What Nobody Told Me About Giving Birth To Twins
I’ve always loved a good surprise (well, almost always). Getting engaged for your birthday? Yes, please! "Just because” flowers from the husband? I’ll take them! Walking into your regular prenatal appointment and finding out you’re having your C-section RIGHT NOW? Wait, what? No! My experience of giving birth to twins was full of unforeseen moments for which I likely could have been better equipped. While I enjoy most surprises, I also like to feel prepared when it comes to big events. Here are 9 random things that nobody ever told me about giving birth to twins that I wish I had known:
1) “Expecting Twins" classes exist and it would behoove you to attend.
We didn’t take any classes other than CPR. After I delivered (and after the pandemonium of two babies had already flooded my house), I then learned about different organizations that host in-person, in-home, and online classes about having multiples, such as twiniversity.com or twinloveconcierge.com. Their classes cover a broad range of topics, from preparing a twin nursery to tandem breastfeeding to managing newborn twins in the first few weeks. If I had known these existed earlier, I would have signed myself up to better handle the chaos that later ensued!
2) Moments after you deliver your twins, your stomach will immediately look flat(ish) and it’s going to shock you.
I know this sounds obvious, but it truly caught me off guard! I’ll never forget laying on the operating table and hearing my husband’s voice nervously say “Oh my God, your stomach literally just flattened. Is that normal?” after they pulled out the second twin. Since I couldn’t see behind the drape and he could, it was nerve-wracking to hear him say that and not be able to see anything. Either way, it’s not a bad problem to have, but it is something I wish I had mentally prepared more for.
3) You’re probably not going to be able to tell your twins apart at first, whether identical or fraternal.
100% true. It happens to a lot of moms of multiples (including me!). Before giving birth, it just never crossed my mind that I might not be able to tell my own fraternal twins apart. When they’re swaddled and wearing hats, they start to look the exact same. Luckily, we had an “A” and a “B” written on their hats to help us differentiate them at first.
4) You might feel immediately bonded with one twin more than the other.
Initially, by default, I felt like I knew my son better than I knew my daughter. When they were first born, the doctors put my son on my chest in the O.R. to help him get amniotic fluid out of his lungs. My daughter was not put on my chest until several minutes later when we were rolling back to the recovery room. That small gap of time did delay our bonding, but my daughter and I certainly caught up in the following couple of days.
5) You’re not going to be able to stand up straight right after a C-section.
If you’ve had a C-section then you know what I’m talking about. Beforehand, I had talked to other moms that went through this surgery, but nobody ever mentioned this part! I knew my legs were going to be numb for many hours afterwards, but what about when my sensation returned? The nurses woke me up at 4:30AM (12 hours after my surgery) to tell me “it’s time to get up and walk now!” Getting out of bed was rather difficult. When I tried to stand, it felt like my stitches were ripping apart (apparently this is a normal feeling, but I had no idea at the time). As a result, I walked around holding my belly with a hunchback for the first week. My advice? STAY AHEAD of the pain after a C-section by taking pain medicine regularly the first couple of days.
6) If your twins don’t go to the NICU, you might be taking care of both babies yourself (not the nurses) right after delivery.
We did NOT expect this at all. Honestly, we were completely shocked. Every hospital is different so this may not apply to you. For us, it did. Imagine that your legs are numb from your C-section, you can’t move, your surgical site is throbbing, and you have 2 brand new twins crying at the foot of your hospital bed. When this happened to me, my poor husband had to answer every cry. Being a first-time father, he had NO idea what he was doing. The nurses at our hospital did not participate much in giving the twins care (like changing their diapers or feeding them). That was up to us. Although my husband didn’t find it funny, sometimes I just couldn't help but laugh (although I hated laughing because it hurt!). Watching him run back and forth between the bassinets all frazzled was surely a sight to see. Lucky for me, though, he was a pro by the time we got home! :-)
7) You probably won’t get the twins’ birth certificates while you’re in the hospital.
A few weeks after our twins' arrival came and went, we realized we needed their birth certificates for insurance reasons. I feverishly flipped through all of their hospital paperwork, only to realize we never received them. After some Googling, I learned that many states do not automatically send you birth certificates, even if you apply for them in the hospital. We ultimately applied and requested for copies of their certificates online through the state’s Vital Records Department and received them in the mail 1.5 weeks later.
8) There’s a huge chance all those matching outfits you brought with you won’t be used.
If you have an uncomplicated birth and you're only in the hospital for 2-4 days, then you might encounter this, as well. When my husband and I did our hospital tour prior to delivering, the staff told us to bring 3-4 outfits for each baby. That said, my mother and I spent several hours picking out the perfect coordinating outfits for the twins to wear while they were in the hospital. When the time came, my husband and I were simply too tired (and, for me, too immobile) to have the twins put on a fashion show each day. Coming from a lover of photography, you're going to be too tired to care about capturing what they're wearing every day. Realistically, the only outfit that matters is the one they go home in.
9) You’re likely going to freak out when you’re driving home with the twins.
You’ll recheck both car seats 80 times yourself. You’ll then ask someone else to double check your 80 checks. At least, that’s how it was for us. My husband was literally shaking as he drove us home after we were discharged (while driving 5 MPH the whole way, of course). When we got home roughly 100 years later, we happily closed the door behind us (while only opening another door full of more surprises yet to come! :-))
Photo by: Paige Walker Photography