Being a mother can sometimes feel like it requires superhuman powers, but what happens when you are expecting double the fun?
In this article, we have been blessed with the opportunity to interview a supermom of 3 beautiful daughters, Christel from Australia. Christel provides us with the low down of what to expect when you are expecting twins.
Interviewing Christel About Expecting Twins & Being a Twin Mom
Q1. Did you have any noticeable and/or amplified early pregnancy symptoms?
I discovered I was pregnant with Monozygotic (identical) twins at about 6 weeks. I went in for a scan to check dates as I had not had a period since coming off the pill. Until that scan, my only early pregnancy symptom was fatigue. I was sooo very tired all the time. I had minimal morning sickness compared to what I experienced with my first singleton pregnancy.
They were in separate sacs but shared a placenta, making them the second-highest risk twins.
“Monochorionic pregnancies have an approximately 15% risk of developing the twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), which can be associated with perinatal mortality and morbidity despite treatment” (Read more at John Hopkins Medicine, opens in new window)
Q2. What was the duration of your pregnancy? And any noticeable difference between your first singleton pregnancy?
- My twins were born at 35 weeks and 2 days. The strain I experienced on my body was far more significant with my twins.
- While I was encouraged to eat more, I gained very little weight. I simply couldn’t fit in much food due to the amount of space the twins took up, and heartburn was horrid.
- I carried my twins mostly on the front, so my tummy was huge. The doctor gave up measuring as they do with a singleton, as I measured for a 40-week belly at 18 weeks.
- I had a lot of rib pain from about halfway due to one of my twins sitting up high, pretty much under my ribs, arching her back into them.
- The veins in my legs also gave me trouble.
- I lost a lot of mobility in the bottom of my spine.
- I gave up reaching for stuff I dropped on the floor from about 16 weeks.
“I began to experience minimal movement . . . “
Q3. Can you tell us what your delivery date was like?
At 34+6 weeks, I began to experience minimal movement. I was concerned, so I went in for a checkup.
At the checkup, they started moving again, but the doctors called me in the next day for a further scan to just make sure everything was ok. They tried scanning for over 40mins with no movement from my twins (but heartbeats were fine).
The doctors were concerned and immediately began planning for a semi-emergency c-section. I had the steroid shot that day and another the next day. On the 3rd day (35+2), I came in for my semi-emergency c-section in the afternoon.
They prepped me for the c-section and took me in, immediately beginning procedures for an epidural. The epidural took longer to get in as I could not bend over to the extent they needed due to the size of my belly. Once the epidural took effect, the doctors immediately began the c-section.
Evie came out; first, she was so small and started screaming immediately. They showed her to my husband and me before whisking her away.
Zoe took a little longer (2 minutes younger) as they had to push on my lower ribs and belly to force her out). They also showed her to us before whisking her away as well.
They had two teams (one team per twin), and each twin had her own pediatrician and 3 nursing staff to take care of them immediately after birth, to check them over, making sure everything was ok.
Once checked over, they were brought back for us to quickly cuddle before they were rushed to the special care nursery for temperate stabilization.
My husband went with them, and I remained in the operating theater, sewn back up, cleaned up, etc. Once I was out of recovery, they wheeled my bed past the twins (who were in humidicribs) to see them before I was taken to my room to rest. I did not get to hold my baby girls for almost 20 hours after birth.
“Fed is best when it comes to twins; you do what you need to do”
Q4. How did you go about feeding your twins?
I chose not to breastfeed my twins, given my supply issues. Shortly after my twins’ birth, they were fed via a nasal gastric tube while in special care for 9 days.
Once home, we would take turns feeding them every 3 to 4 hours, starting with less than 50ml. They never managed to drink the ‘recommended’ amounts. Bottle feeding turned out to be the right choice in the end, as we learned that one twin had a milk protein allergy and required a different formula from her sister.
In the end, I think fed is best, and when it comes to twins, do what you need to do.
Q5. Sleep, did it happen? How did it happen?
The first 3 months were the hardest 3 months of my life. It was all a blur.
While still in the special care nursery at the hospital, our twins slept together in a double bassinet. Once home, we set up our room so they could continue sharing a cot.
However, after 3 months, we moved them into their own rooms and separate cots. Sometimes the twins would wake up for feeding reasons at the same time and sometimes separately. We would wake the other twin up to feed so they could remind on the same schedule.
Q6. Now that your twins are a bit older, how do you handle jealousy/competition between the twins, or treating them as individuals rather than “bundling them together”?
We have been lucky in that we have not experienced a great deal of jealousy between the twins. Competition, yes, but minimal and healthy. All three of my children compete for my time, their turn to talk, turns on the iPad, etc.
When the twins were younger, we did tend to bundle them together. We referred to them as ‘the babies’, ‘the twins’, etc. Now, as they are older, we treat them as individuals. They, however, certainly know who they are as individuals, but I am not sure if they actually know what twins are and that they are twins. They refer to each other as ‘my sister’, etc.
“Learn to forgive yourself”
Q7. Any final tips and advice for other twin moms-to-be?
I think twin moms need to prepare themselves. You are expecting twins, quite different (very special) from having one baby.
You may not get to follow your birth plan; you may not get to hold your babies immediately after birth, and you may not get to take them home with you when you are discharged. Take care of yourself mentally as well as physically. The pregnancy and birth side of things is SO short and will soon be a distant memory.
You must learn to forgive yourself and leave the mum guilt behind. You have two babies who need your time and attention. Your twin mom journey will differ from a singleton mom’s journey.
Find your nearest Multiple Birth Club and GO! Meet some other twin moms who get it! They get what you are going through; they understand. I found my tribe with my local multiple birth club. Best thing I ever did for myself, my twins, and my family.
Thank you so much, Christel!
Who else is expecting twins, or is a twin mom? Can you relate?
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Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.