Category Archives: twins

Second Fret: Edward and Kindergarten

Second school-related fret (first fret here), I will tell it to you:

My first two kids went to preschool. Rob did a LOT of preschool (3-year-old preschool, 4-year-old preschool, plus Summer Preschool ages 3, 4, and 5) because he had assorted developmental things such as articulation delays, suspected Asperger’s/autism, unusual fears, poor motor skills, etc., etc., and the pediatrician AND the speech therapist AND the pediatric neurologist ALL said he’d benefit from as much peer group stuff as possible.

William did less: just 4-year-old preschool. He didn’t have any of the issues Rob had, and also he’d had a sibling his whole life, and also when he was three years old Paul was out of work and I was supporting us on $8.50/hour, so preschool was out of the question that year anyway.

The twins had no preschool. It’s $300/month for 3-morning/week preschool here. Times two, is $600/month. That’s hard to justify, or even to WANT to justify, particularly for children who have one built-in peer plus three other children in the house.

So the twins started kindergarten cold, in an area where preschool is common (and of course daycare is very common too). Elizabeth is doing great, making friends left and right. She knows everyone’s name in her class, in Edward’s class (there’s a door between the classrooms, and the two classes do some things together), and on their bus. She’s confident and having a wonderful time.

Edward got referred for speech delays AND social skill delays. I know—I KNOW—this is no big deal. He registered on a screening, that’s all. And Rob was in speech therapy for more than three years, so I know it’s not scary, and it’s even the same therapist as before so I know her.

And the social skills thing, maybe it’s kind of early for them to be leaping on it, or maybe it’s nice they’re on top of things, or really I think it’s both. Won’t hurt to get right on it, and nice to have him get a little help if he’s just a bit shy or slow to start.

Nevertheless, it feels like someone yoinked him off the production line for quality control issues. It’s like they’re saying something’s wrong with him—and that it’s something obvious, something they can see at first glance.

And I am fretful because now I’m second-guessing previous decisions: Elizabeth clearly DIDN’T need preschool, but maybe Edward DID. And this is a pointless fret, because we can’t go back and change it, nor could we have seen both outcomes ahead of time and chosen the best one. We chose what we thought was the right and sensible decision—and for all we know it WAS right. Maybe preschool wouldn’t have helped ANYWAY, and we’ve saved $6,000 that we can now set aside for later therapy. But maybe it would have been PERFECT. And round and round I go.

And we had the option to put the twins in the same classroom. We went back and forth, back and forth, and finally decided to go with the school’s default of separating twins. This has worked great for Elizabeth, but maybe Edward would have done better if there was a familiar (and bossy) face to help him out. Or maybe not, because then maybe he would have depended on Elizabeth too much, or maybe this would have made Elizabeth thrive less than she has, or maybe the teacher would have seen his introversion as even more of a “problem” in the face of Elizabeth’s extroversion. But again: we couldn’t see both outcomes ahead of time, and possibly it wouldn’t have been any better the other way anyway.

Return of the Twin Questions and Answers

Let’s get back to some twin Q&A! And if you have a minute, go congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Blonde, who just found out they’re having twins!

Where are we? So far we have:

Twin Pregnancy
Twin Birth, and Going Home
More Twin Questions and Answers
Still More Twin Questions and Answers
Even More Twin Questions and Answers

Could I perhaps have come up with a more intuitive titling system? Such as, perhaps, #1, #2, #3? I mean for heaven’s sake.

Oh. Wait. We don’t seem to have any more twin questions to answer. We do have some miscellaneous questions, though, and I’ll just go ahead and answer them here since they came about because of the twin Q&A posts.

