Jane Seymour has proven her talents in virtually all media, the Broadway stage, motion pictures and television. Her love of art and color has led to her great success as a painter in watercolors and oils and as a designer. Jane is married to actor/director James Keach. She is the mother of six children, including twin sons, Kris and Johnny. Here she shares her thoughts about raising twins.
Let's start by taking a look back. Many moms of multiples are worried about the risks of twin pregnancy. Your book, Two at a Time: A Journey Through Twin Pregnancy, gives many details about your pregnancy experience. Could you please share a quick summary of how things went during your pregnancy?
I’d had already two very healthy pregnancies earlier in my life, and I was trying in my early 40s to have in-vitro to have a baby and I had two pregnancies that failed about four-five weeks in and we had almost given up. But we got really fortunate and I managed to hold a pregnancy. The original pregnancy, I had three embryos that took, but one never really formed and so I ended up with the twins. They were born six weeks preemie. I had preeclampsia so it was an emergency c-section to save my life and theirs.
One of the twins, Johnny, turned blue twice when we got home because we really wanted to come home soon and that was a big mistake. So then we had to take both of them back to the hospital and I had to stay with them overnight, a couple of nights, monitoring them for sucking, swallowing and breathing.
I wrote the book, because as far as the world was concerned, here was I at a certain age suddenly able to have twins and appearing to be very svelte within three weeks, which I was. The reason was because I nearly lost my life. I wrote the book so people could see that ideally you embark upon this earlier in your life rather than later and although it is possible, there are risks attached. But with a good doctor, as I was fortunate to have, we were looking for the signs of preeclampsia and we were able to deal with it when it happened.
During your pregnancy, you were working on the series "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman." What kind of accommodations did you make to allow you to continue working during the pregnancy? What advice would you give to working moms who are pregnant with twins?
Everything is a calculated risk. You never know when you are having a baby at any time in your life, what could happen. It is always good to have all the information. Whereas it is possible later to have children with in-vitro, it is not necessarily always easy. For me, I had a lot of back problems associated with it because the weight on my back. I’m quite small, and carrying twins, there was not a lot of space left in my stomach area. I had a sort of bed rest I was on at the end. My idea of bed rest and the doctor’s were quite different. In retrospect, I would have listened to the doctor a lot more. So again, that’s another reason I wrote the book which was [to say], "Don’t do what I did. Do what the doctor says." When he or she says bed rest, it actually means you lie down and you don’t move. That doesn’t mean that you continue shooting Dr. Quinn in 102 degrees and keep standing up and sitting down and sitting on a recliner. No. That means you are in bed. But you know, it was so worth it at the end of the day. I’m just so grateful that it was possible.
Make sure you have a great doctor and make sure you’re aware of what you need to watch out for, For example, a big thing would be hypertension or preeclampsia as they call it.
As your twins have grown up through the years, what do you find challenging about being a mom of twins?
As you know, being a mother yourself of twins, It’s different at different stages. But the beauty of the human body is you have two feeding apparatus attached to your body. Invariably, they wanted to eat at the same time. And then sometimes they’d be on cycles where one would feed and I’d venture to get him down and then just as I’d be about to take a little rest, the other would suddenly decide to be fed. I was referred to as the “Dairy Queen.” I was literally on tap all the time. Finding the time to eat enough good food so that I could make enough good milk was a challenge. They were very hungry. I supplemented breast milk with formula which worked just perfectly for us. It was no problem with them adjusting to a combination. I always tell people, “Don’t feel you have to do one thing and not another.”
Then, having some help helped me enormously because I had to go back to work within about three weeks. So I had someone helping me at night so that if I could -- if I had a chance -- sleep even if it was for an hour and a half in increments. I had somebody that could watch the children because they were both on heart monitors. For the first four months of their lives they were on heart monitors. The heart monitor would go off. If they even wriggled, the heart monitor would go off and somebody would have to be right on top of them and immediately make sure that they were breathing and that they hadn’t turned blue. We literally were on pins and needles for a number of months when they were young.
But then as they grew up, the great news was they had each other to be with. They would love to sleep together in the same crib and then in the same bed. In fact to this day, although now they are almost fourteen and they will fight, they only really have had their own bedrooms, separate bedrooms, in the last year. So probably age twelve, I think, we gave them their own bedrooms. And even now if one is somewhere and the other is somewhere else, they always check up to see where the other one is and if they are really tired I’ve noticed they’ll even fall asleep pretty close to one another.
Actress, author and artist Jane Seymour shares her thoughts on parenting twins.