Birth Story: Surprise twins at age 40

Posted in Birth Stories.

Rebecca cuddling her two twins

Rebecca had just turned 40. With two teenage children from her first marriage and a beautiful two-year-old daughter with her second husband, she felt as though her family was complete and was looking forward to the future. Then, as a surprise to everyone Rebecca discovered that not only had she fallen pregnant again, she had fallen pregnant with twins.

Rebecca is a member of the Mum’s Grapevine Autumn 2023 Baby Group and she shares her story with us.

‘We fell in love quickly’

Rebecca and Matthew in love

In 2017 Rebecca, who was recently single after 15 years of marriage, and Matthew who had just returned to Australia to settle down after military work and working gold mines in Africa, never expected to meet the love of their lives on Tinder.

“We fell in love very quickly, which was complicated due to my situation and my eleven and thirteen-year-old daughters. I was pretty happy with being a young mum, and having older daughters and I didn’t think I wanted more children. But love makes you do crazy things in life!”

Rebecca was already 35 years old with two children when she and Matthew started dating, and by the time she reached age 38, they had decided they wanted to try for a baby together.

“Being older, I decided to have the Egg Reserve count done by my GP. I didn’t expect it to come back extremely low. But three months later we were told the results were dire and I didn’t have time to wait another year, so my GP referred me to a fertility specialist. I was fearful and insecure… what if Matthew left me if I couldn’t have children?”

Only a few chances for pregnancy

Rebecca and Matthew's wedding day

Fast forward seven months and Rebecca was ready to start fertility treatments. After her initial consultation with a fertility specialist, she received some surprising news.

“I fell pregnant that month! It turns out I only ovulated every two to three months so I only had a couple of chances that year to fall pregnant.”

Heartbreakingly, just eight short weeks later, Rebecca experienced a miscarriage.

“Although I wasn’t ready, during my next cycle I took an ovulation test and found out that I was ovulating. Seeing as I only ovulated a few times a year, I didn’t want to miss that month of trying. We were very lucky and fell pregnant with our beautiful Rainbow Baby, who was born in April 2021”

‘This wasn’t the plan’

Rebecca's twin ultrasound DCDA twins

2022 arrived and with it so did Rebecca’s 40th birthday. Perfectly content with her family, having more children was the last thing on her mind.

“I assumed due to my low egg count and my ovulation cycle I wouldn’t even need to think about contraception and then one day I started feeling nauseous. Instead of it passing it lasted for over a week and I realised this couldn’t be a tummy bug… oh no! An unplanned pregnancy at 40?! I felt so stupid.”

Rebecca headed along to her dating scan with her husband and eldest daughter in tow. What she was yet to discover about her pregnancy would be the biggest shock of all.

Rebecca and Matthew's twin announcement

“While looking at the ultrasound video I thought ‘I don’t remember my bladder looking like that’. But was interrupted by the sonographer asking ‘Do you have twins in the family?’. I didn’t process what she said and asked her to clarify. She repeated the question and I gasped, swore and started crying. This is not what I had planned for my 40s! I was a young mum, having my first baby at age 21, I was supposed to travel and have all the fun experiences I didn’t get in my 20s! But that’s not what life had in store for me.”

A hard pregnancy

Rebecca pregnant with twins at 40

“This pregnancy was the hardest by far. I had morning sickness until the day I gave birth and Insulin-dependent Gestational Diabetes which was diagnosed at 13 weeks. Juggling a demanding full-time job, with a tiny tot and teenage daughters was not easy!

“By 28 weeks I was in so much pain, and I could feel that I wasn’t going to last another 10 weeks, which was the longest I was going to be allowed to go with a twin pregnancy and GD. Every 1-2 weeks I had either an ultrasound, obstetrician or Endocrinologist appointment. I was assured I was okay to work until 32 weeks, so I pushed through the pain, morning sickness and exhaustion until the 16th March – exactly 32 weeks.”

Rebecca taking a selfie while pregnant with twins

“I had been getting bad Braxton Hicks for weeks, but it hadn’t eventuated into labour so I kept on keeping on. And I was determined to make it to my last day of work. On the night of my last day, I was up until midnight with painful Braxton hicks, but again they subsided and I went to sleep.”