Ruthie: “I have a question that’s not exactly twin related but I hope you’ll still answer. I’m about to have my 3rd C-section, and my doctor has been not exactly adamant, but let’s say strongly recommending, that 3 is the limit. My husband has taken this to mean that not getting my tubes tied at delivery is the equivalent of a suicide mission. You mentioned that the twins were your 3rd C – did your doctor recommend no more children for you after that point? Did you have any problems with your C for Henry (assuming it was a 4th C)? I’ve read your archives and it seems like you weren’t sure for awhile whether you would have more children after Henry … did the C section thing enter into your decision?”

So far all my obstetricians (I go to a practice with 6-8 of them, plus I had another one for my first pregnancy) have answered the “How many c-sections is okay?” question on a case-by-case basis: part of what can make subsequent c-sections risky has to do with the complications that caused the woman to need the c-sections in the first place. But so far all of them have agreed that the default answer is that the risks increase slightly for each one, but that as long as everything is normal (and continues to be normal) you can have as many c-sections as you want. “Sure, be a Kennedy,” said one of my OBs, referring to whichever Kennedy woman it was who had 9 or 11 c-sections or whatever it was.

What my OBs do is check things out during each c-section and tell me if things still look okay for another, and so far it’s always been yes. Definitely it’s not standard to say three is the limit. If I were you I’d tell the OB right before the c-section begins that I didn’t think I wanted any more children but could he/she please investigate while in there and see how things look just in case you change your mind.

During the twin pregnancy I did worry a little about uterine rupture: the uterus gets soooooo stretched for twins, and I’d already had two c-sections. But everything was fine, and then I had a fourth c-section and the OB still says everything looks fine if I want another. So for me, it’s not something I consider an issue; I’m more worried about my increasing age. (In fact, one theory for why the risks go up for subsequent c-sections is that the mother’s age is also increasing.)

Megan: “I have a personal one for you, but I understand if you don’t want to answer….how much weight have you gained with each pregnancy and how much did you lose before getting pregnant again? Did you try to lose weight or did it just happen? I’m overweight and about to try to get pregnant.”

I’ve gained such a different amount with each pregnancy, and had such different experiences losing it. For my first pregnancy I gained 40 pounds and most of it came off quickly but it seemed to take AGES to lose the last little bit. For my second pregnancy I gained 15 pounds and lost all of it fast and then some (and then afterward I gained back the extra I’d lost, and then some). With the twins I gained about 50 pounds and lost it all in a week (a LOT of it was water retention—my legs were swollen up to my hips) and then kept losing. With Henry I can’t remember what happened, perhaps because my brain hit the limit of how many details it could hold. But I seem to remember it going about the same as my first pregnancy. I always think I’ll use an upcoming pregnancy to inspire me to lose weight, but it never works!

Eleanor Q.: “Independence training? I’d like to hear more about that. How did you pick what activities to start with? How did you coerce a toddler into doing something that YOU wanted when YOU suggest it? Did you see any regression of abilities once the babies came home?”

Several of the biggest trainings were things I probably should have already done by then anyway. My friend Astarte and I have oldest kids the same age, and her oldest was already long since showering on her own when I was all, “Oh, hey, I wonder if mine could learn to wash his own hair?” And when I finally got around to teaching William to dress himself, the quickness with which he learned indicated I could have done that earlier.

I don’t remember meeting any resistance. This may be because I was too tired to hear any. Or it could be that they were just the right ages: Rob was 6 and has always liked Being a Grown-up, and William was 4 and has always liked Doing What Rob Does.

I chose activities based on the things I was finding overwhelming during pregnancy. I was spending a lot of time in the morning dozing, so I was motivated to teach them to get their own breakfasts, and this made me think of having them also learn to make their own lunches. I was having trouble kneeling at the tub and getting past my tum pressed against the side, so I was motivated to teach them to wash themselves.

Some of it was just teaching them to PITCH IN. They weren’t really able to gather up the trash, and having them lug it to the porch wasn’t much of a help to me, but having them do it took away some of my I’m The Only One Who Does Any Work Around Here feeling, and that was helpful.

I didn’t see any regression, though definitely the Fun! Of! Independence! wore off after awhile.

