Twin Birth, and Going Home

MORE twin pregnancy talk? OKAY!

Linda: “Now where is the birth story? And the difficulties of the first few months?”

I had the twins via c-section—not because they were twins, but because I have c-sections. I got to the hospital around 6:00 that morning, and they did the usual pre-c-section things like hooking up the IV. This was my third c-section so I was pretty calm about it. I got my hospital bracelet and they made TWO baby bracelets.

We went into the operating room and there were TWO of those newborn-processing stations, one labeled “A” and the other labeled “B.” There were also more people than usual: I had two obstetricians and they each had a nurse, plus there was the anesthesiologist, plus the pediatrician, plus a representative from the NICU just in case, plus a couple more nurses to assist the pediatrician, plus one nurse to go back and forth. I would describe the atmosphere as “serious party”: everyone was cheerful but focused. Once the babies were born safe and well, the seriousness went way down and there was whooping and joking around and people were placing bets on how much the babies weighed. The APGARS were, if I remember right, 9 at the first check and 10 at the second. It was so funny to hear TWO sets of pitiful indignant wails.

My mom was in the operating room with me so I have a ton of good pictures of the births, but all involve a fair amount of blood so let’s skip that and go to the part where I get a good look at Elizabeth:

My brother and my sister-in-law-to-be came up for the birth, and Rob and William were there with Paul, and my dad was there too, so when my mom followed the twins to the newborn nursery there were a lot of people waiting for that parade. We set up a jigsaw puzzle in my room and there was lots of happy hanging out over the next couple of days, putting puzzles together and holding babies.

My parents brought three helium balloons for each bassinet, pink for Elizabeth’s and blue for Edward’s, and that looked very amusing as they were being pushed up and down the halls.

The first day, the nurse asked if I wanted to learn to tandem nurse and I said not yet. The first night was awful: all night long, I was nursing one baby while listening to the other one cry. The second day, I learned to tandem nurse and things were much improved: both babies could nurse at the same time, and whoever finished first was still getting held. But I still had a hard time because I would fall asleep whenever I nursed and I didn’t feel like I could safely hold both twins that way. The second night I was up until 3:45 with no sleep yet; I finally had the nurses take them, and they had to come back 45 minutes later because they were hungry. The “this can’t be done” feeling was OFF THE CHARTS.

During the day I went to sleep whenever the babies did; this is the nice thing about being in the hospital. Plus, the nurses brought me food: french toast, fruit cups, chicken ranch wraps, turkey sandwiches, milk, warm chocolate chip cookies. (Journal entry from the day we went home: “We’re home. I’ve had four cries already, mostly over no one bringing me chicken ranch roll-ups and chocolate chip cookies.” Next day’s entry: “Paul has gone to the store for ingredients for chicken ranch wraps and fruit cups.”)

Lots of fuss was made over the twins’ size. The pediatrician said he’d never cared for such a large set of twins; several nurses said the same thing. One nurse said, “Gestational diabetes, right?” like she knew that was the explanation (it wasn’t—they were just nice and big). You wouldn’t think twins would cause a fuss in a hospital, but they did. People from other departments even stopped by “to see the twins.” When Paul was out in the hallways he said he’d hear nurses saying “We’ve got twins in room 20!”

Time to go home.
Loading into the car.

Bouquet of twins in their bassinet at home.

In some ways it was easier once the twins were home. It’s nice to have nurses around, but it can get uncomfortable to be monitored, and to have people coming in and out all the time, and to keep having to prove via bracelet code that your babies belong to you. And my own recliner was a better tandem-nursing station than the wooden-armed chairs of the hospital room; I slept in the recliner with them.

Plus, I’d lost 50 pounds in 8 days. I was feeling a lot better.

In other ways it was much, much harder: I couldn’t nap all day as I had in the hospital, and there were two other children, and housework loomed and oppressed, and I had to take them to the pediatrician instead of having the pediatrician stop by on his rounds.

It helped that after two other babies Paul and I had finally worked out our New Baby system, so he was bringing me food, and neither of us were panicking at my moodiness, and we had a changing station set up in the living room, and we knew how to take care of babies in general. But I still got overwhelmed: I’d start by wondering if I’d ever get around to stamping the twins’ footprints in my journal, and it was not long before I was thinking about how I’d end up estranged from my grown children because of my poor parenting skills.

Look at the clever leg arrangement.

It also helped that I had a friend with twins. The best advice she gave me was to leave the camera somewhere obvious and take a lot of pictures because otherwise I wouldn’t remember anything about the first few months. The best advice I got from a twin parenting book was to consider SURVIVAL the only goal. Both of these pieces of advice are applicable to singleton births, too. Neither piece was helpful in the middle of the night when one twin wouldn’t wake up to nurse, and then DID wake up as soon as the other twin was nursed and tucked back into the bassinet.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I’ll do the other questions next!

