9 Characteristics of a Twin (Multiple) Pregnancy

Congratulations! You’re Expecting TWINS!

This news can either be elating or devastating to you as the receiving parent-to-be, but either way, happy or traumatized, this news triggers the reality that life will from now on be very different!

Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you’ve recently seen an image resembling the one on the right show up on an ultrasound  machine that you were attached to (and no, this is not one of my scan photos). Oftentimes, this news comes as a complete shock because there is no family history (that you know of) of twins “running in the family” as they say … (‘course they run all over my house). But lately, especially with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) so prevalent today, more and more couples are half-expecting to learn that twins, even triplets or more, are ON THE WAY!

I’m not here, however, to discuss how this came to be. It’s a FACT, and when your head stops spinning, the crying eases, and you can finally see straight again, you and your husband need to know what you may expect and need to prepare for, from here on in your pregnancy.

If you’ve already been pregnant and delivered a single baby (aka singleton), you’ll note some similarities but also some differences.

What you may possibly experience while pregnant with twins

1. Prenatal Care: You’ll be advised to seek the care of a Board Certified Obstetrician as opposed to a General Practitioner. You can also expect more visits with your OB/GYN for careful monitoring of your pregnancy progression, especially if a complication develops. You can also expect more screening tests (i.e., blood glucose levels, and ultrasounds).

2. Pregnancy Nutrition: You’ll be asked to increase your intake of iron and folic acid, along with your daily prenatal multivitamin. As with any pregnancy, you should eat foods rich in calcium, iron, and protein. It’s also very important that you drink at least two quarts of water each day to prevent dehydration, which can quickly lead to preterm labor.

3. Morning Sickness: Pregnancy nausea is caused by the levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). It’s a fact that this hormone is higher with a multiple pregnancies, so the probability of or higher degree of morning sickness will exist. The good news is that this usually subsides between weeks 12-14. (But when you’re as sick as a dog at 7 weeks, you don’t think week 12 will EVER arrive!)

4. Spotting: Light to moderate spotting can occur in a multiple pregnancy, often due to multiple uterine wall embryonic implantation (which can cause slight bleeding). Some cases are due to the early miscarriage of or more babies, which doesn’t necessarily mean a miscarriage of every fetus, and the remaining baby(ies) can be carried to full-term. If bleeding, however, is accompanied by cramping and heavy bleeding with clots, it is no longer “spotting”, and could indicate a more serious problem.

5. Weight Gain: Where it’s recommended to woman carrying a single baby to gain between 20-30 lbs., you can expect to gain approximately 35-45 lbs. with a twin pregnancy (and more with triplets and beyond).

6. Gestational Diabetes and Preeclampsia: The risk for these conditions to develop is higher in a multiple pregnancy. These two conditions (high blood glucose with diabetes, and elevated blood pressure with preeclampsia) can be very dangerous for both mother and baby(ies) if not detected and treated. With careful medical monitoring, both conditions can be managed.

7. Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS): This is a complication that occurs in primarily identical twins because there is a higher likelihood that the two babies will share a single (monochorionic) placenta. This syndrome occurs when, due to blood vessel malformation and distribution the babies receive an imbalance of nutrients, meaning one twin becomes severely over-nourished, while the other becomes severely under-nourished. Careful monitoring and treatment is required with this condition. Twins possessing his or her own individual placenta (i.e., fraternal twins), will not develop this condition.

8. Preterm Labor: Labor generally comes early for a mother carrying more than one baby naturally due to the fact that the uterus cannot stretch any further toward the end of the gestational period, perhaps arriving between 1-4 weeks before the due date. But also commonly occurring in about 50% of twin pregnancies is much earlier preterm labor that occurs because of the rate of uterine growth, causing uterine irritability which causes cramping and contractions. Higher order multiples have a 100% chance of going into preterm labor, and with preterm labor, often comes the recommendation for bed rest which could be partial or complete, depending upon the degree of symptoms. Careful monitoring and sometimes medication is required to manage this condition.

