After two years of trying to get pregnant, Madelyn was eventually diagnosed with PCOS and began fertility treatment. With the aid of a trigger shot and timed intercourse, Madelyn became pregnant, and gave birth to her first son in June 2020. Her pregnancy was uncomplicated and joyful. As a trained doula, Madelyn had prepared for an unmediated hospital birth. Despite her preparation, a prolonged labor ultimately resulting in a C-section left Madelyn feeling exhausted and out of control. Immediately following birth, Madelyn felt overwhelmed and highly anxious. In the first months postpartum, depression and anxiety coalesced around an increasingly fraught relationship with alcohol and the isolation of early COVID quarantines. Intrusive thoughts creeped in. As the months passed, her drinking became more frequent and secretive, and her relationships with those closest to her began to fray. With the assistance of therapy, medication and intensive outpatient rehabilitation, Madelyn was able to take control of her mental health and find sobriety. A profound period of introspection and healing followed.
In Spring 2022, Madelyn and her husband decided they wanted to try for a second baby. They were pleasantly surprised when Madelyn became pregnant only two months later and even more surprised when they discovered she was pregnant with twins!
Like her first, Madelyn’s second pregnancy was uncomplicated and joyful; although physically more challenging. Due to the babies’ positioning, a VBAC was not an option and a planned C-section at 38 weeks became an incredibly redemptive birth experience for Madelyn. In the three weeks since the birth of the twins, Madelyn is grateful to report that her postpartum experience has been completely different from her first.
Madelyn Morris Bio
Madelyn is a mom to three. Her first son, Leo was born June 2020 and her twins, Juniper and Elias, were born December 2022. Madelyn and her husband, Andrew, have been married almost 8 years. Madelyn is originally from Utah, but she and her family currently reside in Chicago, IL. Madelyn is a family law attorney. Connect with her on FB or instagram by searching for Madelyn Morris.
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Melanie’s postpartum experience was wildly different than she’d expected. Giving birth 2 days after the UK went into lockdown, she spent her first few months with her twin girls in lockdown, physically isolated from family and friends. She dealt with repetitive mastitis, severe reflux and slow weight gain with one of her babies, and the general anxieties and disappointments that came with Covid lockdown. She was grateful to have her husband home from work during this time, creating an amazing bond as a new family, and especially grateful for a freezer full of nourishing postpartum meals that she’d prepared during pregnancy.
Melanie Hadida Bio
Melanie is a Canadian living in the uk with her husband Gareth and twin girls Rowan & Lior. She’s a nutritional consultant and owns a small spice blending business. She specializes in nutrition for pregnancy, postpartum, hormonal wellness, and now for toddlers!
This episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Their commitment to providing parents with the foundation to thrive has launched the company into creating a broad range of award-winning products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably, and safely – where function and quality are not compromised. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet. Check out Ergobaby’s Embrace in Soft Air Mesh and new Evolve 3-in-1 Bouncer that we discussed on the podcast!
Katya Suh found out she was pregnant shortly after her marriage to NFL Defensive Lineman Ndamukong Suh in May 2020. The months that ensued ended up being some of the most transformative moments of her life especially with expecting twin boys. In the first trimester of her pregnancy, Katya experienced regular morning sickness and then faced a scary spell inclusive of blood clots, in which she was told she could be a high risk pregnancy. Ultimately, by adjusting her usually very active lifestyle to focus on rest and working closely with her medical team, her body was able to heal entering into her second trimester.
As her symptoms began to ease, and anxieties of the early weeks evolved into feelings of comfort from her husband and excitement for the challenges of raising twin boys that were to come. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple hired a birth doula to help them formulate a birth plan and prepare for the big day. More big life moments occurred as Katya entered her third trimester, while moving into her new home, preparing a space for the boys, and Ndamukong earned his first Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But as the big day neared, Katya remained focused on preparing a birth plan for any and every possible scenario. As part of this, she prepped medical teams in both Tampa, FL and Portland, OR – where the couple resides in the off-season. Yet as everyone knows from the last year and-a-half, you can never prepare for everything. Khari remained breech until the last two weeks of the pregnancy, leading Katya to create plans that involved both a vaginal birth with breech extraction or possibly a caesarean.
