Holy moly, I’m pregnant with twins

Guest post by Sarah Tombler
SURPRISE! Photo by Illjustbmethank, used under Creative Commons license.

“…and here we have another baby,” said the ultra-sound technician in a way-too-calm voice.
“No.” I said.
“Yep — twins,” she said, and continued, measuring length and heart beats, while pure panic enveloped my brain and I searched the room for some sign that I was dreaming. You know like if the ultra-sound tech suddenly handed me a math test that I hadn’t studied for. That would’ve been awesome.

And so began my “real” pregnancy (as opposed to the pretend one I had been living in for eight weeks before — thinking I would just have one baby to care for).

My husband and I had decided to “give it a shot” back in December, figuring it would take a few tries anyway. I found out I was pregnant on December 18th.

A bit shocked it had happened so fast, I spent much of Christmas in a daze, taking inventory on how my life was about to change. I pored over birth stories, settled on a midwife, and started contemplating a home birth. And then the sickness hit. This was nothing I was prepared for. Life as I knew it stopped. I couldn’t eat my regular stock of healthy foods; my stomach flip-flopped at the thought of wild rice, or roasted squash or steamed kale. Just turning on the stove seemed beyond my scope.

For the first time since I had learned about the benefits of a vegan diet, I suddenly had cravings for grilled cheese, Kraft Dinner, French fries and chips. I had an insatiable sweet tooth which fruit was not satisfying. I was spiraling into self-loathing for the way I was eating, worry of the damage I was doing, and disbelief that I could feel so terrible. At my first midwife’s appointment, she recommended that I have an ultrasound done to date the pregnancy. Since I was considering a home birth, she wanted to be as accurate as possible with the dates. And off I went.

Here’s something you should know: when I was 16 my mother had twins. My little sisters were wild, mischievous children, who ran my mother ragged. We all (five girls in total, a dog, a few cats, my mom and step-dad) were living in a townhouse with a tiny backyard. Things were cramped, things were stressed. And by the time my rambunctious twin sisters arrived, my mom was… tired.

I remember that time with a certain level of anxiety. I was 16, trying to be independent and “grown up” and helping to care for these little girls was cramping my teenaged style. I remember feeling resentment and obligation towards my little sisters, at the same time loving them and wanting to care for and protect them. My strongest memory of my little sisters was when I was out walking with them one day when they were about two. Suddenly one took off in the direction of the river and one took off in the direction of the road, both laughing and looking behind to see who I was chasing (I ended up going road first, I figured if the other one went into the water she had a few minutes before she went under, but a car would take her sister out instantly). I used to say I wouldn’t wish twins on anyone.

Fast forward to the discovery going on in the ultra-sound room, and suddenly all those feelings came flooding back. I immediately forgot about my fear of child-birth or my extensive plans for a calm and natural birth. All that I could think about now was I can’t do this — twins are hard work!

After my mom and my friends talked me down from the ledge with many offers to help and promises that it would all be okay, my anxiety found a new outlet. We needed to move. We needed a bigger house. We needed to move to the suburbs. I started searching the real estate web sites, dragging my husband out to open houses, saying things like, “Do you think the basement is finished? We’ll need a finished basement. I’m not sure if that back yard looks big enough. How far away are the schools?”

Yesterday, I woke up feeling… better. I’m approaching the 14th week, and I guess it is true; the nausea does slowly start to go away. I made a healthy dinner and I was chipper and awake in the evening. While watching TV last night, it dawned on me that I’ve been acting crazy. I don’t WANT to move to the suburbs. I’m basing this need on two babies I haven’t even met yet, who can’t even walk around a basement or a back yard. I realized that the anxiety I have about twins is the anxiety my mother had felt, raising her five kids in a small townhouse. But that isn’t MY situation. In fact, I still don’t know what my situation is, or what these babies will need.

