The whole twins thing

September 8, 2013 § 31 Comments

I’ve been promising a post dedicated to my response to the fact that I am pregnant with two babies for awhile now.

First, though. Thanks for all of your reassurance about the babies being okay while I was in Stage III. And, more importantly, the decision to buy the minivan. I’ve been driving it for a couple of days now. And, let me tell you. That thing is P.I.M.P. I have not regretted that decision for a minute. I am going to be so baller.

And the babies. The Artsy Engineer really wanted to bake the cookies, so we did. He also picked out a thank you card and wrote a really clever and appreciative note to the staff. (He is a clever man.) We did, however, cover our asses and left everything outside of the clinic hiding behind some plants in case something went wrong and we had to keep our naive optimism hidden. But it was unnecessary. The babies are continuing to do well. They’re on track. Beat beat beating away. Heart rates are still within normal limits. Baby A’s was 180 and Baby B’s was 168. (When we were leaving, one of the administrative assistants insisted that it must be a girl and a boy because of this. Whatever. Just give them to me healthy and happy.) Baby B was kicking its little legs around and waving its arms. Nobody wanted to hold still for measurements or photos. I added the photos to the Inmates’ page anyway. Note: If you look at the picture, tell me that my uterus (or whatever the name is for that visible lighter layer that surrounds each amniotic sac.. if you know I’d be interested) does not look like a swan’s neck encircling the babies. Anyway, I think they pick up on all of the stress hormone coursing through my veins and see it as a cue to go nuts. (SO GLAD my job means that I am aware of the fact that in utero cortisol exposure is associated with right amygdala volume, susceptibility to affective problems in childhood, glucocorticoid secretion in adulthood, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Among other things. So awesome that I will be doing the bulk of my dissertation and going on internship interviews during the course of this pregnancy. Good luck, babies!!!) The nurses actually gave us a little gift, as well. A pair of monkey stuffed animals. Incredibly sweet and pretty surreal. Real objects of comfort for my real live babies who will (please please) be here in March.

But the twin thing. I promised to talk about the twin thing. And K over at the cork & stork blog made a direct request, so I figure it’s time to get on it.

Let me start by saying that I have never been one of those people who wanted twins. Never thought they’d be especially cute. I actually always kind of felt a little bad for twins and their families. So much work for the parents! You don’t get your own birthday! Etc, etc. In fact, when we were discussing options for paying for IVF, the biggest reason we were wary of the shared risk program was that it necessitated the transfer of two embryos (if there were two). I know that there are benefits to twins, too. There is always a playmate around. A teammate. A confidante. And I get two babies! That part is nothing but perfect.

But, when I found out it was two, my reaction was not all tinsel and snowflakes. I cried with love when I heard each of their hearts beat in turn, yes. I was enamored with each of them instantly. But the whole TWINS thing? Gahhh.

Image

My reaction was initially not all that different to my reaction to these two.

Truthfully, I don’t even like the term, which is why you haven’t really seen my use it in this space. The Artsy Engineer and I substituted the term the babies from the beginning. The word twins implies an entity. And the word for one member of this pair, a twin, always made me think that the person was not whole or complete or individual by him or herself. So, we have twins, yes. But I prefer to think of it as we are having two babies. At once.

Put my lexical quirkiness aside, and there are other concerns that linger.

1) Health. Mine and the babies. Straight talk. There is more risk for them. And more risk for me. And I don’t like this at all.

2) Money. Money will not always be a thing for us. I get that. I will not make bank, by any means, when I finally get myself a real grown up job, but I will make our living more comfortable. For now, though, we get by on a single income brought in by a state employee in addition to help from my parents for big purchases (like minivans and the down payment on the house). We are going to be soooo broke next year. We have some idealistic remedies for this that may or may not pan out, like cloth diapers and breastfeeding. But there will still need to be either daycare OR my husband taking a year off of work and doing the stay-at-home-dad thing while I make a whopping 20 grand while on internship and supplement with student loans.

3) The individual bond with the babies and their own individuality from one another. This sounds silly, but I have a hard time picturing how I will have as strong of a bond with each of these children as I would if I were to only have one child. I won’t be able to spend nearly as much one on one time with Baby A and Baby B. Will that affect my bond with them? Perhaps this concern is unfounded. I don’t know. I’ve never had children. Maybe it would even be a good thing in that it’s nearly impossible to be a helicopter parent of twins. I just can’t divide my attention and devote it fully to two children at once. Maybe they will grow up being a little less spoiled and a little less certain of their place in the center of the universe. Which has got to be a good thing. Also, I will not dress these children alike. When they are old enough to know the difference, they will have their own things.