Thanks to Khari’s literal turn of fate two weeks prior to birth, Katya was able to continue with a vaginal birth. She was induced at 38 weeks and after laboring for about 2.5-3 hours, Katya decided that in order to avoid undue stress, receiving an epidural would be the best option for both her and the boys. The boys were born on the evening of March 26, 2021. Kingston was born first, weighing 7lbs, 08oz. Healthy and larger than Katya thought, she was quickly reminded that she had more work to do. Khari, who weighed 7lbs, 12oz, was born shortly after, and experienced minor complications due to mild transient tachypnea (TTN) requiring him to go on a CPAP until the fluid had cleared from his lungs. Luckily, Ndamukong was able to stay with Khari during his treatment as Katya remained on bedrest.
Immediate postpartum was not what Katya imagined, however. Shortly after welcoming Kingston and Khari, she experienced a postpartum hemorrhage as her uterus was not closing. Understanding the risks of birth, especially in multicultural communities, as a black woman Katya knew the severity of the situation. She credits her support system, especially her husband and mother during this moment, for being there for the babies so that she could focus on what needed to be done in her healing. After receiving two blood transfusions, Katya made a full recovery and was able to care for her boys. Because of this postpartum trauma and Khari’s recovery, the Suh family remained in the hospital for three days to monitor recovery. After Katya’s platelet levels returned to normal, the family welcomed the boys home for the first time.
In her postpartum experience, Katya remembers being very intentional with voicing her needs and emotions – she knew that raising a family requires a village. Like many first-time mothers, Katya had to work to understand and learn her body again following birth. She supplemented breastfeeding with additional milk as she eased back into her active lifestyle, and was grateful to have the support of her husband, his parents, and her own mother and sisters as she entered this new phase of her life. For Katya, it took a village throughout the entire process and she is an avid proponent of leaning on and embracing the support around you throughout your journey.
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All of Charity’s babies were born in the UK. Her oldest son was born vaginally on the operating table as preparations were being made for an emergency cesarean section, and her second son was born in the complete opposite atmosphere – peacefully in a birth tub in the living room of her small flat in central London. When Charity found out her third pregnancy was a twin pregnancy, she was utterly shocked. She immediately went to work preparing and advocating for an unmedicated twin birth in hospital, and the arrival of her babies after a gentle induction and through-the-night labor was powerful.
Charity is a mom of four that recently relocated from London, England (where all her babies were born) to Provo, Utah. Her oldest had just turned four years old when her twins were born – so her stay-at-home mom life is chock full of chaos … and joy! Charity’s professional background is in education, and she is passionate about women educating themselves about the wonder and power of pregnancy and childbirth. Connect with her on IG @CharityEyreWright or via wrightnowblog.com.
Today’s episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Pregnancy and new parenthood can be extremely stressful and many struggle with their mental health. Which is why we want you to Check out BetterHelp.combirthhour. BetterHelp will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist so you can Connect in a safe and private online environment and you can start within 48 hours of signing up!
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After over 4 years of dealing with infertility Gisselle and her husband Lynneric found out they were pregnant due to an IUI. A few weeks later they found out they were having twins! After a mostly uneventful pregnancy to that point, Gisselle was diagnosed with cholestasis at 30 weeks. At 32 weeks they found out both babies were breech and began to plan to have a cesarean. She delivered at 36 weeks and the babies never had to go the NICU. Postpartum she dealt with some postpartum depression and sought help from her doctor for medication and also attended therapy on a regular basis.
Gisselle Topham Bio
Gisselle and her husband Lynneric live in Ogden, Utah with their 4 yr. old boy girl twins. Her husband works for the government and she is a trained doula and childbirth educator working on her certification. She became involved in the infertility world while trying to get pregnant and has since also joined her local twin moms club. She enjoys watching movies and reading books. With her family she likes to have dance parties. Her kids keep her busy and she loves laughing at the crazy things they say and do. Connect with her via Facebook (gisselletopham) or by email email@example.com. Gisselle is also an active member of The Birth Hour Patreon group!
