I’ve been surprised before, like when a student blurted the f-word in class and when my son puked in the dollar store the other day.
But nothing compares with an ultrasound where two wriggling blobs showed up on the monitor.
When I was pregnant with twins, it was hard to believe two babies were growing inside my body, and I certainly wasn’t the only one then or now with multiples on the brain. Twin pregnancies are on the rise, partly because of medical innovations that increase fertility, partly because of the number of women aged 35-plus who are having babies, and partly because—well, who knows why it’s happening for girls like me. Whatever the reason, more and more ladies are ending up with surprises like mine.
So there are some things you should know about women pregnant with twins because, odds are, you’re going to associate with us. Or become one of us.
1. Women pregnant with twins are usually sick. Maybe a more accurate description would be that they experiencing a lying-on-the-couch, puking-bile, aching-all-over malaise. My twin pregnancy made my first two seem like a nine-month vacation to the Bahamas.
Luckily for me, many symptoms subsided after 15 weeks, and things didn’t get real ugly again until I was 31 weeks and big as a house. For some unfortunate ladies, the increased discomfort lasts 38-plus weeks. The reason for this is double the hormones often equals double the yuck.
My sister did the best thing possible: She delivered dinner without being asked and more than once. And no, I didn’t feel like eating much of it, but that didn’t matter; what did matter was that my poor family was being fed something besides frozen burritos and cereal. So if you’re looking to help, dinner it is—and don’t worry about making something the mom can tolerate. Because there probably aren’t many things she can. But her husband and kids will be fed, and she’ll be grateful for that.
2. Women pregnant with twins are experiencing a steep learning curve and loss of control. One of the first things the nurse practitioner told me after discovering I had twins on the way was that I was at high risk—all twin pregnancies are. That meant lots more appointments and lots more ultrasounds and lots more “warning signs” to worry about.
It also means flexible planning was a must. Of course I’d wanted my babies to be as big as possible, but I couldn’t completely control that. Of course I wanted them to be born around 38 weeks, but who knew if I’d go that long (or maybe longer—horrifying thought.). Of course, because I’d nursed in the past, I wanted to nurse this time too, but what if I couldn’t? What if I didn’t produce enough milk to keep them growing? If I did make enough milk, would I be sloshing around like a cow? And of course, I never wanted to drive a minivan. And guess what we bought three months before D-day.
It isn’t easy being flexible, so be patient with twin moms who must go with the flow and deal with things as they come (something that doesn’t change as the twins get older).
Bath photos by Amber Vest Photography. In a bit of a role reversal, my daughter now has the curls, and my son’s hair is buzzed short.
3. Women pregnant with twins might actually be excited to get two babies for the price of one pregnancy. So don’t rain on their parade.
When I was pregnant, I cringed every time a person said, “Twins! My condolences,” or “I’m so sorry.” Please don’t apologize to moms having two babies; that’s basically like saying, “Life as you know it is over.” And it definitely wasn’t and isn’t.
My sons were seven and nearly five when I had my twins, so it had been awhile since I held my own newborn in my arms, and I looked forward to it. And we weren’t able to get pregnant as soon as we wanted. I didn’t have to wait nearly as long as some women, but for as many months as I unsuccessfully tried and prayed and hoped to get pregnant, I worried and wondered why and felt sad.
This not only gave me greater compassion for women who struggle with infertility, but it also made me appreciate the “congratulations, you’ve got twins” news so much more. So don’t feel sorry for twin moms. They’re in for the adventure of their lives—and one of the greatest blessings too. And don’t feel sorry for me because I don’t feel sorry for myself.
Except about the minivan thing. I do kind of feel sorry about that. •
P.S. One more twin post coming up next week!