Questions you get as a parent of twins

As a parent of twins, you’re subject to a series of questioning, whether appropriate or not. Here is a list of common questions twin parents get:

1. “Are they TWINS?!”

This is the initiation of complete strangers striking up conversation, and asking a million questions about your children. This question always tempts me to be sarcastic, but I refrain due to the possibility of someone taking me serious and looking at me in horror as I say, ” No, triplets, but we sold the third one for diapers”. 

2.  “Are they identical or fraternal?”

People want to clarify if twins are identical or non-identical, but most really don’t know what that even means. Unless you know what it means, don’t ask. 

3. “Boys or girls?”

I’ll admit, my daughter has gone bald twice, I don’t put bows, tutus or frilly clothing on her all the time, and we’ve left the house on a few occasions with her wearing her brother’s clothing. I could see why someone would question her sex during those times. Nonetheless, every family outing, I’m asked “boys or girls?”.  Very, very rarely, “One of each?” (I think everyone forgets boy/girl twins exist).

4. “So you’re done now?”

This is one of those questions that really irks me. And, here’s why: People assume that reproducing is always a choice. What if I didn’t have a choice? What if I didn’t have a choice to be “done”? What if that choice was already decided, because I couldn’t conceive again due to infertility? What if I was devastated that I couldn’t grow my family, having a large family like I had always dreamed? 

Also, if I were to say, “No, we want to have more”, I imagine that you are imaging me trying to have more children, and that’s just weird. 

5. “We’re they conceived naturally?”

Whoa. Let’s just get to it. Want to ask me how many tries it took to conceive them, too?  

Remember, infertility is a sensitive topic. If you don’t know the person, you probably shouldn’t ask this question. 

6. “Which is your favorite?”

Ask me every day, and each day, I could give you a different answer. On some days, that answer could be neither or both. Both babies have okay, good, great, bad and terrible days. That doesn’t mean I like one more than the other. I love them both, equally. 

7. “Do twins run in your family?”

Although twins seem elusive, twins exist in every family. Sometimes it’s distant relatives that are twins or sometimes it’s immediate. Having a twin or being a twin doesn’t require immediate family members to be twins. It doesn’t have to “run” in families, and can occur for other reasons. Also, remember-identical twins can occur spontaneously. 

8. “How do you do it?”

I just do. I mean, I have to. It’s hard, and I knew it would be the moment I found out I was having twins. A lot of times I’m poorly rested, underequipped, and overwhelmed. I chose to be a mommy, though. I go with my gut instinct, and do what the situation demands. 

9. “Are you nursing?” 

As they look at your breasts. Not even joking. 

You can ask this question, just don’t make it weird.

10. “Who was first?”

People have this notion that birth order determines personality. People also believe that boys should be the first born, to be the “big, older brother”. That’s not how it works with twins. The truth is, most twins are born within minutes of each other, and that time frame is not enough to dictate their personalities. 

Which means yes, either sex can come first. 

11. “Did you have them naturally?”

No, I had them VAGINALLY. 

12. “What if you have twins again (or triplets)?

This journey of having twins has made me so thankful that I could even carry one, let alone two babies. So, if it happens, it happens, and I’ll be better equipped this time. 

13. “What do you when they both cry at the same time?”

I cry, too! Okay, not every time, but I definitely have before. With twins, you try your best to get them on the same schedule. With that, they’re bound to get hungry, fussy, tired, poop, around the same time. This means they might cry at the same time. So, depending on the need and urgency of the need, I may try: 

•Consoling one, while the other remains crying

•Try double duty by holding them both 

•Bottle prop

But, very rarely, do they both demonstrate equal amount of distress at the same time, and in that case, whoever is louder, wins.

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Things I didn’t know before having twins 

1. It could happen to me

I never had twins on my radar. I remember finding out at our first ultrasound. The technician said, “There’s one baby and there’s the other.” We had no idea what she meant, and she clarified, “dos bebes.” I was in utter disbelief. It’s not like I’m a twin, or my mother is a twin, or even my grandmother. I’m not over 35 years old. And, getting pregnant was a surprise itself. *Warning TMI* I had infrequent and irregular periods. A year and two different OB/GYN’s later, I found out I hadn’t been ovulating, my hormones were a mess, and I was told I may not be able to conceive without intervention. Then, I ended up hyperovulating, and conceived the twins. 

2. That everything would be OK

At first, I was absolutely terrified when we found out we were having twins. I was scared of the birthing process. I was scared of what twin pregnancy would do to my body. I was scared of what having twins would do to my relationship. Later, I did everything I could to protect it and make it to term (and, made it to two days before I was scheduled to be induced!!). 

I’ve had days where I cried and repeated, “I don’t think I can do this”, like a mantra. I’ve had days where I went the whole day without using the bathroom or eating. I’ve had lots of sleepless nights. We’ve had some arguements. Having twins requires a lot of teamwork, and it is extremely difficult when you’re sleep deprived. I’ll admit, it can put your relationship and sanity to the test. But, not every day is like that, and it gets better. They start sleeping more at night. They won’t need constant feedings. You’ll also become more effecient (e.g. eating while breastfeeding or putting a fussy baby in a carrier and doing household chores). It may not seem like it when you’re up in the middle of the night, for the second night in a row, with a crying baby (or two), but it gets better.  

