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Mom Crush

Dr. Katie Sharma Edition

By Alexandra Ulmer

What could be a bigger whirlwind than new twin babies? Try adding on an older child and being a first-year resident physician. We sat down with Dr. Katie Sharma to chat about the complexities of navigating twin parenthood, pregnancy loss, and the importance of self care while providing care for others.

"I gave birth to my oldest son, Grady (4), a few months before starting medical school and just gave birth to twin boys, Seamus and Fionn, in October. This year I will be celebrating ten years of marriage (and 18 years of dating!) to my husband, Abhi."

1. You just welcomed twins! How are you feeling 3 months postpartum?

 I am feeling better each day, but I will admit: the initial recovery was rough. The delivery went smoothly, but I severely underestimated how difficult a c-section would be on me physically. People will remind you "it's abdominal surgery!" but it's generally not treated like that among society, and we are just expected to go about our day like nothing major just happened.

So, it was tough to not be able to go for walks for a few weeks or even just do simple tasks around the house. But with time I have gotten feeling more like myself - or this new version of myself!

2. Tell us about your birth experience. Did you have a birth plan?

I did not have a birth plan, other than "stay pregnant as long as I can" and to keep the babies (and myself) safe. The twins were born at 36 weeks and I was thrilled to have made it that far. The last stretch of pregnancy was particularly challenging working full-time and the feeling of having no more room for these guys to grow.

We scheduled a c-section for the safety of Seamus (formerly known as Twin B) who had a velamentous cord insertion (high risk for bleeding and complications). Having a definitive date for delivery gave me some peace of mind and was also helpful in coordinating childcare for our older son, but we had daily contingency plans in place if I had gone into labor sooner.

3. How would you describe your transition to becoming a mother of 3?

I think I was very unprepared for the toll that new babies would take on our older son initially. I knew it would be an adjustment but I didn't fully comprehend what that would look like. The first weekend home with all five of us was very emotionally charged. I think I expected to be able to go back to being the same version of "Mommy" to Grady, which was not the reality.

While a four year age gap was good because he is "self-sufficient" and even helpful, he can also very clearly articulate all the ways in which I am not fulfilling his needs because of the babies. That was painful to hear, but necessary. As with most things, time has helped all of us adjust to our new family dynamics. Grady loves his twins so much and they love looking at his face and smiling. Caring for newborn twins has been exhausting but also doubly rewarding as they grow and we love anticipating all of the fun things to come.

 4. After experiencing an early pregnancy loss last year, what was the biggest challenge for you during this pregnancy?

I had a positive pregnancy test right around the time I would have been due with my prior pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. That time was filled with some sadness for where I had hoped to be at that point, but obviously happiness for a positive pregnancy test.

The next few weeks felt like walking on eggshells until I had my 8 week ultrasound. Of course, the ultrasound was the biggest shock of our life when we saw two little fetuses in there.

The challenge was mostly the physical difficulty of being pregnant with twins. The morning sickness I experienced even before I knew I had twins was really terrible, which made sense given the extra amount of hCG one has from a twin pregnancy.

I am also only 5'1" so the twins didn't have a lot of space to go other than "out." I had ligament and joint pain pretty early on. I was also starting residency, which required long hours and time on my feet. I really had to advocate for needing breaks to eat or sit down, of which my colleagues were supportive. By the time I got home in the evenings, my energy was pretty much zapped. 

I also experienced polymorphic eruption of pregnancy at around 34-35 weeks, which is a super itchy rash on the belly and hands and feet. Thankfully it went away pretty much immediately after the delivery.

I think sometimes we have the tendency to see even our own pregnancies with rose-colored glasses after time passes, but I really struggled this time around. I sometimes wish other people felt more comfortable talking about how pregnancy really is not all glowing skin and cradling your bump. Of course, every person's experience is different and even my two pregnancies different drastically from one another. 

 5. What has been the biggest joy?

The smiles! It makes all of the sleepless nights just a little bit easier. And watching Grady become a big brother. I can't wait to see him continue to take on this role and for the twins to start noticing each other. 

 6. How do you take care of yourself as a new mom?

I'll admit it has been tough so I am accepting advice! It feels especially hard to find the time to take care of myself with three little ones and now that I am back to work. I've gotten better at getting my butt to bed at night to give myself the most amount of sleep possible. The rest... I'm still figuring it out!  

I will also say that we are lucky to have such an amazing group of friends and family who helped take care of us during those initial two months... providing food, coffee, wine, playdates for Grady, or cleaning up and not having to tell them what to do. We feel incredibly supported.

 7. What's your mom mantra?

It's all temporary! That applies to the hard and the sweet parts. But babies grow up to sleep through the night, and sleep regressions eventually come to pass. This also serves as my reminder to try to stay in the present and enjoy the current stage, which can be hard to do.



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