Up until three weeks ago, I felt completely in control of my life. Seeing those two little bodies swimming around in my uterus changed EVERYTHING. I am not in control. Out went my home birth, out went my dreams of breast feeding, cloth diapering and baby wearing (of course, I’ll attempt all that, but I’m not going to set myself up for heart-ache if it doesn’t work out). But changing my identity — exchanging urban for suburban — is not the answer right now. I don’t think city is better than suburbs, but change does not need to happen overnight. I’m going to love my babies no matter where I live. Isn’t that all they need?

Here’s the part where I find the silver lining: I always knew that having children would help me to continue to grow and to discover who I am. I just didn’t realize it would happen this fast. These two little beans are already testing me, teaching me that I need to find my inner strength, not freak out, and not try to muscle my control back by making unnecessary, life changing decisions.

It might take me the next six months to completely wrap my brain around the fact that I’m going from no one’s mom to a mother of two. But I’m getting there. And the best part? I know where I can find a couple of babysitters who owe me one.

Comments on Holy moly, I’m pregnant with twins

  1. Wow! Good luck! My younger brothers are identical twins and they could be a handful, but they also looked out for each other even when they were tiny, and they still do. They’re best friends and while they’re totally different, they’re totally the same too. Don’t be afraid to lean on your network of friends and family 🙂 Rock on!

  2. I wanted to address your comment “Out went my home birth, out went my dreams of breast feeding, cloth diapering and baby wearing…”

    I, too, had these dreams, and all of them had to be modified in some way. I had an epidural and a c-section, I formula feed more than I breastfeed, cloth diapering is going okay but there are more disposables in my life than I imagined. And it’s all okay. In some ways those things felt more real to me when I was pregnant than the baby did, simply because my mind almost couldn’t conceive of the baby being a real person. Now that my daughter is here and is approaching toddlerhood, I realize that all those things are just ways of approaching the really important part – your kid(s)! Plus, all of these things (with the possible exception of the home birth) are things that can be achieved by degrees. You can be a breastfeeding mother without your kids being 100% breastfed. You can cloth diaper some of the time. It’s kind of freeing, actually.

    It’s good that you realize that letting go of some of these ideas are necessary. Flexibility and the willingness to be “good enough” have really saved my sanity when I fell short of what my ideal parenting experience has been.

    • Also to “Out went my home birth, out went my dreams of breast feeding, cloth diapering and baby wearing…”

      I have 9 month old twin boys. I delivered them naturally without an epidural. I baby wear and so does my husband. I breastfed until almost 8 months. It was difficult, but doable. We tried gDiabers and hated them. We opted for an environmentally friendly disposable options.

      Your dreams are still possible, but will just take some more work. 🙂 Remember, by the time you mother had twins she had other children before. These two will be your only two for awhile, and as such you can dedicate your time to them.

      Stay strong and mothers of multiples unite!

      • I agree – these things can be possible, and I’m not trying to convince anyone not to give them a chance if they are important to your view of how you parent. However, I do think there can be a risk when saying “it just takes more work” that people can end up feeling like if they don’t do things 100%, it’s because they failed to work hard enough. Like I said, it’s all a matter of degrees, and of being “good enough,” rather than striving for perfection.

        • These are all very important comments. I have 15 month old twins. YES you can still breastfeed and do all the things you want with twins. When they come, you will decide what’s worth-it and what’s not. I made some mistakes because I didn’t know when say “it’s okay that I can’t do this.” The breastfeeding was incredibly hard FOR ME, and I should have stopped sooner. I was more focused on the constant problems with my breasts than my kids. But I really do agree with what Laura is saying here. Some things are harder with twins. Some things don’t work well with one baby for whatever reason. You need a plan, but you also need the flexibility to abandon that plan and still feel like a good mother. THAT is hard.

  3. I had twins (Girl/Boy) 7 and half months ago. And I also had the holy crap twin panic. We had always planned on having an only child, and here we are with twins. Now that we’re approaching 8 months in I wouldn’t change a thing. I managed to pump breast milk and supplement with formula for over 5 and 1/2 months and am proud that I managed to give them all of the health benefits that I could manage. I think we went in expecting things to be so bad that they couldn’t have possibly met our negative expectations. Both babies sleep through the night 90-95% of the time now. There are tough days, but that’s the way with every child. Just remember that you and your husband are on the same team and support one another. Good Luck! You’ll do fabulous!

