I gave birth to twins almost three years ago, but I can vividly remember what it felt like to be pregnant with twins. Growing two people at once is hard y’all. This is why I internally cringe when someone says it’s like they had twins because their babies were born less than 2 years apart (which is not ideal in terms of health either).
Public Service Announcement: Unless you actually had twins, IT’S NOT LIKE YOU HAD TWINS. It is crazy to think there were eight limbs in me at once. I was growing an octopus.
I was at the height of health when I got pregnant and looked forward to an uneventful 40 weeks, but with the twin news, I immediately landed in the land of “lots of things can go wrong now.”
This is what it was really like to be pregnant with twins:
1. I felt fear about carrying the babies to full-term.
A pregnancy with more than one baby automatically makes you high-risk and it is scary because this means the likelihood of something going wrong is more probable. I like scientific evidence, so I researched what it means to be pregnant with twins.
From the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the gold standard in mama-baby care):
Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy may have an increased risk of short-term and long-term health problems, including problems with breathing, eating, and staying warm. Other problems, such as learning and behavioral disabilities, may appear later in childhood or even in adulthood. Very preterm babies (those who are born before 32 weeks of pregnancy) can die or have severe health problems, even with the best of care.
Preterm multiples also have a greater risk than single preterm babies of the same gestational age for serious complications that can lead to cerebral palsy.
Children born with problems related to being preterm may need lifelong medical care.
Most twins are born preterm for a wide variety of reasons. The first to come to mind is limited room and resources to continue growing and developing. I was really afraid my body would evict them before they could really thrive outside of my womb.
2. I moved VERY slowly, or just not at all.
I totally understood people who are overweight with a big belly. I huffed and puffed going up and down steps. I took numerous breaks and pauses while climbing steps, walking 20 feet, and I came to really despise certain staircases at work. If I was walking somewhere with a group, I would tell them to walk ahead because I knew I would need to take a little pause/break because I could feel Braxton Hicks starting up if I pushed myself. I didn’t want to put myself in early labor.
3. I became determined (more than usual). My filter was gone and my ability to put up with sh*t from others was really GONE… I had two placentas which meant double the pregnancy hormones and crazy behavior!
Having a high risk pregnancy meant I could only focus on what my babies needed and they needed me to let them grow for as long as possible. If someone or something was doing or saying something challenging this priority, like jokingly comment, “I bet you can’t wait to have those babies.” I let them know right away NOT COOL and schooled them on the reality of the situation.
An example of irrational emotions: I nearly ripped the head off a woman at the supermarket checkout when I mistakenly thought she was buying my bag of chips. I honestly wanted to snatch them out of her hands, but when I realized they really were indeed her bag of chips, I backed off and apologized. She thought I was crazy, and a part of me feels good about it – don’t mess with my chips!
Also, I fantasized about punching a lot of annoying people in the throat.
4. I was prepared for bedrest, but it’s not a given.
I worked until the very last day of my pregnancy. I didn’t have any bed rest or modified work/activity stipulations. Everyone assumes with twins you’ll be home on your butt for the second half of your pregnancy.
I was at work on Tuesday, and then went to the hospital on Wednesday about 5 cm dilated with contractions. It was quite uneventful when you think about how they portray it in the movies! I walked to the delivery floor and checked in at the nurses’ station like it was a hotel reservation.
5. I felt like garbage most of the time and like I was a walking pharmacy.
I took a lot of medication while I was pregnant. Aside from the prenatal vitamin, I was on:
- Claritin allergy medicine because I had a ton of fluid and it worked its way into my sinuses, it’s a real pregnancy thing called rhinitis of pregnancy
- Stool softener (yes folks, let’s get real) because pregnancy slows everything down including your bowels, so having a movement was a lot of effort (TMI? Sorry.)
- Zofran, the prescription nausea prescription given to cancer patients and my saving grace. I was puking for 36 weeks, so this was the only way I could really get through the day and function like a human being
- Nexium for heartburn relief. I thought I had heartburn with my singleton pregnancy, this was off the charts
6. I wasn’t in control of my body anymore.
Surviving was all I could focus on and I just felt like my body wasn’t my own anymore. I became a walking baby vessel with the sole purpose of housing and growing babies. Don’t get me wrong, letting them grow and develop is what I wanted, but it’s still a crazy feeling. I was not in charge of my own body – the babies have taken over!
