Recently Twin Love Concierge was introduced to a wonderful online resource called The Maven Clinic, exclusively for women it is the first online medical service that allows you to speak with a medical professional without needing to go into a clinic. Now as all Twin Moms know sometimes bundling two children (and more) into the car, especially babies, is difficult for personal appointments so we asked Rebecca Callahan, a Mom to Twins herself and a Nurse Practitioner at The Maven Clinic to share her journey from mono-di twins to helping other moms in the hope that some of you may benefit from this service.
I needed a little help getting pregnant with my first child. I had been taking birth control pills for ten years and I was a super active triathlete and marathon runner at the time. I was not ovulating and was impatient to have a baby NOW, so I eagerly took two rounds of Clomid. I was blessed with my daughter Phoebe after a great pregnancy and natural birth assisted by a midwife. Even though Phoebe was four weeks premature, I was able to breastfeed for a year and then magically started getting my period again. I was ecstatic that my body was on its way back to “normal.”
My husband and I knew we wanted to have our second child two years after our first was born. Planning ahead, I started acupuncture to reduce the stress in my life. I was working as a nurse practitioner and completing an intense yoga apprenticeship along with being a mom and a wife and experiencing trouble sleeping. The amazing woman I went to see not only provided acupuncture treatments to help me relax, she also counselled me on nutrition and vitamins.
Although I was expecting to have to try for a long time or even take Clomid again, I had a positive pregnancy test after only two months! My midwife did not think she needed to get a sonogram done until about 12 weeks gestation, but I was eager to see the heartbeat of my future child, and she agreed to send me to the radiologist to confirm the pregnancy.
After my husband Rob and I arrived, the sonographer turned on the machine and everyone watched the monitor with great anticipation. I noticed that instead of one circle (yolk sac) on the screen – there were TWO! I took a minute to digest this information before asking, “Um, am I having twins?” The sonographer smiled and said “I was wondering when you would notice! Your husband told me you’re a nurse practitioner so I thought you could read the sonogram!” Rob was so shocked that he started hyperventilating, and the sonographer asked if he was okay. I was also in shock – this was the last thing I ever expected!
The sonographer informed us that we were having identical twins. However, it appeared that both babies were in the same amniotic sac. This would make them “mono-mono” twins (one placenta, one sac), a rare and dangerous situation. If this were the case, explained the OB who joined us in the room, he would even suggest terminating the pregnancy. Mono-mono twins present a high risk of the babies’ cords getting tangled and cutting off the flow of oxygen, causing loss of the pregnancy.
Of course we were terrified. I had two follow-up sonograms to check on the situation, and luckily, the babies were each in their own sac (making them mono-di). When the pregnancy reached 17 weeks gestation, we went back for another sonogram to determine the gender of the twins – and learned we were expecting identical boys! Soon Phoebe would be the big sister to two little brothers!
At 30 weeks gestation, I started getting some heavy cramping. I went to the doctor’s office where they confirmed that I was in labor: I was one centimetre dilated, and I was losing some of my mucus plug. At the hospital they gave me the “full court press” to try to keep the babies inside for as long as possible. They inserted an IV and gave me steroids to help mature the babies’ lungs, and several other drugs to try to stop the contractions. Eventually they did stop and I was allowed to go home the next day. The doctor told me I didn’t need to be on bed rest, but I was supposed to take it easy. This is not something I am good at.
A week later I was feeling fine so I did a gentle prenatal yoga video. A few hours later the contractions returned. My husband was out of town with Phoebe but rushed back to be at my bedside in the hospital. This time nothing worked to stop the contractions, and we made the decision to go ahead with a C-section because the babies were not head down and would not be able to be born vaginally.
Welcome to the World!
“Mother and Child Reunion” by Paul Simon was playing in the background as our boys, Zack and Chance, were born. They were 3 lbs 5 oz and 3 lbs 10 oz, respectively. After getting cleaned up in the operating room they were wheeled to the NICU where they lived for the first nine weeks of their lives. Luckily the only issue was their size and learning how to suck and swallow and breathe. There were many tears and many times when I felt like giving up, but I pumped every three hours around the clock and eventually the boys learned how to latch and breastfeed.
After the glorious day when we brought the babies home, it finally struck me that I had three kids under three. Even with a lot of help this was a challenge. I faithfully used my double nursing pillow and was able to tandem breastfeed both boys for a year.
Maven Clinic to the Rescue
I love being a mom and I also love my career. I was yearning to get back to work but was not sure what this would look like with so many young children. When Zack and Chance were about eight months old, my friend Hope approached me with a promising proposition. She told me about an innovative start-up she was helping to build called Maven Clinic (www.mavenclinic.com). Led by founder and CEO Katherine Ryder, Maven is the first digital clinic for women. The app provides instant affordable access to healthcare via video calls for women and their children. Hope was wondering if I wanted to get involved. I thought it was a brilliant idea and began to tap into my network to help recruit other health and wellness professionals to the platform.
Soon I came on board as a nurse practitioner and product adviser. I loved the fact that I could work from home and make my own hours; I could drop my daughter off at preschool and was able to finish a full year of nursing my twins. I am also passionate about helping other women and knew that Maven Clinic would be a wonderful resource.
We launched the app earlier this year and now have hundreds of active practitioners – from OB/GYNs to doulas to mental health providers – seeing patients via their phones. We can write you a prescription and you can join our anonymous forum where experts and other women answer your health questions. I hope you will check it out, and that it will help you in your busy life as a twin mom.