When mom finds out she is having twins, it can be quite a shock. Though magical little miracles who add double the excitement to life, twins mean parenting two children through the same ages and stages of life at the same time, and it's a challenge. That’s why twin moms often bond; they know the struggles unique to their situation.
That’s also why it can be difficult when parents of Irish twins tell twin moms they have it just as hard, if not harder, raising two kids who are close in age. Irish twins are defined as children who are born within a 12 month period. If mom becomes pregnant soon after delivering a child and her next one will arrive before or around the time her oldest is one, she will have Irish twins.
While there are absolutely challenges when mom has two kids who are so close in age, twin moms usually agree that it is not the same situation as having actual twins, fraternal or identical, who were born at the same time. From the increased complications during pregnancy and delivery to the issues that arise due to twin-specific difficulties, parenting twins is a one-of-a-kind journey that parents who haven’t experienced it may not be able to understand.
Parenting is not a competition, thank goodness, and most of the time when moms say they know exactly how another mom feels they are simply trying to offer empathy and support. However, for a twin mom crawling through the trenches, hearing a mom with Irish twins say she has it harder or at least as hard can be defeating and infuriating.
15 Twin Pregnancy And Delivery Carries Increased Risks
Before mom even meets her sweet fraternal or identical twins, she has to survive the pregnancy, and so do the babies. Though there are definitely risks for women who have Irish twins due to how close the pregnancies occur, the threats to the baby and the mom during an Irish twin pregnancy come nowhere close to the threats of a twin pregnancy.
Twin pregnancies are at higher risk of ending in preterm labor and offering babies who weigh less than they need to. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a condition where a child is measuring too small in the womb, is also a problem, and it can affect one or both twins. Mom is at increased risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and she is more likely to have a C-section when carrying twins.
The risk of twins dying either in the womb or during the first year of life is increased, and for identical twins, the risks are even more complicated. Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) can cause one twin to receive more blood than the other, resulting in the death of both babies before birth.
Once twins arrive, it’s likely they will spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and even when mom takes her babies home, twins are 50% more likely to die from SIDS.
14 The Toll On Marriage Is Real
In a study conducted in the United Kingdom, researchers found that married parents of twins were almost 20% more likely to divorce than parents of children who had been spaced out at all. Some studies have even found that parents of twins are twice as likely to split. Those are staggering and sad figures since a partner is what mom needs most while taking care of more than one child.
Money is thought to be part of the problem since it's a big factor in most divorces. Due to the expense of having two children, money problems lead to fights, and it’s likely that a household that previously brought in two incomes will now only be able to have one person work. The cost of putting twins in daycare is so staggering that one parent is usually required to stay home.
The stress of having twins isn’t easy on a marriage, even without money problems. Near constant sleep deprivation and a somewhat longer recovery period from birth means that mom and dad may not have intimate time for quite a while. When everyone is tired and feeling adrift from their spouse, partners may see a side of their husband or wife that they haven’t before, and some marriages can’t survive.
13 Twins Are Double The Dollars
Having a child is expensive no matter what. However, carrying, delivering, and then raising twins is a double dose of everything money-wise. Twin pregnancies are usually considered high risk, so that means more appointments, many times with an additional high risk doctor. The delivery is double because two babies are being born, then mom and dad foot the bill for double the formula, diapers, and wipes. Don’t even get twin moms started on what it costs to cover the expenses for twins who are sick at the same time.
Daycare is also an issue. For moms who have to put their children in daycare, paying for two children who are the same age is a huge cost. As children grow older, the cost for daycare usually goes down, so parents of Irish twins will likely pay less for their older child while paying a higher rate for an infant. This isn’t so for twin moms. It’s always expensive, times two.
Many twin moms complain about not being able to buy what they want for their children because they can’t afford two of an item, and unlike with Irish twins, there are no hand-me-downs to help deal with costs. It’s an expensive journey, and we haven’t even started talking about college yet!
12 Help Is Often Difficult To Come By
Twin moms need help, but many report not receiving any. While people in their lives are fascinated by twins and will often gawk and ask questions, many don’t offer help. Plus, helping with twins seems to many people more complicated than helping a mom out with Irish twins.
When children are a year or so apart in age, it’s easy for a grandparent or friend to pick up the oldest child and take them out for special one-on-one time. The oldest experiences the elation of being the biggest who can leave the baby behind for a bit and receive focused attention. With twins, this scenario isn’t possible.
