You might know her as the vivacious Korean-Aussie host on E! Online Asia, or as @iamyvetteking on Instagram, where sun-drenched snaps of this stylish mummy of twin girls are uploaded daily. Yvette King lives life to the fullest and her effervescence is contagious whether you’re swiping through her Stories or have just met her at some fashionable brunch spot around town. But as King proves, social media is but the highlight reel of one’s multi-faceted real life, and turns out, her TTC (trying to conceive) story and uterus health leading up to finally getting pregnant with twins was far from sunny. She’s suffered from Endometriosis, a painful disorder involving an abnormal growth of cells—womb lining responsible for menstruation—outside the uterus instead of forming inside. This not only affected her health, activity and period cycles monthly with serious levels of pain, it impacted her fertility as well: “My road to motherhood was arduous and winding. Ironic that it felt like my own uterus was the enemy when trying to become a mother”.
Read on to find out how she identified and addressed her condition of Endometriosis; what she went through while trying to conceive; her pregnancy and birth stories; and all the beauty and wellness rituals it took to glam things up for those joyful captures for the ‘gram.
On the birth of her twins
In the middle of the night my water broke, just shy of 35 weeks pregnant with twins. It also happened to be Chinese New Year, and as Murphy’s Law would have it, my OB-GYN was away on holidays. It was also my husband’s favourite day of the year—the Super Bowl. His team won that day, the babies were delivered safely by a lovely stranger, and just like that we were parents. My lasting memory is when our girls took their first breaths—we both gasped in awe, all misty-eyed. A beautiful moment.
As my pregnancy was ending quite early (after 39 weeks is considered full-term), I was held in a labour ward for a few days so I could take antenatal steroid injections to help with the babies’ lung development – they were a little undercooked in my oven. By this point I was used to being like a human pin cushion with all the needles. My caesarean was deemed emergency and in the end a vaginal delivery was not even a viable option – neither baby was engaged and in the right position. I was wheeled into the operating theatre alone and was prepped for surgery. A little comedic perspective from my husband – the first thing he saw when he joined me was my huge belly covered in brown ointment and poking through a plastic cut out. Apparently I looked like a giant turkey based in glaze, ready for Christmas! And this year, the gift would be the most precious of all – the gift of life. By two.
On challenges delivering twins
As soon as you’re found to be pregnant with multiples, you’re considered more high-risk. I was pretty much resigned to the fact that I would probably have a preterm labour and birth. Surprisingly, I was extremely relaxed about the entire thing—I didn’t have a birth plan or anything like that because I knew anything could happen with twins. I sort of relinquished all control to the doctors as all I wanted was for the babies to arrive Earth-side safely. Surrendering to the process made the experience so enjoyable. There was no anxiety, just excitement.
In a way, I had the ideal twin pregnancy in that each baby had its own placenta and sac and thus resources. However, as they were born premature, I only held my babies momentarily before they were whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit. My husband enjoyed a lot of skin to skin time, but I only saw them again the following day. Our girls stayed in the NICU for one week, while I recovered upstairs—also for 7 days. Carrying multiples did take its toll on me physically. I was so anaemic I required an iron transfusion and two blood transfusions as well—one before my caesarean and then one after. I think every mother has her own challenges bringing little humans into the world.
On living with Endometriosis
I would explain life with Endometriosis as living with a chronic condition, but without the support or understanding. It’s often misdiagnosed and has long been misunderstood, and as a result we are told to “just get on with it”. Aside from dreading my cycles and dealing with terrible pain, it impacted my fertility. My road to motherhood was arduous and winding. Ironic that it felt like my own uterus was the enemy when trying to become a mother.
On advice for women with Endometriosis trying to conceive
Don’t give up hope. Getting an Endometriosis diagnosis isn’t the end of your fertility road. Many women have the condition and still go on to have children, me being a case in point. I would solicit medical advice and follow through with treatment if recommended, as not only may it help with your pregnancy prospects, but it could also potentially help alleviate some bodily suffering every month. I had a laparoscopy (a keyhole surgery in which the disease was excised) and that was life changing in terms of pain management. Unfortunately Endo is persistent and can grow back, but personally, the surgery was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
On stigmas around “matters of the womb”
There is a plethora. One that comes to mind is miscarriage. One in four women will experience pregnancy loss, yet why do we all feel so alone when it actually happens to us? When a pregnancy comes to a premature end it’s heartbreaking and isolating. Perhaps if there were more open dialogue on the matter we would feel comforted by a sense of community.