9. Delivery: Although it is very possible to deliver twins vaginally if the pregnancy is far enough along (I did, for my 2nd set), and the babies are positioned just right, most often than not, twins are delivered via C-Section. It’s safer for both mother and babies if your gestation is 30 weeks or earlier, and probably much less risky from the standpoint of the delivering physician (and offers much lower medical liability).

For further descriptions and explanations, please visit: Pregnancy Help: What to Expect … Twins and Multiple Pregnancies, an article posted on Epigee ™ Women’s Health, and Expecting Twins? 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Twin Pregnancy, an article by Denise Mann, reviewed by Louise Change, MD for WebMD.com.

 

My personal twin pregnancy experiences

… included excellent prenatal care for all three pregnancies; multiple screening ultrasounds (which I came to enjoy once the tech said that everything “looks great”); severe morning sickness for all three (requiring medication during twins 2 and 3), which always ended by week 14 (glorious week 14!); light spotting that lasted a couple of weeks during my last pregnancy, but was of no consequence; the miscarriage of one of my triplets during week 11 of my second pregnancy (but which was not accompanied by any bleeding), and I went to on to deliver my (now-called twins) at 35+ weeks; I gained about 30 lbs with pregnancies 1 and 3, but about 41 lbs with pregnancy 2, because I carried them longer.

I experienced no gestational diabetes nor preeclampsia with any of my pregnancies, nor (because all of my twins are fraternal) did I develop TTTS. I did, however, experience preterm labor with each pregnancy beginning between as early as 18 weeks with my first, and starting as late as 22 weeks with my last. Each led me to 100% bed rest, and although I followed my doctors’ orders, I delivered twins 1 @ 31 weeks, twins 2 @ 35 weeks, and twins 3 @ 31 weeks (to the day as with twins 1!). As far as my deliveries were concerned, you may have heard of the term: V-BAC (standing for a Vaginal Birth After a prior C-section), well, I call my deliveries a “C-V-C”: a C-section, then a vaginal birth, then a C-section. Although my vaginal delivery was no picnic, it was much more rewarding and satisfying an experience, with a much shorter recovery period than either C-section.

If you’re reading this and expecting a set of twins or more, many congratulations to you, with wishes and prayers for a safe, healthy pregnancy, and safe healthy delivery for you!

Blessings ~

Is Being a Mom of Twins What You Expected?

The title of this article was a question asked on a twin-mom facebook page, and after reading it, my reaction was: “Hhmmmmm … good question, and really worth exploring!”

As women prior to becoming mothers, we can only imagine what it will be like to have a baby. While pregnant, our imaginations begin to work overtime as we wonder what he or she will look like, and we especially hope and pray that the baby will be healthy. Perhaps, we imagine billowing curtains as we sit enveloped in a flowing cotton nightgown breastfeeding our baby quietly in a comfortable, cushioned rocker to the early morning sounds of chirping birds as the sun streams in along the nursery floor. Ahhhhh, future motherhood.

Not having experienced parenthood, and only going by others’ stated experiences and advice, we anticipate that our amount of sleep will probably diminish once the baby arrives, and that it’ll be challenging at times adjusting to parenthood, but no one and nothing can really prepare you for the realities of parenthood. We truly only learn first hand when the baby arrives.

It will take time for us to live, experience, and look back in retrospect in order to one day answer the question: “Is it what I expected it would be like?”

All new experiences teach us what we didn’t already know. We realize that there are some things that we didn’t know we didn’t know! As brand new mothers, we lay in recovery from labor and childbirth and find that nothing looks the same, everything has taken on new color and new perspective. Everything has changed forever. We’re filled with a joy, anticipation and love that is combined with exhaustion, a little fear and apprehension. Are we a bit overwhelmed? Oh yes … but we don’t know the definition of overwhelmed until we are hit with the reality that this little person now completely depends upon us for everything from this moment on.

