What Is Having Twins Really Like?

Twins evoke a reaction.  People sigh wistfully about how they always wanted twins or squeal about how they would LOVE to have twins, or else they feel compelled to tell us how we have our hands full or my favourite: “Rather you than me!”

Everybody knows somebody who has had twins.  Sometimes people think that we might know that somebody even though they live in Glasgow and we live in London because – well – they have twins!  Everybody has a story to tell.

But what is having twins really like?

Twins bring complication.  Twins are five times more likely to die in their first year.  They double the risk of maternal mortality during pregnancy.  Twins increase the risk of caesarean section, of haemorrhage, of gestational diabetes, of postnatal depression.  Twins are often born early.  Twins carry risks.

Twins are chaotic.  One crawls in one direction; one crawls in the other.  One wants to play; one needs to sleep in your arms.  Both want to be fed!  Twins mean double the mess: twins mean twice the nappies, the streaming snotty noses, the dribble.  Twins mean waking up twice as much in the night.

Twins increase your shopping bill by quite a bit.

Twins are two armfulls of baby until they grow and you realise, sadly, that you can only hold one at a time.

Twins are a nightmare to transport unless you master babywearing.  Have you ever tried to get about London with a double pram?  It’s no fun.

Twins mean that your baby always has somebody to laugh at, to play with.  Twins mean a sibling close in age.  Twins mean a friend at school.  Twins mean that your end of life care can be divided amongst your dependents.

Twins mean that there is always somebody to cuddle, especially if they are on alternating nap schedules.  Have you ever laid down on your back and been smothered by masses of baby, all wanting to cuddle?  Twins are double the love.

Mother cuddling twins

Twins mean that you always have somebody of the exact same age to compare your baby against.  If one twin acquires a skill and the other doesn’t immediately mimic it, you start to worry.  Twins mean that you will always have a favourite child.  This is fine so long as each twin is your favourite for approximately the same amount of time each week.

Twins push you to extremes.  Twins will make or break your relationship.  Twins are a baptism of fire into parenthood.

Twins make you wonder what the mothers of singletons do all day, “Don’t they get bored..?”

(That line is Kirsty’s.  I would never get bored.)

Twin mums give each other a special sort of smile as they pass in the street.

If you have ever wanted to be praised for basic life skills, have twins and then leave the house with your hair brushed.

Twins are so much fun to dress.

I suspect that twins are a vastly different experience to parenting one child.  One infant probably feels quite a bit less like raising two thirds of a zoo.

Twins are the adventure that I chose, insisting on having two embryos placed back in my uterus after IVF and signing a disclaimer that stated that I was aware of the ‘risk’.  Twins were worth every risk.

Twins are my reality.  Twins are the challenge that my partner and I conquered together.

Twins made me a mother.  Twins made us a team.

And yes.  I smile cheerily at those insensitive strangers, meddling neighbours and horrified relatives and agree.  Much rather us than them!

Twin babies at the Southbank

Update 18/05/17: Almost two years on from writing this post, and with a new set of baby twins sleeping peacefully upstairs, I find myself reading this post again and agreeing with every sentiment. Million Eyez, a visual social engagement platform where you can easily create & use community-driven photo collections, contacted me to ask me to republish a post that I am proud of, incorporating one of their community-curated Photoboxes. If you too are a twin mum or dad, please go ahead and add your own pictures to this Photobox, and even if you’re not, do explore the website to create Photoboxes of your own.

If you are a blogger, you might be interested to know that Million Eyez are hosting a competition to win an Olympus Pen by creating your own blog post embedding a Photobox, and submitting the details to the Gleam widget below.  Not entirely uncool, no?

million eyez #throughmyeyez Blogger Contest for Olympus PEN Camera

Do you have twins? How has the experience been for you?

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18 Comments

  1. August 4, 2015 / 11:32 pm

    Ah bless, what a lovely post. For all the chaos, risks and difficulties that you had to go through (because babies are blissfully unaware!) they are definitely onto a winner, having a built in best friend to go through life with. How wonderful.xx

  2. August 4, 2015 / 11:44 pm

    I want twins purely for the outfit opportunities! I get a lot of this having three under four, especially the hands full comments. Twins sound wonderful and exhausting in equal measure but Kirsty (and you) make it look so easy!

