Pregnancy simply doesn’t suit me. My first, who’s now four, was a rough pregnancy. I was sick for about 7 of my 9 months. It was manageable but unpleasant. The twins were my second pregnancy, and it was horrible.
I was in and out of hospital a couple of times with hyperemesis gravidarum. I had a ‘mild case’ of HG but it was still debilitating. So much so that I could barely get out of bed some days. Throughout my pregnancy I felt like I was being a terrible mother to my then-three year old. He would get home from childcare and the best I could manage was to ask him to climb into my bed and he’d watch episodes of Bluey while I lay next to him, exhausted and nauseous.
I wasn’t doing normal things like eating dinner with my family because I could barely eat and couldn’t tolerate the smells. And countless times my toddler would wander into the bathroom, as toddlers do, only for me to be yelling to my husband to “get him out” because he’d be equal parts terrified and confused if he saw me vomiting so violently.
I did not enjoy being pregnant.
I wasn’t “glowing”. In fact I was barely functioning.
I was however lucky enough to be working from home during my pregnancy. It is genuinely the only way I could have continued working for as long as I did. Every single day I would take a nap at lunchtime; and I was working in pyjamas, but let’s face it, so were many non-pregnant people during the pandemic!
Finding out we were pregnant with twins
At my first obstetrician appointment at around six weeks, ironically, I asked my lovely doctor “How many are there? Just one?” He responded with “yes, I can only see one.” Funny that! I’d go as far as saying twins was one of my worst fears with pregnancy. There’s no reason I should have to fear twins- they don’t run in my family, I wasn’t having fertility treatment. I was of ‘advanced maternal age’ (lol) so I guess that’s a risk factor but nothing else suggested twins were ever going to be in my life. Until they were!
At eight weeks we had a more high-tech scan.
“Do you know there’s two in there?” were the sonographer’s words. She said it in such an un-celebratory way. Ah, no, we DO NOT know there’s two in there!
I’ve since been told that upon learning of a multiple pregnancy, most parents either laugh or cry. I was the latter. I can honestly say it took 7 ½ months of my 8-month pregnancy before I became comfortable with the thought that I was going to be birthing two babies. We already had a toddler, and three kids was never part of the equation. We wanted one more baby to complete our nuclear family. But here we were, pregnant with twins. I kept being told to “just embrace it”- which was firmly followed by a mental “f*** off” in my mind and a fake smile on my face.
Finding out we were pregnant with identical twins
First we learnt it was twins. Then we then learnt a new acronym- MCDA – meaning they were identical, so, needless to say, the same sex. We didn’t find out what sex we were having with our first but with the twins, we were done with surprises!
We got a gender reveal balloon. Not to have a party or make a fuss, but just for hubby, toddler and I, and because hubby likes a bit of theatrics. Toddler said he wanted “a sister” (dude, you’ll be getting two of whatever it is!); Hubby wanted girls, so he’d have (at least) one of each; and I was leaning towards wanting boys. I think I felt comfortable as a boy mum; I kind of knew what I was doing as a boy mum. I’m also a minimalist. For three and a half years I’d managed to keep our toddler’s things to a minimum, and he was happy rotating between what was in storage and what was out to play with. If we had girls, my genuine thought was “how much extra crap does that mean we’ll end up with in the house?”
We popped the balloon. Pink.
My first though, a very sarcastic ‘great’, more stuff in the house!
At a time when I hadn’t yet ‘embraced’ the whole twin thing, I now also had to come to terms with the fact that it was girls. Everyone else was over the moon for us when we told them about our girls and I just continued to put on a brave face. I began to understand the concept of gender disappointment. Strange, I guess, when most people seem to experience gender disappointment when they get all boys or all girls. I just wanted what we already had.
