Gaynor’s story of her twin boys is heart wrenching, get out the tissues mommies!
When Harry met Sally (okay it’s Jacques and Gaynor) … Gaynor de Beer, Table View
Hubby asked me to marry him in December 2004 after dating for 8 years. I knew he was the “one” the first week we met. He was in Cape Town on holiday, time off from work; I was at the Brass Bell in my Matric year with a couple of girls celebrating our finals.
After a year of long distance dating (not for the faint hearted) and a further 3 years living under my parents roof (in separate bedrooms. Ok understandably I was 17 when we met, I mean, we all know what goes on at 17 right? Right? A week before my 21st we moved into our first place.
From here on out adventures lay ahead of us that we didn’t even comprehend yet. From having parties and entertaining friends, coming and going as and when we please, deciding to travel to the UK for 2 years, which meant moving back in with my parents for 6 months to save, working and saving (and more saving because at that time it was R18 to the Pound) and finally we were ready to go explore.
2 Years of travelling, experiencing, learning and growing from Oxfordshire to London to Scotland and Wales to Surrey to Malta in the Med, we came back to sunny South Africa. We’d done a fair bit together and coming back to South Africa to find new jobs was now top of the list. It wasn’t easy, not when you’ve been away for so long but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and finally both of us landed jobs in Sales.
It was in December 2004 in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga that Jacques proposed to me and asked me if I’d be his wife.
So like every girl does, the planning begins. A month later my period was late. Really, in 8 years we’d been so careful and a month after getting engaged I’m late? Well, what’s meant to be is meant to be yes?
So off to the gynae where she did a scan and we found out we were 7 weeks pregnant. Very early to see much, but there was a teeny heartbeat. Excitement and trepidation followed, with an enormous amount of nausea, I had to tell my folks the news. I shouldn’t have been worried; they were so excited to be a “granny and grandpa”.
A couple of weeks went by and mom took me to get baby’s first little outfit. On the Saturday morning on our way to the shop I told mom I wasn’t feeling well, there was a niggly feeling “down there”.
So off we went back home to relax and Jacques and I decided to head back to the house we were housesitting. I started spotting then but was hoping it was just implantation bleeding. By Sunday I didn’t want to call my gynae, however the bleeding got worse and by Monday morning (which was a public holiday, 21st March 2005, and my mom’s birthday) it was bad.
On the way back to my parents we phoned the gynae and asked for an emergency appointment, which confirmed our fears. I was miscarrying. We lost our little angel at 10 weeks. It was hard and sad and as a person you feel at fault, but I realized there was nothing I could’ve done, I had to keep my chin up and move on, we still had a lot of time ahead of us and if it wasn’t meant to be yet, then so be it.
Back to work and planning our impending nuptials kept me busy and happy. We were looking at early to mid the following year. The months went by and November came around and once again we were house sitting. Could it be? Really?
Wedding? What Wedding?
It was still early days when I did a home pregnancy test and we decided to just wait a bit longer before we did a blood test or told anyone. At nine weeks we went for our first scan. What a shock when we saw two little dots on the screen: twins.
Once the shock had worn off, and the nausea (two fold) it became so exciting. Yes, life would be very different, but we would cope and once again, wedding was put on the back burner. At 12 weeks we decided to tell family and friends we were expecting not one, but two little ones. We had so much support and congratulations and we were in awe at just how lucky we are.
At 15 weeks, we saw the miracle of nature: our two little angels’ hearts beating, legs kicking and arms moving. They then told us the twins were identical. This meant it became a high-risk pregnancy (a twin pregnancy on its own is high risk, but identical is higher). They explained the complications, but the statistics were reasonably low. My little bump was growing as was my confidence and hubby and I started talking about a nursery and looking at little outfits (do they actually come out in that size small!).
At 17 weeks we were meant to see my gynae so we could find out the long awaited sex of the babies, but on going power failures interfered and we only got a booking at 18 weeks. By this time all worries of any complications had been demolished, because everyone tells you your babies are safe after three months. That was the day our lives changed. Again.
The “bumpy” road
On 23 February 2006 we were at the foetal assessment centre, bubbling with excitement to find out the sexes. Our specialist then told us our boys had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (see below). Our excitement fell away and the tears came. How, so far into a pregnancy, can something so precious be taken away from someone?
No one can explain the exhilaration you feel when you discover you are pregnant. No one can explain the emotions you feel when you find out you are having more than one baby. And no one can explain the pain when you are told your babies will not make it. This pain will be with us for ever. Hopefully, we will be able to learn how to live with it.
