In the game of life, there are surprising moments that leave parents' jaws on the floor. One of those moments that mom and dad can't seem to wrap their heads around is when a doctor announces to the expecting parents, "Congrats! There are actually two babies in there."
Whether this news is exciting or scary, knowing that two humans are growing inside of you at that very moment is astounding. I know of this surprise first hand. I already had two little ones at home when my ultrasound tech nonchalantly told me that there were, "two in there." I can't even begin to tell you what kinds of wild thoughts immediately started racing through my mind. Having twins was never once on my parenting radar. Twins are an absolute game changer and carrying them, preparing for them and raising them is anything but ordinary. Knowing that several tiny beings are about to pop out of her belly in a few short months would make even the most stoic, chill mommy's brain swirl with the unknowns. Cut yourself some slack, Mama!
Once mom wraps her boggled mind around the multiples concept, here are 20 things to consider as a twin mom.
20 There's Isn't Just 'One Kind' Of Twin
Most people know that there are at least two different kinds of twins, fraternal and identical. Fraternal twins can be the same gender or different, and they each get a gestational sack and placenta as they grow inside momma. Identical twins are the ones that look surprisingly similar to one another, share the placenta and a whole lot of DNA to boot. Aside from the two common twin types, there are also Half-Identical, Mirror Image Twins, Mixed Chromosome Twins, Superfecundation and Superfetation twins, all of which are extremely rare. Considering you are the mother, it's probably a good idea to know what type of twin set you are having!
19 With Twins Comes More Worries
With the joy of expecting twins often comes the increase of prenatal worries and concerns. The general rule of thumb is the more babies are in the belly, the dicier the pregnancy will be. Women carrying multiples are at an increased risk of delivering their babies prematurely. They can also experience issues with amniotic fluid levels, and in some cases be at a higher risk for cord entanglement and twin-to-twin transfusion problems. Be assured that both you and your precious babies will be monitored closely by doctors so that none of these possible issues develop.
18 You Might Have To Get A Lot Of Pre-Natal Tests
The possibility of having fraternal twins will increase along with the age of the mother. If a woman is over 35, then her doctor might order up a slew of prenatal tests to ensure the health of the unborn babies. Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling are used to diagnose chromosomal issues. These tests are often performed early in pregnancy and can help doctors navigate any underlying health issues that the tests highlight.
The risk of losing the baby from these tests is slightly elevated when you're carrying multiples. The chances are roughly five times higher following an amniocentesis. With twins, you might also undergo nonstress tests and frequent ultrasounds towards the end of your nine months.
17 Maternity Leave May Begin Earlier Than Expected
If you planned on working right up until your water breaks, you might want to reconsider that plan. Moms of twins often have to put their feet up earlier than the moms of singleton pregnancies. You may have to go on doctor prescribed "bedrest" before you reach the pregnancy finish line. Try not to stress out over the unexpected turn of events. It isn't the most enjoyable and exciting part of a twin pregnancy, but it sure is important. The health of mom and the babies take absolute precedence over everything else, so heed your doctor's warning and park it on the couch until the big day arrives.
16 The OB Office Should Give You Your Own Parking Space
Yes, you will be there THAT much! When you are lugging around several beings in your belly, doctors tend to keep a very close eye on everyone. Twin pregnancies, especially the less common types, can take a turn for the worse in no time flat. Of course, nobody wants that outcome, so healthcare professionals do their very best to monitor moms and twins closely. Don't be surprised if you are checking in with your doctor a lot sooner and a lot more often than you would if you were carrying only one child. During the last two months of my twin journey, I was in the office every other day for some checkup.
15 The Babies May Not Come Home At The Same Time
Most mothers (and fathers) imagine leaving the hospital with their bundles of love in tow. Nobody dreams of giving birth and then going home empty-handed. Lots of twin parents have to do just that though because twins often earn an extended stay in the hospital nursery. Because twins are often born prematurely, they can deal with all sorts of setbacks that prevent them from going home on day two or three of life. While it isn't optimal from an emotional standpoint, it is necessary that they receive all the care that they require. Prepare yourself for this possibility early on so that you aren't surprised when one twin (or both) has to stay back for a few weeks.
14 How Are You Going To Feed These Two Humans?
Feeding one newborn around the clock will test your sanity. After all, babies are absolute feeding machines! Feeding two needy babies around the clock, well folks that is an art form in itself. People ask me all of the time how I managed to do it, and my answer is always, "Not gracefully." The bottom line to feeding twins is to do what feels right and what works for your family. If you can manage to nurse them, excellent work! If you pump and pass the bottle off to anyone with two working hands, then bravo momma. Should you decide that formula is the way to go, rock on. The important thing is they are eating, and you are meeting their demands in any way you see fit.
13 Will They Be Sharing A Room?
You will need to put some thought into living arrangements when you are expecting multiples and one aspect of that is determining if they will be bunking up or enjoying their own space. There is no right answer to this one, so again whatever works for your family is going to be the best option. I can tell you from experience that there are pros and cons to both. The mischief twins get into during nap and nighttime hours is cute, but also frustrating. On the flip side, they might become even closer siblings from sharing a joint sleeping space.
12 How Will You Juggle Existing Siblings?
Preparing your firstborn child for the arrival of a sibling is often a bumpy road traveled. Little ones don't always take the addition of an attention-sealing newborn so lightly. That is to be expected, and plenty of families navigate these choppy waters, with some man on man combat. That strategy goes right out the window when families learn they will be welcoming twins into the mix. Meeting everyone's constant needs is an exhausting and overwhelming feat. My advice is to welcome all the help that you can into your life. All hands on deck! Take a toddler, take a twin, take a human and make it happy!