Being pregnant with identical twins
The pregnancy continued and we didn’t face any of the complications that are common in MCDA pregnancies. No TTTS or other acronyms were thrown our way. Throughout the pregnancy however, I kind of expected something would go wrong and that we’d lose a baby. I didn’t share this thought with anyone, not my obstetrician or even my husband. But I think part of not ‘embracing’ the whole twin thing sat alongside my thought that for whatever reason, I’d only be bringing one home. Spoiler, I now have two amazing, healthy girls who I completely adore.
Embracing a twin pregnancy just in time
I came to terms with the whole twin pregnancy in just the nick of time- about a week before they were born! I walked into my weekly obstetrician appointment and said to him that I was ready for these babies. I’d gone from telling him at the start of the pregnancy that I can’t do it- “I can’t carry two babies, I can’t birth two babies, I can’t raise two babies”. Then one day, it changed. There wasn’t any lightbulb moment that ‘clicked’ for me, I just accepted that this is the path that’s been chosen for me, and I can do it. I was already doing it.
Their birth went well, albeit by emergency caesarean a little earlier than planned due to reduce fetal movement. The girls went straight to Special Care Nursery and stayed there for about five days, which gave me time to recover, mentally and physically. I wasn’t breastfeeding and for me that was one of the best decisions I made. With my son, I had low milk supply and went through hell trying to feed him. I decided early in the twin’s pregnancy that they’d be formula fed from day one, and I was supported in this decision by everyone around me, including the midwives who I had feared would be pushing for breast.
Holding them both in my arms for the first time was terrifying. They were so little. There were TWO OF THEM! I was still a little drugged up from the Caesar so that first real cuddle in SCN was short and scary. I was however amazed at these tiny humans that I’d grown, and who’d chosen us to be their parents. They were pretty special, and I’d finally ‘embraced’ being a twin mum, and a mum of girls.
Three month old identical twins
Three months in, I love my girls. They’ve been great babies and all the newborn twin stuff I feared before their arrival hasn’t actually come to light. I still wish I had extra hands to feed them but otherwise it’s been manageable. Often my biggest struggle is simply biting my tongue at strangers who stop me in the street/supermarket/café with their predictable comments. I’m not very diplomatic at the best of times, so a stranger who comments “double trouble- looks like you’ve got your hands full” when I’m sleep deprived is just playing with fire!
Three months in and their little personalities are starting to show through. Twin A will laugh at her sister when Twin B is cracking it and screaming the house down.
Twin B has an uncanny habit of giving us the bird when she’s drinking her bottle. This is not a rare occurrence either- it happens time after time! I wish I had more hands to snap a photo but most of the time she’s moved her hand before I can even reach my phone to take a pic.
I now love holding them both at once. Standing in front of the mirror with them and watching them smile at their reflection, at each other and back at me is amazing. I love seeing how our toddler has taken on his new role as big brother- he melts me heart everyday with how sweet and nurturing he is towards his sisters.
Not everybody moves straight to the ” embracing a twin pregnancy ” stage. And that is OK.
So, really, what’s the point of sharing this story? I guess this is for anyone who’s struggling with the concept of a multiple pregnancy. It might not be smooth sailing. You might feel like rubbish for a lot, or all of your pregnancy. If you’re not one of the lucky ones who’s ‘glowing’ throughout pregnancy, know that you’re not alone. For me, so far at least, raising twins has been much easier than the pregnancy!
You might not be ready to move straight to the ” embracing a twin pregnancy ” stage. And you might have to bite your tongue every time someone tells you to embrace it. Ultimately these comments are well meaning, even if the commenter really should just keep their bloody opinion to themselves! There might not be a lightbulb moment where you turn the corner but hopefully you get there when you need to. My experience with twins has been that they’re pretty cool. They were a big surprise and it’s been a bit of an adjustment but they’re amazing. And you, mumma, are amazing for growing them!
One more lesson for anyone in my position, if you do a gender reveal balloon with your toddler, warn the toddler how loud the bang is going to be; and that there’s going to be crap flying everywhere when it pops. Our poor little guy was traumatized! And also, pop it outside- we’re literally still finding confetti nearly twelve months later!!
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