Dear couple staring in disbelief at an ultrasound image of TWO babies,
Hi. You might be feeling a lot of feelings right now, and those feelings may be giving you other feelings too. Like, maybe you’re a little bummed out and the difference between how you feel and how excited everyone else seems to be about this twins thing might be making you feel a little guilty on top of the whole feeling bummed thing. I know.
I’ve been in your shoes. I still vividly remember the way I felt when my doctor jiggled that ultrasound wand and said, “And now let’s check out baby number TWO!” I said, “WHAT?!” My husband said, “You’re gonna get SO BIG” (Reader, I know, he is lucky to still be alive, but I couldn’t kill him since I’d need his help raising TWO BABIES OMG). We felt a lot of feelings, but nowhere in the top 10 was there joy or excitement, at least not at first. In fact, for a few weeks, we would just periodically look at each other and one of us would say, “Holy shit. We’re having TWINS.”
We left that appointment and called everyone we knew. Gone were thoughts of saving our pregnancy announcement for the second trimester– twins were news too big to keep to ourselves anymore. But of course, every single person we told thought we were kidding about the whole twins thing. And then once they did realize that it was no joke, there were two beating hearts in my belly, they all got REALLY excited. And the gap between their excitement and the way we were feeling felt huge.
See, we went into this thing thinking we were having A baby. Singular. And the news of a second baby kind of came out of nowhere. All of our visions of what the pregnancy and birth and newborn experience would be like would have to be adjusted, and in a weird way, we had to grieve the loss of all of those hopes and expectations so that we could get to a place of acceptance and even joy and excitement. I had had visions of snuggling and bonding and gazing into my new baby’s eyes. Sure, I’d be tired and things would be hard, but there would be this blissful relationship and closeness. In my mind, when I found out I was having twins, all of this went out the window– how would there be time for snuggles and eye-gazing when there would always be another mouth to be fed or a diaper to be changed or a baby who needed soothing or put to bed? How would we EVER sleep?
And of course, when we had tried for over 2 years to have a baby and were so overjoyed to be pregnant, we felt guilty for feeling anything but happy about getting a double blessing. Which just made the feelings that much worse. But here’s the thing we eventually realized: feeling bad about how you actually feel about something doesn’t really help you get to a place where you feel like you want to about it. We couldn’t change how we felt just because we wished we felt a different way. I’ve met many more parents of multiples along the way, and it turns out, feeling shocked, disappointed, overwhelmed, scared or even a little angry at first is totally normal. It’s nothing to beat yourself up about. You just have to feel how you feel, and eventually, as your belly and your hearts grow, you find yourself making room for a new kind of normal.
In a way, it was the exact same process we went through later in my pregnancy when we learned Baby B, our Claire Bear, had Spina Bifida. We had to grieve the loss of a certain set of expectations for her, and accept that life with her would be a different kind of normal.
Now, we have 2.5 year old twins. They are healthy and beautiful and hilarious and headstrong and funny and frustrating. I can’t imagine one without the other. I can’t imagine them as anything other than they are. We get to see an amazing relationship growing between our two girls, and now we do truly feel doubly blessed.
So please, if you’re feeling something other than utterly overjoyed about your new twin normal, be gentle with yourself and your hearts. I promise, there will come a day when you really are excited and happy. But however you feel in the meantime is OK too, and it doesn’t mean you don’t or won’t love your babies, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for them (especially if it took a lot of time or interventions to get them in the first place), and it doesn’t mean you’re going to feel this way forever. Twins are a whole lot to get your head around, but you’ll get there.