What No One Tells You About Having Twins

by Catrina Hermenet
Two twin babies smiling.
BorupFoto / Getty

There I was, 8 months pregnant with twins.The days were long and the nights were longer. I couldn’t sleep anymore, couldn’t pee with out my legs going numb, my ankles were so swollen I could shed a tear just thinking about it (literally scared my pedicurist when I removed my boots), I had severe pelvic pain, and could have won an award for the best pregnant waddle of all time.

The day finally came. My water broke at 1:30 a.m. of my 37th week. I ran around the house like a wild woman while I was getting amniotic fluid all over our carpet. It was like I suddenly lost my mind. I was wearing red plaid pajama pants (my husband’s) and a blue polka dot shirt. I was suddenly horrified to go to the hospital looking like I did.

But instead of changing I called my mom and she was able to talk sense into me. I thought when your water broke it was go time. I was envisioning myself giving birth to twins in the car on our way to the hospital. I quickly got a bath towel and black trash bag to sit on so I didn’t saturate our car.

I had a C-section at 3:15 a.m. and had a horrifying mishap during surgery. Apparently the anesthesiologist didn’t realize how tall I was and didn’t do up far enough with the spinal block and I suddenly felt everything. Longest 60 seconds of screaming agony I have ever experienced (even more painful than the labor I experienced with my singleton birth).

But after all was said and done, I had two perfect little boys. One I got to bond with right away, and one who I kissed goodbye as he was rushed to the NICU. He had aspirated amniotic fluid that had meconium in it and he was having problems breathing. So there I was bonding with this perfect new little human of mine, while I couldn’t stop thinking about the one I wasn’t bonding with. I was in agony. I wanted more than anything to have them both in my sight. I finally talked one of the nurses into letting me try to see him. So they got me up to go to the bathroom before they were going to put me in my wheelchair and I passed out. After that they wouldn’t let me get up anymore ( and rightly so).

I can’t even really explain what its like to be a new mom, suddenly have two babies, and only be able to bond with one. I was an emotional wreck, to say the least. Finally after a 5 day hospital stay, we were all able to go home. I only held my NICU baby twice before leaving. I’ll never forget what it was like to get ready to leave that hospital room and see my husband walk in with a second car seat. To say that I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I honestly can’t even imagine a mom of triplets or more. (If that’s you, I’m sure you’re just chuckling. It’s all about perspective, right?)

We got home and I felt no connection to my NICU baby. And I had immense guilt. Hours after my C-section they had me pumping to compensate for not being able to nurse both babies. So when I got home, I was pumping every 4 hours, and nursing a baby every hour (they were each eating every 2 hours, but were on opposite schedules). I was getting a total of about 45 minutes of sleep per night. I was not surviving.

We finally moved in with my in-laws, and my mother-in-law kept a baby at night and I kept one. The amount of control you have to let go of as a twin mom is very humbling experience. I didn’t have the choice to do things a certain way. I didn’t have the choice to hold my babies all the time. I didn’t have the choice to spoil them. I was forced to set a schedule and stick to it to maintain sanity. I almost had to distance myself from them in a way because I honestly couldn’t handle being upset when I had to let one cry while I tended to the other.

Having twins as your first babies changes how you parent. I never had “first baby syndrome” with them because you physically can’t. How do you hold both babies and tend to their every little whine without freaking out? You don’t.

In the long run I think its been really good because they had a lot of balance and so did I. But psychologically, I feel like even though they were my first, I had to treat them like my second. If that makes sense. Something that happens naturally when you have children consecutively is forced when you’re a parent of multiples. And I wasn’t ready for it. I even feel guilty now that I’ve experienced a singleton pregnancy. I have enjoyed him as a baby so much more. I wished away the twins babyhood because all I wanted was for them to be older so it wasn’t so hard.

Having two babies the same age means you are constantly comparing them to each other. Even though I told myself in my head, “they are different and will develop differently” I still freaked when one started doing something before the other. It means they both need you in the same way at the same time. You can’t distract one with a TV show and snacks while you put the baby down for the nap.

To have two babies need you in the same way at the same time is physically and emotionally exhausting. I constantly compared my relationships with each baby, and felt guilty when I felt more bonded to one or the other. I feel like my role as mom of multiples forced me to be strict because, if I wasn’t, our lives literally would have fallen apart if we didn’t have some kind of consistency.

Having multiple children the same age definitely throws a whole new dynamic in the family. It places a different psychological strain on the parents. I can’t sit here and say its harder than having three children consecutively. But it is most certainly different.