      • Right now they’re in the same room. For the first 3 months they were in the same crib, until they started to roll around more. Surprisingly they don’t impact each other’s sleep at all. They’ll share a room for a while, basically until they are old enough to need their own space beyond a shared room or until one of them asks for their own room. I talked to a lot of other twins and most people got their own room some time between 7 and 11 years old. A mom of twins recently told me about giving her twin boys their own rooms at 6 and they kept on sneaking back into the same room at night, she’d find them asleep together anyway. They’re 8 months next week and have just REALLY discovered each other. It’s so great to watch them play and laugh together.

      • I’m a fraternal twin, with a brother, and I just thought I’d chime in here. My brother and I also have an older sister, who’s a year and a half older then us. My brother and I shared a room till we were about 7. It was never a question that the twins would share, even though a lot of people told my mom it would be better if the girls shared. It wasn’t until I was 8/9 and starting puberty that my mom decided that me and my sister should share a room. Except my sister was a bully towards me and my life became instantly awful. My mom had to chose between having her girl/boy twins share a room or her youngest be traumatized (my sister really was that bad.) My brother and i moved back in together for two more years before I finally got my own room. I was 10 when I got my own room in the basement. My mom got a lot of flack for having us share a room, but when we were little it didn’t really matter, and when we were starting to get to the age it did it was a better situation for us to room together. We had bunk beds, separate dressers, and there was a curtain on each bed so we had our privacy.
        This is a random comment, but I thought I’d share it lol.

  4. This could have been me. With twins on both sides of the family I just about had a heart attack when the midwife heart the heartbeat with a doppler at 9 weeks (really early… unless its twins). I was measuring big, my morning sickness was NOT manageable. The midwife asked me to go for an ultrasound to figure out if there were “one or two in there”
    The day of the ultrasound the most beautiful words I ever heard were uttered “There is definitely only one in there” one big, very active baby.
    You are awesome and amazing for facing twins with such bravery. I would have probably cried for a month 🙂

    • THIS WAS ME! 😀 I heard the heartbeat at home at 9 weeks, have twins on 3 out of 4 grandparents sides and was so big by 10 weeks that a friend of a friend, who happens ot be an OB/GYN, offered a free u/s at his clinic just so we could find out 2 weeks before our official first ultrasound… Because he was sure there was more than one in there!

      I was relieved when they said one, but also a bit sad. I would have loved twins, but maybe for my second pregnancy.

      Oh now I’m 14 weeks and people think I’m 5 months pregnant even though I haven’t gained a lb. My belly is HUGE!

  5. Mazel tov! I was terrified at the possibility of twins with my second pregnancy (they were on both sides of the family). It would have meant major housing and car crises and no possibility of me going back to work for a long time! But I’m sure if it had happened, I’d have found a way to love it anyway,.

  6. great post and I totally relate – I’m a mom of 1 year old twins. I remember my “oh shit” moment when the ultra sound tech said, “so do twins run in your family or is this an IVF pregnancy?” and I spent 5.5 months freaking out about our small home in the city.

    You can totally do it. We opted to stay in our super tiny urban apartment, breastfeed (well, breast pump), cloth diaper (mostly cloth diaper) and baby wear (two babies in 1 wrap starts a lof of conversations). And if you need to change your plans then well, plans are meant to change.

    I’d love to read a follow up post after the babies come (or even a few follow up posts)

  7. I have 18 month old twin boys! i too found out very early at 7 weeks, and went through the same shock. They were my first pregnancy and my husband and i figured we would have an only child and that would be it haha then BAM twins! dont worry yourself too much! as soon as they are born you will immediatly adjust to taking care of the two of them as if it is the norm!having twins is definatly challenging especially in those first few weeks, but they are the best thing that has ever happened to me! my only advice is to sleep lots when you’re pregnant!!, and don’t beat yourself up when you’re having a crazy day with the kids, i did that a lot in the beginning because it was very difficult dealing with two screaming babies, and we had trouble breastfeeding and i just felt like a failure at times which now i know is NOT true. i had to realize that wether it was formula or breast milk or “whatever” i was doing my best and thats what made my babies happy! good luck to you!

