parent of twins

Two At Once – Becoming a Parent of Twins

In this article, we shared our thoughts about the happiness and difficulties of becoming a parent of twins. We also included comments of experienced people on this issue.

While in her 30th week of pregnancy with twins, Charlotte Denise found herself in the hospital after a routine exam showed she was 4 centimeters dilated. For weeks, she was given medication to stop contractions and underwent a battery of tests: ultrasounds every third or fourth day, and fetal monitoring once each day. “This has got to be worth it,” she reminded herself. And in the end, it was. After three weeks, Charlotte went home and was on bed rest until her scheduled  cesarean section. At 39 weeks, she delivered two boys, 7 pounds, 9 ounces each.

Stories like Charlotte’s are not uncommon for twin pregnancies. Twin pregnancies are potentially more complicated and higher-risk than their singleton counterparts. Dr. Sarah Sours of Chicago says, “Weight gain is 40 [pounds] instead of 28, you need more calcium, folic acid, more exercise.” Dr. Judy Ecardo of Santa Monica, Calif. says, “There’s a higher rate of complications: morning sickness, placental bleeding, hypertension, diabetes, pre-term labor.”

An important factor of twin pregnancies is the greater risk of premature delivery. Sours says that on average, twins are born at 36 ½ weeks instead of 40 to 41 weeks for singletons. In addition, there are “many more admissions to the prenatal ICU. Most ICU beds are filled with multiples.” The long-term effects depend on the level of prematurity. “It depends on how premature,” Moses says. Check our article to learn more about premature delivery: Symptoms and Causes of Premature Birth.

“If you find you’re having twins, prepare to be on bed rest for the end of your pregnancy,”   Ecardo says.

After Delivery

If twins bring double the happiness, they also double the stress. Charlotte Denise says the lack of sleep was difficult in the beginning, but establishing a schedule eased a lot of the pressure. “A routine is important,” she says. “Find something you’re comfortable with. Find what’s natural. Where sleep deprivation was a problem, it was just finding a routine or system. Then it worked.”

Another issue that may worry a twin mother-to-be is breastfeeding. For some, it already seems difficult to breastfeed one; how can they possibly nurse two babies? Ecardo says moms of twins get tired and some supplement, but Sours and Denise are sources of inspiration: They both breastfed their twins for longer than a year. While they each found different means, the end was the same. They were able to nurse their babies on demand and maintain their own personal equilibrium.

Growing Up

One of the biggest concerns for couples having twins is the double hit to the pocketbook. But the Sours and the Denise families say it’s manageable. “The cost are definitely doubled,” Michael Denise says, especially when it comes to things such as diapers and food.

But there are also some advantages that can balance out the costs. According to Sours, there is a stronger and more justifiable need to borrow. While they had to have “two swings, two Johnny Jumpers, two cribs…we scrounged a lot more.” There was also the advantage of hand-me-downs for Denise and Sours. Sours’ son was considerably larger than his daughter, a size disparity sometimes seen in twins, and this created instant hand-me-downs from one child to the other.

While the challenge of meeting the needs of two personalities seems daunting to many expecting parents, the rewards of parenting are increased exponentially. “Now my kids play with each other,” Sours says. “They understand sharing better than other kids. Those are things I wouldn’t trade.”