Since twins are the same age, they have the same basic needs, especially in the infant stage. For the helper who wants to take the lowest maintenance child off mom’s hands for a couple of hours, there’s no option. Both babies need diaper changes, constant feedings, and naps. It’s also not easy to separate twins at any stage of life if they aren’t ready. Keeping them apart so mom can take a break from the stress of caring for two kids backfires when mom ends up with a screaming child who can’t be consoled because her twin isn’t around.
11 There's No Older, More Responsible Child
Every mom of children who are different ages has tried it. Mom tells her oldest that they expect a bit more of them because they are the big brother or sister, and the eldest child eventually starts to understand that more responsibility has been placed on their shoulders due to their age. Mom can also offer special incentives, activities the oldest child is able to partake in because they are more advanced in years.
This system has worked for years when parents want to coerce their older children to help out. With twins, it’s not an option. Though twins can be born hours apart, the one born first isn’t emotionally or intellectually more mature enough for it to make much of a difference. There’s no way to encourage one of the twins to act more responsibly based on age. The option of comparing, such as mom saying she expects more of one twin than another, is a bad idea and can lead to life-long problems with a child feeling their parent had a favorite.
10 There's No One-On-One Connection Time
Ask moms of twins what they missed most as parents of multiples and it’s likely they will respond, “one-on-one time.” It’s such a lost experience that many moms struggle for years to come to terms with feeling adequate parenting two kids at the same age and stage of life without feeling like they are shorting both kids of a unique experience.
Moms of Irish twins have months to connect with their first born child. They learn the unique parts of their baby before bringing another child into the picture. Even when their second child is born close behind the first, they still have the opportunity to experience one-on-one time with their infant as their oldest child becomes more self-sufficient.
With twins, mom’s life is all about keeping both babies alive, healthy, and happy from the very first second. Taking care of the needs of two babies, then toddlers, then school-aged kids can leave mom feeling like she spends less time with each child individually and simply tries to meet their needs so they have enough of the necessities. Many moms feel the loss of the one-on-one experience and how it affects their children’s view of them as a parent, and it definitely makes mom feel bad about herself no matter how hard she tries.
9 Leaving The House With Twins Is Risky
It’s not easy to get out of the house with any child under the age of four. The unpredictable moods, potty-training regression, and just overall craziness of having a child at the early development stage makes leaving the house a risk, even on a good day. However, if one child is slightly older than the other, mom usually has the fortune of taking one fit at a time with at least one child happy while she calms the other one. That’s not the case with twins.
Twins feed off of each other’s moods, for better or for worse. When one is upset, the other will often join in just because her sibling is sad. Plus, twins are often the cause of each other’s distress since they fight as much as they play.
It’s also difficult to pack enough diapers, snacks, and extra clothes for outings. When mom finally does make it out the door and to her destination, she may find that chasing or placating both children at one time is too exhausting. That’s why many moms of twins find their first months with twins to be some of the most isolated they’ve ever experienced.
8 Twins Can Encourage Each Other The Wrong Way
It’s true that having a baby when mom already has a young child at home can cause regression in the older child. The eldest may still want to be seen as the baby to receive the same attention, so progress with weaning, potty-training, or any other activity often goes backwards after the arrival of a newborn. However, the situation usually evens out fairly quickly, and the older child regains progress.
With twins, it’s not that simple. Since twins usually hit milestones around the same time, they can either help encourage each other on or hold each other back. Even when certain skills have been learned, like eating with a spoon or using a big kid potty, one twin going through regression can lead the other to regress as well. The same is true of fears. If one twin develops an irrational fear of something, the other twin may become scared of it is as well just because their sibling is.
As any twin mom knows, this is exhausting. Having children cross certain thresholds only to see them go back together is defeating and can change mom’s plans for the immediate future.
7 Sleep Deprivation Is The Worst
Parents joke about sleep deprivation being the worst problem in the world, and it feels that way even with singletons. With Irish twins it can also be extra difficult to get enough rest, but the oldest child is usually sleeping through the night before the second baby is born meaning mom is still only dealing with waking up with one newborn. The true insanity of sleep deprivation comes when mom has to wake up every night to feed not one, but two babies.
Nighttime with twins is like being on a carousel that never stops spinning. While it’s ideal for twins to nurse and have diaper changes at the same time, moms can’t force children to be on the same schedule. Because of this, mom may spend an hour feeding, changing, and calming one twin only to have the other one wake up just as she makes her way back to bed.
