What It's REALLY Like to Be Pregnant With Twins

twins on shag rugThese days, it seems like twins are everywhere, so you'd think when people see that double stroller rolling down the street, they'd just shrug and go, "Way to hog the sidewalk, you twin people, you." But noooo. It seems that despite the growing number of multiples out there, many people still look at twins like they're freaks of nature. With identicals on the way, I'm even more concerned about the carnival-show-fascination, worried about how I'm going to make them feel like unique individuals when strangers ask questions like, "When one falls down, does the other one cry?"

Hey, they haven't even left my pregnant belly yet, and already, I get a ton of twin-specific questions about what exactly those two are doing in there. Some questions are totally inappropriate, some are fairly stupid -- but for the most part, I don't really mind. So, for all of you inquiring minds out there, allow me to answer some questions about being pregnant with twins ....

  1. "Twins, so cool, are they natural?": Every pregnant-with-twins mom has likely heard this at least once ... and is bound to hear it regularly over the course of her children's life. First of all, what kind of question is that? Oh no, they're genetically-enhanced mutant ninja babies, but way to cut to the chase, Barbara Walters! Of course, we all know what they're getting at -- are they IUI or IVF babies? Put simply: it's none of your business! And also: why do you care? It's not like you'd ask a woman pregnant with just one baby, "Oh, you're due in November? Was she conceived on Valentine's Day? Were you on top?" But, here are the facts: Those who undergo fertility treatments that stimulate ovulation have about a 20-40 percent chance of giving birth to fraternal twins. So, yes, it's more common among people who have IUI or IVF, but that's not the only way twins are made.
  2. "Twins, so cool, do they run in your family?": This question I can kind of get on board with, because they're not trying to figure out your fertility issues -- they simply want to know, "How did this HAPPEN?" Well, about 1 in 32 births are twin births. If fraternal twins run in your family, there is a 1 in 60 chance that you'll have them yourself. Over the age of 35, your odds increase as well. And they're more common among African-American women. As for identicals, they're just a totally random occurrence, having nothing to do with heredity, race or fertility treatments. They're also super rare: just 1 in 250 births. With odds like that, I've been playing Super Lotto!
  3. "Did you see that video, with the twins?": Oh yes, I've seen the video of the twin babies gabbing and the twin babies sneezing in unison -- everyone has seen them! And if for some reason, I managed to miss any of the too-cute-for-words footage, about twenty different people emailed me the videos just to make SURE that I had seen them. Yes, all those twin videos are totally adorable ... but after the 25th viewing, they lose some of their charm and become kind of Children of the Corn creepy. Just being honest.
  4. "What's it feel like having two in there?": Now, I really don't know what it's like to have just one baby in my belly, but I imagine that having two is just, like, double that? One of my babies is on the left, one is on the right. One is head down, while the other is head up. When Baby A moves, my bladder spasms. When Baby B moves, I feel a jolt up in my ribs. Sometimes they're both moving like crazy; at other moments, one might be getting busy while his brother is taking a nap. I love it when they're both moving because it looks like they're doing the wave on either side of my belly button. In fact, I'm starting to wonder if they're synchronized swimmers-in-training because one time, I swear, Baby A's foot/fist came up and seemed to be sliding across the surface of my belly like a shark fin. It then dropped down somewhere along the middle of my stomach, and then, whoa, popped up on the other side (in the form of Baby B's foot/fist) to finish the sequence.
  5. "Can they touch each other?": No, they can't, thankfully. Twins are in their own amniotic sacs, so while they can feel each other squirming, there's no direct contact. They don't switch positions either -- their space is their space. In extremely rare cases, some identical twins (Mo-Mo twins) end up sharing an amniotic sac, which is very dangerous, even deadly. So as cute as it would be to, say, see them holding hands on your ultrasound, you really don't want them to be able to touch each other in the womb.
  6. "Will you have to have a c-section?": The majority of twins are delivered via c-section, but it's not a given. As my doctor explained, if Baby A (the one closest to the exit) is head down, if they're about the same size, and if my pelvis is wide enough, they can both come out vaginally. What doctors want to avoid though is having you go through hours of labor to deliver the first baby, only to then have a c-section to get his brother out.  
  7. "Aren't twins always premature?": Yep, twins come early -- their full gestation is 36 weeks, rather than the typical 40 for singletons. Many come after 36 weeks, many come around weeks 34-36, and many come even earlier than that. If twins stay in the belly until after 34 weeks though, they're usually going to be just fine. Mother Nature has her way of speeding up twin babies' development so that they're cooked much earlier, even though they may be a lot smaller.
  8. "If they're identical twins, they're going to look exactly the same, right?": I hate to be snide, but yes, that's what identical means-- they have the same exact DNA, they're carbon copies of each other. But, that being said, they'll likely be born at different weights, and as they grow, their genes are going to manifest themselves in different ways. So, there may be small differences between them that those close to them will be able to recognize. Overall though, they're going to look completely alike with the same eye color, hair color, the same little faces. 
  9. "Will they be on the same schedule and everything since they're twins?": This is an interesting one because I'd love nothing more than for them to sleep and eat at the same time, to have the same rhythms. From what I hear though, even identical twins are completely unique individuals from birth, with their own preferences and personalities. One may have colic, while the other is easy-peasy. One may love the swing, while the other needs to be snuggled 24/7. One might be crawling while the other is still learning to scoot. They're each their own little person ... they just happen to have been born at the same time.

Phew, so I think that about covers it! But just in case, what have you always wondered about twin pregnancies? Twin mamas, can you relate?

Image via lencurrie/Flickr

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