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.
10 Replies to “so, you just found out you’re having twins…”
And sometimes, I have learned, you will feel overwhelming joy that you have twins and” what has happened to my life” terror in the same five minutes!
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Totally! Parenthood has really hammered home for me that I am capable of holding completely opposing feelings in my heart all at the same time. Like when I finally get some time away to myself and I feel simultaneously like a freed convict and also missing my children so hard it hurts. It’s given me a new understanding of Walt Whitman. Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.
A great post to read, thanks for sharing your experiences. My good friend Vicki has twin 7 year old boys, the news of twins was a great shock to her as it didn’t run in the family. She had a bad pregnancy due to her epilepsy and knows that she shouldn’t get pregnant again. She got her family in 1 go which is very lucky. Your girls are very beautiful, love the photo of them in the truck. Jean
You nailed it! I also have 2 1/2 yo twins. They are magical, funny, beautiful and everything I never know I needed in my life. We had a three year old and had just lost one pregnancy when we learned the news. When we found out it was twins there were a lot of tears, but not of joy! I was mad, I felt overwhelmed and like some cosmic joke was being played on me. I remember yelling “I don’t want to have twins” out loud more than once! The anxiety I felt for the first half of my pregnancy caused heart palpitations and shortness of breath.
Now my life is harder than I could ever imagine. My trio challenge me and push me to exhaustion and the edge of sanity on a daily basis, and I am happier than I ever thought possible. I cannot imagine life with out my twinkle twins (or their big brother). Thanks for this wonderful post, it means a lot to know I was not the only one that had to warm up to the idea of my duo!
I just found out I’m having twins on Tuesday – the same night someone posted your article on FB. Thanks so much for this, really truly.
Welcome to the twins club, Melissa! It’s a crazy ride, but a beautiful one too. Be easy on yourself as you adjust!
I don’t have twins, but I do have a “Claire Bear!” Best nickname ever! :)
Does your Claire Bear think that’s her whole name? When I tell mine that her name is Claire Elaine, she corrects me and says “No, I Claire Bear.”
Mine is only 14 months. Her big sister though seems to think she is “Claire Bittabuts”. Which is how she says Claire Annabelle, I guess. Cracks me up!
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