Having Twins Is So Much Harder Than You Can Ever Imagine
Dear Aspiring Parents,
First of all, thank you for your kind words and unsolicited advice when you see me with my girls. To save us all some time, let me quickly answer all your questions: Yes, twins run in my family (on my mom's side). Yes, I carried them to term. Yes, I exclusively breastfeed both of them (and no, not always at the same time). Yes, they are fraternal. Yes, I know that I have my hands full. No, I don't have round-the-clock help. And yes, I know exactly how lucky I am to have two healthy, beautiful little girls.
But the one thing that really gets me? When you tell me you wish you'd had twins or hope to someday have them. I usually can't help but laugh. Look, I get it. Twins are cute, sweet, and fun. And who doesn't love a good two-for-one deal? But at the same time, twins are not for the faint of heart, so let me tell you what you're actually hoping for.
For starters, being pregnant with twins is the absolute worst. That's coming from someone who isn't a habitual complainer and has a pretty high threshold for pain. (I mean, I get all of my dental work done sans anesthesia, so I'm pretty sure that counts as a high threshold.) And I had easy, uneventful pregnancies. That is, until I hit 30 weeks with the twins. That's when my body gave up. Discomfort is expected in the third trimester of any pregnancy, but that's not what I had. I was in constant pain. It hurt to walk and stand; sitting for an extended period of time was excruciating; and the mere thought of lying down made me cringe. I was so swollen that my legs were shiny and sore to the touch, and the top of my enormous bump felt like it was shredding me from the inside out. I gained 13 pounds of fluid in one week alone, and on delivery day, it took the anesthesiologist nine tries before she was able to find the right spot to administer my spinal because there was so much excess fluid. The amount of pain I was in also took away from the experience of welcoming my girls into the world. When my older daughter was born, her first cry literally took my breath away. With my twins, all I could focus on was the feeling of relief when they were finally out.
In spite of how painful that pregnancy was, it didn't escape me that I was one of the lucky ones. According to the March of Dimes, almost 60 percent of twins are born prematurely. My girls were full term, weighing in at 7 pounds each and perfectly healthy. More than half of mamas of twins aren't nearly as fortunate, and I counted my blessings as I left that hospital with both of my babies.
But then the terrifying reality of being home with a toddler and two newborns set in. Thankfully, my husband — who is a phenomenal, hands-on dad — was able to be home with us for the first two weeks and my parents came over with dinner almost every night for the first two months. But it was still tough. And now that we're finally clawing our way out of hibernation (gotta love having babies in the middle of an epic flu season), it's a whole new set of challenges — like going anywhere that doesn't have a drive-through. My first solo trip to Target quickly turned into a total sh*tshow when both babies started screaming. It ended with me singing, loudly, to keep my toddler happy while I sat in the dressing room breastfeeding both babies at the same time without my trusty nursing pillow. Side note: exactly three weeks after this trip, Jessica Alba made headlines for doing the exact same thing, but you won't. No one will care if you do it.
Other things no one will care about? Holding the door open for you as you navigate your bus of a stroller into Starbucks for some desperately needed coffee, making an appointment for one baby but being charged for two since they smiled at both of them, and personal space. But no, it's not all bad. One big perk is I've been invited to cut an awful lot of lines thanks to my overly full hands. I think you get my drift. It's awesome, but just hard. Really, really hard.
I'm hoping that the crazy settles as they get older and (hopefully) start to entertain each other. And if not, that's OK too, because I love the little traveling circus that our family has become, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But then again, I have a very, very high tolerance for what most find intolerable. So thank you for your kind words and advice, but now let me give you some advice: be careful what you wish for!
A Mom of Twins