On the 3rd March 2006, Jacques left for work at 7.30am. My waters broke at 7.40am. My father raced me to Kingsbury hospital ( I was amazed to have arrived there in one piece, it was a Friday, peak hour traffic, over OuKaapseWeg) and Jacques met me there.
The babies were born by natural birth at 8.57am. I held them on my chest and in my arms. They were just so perfect with their little nails, toes and fingers, little lips, ears and eyes and the cutest button noses.
When my gynae/obstetrician handed me our babies, it looked like they were hugging. I wish I could explain how much we fell in love with our boys in that hour.
They passed away at 10am.
The nurse gave us a little certificate with the boys’ footprints on. It was just beautiful. They also took a photo, which we keep in our memory box. You know, a single baby is so special, but our twins was a miracle from God.
It was a difficult time and Jacques was my pillar of strength. How does one move on, how? But you do.
We joined Compassionate Friends to find some solace; I needed to go somewhere where I could talk about the pain of loss and to meet other parents who had also gone through a loss of a child/children.
It’s extremely difficult for me when people don’t understand that, even though the babies weren’t born full term, they were still a part of us. I still had to birth them naturally.
Many people have the opportunity to spend those quality moments with their children and have memories to treasure. We didn’t get that chance. I saw them move, felt them inside me and, when they were born, we got to hold them and watch their little hearts beat and fade away.
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome
Identical twins usually exchange some blood via the shared placenta in the womb, with one acting as the “donor” and the other the “recipient”. With twin to twin transfusion syndrome, one of the twins pumps the blood, not only for himself, but also for his twin. If the syndrome develops in early pregnancy the risk of complications for both twins is very high.
We focused on our wedding, which was finally booked for the 24th June 2006. We had been together 10 years now, experienced even more of life and life changing events. Finally our wedding day came.
Wow, to be so happy and to know the person you’ve done so much with is going to be there with you forever. It was a beautiful, perfect day. I was really hoping for a honeymoon baby but it wasn’t meant to be. Hubby couldn’t get time off work straight away for us to go on honeymoon so we booked our stay at the Garden Route Game Lodge for September.
On the 4th August I didn’t feel so good and did a home pregnancy test and to my surprise 2 lines appeared. So, a day before our honeymoon we had a gynae appointment booked, ready to see a picture of our little baby.
Well let me tell you something. Nothing could’ve prepared us for what we were about to witness. Laying on the bed waiting in anticipation, we saw not one, but again two little heart beats!
Twins again! What were the chances?
It’d been 6 months since we lost our first little boys and here we were being told we are being blessed again! I was 9 weeks pregnant and off to the Garden Route Game Lodge we went for honeymoon. Let me explain, this was a Game Lodge, meaning 4 x 4’ing and celebrating with champers, however the celebrating could go on with Appletiser, lounging by the pool and in our lovely thatched roof cabin had to replace the game drives.
At 12 weeks it was confirmed and our minds were put at ease. We found out that we were having non-identical twin boys, whereas the first twin pregnancy we were carrying identical twin boys. This pregnancy was a dream, smooth without a single hiccup (unless you count the hiccups the boys decided to have, often!).
I had investigated both natural and c-section for the birth and my gynae was phenomenal by supporting my decision for natural birth up until 32 weeks.
When we reached 32 weeks, she told me the boys still hadn’t turned and were laying one on top of each other (transverse), like they had the entire pregnancy and our final decision was a Caesar.
And then we were 4
So on Thursday afternoon Jacques and I headed to our gynae for our last visit, popping in at the hospital for a CTG so they could monitor the heartbeats and movements, and it was decided that the ceaser would go ahead for the Friday 23rd March at 1pm.
I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep on the Thursday evening, but we were absolutely exhausted. Friday morning we woke up with so much excitement, I had to have breakfast before 6.30 in the morning.
My parents were like little kids and my dad insisted that the video camera had to capture my last moments of being preggies… Me, a star!!
Jacques and I went through to Kingsbury hospital in Claremont where I was changed and hooked up to another machine for another CTG. The anesthetist came to chat with us for a bit. They were running late, so we were waiting in anticipation for a spot for us. At 13.45 they wheeled me into theatre and hubby went to put on his greens, camera at the ready. And it was time… it was our time…
So, in went the drip, followed by about a million tears of anticipation, nervousness, excitement and fear. I then had to lean all the way forward so they could do the spinal (those that know my fear of needles will understand that this was not the highlight of my pregnancy!). After a few minutes everything from my chest down went numb.
And so it began. A little tugging and lot of talking, and out came our first baby, Kyle, weighing 2.740kgs and 46cms long with blonde hair and an excellent pair of lungs. He was followed by his brother Tyler weighing 2.720kgs and 50cms long with dark hair and looking just like his daddy. They then passed Jacques a baby and gave me my one son to hold – what a feeling – did you know that such a love exists and can be so strong?