6 Twin Jealousy Is Intense
Sibling rivalry happens in most family relationships. Whether the pressure to compare comes from parents or is just an instinct born into siblings, those relationships can be some of the most competitive, riddled with jealousy and envy.
Twins are no exception, and in many instances the jealousy is worse. Sure, siblings born close to each other in age may have certain life experiences that overlap, but they are still usually in different school grades and have separate friends based on their age. With twins, none of that is a given.
Because twins are the same age, their lives generally revolve around the same people and activities, and this can breed competition and jealousy. Though each child may not want to feel resentful or in a constant state of competition with their twin, the fact that they look alike makes it even harder for others not to unintentionally pit them against each other. As a twin mom, this is an emotional part of the relationship that constantly has to be managed.
5 Infant-Style Dependency Times Two
Any parent who has ever had the privilege and responsibility of taking care of an infant can attest to their constant need and dependency. It’s normal, but it’s exhausting and often thankless. Now, twin moms multiply that by two.
While Irish twins present their own challenges, like trying to watch an infant while the older child is cramming rolls of toilet paper down the toilet, taking care of two infants means no breaks. Moms of Irish twins have the option of using the TV to babysit or having their older child work on kinetic activities while mom takes care of the baby, but those options don’t exist with twins.
Because of this, mom will find herself in a near constant state of feeding, changing, or putting a child down for a nap without any let up. While twin moms, after high-risk pregnancies and possibly dealing with early health issues with each child, is grateful for the opportunity to have her babies, the infant dependency in the early days is draining.
4 Twins' Feedings Are Like Juggling
The great news about Irish twins is that one is usually pretty close to learning to feed himself when the other child arrives. It’s true that feeding himself may look like dropping most of the food on the floor, but most babies by the age of one can at least hold their own sippy cup and grab some bite-sized snacks from a bowl.
With twins, mom has to feed them both, usually at the same time. Twins don’t like to see their sibling getting something they don’t have, so mom will juggle breastfeeding or bottle feeding two babies, followed eventually by trying to feed baby food to both children. Neither can help much for months, so feeding depends all on mom - it's messy, and can take most of the day.
This is a place where a slight age difference can help tremendously. Just having a child who can squeeze a bit of apple sauce out of a pouch on their own leaves mom with a free hand, something she almost never has with twins.
3 People Respond Differently To Twins
Children who are very close in age may garner a few glances from passing strangers, but not many people will actually stop to comment on how close they are in age. With twins, everyone mom runs into will feel the need to stop and ask about the twins or tell a story about someone they knew who was a twin. Some even go as far as to question her on how she became pregnant. For some reason when people see a woman out with her twins, all personal boundaries seem to disappear.
While the attention is usually kind and just stems from curiosity, it can drain both energy and patience out of mom. When grabbing a few groceries in between the babies’ nap times becomes a trip that takes half the afternoon due to interference from strangers, mom will find herself wishing that she could slip out into the world with her kids and remain a bit more low profile.
2 Moms Have To Fight For Twins As Individuals
Because Irish twins are not truly twins, their identity is not derived from, or attached to their sibling. While being close in age may affect certain aspects of their lives, people expect them to develop into their own person, unique from their sibling. It’s a bit more complicated with twins.
Many people look at twins, especially identical twins, and have problems seeing two people. Physically, it’s obvious that there are two people present, but many outsiders, and sometimes even family, make the mistake of lumping twins together, assuming their likes or dislikes will be exactly the same or that one of them will be the good twin while the other is the bad one. In some ways, people try to define them in relation to their twinness.
Parents of twins have to start early teaching their children that they are separate and reinforcing the truth that they are unique. Being a twin is special and will obviously affect each of their lives, but it does not, and should not, define who they are as individuals.
1 Parents Can't Learn From Prior Mistakes With Twins
Let’s be honest, the oldest child is a bit of a guinea pig. They are very fortunate because they receive a ton of one-on-one time, and we are super careful with the first one because as parents, we have no real clue what we’re doing. However, the first child is the experiment, and we tend to learn what not to do after we see what doesn’t work with the eldest.
When mom has Irish twins, she can avoid some mistakes she made with the first one because she’s learned a few tricks by the time the second one comes along. When mom has twins, especially if they are her first kids, she has no mistakes to learn from. Not only will she learn to parent while taking care of two children, but her mistakes will ripple farther since both children will be upset if she does something that doesn’t work for them. It’s double the babies, about twenty times the pressure.