I’m excited, of course, when friends tell me that they are expecting, but I’m quadruply so when they tell me they are expecting multiples. My co-worker and friend Rachel has met my twin daughters only three or four times, but she became an instant favourite with them because of her warmth and humour. You can imagine my excitement when she showed me an ultrasound image with two separate sacs on display. I talked to her about her impending mother-of-multiples status.
1. What was your reaction when you found out you were pregnant with two babies? [Your husband] Scott’s?
People ask me a lot if I was surprised by the fact that I was pregnant with twins. I’m fairly sure the subtext of that question is, “Were they spontaneous twins?” Generally, I reply, “I think everybody is surprised by twins!”
In my case, my twins weren’t spontaneous; I’d undergone an ovulation induction cycle, and I knew that the risk of multiples was higher. However, I was also under close observation, and we never had any reason to believe more than one egg had been released. My hormone levels rose higher than I was expecting them to, so I did wonder if something was up, but at around 5 weeks, 3 days, when I had my first ultrasound, the doctor only saw one gestational sac at first. The second little peekaboo sac was definitely a surprise!
Scott wasn’t able to make it to that first ultrasound, so I called him at work afterward to let him know. I told him, “Everything looks good… but we may need to think of some more names.” He knew what I meant immediately. He’s a low-key guy, but he was excited, and I’m sure a little bit nervous, when he found out.
2. How did your expectations of parenthood change when you discovered that you would be a mother of multiples.
I was always fairly sure that, despite not having a ton of experience with babies and small children, Scott and I could probably figure out how to raise a child on our own. Raising twins, I’ll admit, still sounds like a much more formidable task than raising one. You can check with me again in a year to see if I’ve broken them yet.
On the other hand, especially since we struggled with conceiving, I had developed a lot of ideas and theories about how we were going to raise our hypothetical only child. In some ways, finding out that we were expecting twins was freeing. Even in my naivete, I know that there will be times when I can’t meet both babies’ needs at the moment those needs arise. I feel like I’ve been able to give up my expectation of being Super Mom before the kids have even arrived.
3. Can you tell me a little about your experience with doctors specializing in multiple pregnancies? How did you find them, and how do you think working with specialists has benefited you?
I bought Dr. Barbara Luke’s “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads,” not long after seeing the babies’ heartbeats at 6 weeks gestation. I found the information in the book helpful but general, and I wanted advice more closely tailored to me. I spent a lot of time searching the Internet for resources on twins, especially locally. While I didn’t find a whole lot locally (aside from the Moms of Multiples group), I did find the Texas Children’s Hospital Program for Multiples in Houston. I was most interested in the nutritional assessment they offer, to see how it compared to the one in Luke’s book. Generally, it was fairly similar, but with a stronger emphasis on lower-fat foods. They also follow similar 20 pounds by 20 weeks guidelines.
My twins are dichorionic and diamniotic, and I’ve really had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy throughout, so I think the program was less helpful for me as it would have been for, say, parents of identical twins with a higher risk of TTTS. But I learned a lot about my babies and was very relieved to have a clean bill of health as we finished up the first trimester. It’s a great program, for those who are able to get to Houston, and it was completely covered by my insurance.
4. What personality traits do you predict for your babies, based on feeling them move?
Even before I could feel them move, I could see the differences in my babies on each ultrasound. Starting at 8 or 9 weeks gestation, it became apparent that our little boy, Baby B, is quite a wiggler. Our girl, Baby A, does her share of moving as well, but she’s never been nearly as active as her brother. I anticipate we’re going to need to get Baby B involved in lots of physical activity to burn off all that extra energy. On the other hand, our girl really likes to kick her mama in the bladder, so I’m predicting a typically complicated mother/daughter relationship with her!
5. What reactions do you get from people when they learn that you are expecting twins?
The most common reaction I get is, “Do you know what you’re having?” And when I tell them we’re expecting a boy and a girl, they almost always reply, “Oh, wow, that’s perfect! You can be done!” As though we would have been required to keep trying for the opposite sex if we’d had two boys or two girls. Or an only child, for that matter. I’m learning a bit of zen, when it comes to responding to curious comments. People generally mean well, and I don’t think they really think through their response. It’s as much small talk as anything. (I’m sure I’ll be less patient when we can’t walk down an aisle at the grocery store without being interrupted, but people generally can’t tell I’m carrying twins, so I feel like I’m undercover for the time being.)
6. You are 33 weeks into your pregnancy right now. How do you feel, physically?
I’m definitely starting to feel tired and uncomfortable! I anticipated that I would feel progressively worse as the pregnancy went on. In actuality, it seems a little more cyclical than that. I hit a wall every couple of weeks, then I adapt and feel better for a while. My quarter-mile walk to the office is definitely starting to feel like a long way, though!
7. What do you know now about multiple pregnancy, or pregnancy in general, that you wish you’d known earlier?
I spent the first two-thirds of my pregnancy mentally preparing myself for the possibility that I might be on bed rest or out of work for a long time. I didn’t expect that I’d actually be pretty good at carrying twins, and still working at 33 weeks. Knowing that would’ve saved me a lot of worrying early on!
8. You and Scott will both be returning to work after parental leave. What will your childcare arrangements be? How are you going about choosing?
This July, we spent our fifth wedding anniversary shopping for infant childcare, three months in advance of the anticipated arrival of our twins, and six months in advance of when we’d expect them to start daycare. It felt really unfair that we had to choose a childcare provider to care for our kids when we haven’t even had a chance to meet them or get to know them yet. We visited four childcare providers and finally chose a Montessori school with an infant program in our neighborhood. The rates were comparable to most of the other infant daycares in town, but we were impressed with the age-based Montessori classrooms, and we had a great rapport with the teacher in the infant room. She lives in our neighborhood, as do many of the kids in the school, and she has twin grandsons. We felt that our babies would be in good hands in her care. Picking a place close to home means it’ll be equally convenient for Scott or me to drop them off and pick them up, and we hope we’ll be able to get to know other parents and kids in our area.
9. What have you already done to prepare for your twins’ arrival? What do you have left to do?
I feel as well prepared as a naive almost-mom can be. Our nursery is packed full of onesies, diapers, and random plastic baby accoutrements. We have places for the babies to sleep (though they may have to share for a little while). We’ve got a double stroller. We’ve got infant car seats, and we’ve installed them into one of our two cars. We’ve gone to all the classes we plan to go to in advance of their birth, and we’re trying to enjoy some nights out together before the nuclear bomb that is parenthood drops on us both.
I do still have a rigorous nap schedule to try to maintain for the next three to five weeks. And a lot of work to wrap up.
10. What questions do you have for other parents of multiples?
I feel like I’ve heard the answers to most of my questions, and they all seem to vary from family to family. (How long did it take to feel like you had everything under control? Were you able to breastfeed two babies at once? How do you handle the financial burden of two infants at once, especially when you add in the huge expense of childcare?)
I’d rather hear words of reassurance. Tell me when multiples get to be fun!