4) My sanity. This is probably naive, too. But I always thought I’d be one of those parents who maintain her own individuality while also becoming a mom. I am passionate about many things. I don’t want to lose myself in my children and talk or think of nothing else. Do I want to be a mom? Yes. And the family is the most important of my values. But I don’t want to lose my Self. I don’t want to lose my relationship with husband. I don’t want to lose my spark and brightness. And when it comes down to it, it’s simply going to be more work with two than it would be with one. I know this. Can we handle it? Definitely. Will it always be with grace? Nope. But my husband is a hands-on kind of dude. I have no doubt that he will parent as much as I parent. This will surely help.

5) My stomach. Here’s the thing. I’ve always been thin. Not unhealthily thin. But on the very low end of normal,healthy weight kind of thin. When you’ve always been thin, certain things happen. You hear about it from others. A lot. In middle school I was lovingly teased for my knees being the thickest part of my legs. During puberty, this morphed into backhanded ‘compliments’ from friends and acquaintances in the locker room during gym class. Things like, “ugh, i hate you” or “ugh, i wish i was skinny so could pull off those [insert clothing item here].” They were always said with a tone of disdain and a bit of an exaggerated glare that was meant to be cute but actually made me feel kind of bad on the inside. And I never knew how to respond to that sort of thing. I still don’t. I thought this would end with the end of college, maybe. But it turns out that it’s not just teenagers who do this. Adults do it, too. And let me tell you what happens when people around you place so much attention on the object that is your body. You start paying more attention to the object that is your body. Thinness becomes part of your identity. Just like blonde hair might. And, I wont lie. I’m a little more vain than I’d care to admit. I like my thinness. I like my flat stomach. Do I think curves are beautiful? And bellies on women? ABSOLUTELY. But they aren’t my body. This is hard for me to say out loud. It’s really embarrassing, actually. I love bodies, in general. And they don’t have to be perfect bodies for me to see beauty in them. But do I love the fact that I will develop what they apparently refer to as “twin skin”? I don’t have to answer that question because Google it. Do I love the fact that I probably won’t wear a bikini again? Effno.

Now.

Do I wish my two babies were one? Absolutely not. I love them each. I would be devastated if we lost either of them. I want both of these babies in our lives. And, while I don’t do the whole religion thing, I feel so blessed by the universe. So very grateful.

As an aside, I cannot wait to see my dad’s face light up when he meets them for the first time. His response was positively glowing when I told him about the two. I believe he just said, “perfect, Lentil.” My dad is a pediatric ICU doctor. Children love him and he loves them back. He’s the kind of doctor who brings water guns into the hospital to make kids laugh. Unfortunately, most of the kids he treats are so sick, they can’t play back. But he does it nonetheless, because he knows even a weak smile can make a difference. He also has this thing with the mother/child bond. He actually knows a ton of research on this subject. And he collects art depicting it as well, especially Native American depictions. So, yeah. Artsy Engineer and I cannot wait to make him a grandparent and to have him around our babes as long as nature allows it.

This may be the wordiest post I’ve ever written, so you’re welcome. Also, please kick my ass in comments if this sounds unappreciative or insensitive to my infertile sisters still in the trenches. I mean. I wrote a whole paragraph about what the babies may do to my stomach, for godsake. I am so very hypersensitive to all of that. In fact, sometimes I don’t post because of it. So I avoid, which is definitely not the way to do it either. I don’t know. There is no published etiquette for this sort of thing. If there were, I would have hunted it down and devoured it already.

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§ 31 Responses to The whole twins thing

  • Don’t worry Lentil. When I was pregnant with twins I had many of the same concerns particularly “twin skin” cause let’s face it, that shit looks crazy in those photos. I’m sure you will love these babies more than you ever thought possible. I don’t think having children changes who we are, just what we care about. Life will be crazy at first but you and AE can handle it. Health is a valid concern twin pregnancies are hard on the body. Just take care of yourself. Make sure you’re drinking tons of water and eating tons of protein. Also I don’t know if this is true but I’ve heard that eating plenty of good gelatin and collagen (like from good soup stocks – not jello packages) can help prevent stretch marks etc… I wish the best for you and the inmates.

    • Thank you, friend. Perhaps I will break my vegetarianism and start eating Pho again. Bone broth must be FILLED with collagen. And thank you for validating my concerns. I feel so silly for worrying about some of these things (particularly, the silly ones, like twin skin), but my brain does what it does. Also, I’ve been thinking about you like crazy and waiting for your next update!

