I am so lucky to have my girls, and they have changed my life. But there are so many things that I wish people knew about a multiple pregnancy and its impact on your life. There are so many questions we’re asked, and so many things that are said and sometimes the answers are not easy, and the story isn’t that simple.
I can’t imagine having twins!
So many people hear you’re having twins and automatically see those cute, chubby babies dressed in matching clothes sitting in a pram. Sweet little identical faces, the anecdotes about twins in your family, and the mischief credited to twins are immediate conversation topics. Society loves twins and can’t get enough of them. But behind many of these stories lies a different, darker side.
Two for the price of one, right?
Multiple births carry a lot of risks. Many people start with the hopes and dreams of taking home two babies. In the worst-case scenario, some of these will only bring home one or have only a few ultrasound pictures and heartbreak.
Parents of multiples have conversations that singleton parents don’t have. Most will have had a conversation at least once during their pregnancy about termination or reduction. Many risk factors are discussed as well, and their pregnancies are scrutinized closely.
There is a constant worry about what-ifs, and if you develop a complication, what happens next? Will both survive? What will happen in the long term?
What a great blessing!
Prematurity is a big hurdle. There are extended NICU stays, and even though they’re born, there are still many risks these babies face. Infections, and diseases – things that, as adults, don’t impact us, can have a devastating effect on our babies. There are many hours spent in the NICU by parents of multiple, and it can be a lonely and often isolating time.
I don’t know how you do it!
We often don’t either. When we come home from the hospital, there’s suddenly a shift. 2 babies need our every moment, time, energy, and minute dedicated to survival. Parents sleep in shifts, there is endless washing, and our sanity hangs on by a thread. Post-natal depression and anxiety are a real threat. We want to be perfect parents, but the reality is that parents of multiples are sometimes hanging on by a thread.
You have your hands full!
Prematurity and complications don’t end at birth. Many multiples have longer-term issues related to their early delivery and some of the difficulties that happened before birth. Parents struggle, and are told that prematurity ends by age 2, and that they shouldn’t worry. But we still have to go to endless appointments, checkups, and even therapies to help our babies thrive. There is the battle to get things followed up and avoid that paranoid parent label.
Better you than me!
There are moments when we wish things weren’t so hard. When we think back to when things were easier. Sure, we make jokes and answer your questions, but the reality is that multiple parenting is challenging. A high-risk pregnancy, followed by all the things I’ve talked about with NICU and beyond – there are times when we also wish it was someone else.
You’re so lucky!
In a way, we are. It’s an exclusive club, but the initiation rites and hazing process are brutal. The stress it causes, the moments of fear, and the downright exhaustion take their toll.
We have those special moments that enter our hearts for the lucky ones – the first smiles, the double cuddles, and the laughs. But for others, it can be a devastating reminder of what could have been.
Are they both yours?
Because of the journey we went through, and the battles I’ve had to fight for them – prematurity, long term outcomes, and beyond- both are firmly embedded into my heart equally. They’re both mine, and I will fiercely protect them.
They have taught me resilience and patience, they have helped me find strengths I didn’t know I had, and boy, they’ve added more than a few grey hairs to my head. Having multiples has changed me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It isn’t an easy road. But it’s been quite a journey.