When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Barbara Luke
What to do when you’re having two – Natalie Diaz
Searched twins in podcast app and google
Facebook groups for infertility and twins
Asking about a therapist and psychiatrist
Local Twins club
Other twin moms
This episode is sponsored by Wumblekin. Life’s busy and there’s a lot of noise out there, that can be especially true during pregnancy. Wumblekin breaks down pregnancy, labor and birth with evidence-based education and expert-curated products for mom and baby. Easily buy or gift single boxes, or subscribe to receive them throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Be informed and prepared by ordering Wumblekin pregnancy, birth and postpartum essentials, today! Get 15% off your first box by using promo code BIRTHHOUR at checkout. Visit wumblekin.com to order or subscribe, today!
Niki and her husband, Brian found out they were expecting twins at an 8 week ultrasound in late April of 2019. This was a complete shock to them. The twins were spontaneous, di-di twins, meaning they had their own sacs and placentas- the least risky type of twin pregnancy. Niki and Brian chose to have blood work completed to find out the genders and they were again shocked and excited to find out they were both girls! Their then 3 year old son Dante, was not so excited about the babies in general but he really warmed up to the idea as he could see them growing in “mommy’s tummy.”
The pregnancy went very smoothly. Niki attributes much of this to the dietary, exercise and lifestyle modifications she made based on the book When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads. Niki also chose a high risk OBGYN as she wanted a practice where the doctors would allow the patient to attempt a vaginal birth even if one of the babies had a breech presentation. Her general OB said it would be an automatic c-section if either baby was breech. The high risk doctors agreed that as long as baby A (lowest baby) was head down, even if baby B was breech, they would allow a vaginal delivery. Niki wanted to have an unmedicated hospital birth, just as she had with Dante. Niki and Brian hired the same birth doula they had for their son, another postpartum doula and took classes on caring for and feeding twins. Niki’s goal was to tandem breastfeed the girls for at least 6 months.
The twin’s due date was November 19th, 2019. Niki stopped working in September as she felt too uncomfortable performing a lot of the physical requirements of her job as a physical therapist and she was concerned about preterm labor. She was having a lot of daily contractions at this point of the pregnancy, but every ultrasound, cervix check and doctor’s visit went perfectly. As the weeks rolled by, the OB began discussing induction dates as they wouldn’t allow twin pregnancies to exceed 38 weeks. The induction was scheduled for 6am on November 7th when the twins were 38 weeks, 2 days gestation.
The last 2 months of the pregnancy were challenging, to say the least! In September, the entire family came down with a cold but Niki was not getting better. By October she was having such terrible coughing spells that she fractured 2 ribs and ended up in the ER at 36 weeks. There was a minor pre-clampsia scare at the same time (one high blood pressure reading and one abnormal blood panel), but they were sent home from the hospital with antibiotics and a lidocane patch for the ribs. Slowly, Niki improved and was finally able to rest.
She had been practicing hypnobirthing meditations throughout her pregnancy and utilized positive imagery and daily meditation to get through her rib pain and illness. She was afraid that this injury would lessen the likelihood of having the unmedicated birth she planned.
As the induction date approached, Niki and Brian tried everything possible to self induce labor. She walked and hiked for miles, walked on uneven surfaces, danced, ate dates, etc. You name it, they tried! She was having a lot of contractions and had been dilated 3cm for over 2 weeks, but at her final OB appointment 2 days before the scheduled induction, it appeared these babies were not going to come on their own. This was such an irony to them because they spent the majority of the pregnancy worried about preterm labor and now they were worried about having to be induced! She asked the nurse to sweep the membranes in a final effort to bring on labor more naturally. When she did this, Niki lost the mucus plug.
