Author: Crystal Hunt
Your 20s – a time for discovering who you are, no doubt making some bad decisions, finding your passions and learning new skills. It can be an eye-opening and exciting time in your life, overwhelming on occasion and confusing as well – but I got all that and much more when I spontaneously conceived twins just 3 days after my 20th birthday.
One and done – that was the plan. Have one young, give them the world, and be not even 40 when they’re 18. Seemed simple enough, especially when those two little lines lit up just a month into trying and everything became much more real – it wasn’t just ‘trying’ anymore; we had company, but what’s that old saying – “Two’s company”.
Twin-tuition kicked in
I’d like to say it never crossed my mind – but it did. I was about six weeks along, I had just gotten my positive test about a fortnight ago, and yet I was already feeling the wrath of pregnancy. Am I drama queen or is this how every pregnancy goes? Should I be this tired? Why am I so emotional? Did I weigh that much last week? And why is the left side of my stomach so firm?
I remember making a joke to my partner; “You know, twins run in my family.” I taunted, as I mentioned how quickly my symptoms had set in. “Ha, right.” It became an inside joke for the next three weeks, but eventually for me it became a bit more – I called it my twin-tuition.
Finding out it was twins in your 20s
And fair dinkum, first scan at 9 weeks confirmed exactly what I had been suspecting – twins. The tech said “It looks like two, wow. I’ve never had two before.” Yeah, me neither. She had me go and empty my bladder a tad bit (I took the ultrasound instructions very seriously) and when I returned, she said “Let’s make sure there isn’t a third hiding in there” Excuse me? Save that news for another day.
My partner was waiting in the car – COVID ensures no partners in the room, unfortunately – so I had the job of relaying this information to him. I handed him the scan, with the two babies side by side, labeled Twin A and Twin B. “You have just doubled our costs” was his initial response, followed by saying I had brought a fake scan with me to trick him.
It didn’t feel very real at the beginning – but soon enough I was going to appointments every week, high risk this and blood test that, talk of c-sections and NICUs, massage your perineum (my what?!), eat dates and sleep on your left side, are they identical? Were they planned? How can I get twins? You’re so lucky – you’re so unlucky.
Being pregnant with twins in your 20s
It was a lot, and I often found myself overwhelmed. Publically I appeared very confident, maternal and ready, happy-go-lucky and take it as it comes, but every so often when alone I would have a tiny little panic. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I didn’t want to do it? And most importantly, what if I couldn’t love them both the same? Am I too young?
And all the symptoms certainly didn’t help my mood. Constipation, hemorrhoids, lighting crotch and stretch marks, braxton hicks multiple times a day every single day from 15 weeks, leaking through my uniform at work, an overly full bladder and more gas in just 7 months than the past 19 years of my life combined. Dry retching at every smell and texture, dizziness and fatigue, weight gain, itchy ankles, swelling from head to toe, dry skin, a broken tooth and acid reflux so severe I would wake up choking in the night – not how I pictured my 20th year.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t ready for my pregnancy to end when it did – I had begun maternity leave just 4 days prior, and was hospitalized one afternoon following a blood pressure reading of 159/97. I was a healthy, 20 year old with no prior concerns, especially pertaining to blood pressure, so all these sudden symptoms were unknown to me. But looking back now, there were many indicators that I was unwell and I wish I had reached out sooner.
Giving birth to twins
Upon admission, half an hour after my first reading, I was up to 180/110. Everything happened so quickly – I’d never had an IV in my life, now I had three cannulas in just an hour. Urine tests, CGTs, a blood pressure band squeezing my swollen arm, steroids and blood pressure medications, an awful migraine, and not a single moment alone. Then 2 days later, 24 hours of mag, suffering eclamptic seizures on my own, blood pressure surpassing 230/130, spinal taps, an emergency c-section, nurses milking me like a farmer’s market cow, and my own strange postpartum craving for milk, just glass after glass after glass.
You know – I thought the first time somebody would help me go to the bathroom would be in my 80s, or optimistically, my 90s. Nope, turns out it happened at 20. But hey, these things happen – as did the catheter that remained in place for 36 hours, the wound covering that ripped out all my pubic hair upon removal, the severe ab-separation and permanent numb spot surrounding my c-section scar, and my boobs that most definitely wobble to and fro; remember when they didn’t reach my bottom rib? I sure do.
