You're 20 weeks pregnant. You go for an ultrasound. The sonographer finds the baby's heartbeat them BOOM…they discover a second one. Shock, excitement, panic…these are just some of the emotions that hit you as you realize you’re in for double trouble. Here we speak to 4 Noosa mums about life with twins.
Chrissy: Mum of Alfie (age 6) + identical twins Matilda & Zoe (age 3).
Harriet: Mum of fraternal twins Ivy & Willow (age 4).
Tessa: Mum of identical twins Harper & Scarlett (age 3)
Heidi: Mum of Ziggy (age 5) + fraternal twins Soleil & Vali (age 4)
How did you feel when you first found out you were pregnant with twins?
Chrissy: To be honest I was shocked and felt very unqualified to manage twin babies. Also I was worried about having a high-risk pregnancy and the odds of having two premature babies.
Harriet: Honestly, from a young age I always had an inkling I would have twins. Even before our first scan at 12 weeks I said to my husband, Jake, that I thought it was twins. So, I felt so blessed and grateful! I giggled for about 30 minutes when finding out – meanwhile, Jake sighed and was a touch quieter, as he has twin younger sisters.
Tessa: I was living on a boat in San Diego when I realized I was pregnant. My pregnancy was a big surprise to begin with, so I freaked out when I found out it was twins. I worried how I would fit two babies inside of me (I’m only 5-foot tall) and how much work it would take with two newborns and feeding, sleeping, and just juggling everything in general. That said, even before my first scan I couldn’t shake the thought that I was pregnant with twins. Even though twins don’t run in either of our families, I had an intuitive feeling there were 2 babies in there. So when I had my 7-week ultrasound and the sonographer said ‘it’s twin’s’, I was shocked, but not surprised.
Heidi: I actually had told my husband and my best girlfriend that it was twins when I first found out I was pregnant, I just had a feeling. Up until our first scan it was a running joke, my husband would call and say "How are you feeling, how are the twins?" But when I actually went for a scan and the doctor said here is the heartbeat, and oh wait here is the other heartbeat I nearly fell off the bed in shock. We were scared, excited, nervous, happy and overwhelmed all at the same time. Ziggy, my eldest son, was only 9 months old at the time.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone who’s just found out they’re pregnant with 2?
Chrissy: Twins are lots of fun and it’s very adorable watching them interact, and when they get older it’s great they play together and can do the same activities at the same time.
Harriet: You are so very capable. Your beautiful womb is already hosting the love and connection of two little humans – this in itself is an experience shared by very few. You have got this mumma!
Tessa: Be prepared for very little sleep in the early stage. Sleep whenever and wherever you can.
Heidi: Get some rest, don't buy 2 of everything.
How was your pregnancy?
Chrissy: I was very tired and nauseous during the first and most of the second trimester, unlike my first pregnancy. I was very fortunate though that there were no issues or bedrest which seems to be more common with twin pregnancies.
Harriet: It was, interesting. Mine was a little complicated but I learnt a lot from the experience. From 19 weeks, I was suffering from what I thought was intense back pain. It ended up being that twin two was pinching my urethra and fluid was backing up into my kidney. As a result, I had a procedure to put in a stent. Unfortunately, however, the hospital forgot to put in a catheter and it threw me into labour at 24 weeks. The survival rate for my little ones was pretty low. Thankfully once the issue was identified and the medication to slow down my contractions kicked in; I was able to return to the ward. Unfortunately, from that point on though, I was going into labour every few days. I was a bit like a yoyo between birthing suite and the ward until 32 weeks where I could go home as they would no longer stop my labour. Every pregnancy, whether with multiples or a single, has its ups and downs, so I would just recommend speaking your truth. Ask questions and follow your instincts – you are the only one that can truly put yourself or child first.
Tessa: It went really well and was actually really easy. Didn’t get any morning sickness or any dramas. I guess I was expecting the worst so it was quite enjoyable and easy. The most challenging part was all the appointments and scans that come with a high risk pregnancy.
Heidi: My pregnancy was ok. I was quite sick for about 14 weeks but after that I loved the belly and was just in absolute awe of how amazing the human body is.
How many weeks pregnant were you when you gave birth?
Chrissy: I was induced one day day shy of 36 weeks, given an epidural in case I needed an emergency C-section, luckily I was able to have them naturally.
Harriet: I gave birth via C-section at 34 weeks and 5 days, which I was very grateful for as my first labour was at 24 weeks.
Tessa: I was 36 weeks pregnant (full term for identical twins) when I gave birth to my girls via C-section.
Heidi: 36 weeks 3 days. I was booked in for a C-section on 36+4 but went into labour the day before and delivered them naturally that night.
Physically, how did you support your body during late pregnancy?