  8. My boy/girl twins will be 17 mo on 4/1. My pregnancy was unplanned, we were getting married just weeks after we found we were expecting. When we found out it was twins, it was April Fools Day. At our 18 wk ultrasound, we found out my daughter had congenital heart defects. Three days after an emergency c-section due to pre-eclampsia, our daughter was flown to another state to be listed for heart transplant. At 5 wks old, she received a new heart. Today, she is doing well and she and her brother are the best thing that ever happened to me. I just wanted to share my story and let other twin mamas to be know that yes, it is incredibly scary and hard to have twins, but it is incredibly amazing! It’s twice the work, but double the love and fun 🙂

  9. I’m writing this as I nurse one of my 3month old twin boys! I gave up the pumping for supply when they were 2 weeks, and I haven’t had to supplement them since then either, so don’t count yourself out yet. It’s HARD (almost had a breakdown just last night) but it’s all so worth it. I was lucky enough to deliver them both vaginally (albeit in an OR w/ a “just in case” epidural), and recovery was a breeze. I was scared to death, too, but it’s totally manageable. Good luck!

  10. Heh, I just really love the tagline. My little sister moved in with us around the same time my baby was born. I definitely feel the return on my babysitting investment. Do not be afraid to utilize those family connections, even if its for them just to swing by and hold the babes for 20 minutes while you vacuum.

  11. You CAN do it! Its better if you just don’t overthink it and roll with the punches when the time comes! We like in a tiny city condo with out twins and youngest. I did cloth diaper (but hubby got drafted to laundering them), breast-feed (who wants to wash bottles for two!? And its easier to tandem breastfeed than bottle, anyway), and baby wear as much as possible. You can do it! Ya just gotta believe it. 🙂

  12. I too thought I was having twins. I, myself, am a twin. They also are on both sides of my hubby’s family. What helped me was that my parents always said that the first 6 months are hard, but once they discover each other it gets way easier. Plus your kids will always have a incredibly special bond, which in my mind makes it all worth while!

  13. I AM one of the twins. ^^ My mom had boy/girl twins in 84 and I’ve heard all the horror stories. Worse yet, my dad was in the Navy (and so gone with training or deployed or whatever half the time) and then my mom got pregnant again and had my sister 18 months after us. It was hard- but she managed. She had a great support system in my grandma and aunts, and a lot of experience helping raise her sisters (who were quite a bit younger than her- I know she said she used to have to babysit them a lot).

    My brother and I both turned out great. Not ‘normal’ by any means, but we’re both healthy living adults without any major accidents, or anything crazy that wouldn’t come with any single kid being raised by any parent. ^^

    You can do this! (PS: my life would’ve about ended if my current pregnancy was twins- we definitely only wanted one more! So I can totally feel you on that.)

    ETA: My brother and I were cloth diapered (though mom had a washing service) as was my sister. We weren’t breastfed, but we were also babyworn to some degree (my mom lived in an apartment when we were really tiny, and she said it helped her out BIG TIME with going up and downstairs by herself.)

  14. I’m 11 weeks pregnant with twins! I was in fertility treatments and knew there was a risk, but was still pretty shocked at the ultrasound. We also did the omg-should-we-move-to-the-suburbs freak out, but it actually would cost us more in the long run, and anyway we are not ready for the suburbs. However, we do have to move, our 450 square foot apartment is not big enough for four people and two cats! Good luck getting ready for the babies!!!

