Author: Stacy Spanos
I was on bed rest for the final three months of my pregnancy. That is, I didn’t sit up, I laid down for three entire months and when you’re an on-the-go sort of person like myself, this feels like a lifetime. The goal was to keep the twins inside for as long as possible – the safest place for them was in my uterus and we were determined to fulfil this goal.
22 weeks pregnant with twins
It all began when I was 22 weeks pregnant with the twins. My obstetrician called me after a routine ultrasound I’d had and explained that I needed to be strict with rest and that for the remainder of my pregnancy I would also need to insert progesterone pessaries three times a day. Progesterone pessaries are generally used to prevent miscarriage and prolong a pregnancy. Unfortunately my cervix was shortening and at that point in time it was at 2.5cm when the norm for that stage of pregnancy is 4cm.
When I found out I was having twins one of my greatest fears (and there were many!) was premature birth. I had heard that it was extremely common in twin pregnancies and I had also heard that bed rest was just as common. My concern about premature birth stemmed from hearing stories of disability, health issues or losing one or both babies. I was 22 weeks and my obstetrician made it clear that our goal at this point was to get the babies to at least 29 weeks. This would not eliminate complications entirely, but it would most likely mean that both babies if born had a better chance of survival and the risk of complications to their health would be minimised. And so, part of my fear came true.
Pregnant with twins and bed rest
It was almost Christmas so we were very busy doing all the christmassy things with our two older children and family. Any family event that I attended I sat down and moved around only a little bit and I also attended a holiday with my side of the family. On this holiday I went to the beach thinking I was doing the right thing by sitting the entire time, and I also chose a room upstairs in our holiday house, unknowing that these things were putting my babies at risk. At this point in time, we did not fully understand the seriousness of our situation.
Thus, at my ultrasound appointment following this holiday, my cervix had fallen to 1.5cm. I then got a friendly spray from my obstetrician who ordered that I go on strict bed rest. This meant that I was only to get up for the toilet and shower. I did not realise that sitting was just as bad as standing and the pressure on my cervix had to be controlled.
Pregnant with twins and bed rest PLUS a three and a five year old
As I mentioned above, I have two older children. At the time of my twin pregnancy they were 5 and 3 years old. Dealing with being pregnant with twins and bed rest meant I could no longer do the simple things that us mums do daily. I couldn’t walk to the fridge to put them snacks, I couldn’t bath them or wipe their bums, and I couldn’t play with them the way they were used to or take them on outings. I did the best I could in the play department. On the couch or bed I played legos with my son, drew pictures with my daughter and we watched tv together a lot.
I was fortunate enough to have my mum on hand every single day. Either I went to her house or she came over and got my daughter ready for school, dropped her off and came over and looked after my son and/or cooked dinner as well. My mother in law would pick up my daughter from school and drop her off home and by this time mum would leave and I would have a couple of hours before hubby came home.
In this time my children learnt how to do a lot on their own. Before this I would say that I was a coddler. I definitely did things for my children that they could do themselves. Little did I know that this “training” would be a heaven sent when the twins came along. When you have twins and you’re home alone, having a couple of helpers who can run and grab a nappy to save a poo explosion from going south for example, is a massive anxiety tamer.
My husband changed during this time
2022 is our twentieth year together and for the majority of that time he’s been my rock, the person who lifts me up and the person who picks up the pieces. I always saw him this way, but when bed rest was ordered, I thought he might break. He incredibly did the opposite. Hubby works full time, leaving home at 7am and arriving home at 7.30pm, sometimes even later.
When he arrived home during my bed rest he would get the kids showered and in their pyjamas, in bed and then he would clean the house. He would put all the toys away, sweep the floors of our childrens’ grubby mess, wash the dishes and put them away and do the washing and hang it up too. He did this daily. Most nights not stopping until after 10pm. He was a machine. He was so kind to me when I was feeling so guilty about laying back watching him do all this. Like the rest of us, he was also in training for the whirlwind that are twins.
Pregnant with twins and shortened cervix
A shortening cervix meant weekly internal ultrasounds fuelled with anxiety and our toes and fingers crossed. Chris would always leave work to meet me at my appointments (our “date day” – as we liked to call it) that my mother in law normally drove me to. Following these appointments the sonographer would leave the room to call my obstetrician (our toes and fingers crossed) and she would then make a decision about whether I could go home or continue my bed rest in hospital. Week in, week out, we prayed for another week to get us further along in the pregnancy.
When my cervix fell to 0.8cm my obstetrician called me and told me to go straight to the hospital. I met her there and she ordered steroid shots for the development of the twins’ lungs in case of premature birth. I was then told I would have to spend the remainder of my pregnancy (over a month at this stage) in hospital with my legs elevated and I was to wear compression socks.
Hubby and I had two other children to consider. We decided that for the mental health of our children that I would continue my bed rest at home with an even stricter approach. We decided that there was nothing I needed in hospital that I couldn’t get at home and our two children would be worried sick knowing I was in a hospital that they could not visit due to Covid-19 restrictions at the time. A month without mummy was not the answer for our family. And thus I continued my bed rest at home with even more help from family.
How my other children coped with me being pregnant with twins and bed rest
My kids were definitely affected by my bed rest. At 5 and 3 they never quite understood the importance of mummy having to lay flat on the couch or bed. And they each had to let go of mummy’s hand just a little more than they were normally used to. In their minds I was sick, and I think that that deeply affects a child.
There were many meltdowns about why I couldn’t take my daughter to school. And why I couldn’t play outside with my son, but overall it definitely changed our family for the better. We each became stronger, having to pick up the pieces for each other and as a family we became unbreakable.
Thus, when the twins spontaneously entered our world at 35 weeks (we did it!), cervix hanging by a thread at 0.5cm, we were more than ready for them to arrive.
Twinfo is Australia’s largest, most supportive, online community for parents of twins and triplets. Twinfo offers advice, products and services that make raising your babies easier, freeing you up to enjoy all the precious moments.