That night, they prepared to leave for the hospital early in the morning. They had a final crab leg dinner with their son and said goodnight to him one last time as an only child. They tried to sleep. Niki cried before bed because things just weren’t going as planned.
At 3am, she woke up having heavy contractions and her water broke moments later. Brian was rushing her to leave the house and she wanted to make the bed, grab some snacks and make sure everything was ready. They left about 20 minutes after Niki’s water broke. They called the doula and she had an urgent tone to her voice about rushing to the hospital. Labor really picked up in the car! Niki used hypnobirthing meditations throughout and was amazed by how excited, exhilarated even, she felt. She was so happy to have gone into labor without being induced. She finally felt like the birth might actually go the way she wanted. Brian drove in a complete panic, asking Niki if he should run red lights, to which she yelled, NO!
When they arrived at the hospital, Niki and Brian knew she was very close to delivering a baby. Brian couldn’t figure out how to operate the phone to be buzzed up to the L+D floor and was panicking. Niki noticed another phone by the elevators, and that worked! As they exited the elevator on the L+D floor, the nurses were waiting and laughing saying “Niki, you’re over an hour early!” It was about 4am then and the induction was scheduled for 6am. The doctor on call, Dr. Roy Bergstrom, was the doctor Niki wanted. She knew he had a reputation for supporting unmedicated births and would likely let the doula in the room. Again, she felt excited and exhilarated by how well everything was going! The hypnobirthing meditations allowed her to feel a “bubble of peace” and drown out the sights/ sounds of the hospital and be in her own space with her babies. Between contractions, she would talk to the nurses about her birth preferences. She really wanted the L+D bed in the OR, where they make women deliver twins in the event that an emergency c-section is needed. The nurses pushed back on this one but said they would try. Dr. Bergstrom asked to call anesthesia to place a port- Niki agreed, though she knew she would not need the epidural. The nurses and Dr. Berg seemed a bit surprised when they checked her and she was 8cm and 100% effaced upon arrival. There was a big sense of urgency, but not panic as Niki was remaining very calm and relatively quiet. She was mainly standing by the bed and leaning over the bed when a nurse asked, would you like to “sit on the bed?” Niki asked to go on hands and knees. At that point, she was telling the nurses that she felt an urge to have a BM. They began calling for the doctor and without discussion, Niki pushed hard and out came baby A- Althea June Popper- dropping right into the mesh underwear and on the hospital bed! Brian described Dr. Bergstrom ran in the room and swept his hands under Althea just as she was dropping to the bed. They wheeled Niki, Althea and Dr. Berg all together into the OR. As they were going through the door, the nurse said in Niki’s ear, “That’s one way to get the bed in the OR.” They were laughing! The mood was so jovial. As they rushed into the OR, all Niki could see was the floor and tons of people’s feet shuffling next to the bed because she was still on hands and knees.
Althea was tiny, but mighty and very healthy! 4 lbs, 15oz, 20 inches long. Brian held her while the nurses and doctor got Niki situated in the OR. Niki was asking to get back on hands and knees, but was told no as they were trying to get monitoring on baby B. They began signaling to Niki to push. She didn’t feel ready and she asked for more time. Barb, the doula arrived right then and said, “Niki- you can trust them. It’s time to push.” She wasn’t feeling the same urge to push and the position on her back was terribly uncomfortable- truly the first time in the birth that she felt real pain. She pushed for a few minutes and out came Avery Betty Popper- 12 minutes after her sister, clocking in at a whopping 7lbs, 10oz, 21 inches long. Everyone was absolutely shocked by the size discrepancy. At this point, the anesthesiologist finally came into the OR and joked “I got a call, brushed my teeth, and in that time, you had two babies!”
Avery seemed okay at first; big, crying, etc. But very quickly, Brian and Niki realized that she was struggling with breathing. Her oxygen levels were low. The team was ready to rush Avery to the nicu. Dr. Bergstrom took command of the OR and asked everyone to slow down and let Niki hold her babies. She held both of them to her breasts. Althea was rooting but Avery was struggling to breathe. Brian went to the OR with Avery and Niki cradled Althea in her arms and was wheeled to the mom and baby unit with Barb. Dr. Bergstrom reassured Niki, “This is a healthy baby- she’ll be back with you in a few hours.”
