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. Thanks for all the encouragement you guys! Since writing this I have renewed my intent to cloth diaper and breast feed. I think I just had to throw all my ideas of “perfect mom” out the window and start from scratch. And in the long run, I think “realistic mom who rolls with the punches” will work out much better for me! Congrats to all those also having twins, we’re never given more than we can handle, right?

  2. Congratulations!
    I can totally relate this. I am now 37 weeks pregnant with surprise twins (though my grandmother also had twins) and I was totally shocked when the ultra-sound tech said “There are two!” I couldn’t see the screen and asked my husband no less than three times if she was joking.
    We also had lofty plans to breast-feed only, cloth diaper, etc., no matter how difficult. Now, with less than two weeks until my c-section (breech babies), my changing table is full of “eco-friendly” dispoables, and I bought some bottles and formula just in case. Like you, I definitely will still try to do the things I had wanted to when I thought I was having one, but I’ve become MUCH more flexible 🙂 I would love to hear updates. Good luck!

    P.S.- I am also vegan, and managed to have a vegan pregnancy. Both babies are over 5.5 lbs now, so I think it worked out okay!

  3. I experienced a lot of anxiety in the first trimester and looking back now, I think hormones had something to do with it… not a ‘symptom’ they mention much in the pregnancy lit but I’m sure that cocktail of hormones flooding your system in the first trimester has lots of effects on your emotions, including anxiety! I had equivalent panicky “we need to move to the suburbs!’ thoughts in the first trimester, which all seemed less important/anxiety-inducing once the second trimester hit.

  4. I have a silver lining for you: In my opinion, two toddlers are much easier than one toddler. I have a niece who lives one subdivision away and is 5 weeks older than my son. I am constantly trading my 4 month old for my niece, because without a playmate, my son is clingy and I can’t get anything done. When his cousin is there, they entertain themselves for hours, and it has been like that since they were about 13 months old. My husband has twin 15 year old sisters and a baby sister who is a year old, and my mother in law agrees that once the first year passed the twins were much easier to care for than the singleton baby. Good luck to you!

  5. My older brothers are twins, and while of course they were a little rambunctious (they used to bite each other – hard), my mom somehow managed, even though my sister was ~1.5 at the time they were born, and there was no family within a 3 hour drive (although I think my grandma helped out for maybe the first 3 weeks or so)

    And I know there have been a lot of comments to this, but I know my mother breastfed my brothers. It can be done, if the circumstances are right.

    And child leashes aren’t a bad thing! I know my brothers had them, and they make them so so cute now of days! http://images.sodahead.com/polls/001692425/8690217_child_leash_01_xlarge.jpeg

  6. Here are a few pieces of advice from a mom of 15 Month-Old Twins:
    -It’s okay to be shocked, let yourself be entitled to the mixed feelings
    -For me, in the end, having twins was not AS BAD as the books and other people made me fear it would be
    -Having said that, it’s really hard, and it’s important to remind yourself that, and give yourself credit ALL THE TIME, even for the pregnancy
    -I’m not vegan but extremely health eater – I was ravenous during my pregnancy and four months could not eat vegetables without gagging – this was like having my limbs cut off, I was lost. I was so horrified about what my kids were consuming. I tried to eat the healthiest things that were appealing. I STRONGLY ADVISE you to eat a lot and gain a lot of weight. My children are EXTREMELY healthy – 15 months, never been sick. They were born 33 1/2 weeks, and were almost 5 pounds. I attribute this to gaining 65 pounds and giving them lots of nutrition. I think it’s more important to eat a lot than deny yourself unhealthy food. I’m also saying this knowing that you’re not going to go totally to an extreme and eat 20 big macs or something
    -Start now rallying your support system. I think what makes the difference between manageable and totally insane with twins is how much help you have. I really do not believe one parent alone with twins the majority of the time is acceptable. IF YOU CAN hire a doula for the first few weeks, have people come over in shifts, hire a night nurse a few nights a week, and then later one, if you can, set up as much childcare as possible, even if you/your partner are home. When you are alone with twins you can totally manage it, but you will feel like all you are doing is labor. It’s hard to connect with them. I feel like I can connect with them more when someone else is there to give the other one attention.
    -You don’t have to give up your vision of your pregnancy and mothering completely, but you will have to make adjustments. I found my mental health was way better when I was able to let things go. For me, I could tell my OB (and any OB I could find) was not going to be comfortable with vaginal birth and were likely to do a c-section after the first baby anyway. I decided for sanity that rather than make this a major battle, I was just going to schedule the C-Section. In other areas, I was not so flexible. I put myself through 4 months of pure, undeniable hell, as well as my family, because I was insistent on breastfeeding my twins. As I said they are very healthy, but I have to say looking back, I would have been a better mother to them at that time if I had thrown in the towel sooner. It just wasn’t worthit.
    -Having said that, I know lots of twin moms, I know moms who’s had vaginal births, who’ve breastfed successfully over a year, who cloth diaper. It is all about your priorities and a cost-benefit analysis.
    -The crucial, crucial thing is GO EASY ON YOURSELF. Getting through the day with an infant is good enough, and with twins, it’s masterful. Let go of a standard of perfection. I am still working on this! Best of luck to you!

    • I’m pregnant with twins. I’m currently 11.5 weeks and I have 2 other children. I was wondering why you would need to have a c-section after the first baby was born. Was there a complication, or do most of the doctors you know immediately say you need a c-section if you have twins? I have had 2 vaginal deliveries and I’m terrified of a c-section, especially with twins. I haven’t discussed delivery method with my doctor yet, I was just assuming that they would be born vaginally since I hadn’t had any problems before.

  7. Like others, the best thing about having twins was that it lowered my expectations, like WAY low. While other singleton mums I know are obsessing about routines and sleeping through the night etc, it’s a good day for us if our babies are (mostly) happy and we all get through the day!
    I’d like to encourage you not to through your parenting ideals out the window just because it’s twins though. Give it all a try and see if it works. No harm done as long as you’re prepared to admit if it’s not working for you and your family. For example, breastfeeding was hugely important to me. After 3 months of hard slog, eating like a pro football player, and a lot of help and support from lactation consultants, I nailed it and managed to breastfeed my twins exclusively for the next 3 months. At 6 months though, it seemed like they needed more than I could provide, so we now supplement with formula in the evenings. Now I pump while I’m back at work 3 days a week, breastfeed them when I’m home and supplement with formula at night. When the twins were born, cloth diapers were way beyond what we could have coped with, but at 7 months, we’re now thinking about introducing them in the near future. The beauty of children is that they grow and change. So too does what works and what doesn’t!

  8. I feel the same way! I just found out at 13 weeks that I’m having twins I am so afraid I dont know if I could handle this.

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