  • Aramis says:

    As someone who is not (and may never be) pregnant, I can tell you that the thought of losing my body (vain as it may be) scares the crap out of me. I’m not naturally thin, I have to work pretty hard at it, and knowing that I wouldn’t have the time/energy/desire to get my body back post-partum makes me wonder if pregnancy is worth it. Does that stop me from trying IVF and crying when it doesn’t work? Hell no. But it does make me (and hence you) practical people who aren’t going into this with rose coloured glasses and unrealistic expectations. And since this whole post is on the topic of twins, I’ll just add that my brother and sister are twins but it never felt like anything special to either them or me growing up. Maybe it’s different because they’re opposite sex fraternal twins, but they both had their own lives and friends and never grew dependent on each other. And my mom had me to contend with on top of it all, so it’s totally doable. Harder, sure, but all worth it in the end.

    • I do see lots of benefits to twins. I really do. I think many of my fears are very likley totally unfounded and based on a naive picture of what twindome is like.

      And thanks for making me feel less bad about the body image stuff. It seems like such a silly thing to be thinking about when you are finally pregnant. But, you’re right. It’s just a healthy serving of realism. Along with a generous pinch of growing up in a society that idolizes flawlessness.

  • twins are two kids, born at just about the same time to the same parents. They will be their own people, and they will probably have a little bit of a freaky twin-twin connection, hey, whatever, right?
    i’m with you though, I wouldn’t pick to have twins if I got to pick (maybe that’s why we don’t get to pick). while I was taking clomid I had terrible fears that we would get pregnant with twins and I would have to wrap my mind and our pocketbooks around that.

    and the body thing, while i’m sure is even scarier with twins, is still scary with one fetus. i’m terrified that my 6 pack abs, which my hubby loves/d and i am/was shamefully proud of, may never return, that i’ll think of my self differently and my husband will think differently of me. I am scared of that. there’s nothing I can do about it, but still. yes, I am that vain. so, I feel ya there.

    but, it’ll all be worth it. it just will.

  • Amber says:

    I think all women worry about their bodies, so do t feel too bad about that. The only thing I want to kick your ass about (not really) is feeling like you can’t voice your concerns for fear if insulting IF still in the trenches. We all know your struggle to get here, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience pregnancy woes like everyone else! I also think its normal to worry about how our lives will change when the babies come. I think being pregnant with one is probably scary enough, but two? Omgoodness. The complications and risks scare me to death! I saw a woman pregnant with twins in tv the other night, and her belly scared me! It was humungous and I wondered how the hell I’m going to be able to do this! I need to work as long as possible. How am I going to do that with such a big belly? Oh, and the financial worries? Don’t even get me started. I have no doubt that you and AE are going to be amazing parents together. Your Dad sounds incredible. What a great Grandpa your kids will have!

    • I know. I googled ‘twin bumps’ obsessively in the first couple of weeks after we found out, and then I promptly stopped because I was starting to develop PTSBelly. Also, thanks for the sweet words about my pops. He is a pretty stellar guy. Our inmates will be very lucky, indeed.

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you for your honesty Lentil! As we approach IVF, the thoughts on 1 embryo or 2 become more and more pressing. I think this will be a really hard decision when the time comes! I think almost anyone would have a similar reaction to you on news of twins, but I think you are handling it with a lot of grace! So glad to hear that both babies are doing well! Wishing you the very best!

    • It was a really tough decision for us, too. One that ultimately, we did not have to end up making. I am truly so thankful for the twins. And, if I knew from the start of that cycle what I was getting myself into, I would still go ahead with it. For sure. It’s just also a shock and raises some new questions/concerns. Normal, sure. Difficult, too. Either way, though, you will be happy with your decision, so don’t fret about it too much. Just like I am happy with this outcome that I didn’t think I wanted. Happy but scared!

  • JenS says:

    You know, I have been referring to my twins as “the babies” pretty much this whole time. It wasn’t a conscious thing to not call them the twins, yet I am not, and probably will not ever refer to them as The Twins. They are individuals, not part of a set.
    I am with you on the stomach fears. I am a little worried about what sort of mess will be left behind. I have not googled twin skin and now am a little afraid to. If giving up any chance of wearing a bikini again is the price to pay for two healthy babies, then I guess I can’t complain (but, really, I live in Los Angeles of all places. how can I not be worried about it?)

  • Unprolific says:

    I am just starting on this infertility journey (currently doing 2nd cycle of Clomid) & I have already worried about having twins due to the increased risk with Clomid & the challenges it would bring for my hubby & I for many of the same reasons you mention here. I think it is completely natural & normal to worry about these things. Whether you had struggled through infertility to get to this point or not you are still bound to have the same fears/worries that any woman pregnant with twins may have.