11 You Are More Likely To Deliver Preemies
If you are expecting multiples, then you have an excellent chance at meeting your kiddos earlier than initially expected. Twins and preemies are nearly synonymous. The March of Dimes estimates that roughly 50% of twins will be born before the 37-week mark. When it comes to triplets, 90% of those pregnancies don't make it to the full term finish line. Generally speaking, the more babies you have in your belly, the earlier you are going to deliver. Twins are little miracles, but the human body is still just the human body. It can only take so much. Thank goodness for technology and modern medicine though. With advances in science, the overwhelming majorities of premature babies born in developed nations will survive their prematurity.
10 Is It Time For A Second Job?
Fact: babies cost a boatload of money. The formula, diapers, clothing, education, and insurance that a tot needs will suck up any of the money that you have and then some. For a middle-income family to raise a kid all the way through the age of 17, it will run mom and dad a little over $230,000! You are of course having twins though, so go ahead and double that. If twins rounded your family out, as they did over here, and you have existing kids to boot, go ahead and start selling your plasma, other body parts, and your soul.
9 Your Pregnancy Symptoms Will Likely Be Twice As Strong
Pregnant women everywhere are more than aware of the common symptoms that come along with carrying a child. Your body aches, you gag at sights and smells that never before bothered you, and you swell up to balloon-sized proportions. Housing a human is no laughing matter, but housing twins is on a whole other level when it comes to pregnancy symptoms. Women carrying multiples are prone to exacerbated symptoms in comparison to women who are carrying only a single baby. If you want double the baby cuteness, you'll have to put up with double nausea, aches, and pains.
8 You Might End Up Getting A C-Section
I have birthed four children, all of them by cesarean section, so let me tell everyone out there, major surgery is not a means of "skipping out" on labor and delivery. Doctors open you up, move your organs around, pull a human from your loins, patch you back up and call it a day. The recovery is grueling. Moms who will be delivering twins are at a higher risk of undergoing a C-section. According to a Reuters study, 75% of twins in the United States are born via C-section. While surgical births are indeed not set in stone, moms of multiples should prepare themselves for the possibility.
7 It's Time To Up The Folic Acid
It's pretty simple: twice of babies, twice the folic acid. Folic acid is an incredibly crucial prenatal vitamin that women are encouraged to take before pregnancy as well as during pregnancy. Consistently ingesting it can help decrease the odds of a newborn being born with severe defects in the brain and the spinal cord. Making sure you hit the required about of the vitamin can make a vast difference in the health of an unborn baby. The recommended amount of folic acid for a singleton pregnancy is 0.4 milligrams. A twin pregnancy needs roughly one milligram of folic acid to combat neural tubal issues effectively.
6 The Name Game (Yes, It's Okay If They Don't Rhyme)
When you announce to the universe that twins are coming, every single detail surrounding their lives will become public knowledge and interest. Suddenly friends, family and strangers alike will need to know the ins and outs of your pregnancy and impending twin journey. The twins' names will end up being a common topic of conversation. People will want to know what their names will be, and they will develop an opinion regarding all names. When babies arrive, everyone forgets to keep their thoughts and opinions to themselves. Sometimes it's best to let everyone know that you are still undecided on names. This way people don't suggest over and over that you call the twins Lara and Kara or Chet and Brett.
5 Know That You Will Pack On The Pounds
When expecting twins you don't have to eat like you are training to become a World Class weightlifter, but you do have to ensure that enough calories are getting to both babies. By now we are all aware that the "eating for two" thing is kind of a myth. (Seriously, one of you is one hundred and thirty pounds and the other is six pounds at birth.) You do however need to prepare yourself for a huge belly. While I didn't gain a ton of pounds in other parts of my body (thanks, gestational diabetes and morning sickness), my midsection was alien-like.
4 Your Children Will Always Be The Main Attraction
Once your twins are born, they will become the center of every stranger's curiosity. People will stop you in public bathrooms, shopping centers, and the sidewalk to ask some genuinely personal questions regarding your little genetic mutants. "How big were they when they were born?" How far did you make it with your pregnancy?" "Were they natural babies?" That question was by far and away my favorite. No guys, they are entirely artificial human beings. Totally fake. Furthermore, do you need to know precisely how they came out of my body? No. No, you do not.
3 How Will You Ever Rest Once They're Here?
If I am being completely frank, you won't fully rest until they head off to college. One baby might afford you an occasional nap, but two babies will likely not. Some twins manage to get on the same feedings and sleep schedules once they are born. Mine synced up, thank goodness. Sadly, I know tons of twin moms who had infants that slept at different times. I can't imagine a greater hell to be honest. Schedule an army of help for those initial months so that you can shut your eyes. Call Grandma, your friends, your Great Aunt Susie, the mailman, ANYONE with two arms and a penchant for babies.
2 Do You Really Need Two Of Everything?
Nope. You most certainly do not need two of everything just because you are having twins. Yes, you need two car seats, two cribs, and lots of bottles, diapers, and wipes. Other items designed for infants can be shared. Go ahead and spring for one bouncy chair and one swing. They can switch on and off. You don't need two of each. One play mat and one baby bath is plenty too. Infant supplies will take over your house in a heartbeat, so try and refrain from going overboard with them. You are going to blink, and the twins will be too big for swings, chairs, and bassinets anyhow.
1 They'll Still Be Their Own Unique Person
It's true. My twins are as identical as the day is long, but their personalities could not be different. One twin is the leader, the pushy one, the mastermind behind all of their mischievous doings. The other little lady is passive, happy, even-tempered. One excels at counting while the other is a letter whiz. One loves mushrooms, the other one gags at the sight of them. They are the Ying to one another's Yang. Be ready to simultaneously handle unique personalities while tackling similar developmental milestones all while trying not to lose your mind. May the odds be ever in your favor, my fellow mothers of multiples.