Even More Twin Questions and Answers

Cayt: “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?”

I did dress them in a lot of pink and blue, to help tell them apart in photos and also because it was so! dang! cute! My mom gave me two three-packs of footed outfits, one pink set and one blue, and those were the best: each set had one solid, one striped, and one patterned, and also there were MATCHING HATS.

I found that I pretty much ONLY wanted to use outfits that coordinated. I used the non-coordinated clothes when I had to change a baby midday because of a blowout or something, but in the morning they were almost always coordinated.

It was pretty easy to coordinate them at first: lots of companies make their infant lines basically the same but one pink and one blue. As they got out of infant stuff, though, the coordinated stuff was way harder and soon I stopped doing it.

If both babies had been girls, or both boys, I think I would have chosen a color for each—probably pink and purple for girls, blue and green for boys. Well, or maybe not, because one of the things that appealed to me about same-sex twins was that they could share clothes. Maybe I would have used a pin-on ribbon or a fake beauty mark or something.

Anonymous: “I have one very important question. How did you come up with their names? Please share with lots of details!”

Oh, man, that was, like, the biggest naming project of my LIFE. “Elizabeth” and “Edward” are pseudonyms, which makes it a little tricky to discuss the naming process without giving away the real names but I’ll try. Early in the pregnancy I’d started lists of boy name candidates and girl name candidates. When we found out there were TWINS, I started combining from the lists, making three new lists: Boy-Boy, Girl-Girl, and Boy-Girl. The problem was that our first choice candidates didn’t really coordinate with each other—or went together TOO well, like John and Jane.

My IDEAL would have been to have some small gimmick: matching initials, or same number of letters/syllables, or SOMETHING. But we tried again and again to come up with something like that for boy-girl twins, and there was just nothing we could find that didn’t mean choosing a less-liked name just for the sake of the gimmick.

Finally we decided to treat each name separately: we pretended we were having a girl, and we chose her name; then we pretended it was two years later and we were having a boy, and we chose his name. We ended up with two names that are very different in style, popularity, syllables, letters, and initials; they have NOTHING in common. The names are something like Joe and Clarissa. I love both names but still wish there was a little Twin Gimmick.

I’m looking at my name lists now, and it’s so strange to see names I don’t even remember considering. Iliana! Jenica! Laken! Perrin! Brindle! Abbott! Dutch! Cullen! Joren! I still really like Brindle.

Rah: “Have their developmental milestones come together–did they walk/talk at the same time, etc.?”

Sort of, but not much more than any two siblings. The one thing I noticed was copycat developing: if one did something, the other noticed and tried to do the same thing, so this may have made some of their developmental milestones closer than they otherwise would have been.

Shelly Overlook: “I want to know if what you hear about twins developing their own language is true.”

My particular twins haven’t, though I’ve heard a lot about this. I wonder if it happens more with identical twins? I HAVE found that they seem to understand each other better: if one of them is saying something and I can’t figure out what it is, I ask the other one.

Beth: “What’s been the thing that surprised you the most about having twins, either in a good or bad way?”

I think what surprised me most is how little their twinness affects our household. I guess I’d expected it to be more of a big deal, or for Twin Issues to be something we would have to deal with often. Part of it is that they’re not only fraternal twins but also boy-girl fraternal twins—so they don’t really seem Twinnish. They look different, they like different things, they don’t dress the same, they don’t seem to have any Magical Twin Bond.

Jive Turkey: “My appetite was INSANE when I was nursing – was it twice as insane for you having to nurse twins?”

I do remember eating quite a lot, but what was amazing to me was that I was eating TONS but LOSING WEIGHT. I dropped all the pregnancy weight and just kept going. I have it written down somewhere but can’t find it, but I lost something like 15 pounds past my pre-pregnancy weight. (I got it all back later.) It was like I couldn’t keep up. It was fun to see what it would be like to be one of those actresses who says she has to work to keep her weight up.

