Here I sit, feeling “ready to pop” at any moment. And if these contractions are any indication, it won’t be too much longer (realistically, when you read this, the babies will be here). At 37 weeks pregnant with twins, I can now look back on this journey in awe of how far we’ve come and how much I’ve learned. But, I confess, when I first found out we were expecting multiples back in June, I was clueless and scared. I felt like I was pregnant for the first time once again. With questions flying in every direction, my husband and I jumped online and discovered there really aren’t *that* many places to learn about twin pregnancy. Beyond that, our own experience has taught us that just as every singleton pregnancy is different, every twin pregnancy is different. My hope is that, by sharing what I learned personally, someone who is sitting shell-shocked on their way home from that “you’re having twins!!” ultrasound, will find a little bit of camaraderie, reassurance, and encouragement.
Some “Surprising” Things I’ve Learned about Twin Pregnancy:
Not ALL twin pregnancies end up with extremely premature babies: As I mentioned above, my babies are still cooking at 37 weeks. Although uncomfortable, I realize I’m very blessed. But if you are just finding out you are expecting twins, your mind might have automatically jumped to images of babies struggling in the NICU. That doesn’t always happen. As a matter of fact, 40-45% of twin pregnancies go beyond 37 weeks gestation! Those are incredible odds for a full term birth!
Twin pregnancy doesn’t *automatically* mean bed rest: As an active person with two toddlers at home, I feared early in my pregnancy that I would end up on bed rest, simply because twin pregnancy is considered “high risk.” Fortunately, the babies and I remained healthy enough my doctor kept on the “green light” to continue life as usual. (You should see the looks and hear the comments I get from people when they see me at the gym). Over the past several weeks, I’ve had to slow down, but it’s simply because my “pregnancy swagger” doesn’t allow me to move at the same pace or get up and down off the floor like I used to. Listening to my body and modifying when needed has been my mantra.
Twin pregnancy means you feel like you live at the doctor: I currently have three to four doctors appointments every week. I’m grateful for the extra support and attention, but believe it or not, even the ultrasounds get old after awhile. And beyond your scheduled appointments, you will probably make a few (or bunch of) extra trips to labor and delivery along the way. The staff at my hospital has assured me that they expect to see moms of multiples in their triage area on a pretty regular basis, just because it’s harder to know if everything is okay than it is with a singleton pregnancy. **So never feel silly for making a “reassurance trip” to the hospital or calling your doctor for ANYthing.**
Twin fetal movement is very similar and very different than singleton movement: One of the most disappointing things to me was that I didn’t feel the babies move any earlier than in my singleton pregnancies. Then, when I did start to feel consistent movement, I could NOT tell the difference between movement from baby A and baby B. Some twin moms say they can tell the difference, right from the start, but for me it’s been more of a guessing game. Only in the last three weeks do I feel *pretty* confident I know when I’m feeling baby A vs baby B, but I’m still not 100% confident. This can be anxiety provoking when your OB/midwife wants you to focus on movement to be assured of the babies well being. Instead of doing regular “kick counts” for each baby, my OB just told me to let her know if there were any notable changes. That being said, these days, I feel like my stomach NEVER stops moving. It’s CRAZY and cool. My son frequently tells me “Mommy, your belly is acting funny. Put it away, please.”
Your symptoms may/may not be different in twin pregnancy: Everyone asks me if I had any signs that pointed toward a twin pregnancy prior to my first ultrasound. I didn’t. I mean, I felt a little more tired than my previous pregnancies, but I also had two kids under two at home, we were buying a house, and life was stressful. I didn’t necessarily notice any extra sickness or weird symptoms…but if I didn’t know I was having twins and was experiencing the symptoms I have now at 37 weeks pregnant, I might have a clue: the inability to get off the couch, the super painful varicose veins in areas I didn’t know you could GET varicose veins (ew), the hemorrhoids, the acne, brittle nails, the weeks of meaningless contractions…the end of this pregnancy has been VERY different than my previous (MUCH easier) pregnancies. And again, EVERY pregnancy is SO different.
Twin pregnancy is a miracle: Now, hear me: I’m a firm believer that EVERY pregnancy is a miracle. But man…there’s been something about this experience that has just been…faith-building. With every doctors appointment, I’ve learned something new about twin pregnancy or the way twins develop, and it’s incredible! For example, did you know that twin lungs develop on average two weeks faster than singleton lungs? I mean, it’s like God knew twins are more likely to be born early and need to develop those skills earlier. There are many more miraculous trivia facts I could share here, but just do some research – it’ll blow your mind!
As I think about these past 37 weeks, I’m in awe we’ve made it this far. As a lover of learning, I can’t even begin to tell you how fun it’s been to ride this twin roller coaster ride. It’s been scary, yes. But what a blessing. And knowing these two little lives will be in our arms soon, I’m sure the journey of learning and loving has just begun.
Every Pregnancy is truly unique. What have you learned through YOUR pregnancies, singleton, twin, or otherwise? I would LOVE to learn from YOU!
Editor’s Note: Heather’s beautiful twin girls were born on Christmas Day! We are thrilled to introduce you to Selah and Mercy.