    Your story has given me hope that maybe we can get our happy ending without IVF… we’ll see….

    • It is certainly possible, even though I was absolutely, 100% convinced it wouldn’t be. I’m so glad you found this community, by the way. These are some pretty amazing women, and it’s so helpful to have their support and encouragement. Welcome!

  • Daryl says:

    My husband really wants twins, and before we found out there’s only one in there, I worried about a lot of the same things with the possibility of having two. I’m still worried about what will happen to my body, since I’m also naturally thin but have never had to work very hard to stay that way (and, the last few years, it shows). I know it’s going to take a lot more work, when I won’t have the time or inclination to do it, to get anywhere near my pre-IVF shape. It might be vain, but it’s not an uncommon worry, if that makes you feel any better!

  • J o s e y says:

    Hm… a few thoughts, and take it or leave it as you will. 🙂

    – Money. Ya, it’ll be tight, but honestly, if you don’t buy into the whole consumerism of babies in America, you’ll be okay. There really is very little they need, especially in the beginning. Clothes – you will get a million gifts from ppl. Stella lived in onesies & swaddles for the first few MONTHS (or footie PJs) and that’s it. All of the adorable outfits & pants and such are just a pain when you’re changing diapers every hour or two! The 1 thing we splurged on a good rocker (Dutalier – I found it on Craig’s list for $200 – normally $600-700 new) & I 100% don’t regret it. You can buy ones that are extra tall and/or wide, which might be nice to sit in there with 2 babies! Everyone will have their item they recommend as a must-have and that was it for me. 🙂 That and a boppy so you can prop the kid(s)up while you’re breastfeeding (or doing anything else!).

    – The individual bond. Meh. I’d say dont worry about it. It’s like ppl saying they don’t know how they could love the 2nd kid as much, and they always do. You’re just doing it at once. 🙂 My friends that have twins all love both kiddos as much as I love my singleton, I’m sure of it. 🙂

    – The sanity. Ya, it’ll be insane and you’ll be lost for a little while. Newborns are just really time-intensive, whether there is one or two or more. BUT, if you are determined to not lose yourself in the long run, you won’t. Try not to give yourself a hard time if you think/breath/talk about only babies for awhile tho – it’s okay to acknowledge that it IS all your life is about for those first few weeks at least. Eventually you’ll find your groove and your sense of self will still be there – albeit changed b/c how could it not be?

    – The belly. Valid concern. Ppl w/1 kid worry about this, and I’m sure it’s just compounded by knowing there are 2 in there. FWIW, I think a lot of it’s just genetics. Plenty of ppl w/1 get stretch marks & such — my neighbor (built like you) had full term twins (8# each!) and not a stretch mark or jiggly belly on her now (the girls are 1 yr old now). Try not to stress about it – if you’re eating well and exercising and being healthy, there’s not much else you can do.

    I’m sure it’s crazy to wrap your head around having 2 babies in there, but it’s pretty darn cool as well. 🙂

  • I could have written this post in March! Pretty much word for word. I felt so guilty for having misgivings at all, because really it’s what I signed up for. I knew the risks and I knew that twins were a good possibility.

    Look, you’re not going to dress them in matching outfits or name them something rhyming, right? I think you have a really good sense of self and will be able to let them each have their own independent personalities. I also know that somehow, you will give them both plenty of attention and they’ll want for nothing. If I ever got freaked out I thought about how shitty it is for women who have triplets… quads… uh, how about Kate Gosselin? Somehow they do it. At least you have two boobs, right?!! 🙂

  • JustMe says:

    You have no reason to be fearful about voicing your honest opinions. Because frankly, twins are a shock. You need to adjust. It’s not necessarily what you envisioned or signed up for and it will be very different and maybe a lot harder. But, I’m sure once they arrive, you wouldn’t be able to imagine it any differently. Or, if you can (ha, say when their sleep schedules coordinate perfectly to allow you no sleep at all?), you still won’t trade it. Because they’re your babies. As you are already saying.

    It was interesting how you commented on the word “twin” implying they are half of a whole. My husband is friends with twins who just happen to both have similar jobs and are absolutely best friends. To them, being a twin is the most important thing about their separate identities. In fact, I always wonder if their wives get jealous about the bonds their husbands have with their twin. It’s a really neat thing to witness.