Still More Twin Questions and Answers

Nellyru: “Did the nasty ultrasound tech change her tune at all when she knew she was going to be the one to tell you something exciting?”

She softened slightly, but she stayed brusque. She was working in a fast, panicky way, pressing WAY too hard on the tum and saying things like, “SorryIDon’tHaveTimeToDoMorePicturesButHereAreAFew.” We had to go give the results to the OB, and she walked so fast I literally couldn’t keep up (I had two little kids with me) and got lost in the hallways. (For all my other ultrasounds I went to the hospital, even though the OB’s office was more convenient. The scheduling nurse asked why, and in a rare moment of bravery I told her. That technician was too rough and brusque even when she WASN’T in a rush.)

Eleanor Q.: “Here’s what I’m still wondering: How were the early days (months) different with the twins than it was when William was born? How did you have to adapt your ‘bringing home baby/dealing with an older child’ plan to the twins? How did you feed them? Did you schedule like crazy? Do you think the twins are closer to each other than their other siblings? Do you think that being a boy/girl set takes away some of the difficulty of establishing ones own identity that some twins have or does it not matter? Did you feel awesome when annoying strangers would say ‘must be twins’ and then you could retort ‘actually, it is.'”

YES it was satisfying to say it was twins when strangers made what they thought was a joke! Or someone would say, “You must be due any minute!” and I’d say, “Not for another 3 months.” Hee!

Bringing the twins home was easier than bringing William home. For one thing, William’s homecoming gave me a toddler and a newborn, and I’ve written before about how difficult I think that combination is—but when I brought the twins home, I had a 4-year-old and a 6-year old. And during the pregnancy, I’d done some “Independence Training,” mostly with Rob but some with William too: teaching them to wash themselves in the bathtub, teaching Rob to make easy breakfasts and lunches, teaching Rob to go get the mail, teaching them both to put on their own seatbelts, teaching William to get himself dressed. So when I was stuck in a chair nursing the twins and feeling half-crazed with all the things I needed to be doing instead, I could set Rob and William in motion like two little Roombas: “Clear the breakfast dishes, please. Now Rob take those letters out to the mailbox and put the flag up. William, can you please get me more water? Now both of you please pick up the toys on the floor.” It was much slower and less efficient than I would have done it, but it was GETTING DONE.

Another thing we did differently: we put a bassinet out in the living room. Instead of having to FREAK OUT that if we let the baby cry the toddler would wake up (newborn William had shared a room with toddler Rob), we had a whole different set-up. If one or both twins needed to cry a bit, the crying was still stressful but at least not because it might wake up the other children.

We didn’t need to buy much for the twins: not only did we have a bunch of stuff already, but when people found out we were having twins they donated all kinds of things: a second crib, a second bassinet, a second swing, a ton of clothes. We did buy two La-Z-Boy recliners and those were the best and most practical purchases we made. Each of us could rock a twin in comfort, and the recliners were comfortable to sleep in if it came to that and it often did.

I mostly tandem-nursed the twins, mostly using a twin nursing pillow my cousin gave me. I would put the twins on the couch, then strap the pillow on, then scoop up a twin in each arm, then sit and arrange. It took a minute or two, but once we were all arranged I had my hands free to read or do Sudoku puzzles or whatever. It was so awesome and I highly recommend it to anyone planning to try breastfeeding twins.

The only downside is that it was hard to doze with it on, because the back-support pillow kept me so upright. So sometimes at night I would settle into the recliner instead, with regular bedpillows and throw pillows arranged to support the babies. The problem is that this usually resulted in all three of us waking up in the recliner in the morning.

With twins, you don’t have to switch sides mid-feeding as you do with a single baby. Some books recommend switching each feeding (Baby A on the right with this feeding but on the left with the next feeding) to keep things balanced; other books recommend keeping each baby to his/her own side so each baby can regulate his/her own supply. I switched in the beginning, but one baby REALLY PREFERRED to nurse on a particular side so eventually they each had their own side pretty much.

