Let’s Talk A Twin vs. Singleton Pregnancy

I found out in a dark ultrasound room at my very first nine-week appointment, with cool gel spread over my still mostly-flat stomach, my husband sitting in a chair near my feet.

“Congratulations!” the ultrasound tech said. Or maybe she said, “Surprise!” I no longer remember exactly how she began her announcement.

I am, however, 1000% confident in what she said next: “It’s twins!”

I started laughing. My usually gregarious husband was stunned into silence. All I could think about was our mothers, both expecting their first grandchild, little knowing it was actually TWO.

My stomach didn’t stay flat for much longer. It grew and contorted and then grew some more, impossibly more. Mine was lopsided, actually. My daughter, Baby B, wedged herself sideways on top of her brother, creating an egg shape around my enormous middle. It was nothing like the cute little basketballs I saw other expecting mamas carrying around.

Though, of course, none of this was like the other mamas I saw around me, those with “routine” pregnancies and singleton babies. I mentally compared motherhood to those I saw around me. It’s hard not to. None of this was anything like what my friends were going through. The pregnancy apps were equally unrelatable.

It wasn’t until two years later when I was expecting again, a singleton this time (*cue sigh of relief*),  that I could fully appreciate the differences between a twin pregnancy and a single one. The first time around, twins were all I knew. The second, I looked back at my twin pregnant self with a mixture of pity and awe and thought, “How on Earth did you do that?”

Here are some of the differences between a twin and a singleton pregnancy, from someone who’s been through both.

You’re going to go to the doctor. Like, a lot.
The number of doctor appointments increases dramatically with twins. It’s common to have bi-monthly appointments in the second trimester and weekly appointments in the third. There are far more ultrasounds, which is kind of fun until you get to the last couple of months, and it’s so crowded in there you can’t really make out anything in the blobby photos. If your twins share a placenta, amniotic sac, or both, you might be checked with even more frequency. You and your OB are going to become good friends.

Your team will leave less to chance.
A multiples pregnancy is automatically considered high-risk. C-sections and interventions are far more common, quite simply because the complications multiply (pun definitely intended) the more babies, placentas, umbilical cords, and amniotic sacs are involved. I wasn’t allowed to be more than 30 minutes away from a level 3 NICU after 30 weeks. Except for my first ultrasound, all ultrasounds were done in the hospital on the maternity floor out of abundant caution. If something abnormal were to show up on the ultrasound, I wouldn’t have to waste critical time driving to the hospital.

Your entire vocabulary changes.
You start by expecting “a baby” and “eating for two” and talking about everything in their singular forms: a carseat. The baby’s room. The (single) stroller. All that changes on the turn of an ultrasound. Then you’re expecting babies and eating for three (!) and everything goes plural: car seats. The babies’ room. The double stroller. Times two. Times two. Times two.

The discomfort is real.
32 weeks of a twin pregnancy is equal to 40 weeks of a singleton pregnancy.1 While you can obviously expect more weight gain, other side effects like morning sickness, fatigue, and heartburn are often more extreme than with a singleton pregnancy. Fun!

You will likely give birth earlier.
Most twin moms deliver somewhere around 36 weeks. Unlike the 40 weeks that constitute a full-term singleton pregnancy, a twin pregnancy is considered full-term at 37 weeks.2 Most obstetricians will not allow their multiples moms to carry past 38 weeks, as the risk to both mom and babies increases after that point. 

The inconveniences become more.
I gained so much water weight my last week of pregnancy that my feet swelled up an entire shoe size. I had to buy a new pair just to get by. The last several weeks of my pregnancy, I couldn’t drive: the combination of an enormous belly plus short legs meant I could not comfortably fit behind a steering wheel and reach the pedals. My twins were born in pregnancy, and I could not find a coat that would button over my stomach. (Though I was mostly overheated anyway, so this was fine.) It got so crowded inside that I could only manage to eat small snacks every few hours during the last month or two. It was all a lot.

It’s also kind of fun.
Not everyone gets to have twins, after all. We had so much fun first telling our families that we were pregnant and then, a few weeks later, that it was twins! It was like getting to tell them we were expecting all over again. Once we told more people we got to do the one-two punch, “Hey, we’re expecting!” *cue cheering and congratulations* “But that’s not all…it’s twins!” *cue stunned silence before even more cheering and congratulations* It was very, very fun to make that announcement. 

There’s a saying in multiples circles, “No one gets it like another twin mom.” It’s true. You’ll find your fellow twin moms out in the wild and commiserate over everything from the intense pregnancy heartburn to navigating the world with two infant car seats to the often ridiculous questions from random strangers when you’re out in the world with your twins. (Yup. One more thing to look forward to!) You’ll find a built-in community all bonded by the fact that they’ve been there. All because one day you walked into that ultrasound room and found out that you, too, were expecting twins.

1 Sleeping Should Be Easy
2 Twiniversity

 

Shannon is a writer, reader, Minnesota native, and Enneagram 1. She and her husband have always been overachievers so they kicked off this whole parenting thing by having three kids in two years. She believes firmly in the power of iced coffee, books, and pedicures. You can find her scribbling her thoughts on motherhood and life at shannonscribbles.net and see her day-in-the-life chaos over on Instagram.

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