Shelly Vaziri Flais thought it was only a simple prenatal check.
She wasn't expecting an ultrasound and she certainly wasn't
expecting what it revealed.
Two blips. Two babies.
"It was just deer in the headlights, just shock. I just believed I was living someone else's life," the pediatrician remembers about that moment.
Over the next few months, Flais, of New Lenox, threw herself into finding all the information she could about having multiples, including quizzing parents of twins and medical professionals. Wouldn't it be nice, she remembers thinking, if all the tips and information were in one spot.
It is now. Flais, mom to Matthew, 7, twins Andrew and Ryan, 6, and Nancy, 3, is out with a new book, Raising Twins: From Pregnancy to Preschool (October 2009, American Academy of Pediatrics). It's a mom-to-mom, 'I've done this and you can do it, too' guide.
"I just wanted to be reassuring. Here's how you do it. Each month it's going to be different challenges and here's what you do," she says.
Most fun surprise: How different Andrew and Ryan are. She never refers to them as "the twins" and stresses in her book to treat each baby as an individual. Andrew was a normal baby, Ryan never cried. "He was just Mr. Cool Cucumber." She finds it hilarious that she didn't believe other parents when they told her you can see the personalities and temperament develop the first week of life. It's true, she says.
Biggest fear: Pre-term delivery. She says it's a true concern for parents expecting multiples. While a full-term pregnancy is 37 weeks and beyond, twins on average deliver about 36 weeks and triplets about 33 weeks. Be proactive in getting the care you need, she says.
It's also important to know that most twins might have to spend a few extra days in the hospital, but the majority end up fine, she says.
One thing she'd say to a mom just finding out the news: "It's
going to be awesome. You may not have expected it, but it's just
the ride of a lifetime."
Biggest lesson: "Having multiples is a great way to calm down," she laughs.
"Honestly, if you make it to the end of the day and your kids are fed and happy and safe, it's been a successful day."
Favorite thing parents of twins tell her: "Oh, wait until they're driving."
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.