“I went to work the next morning and tried to finish up handing over my position to the Acting Director. An hour into my work day the pains came back, and I kept on feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom. Two hours passed and I thought I would time the pains… oh no… they were only three minutes apart and the pressure and the feeling of needing to go to the toilet was actually labour! I realised I had to leave and miss out on my morning tea which my team had organised, presents were shoved in my car and I left to drive home.”

‘I needed an ambulance’

Rebecca’s previous labours had been long and painful. She anticipated that she still had plenty of time before the arrival of her twins.

“By the time I got home, the contractions were only two minutes apart and I could barely walk from the car to the house. My 19-year-old said she thought I needed the ambulance, and I agreed. The ambulance came quickly and on the way to the hospital, we collected another ambulance so there would be a ENT for each baby if I gave birth. I was in so much pain and just wanted some relief.”

Rebecca’s husband and her 19-year-old daughter met her at the hospital in the Maternity Assessment Unit where it was found that she was too far along in her labour to stop it. Rebecca and Matthew’s twins would be born prematurely at 32 weeks.

‘We can’t find the heartbeat’

Rebecca holding one baby

“I was in so much pain and asking for pain relief, I didn’t know that behind the scenes, the doctor could not find our baby girl’s heartbeat. They moved to the birthing suite and a second doctor was called to do another ultrasound. I was in the transition stage of labour, unaware of the influx of doctors and midwives called into the room.”

While the doctors worked frantically to try and ensure that both of Rebecca’s twins arrived into the world, she was about to be told some terrifying news

“The Doctor said “I need to tell you something important. We can’t find Twin B’s heartbeat”. I went into shock, I kept on asking if she was sure. I began sobbing and wailing, as I had been feeling her move the night before. The room cleared, and we were told we would be given space to process the news, but they were going to get a third opinion to confirm. For 20 minutes my husband and I were left to believe that our baby girl had passed away, and I would need to give birth to one live twin and one stillborn”

‘I was in shock’

Rebecca holding twin in incubator

“I later was told at the debrief that the doctor went and interrupted a specialist sonographer who came up to perform the ultrasound to confirm our news. She quickly found our baby boy’s heartbeat. As I continued labouring and grieving, she announced that she had found Twin B’s heartbeat. Because of her breech position, she was wrapped around the back of my ribs which made it difficult for the first two obstetricians to find her heart.

“I was still in shock, I couldn’t process the news. My husband later told me he saw the doctor and one of the midwives tear up with the news that our baby girl was alive.

“The birthing suit was full again. Doctors, midwives and a team of anesthesiologists came in a rush to administer the epidural before I gave birth. Twin B was still breech, and it looked like the plan would be for the obstetrician to perform a breech extraction. I would need pain relief for this!”

‘She was pulled out by her legs’

Rebecca hold her first twin

“For the remainder of the labour, the midwife stood over me holding the monitor in place over Twin B, to assure me she was safe. When it came close to giving birth to Twin A, another six pediatricians entered the room and set up for the delivery. Our son arrived quickly and I was able to hold him for less than a minute before he was whisked away for breathing support.

“What seemed like an eternity, but was only nine minutes later, the obstetrician delivered our baby girl. She had to be pulled out by her legs, was tangled in the umbilical cord and needed to be taken immediately to be resuscitated, so I didn’t get to hold her until she was two days old… I lost 1.3Lt of blood in the extraction and was completely traumatised by the birth and labour.”

Edward and Eden

DCDA twins Eden and Edward

Rebecca holding her twins skin to skin

Rebecca holding her twins skin to skin

“There were 12 medical people in the birthing suite when I gave birth, which was quite confronting. But as quickly as they arrived, they left with the twins to rush them to NICU. My husband went with them, and I was left to process the shock of what had just happened.”

Rebecca and Matthew named their baby boy Edward and their baby girl Eden. Their journey with NICU was about to begin and would be a hard time in their lives.

“Nothing could have prepared me for the NICU and Special Care Nursery journey. The heartbreak of not being able to hold my babies, and leave them in hospital every day. Not being able to have special moments with them as they were so fragile… But four weeks and two days after giving birth, we were finally able to bring the twins home. We are so grateful that both our baby girl Eden and baby boy Edward were home safe and well.”

Rebecca introducing her two year old to her new twins

Rebecca and Matthew's children

Eden and Edward are now home and being doted on by their three older siblings. We wish this beautiful family every happiness in the world in their future and know that theirs is a family that is full of love.

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