Chrissy: I tried to eat the most wholesome, organic food where possible, took a few dietary supplements such as probiotics, iron and multivitamin.
Harriet: I just rested as much as possible, stayed well hydrated and ensured that I was nourishing my body with beautiful foods (fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes).
Tessa: I ate a really healthy diet and did lots of walking and yoga. I also surfed a bit before my belly got too big.
Heidi: I spent a lot of time floating in the pool or ocean.
Did you attempt tandem feeding or go straight to pumping and supplementing with formula?
Chrissy: I attempted tandem feeding a few times but they both had such poor latches it was much quicker for me to pump and then put it in a bottle so I could feed them at the same time. I pumped until they were about 9 months and really on the move. There was definitely also some formula supplementation.
Harriet: For the first few weeks I attempted tandem. I had two contraptions passed down by a triplet mum, one was called the ‘milk bar’ and the other ‘the coffin’. Unfortunately, our little ones had tongue ties that were required to be cut twice and I had a lower milk supply. So, for the first few days in hospital we were able to use donor milk, I was also pumping and then when the girls were older and requiring more than I could supply, I was supplementing with formula. I pumped for just over 7 months but had to use a bit of everything!
Tessa: I tandem fed here and there but it’s not the easiest thing to do. So I mostly breastfeed one at a time and pumped.
Heidi: I breastfed them for the first month and then had to pump and top up and then eventually had to breastfeed, express, top up and then also top up with formula. Mealtime was loooong.
What was the most useful thing people did to help support you in the early days of twin mumming?
Chrissy: So many things! But probably watching the twins so I could spend some one-on-one time with my son outside in the fresh air.
Harriet: We actually moved to Hobart, where we only knew of one person, within two weeks of the girls' leaving hospital. The ability for others to support us, other than through a message of love and support was very little. Although it might seem small, those daily messages and calls was so very much appreciated!
Tessa: When anyone bought over a homemade meal and held the girls while I had a shower or a swim at the beach.
Heidi: I had such amazing support from my husband and friends and family, cooking meals and giving me some time, I made sure I had at least 30 minutes alone time, no distractions everyday, for a bath or cup of tea. Knowing I had that little escape everyday really helped.
Meal time, nap time, bath time, bed time. How do you navigate these daily rituals with twins?
Chrissy: In the early, very sleep deprived days I wrote down feed, nap and nappy change times. The twins were on the same schedule, which meant if one woke up for a feed I’d also wake the other to feed.
Harriet: Firstly, find comfort in knowing that we are all bio-individual and what works for one might not work for another. So ditch the baby books and other people’s advice! Follow your instincts, intuition and connect with your babes’ natural rhythm. Personally, I just tried to make everything fun and that was probably more for me than the little ones. The more I was relaxed and having fun, the more they were too. I also didn’t put any expectations on myself or the girls. I just had baby races at bath time and sung them bangers to sleep.
Tessa: It really isn’t that different to having one child (since they are at the stage of development) it’s just double everything. If you get them on the same routine with sleeping and feeding, it’s not too challenging.
Heidi: I love a routine, and I love to be organised. So for me having everything tidy and clean and laid out for the day helped the day flow. At 5pm the room would be set up with dim lighting, oils diffusing and relaxation music playing, so once we entered the room for the evening wind down it was calm and organised for all of us.
What is the hardest part of being a twin momma?
Chrissy: The sleep deprivation during the first 6 months was hard, thankfully everyone sleeps very well these days. It also felt isolating sometimes as it wasn’t relaxing or easy getting out of the house.
Harriet: This is a difficult question because I don’t think I have ever considered twin parenting hard. We were just first-time parents that happened to be having twins, so we knew no different. I think parenting in general is full of lessons and can be hard though. Some of the struggles I have when it comes to parenting is comparison and the daily balance of trying to meet individual needs in a family dynamic.
Tessa: Getting one-on-one time with them individually is tricky.
Heidi: The hardest part is the juggle, making sure I am filling everyone’s cup. They are all so close in age and they want the same things, at the same time, which is hard. They go to kindy now but 3 days a week I get a solo day with each one, just the two of us. So then on the other days when things get crazy we can always remind each other our day is coming up and there will be no distractions.
What is the best part about being a twin momma?
Chrissy: Hearing them laugh and play together is the best.
Harriet: Oh, there is so much! But, seeing this unique bond that was formed in the womb, blossom earth-side is pretty beautiful!
Tessa: It’s such a unique experience and so special to watch them grow together and see how much they love each other. Their bond is beautiful to witness.
Heidi: Oh my gosh, everything that is amazing about having one child and being a momma x2. Two different giggles, two different personalities, 2x allll of that love. It's explosive! They are completely different, so the future is very exciting.