And just remember: “Nothing said at 2 a.m. should be held against you.”

3. I could feel each twin move in my belly

Believe it or not, they had two different “personalities”, and their movements were felt in specific areas of my body. Grayson was the closest to the exit route, and that’s where I’d feel his hiccups, whereas Bailee’s hiccups were in my right side. Bailee was always more active, loved to move, and would nail me in the ribs, to the point where I felt like my ribs were going to break. Grayson was calm, and would hang out until I laid on his side, then he’d wiggle. When you feel them move for months, you learn who is who. 

4. They may not look anything alike

I thought of twins as looking so similar, even their parents could get them confused. I never thought twins could look so different, even if they were fraternal. But, here we are: Grayson is his fathers mini-me, having blonde hair and light skin, like when his father was a baby. Bailee is my mini-me, dark complexion, and darker hair. 

5. I could get through hours on my own

The first day I was going to be home alone with them, I panicked. What if they both started crying? What if they won’t stop? I’ve had those days, and a few of those days I had to call for help. But, that’s like any family- you have difficult days. Otherwise, I have days where I can take a nap or clean the house. I even go on walks and to the grocery store on a regular basis. I don’t need someone to shadow my every movement. Although, I will say, it can get exhausting doing everything. I’d definitely suggest welcoming help, but it’s possible to get through the days on your own!

6. There are actually so many twins

32 out of every 1000 people to be exact. Maybe it’s because I’m oblivious, or maybe it’s because I didn’t have a reason to look for twins. I always thought it was a rarity. But, now that I have them, it seems like everyone I know is a twin or has twins. 

7. Sleep schedules

Whoever said not to wake a sleeping baby, must not have had multiples. Just because twins occupied the same space, doesn’t mean they have the same sleep schedule [outside the womb]. You have to fix them into a schedule. If one baby wakes up, you wake the other. It’s the only way to maintain sanity (You’ll be up every hour to change and feed, if you don’t). 

8. There are different types of twins (mono/mono, mono/di, di/di)

I thought there was just identical and fraternal, and that was that. Come to find out, there’s more to it. Mono/mono twins share the same placenta and the same amniotic sac. Mono/di twins share the same placenta, but have different amniotic sacs. These are both forms of identical twins. Di/di twins have two separate placentas and two different amniotic sacs, and are fraternal twins. 

9. Tandem breastfeeding is a thing

In other words, feeding both babies, at the same time. You lay one on each side. I had never seen it before getting pregnant. It can be difficult to juggle, especially as the babies get older and more wiggly. However, it saves you from having to alternate babies, which means you won’t have to spend all day nursing. 

10. I actually have a lot of patience 

Four hours of sleep in 24 hours? No problem. Simultaneous crying? No problem. Not eating until 7 o’clock at night? Didn’t even realize I was hungry. 

Maybe it’s that I’m in a constant daze, but few things phase me now. I can manage the day, without completely losing it. 

Postpartum

At our first appointment, the nurse practitioner sat us down. She was looking at a sheet Tyler and I completed regarding our health history. She was reviewing the categories with us. 

One of the topics she discussed was my history with depression and anxiety. As long as I can remember, I’ve had depression and anxiety. Apparently, if you’ve struggled with depression or anxiety before, you’re more likely to have postpartum depression. She expressed that it was a good idea to seek treatment while I was pregnant, before I took on the demands of motherhood. There’s one thing, though… I had such bad anxiety that I was terrified to take any medications. I was terrified of what it might do to the babies. I wanted to wait. 

So, I didn’t take antidepressants during pregnancy. Of course, I didn’t go to therapy, either. Pregnancy made me exhausted, and I was working in a mostly stressful environment up until a few days before giving birth. The last thing I wanted to do was take time out to speak with a professional. All I wanted to do was go home and take a nap. 

Tyler learned from his coworker about postpartum depression, and how I’d have this huge hormonal swing. We repeatedly talked about our life after the babies, and that we’ll seek a professional, if necessary. 

It was the day we were getting ready to leave the hospital. I filled out a piece of paper with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and gave it to the nurse. Shortly after, a social worker comes in. I knew as soon as she introduced herself why she came in. I hadn’t told Tyler my responses on the questionnaire, because I was kind of embarrassed that I had been feeling depressed. It was a time of excitement and happiness, right? I was given information on postpartum depression, and my ob/gyn came in to discuss next steps. I was prescribed an antidepressant, and had a packet on postpartum depression with various resources.

Unfortunately, just being prescribed medications doesn’t treat depression, you have to actually take them and go to therapy. It’s all up to you.

We brought the twins home. For some reason, tears started rolling down my face. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t mad. There really was nothing wrong, besides being exhausted. I walked as fast as I could to the bathroom and locked myself in there. I just cried and cried.

