In case you were wondering, a twin pregnancy has hardly anything in common with a double cheeseburger.
Somewhere in the earliest days of this magical and terrifying gestational journey, I began searching for some weird pregnancy mantra that would make me feel less like my entire life was about to implode. I happened to find it when I was blissfully tonsil deep in a turkey burger. (I’m so, so sorry for that mental image.)
“This pregnancy is going to be FINE, just like the first one! Same old burger with an extra patty along for the ride,” I mused.
It might seem like an odd and mildly cannibalistic metaphor, but considering the fact that I’ve spent 89% of this pregnancy eating or thinking about sandwiches, it’s not entirely surprising that I’ve started to identify with them. For the rest of the day, the (admittedly bizarre) aphorism brought me comfort.
As the weeks wore on and the hormones began to suck every ounce of joy from my being, the folly of my way was revealed. Aside from the fact that they both make me kind of fat and gassy, a double burg and a twin pregnancy are very, very different beasts. It turns out that growing two babies is entirely different than growing one—exponentially so.
Here are just a few fun ways a twin pregnancy deviates from the traditional, one-babe variety:
YOU GET BIGGER
If I had one piece of advice for twin-mamas-to-be, it would be this: don’t be a hero. Just buy the bloody maternity pants already, and eat up.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, women carrying twins should gain at least 35-45 pounds throughout their pregnancy, 24 of those puppies ideally occurring by the 24th week to reduce the chances of preterm labor. Yowza. So, unless you fancy the sound of your most merciful denim splitting through the quiet of a winter’s morn, you might consider busting out some stretchy pants. I was prepared for a little extra weight gain, maybe a sweet bonus chin or a cute muffin top that my husband and I could joke about years from now while oiling our perfectly bronzed obliques in the sun, but I wasn’t prepared to have gained the entire bulk of my first pregnancy when barely halfway through my second.
At first, I just told myself that everybody else was just getting skinnier—our 20 year old neighbor, the mailman, my dog…but now I’ve managed to accept the fact I’m just going to be round as can be for the next three months. It’s inevitable. I’m consuming 600-1000 extra calories a day for these tiny, hungry angels, and while I wish I could tell you that I’ve been spending my days fancy free, lapping up queso in a nacho cheese Jacuzzi, I’m afraid that due to an increased risk of gestational diabetes, the extra calories need to be healthy ones. No Dorito-kini or Velveeta wading in my immediate future. (But obviously, I’ll be looking into that later…)
If I could go back in time and punch my old pregnant self in the throat, I would. And it would feel really, really good. Then, I would waterboard her until she agreed to stop flitting about town like some adorable, deranged forest nymph cooing on and on about how much she loved being pregnant.
It is possible that I’ve been watching too much Homeland.
This pregnancy is different, and it surprised me. I figured that since my first was essentially one fabulous, happy Latuda bender, the second round would be just as delightful. But it isn’t delightful; it actually kind of stinks.
For the first 16 weeks, I was nauseated. I’m talking 10lbs of cotton candy and a Nicholas Sparks movie adaption nauseated. My son was so worried during the first trimester that he followed me around the house with a bottle of grape Pedialyte begging me to let him pour it into my belly button. Now at 24 weeks, it’s the heartburn, the Tums popping, salsa fearing, sleeping in a chair, heartburn. I look a mess, I smell like antacids, and I’ve outgrown most of my underwear.
The kind of good news is that it’s all perfectly normal. Huzzah! While every pregnancy—twin, singleton, or otherwise—is unique, morning sickness, nausea, reflux, and all manner of gastro-disasters tend to be more intense when you’ve got an extra fetus or two tampering with your hormones.
BUT YOU GET TO KNOW YOUR DOCTOR. REALLY WELL.
My obstetrician enjoys cattle drives, pithy cartoons, and hates the internet. He just celebrated his 60th birthday, speaks fluent German, and the size of his extended family is only rivaled by the size of his extensive and thoroughly awesome bowtie collection. I don’t know these things because we have long meaningful conversations about life as he’s measuring the length of my cervix. I simply know these things because I see him all. of. the. time.
In the beginning, I was in for ultrasounds and appointments every three weeks. Now, it’s every other week. I’m told that soon I’ll be in there so much I will probably have absorbed enough gynecological information to perform a pelvic exam on myself. But I won’t.
It might sound like a bit of a drag, all of this scrutinizing and belly poking, but there are a couple of bright spots. My doctor has an excellent magazine selection for somebody who appreciates salacious gossip scholarly journalism, AND I get to see the babies every visit, so I’ve been there every step of the way as they’ve evolved from blurry dots to alien forms to judo-chopping demi-humans.
YOU’RE AUTOMATICALLY FANCY
When I was 8, my parents got us a puppy; and immediately, every kid on the street wanted to come over and play at our house. I got birthday party invites, fruit roll-ups, and even the “good swing” at the park. It was incredible, but it totally transformed me into a tiny megalomaniac.
Never since have I enjoyed such celebrity…until now.
If there’s anything curious strangers love more than a woman expecting a baby, it’s a woman expecting BABIES. If you want to blow some granny mind, tell the next little old lady you see that you’re having twins, and watch the spectacles jump right off her face. Old friends and borderline estranged relatives will once again take an active interest in your life, and you’ll be asked the same questions over and over and over again:
“Did you do IVF?”
“Are they identical?” (Nope! I just finished telling you it was a boy and a girl!)
***GUYS! I totally forgot to tell you! It’s a boy and a girl!
“You’re getting a C-section, right?”
You will be approached by two sorts of people—those who cannot possibly contain their excitement and those that are genuinely terrified for you. The former want to know if they can bake you something after the babies come, but the latter are a little more complex. They want to know if you have family nearby and how you plan to pay for college. You can practically see these well-intentioned fear-mongerers Kegel hugging their IUDs as they speak to you.
Most people would tire of the attention pretty quickly, but not me! I haven’t exerted this kind of social influence since the third grade.
YOU’RE HIGH RISK
I’m not a risk taker. My idea of living dangerously is adding chicken to my taco salad. Since all multiple pregnancies are classified as high risk, I’ve had to become a little more comfortable with the idea that at some point, things might deviate from my rigid, anal-retentive pregnancy plan.
While I had hoped that my twins would pop out giggling and cooing at 40 weeks directly after a Zumba class, I am told that this will probably not be the case. According to March of Dimes, approximately 60% of all twins are born prematurely (before 37 weeks) with 34 weeks being the average gestation. So really, I have no bloody idea when these kiddos will show up. All I know is that I’m being carefully monitored for a host of bogus things that are more common among twin mamas—preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, placental abruption, and, of course, any sign of pre-term labor. It’s a little bit scary.
My job from here on out is to keep them on the inside as long as possible which means no more Zumba (BTW: this is doing Zumba a massive favor), drinking lots of water, and sticking close to home. If anybody needs me, I’ll be spending spring break on the couch in my pajamas being incredibly well-hydrated, not frolicking in the surf while downing virgin margaritas as previously planned.
All of these gripes, and I forgot to mention the most important difference: after all of the fatigue, public pants splittings, digestive warfare, and emotional breakdowns you get TWO babies in the end!
Livin’ large at 24 weeks, y’all!