Finding out that you are pregnant with multiples is one of the most shocking, surprising, and surreal experiences an expectant mother can go through. For some, this moment is a joyous one; for others, it is the opposite. For me, it became a journey—a journey that took my entire pregnancy and many different phases in order to finally accept my twin-fate.
Stage 1: Shock
Oh, I remember it well. My husband and I were at my 20-week ultrasound excitedly and anxiously awaiting the gender reveal of our third child. A couple minutes into my appointment after finding out we were having a boy (as I had expected), I jokingly asked the ultrasound technician, “There’s just one in there, right?” I had been paranoid, but in my mind, I believed it was needlessly so. The tech quickly confirmed. Then she moved the wand to the other side of my belly. That’s when her face just changed. I looked at her and knew something was wrong. I abruptly asked, “What?!”
It turned out there was another baby in there. Everything after that is kind of blurry. I felt disbelief and looked at my husband in panic. He was expressionless. Then I remember saying, “No, no, no, no,” and asking the technician if she was joking. I 100-percent expected her to admit that she was kidding, but who would joke about such things?! After telling me that it was, in fact, not a joke, she excused herself so I could freak out in privacy. I took some time to panic and cry and say God-knows-what before we left—having to inevitably reschedule my appointment for a longer time slot.
Shock is the only way I can describe the state I was in for the rest of the day. I walked around in a daze. I truly believed I was in a dream. I cried. I called my midwife. I made the occasional joke, but then I was just numb.
Stage 2: Denial
I went to bed that night thinking I would wake up to a reality that did not include having twins. I just wasn’t ready to accept it yet. I told as few people as I could. People who knew I had my ultrasound would ask, “What are you having?” I would respond, “a boy” with a smile. The more people I told, the more real it got—just a boy. And because I hadn’t gotten a full ultrasound yet, I didn’t even know the extent of what was going on. Were they identical? Fraternal? Did they share one sac? One placenta? Were they both OK? Then I started to think, “Maybe they were wrong. I could go back for my ultrasound, and they could realize that they had made a mistake!”
My original provider was a midwife, and I had planned a birth-center delivery like I had done before. But in Washington state, it is illegal to deliver twins at a birth center. I was so overwhelmed with the idea of finding an OB and having a million different appointments that the thought actually occurred to me, Maybe I just won’t do any of it. I just won’t go. They can’t make me. Let me say this: I am very responsible with my pregnancies, so the fact I thought this even for a moment is a serious indicator of how much I was struggling and the extent of denial I was in.
Stage 3: Depression
This was the longest stage for me. After the shock and denial wore off, I just sunk into a depression. I moped around the house while sighing constantly. I had weekly emotional breakdowns. I know that some won’t understand, but I never desired having twins. I always thought twins would be so much work, and I never felt I was such an exceptional parent that I could raise two infants at the same time while caring for two other children.
I was also struggling with being pregnant again in the first place. I had wanted a third—and final—child, but my oldest son was having some really serious health issues, so part of me almost felt stupid for procreating again when I had a child who was suffering. I wondered if our genes could create the same issue in another child or how would I care for a baby when so much of my energy was going to my son who was in poor health. Sometimes I asked myself, Why are you having MORE children to worry about?! Then I found out I was having two more, and it elevated those feelings. It was all so overwhelming and foreign to me. I feared for the health of the babies. I feared how my labor would go. I feared for myself. I feared the unknown.
The first time I saw my midwife after I found out the news, she just looked at me knowingly and hugged me for the longest time, letting me sob on her shoulder. She told me it might take my entire pregnancy to get to where I needed to be emotionally and mentally and to not rush it—that sometimes if we rush these things then we don’t do it “right.” So I trusted her and took my time.
Stage 4: Acceptance
This was a good stage for me. I had finally accepted my reality. I started doing research. I talked to other like-minded mothers of twins. It took me a while, but I chose an OB, made a birth plan, and registered for twin stuff. I was finally less vulnerable to people’s “well-meaning” comments and advice. I was having twins, and it just was what it was. I wasn’t thrilled. I wasn’t dreading it. I was just accepting it. I was doing it.
Stage 5: Bliss
This stage surprisingly did come for me, but not until after the babies were born. After everything I had gone through emotionally, mentally and physically, I couldn’t believe how happy I felt after they were born. One healthy baby is such a blessing that I couldn’t believe how incredibly fortunate I was to have two. My whole pregnancy, I thought, Why me?! Then, once the babies arrived, I was still saying it but in a different sense. What had I done to deserve such a blessing?
I wish I could go back in time and tell the pregnant me how wonderful it would be, but pregnant me wouldn’t have listened. Instead, I felt cursed. I never thought I would have twins. Who were these little strangers anyway? After they were born, I looked at them and searched their faces as I got to know them. They were mine. They were meant to be mine, regardless of what I had thought before.
If you are going through something similar, know that you aren’t alone in your feelings. In time, you will get to a blissful state—maybe not in the same way I did, but it will come. I know now that I had to go through all of the hard phases to get to this place. And it is pretty damn good.