my girls against all odds to 36 weeks and 5 days and they were delivered by c-section on October 28th – healthy baby girls who needed no additional time in the hospital.