Okay, maybe this is because I have two babies or maybe this is just the “baby blues”, which typically happens within the week after the birth of a baby due to the fluctuation in hormones.

I had lost all of my pregnancy weight, and then some by week two of postpartum. Over a whopping 60 lbs.”You’re so skinny! You don’t look like you even had a baby, let alone twins!”, I hear. Maybe genetics played a slight role, but the truth is, I wasn’t eating. I could barely look at food. I’m told how lucky I am that I lost all that weight by almost every person who sees me. I think, “Am I really that lucky?”, as I bring a fake smile to my face and acknowledge the person’s statement with a “yeah”. 

More than anything, I hated hearing about my weight loss. It made me think about how I was depressed, and wasn’t eating.  And the thing is, I love food. A little too much. But, I couldn’t bring myself to put a fork to my face. 

Along with this, my mind ran a thousand miles an hour. Thoughts flooded my brain at all hours. The scary thoughts came on strong all day, and I had nightmares every night. There’s been a constant darkness. Then, there’s anger. Everyone just chalks all this up to sleep deprivation, and writes it off. 

Sleep deprivation is only a layer. I thought that once I got more sleep, things would get better. That’s not how it works, though. When you have postpartum depression, your brain chemistry is not in sync. Postpartum depression lies to you to a point that you go into a truly deeply sad place. 

With postpartum depression, you don’t want to leave bed. You don’t want to shower. You feel disconnected from your babies. You feel guilty. You’re overwhelmed, like you can’t handle anything. You just want to cry, for no apparent reason. You’re sick to your stomach. You’re having trouble sleeping, even though you’re beyond exhausted. Your thoughts are racing. You have suicidal thoughts. You’re worried about everything. Am I a good mother? Do people think I’m a good mother? You feel like if you reach out for help that you’re “crazy”, you’ll be judged, or your baby will be taken away from you.

It took a breakdown for me to start taking the medication the OB/GYN had prescribed. Even with the medication, on the inside, I was barely getting by. But, on the outside, I looked normal, because I knew how to hide my darkness. 

But, this wasn’t the highs and lows of being a new mother. This wasn’t due to the demands of having two babies. This was a cloud hanging over my head that just wasn’t going away. This wasn’t something that 20 mg of lexapro could fix.

I finally cracked. I couldn’t keep up this facade. I was tired of having to force myself out of bed everyday. I had an anxiety attack. I cried. I felt like my heart was thumping, and I just wanted to yell. I couldn’t even concentrate. I felt claustrophobic. So, I made an appointment to see a therapist. 

Unfortunately only 15% of women that have postpartum depression seek help, because of the shame and stigma. Unfortunately, due to this, I waited until months after the twins were born to get help. I couldn’t fully enjoy my babies for their first months of life. And, unfortunately, I can’t get those months back.  

I’m now almost six months postpartum. I’ve been going to therapy, and I’ve had my medication switched. This last month has been a struggle, between feeling sick from switching medications to juggling the demands of adulthood and motherhood. I know everyday won’t be perfect, and I’ll continue to have struggles. But, I can finally say, that I’m starting my recovery. 

You’re like, a celebrity now…

Pregnant with twins or multiples? Just wait. You’re practically going to be a celebrity.

Everyone loves babies, of course. But, I didn’t realize how fascinated people were by twins, until I got pregnant. When I started to show, everyone asked the typical questions: when are you due and what are you having. As soon as I would say that I was having a boy and a girl, you could see their face light up. A boy AND a girl?! Granted, my frame is tall and thin. I could have very well passed as having a singleton, and could imagine their surprise when I told them I was walking around with two buns in the oven, but it never failed. Que all the questions and comments: “Are you having a C-Section or natural?” “Are they identical or fraternal” “My uncle’s cousin’s friend is a twin!”

Think that was the end? Oh no, no, no. Now, they’re born.

After the twins were a few weeks old, we started taking them out, because, well, you have to continue living your life. Here’s what I’ve learned with my new “celeb” status:

  • If there is a child of talking age within close vicinity to you, you better believe he/she will squeal “babies” and point at them. At this point, the parent will turn to look, and say “she has two babies”.
  • If at any point someone is around you long enough to look inside your stroller, you’re going to be stopped (with a screeching, “TWINS?!”) and talked to. This is definitely going to happen if it’s a woman of older age, think “grandma”.
  • Everyone asks their sex, as if it weren’t obvious by the outfits they are wearing. 
  • Also, “Do twins run in your family?”. (PS. This isn’t the only way you can have twins- IVF, being 35 years old+, and stopping birth control can yield twins) 
  • Everyone, I mean, E V E R Y ONE comments about how you have your hands full.
  • You’ll hear the words “bless your heart” a few times, too.
  • You’ll probably be cornered once or twice.
  • And again, “Are they identical [or fraternal]?”

I’ll admit, it’ll get annoying when you’re asked the same questions on a daily basis (especially when you’re exhausted), but it’s pretty comical, too. I always have to remind myself that people are so excited about multiples and want to talk to you, because not everyone gets to have more than one baby at once!