8 Ways A Twin Pregnancy Is More Difficult

I've had a lot of babies. I am a mother of six, after all. If there's one thing I'm familiar with, it's pregnancy! My children span in age from 23 years to seven months old. Let's just say, I've learned a lot about motherhood over the years. It's been an incredible journey and I won't deny that — by the fifth pregnancy — I was pretty sure that I had it all figured out.

I was wrong.

When I went in to my midwife's clinic to confirm my pregnancy, she decided to do something unusual. Truthfully, we were all surprised that I was already back for prenatal care. My son was only 16 weeks old and I had been on birth control. We wondered if, maybe, I just still had some pregnancy hormones left in my body. So, we did an impromptu ultrasound with one of those grainy in-office machines.

The two little bubbles on the screen could not be denied. My midwife gathered herself, turning to us long enough to say, "Get your camera out. Film this!" And we did. Only we couldn't share it on social media because she was swearing too much. That's how we found out we were having twins.

The moment was exhilarating, if I'm honest. We couldn't stop giggling. What had begun as a shocking pregnancy turned into something that just felt like destiny. We had two babies on the way and a four-month-old at home. We should have been terrified but the news gave us a sense of peace. Of course, that was before we realized just how crazy things were about to become.

Everything is doubled, even visits to the doctor

At our first trimester screening, we quickly figured out that this was not going to be business as usual. We had become close with the staff at the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic and were surprised by how matter-of-fact everything had become.

Suddenly, we weren't giggling about baby names or wondering if they were identical or fraternal. Instead, we were learning about how closely this pregnancy was going to be monitored. Every appointment would be twice as long because they had to do every measurement and test on both babies. We would have to come in twice as often because they wanted to detect any possible problems as early as possible.

Of course, on the less medical side, we were facing the reality of needing to buy two of everything. Fortunately, our twins ended up being identical boys so they could share clothing with each other as well as inherit hand-me-downs from their slightly older brother. Still, it was a lot to digest!

People make weird comments about how twins are conceived

Let's just get this out of the way – twins are conceived in the same way as any other baby. There are no magic moves that take place in the bedroom and, despite what the twins in Kindergarten Cop say, it is no indication that the babies' father is a "real sex machine."

You would be shocked by how many people freely ask intimate questions on this topic. I've had elderly woman at the bank leave me blushing by suggesting that I must have had a really great time in order to get pregnant with twins. So, for once and for all, twin pregnancies occur through the same mechanics as any other pregnancy!

You will be huge and people won't hesitate to tell you

In any pregnancy, it's expected that the mother-to-be will gain some weight. Not only is she growing a brand new human being but she's also carrying around a lot of excess water, her blood volume has increased, and she's now got an extra organ – the placenta!

Imagine, therefore, how much bigger a woman can become if she's carrying more than one baby. It's normal and expected. Chances are, she probably has little control over how much weight she has gained, and is quite aware of how easy it is to spot her walking down the street.

I don't know why people feel the need to bring up a pregnant woman's girth to begin with but I was absolutely astonished by how entertaining my twin belly could be to strangers. I was in a grocery store once and a woman walked right up to me and said, "You've got to have more than one in there." I blinked a couple times, trying to push aside my struggle to decide between plain and cinnamon raisin bagels long enough to process her question. "Twins," I finally replied with a forced smile. She nodded and then literally looked past me down the aisle and yelled, "Pay up! I told you there was at least two in there!" I was mortified!

No matter how many times I thought I had been annoyed by people wanting to comment on my belly size in previous pregnancies, nothing could ever compare to how insane things became in the weeks before my twins were born.

Most mothers will not understand your journey

There's a sisterhood that exists between women who have given birth. This, of course, does not take away from the bond we have with those who can't or have chosen to not have children but there is a kinship that we share with those who have gone through similar experiences. When you discover that you are expecting twins, though, you will often find yourself headed down the road less traveled.

One of the best things about talking to other women is being able to ask for advice on different things. When you're expecting more than one baby, there aren't too many people who will know what that feels like. I found myself turning to message boards or my doctor for advice but, ultimately, I just had to figure it out on my own. It was a wonderful and amazing experience but it was also lonely sometimes.

You are worried about two lives instead of one

Rather than referring to "the baby," you will have to get used to saying "Baby A" and "Baby B." During ultrasounds, medical staff will be very careful to make sure they are monitoring the right baby each time so that the progression of their growth is accurate and normal. It is stressful enough to go through this with one baby but it's extra difficult to keep track of two.