  • can i just share that this cracked me up and helped me survive a first birthday party yesterday. at which my husband and i were the only childless people?

    and it’s good to hear, just trying to be honest, that you haven’t yet forgotten about your still trying infertile peeps out here. sometimes i get sad when infertility blogs i read finally get pregnant. selfish, i know. but i feel like i just lost one more person who ‘gets it’. it seems so often those who struggle with infertility instantly forget what it’s like once they have a little snuggle bug in their arms. so i’m glad to see you still get it. thank you for that.

    and trust me. my biggest fear in getting IUI and taking clomid and the whole thing is having multiples. EXACT. SAME. as you. i’m terrified what it will do to my bikini belly. so i totally feel your fears there. and i think they are absolutely valid. i get it. it’s not insensitive IMO.

  • Kathy says:

    I have always been thin too and had twins, gained 46 pounds and do not have twin skin. I did take about a year for my body to feel/look normal to me again. Good luck. Twins are awesome; my girls are 5 now!

  • My friend who has twins has voiced the issue of the bonding thing with her kids, but wouldn’t trade her kids for the world. It’s definitely a different experience than only having one child, but two babies will simply be your normal.

    Think about the good things (I’m assuming you guys are stopping at two kids): only giving birth once, only going through the terrible 2s once, etc. 🙂

    Glad the babies are doing well!

  • that is exciting news. I pray for a healthy pregnancy and for both babies to make it full term. ( I have spent time in a NICU) and would never want that for anyone.
    their will always be worries, what matters is healthy/happy babies and healthy/happy parents.
    and since they are your first, you won’t know any different than 2 babies, that will be your normal
    and start putting on lotion now twice a day, 😉

  • Jenny says:

    I went through a similar thing regarding body image and pregnancy and felt guilty as hell about it, so you’re not alone there. I was overweight most of my life and struggled mightily to attain a weight I was ok with so, yeah, it was hard to see my body expanding once again. And it’s still hard, almost 12 weeks postpartum, to see the extra flab and to know that I have to struggle mightily again to lose it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not eternally grateful for my baby. And I know you feel the same. Doesn’t mean we have to love everything that comes along with it. 🙂

  • Popping out of semi-lurkerdom to say, like you, I’m very slender, and I also heard those comments growing up: “I hate you, you’re so skinny!” Or, “I’m going to force-feed you some cake to make you gain weight.” In fact, only a few years ago at a party, a woman walked into the house, and the first thing she said in front of the whole gathering was to ask if I’m naturally that thin or if I work out a lot. If I’d had my head on my shoulders, I would have pointed out what a rude thing that was, but I was too taken aback.

    But – now that I’m getting oddly fat in strange places (bump action is weird on a slender gal!), I’m watching my body change in ways that are unique to my experience. I’m unnerved, of course. But I also remember my college track coach telling us that women are better runners AFTER they have a baby. Our hips and knees realign slightly. So regardless of what it looks like, it is in some ways an improvement on the original form.

    I’m choosing to look at this whole thing as a crazy adventure – and exploring what it’s like to have a different body will be part of that for me.

  • K&A says:

    Thank you for writing this, Lentil! Your thoughts were straight from my own head on the body thing. You’re an inspiration and I know you guys are going to do great! I am still not sure what I want to do, but you make it a little less scary. So glad they are doing so well!

  • Steph Mignon says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but I couldn’t help but revisit this to comment. Your honesty is refreshing and real and has made me think a lot about how twin obsessed I was prior to this pregnancy! I was truly ignorant to the financial, physical, and emotional burdens they might bring. Though I have no doubt that you are going to be an amazing twin mommy – especially because you’re already thinking about the importance of identity, attention, and finances and all those adult mommy things now, PRIOR to their arrival. I also have no doubt that your body might surprise you! Skinny minnies often bounce back, even after twins. With just one baby in the belly I worry about my body image etc., and yes I’d probably have double the worries with two in there (something I didn’t even think about when I was hoping for twins before my first ultrasound). And even though money doesn’t grow on trees, I’m also not beyond admitting that I’d consider surgery if I had too. I like my bikinis! But I know that’s not for everyone, so obvi I’m not pushing for that. You will find peace with your new body just as you will with your new babies!

    Really though, I’m so excited for you guys! Your babies will have awesome, thoughtful, PIMP parents with wonderful grandparents too. Yeah!

  • I love the helicopter parent point 😉
    More seriously though, I understand all your concerns, with perhaps a different twist on the body issue — I’ve always been curvy, and have learned to embrace it over the years. And while I love the reason for my new extra curve, I don’t always love the shape… I hope we both grow into it.

  • […] Lentil, we brought cookies to say Thank You to Dr. Y and his staff (but waited to give them to him until […]

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