It was a time of big changes for Trey and Bri Botten. Trading in Bri’s Ford Focus for a minivan. Painting the nursery. Putting already-expert Pinterest skills to work on what to do when you’re expecting twins.
That’s right, twins.
Married since 2016, the Bottens planned to start a family a few years into the marriage. Baby #1 would be followed in a couple of years by Baby #2. It seemed reasonable at the time. “We got two for one, instead,” laughs Bri.
KVH midwife Emily Torretta broke the news to the couple at their 7-week ultrasound. Trey was understandably shocked, but – cue the maternal instinct – Bri already “had a weird feeling that we were having twins.” When friends hosted a gender reveal party, it brought fantastic news: they were expecting a boy and a girl. Thus preparations began for a world that would soon welcome little Waylon and Willow, the former named after country legend Waylon Jennings.
Bri started obstetric care at KVH Women’s Health under Dr. Ginger Longo. By week 20, she was referred to specialists at UW Medicine’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic in Yakima for additional monitoring and testing. Between ultrasounds in Ellensburg and visits to Yakima, they had clinic visits every two weeks. “I felt like we were constantly at the doctor’s office,” recalls Bri.
Her care soon transitioned from Dr. Longo, who was leaving to practice on the west side, to Dr. Bruce Herman. “We absolutely loved Ginger,” says Bri. “When we met Dr. Herman, we clicked really well. He was calming and reassuring with all my questions and concerns. I was reading things online, saying, I need to be eating this much, I need to be doing this much, and then when I would go to Dr. Herman, he would say, “You need to do what’s good for you.”
Those who know Bri agree she’s one of the healthiest people they’ve met. Despite a twin pregnancy, she gained just 25 pounds, “literally all of it belly and babies.” While Bri tried to eat as much as she could, she simply had no room in her stomach. “Trey would try to make me eat cheeseburgers and milkshakes and French fries. He was convinced I needed to gain more weight!”
Bri started experiencing contractions while at work. Fortunately, as Event Coordinator for KVH, her office in the hospital was just a short walk from the Family Birthing Place, run by her aunt-in-law, Stacey. “They checked everything and saw that I had started to slightly dilate.” Bri was at 28 weeks, showing early signs and contracting heavily. Dr. Herman was straight with her: it was time to stop work and be on bed rest.
“It hit me like a whirlwind,” admits Bri. “That was a lot to take in.” And while she felt badly about leaving work so suddenly, it was a critical time for her and the babies. The plan was to get to at least 32 weeks. They’d just hit that threshold when a visit to UW caused alarm bells: Waylon was showing some signs of growth restriction and restricted umbilical activity.
Back in Ellensburg, Dr. Herman addressed the situation with the anxious couple. An ultrasound and additional measurements showed that while Waylon did indeed have a small abdomen, his umbilical activity and heart rate was excellent. He also assured them they could call him any time they felt they needed to. “It helped ease our minds a bit going into the next couple of weeks,” said Bri, whose care regimen would now include non-stress tests at Family Birthing Place every other week, and UW growth measurement/activity check-ups on alternate weeks.
Bri was taken off of strict bedrest at week 33. She began to experience leg pain. Then back pain. “It was excruciating,” says Bri, and fear of a possible blood clot sent her to the ER for monitoring. The babies were sitting on her sciatic nerve. The following week, she spent the night at Family Birthing, where they monitored her contractions. Knowing she had an appointment in Yakima the next day, Dr. Herman suggested she meet with a doctor in Yakima, “just in case you have to deliver there.” Unless she made it to 36 weeks, Bri would need to deliver in Yakima, where they were equipped with a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) to care for premature newborns.
That day, during their UW visit, Bri and Trey met with Dr. Hillary Conway, the doctor on call that weekend, who likely would be delivering the twins. They wanted to ensure that Dr. Conway was aware of Bri’s bleeding disorder, von Willebrands, which could cause postpartum complications. Afterwards, they returned Ellensburg to take care of responsibilities at home.
“The next morning, I was on the phone with my mom,” recalls Bri. “I was telling her about what was going on with my contractions. I told her I didn’t know if my water would break, since some women don’t have that experience.” As soon as she hung up the phone, her water broke.
“TREY!,” she screamed, as loud as she could. “I got up and ran down the hallway with this gigantic pregnant belly. My water’s breaking, and Trey’s like, “It’s time? It’s time?”
Like good, prepared parents, they already had a bag packed for a hospital stay. Bri went around the house turning things off. She then changed into a dress and sandals and was putting a headband in her hair before Trey realized what she was doing. He called KVH to let them know they were on their way.
“My second water started breaking in the hospital parking lot,” says Bri. “I thought, ‘Oh, Mylanta, here we go.'” She was quickly wheeled into Family Birthing and hooked up to a monitor. Her aunt-in-law was on vacation in Hawaii, but Dr. Herman, delayed with another patient’s C-section, made it in time to see Bri before she was transported to Yakima by ambulance. With her went Celeste, a nurse from Family Birthing who knew that Bri would be missing Stacey’s familiar presence, so accompanied Bri despite having the day off.
The ambulance delivered them safely to Virginia Mason Memorial. “I was feeling pretty good,” says Bri. The EMTs wheeled her in just Dr. Conway was entering. “Perfect timing,” said Dr. Conway. “I even finished reviewing your files this morning. Let’s deliver some babies!” An hour later, the babies, born three minutes apart, were in the NICU and Bri was recovering from the C-section. “I didn’t get to see them until 12 hours later,” says Bri. “That was really hard, emotionally.”
After five days of recovery, Bri and Trey moved to the hospital parking lot, where they stayed in a friend’s RV. Every three hours around the clock, the couple was there for diaper changes, bottle feedings, burping, and then the twins went down for a nap. After almost three weeks of this routine, the babies doubled their birth weights and were finally ready to go home.
Within two weeks, the babies were both nursing. “I worked hard on that,” laughs Bri, who often double-nurses when the twins are hungry at the same time. “My friends make jokes that I’m Super Mom, but this is the only way I know. Twins is all I know, so I just do it.” The family makes regular visits to Dr. Young at KVH Pediatrics, ensuring that the twins are gaining weight normally and getting the nutrition they need.
The twins are now four months old, and the little family has settled into a routine – more or less. Things that parents with one baby take for granted are more difficult for the Bottens, who also have a small farm to care for. “It’s easier to go on errands, or to have the grandparents come over, when you have just one baby to look after. Not that we were surprised by that, but you don’t really know until you experience it yourself.”
Over the past few months, Bri has discovered that being parents of twins is more common than she realized. “Strangers will walk past and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, I have twins. They’re 30 years old.'”
Clearly, the rewards far outweigh any challenges for Bri and Trey, who are both loving their role as parents of twins. “The babies’ bond is probably the most precious thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” says Bri. “They already hold each other’s hands. And their smiles. Even if it’s a busy day, and they’re not napping – they’ll both look at me at the same time, and smile.”
It’s said that you never know your true capacity for love until you have children. Bri couldn’t agree more. “Sometimes Trey and I just sit and stare at them. We can’t believe this is our life, it’s so incredible!”