This week we have a super special twin blogger, Katy from the blog keepingabreastwiththetwins. Katy is a proud mum to identical twin girls but is also currently fighting breast cancer. Here is her story!
Why did you start your blog?
Blogs had always interested me and when I found out I was having twins it was an idea I had toyed with. Fast forward four months into motherhood and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was when I made the decision to start my blog and keepingabreastwiththetwins was born! It was a great way for me to share my experience of raising twins whilst coping with chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. It also allowed me to explain and raise awareness of what happens to you after diagnosis.
Were you surprised to discover you were having twins?
Hell yeah! There are no twins in mine or my husbands families and it hadn’t even crossed my mind as a possibility. I had suffered a miscarriage previously, so for me I just wanted to see something on the screen when we went for our first scan.
How did you discover you were having twins?
We found out at our first scan. I got up on the bed and looked up at the screen in preparation. There was a trainee in the room and the sonographer asked my permission for her to be present. What a treat she was in store for. When the sonographer started scanning me she changed her tone slightly and said she had a shock for us, I really thought there was going to be nothing there. I didn’t have a clue what I was looking for. When she explained there were two babies I just laughed in shock and my husbands face was a picture and he immediately thought about how much it was going to cost! She then told us they were going to be identical because there was one placenta and one sack and a clear membrane separating them. Sadly the scary stuff started straight away as we were then whisked off into a room with some professionals to explain the complications of identical twins (TTTS) and also discussion of what to do as they could not perform the downs screening as my scan was quite late. All very scary and stressful after what should be a happy moment.
How did you announce to your family and friends you were having twins?
My parents were away on a Caribbean cruise when we went for our scan. They knew we were going and would await news by text. After all the drama I just wanted to phone them, but they replied to my text saying they couldn’t call. So I had no option, but to email them. Funny as soon as they read my email, they managed to get access to a phone line. They were flabbergasted and drank A LOT of cocktails that night. Weirdest thing is that it turned out that three of the couples on their table were grandparents to twins! I should have got the hint then how common twins are!
What was your pregnancy like?
To be honest my pregnancy was pretty easy and I felt really good after the initial rough period. The early days were grim and my appetite was pretty bad. Nothing tasted good or satisfied me and I must have been a pain to live with. I remember my husband making me pasta and chicken pots to eat on break duty! I felt like I was a boxer preparing for a fight!! My bump was very small in comparison to all the twin bumps I see so I still feel a bit cheated. My girls were fairly dinky though so I just think they were all snug inside me. Obviously all the scans and constant fear of TTTS made it an anxious pregnancy, but in the end I managed to become quite relaxed about it. After all I didn’t know anything different. My body was obviously preparing me mentally with the enormity I was about to face after having the twins – cancer.
How did you cope with your diagnosis and bringing up the twins?
Nothing can ever prepare you for being told you have cancer. I remember leaving the room thinking “ will I get to see my girls grow up?” and bursting into tears on the way home. It hasn’t been easy, but you survive and just get on with it. You have no choice. The girls have given me the strength to fight and kept me as positive as I can be. It has meant accepting a lot of help and without an incredible support network around me I am not sure I would have coped as well as I have.
When did you discover you had breast cancer?
I decided to try and breast feed the girls, I was desperate for it to be a success. I was expressing and sat on a breast pump for most of the early months. It was during a pumping session that I noticed a lump. At first I dismissed it and put it down to a blocked milk duct. It started to bother me and I guess having the girls made me more proactive. I went to the doctors and was given antibiotics and told to go back 3 weeks later. Three weeks passed and I went back to the doctors and was referred to the breast clinic. Here I was given a mammogram and biopsy, they knew what they were dealing with at this point you could tell by the change in them. I did not find out until a week later once the biopsy results were in. The following week the news was confirmed that it was cancer and I was booked in to have a lumpectomy the following week. My world fell apart when I heard this news. The girls were 4 months old and I was supposed to be enjoying being a new mum.
What was your support network during this time?
My parents live quite far away and it become apparent that they would need to stay for long periods of time to help with the twins. They have been amazing and basically put their retirements on hold to help out. I always thought I would be helping them not the other way round! I am also blessed to have the most incredible colleagues who have cooked meals, taken the girls for walks and done my ironing! My friends have also been incredible helping out and providing the emotional support I needed.
Would you have done anything differently?
Not got cancer and been the dedicated mum I hoped I would have been!!
What advice would you give to new parents of multiples?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from every possible outlet. I am lucky that I get help from HomeStart an amazing charity that support many families not just multiple parents. My volunteer was matched to me and started when the girls were 5 months old and is still with us today. Sadly the help will end soon as I return to work, but it has been invaluable with all we have been through as a family. Definitely seek out other multiple mums as they do understand better! I have a fab network on social media as well as local twin groups.
What is your favourite blog post you would like to share?
It’s hard to pick a favourite as it has been a blog of my journey through this madness. I do think my post on #parentingthehshitoutoflife is a good one as it is true and real about how I struggled with the girls being behind their peers due to being premature.
The girls are now thriving and it’s been an incredible year. I have finished treatment and am about to go back to work next month. It’s going to be weird being just Katy again.
Good Luck Katy!