Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Birth Story of the Twins - Asher & Shawna

Hubbs and I have always loved kids. We knew we weren't going to stop at two. In fact, I remember, when hubbs was courting me, we were sitting in the garden of the Science Centre (I know, so geeky, right, we?) in the evening after dinner when he asked me how many kids I wanted to have. I replied "At least three." He grinned toothily at me in the dim light. "So how many do you want?" I asked. "Four." he said firmly. "You said 'at least three' - so I have hope for four!" Hahaha no, no, this is not a post to declare that I am pregnant. Unfortunately, we are not. We are quite open to having a fourth, but inertia is great. What I was trying to say was... it went without a doubt that we would want to get pregnant again after we had Isaac. And thankfully we did! Or we wouldn't have Asher and Shawna! :) I'd written a pretty extensive birth story for Asher & Shawna back in 2010. Go read! :)
Tan Family Kidzes: Asher, Isaac, Shawna!
One of the most common questions we get asked is:"Do you have family history of having twins?" The answer is yes. My aunt, that is, my mother's sister, has a pair of twins - Mark & Richard - who are thus, my cousins. After we realised we were pregnant with twins, I read up about it online and found out that everyone has a chance of conceiving identical twins - as a fertilised egg splitting into two - is completely chance, and can happen to anyone. However, the chances of having non-identical twins is increased only if the mother has history of having twins on her side of the family. 

So we had completely no idea that we were having twins, as we didn't really have any reason to expect it. We went for our first gynae visit at Week 7 as we knew it wasn't much point of going earlier. Dr Ang found one zygote, we listened to it beating, and saw the tiny thing on the screen. "Congratulations Pamela & Matthew, you're pregnant!" and we went home, happy that we were pregnant again. For four weeks, we discussed plans for logistics of having a baby plus a toddler (Isaac!) after I delivered, logistics for after I went back to work. 
Isaac & Natalie - practically twins! Cousins born just 3 months apart.
Then in Week 11, we went back to the gynae for our monthly check-up and suddenly, we were told we were having twins! The twins were large enough to be clearly seen on the screen now. Read this post here - has ultrascan pix which I can't find now. We were quite shocked, but elated! We loved babies and it truly felt as though we've won the lottery! Seriously, it was the best deal I've ever had - buy 2 get 1 free! hehehe... 

If you read the link of the post I indicated in the paragraph above - it ends off by saying that we were having twin girls. What?! Asher was a girl? Nope! The gynae made a mistake! haha! She thought she only saw one placenta, and so assumed that they were identical twins. Asher closed his legs during the gender examination and so seeing only Shawna, doctor assumed both were girls. It was only during the 20th Week detailed scan did we find out we were having non-identical twins, of differing gender. It was what I prayed for when I knew we were having twins, and even though we were told we'd be having two girls at one point in time, I kept thinking to myself "With God, anything is possible." And I was right, I got my dragon phoenix twins - a boy and a girl! :)
Pam & Hweech @ Cel's wedding!
This is me and my buddy Hweech, in December 2009, less than 2 weeks before the twins were born. I was huge! I couldn't find any clothes that would fit over the huge tummy, so I was very thankful for that black tummy band I had. It helped support the weight of my belly, as well as maintain my modesty on a daily basis. 

This pregnancy, understandably, felt vastly different from the pregnancy with Isaac. Simply put, this round, I was asleep for most of the First Trimester. So, so tired. Second Trimester this time round felt like Third Trimester of Isaac's pregnancy. And Third Trimester this time, was just HEAVY. So heavy. Towards the 30+ weeks, I had a plastic stool placed in the toilet, so I could sit while I showered. As well as in my wardrobe area so that I could put on my clothes sitting down. My heart palpitated with the strain of supporting three life systems. The short walk from my master bedroom to the living room left me breathless. Yet, I was still determined to have one last steak at the nearby mall, before I delivered the twins. As I walked into the shopping mall, people beside me gasped and leapt out of my way exclaiming "Siam ah! Siam ah! Duah dou lai lo!" which meant "Scram! Scram! Pregnant lady coming!" in Teochew, a Chinese dialect.
Pregnant with twins - 52 inch waist at end of Week 37. Unable to carry Isaac while standing up, we could only cuddle while sitting, or lying down. For much of my pregnancy, he would be draped on me (and the twins!) in the position shown on the upper right hand corner of this collage.
We managed to hold out till we completed 37 weeks of gestation. For twins, 37 weeks was considered full term, like 40 weeks is to a singleton pregnancy. Asher was head down, and Shawna was in a breech position. Hence Dr Ang recommended that we conduct a c-section to deliver the babies. She said that if both babies had been head down, we could have tried for a normal birth. But seeing as Shawna was breech and this was a multiple birth - she advised we go for c-section, lower risk, she said. Aye okay, c-section it was. I didn't really mind. Maybe that's because my mother gave birth to my sister normally, and then gave birth to me via c-section because I was in a breech position too. Besides, I just wanted the kids out safe and sound, so "less risk" sounded good to me.

