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