By Shauna Mei
My husband Sachin and I found out we were having twins at our eight-week check-up, which took both of us by great surprise. We had just gotten married in Jaipur, India, a few months prior (in April 2016) and while on our honeymoon in the beautiful Maldives, my much-dreaded and ill-timed period never came. We were barely over the shock of realizing we were about to become parents when we got back to New York to have another total shock to the system: Twins! Two girls and two thriving heartbeats.
After the initial shock subsided, we learned we were having identical twin girls that were mono di, meaning, they share the same placenta but were each in their own individual amniotic sacs. This automatically put me in the “high risk” pregnancy category. There’s way too much information available on Google about this, and most of it causes great stress and apprehension. Because they share the same placenta, statistically speaking, it is safer to get them out faster than to risk the placenta deteriorating in the final weeks, and thus risk a stillborn. The recommended delivery, I was told, is 36 weeks, basically one month from the full term of 40 weeks.
I had always imagined having a natural birth, and with only one child, birth options are pretty flexible. I am a fairly spiritual person and the idea of my babies determining their own birthdays was quite important to me. My husband and I believe in this power of conscious intention. So much so that we founded AHAlife.com (our life passion and company) to curate high-quality lifestyle products for consumers who want to purchase consciously, and with greater intent and purpose than just buying, buying, buying. We believe that life should be lived with intention and we strive to live our lives as naturally and consciously as possible. So when time came to determine our birth plan, it seemed like a no-brainer to apply this same mantra to the miracle of bringing life into this world.
As one can imagine, with mono di twins, going forward with a natural birth plan is a lot more complicated. The majority of mono di twin births are done via C-section. In fact, the United States has more C-section deliveries than any other Western country in the world. C-sections are absolutely necessary in many situations and, in emergencies, have saved so many lives. However, there is a trend, especially in Manhattan, of elective C-sections because of their purported ease and efficiency. Knowing all this, and still feeling inclined toward natural birth, I turned to my dear friend Latham Thomas (the founder of Mama Glow), an amazing doula known for her work in natural birth coaching. Latham educated me on the beautiful hormones that are created in a natural delivery. Oxytocin, often referred to as the love hormone, kicks contractions into gear. So the more safe and loved you feel, the more oxytocin your body generates, which in turn naturally induces labor. At the point of delivery, your body also excretes DMT, a chemical found naturally in the pineal gland in the brain, which is activated at birth and death. You may have heard of DMT before, as it is the main substance people ingest during ayahuasca tea ceremonies, which are known to cause spiritual awakenings. I didn’t want to deny my babies and myself of this beautiful and spiritual experience, so I started meditating and manifesting that my girls would naturally enter the world on a day and time of their choosing.
We were blessed to have two wonderful doctors, Dr. Mussalli and Dr. Worth, who were willing to work with us to fulfill our birth plan. My birthing experience was truly magical and I learned the amazing power of intention through this experience. Throughout the pregnancy, we were visiting the doctors every other week to every week to check the growth and fluid levels of the twins. If at any point there are complications, one has to make the decision to get them out early. which is why many twins often spend time in the NICU. We were blessed that the girls were tracking great with no issues other than a slight but normal range growth discordance. I had also developed gestational diabetes so I was monitoring my sugar intake and blood pressure daily to ensure that the womb was a safe environment for them. I made a conscious effort to remain always positive and block worry and negative thoughts from my mind. I believe that the power of intention and positive thinking made a huge difference in my ability to carry the twins to full term.
After much consideration, we decided on a plan to go into labor naturally and deliver in hospital. Our doctors were wonderful and performed a procedure called “membrane sweeping” when I hit the 36th week to help my body naturally go into labor. That procedure was not a walk in the park, but very effective in getting my mucus plus out and helping to catalyze my contractions. I was also taking primrose oil (a natural induction remedy that’s anecdotally know to soften your cervix) and staying as calm as possible. Sachin showed me love and care beyond my imagination during this whole process. One night I had a dream where I saw their faces just after birth. It was so clear that their beautiful eyes were etched in my memory—when they were actually born, those faces I visualized exactly matched theirs. It was an amazing and miraculous experience.
I look forward to sharing with you my actual birthing experience in the next installment of this series. I believe it’s important for more women to share their positive birth experiences. Prior to being pregnant, I always regarded the birth experience as a scary thing women had to endure as some sort of right-of-passage. I can attest to you, my experience was quite the opposite and I hope that sharing this will help more woman feel proud of their bodies and look forward to this wonderful journey. Thank you reading and sharing this experience with me.
Shauna Mei is an MIT engineer turned commerce and media industry expert and the founder and CEO of AHAlife.com (a global e-commerce marketplace powering over 4,000+ designers and artisans from 45+ countries). Mei’s mission is to create a global community that supports independent brands on a content meets commerce platform featuring quality objects for every aspect of life.