New Parenting X 2

Now let’s imagine that we don’t only have one brand new life depending upon and demanding of us. What if there were two, three or more little people suddenly needing us 24/7? I’ve been asked over the years from moms who had their children one at a time, “How in God’s name did you survive the first weeks or even months with twins? My ONE baby’s colic, sleep inconsistencies, teething, diaper rash, colds, viruses, ear infections and acid reflux almost killed me!”

I’ll admit, that there were times that I was holding on to the last fiber of the last inch of my last rope by my finger nails, but I did survive, and actually came out on the other side a now more confident, self-assured, stronger person, just as any difficult experience that tests you to your limits will leave you. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! All moms will admit this truth. Motherhood really toughens us up, and it’s not for wimps or the faint of heart!

Now with the difficult side of new motherhood mentioned, what about discoveries of the wonders, the joys, the amazing moments that we never expected?

Before our babies are born, we truly cannot imagine the incredible, unconditional, complete love we feel for these tiny little creations that we hold for the first (or 1,001st) time. Their incredible beauty, the miracles that they are, the wonder in their eyes, the expressions on their faces only begin to introduce us to our unique privilege to re-experience life through them. As we learn our babies’ likes, dislikes, and habits, and strive to make them happy and safe, we change ourselves in a way, tailoring our routines and placing our own needs after our children’s. Isn’t it amazing how much we change, and (for the most part) really don’t mind giving up some comforts, some of life’s conveniences and pleasures that up until motherhood were routine in our day? For instance, do you remember just waking up on a weekend morning when you wanted to? Or, taking a shower everyday (ha!)? Remembering if it were today or yesterday when you last brushed your teeth? Or, running to the store for something you wanted at a second’s notice, instead of dressing the toddlers and trying to figure out the best method of maneuvering two babies or toddlers and a grocery cart? Or, running out to meet a friend for a quick before work coffee or lunch on your work break?

Enjoy the following compilation of the other moms of twins who’ve answered our title question, asked by twin-mom Courtney:

Kara: Pretty much….I almost cried watching TLC’s multiples. Had to turn it off because it was like they filmed my house. If you’re expecting, I recommend watching it.

Judi: It’s a extra gift from God 🙂 Yes, there are times that it’s a challenge, BUT it’s all worth the effort. My twins are now 21 & I wish I had a lot of the new products that are on the market to help new moms now.

Amy: Better than I ever could have expected 🙂 Definitely hard, but not as hard as I had thought it would be.

Judy: I had no specific expectations, so each day is a new adventure! It’s not as hard as people said it was going to be. At least for me, that is, but I’m pretty easy-going.

Michelle: I agree with Judy so far, but since my girls are just 11 weeks old, I might change my mind many times!

Meagan: … I find myself SO blessed each and every day with double the smiles and laughs and the totally different personalities! Yes, it is VERY stressful at times, you feel like crying(and on some days you do), and you just don’t know what to do… but I think that’s with ALL parents! … My favorite quote that I live by each and every day, “God only gives you what you can handle”! So by that, we’re all doing great!!

Ashley: I never know what to expect but I love it and would never change it.

Christa: I don’t remember having too many expectations before hand, with the exception of coming home with two babies…… 10 years later ….. no one would have ever thought to expect the ride you get from having twins…. my advice stop expecting and let life happen 😉

Jessica: I thought it would be a lot harder so its a piece of cake. Now I have a cousin having triplets and I am the only one who told them it wouldn’t be that bad. Everyone else scared them, but I’m the only one who had more than one at a time so it made them feel much better.

Courtney: I thought the first year was absolute misery (just being honest!!) and feel like I had NO idea it would be that hard! BUT! After that first year, I feel like twins become so much easier than singles!! I was surprised by that too! I mean, for so many reasons… they can’t get into too much trouble because they tell on each other. lol. They also entertain each other and help one another… learn from each other…. the list goes on!

