Twin pregnancy baby belly.
The results were as one might expect.
Beautiful. Awe inspiring. Terrifying.
It was at that moment that I told myself I needed to step away from the google search bar (and the chocolate bar. And the dessert bar). For good. After telling my husband that in all likelihood I would never again have a flat stomach. And after also sharing the horror with my best friend about the inevitable eventual demise of my waistline. Never to be seen again. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu.
Unfortunately, the pact I made with myself about stepping away from the google search did not, as I had intended, protect me from the lengthy and unfortunate list of “might happens” in multiple pregnancy. As I soon discovered, everyone has a story to tell you. People want to be able to relate, they want you to know that they know stuff about stuff, and they want to prepare you for the worst I suppose. Everyone’s brothers, sisters, aunts, vacuum cleaner salespersons, best friend’s dog groomer has had twins. People know stories about it. They want to share them with you. Even if you might not (probably don’t) want to hear them. Of course this happens in every pregnancy, multiple or otherwise, but in my experience I found that people with a positive story about pregnancy when expecting multiples, well…they were a lot harder to find. Read: I never found anyone.
All I ever heard when I was pregnant with twins were bad news stories. Not necessarily about actual life with twins after the fact, but about the actual pregnancy specifically. Stories about 20cm abdominal separation, about droopy skin folds flapping over cesarean scars, about not being able to walk after 25 weeks gestation because of the extra weight of carrying two babies. Loss of bladder control, double strength morning sickness, back pain, joint pain, stretch marks on stretch marks, giant boobs that become “envelopes filled with nothingness” post breastfeeding. I was filled with the fear and dread of the inevitability of premature babies, low birth weight, special care, going home from the hospital without my babies. If I thought I had any hope of not being worried about something, anything, EVERY.POSSIBLE.NEGATIVE.OUTCOME…It diminished more and more with every story shared.
In some ways I suppose I am actually thankful, as I became well equipped for the worst case scenario if it were to happen (as equipped as one can ever be). But let me just say that when you’re daunted enough already about how you’ll cope with not one, but two newborn babies when you’ve never even changed a nappy before, you probably don’t need a family member saying to you “I wouldn’t wish twins on my worst enemy”. True story.
So. Expecting twins? I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way. It isn’t always that way. I didn’t meet a single person when I was pregnant with twins who’s brothers, sisters, aunts, vacuum cleaner salespersons, best friend’s dog groomer had an overly positive multiple pregnancy experience to share. There were, thankfully, an unending amount of positive outcomes; happy, healthy, beautiful, beloved babies, whether they had been delivered early or otherwise… But I struggled to find anyone that could tell me they actually enjoyed their pregnancy. Other mothers who had experienced a twin pregnancy were kindly gentle about it (thanks ladies!!), and I was so appreciative of those willing to share their personal stories with me. The generosity of time and the brutal honesty of others’ stories, not to mention the overwhleming positives I was told about life with twins after pregnancy made me feel reassured and so welcomed into what I have discovered is just the most supportive twin parent fraternity. But. Well-meaning (????) strangers, acquaintances, people who just happened to work in the same building as me, shop assistants… Well! They went hell for leather with horror stories. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want things to be sugar coated, I wanted realistic expectations rather than blinders on to the negative possibilities…but still I was searching for one, single, solitary, shining example of a multi pregnancy that had been good.. Nay.. Enjoyable.
So. I’m going to be that person for someone else. Expecting twins? It doesn’t have to be a bad experience. I can’t say it won’t be, but I’m living proof that you can enjoy a multiple pregnancy from start to finish. It is possible.
My babies were born at 38 weeks. I had an induced labour because apparently my uterus is like the Palazzo Versace (plush, cushy, decadent. Fountains. Chandeliers) and my twins quite liked a womb with a view. I didn’t get stretch marks. I didn’t have abdominal separation. No morning sickness to speak of. I walked 7km every day up until the night before they were born. No back pain, no leg pain, no joint pain. No wee escaped my bladder unless it was given my expressed permission. No underpants were harmed during the baking of these babies. My baby bump was bigger than it might have been were I having a singleton (as became evident when I actually had a singleton almost three years later), but it wasn’t unmanageable. Yes I had to do a three point turn to roll over in bed, but I wasn’t so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sleep; and by the end I was carrying 11lbs of baby so it’s not like I wasn’t sporting a hefty load. No flappy skin. Waistline returned to loving home with open arms, champagne and a welcome home banner within about 6 months of my twins birth. I can honestly say (and have, many times – apologies to my long suffering friends) that I loved being pregnant. No, not just that, but that I loved being pregnant with twins.
I don’t want to give false expectations or hope, I’m no better and no worse than any other mother who has ever been pregnant. Pregnancy is different for everyone, what happens for one might not happen for another. Probably won’t. It’s a journey individual to each of us. I have absolutely no doubt that there are other mothers who, like me, loved their multiple pregnancy. I wish I’d found them when I was pregnant! It would have been a welcome relief. I have so much respect for pregnant women, carrying multiples or otherwise, those who have a good experience and especially those who struggle through the bad. Nine months is a long time…especially when it’s really ten months but you don’t figure that out until you’re 36 weeks and you’re like…say whhaaaaaa????
And if you know someone pregnant with twins, someone who’s a little scared and apprehensive about what’s ahead .. And your brothers, sisters, aunts, vacuum cleaner salespersons, best friend’s dog groomer who had twins had ankles like pool noodles and still can’t bend over without weeing a little bit… Maybe just share how much that person cherishes their twins and loves life as a parent of multiples. Because that’s all that really matters in the end.