I also did some one-at-a-time nursing, and then I would switch mid-feeding and use the cradle hold and a regular pillow (rather than the football hold and the twin nursing pillow).

I didn’t do any scheduling per se, but I did keep a rigid RECORD. I had a legal pad where I wrote down EVERYTHING: nursing times and lengths and sides, diaper changes and contents, baths and shampoos and cradle cap treatments, and any medications I was taking. Otherwise I seriously couldn’t remember which baby I’d changed or how long it had been. After a long time (months? many months? I can’t remember anymore) I stopped keeping track of diapers and nursing lengths and baths, but I still kept track of feeding start-times/sides until they were weaned. I also used it to keep track of when I introduced which solids.

I do think the twins are closer than any other two siblings in our family, but I think a lot of it is being the same level of development. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when they’re all adults.

Yes, I think being boy-girl twins helps HUGELY with the identity thing. I’d go so far as to say it’s barely been an issue. When they were teensy it was easy to dress them in the blue/pink versions of the same outfit/jacket/hat and I did that a lot—but as soon as they were out of baby sizes, it became difficult and we stopped doing it.

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.”

I’m not sure when I got a handle on it. I feel like I mostly have a handle on it NOW, but…. I mean, FIRST I felt like things started going way better when I wasn’t nursing them so often. Then it seemed like things were better when they could sit up and play—but that was so quickly followed by MOBILITY, which was WAY WORSE. Then it was about 2 years before they reached their current stage of being relatively easy.

I’ve read that the average spacing between singleton babies is 2-point-something years, but that the average spacing between twins and the next baby is 5 years. We had an unexpected pregnancy when the twins were 15 months old, which resulted in another baby just before the twins’ 2nd birthday. It worked out okay, but it was too close: I think it would have been way better with a 4-year spacing like we had when the twins were born. As it was, I had the Newborn Plus Toddler problem, but with TWO toddlers—ACK.


Still, we did get through it (the toddler/newborn thing, I mean), and now I’m glad Edward has a boy just 2 years younger than him to play with. (If Henry had been a girl, I would have been glad for Elizabeth.)

More next time!

More Twin Questions and Answers

Sahara: “What did you do about the car/car seat situation? How did specific people (MIL! William!) react? Did you know you would get one boy and one girl ahead of time?”

We bought a used Toyota Sienna minivan, and the process was way smoother than I’d feared: we got an online car loan from the same place that did our mortgage, went to the Toyota place with the blank check, looked at the four used minivans they had, test-drove the one that seemed like the best combination of age/mileage for our needs, and filled out the blank check and bought it. I’d been VERY FRETFUL about getting ripped off (this was our first time buying a car from anyone other than my parents), and what I found most comforting was my friend Astarte saying something like, “Just assume you WILL get ripped off a little bit, and go choose one and get it over with.”

For the car seats, I first decided on the double stroller: once I’d chosen the Graco DuoGlider, I bought the pattern I liked best out of those that were locally available and then bought two Graco SnugRide car seats that matched.

…Ha ha ha! Do you see how easy I make that sound? What actually happened was that I read and re-read the Consumer Reports information about both car seats and strollers. Every time I saw a mother with a twin stroller I stopped her and asked her what she thought of it. Then I fretted and Fretted and FRETTED about whether to get a side-by-side or a front-and-back: both had advantages and disadvantages. I finally chose the front-and-back, mostly because the infant carseats could click into it and then later it could be used as a regular double stroller. Then there was a terrific month-long $50-off-plus-free-umbroller sale at a big baby/toy store, but they were out of stock on the stroller all month and no rainchecks (because it was on “any stroller over $100”—not the specific stroller) so I agitated about THAT. Then I wasn’t sure AT ALL about the pattern, and I didn’t want to choose until I knew if I was having boys or girls or one of each, and when I found out I was having a boy and a girl I wondered if I should NOT match the fabric pattern so that I could choose a girly-patterned seat for Elizabeth. And then all the local stores carried different patterns, but some of them didn’t carry the coordinating stroller and ACK!! I think I finally just CHOSE, mostly to be done with it, and I went with matching car seats so I could use either seat for either baby. I think that made them look more obviously like twins, as it turned out.