Luann: I agree that I didn’t know what to expect, except for a lot more diapers! I knew it was going to be hard but what in life isn’t? Everyone asks me, “how do you do it?” Especially now that I’m a single mom. I always answer, “one at a time!”

Lee: Yes and no. I really do not have anything to compare it to since these were my first kiddos. We were really surprised but I do have to say ever since I was a little kid I always said I was going to have twins … I am the only one in my close family with twins … so that has made it hard since no really knows what it is like and cannot really help out with different questions I have. We are part of that special twin group and I love it. I would not trade it for the world even though it can be hard at times … my b/b twins bring so much joy, fun and learning to my life I just have to sit back and smile. I had a friend tell me that “God only chooses special people to have twins!” and I am a believer in that!

Liaco: Wish I could say it was all sunshine and roses, but that would not be the truth. However, it was not so bad that we decided to have another baby 🙂 I would not trade the good, the bad, and the ugly for anything else in this world. As hard as some days are, other days are so joyful, that I would not imagine not having these beautiful little girls in my life. These girls make my life better and MUCH more colorful.

Hillary: Courtney, I’m hanging on every word u say and hoping it gets easier … mine are 9 months and this could possibly be the most tired I’ve ever been in my life!!! 🙂

Lori Anne: I really didn’t “expect” anything… they were my first, so I had no prior experience, and I was going through a divorce and knew I would be raising them by myself. So… I made a promise to myself:one obstacle at a time. … I believe it not only helped me, but it helped my sons as well. They are almost 2 and they have a schedule, and they are very happy boys. There is rarely crying and fits involved in the daily activities. They are very independent and I am very grateful that they are as good as they are. In my opinion, sometimes people focus too much on expectations and future decisions, instead of concentrating on the “now”.

Sara: I have to be honest….The first year was very easy for me. My husband and I did not have “in house” help and we also have another young child, but everything clicked. The twins ate and napped and slept at the same time … I was very fortunate. Then they turned ONE. They still eat, nap, and sleep at the same time, but they are a lot to handle. They just turned two, and are still a lot of work, but it has calmed down. My point is: you never know what you’re going to get.

Cara: They made my first two singletons seem really easy (and they did not seem easy at the time). I guess it has given me … um … perspective?

Bambi: It was so much harder than I ever imagined. I had already raised three children, but nothing could’ve prepared me for twins. Perhaps I simply had difficult twin babies??

 

Expectations vs. Reality

No one can possibly predict or imagine what life is going to present to us each day. Are those expectations we have about certain future events in our lives something we do intentionally or do our imaginations and dreams just entertain us with images or scenarios of what might be?

As it turns out, life rarely gives us what we expect! When it comes to our expectations or preconceptions (pun intended 🙂 about motherhood, especially twin motherhood, the only things to expect is the unexpected!

During a visit to my mother-in-law’s home when my last set of twins were six months old,  she and I began reminiscing about the early weeks following the babies’ arrival (during which she was temporarily with us to help with the other four children). I said, “Oh yes, those were some challenging times!” She quickly replied, “Challenging, no. It was HARD.” And those were my 3rd set!

We may gain experience, but as all moms know, each child is different, and each time a new baby (or babies) arrive, we face new challenges with our older children’s continued needs in addition to our new babies’ needs.

Difficult, busy, challenging and exhausting … those are reasonable expectations for any new mom to have. A realistic description of, as in the opening example, of breast feeding our babies may consist of doing so while the our other kids run through the house noisily, while one baby won’t eat and continues to cry, while we wince as our sore nipples hurt, and we sit beside the clean, unfolded laundry piled up on the sofa next to us, and we realize we should’ve taken the meatloaf out of the oven BEFORE sitting down to nurse … BUT there will be those moments when the sun streams in as the breeze billows the curtains as we look down at our tiny, sweet nurselings and look over at the bunch of wildflowers our toddler brought to us next to us on our night stand …

… just wait and see.