It was our twelve week scan and we were about to meet our third baby. I peered at the screen as the sonographer got started, and as usual, I was clueless. I didn’t know if I was looking at a head or an abdomen. ‘Any bleeding?’ the sonographer asked, casually. ‘Morning sickness?’ Nope, I replied. This pregnancy had been no different to my first two, apart from a rounder tummy earlier on, which I’d put down to stretched out muscles.
There was some weird silence while the sonographer pressed on different parts of my uterus to get a better view of things. And then she said it, like she couldn’t hold it in any longer: ‘You’ve got twins!’
I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry hysterically. I’m pretty sure I did both.
Finding out we were having twins was the biggest, most authentic shock I’ve ever had. I had NO IDEA it was on the cards. In fact, that scanning day was the start of a long journey of surprises, that I swear, no one ever warned me about. Here are five of them…
1. Twins can happen to anyone
I had two babies before I fell pregnant with twins. You can imagine all the books, magazines and online forums I’d gone through while I was pregnant, giving birth and knee-deep in nappies. Not once did anyone ever mention that identical twins happened randomly to people, regardless of family twin history. Um, hello? Kind of important fact, don’t you think? Surely worthy of some sort of Public Service Announcement?
2. Twin pregnancies are complicated
A cheerful obstetrician told me this at one of my first checkups. “I know that everyone thinks twins are lovely, but the pregnancy isn’t always rosy,” he warned me. Turns out, he was right. From 22 weeks I had to be monitored weekly for a dodgy flow in one of the umbilical cords. Used to textbook pregnancies with my first two, this news shook me to my core, especially when they told me I could lose one or both of my babies. I suddenly started seeing Mother Nature in a new light – I never realised she could make me feel so scared and powerless.
3. You don’t need two of everything
Once I got over the shock of finding out we were having twins, I was elated about becoming a mum to multiples. Then I thought about all the stuff we would need for twins, and I freaked out again. I’d figured that for baby number three, we’d just go with hand-me-down-everything from the first two kids. Luckily, we didn’t need to buy out Babies R Us, because it turns out baby twins don’t really need that much more. Ours even shared the one cot for their first few months. It’s not until they’re old enough to want what the other one has ALL THE LIVELONG DAY that you need two of everything.
4. Tandem feeding twins was easy… and also not
Tandem feeding was surprisingly easy once I got the hang of it, although it was fiddly and involved lots of pillows and rolled up towels to make sure we were all in position. The convenience of getting two babies fed made it worth it – although no one told me about the massive bazooka exposure it would involve. It was not pretty. And it kind of ruled out public breastfeeding for me for the first few months because a) I couldn’t get both babies on and attached without some help and a billion cushions and b) Yes, breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural act but no one needed to see my heaving bosoms out with two babies hanging off them, thank you very much.
5. When both twins cry…
Hearing one newborn crying was hard enough, but two? I imagined myself crying hysterically alongside them. I spent months worrying about how I’d be able to soothe both of my babies at once, or have one crying desperately while I tended to the other. But no one told me I’d develop super strength and be able to scoop two babies up and cuddle them together, pacing up and down just like I’d do with one baby. Now, this was a surprise I got on board with.
6. It’s easy to love two babies at once
I wondered how I’d be able to stretch myself emotionally between two babies – would I love them both equally? Would it even be possible to love two babies at the same time – when loving one was intense enough? It absolutely was. No one told me just how much love this heart was capable of, and this was easily the best surprise of all.
It’s almost enough to make me go for just one more…