How I spent my 21st year
The first half of 21 was spent in a 3 hour cycle of burping, pumping, nappy changing, sterilizing and cleaning. Oh, not to mention several bouts of mastitis and hours in the shower massaging out clogs; who knew a vibrator had more than one purpose? The second half saw my return to work thrown into the mix, because I wasn’t already busy enough – put more on my plate, please oh please I’ll eat it all.
But – things fell into place and I made it happen, and while teaching them, they’ve taught me too.
I take my health seriously – I want to be here, and healthy, for my children. I want to be here for as long as I possibly can with them; so whilst I may have previously dismissed my healthy for lack of caring, nowadays I follow up on concerns, I visit my doctor regularly, I get my checkups and I even took the big step of reaching out for help surrounding postpartum depression, and now ensure I take my medication and make time for myself. All of this, to ensure I can provide the best care for my kids; because they can’t be their best, if I can’t be mine.
Raising twins in your 20s
I juggled work and two newborns – Fortunately I live nearby to my workplace and was able to return home every day for my breaks to pump for them. And despite working full-time, my babies were breastfed for 15 months. It was awfully difficult, I won’t lie, but it did teach me some incredible lessons and showed me just how persistent and hard-working I am.
I enjoy cooking so much more now, especially since watching my little ones’ faces light up as they enjoy their home-cooked meal. Cooking is fun, and I love trying new recipes and learning new skills – whereas I didn’t have many hobbies before.
I keep on top of the cleaning and laundry, something that very much went neglected prior to having kids – they’ve taught me to manage my time better, and to value a tidy home. Now that there are two little ones roaming the house, even on my worst days, they motivate me to make it happen because that’s what they deserve.
My body after having twins
I had more problems with my body before having kids than I do now – I was constantly critical of my weight, pedantic if the number jumped just a tad, and I was upset over small stretch marks, acne and body hair. And we all know, our bodies are never the same once we have kids – but thats not a bad thing.
I love my body now; this body created life, two of them.. at once! It was creases and crinkles, acne and scars, weird little bumps and loose skin, and a linea that is still so faint after nearly 2 years – feels like I should name it, but I might get overly attached; and my belly button, it’s not so much a button anymore, but we won’t get into that.
But you see, all these marks, they’re very special to me. If I woke up tomorrow and they were all gone, I would be heartbroken. And there has definitely been a lesson in self-appreciation learnt through these new additions to my body. A lesson I don’t think I would have learnt without them. I spend more time outside, I feel more alive and energetic – we go to the playground, and on walks through the park – we have picnics, pluck flowers and pick up bugs – we feel the sun on our skin and the rain on our toes.
Two IS company, and it’s the best company. No better fun is had than when I am with them. And they make me feel young, like a kid almost, and I love that I can get my hands dirty with them and join in as opposed to watching from the sidelines. I won’t eat a leaf though, that’s just for them.
What having twins in your 20s has taught me
Another lesson that having twins in your 20s has taught me is to care less about what others think. We go out and eat ice-cream in public, they get it everywhere, from chin to toe and all inbetween. They’re loud and proud, they walk up to other parents at the playground and start blabbering, they run around mad and chase the ducks, they jump in water and get oh so messy, and I don’t care. They’re having fun, we’re having fun, and no passerby’s judgment or side glare will stop us from having the time of our lives.
Plus, it’s awfully healing to my inner child to be able to give them the kind of childhood that I wish I had – filled with exploration, and the freedom to make messes, fall over, play and make friends, touch this and chew that. I learnt to not hover over them, but rather watch with a keen eye and allow them to learn through their own experiences.
But most importantly
And most importantly, they proved me wrong. The reason I was settled on one and done was because I was certain I could never love two children the same, that I’d always somehow favourite one; and if you have ever felt the same, just know it’s very valid and normal. Still though, I now know that I am more than capable of equal love. They both mean the entire world to me, not only as individuals but also together.
I never imagined my early 20s looking like this, but I also don’t know what better way I could be spending these years. Even through doubt and panic, I absolutely wouldn’t change a thing; what a blessing to create a family, and to have the privilege to grow and learn alongside these two little people, and to share my life with them. And nowadays, I couldn’t imagine being nearly as happy and enriched as I am now, if I hadn’t had my twins.
Twinfo is Australia’s largest, most supportive, online community for parents of twins and triplets. Twinfo offers advice, products and services that make raising your babies easier, freeing you up to enjoy all the precious moments.