I felt so awful I would ask my husband, “Why do these babies hate me? Why are they trying to kill me from the inside out?” I look back at it now as a really great experience, but IT WAS HARD and I have journal entries to prove how sick I felt. Ugh.
7. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I had weird aches and pains.
Two babies meant limited lung capacity, so to deal with not getting enough air; I would stand against a wall and lean over 90 degrees at my waist. Gravity would pull the weight of my baby belly away from my lungs, so I had less pressure on my lungs and I could breathe a little easier. It looks totally weird, but I liked being able to get a few deeper breaths.
I also dealt with sciatic nerve pain, so I did prenatal yoga DVDs at home or spent time doing stretches at the local indoor pool. Stretching and pool time really helped me with daily aches and pains, even doing a few stretches just once a week made a big difference in how I felt. It saved my back and legs a lot because that’s where your muscles are working really hard to keep you upright and moving! However, exercise happened few and far between because just lying on the couch was my main after work activity.
8. I had super vivid dreams, like I was watching a movie.
From my journal while pregnant on Dec. 13, 2014:
Last night I dreamt my husband cheated on me with another woman, who is pregnant with twins. I am certain Freud would enjoy analyzing this one. I woke up very upset, hurt and thinking, “How could he do this?” Obviously, my hormones are getting the better of me.
9. …and then there were STRETCHMARKS.
It was only a matter of time. I didn’t get any with my first pregnancy, but I would be really surprised if I managed to go through a twin pregnancy without having any physical marks. I am really big. The rest of my body looks the same (still wearing my pre-pregnancy pants with a belly band). It just looks unreal.
My hubby says it looks like I have a prosthetic belly on me. A good friend commented it looks like someone attached a flesh colored beach ball to me.
Well, my skin can only stretch so far. I’m totally fine with it because the alternative would be having the babies early and I would MUCH rather get a bunch of stretch marks than have premature babies. Bring on the giant belly!
Side note: When I’m sitting, my belly rests on my lap – I never thought my thighs would feel my belly. Weird.
10. A strong sense of denial
Journal entry from March 24, 2014 – I am in complete denial these babies are coming. I feel like I have just gotten used to the idea of being pregnant with twins, and now they will probably be here in less than a month. (They arrived exactly 3 weeks and 2 days from this journal entry.)
From the moment we found out there are two, it felt like time stopped. The earth stopped spinning and I was in a complete state of shock. A part of me will not truly comprehend there are two babies until I see them with my own eyes. I know every time I have an ultrasound I see two little bodies floating around (or rather twisting around at this point).
I’m not sure I’m mentally/emotionally ready to handle two infants at once. I think I felt the same way about my first baby, but it all clicked the minute I put my eyes on her. It was like the missing piece of my life puzzle was found and placed in just the right part. It was as though I was always waiting for her to arrive; I just didn’t know it until I saw her. Will I have the same reaction to these babies? (spoiler alert: No, I did not feel this way. Read about my delivery here.)
I never thought twins would be a part of my life and I never wanted to have multiples.
Still, once they arrive, will I feel like it makes perfect sense to have them here? (Nearly 3 years later, it’s still kind of trippy – double vision!)
Will I feel like I was always meant to be their mama? (ABSOLUTELY.)
Even though I experienced (and continue to experience) an intense and overwhelming love for my oldest, I’m curious to see how it will feel with my second and third baby all at the same time! (I learned bonding with each baby is different.)
Will my heart explode? Maybe. Will I just weep? Quite possibly. (The hubs and I can easily cry over how thankful we are for our Baby B who had a harrowing entrance into the world. She was a vaginal breech birth = blue/gray skin, not breathing & limp.)
Either way, this is a once in a lifetime experience and I just want to be present to soak it all in. (Yep, definitely soaking it all in! Meditation helps.)
Creating two people simultaneously is an incredibly unique experience. It’s certainly not something I ever envisioned doing, but I’m very glad I survived it. I really mean survived because carrying twins was physically the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s not something I would wish on anyone, but I wouldn’t change my life for anything either.