  15. I am a mom who also had a “oh SHIT” it’s twins moment, especially because when they were going to be born my first child would only be 16 months old. So when I brought my B/G twins home I was the SAHM of 3 kids under the age of 18 months, I had 3 babies in my house. I panicked! Breast feeding went out the window almost immediately as my little guy had bad reflux and wasn’t gaining and yes we had to buy a new car, and yes we got the minivan. But we live in a small house, at the time we were renovating and we only had two bedrooms. Our eldest slept with one of us and the twins slept in their room in a big bed with the other one of us, we are believers in co-sleeping, and it would have been alright in one bed with 2 kids, but the third made us have to come-up with new ideas. Its been crazy and hectic, and wonderful and amazing. They are now 25 months and 3 years old and everyday brings tears and laughter and I wouldn’t ever trade any of it!

  16. Going anonymous for this post, for privacy reasons (I have family reading this site)…

    I found out I was pregnant roughly 2½ to 3 weeks after conception, and immediately thought it was strange that I figured it out so fast. I chalked it up to me simply “knowing my body”, and began to discuss my options with my boyfriend. We knew we were not ready to be parents at this point in time, so I scheduled a doctor’s appt. for 4 weeks later to have an abortion.

    I showed up for my appt. that day, and they performed an ultrasound on me to figure out how far along I was, & then decide on the course of action. Imagine my surprise when they tell me that I am 8 weeks & 4 days pregnant… with twins! The shock that went through my body absolutely shook me to my core. Part of me was glad that I had already made up my mind so steadfastly about getting the abortion (because if I wasn’t ready for one baby, two babies was certainly not going to make the situation any better…), because I was so shocked that I almost walked out of there on the spot. I ended up regaining my composure, calling the Boyfriend to alert him of the change in circumstances & confirm that his thoughts/feelings hadn’t changed, and then went ahead with it.

    But I will never forget that shock I felt knowing I was not harboring one little sea monkey, but two. I never thought it could happen to me. There are no twins on my boyfriend’s side, and the last twins in my family were over SEVEN generations ago!

    Props to you, Sarah, for being able to take a shock that hard and come out on the other side still standing & smiling. You are going to be an amazing mom if you can roll with all of the punches like that. 🙂

    • totally not trying to derail the thread or sound condescending here; but why are you posting about your abortion on a mother/parenting website? that seems a bit out of place in this discussion. the op is a to-be mom who is keeping her twins and having them. why post about aborting twins? it’s technically off topic.

      • We’re no strangers to discussions about abortion here, and Offbeat Mama is for anyone interested in families — not just parents. While this post is about a woman who chose to continue with her pregnancy, I feel like this comment still holds water since the comment author is talking about the shock she experienced when finding out she was carrying twins.

      • Same Anonymous, here. I wanted to take a moment to reply to Polly, if that is okay, Stephanie. I don’t want to derail the thread, either.

        a) I feel that the shock of realizing you are pregnant with twins carries within the frame of topic that was brought up here, since I too have experienced it, even if my pregnancy didn’t come to term.

        b) Assuming that I only peruse this website to discuss my (one) abortion? I am also a stepmother to a beautiful 3 year old boy, who was a major part of why my boyfriend and I decided to abort said pregnancy, so my boyfriend & I could have more time to focus on our relationship with his only child before bringing more children into our family. I am also an aunt to six nephews & nieces, a godmother of two, and worked as a nanny for two years. Not to mention the fact that Offbeat Mama is, like Stephanie said, not just for parents – people can be interested in family life without being parents.

        Stepping off my soap box now, sorry Stephanie! 🙂

    • I’m glad you posted about this experience- regardless of what choice is made this is something that pregnant women do think about and consider, and i think its relevant. Also, many women who have children have also had abortions and that’s ok.

  17. Congratulations! I just found out a week ago that I’m pregnant with twins (just over 7 weeks) and it’s so surreal. It makes sense why the sickness is soooo bad though!! I have a 3 year old son and was pretty sick during my pregnancy with him, but this seems really exaggerated, and the tiredness is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.

    We hadn’t planned on having 3 kids, but I’m already in love with these little twins (and at the same time totally overwhelmed!) It will be an adventure, that’s for sure!