I have never before seen my hubby looking so proud and happy. He took some photos and when they moved the boys to do the APGAR checks he asked me if it’s ok if he leaves my side for a second to check on his boys. They did so well, scoring a 9 and then 10 out of 10.
My gynae says they were excellent weights and it’s a good thing we didn’t wait any longer for them to be born because I would’ve gone into labour.
So off hubby went with the twins in an incubator to the nursery for their wipe down and injections, while they stitched me up and I waited in recovery – which felt like an eternity. Finally I was wheeled back to my room and they brought me my boys – my beautiful perfect boys. I got to breastfeed them straight away and my hubby couldn’t stop telling me how proud he is of me.
And that was the beginning…
The road has just begun
For the duration of my stay, the twins were brought to me 3 hourly for feeds and I breastfed exclusively. It wasn’t that bad and I had lots of help at the hospital. I kept them with me during the day except when I showered and slept when they slept.
The stay in hospital was over in no time and on the Monday Jacques came to fetch me and his boys to bring us home. What a proud daddy – making sure everything was extra safe. Monday night was the night the boys laid down the law and told us who was in charge…
I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, but this was very challenging both physically and emotionally.
Feeding them at the same time was the best option, but getting them to both latch and stay on at the same time was a feat on its own. Feeding them separately meant hardly any sleep and feeling exhausted. During Tuesday it went okay, Jacques was still on paternity leave and he was such a tremendous help – even trying to help the boys latch onto me properly.
Then came the evening – well, by quarter to two in the morning, I was in tears crying with the boys. I would feed and feed and feed, but they stayed rooting for food. I was exhausted. So I phoned the nursery at the hospital in the early hours of the morning to find out about formula. With the advice so eagerly accepted, we fed them a formula feed and with content tummies they were sleeping by 3.30am.
So we decided we’d give them formula at night feeds and breast feed during day feeds. Well, I take my hat off to the moms who breastfeed multiples.
Again, with little sleep and hubby trying to help me, I felt useless and despondent. So instead of getting more frustrated, I expressed breast milk and bottle fed it to them – again, content as could be. Hubby said I shouldn’t give up on breastfeeding as the benefits are well worth it. So we came to another conclusion.
I would bottle feed with formula and I would express breast milk and bottle feed them at least one breast milk feed a day. It worked wonders and they were happy but by 6 weeks my milk had dried up. We were now bottle feeding which was perfect for us as hubby got to help with night feeds and bond with his babies too.
I’ll start with Kyle. He’s just like his mommy. When we look at my baby photos and his baby photos we look identical.
He had hardly any hair, just little blondies. Just like me. I also had no hair until 9 months.
For about the first 3 months he always used to have his fists clenched, and then finally he opened them. He loved to talk, especially during his night feed, you just couldn’t stop him. Even once we lay him down again, he just carried on. He was very busy and loved to look all around him. He weighed pretty much the same as his brother, but because he was shorter he looked more buddah like.
His neck and back had been firm from pretty early on. He loved to chew his tongue and fist and playing with his toys. His little bottom lip curled over when he gets unhappy or wants even more attention and little whimpers would escape his mouth. When he smiled his eyes smiled too and when I tickled his body he’d get a big grin and laugh out loud.
Now Tyler.He was born 2 minutes after his brother. He had a really good pair of lungs on him. He is much more like his daddy. Very laid back and nothing really seems to worry him.
He picked up early that if he cried he’d get picked up – like his brother. Tyler was our “pretty boy” with the long eye lashes and 4 and a half cms taller than his older brother. He loved his “zerbit” the zebra and had a great fascination with tv.
When I looked at him and said “Tyler the Smiler” he’d give us the biggest grin. Actually, you just needed to look at him with a grin and he’d give you the biggest smile back. He also spoke non-stop and would screech in excitement. Tyler seemed to be able to keep himself more occupied with toys, but liked to be in the arms a lot too.
Both boys had colic, but with the aid of some medicine we got over that bump. We stopped giving it to them at 3 months, when Kyle was in hospital. They are generally really healthy, but Kyle has had two visits to the hospital with chest infection and tummy bug, which is terrifying to see.
We spent the first 3 months at my parent’s house for the help, but if I’d known it wouldn’t be so bad on my own, I think I would’ve come home earlier.
It is hard trying to handle them both sometimes, especially when they are both crying but we have a good understanding – I can cry louder than them!
Bath time can be tricky, but we always get through it with the help of singing, bottles and sometimes a bit of screaming…
Gaynor de Beer, Table View
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