The birth itself was quite anti-climatic. Hubbs, expecting to have a rousing good time cheering me on like he did the last time, was disappointed when he was told to sit down against the wall, to one side of the operating theatre while I was being sliced open like a chempedak. He was able to be in there in the first place, because we opted for local anaesthesia (epidural). I wanted to be awake and conscious when I delivered the babies. However, I was to be sorely disappointed. The last thing I remembered was looking at the operating theatre lights above (so like the movies!), then lying on my side, trying hard not to move, and feeling the needle going into my spine injecting the epidural into my system. They must have administered a larger dose than necessary for me, because it kinda knocked me senseless. I wasn't unconscious, but I was extremely drowsy and wasn't really aware of what was going on at all. 
Babies are out! This was how they looked when they were just delivered. Different as day and night, huh. Their characters are quite different as well. Asher came out with tonnes of vernix on him - we suspect he cleared the stuff all out when he came out first, leaving Shawna a spotless exit. Then again, could be because I didn't eat enough coconuts in my final weeks :p
Unbeknownst to me, Matthew said that the way the twins were delivered was like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Here, the tube was mummy me, and the twins were the toothpaste. I was only barely aware of the nurses placing a bundle of white towels on my chest saying "Mrs Tan, here is Twin 1." and just when I was starting to be aware that there was a baby amongst the white bundle, she whisked Asher away, and placed another bundle of white towels on me proclaiming "Mrs Tan, this is Twin 2." I was just barely conscious enough to bark instructions to hubbs "Remember to take pictures, dear!" before I closed my eyes to rest, feeling at peace knowing that the babies were safe.

For much of the next 24 hours, I was vomiting, vomiting, vomiting. This time round, the side effects of the epidural hit me particularly badly. I could not eat nor drink. Anything that went down, came straight up. Even if there was nothing in my tummy, I still managed to vomit. However, my stitches did not hurt at all. Plus I stopped vomiting after about 24 hours. So, again, not complaining.  Babies were safe, that was the most important thing of all.
Papa and the Tan Family Kidzes! The bathtubs they gave for each child we delivered could have been in a nicer colour, but other than that, we simply loved Mt Alvernia, the hospital we delivered all three kids in. Great service, cosy environment - the perfect place to welcome our kids into the world.
Love this picture above. Isaac was just two and a half years old when the twins were born. Sometimes, we mummies talk amongst ourselves and we say "These first borns have a different character.". But really, they're shaped by circumstances, isn't it. Isaac's been a big brother since he was two and a half years old. Big brother to two younglings too. He's had to grow up quicker just coz he has twins for younger siblings. For one, for the safety of the twins, I had to stop carrying Isaac when he was less than two years old. But for the twins, they've already five years old, going on six in a few months time, and yet I still carry them occasionally! 

Isaac rose to the occasion marvelously. He was and is a great big brother to the twins.
Children are blessings from God!
This post is part of the ‘Birth Stories’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other exciting birth stories please click on this link. If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here by daddy Adrian of In The Wee Hours. Mummy Delphine is the one who is usually blogging In The Wee Hours of the night. She can’t quite believe that she is a mother of three kids. She has no artistic talent and does not know how to cook, so she spends her free time reading, blogging, and collecting matryoshka. Occasionally, she successfully coerces Adrian into blogging, like in this post. Go read!!!
In the Wee Hours

At next week's stop we will be visiting Justina and her lovely family. Jus is blessed with three little boys and blogs about her family and homeschooling adventures at Mum in the Making. She has itchy fingers and loves to craft, and survives on chocolate and coffee.

Oh and of course, remember to read The Birth Story of Isaac the First, if you haven't already done so!


  1. Wow, I think it's amazing how you discovered more about your pregnancy and received a little lovely surprise at every stage!

  2. Hi, stumbled upon you blog. I'm expecting twins this year and have a toddler who will be 2 years old when the twins arrived. Can you share how did you manage the first few months? Logistics wise and any advise? Thank you!


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