Reactions. Rob and William were with me when I found out I was expecting twins, and I was all emotional and they were like “Oh really? Huh.” I emailed Paul and he emailed back “NO WAY!” and I emailed back “WAY!” He was really happy about it; he likes twins too. My mother-in-law was pretty excited and happy. Most of the people I emailed were satisfyingly “!!!!” about it. The best reactions were from the other moms at Rob’s kindergarten: they were screaming and laughing and hugging and getting teary-eyed, and every time another mom arrived they were all like “GUESS WHAT?!?!” The teachers were trying to get class started and we were all still jumping up and down in the coats area.

Yes, we found out ahead of time that we were having a girl and a boy. Because I was expecting twins, I had an ultrasound every 6 weeks. I’d had a quick one at 13-14 weeks, but had the first real one at 18 weeks. I was VERY EAGER to find out, and VERY DISAPPOINTED when they couldn’t tell. The first technician said maybe Baby B was a girl, but she couldn’t see Baby A at all. She called in the head technician, and she said she thought maybe Baby B was a boy but she couldn’t see Baby A at all.

The next ultrasound was at 24 weeks, and this time the first technician guessed Baby A was a girl and Baby B was a boy, and the head technician guessed the same—but both of them would only give about a 70% chance that Baby A was a girl. They were both much more certain about Baby B being a boy. So I didn’t take it as a For Sure at all, but I did start looking more at boy/girl name combinations.

At the 30-week ultrasound, the technicians used the word “definitely”: one boy and one girl.

Tess: “I want to know about twin DYNAMICS. Like, is Edward closer to his TWIN, or to the other boys? Do you think twins born as MIDDLE children are less twin-y than only twins or oldest twins?”

So far, Edward is closest to Elizabeth because they’re the same developmental stage. BUT, he also spends a lot of time with Rob, because the two of them both like video games so much. I think twins are probably just as twinny whatever their birth order, but that boy-girl twins are the least twinny of all the possibilities. I wouldn’t say we “forget” they’re twins, but sometimes the thought of it surprises us anew. Part of it is that their personalities are so different. They seemed most twinny when they were babies, and they’re starting to seem twinny again now that they tell clerks about it (“We’re both four! We’re TWINS!”) and now that I’m registering them for school.

Jess: “Do twins run in either of your families? Or were they just a total surprise?”

One of Paul’s cousins has a set of identical twins, but the theory is that fraternal twins are only from the mother’s family tree: as I remember reading somewhere, “No man’s sperm can make a woman ovulate twice.” A family tendency to fraternal twins is actually a tendency for the women in the family to ovulate more than once per cycle.

My great-grandfather was part of a boy-girl twin set, and there was another set of boy-girl twins in that sibling group. So my great-grandfather was a carrier of multiple-ovulation genes, and he passed those to my grandfather, and my grandfather passed them to my mother (who might have had twins if she’d had more pregnancies), and my mother passed them to me. There are a couple other sets of fraternal twins from other branches of that same family tree.

But they were still a total surprise. For one thing, I didn’t know at the time that my great-grandfather had been a fraternal twin. I would have said no, twins didn’t run in our family. For another thing, even if I’d known, I wouldn’t have guessed I’D actually HAVE twins (even my great-great grandmother, who had two sets of boy-girl twins, had another seven pregnancies that were singleton births), though I might have hoped with more realistic fervency.

More next time!

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!