Brian and Niki didn’t see one another for several more hours. Niki focused on nursing Althea and pumping to try and drive up her milk supply. When she finally went to the nicu, she saw that Avery was on a CPAP and that she was not, in fact, going to be leaving the nicu anytime soon at all. This was such a devastating moment for Brian and Niki. Because it was flu season at the hospital, they were not allowed to bring Althea to the Nicu. Niki and Brian spent the next 4 days alternating between nicu with Avery and mom baby unit with Althea. It was incomprehensibly hard. After everything had gone so smoothly with the birth, Niki couldn’t understand how this happened. She attributed it to pushing too soon during labor.
They were told initially that Avery had “Big Baby Respiratory Distress Syndrome.” That these babies “get better quickly 48 hours after delivery when surfactant kicks in.” 48 hours later, Avery’s condition had deteriorated significantly and the neonatologists began questioning this diagnosis. In the next 2 days, Avery developed a collapsed lung, a small bowel obstruction and worsening oxygen levels. They intubated her, started antibiotics and stopped all feedings. They suspected at this point that she aspirated fluid and blood at birth. Blood neutralizes surfactant so her surfactant production was not sufficient. The doctors were continuously coming to the mom and baby unit to tell Brian and Niki about a new complication.
On day 4, Althea was discharged and Niki and Brian left the hospital with one baby- Niki’s greatest fear coming to life. It was a devastating moment. They continued sharing duties of being at home with Althea and Dante and rushing back to the hospital to be with Avery. Niki pumped enough milk to provide both babies with breast milk- Avery in a feeding tube and Althea at the breast or with a bottle. Brian and Niki’s moms took turns with the kids as well.
In total, Avery spent 11 days in the nicu. She was finally able to come home with oxygen on November 17th. Avery and Althea were so content being together at home, at last. Avery made a complete recovery and no longer has complications related to her difficult entry to this world. Althea grew very quickly despite being small for gestational age. Both girls are healthy and thriving 18 month olds now. Niki experienced some postpartum depression and anxiety that improved significantly after she started seeing a therapist. She was able to take over a year long maternity leave. In July of 2020 she started her own physical therapy practice called Popper PT where she focuses on prenatal and postpartum care. Brian continues to work for Hello Fresh and they are a thriving, happy family!
Niki wanted to share her birth story because she loves hearing other people’s stories, she wanted to share about an unmedicated twin birth because those stories were hard for her to find and she sharing the story helps with her emotional healing from the trauma of the nicu. She hopes her story touches and helps other families as well.
Niki Popper Bio
Niki and Brian Popper have been married for 10 years and partners for 18 years. They met in college at the University of Denver. Niki is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and Brian is from Bethesda Maryland. They live in Denver with their three children, a 4-year-old son named Dante Alexander and 15-month-old twin girls, Avery Betty and Althea June. They also have a beloved 8-year-old cocker-spaniel mix named Pepper
Niki is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and focuses on treating patients with pelvic health, pre natal and post-partum concerns. She also specializes in treating TMJ and headaches. She has been practicing for 8 years and started her own practice, Popper PT in July of 2020. She sits for her Women’s Health Clinical Specialist (WCS) board certification exam in March of 2022.
Brian is Chief Operations Officer for Green Chef, an online organic meal kit delivery company that was purchased by Hello Fresh in 2018. The sale of green chef allowed Brian and Niki to have the resources to move to a new home and for Niki to take a year and a half of maternity leave.
They enjoy cooking, canoeing, hiking, skiing and snowboarding and camping. Niki is a certified Pilates instructor and enjoys Pilates based exercise and indoor cycling. Connect with her on Facebook at
facebook.com/niki.popper.1 or facebook.com/Dr.NikiPopper and on Instagram @drnikipopper. Her website is www.popperpt.com
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