34 thoughts on “Twin Birth, and Going Home

  1. Andria

    That’s my key word for the next several months. SURVIVAL. This is my 3rd baby, and I’m going through a divorce, so, yeah. Cue the *freaking* out part.
    They were such pretty babies. I can’t imagine having twins! I’m scared enough about having a toddler, a tweenie, and a newborn at the same time. :)

  2. Safire

    Aww…this is taking me back 2 years to my own twins’ birth. Those first weeks home from the hospital were killer but I feel like I’m coming out of it now. Yes, 2 years later! When did you feel like you had a handle on things and then, when did you have another?! My hubby really wants another baby but I’m not sure I can wrap my head around that yet.

  3. Mama Bub

    I think that camera thing is key with any baby. Honestly, even with our first who was a singleton, if it weren’t for my husband there would be NO pictures. I was just so overwhelmed it didn’t occur to me.

    More, please.

  4. Marie Green

    This post made me anxious, probably because my own “newborn twin” experience is tainted with anxiety. I should write about it too, before those details are gone from my memory for good.

    Besides making me feeling all squiggly inside, this post made me also feel a bit sad about how I can never relive that special time of their lives, and how I barely remember it. I also feel all warm and fuzzy remembering them snuggled together.

    One of the things that I loved about having twins was the “rockstar status” that it provided for me. The attention, the amazement that I could nurse them both, the general excitement and interest… It was a really cool experience!

  5. Cayt

    This is so lovely – The SO is starting to worry that I’m going to decide that now is a good time to start having kids. Did you dress them in lots of pink/blue so that they would be easier to tell apart later? If so, what would you have done with two of the same sex?

  6. d e v a n

    I loooove all the pictures. So cute! Isn’t it funny how nurses at the hospital make such a fuss over some things you’d think they’d see ALL the time. (“Oh my! You’re the one who had a NATURAL birth?! Wow.” and “Oh – what a BIG baby! Over 8 lbs! Goodness!” )

  7. Melospiza

    Honey, all these pictures of snuggly twin babies are making *ME* want twins. Even the snuggly crying babies. (Note to self: I *DO NOT* want more babies, esp. twins).

  8. Jess

    I love that you are now posting pictures of yourself because all these pictures are fabulous! This is making me reconsider my deep fear of having twins.

  9. DCMomma

    This post is absolutely wonderful. Not only do we get more info about the births of your adorable kids, but I find these birth stories/journeys fascinating. I think you look great in your pics. Thank you so much for sharing. My oldest baby just turned 5 today. My youngest is 2. Where does time go?

  10. Angela Pea

    LOL at Melospiza! I’m with you, hon! I love, love, love babies, but I certainly do NOT want another one! My first baby will be leaving for college this year, and the other three can all dress and feed themselves. Two of THOSE can drive themselves places!

    I am now officially waiting for grandbabies, but I’m not in that much of a hurry.

  11. Lawyerish

    So! Much! Fun! I adore the picture of you looking at Elizabeth for the first time and I love that I can almost hear them screaming in some of the others. I almost burst right into tears when you described all your family being at the hospital and the excitement that surrounded the birth. Aaaaaaah, BABIES!!

  12. Sahara

    I LOVE IT!! I love the photos! And I am astounded at the “50 pounds in 8 days” thing. Oh mah gah. I can’t wait for more! And you thought we wouldn’t be interested–BAH. Thank you again!

  13. Auntie G

    This is so INTERESTING. But I really want to say that the picture of the twins screaming on the bee blanket is one of the funniest pictures I have ever seen. THIS is the one I would have blown up and put on my wall at home, for sure!!! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Laura

    *happy sigh* Sooo cute! I can hear my biological clock screaming at me now. ;) I must appease it by making more baby things for my pregnant sister. (She’s having a girl. A singleton, more’s the pity. Twins would be cool! Due in June.)

  15. Nicole

    I thought I was the only one who loved hospital food! I had the single greatest tuna sandwich at the hospital and the memory haunts me with its deliciousness.

  16. Jen

    I have to admit that the picture of the twins crying makes me tired and glad that I’m not going to be the one raising the pair I’m growing right now. I’m a mess with one newborn! I don’t know how I would handle two.

    There is something wonderful about hospital food when you’re newly post-partum. It’s tasty and always available and people bring it to you! The grilled cheese I had after my daughter was born goes down in history as one of the tastiest things anyone has ever eaten.

  17. Deanna

    Aww, you’re making me semi-nostalgic for hospital food and late-night conversation with nurses while feeding my babies! My twin girls will be one in April, and I will agree that the best advice for the first year is that you should only worry about SURVIVING. Which I have almost done…and the last few months have actually been pretty fun. The day they learned to hold their own bottles will go down as one of my favorite days EVER!

  18. bramey

    I can’t help but think the hospital food only tastes that good because of the context. After Dixon’s drug-free birth, the hospital brought me the best-tasting pulled-pork sandwich ever made in the history of pulled-pork sandwiches. I think I ate it two bites.

    I had another while visiting my mom when she was undergoing chemotherapy, and it just didn’t match up to that first post-birth experience.

    After all that work, I could probably eat liver and onions and think them delicious.

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