You're Expecting Twins - Now What?
What to Expect When you are Expecting Twins
It is probably safe to say that nothing can prepare you for the experience of hearing an ultrasound technician gleefully announce that you are carrying more than one baby - particularly if the prospect was not anticipated!
From that amazing, terrifying, wonderful moment, be prepared for your life to completely change. Whether or not you already have children, you simply cannot anticipate what it will be like to introduce a pair of them at the same time. This article will give you a few tips on what to expect, and how to prepare so that the new additions will not completely break the bank, even if they feel like they break your back!
The Pregnancy. A multiple pregnancy is automatically considered "high risk," even if it was naturally conceived, that is, without medical intervention. Be prepared for the potential of additional doctor visits and ultrasounds, depending on your age and overall health. The risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-term delivery is also increased. Your doctor will monitor you more closely in this regard. There are plenty of good books on multiple pregnancies, particularly if you end up in the unenviable position of having to go on bed rest. One very important thing to keep in mind is that most multiple pregnancies do not last for an entire 40 weeks. Full-term is generally considered 36-37 weeks for twins.
Your body. Prepare to be amazed. You may think... its only two, or that they typically are smaller than average babies. But I can tell you from experience that some kind soul asked if I was having triplets, with more than a month to go before delivery! If you have maternity clothes from a prior pregnancy, you'll probably have to shop again in larger sizes.
In the meantime, rest assured that at some point in your life, you may be able look like you did before. Just make sure that you get there in a healthy manner, and not by cutting off your breath by multiple layers of spandex!
Twin Pregnancy Video
Twin Pregnancy Books
Your partner. Is he mini-van adverse? Well, he may have to get over it. How else are you going to easily transport two tiny babies, if you don't have the right kind of wheels? Time to convert the shop in the basement into an extra nursery? That could be threatening, if space is already tight where you live. Some partners will gladly welcome the 2-for-1 circumstance, while others will balk at the sudden and overwhelming changes in their lives. After all, your rapidly changing waistline is not the only thing about which he'll wonder about the point of no return. An expanding family is one area that will literally separate the boys from the men. Talk to your friends or family for additional support, if necessary. There are several on-line support groups, as well. I recommend iVillage.com.
Your finances. Gulp! You knew I had to get there, didn't you? What about child care? If you have to work after delivering the babies, how will you afford it? And what if you currently drive a compact car? These are some serious questions that have to be addressed pretty darn quick before you get to week 30 of the pregnancy. Some day care providers allow for second child discounts and/or early pay discounts if you pay by a certain date. There are many resources available on the internet, such as Craig's list or the like where you may be able to find quality childcare if you start early enough and are patient. Similar observations are made with respect to vehicles, which can be found through eBay or Craig's list, without having to pay dealer invoices.
The necessities. I will tell you right now that the most important things you need when you arrive home are: two infant car seats, a good supply of infant diapers and wipes, 4-6 swaddling blankets, 4-6 undershirts, 4-6 onesies, and a place for each of the babies to sleep. You may wish to include a few caps on this list, but the hospital will send one home with you for each of the babies. If you are not going to breastfeed, you should also include bottles and formula on this list. Other items, such as highchairs and toys, can wait.
- I highly recommend that you purchase new car seats because the safety features may be lost or broken otherwise on second-hand models. Local police and/or fire stations will often assist with installation to make sure that it is done correctly. Always, always, always in the back seat!!
- With regard to sleeping arrangements, I do recommend that each has their own bassinet or crib, preferably in their own space, if possible. Our twins could never sleep in the same room without rousing the other one from sleep. While tempting, you should not sleep with your twins, due to the risk of SIDS. Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs, with soft blankets and stuffed animals out of their cribs and away from their faces.
- If you are going to bottle feed or supplement your babies, you should definitely check with your doctor and pediatrician about free formula supplies. We were given a case of Enfamil for our twins - much more than the single can or two that the manufacturers tend to offer for singleton births.
Getting out and about with your twins. This is a daunting prospect ...Especially if you are going solo. My favorite method to this madness was to place one twin in a front pack, and leave the other (fussier) twin in her car seat, which I snapped onto one of those convertible stroller bases. On occasion, I would meet a family member or friend, and we would use two stroller bases with the car seats. But, in reality, my days outside of the home were numbered until the twins were older and able to hold their heads up. At that point, we invested in one of the many relatively inexpensive double strollers on the market. If you'd rather avoid all this hassle and just buy one of the nice double strollers that are available (trust me, they have come a long way in the five years since my twins were born), check out this article as a good starting place.
Check with your pediatrician. You may find that some of the milestones that the "average" baby will reach come a little later for one or both of your twins. Don't panic. Your pediatrician will tell you if there is true cause for concern. Sitting up, crawling, walking.... sometimes it is a blessing if you don't have both children sending you scrambling in opposite directions. That will come before you know it! Speaking of the pediatrician, I highly recommend that you have a back-up parent or other adult with you at doctor visits. It is a significant understatement to say it is difficult to wriggle two babies in and out of multiple layers of clothing, get them weighed and measured, and you cannot even imagine what a series of shots, times two, is like!
Enjoy their unique personalities! Whether you have identical or fraternal twins, you will soon discover that each baby has their own way of challenging and thrilling you. It sounds like a cliché, but trust me that the first year does go by very quickly. And one day, you will look back on the early days and weeks and sigh. Perhaps you will laugh too! Have fun!
© 2008 Stephanie Hicks