Reader Question: Twin Pregnancy

Sahara writes:

I think I remember you saying that you originally started your blog thinking that it was going to be about raising twins, yes? But I don’t think I’ve ever heard you describe your pregnancy with the twins. You know, how did you find out there were two in there? What were your immediate thoughts/how did that change (if at all)? That kind of thing. If you’re at all interested, I’d love to hear about that!

It is unwise to ask a woman about her pregnancy unless you don’t have anywhere else to be that day.

Okay! I will tell you about the twins, and about that pregnancy, and so forth, and I will try—TRY—not to go on so long that everyone goes off for a drink refill and never manages to make it back.

I found out at a routine appointment, when I was nearly 14 weeks along. The obstetrician couldn’t find a heartbeat, and he said he’d really like to have an ultrasound done. They had an ultrasound machine/technician in-office, so I went to the waiting room and spent 45 minutes trying to think about how VERY NORMAL it could be not to hear a heartbeat at 14 weeks. VERY NORMAL. Even though they’d heard it at 10 weeks with my other pregnancies. NORMAL.

The technician called me in, and she was brusque and unpleasant: she was already overbooked, and I was the third unscheduled patient an OB had sent her that morning, so she was in a hurry and acting crabby. She found the heartbeat almost right away, and I was so relieved. But then she kept taking measurement after measurement after measurement, and I was puzzled because she was only supposed to check for the heartbeat, and I knew she was in a hurry so why was she doing all this extra stuff? Since she was looking anyway, I said, “Is it too early to tell if it’s a boy or a girl?” and she said, “Hang on…hang on…in a minute I’ll have something to tell you…” I couldn’t tell from her tone if she was answering my question or if she had some bad news about the baby. Then she said, “It’s twins.” I started laugh-weeping right away.

I know it’s hard to see ultrasounds, so here is is again with some helpful lines added. The babies were both facing away and I’ve drawn them facing towards, but it’ll give the GIST anyway:

I was soooooooooo excited and happy. I’d WANTED twins—but then again, I’d also wanted to win the lottery but I’d never thought either one would ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

I went home and emailed everyone I knew. Then I took Rob to kindergarten and told everyone there. Then I went home and started panicking about needing a minivan. Seriously, that was my PRIMARY CONCERN: the stress of buying a car.

I found the whole pregnancy much more stressful than my first two, but also much more exciting. Everyone had been kind of “Oh, how nice” about the third pregnancy—until I found out it was twins, when everyone hit the ceiling. I don’t think there was even as much fuss about my first pregnancy as there was about the twin pregnancy.

But I was constantly worried that something would go wrong. I felt like I now had three times as much worry: not just worry about “the baby,” but worry about “Baby A” AND “Baby B” AND “the twinness.” I was worried that something would happen to one baby, and I’d lose not just that baby but also the twinness of the babies—and plenty of people told me stories about this happening. I also worried about prematurity.

Oh, and I was soooooo uncomfortable. I was close to full-term size at the beginning of the third trimester (at 28 weeks I measured 36 weeks) and I was so discouraged about how long there was to go. I was so tired I used to need to lie down for awhile after taking a shower. I took a nap with William almost every day while Rob was in kindergarten. By 30 weeks I had to stand sideways at the sink to do the dishes because my tum was too big to reach around, and I found it very difficult to walk even from one end of the mall to the other. I started sleeping semi-upright in a recliner because it hurt too much to lie down. I felt crampy and contractiony every time I walked. The babies hurt me when they moved. My legs swelled up from my hips to my toes; I bought backless slip-on shoes 2 sizes larger than my usual size. My ribs felt cold and painful. I outgrew maternity pants a month before the birth and had to wear men’s drawstring pajama pants. Every evening I couldn’t believe we were only one day closer. It was like the last couple intolerable weeks of pregnancy, but for three months.

This is the night before they were born: 38-1/2 weeks.

And here they are on the outside at last. Elizabeth was born first, 8 pounds 2 ounces; Edward was born second, 7 pounds 4 ounces. No wonder I was a little uncomfortable.