When I was about 22 weeks, I read in one of my twin pregnancy books (the twin version of "What to Expect When You're Expecting") that 32-36 weeks is the point when most practitioners report that their twin moms are begging to be induced. At the time, I remember thinking, "What wimps! How could they possibly not realize how much better it is for their babies to be in longer? I will NEVER be like that." I should have known that such a prideful statement would open the door for some serious humbling...
I'm standing on the verge of 33 weeks (tomorrow!), and suddenly I have such a better understanding of where these women are coming from. My babies are both around 4 1/2 lbs. - which means I am currently carrying around 9 lbs. worth of baby. While I know that many 9+ lb. babies have been born (God bless those women!), I would also like to submit that I'm carrying double the amniotic fluid and placenta...I am ginormous. Along with the size comes various other discomforts - the main one being that it is impossible to find a position that is comfortable for more than a few minutes. I currently use 4 pillows (including my body pillow) to prop me up...and I would take more to help with various other places that always get achy. The size of my beautiful babies (which I'm very thankful for) means that my poor stomach is squished so much that heartburn (killer heartburn - unlike any heartburn I have ever experienced before or could have imagined) is a constant. There have been times when I have ordered a meal that sounds delicious, but by the time it comes an ill received sip of water gave me such bad heartburn that I couldn't eat. And when I can eat, there isn't much room in which to store the food. Another problem is that, whenever I am standing up, I feel the urge to go to the bathroom. Now most of you will say, "Of course. That is what happens when you are only allowed to get out of bed to use the bathroom." But the problem is that I feel the urge AFTER I have used the restroom. Imagine my confusion the first time I was washing my hands and suddenly felt like I needed to go again! It is now so regular that there is no confusion - only annoyance. And finally, there are the constant contractions. My poor body - which, let's face it, has been irritable for weeks or I wouldn't be here - is feeling stretched beyond it's limits and it is fighting back. All day long I have contractions - not especially painful, not productive, but annoying. The worst is that lately, the contractions somehow squish my already compacted lungs so that, during one, I feel like I can't breath. This is a fun feeling to wake up to in the middle of the night. I'm not telling you about all of these pains and annoyances to complain (well not completely), but to allow you to see the complete humbling experience. This is what I needed to endure to better understand the women I so quickly condemned.
I am convinced, however, that the list above is not completely what drivs these women to beg for their babies to be removed. After all, I think every woman who reads his who has had a baby will say,"Ah, yes. I remember. Welcome to the club." These discomforts are common in every pregnancy.
The diference is that, in most singleton pregnancies, this level of discomfort comes at the very end. The last few weeks (or even days for the lucky ones) when the promise of the end is very close. For twin mothers, however, this is all happening when there are still 3-6 weeks left to go! It is the daunting thought of having to endure weeks, and maybe even more than a month, of this (and worse, because we know the babies will continue to grow and cause more discomfort!) that I believe drives these mothers to their knees in the doctors office (not an easy task) begging for release. It is very difficult to look into the future, imagine how many more weeks it could be, and think for even a brief minute that you are up to the challenge.
I know this because every day the doctors start talking about longer timelines. 34 weeks not only seems reachable, but they are discussing the game plan at 35 & 36 weeks, and suggesting that I could even go 37! In the moment it sounds exciting. Making it that long means there is a possibility of going home again before they come, and means we could take them home with us without them even needing a NICU stay. However, at 3 am, when I've only had 2 hours of sleep and I've been up for an hour counting painful contractions (which are rare, but offer hope of progress), and they suddenly stop, and the weeks suddenly stretch out before me again, these are the moments when I cry out to God,"I really don't think I can keep doing this. Please, let them come!"
Now, I know what you will say...probably the same things that I've been saying to myself. God doesn't ask you to carry a burden you can't handle. You are strong enough to keep going. Think about the benefit of the babies. The end is near (because, in the scheme of things, in the big picture, even 4 more weeks isn't that long). But in my worst moments, those are no comfort. And I think that is good. I think I needed to be brought to that point before I could truly, humbly, say that I understand those women, and I should never have said never. 11 weeks ago I was the Pharisee saying,"Thank you God that I am not like THEM," and now I am the tax collector asking for God's mercy. It has been a good lesson.
And while I'm confessing...tomorrow is 33 weeks. I never, in my wildest hopes or imagination, thought we would get this far. It seemed so impossible when I think about how we started 6 weeks ago. I have to confess that there is apart of me that wants to say, "Look what I did! I'm so amazing! I have defied the odds and kept my babies safe and growing this long! Don't I deserve a cookie?!" But I KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this miracle is the result of so many prayers. And so I will work at restraining my prideful heart, and be so thankful for all of the prayers that have done so much for my babies. Although, I have one request. Maybe now, when you pray, instead of praying them in longer maybe pray for a safe and healthy delivery whenever God wills that they come...but maybe ask if He could will it soon??