On what should be said more—or less—about such conditions
There is a lot of shame around the female experience. We hide our period pain, we hide our pregnancies in arguably the hardest trimester, and we often hide our losses. Then we hide our broken bodies after hours of labour and birthing or major surgery—which a caesarean is. I wish we could be more open about these things.
On the flip side of this, I found it tough to deal with well-meaning people inquiring about our plans for parenthood. If only they knew what was going on behind closed doors. I also made this mistake before I knew what it was like, and I’m really sorry for that.
On trying to conceive
In general I had unconsciously subscribed to an urgency mindset throughout my life. I married young and in terms of career, I was always a girl in a hurry. When it came to pregnancy, I also felt my biological clock ticking loud and clear and unfortunately saw things in such a binary way – that certain ages came with certain limitations. I think this belief in the scarcity of time made the journey to parenthood extremely painful on an emotional level. It took us nearly 4 years to finally hold our children in our arms but before that surgeries, a miscarriage, hormone therapy and more negative tests I can even count were our lives. The longer it took, the more the stress compounded – it felt like overwhelming pressure.
When I was struggling to conceive I felt less than a woman. I had tied womanhood to motherhood, but found that they don’t need to be inextricably linked. I went through a crisis of identity of sorts. However, a real highlight was the strength of our marriage—my husband proved himself to be a true pillar of stability.
On discovering she was pregnant
The first time I was euphoric. The excitement was indescribable… but sadly it wasn’t to be. The second time around there was lots of love in my heart, but love laced with caution. A heartbreak can do that to you.
On highlights and struggles during pregnancy
I suffered acute morning sickness (a more likely situation for mothers carrying multiples) and lost 13 percent of my bodyweight by the end of my first trimester. At the end of the pregnancy, I had lots of swelling—the dreaded “kankles”, heartburn and my anemia had me strangely addicted to eating ice.
But right there in the middle of this journey to motherhood was the sweet spot. I was showing, my skin was glowing, my hair was flowing. I had my energy back and I could feel my girls kicking. It was one of the happiest times in my life.
On pre- and post-natal wellness rituals
My wellness journey began while trying to get pregnant. I removed anything inflammatory from my diet including my favourite three C’s—coffee, champagne and carbs. After seeking my doctor’s advice, I took melatonin, CoQ10 enzyme, folic acid and women’s daily multivitamins religiously. I worked out rigorously 4-5 times a week, so I think that held me in good stead for when I was postpartum. Sadly exercise took a backseat during my pregnancy—walking up two steps with twins in tow had me breathless as it was!
Afterwards I continued my multivitamins to aid with inevitable post baby hair loss. I also took fenugreek supplements and oats to help my breastmilk production. While I still have some ab separation, I’m finally back to my high intensity cardio training. The three C’s are now a regular fixture once again though!
On the pregnancy beauty essentials
During pregnancy I was constantly dehydrated. My skin would soak up any moisturiser I put on, but I was careful to use products that were paraben, alcohol and fragrance free. My pregnancy must-have was Bio Oil or coconut oil for the tummy to help with the appearance of stretch marks and dry skin. For new mothers, lanolin balm for sore nipples when breastfeeding helped a lot. In terms of self care, blow dries at the salon were my main guilty pleasure during this time as massages are to be avoided (unless with a trained specialist) while pregnant.
After giving birth, I had a Singaporean-style postpartum massage and binding regime with a fantastic local therapist. My mother also prepared nutrient-rich Korean meals for me, such as seaweed soup to help replenish my depleted body. You could say it was an inside and outside repair job. Skincare wise I’ve reintroduced glycolics and retinols. A silk pillowcase helps with all those additional wrinkles I have from lack of sleep!
On mommy fashion choices
I was disappointed with the lack of stylish pregnancy options when it came to the fashion stakes. I found myself living in stretchy outfits in a bigger size instead of maternity wear. I basked in the glory of not having to hold my belly in for once.
On what she’s learned so far
Pregnancy and parenthood have taught me patience. It took us years to finally hold our babies and now the terrible twos tantrums, multiplied by two require some measure of composure. I was also surprised at my resilience in light of utter despair. I persevered even though at times it seemed like having children of our own was the impossible. I just want to hug that girl, tell her we made it and that she’s stronger than she thinks.
On words of advice for women trying to conceive, expecting and new mums
Set realistic expectations on the pregnancy timeline. They say it takes a healthy couple around a year to conceive. I wish I wasn’t so impatient on this front. There’s a lot of talk on gut instinct but what about your uterus instinct? Listen to that inner voice – if you feel like something isn’t right, seek a professional opinion or even a few. Had I received my Endometriosis diagnosis sooner, I potentially would have had more choices with my reproductive health.
New mums? Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can in the circumstances you’re in. I’m rooting for you.