Once any pregnancy progresses, many women become obsessed with tracking the number of kicks they feel from their baby in an hour. Try doing that when you don't know whose feet are moving! Fortunately, my twins settled into their positions pretty early (Baby A stayed head down till the very end while Baby B liked to lay sideways along the bottom of my rib cage – it was horrible!) and I was able to mostly keep track of who was who. It definitely wasn't easy, though!

The risks are absolutely terrifying

The intricate chain of events that take a fertilized egg through to the birth of a child are nothing short of miraculous. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned. This is especially true in the case of twins (and all multiples!).

I'm no doctor so I won't detail all of the terrifying things that you are made to face, but I will touch on one thing that seems to be an extremely common concern – twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. Basically, a potential complication is that one twin can end up "stealing" nutrition and other vital resources from its sibling, allowing one to thrive while the other suffers. In the end, both can die if the issue isn't addressed quickly and effectively. It only happens in identical twins who share a placenta and, of course, our boys fell into that category.

While many women feel excited going to ultrasounds, we maintained subdued optimism. We wanted to be prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best. Fortunately, our little guys stayed within a few ounces of each other for the entire pregnancy and experienced no other major complications. The pregnancy was horrible, but I was willing to suffer as long as they were growing!

You really can't make a birth plan

I was the queen of birth plans. I had all sorts of rules for maintaining a calm, positive birthing environment. Caregivers weren't allowed to use words like "pain" and they couldn't talk about medical interventions unless it was absolutely necessary. The last time I gave birth before the twins were born, my midwife brought in a lava lamp and we sang along to the Hair soundtrack until I felt like I needed to bring my focus inward. I did deep breathing, practiced hypnobirthing techniques, and brought four children into the world in a kind and gentle way.

When the twins arrived? It was utter chaos.

My goal was to make it to 36 weeks and I succeeded. Just 12 months and two days after our last little boy had been born, one of my waters broke and I decided not to rush to the hospital. I took my time since I wasn't having contractions. When my second water broke, I decided it was time to make my way to the hospital – but first, I needed to pee.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that a foot – just a single foot – was hanging out of my body! I started to panic. Me! Ms. I-Was-Born-to-Birth-in-Tranquilty was trembling from head-to-toe and my partner took a moment to digest what I was saying. Then, he wanted to verify what I was telling him. It took very little effort for him to see that a part of our son had exited my body so we had a quick conversation about what to do.

Ultimately, he convinced me to let him drive us to the hospital. I didn't know how to walk down the stairs to our driveway. I didn't know how to sit in the van without hurting this little baby foot! I thought things couldn't get any worse and then suddenly they did – the contractions started and they just kept on coming. I did everything I could to remain calm as he called ahead to let the hospital know that we were having an emergency. By the time we got there, a team was assembled and waiting. With the babies in distress, they prepped me for an emergency c-section.

I didn't protest. I could only whimper. Gone were my dreams of holding one as I pushed out the other. I would not be having the immediate skin-to-skin bonding that I had imagined for so many months. And I didn't care. I just wanted them to be born and I wanted them to be safe.

When I heard Baby A cry, all I could muster was, "His foot? Is his foot okay? Are his legs okay?" Screw lava lamps and birth plans. In that moment, I learned that any birth resulting in a healthy baby was a good one, especially when it comes to twins!

Postpartum recovery can take a lot longer

For many reasons, the recovery following a twin pregnancy can take a lot longer. First of all, your body worked twice as hard to grow more than one baby. Of course, it's going to take some time to get back to feeling normal! Along the same lines, you probably gained more weight than you would have, had you been carrying singleton. So, you might have to accept that you won't see your pre-pregnancy clothes for a little while.

Since twin pregnancies have higher chance of resulting in a c-section, that will also affect recovery time. Healthcare providers will have very specific instructions following this surgery and it's important to follow their advice in order to have the best income.

It's also not uncommon to have some emotional baggage from the stress of carrying more than one baby. For this reason, it's especially important to be on the lookout for signs of postpartum depression. It's normal to experience shifts in emotions as hormones return to their normal levels, especially after a twin pregnancy, but there's no shame in talking to a medical professional if things feel particularly overwhelming.

Difficult but doubly worth it

Believe it or not, I have actually met a few twin moms who say that they had decent pregnancies. The majority, though, say that it was a pretty difficult time. It can feel scary to worry about how things are going to turn out and the toll it takes on your body is truly mind-blowing.

That being said, when you look into the eyes of two sweet little faces looking back at you — it's all worth it. Twins are definitely a handful and you will be chasing them for years to come, but double the trouble also means double the blessings.