When my husband and I found out we were having twins we were the perfect combination of excited and scared. We’d had the experience of raising a fantastic little boy already, but no idea how we were going to raise two newborns at the same time.
I read all the books. I joined all the groups but I found that the journey to meeting our girls was so much harder than what I experienced with our son. When people hear that you’re pregnant with twins, it’s instant excitement. And, yes, it is exciting, but it’s also really overwhelming.
I was suddenly thrown into this new unknown world of growing two humans at once. My girls are monozygotic (identical) twins which means it was a high-risk pregnancy due to them sharing one placenta.
With sharing one placenta they were at risk of twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) which is when the blood delivered to each twin is not even, resulting in one twin getting more blood than it needs, while the other isn’t getting enough. Both outcomes are not good news for either baby.
Do you want to terminate?
Forever etched in my mind is a conversation I had with my obstetrician after our second scan about whether we wanted to terminate the pregnancy due to the increased risks.
At the time I didn’t understand why he was discussing the termination of a healthy pregnancy but now I do; it was an opportunity to safeguard us from the distinct chance of heartbreak down the line.
The rate TTTS occurs in monozygotic twin pregnancies is 10-15%.
Often when you talk about risks in pregnancy, the percentages are much higher than this, but still conversations like this rightfully needed to be had. But I wasn’t prepared for it, nor do I think any soon-to-be parent would be and that conversation followed me through my pregnancy.
Stuck in the danger zone
Another scary thing for monozygotic twin pregnancies is that 12 weeks is not the week where you start to emerge out of the danger zone.
In fact, TTTS commonly occurs between 16-26 weeks which means that as single pregnancies are heading into the safer zone (understanding that there is no green light zone in pregnancy), I was heading into 10 weeks of stress.
It left me feeling worn down, worried to share our good news due to the fear of needing to share bad news in the coming weeks, and genuinely feeling helpless.
I began to really question if having the girls was the blessing that everyone kept telling us it was.
Not enough hands to raise two newborns
Thankfully we made it to 37 weeks with the girls and despite one having a low birth weight, the girls arrived into this world happy and healthy. We were in love from day one but I’ll admit that that feeling of twins not being the blessing that everyone said they were, stuck with me for months.
It’s not that I didn’t love the girls, or wasn’t appreciative that we had the opportunity to be the parents of these beautiful little girls. It was just a lot.
As one person, I felt like I didn’t have enough hands to raise two newborns.
I felt this even more after my husband went back to work after 4 weeks off and I was at home alone with two newborns.
Multiples pregnancy is so much more than just a second baby growing
It was a steep learning curve, of not just learning, but accepting.
I had to accept that there were times when one baby would need to cry while I tended to her sister.
That contact napping was impossible as holding two newborns with no help was difficult.
That getting out of the house would be a challenge far greater than just with one baby. And when I did get outside, I was met with so many comments and stares from strangers as I pushed the girls in their double pram.
That the “You’ve got your hands full” comment that appears harmless, actually isn’t harmless. Some days this comment would be my breaking point. Because yes, I had my hands full, but I didn’t need to be reminded of everything that comes with those full hands and an equally full heart.
But as the days went on, they got brighter, and I experienced some of the most wonderful moments of my life to date.
The first time the girls smiled at me, the first time my son made them laugh, and, watching my husband raise them with the love that I hope they will receive from their own partners one day.
Deep down I believe I always knew we were blessed that the girls chose us to raise them and now I feel that every day. It just took some time for me to get there.
So if you take anything away from this, understand that a twin or multiples pregnancy is so much more than just a second baby growing.
It’s additional worrying, hard conversations, greater physical struggles and an adaption to your life that you don’t ever really envisage until those two little dots pop up on the ultrasound.
Multiple mums belong to a special group, but it’s a hard group.
If you know a new multiple mum, offer your hands, because I can guarantee that what she wishes for more than everything else is to have two hands to hold each of her babies and show them the love that they so rightfully deserve.
Multiple Birth Awareness Week [MBAW] aims to raise awareness of the important work done by the Australian Multiple Birth Association [AMBA] and local clubs around Australia supporting families and the community. Visit www.amba.org.au/clubfinder to find a contact for your local AMBA club.
This story was submitted to Mum Central by multiple mum, Em.
Em is a Melbourne-based mum to an energetic three-year-old boy and one-year-old twin girls. She’s all about sharing her parenting journey and encouraging others to do so; both the good and the not-so-good sides. Outside of being a mum, she works in advertising and tries to get out and run when schedules allow.
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