  18. Welcome to the club! I have 14 month old twins and found out at 20 weeks. It’s hard, but it’s pretty great, too. Get in touch with your local chapter of Mothers of Multiples. Remember that everyone’s experience is different, because everyone will share their horror stories. And repeat the mantra “it gets better” over and over and over and over… 🙂

  19. as a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby-wearing mother of birthed-on-the-side-of-the-road surprise twins (and their 2 year old brother), i’m here to tell ya, you CAN do it! mamas of multiples are so incredibly lucky… you’ll see.

  20. Congratulations! I found out I was pregnant with twins at 20 weeks and it was a holy shit, this is crazy moment. We thought we would only ever have one and suddenly we were expecting two. Definitely find the support of your local twin group and connect with other twin moms. That has saved my butt so many times. Just having people to commiserate with and to ask things like how did you feed two at once, how did you do this other thing, etc.? I’m 4 months in now and it does get easier.

    My twins are 100% breastfed without the need for extra pumping to keep up my supply. It’s definitely possible – hard work and was quite a workout for my sore boobs in the beginning but it’s going really smoothly now.

    Some moms in my twin group do wear both babies. I haven’t mastered that yet but I do wear one at a time.

    And plenty of them cloth diaper twins although some only started at 4-6 months when there is less changes per day and less poop.

    Good luck and best wishes for your two babies and you!

  21. Congratulations on your twins and your healthy mindset. As a mamma of 18 month old twins I can relate, but can’t imagine what it would be like to know – really know – what you are in for in advance. You really can’t do anything to prepare for life with infant twins, other than line up some hopefully live in help (even the most annoying mother in law will do), so do yourself a favor and soak in the R&R for the next few months. Go on vacation. Sleep in AND take a nap. Do some shopping. Switch to part-time or quit your job early. Eat whatever you can stomach, even if it is full of simple carbs and sugar. I had healthy twins at 39 week despite lots and lots of gummi bears and goldfish crackers.

    And try your best to keep doing what you already seem to be doing brilliantly – talking yourself off the cliff. There is some quote about how waiting is the work of pregnancy that I think is spot on. The trick is allowing yourself to just be in the waiting instead of doing something about it.

    I think it’s interesting to see in the comments how parents of both singletons and twins had to modify their expectations of how they would parent. True, whenever someone asks how we manage with twins I answer “dramatically lower your expectations,” the truth is we do manage to do most all the things that are important to us. I just have easy excuse for opting out of the many many things that are not important to me such as creating cute outfits, brushing hair, and following closely as they climb the jungle gym. An unexpected gift of twins has been permission to be the kind of parents we really want to be, instead of the parents we think we should be.

  22. It will be okay!

    There’s a huge twin history in my family on both sides, but most significantly, my great-grandmother had two sets of twins.. and one of those twins was my grandmother, who had twins herself! My mother admitted that it was her biggest fear when she got pregnant.

    Anyway! It’s my fear too. Taking the plunge into babyville is still a few years away for me, but I have to admit to obsessively reading blogs by mothers of twins – seeing how they do things, how they manage. It’s kind of encouraging to see that they survive and even thrive – it makes me feel like I can do it too, and if I happened to have twins, it wouldn’t be quite the end of my world I thought it would!

    And then there is always being totally masochistic and watching those baby shows about super multiples.. like Raising Sextuplets and Quints by Surprise. Totally cringe-worthy television, but at least it makes twins or a singleton seem like a piece of cake in comparison. 🙂

  23. I’m the girl part of boy/girl twins. I was born in 77 and my mom didn’t even know she was having two. The doctor told her to be prepared for a 10lb baby and when my brother came out at only 5 pounds, they knew there was another one in there;-) She delivered vaginally without any problems.

    On a positive note, at least now we know before the actual birth and can be prepared for it. Good luck!

    Twins are pretty awesome. I see the u/s pic on the article is of identical twins. Do you know if yours are fraternal or identical? Boy/girl twins kind of rock.

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