I love being a mum of twins. I feel so lucky to have been blessed with two children at once and for me, it has been the most fulfilling, fun, and rewarding experience. Mostly. It’s certainly not without its challenges (and don’t get me started on twin pregnancy).
Different kettle of fish
Right from that first scan, when you’re told the super exciting and equally terrifying news that there are two in there, you get treated differently. Like it or not. You’re automatically consultant-led due to the higher risks to you and your babies, and you have a fair few more scans and midwife appointments to keep a close eye on things (the level of risk/number of scans etc. does depend on the type of twins expected – I’ll save that one for another post – it’s all rather fascinating). At the few antenatal classes that I managed to attend (apart from one that was specifically for twin parents), I was the only mum expecting multiples. There were lots of caveats for me, like “Oh, but not you – you won’t be able to have a water birth…” and “you’ll probably have to have an epidural” etc etc. I was often singled out and a lot of the information didn’t apply to me.
Twin 1 was head-down and twin 2 breech, so I was set for a natural birth but I still had to give birth in theatre. This is standard for multiple births at most hospitals and something I didn’t mind at all. In fact, despite the very clinical setting, having a team of theatre staff, pediatricians, midwives and doctors ready for all eventualities should things not go to plan, was calming and reassuring. I’m all for being led by the professionals.
Fast-forwarding through to recovery, we were taken to a private room with an ensuite because of the amount of space we needed. It was all so different to what friends and family had told me about their birth experiences and treatment – which was my only real knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth.
What helped me: I joined a closed Facebook Group specifically for twin mums when I was 12 weeks pregnant. I felt a bit isolated when I was pregnant as there was no one close to me who’d had twins. I had no personal point of reference, but I knew it could be very different to a singleton pregnancy and birth, and definitely the bit after that, when you have two newborns to feed, burp, change, cuddle, with just one pair of hands for much of the time. It was invaluable being able to ask fellow twin mums questions – especially during pregnancy, but also hearing other mums’ experiences and advice about giving birth to twins, sleeping arrangements, feeding, and what baby paraphernalia not to bother wasting your money on. It was a wealth of great advice and support, and also a dose of sometimes, heart-wrenching reality when it came to the likely prospect of preterm labour, or very preterm labour.
Can I have your autograph?
No one’s actually gone that far, BUT, after bringing the twins home and getting out a bit, I did start to experience what it might feel like to be a minor celebrity. I didn’t like it. When the twins were newborn we were stopped, and sometimes surrounded (no kidding), roughly every five or so steps while out at the supermarket, or running errands. They attracted so much attention. They still do. This is all well and good if I’m feeling particularly chatty and shary, and have managed to do something with my face that day, but in reality, I usually just want to get on with my shopping without having to tell twenty five strangers, “no, they’re not identical, “yes, they can be ‘double trouble’, and “yes, I do have my hands full!” It becomes a bit a monotonous.
It really surprises me, in fact, the personal boundaries people will cross to fulfill their curiosity about birthing twins. I realise that I’m divulging some personal stuff by the very nature of having blog, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same as being caught off-guard, face-to-face in the vegetable aisle being asked by a complete stranger how you gave birth, are they natural (well they’re not robots!), categorically being told they’re identical (sometimes boys), and then the dreaded lean-in and touching of the faces. GAH! Why do people think it’s okay to that?
This all said, people do mainly say the loveliest things and we do bring lots of smiles to people’s faces.
Getting out and about can be a challenge when on your own with twin babies. The most difficult thing being fitting in places with the double buggy – particularly if you need the loo yourself or need to change a baby as you have to always take the buggy in with you. Things like popping into a shop is tricky if you don’t want the palaver of getting them in the buggy, and unlike with a singleton, you can’t easily carry them in to grab a pint of milk.
What helped me: Being super organised and prepared, and not being afraid to ask for help. Having a friend or family member with me to get the babies weighed, or go out for the day was invaluable.
Having a baby can be expensive. Having two babies at the same time can be extortionate. We wanted to get practical gear that would last us as long as possible, and not default to buying two of everything. This sometimes meant that we paid a bit more for quality, but knew it would last longer. I’ve written a few articles about what we found useful at the various stages 0-12 months.
What helped me: Research, reading forums and asking parents. Those who have been there and done it have so much knowledge to draw on.