  3. August 4, 2015 / 11:46 pm

    So you’ve made me cry with your love and beautiful words, this post was divine, every image, ever word, thank you. You are all so lucky to have one another xx

  4. August 5, 2015 / 2:14 am

    Great post, beautifully written. & they’re adorable. I think you’re probably right – twins is probably a very different experience, & people with only single children can’t really imagine it (& vice versus). I have two children very close in age, so I have experienced double buggy, two who both need carrying, two who both need watching. But I can’t imagine two who both can’t support their heads, two who both can’t sit unsupported, two who both need milk! Still, I think ultimately we all adapt to & love the family & circumstances we have.

  5. August 5, 2015 / 5:08 am

    Aww I love this. Having two under two is similar but definitely not the same baptism of fire you guys received. I can’t believe how big they’re getting, these teeny newborns with their beautiful Mums that we started following. They’re just scrumptious and I’m so glad that they are yours and they were gifted into the hands of Mamas who were perfect and ready for the job. Loved this post xxx

  6. August 5, 2015 / 5:45 am

    I loved reading this, I would really love to have twins next to complete our family. I think four kids is a good number but don’t really fancy doing the whole pregnancy / birth thing twice so twins would be the perfect solution. I didn’t realise quite how risky the pregnancy / first year was though. Watching the bond between them must be just amazing, I mean they were together before they even had heart beats, just amazing x

  7. August 5, 2015 / 8:28 am

    Couldn’t agree more and I couldn’t be more thankful for having twins. I love the conspiratorial smiles from other twin parents, as if ‘we’re doing ok aren’t we?’ You certainly are, such a lovely family xx

  8. August 5, 2015 / 8:30 am

    Before I had a baby probably said or thought all of those things in your first paragraph 🙂 It is interesting to read about the reality of having twins. My cousin has twin girls (plus two other children) all homeschooled. I do look at her in awe, especially since having one nearly broke me 🙂

  9. Ginny Lidstone
    August 5, 2015 / 8:40 am

    I am also a POTOM (Parent Of Twins Or More), in fact we have been blessed with two sets of twin boys, and your words sum up beautifully what it’s like to have twins. Ours are now 6 and 8 and are just as much fun and just as cuddly.
    We still get told we have ‘Double Trouble’ to which I reply ‘Double blessings to’ and to ‘you’ve got your hands full’ I say ‘Better full than empty’.
    I think we’re lucky and I wouldn’t change my boys for the world.
    Thank you for sharing. X

  10. August 5, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    This is a lovely post. I do have a friend with twins but they are so unlike each other it’s easy to forget they’re twins tbh.

    And thanks for commenting on my blog!

  11. August 5, 2015 / 7:21 pm

    What a lovely post, my mum is a twin and my cousin has twins. I always said I wouldn’t mind twins if it happened to us though having 2 close in age not sure if i would have coped with twins!

  12. coryne moor.
    August 6, 2015 / 12:59 am

    I loved this i love being a mummmy pf twins its a blessing x

  13. August 8, 2015 / 2:13 pm

    Aw lovely post. I can only imagine the ups and downs of having twins or more, I always wanted twins until I gave birth to the locally-accepted most difficult baby around haha Now I’m terrified of having one more like Toby, never mind two!xx

  14. August 8, 2015 / 2:21 pm

    I, like Bex would quite like twins if only purely for the outfit opportunities. Joking (kind of) aside I adore this post Amber. I love reading about your family and your boys. x

  15. Christina
    August 12, 2015 / 9:36 am

    My ID twin boys are 4 weeks old and after a particularly hard night was feeling pretty down, until I read this. They’re lying next to me as I write this, looking angelic as they sleep and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. It’s been a hard lesson from day one, but ive never felt so fulfilled 🙂

  16. Vita
    June 26, 2016 / 1:32 pm

    This post is charming! And I can’t wait to read your next version..being parents of two sets of twins! Exciting times x

  17. Jj
    December 12, 2016 / 1:38 pm

    This article came out awfully defensive. All of the reasons for having twins are the same ones for just… having another child. Pregnant and hoping to god it’s not twins, especially after reading this.

  18. Kirby
    May 26, 2017 / 9:33 am

    Thanks for being part of the campaign Amber!

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