See this picture of me? I’m 8 months pregnant here.
HAHAHAHA. JUST KIDDING.
I’m actually 19 weeks pregnant. With twins.
I remember, early in my pregnancy, asking a friend who had recently had a baby at what point she’d needed maternity clothes.
“Oh… I don’t know. 5.5 months?”
I was 11 weeks along then and already in maternity pants. I had been visibly pregnant since week 9. I hadn’t anticipated needing maternity clothes so early and my experience at Savannah’s one and only dedicated maternity store had been underwhelming.
“Where did you end up shopping?” I pressed.
She thought for a moment. “I think I just bought some over-sized dresses at normal stores.”
My doctor and his staff had tried to prep me for this. At my first appointment, when I learned I was having twins, the NP told me: “Do not go out and buy a ton or clothes now. Nothing you buy now will fit you in a few weeks. You’re going to need to gain about 50 pounds. You’re going to get… really big.
This has proven true. I’m now 33 weeks, and I can tell you I blew past “cute pregnant” and straight into “scary pregnant” territory a long time ago. People look at me with a mixture of fear and pity when I’m out and about — which is, to be fair, basically never, except to go to my doctor’s office. It’s as if they’re thinking: “There can’t possibly be any less than two babies in there.” Or maybe: “Who did this to you, poor woman?!”
I’d be willing to bet that few who’ve been pregnant with singletons would call it a cakewalk. Pregnancy is a strange thing. But carrying twins is, dare I say, a very particular experience.
People Say the Darnedest Things
One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed is the way people talk to you when they learn you’re having twins. Sure, some people find words that are encouraging and sweet. But many people greet the news with a gut-check response — typically some variation of the following:
“Better you than me!”
Or, my personal fav:
“OMG I HOPE YOU HAVE SOMEONE WHO WILL HELP YOU WHEN THEY GET HERE!”
I’ve also noticed something that may be particular to the South. Whenever I walk into a grocery store, for instance, someone (usually an older man) inevitably points to my stomach and yells “THAT’S A BOY!” Seriously, this has happened at least a dozen times.
To be fair, it is a boy. Or, rather, two boys. But the glee these people seem to experience in predicting the sex of my
baby babies conjures an odd mix of emotions both touching and weird. I also have a theory (as no one has ever pointed at me and shouted “THAT’S A GIRL!”) that these men have a system. Perhaps they always guess ‘boy’ to ensure they’re right about fifty percent of the time.
Then there are the people who greet the news that I’m having twins with some variation of the following:
“My dad / optometrist / first grade teacher was a twin!”
Everyone knows a twin. And they can’t wait to tell you all about it.
To be fair, I don’t mind hearing these stories one bit. I think they’re sweet, and they’ve instilled in me a sense of just how fascinated the world is with twins. I mean, all pregnant women think their baby is special. But as a twin mom, you get validation from other people too that your babies are special!
Then there are the FAQs:
“Will you give them rhyming names?”
“Will you dress them alike?”
“Will you tell us their names before they’re born?”
To this last question, though, we’ve capitulated somewhat. While Manny and I aren’t revealing the babies’ names before they’re born, we have revealed to friends and family that one will have a Hispanic name and one will have a Swedish name. So now everyone refers to them as “Hispanic Baby” and “Swedish Baby,” respectively.
Another common question: “Do twins run in your family?” I get this question. But the professor in me can’t hold back and invariably has to explain that our twins are identical and there is probably no genetic predisposition for this.
There are also the nosy-Nancies (and Nathans) out there who inevitably ask: “Are they natural?” or, “Did you have IVF?” The obvious answer is: THAT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. But inevitably, I hear myself say, “Yes, they’re natural,” whatever that means. Or, “No, I did not have IVF.” Seriously, this might be why pregnancy lasts only 9 months. After that, pregnant women would all get a grip and start telling nebby people to go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks.
Another interesting thing I’ve noted in conversations is the massive difference between “then” and “now” when it comes to obstetrics and twins. SO MANY WOMEN have told me stories about their own twin-pregnancy (or that of someone they know), that goes something like this: “Twenty / thirty / forty years ago, when I was pregnant, I went to the hospital to deliver and BAM! TWINS!” Meaning, their doctors hadn’t realized they were pregnant with two babies, so the whole thing was a massive surprise in the delivery room. I feel total compassion for these women, who tend to follow up by noting that the arrival of a second baby explained a lot, in retrospect, about their pregnancies. Like, why they’d gotten so big, and so quickly. Or why they’d felt their baby kicking and punching them in four places at the same time in utero.
For my part, I’m glad Manny and I have had somewhat ample time to adjust and to plan. Some of these women of yore who got “surprise twins” say that one had to sleep in a dresser drawer for lack of space.
Speaking of the medical profession, they don’t mess around when it comes to twins. A woman experiencing a typical pregnancy has… I don’t know… three or four ultrasounds by the baby’s arrival? I will have had 19 or 20. I have had weeks during which I’ve had two. I see these babies all the darn time, which is so much fun.
It’s also extremely stressful, though. Because as much as I love seeing my kiddos all cuddled up in there, the constant monitoring makes for constant worrying. I know that that’s really not the point, but I can’t help it. I cannot sleep the night before I go in for a doctor’s appointment for all of the anxiety. It’s pointless, but still… no sleep. I toss and turn and worry. I am so worked up by the time we get there that I often have to sneak off to the ladies room to cry it out. I know this is irrational, but there’s something about labeling a pregnancy “high risk” that makes even routine check-ups feel high-stakes. There was also that whole four-day hospital stint I did at 29 weeks for pre-term labor. I live with a sense that the babies could come at any time.
This may rub some people the wrong way: But part of me feels jealousy for those women mentioned above who, back in the day, had “surprise twins.” They got to just be pregnant. My pregnancy with mono-di twins is so monitored and so medicalized that it drives me to distraction.
And I now consider myself something of an expert on the various approaches taken by ultrasound techs, who range from chatty to tightlipped. As in, I’ve had ultrasounds where the tech talked through the whole thing — revealing disconcerting information that she then either couldn’t or wouldn’t elaborate upon. For example, I’ve been told, “Hmm… I see something that could be a marker for a genetic disorder” during an hour-long ultrasound, and then had to lay there sobbing hysterically and wait for the doctor to come in and explain that, in fact, there’s no reason to worry. (Note: I did not go back to this particular doctor’s office!). I suppose the up-side is that it gives me patience for another ultrasound tech I now see that doesn’t make a peep through the whole thing. Manny and I have to hold on until we see the doctor after to learn whether the babies’ weights, vitals, cord-dopplers, and fluid levels are all okay.
When it comes to planning for their birth, I am also more limited, it seems. I will have a C-section. There will be a lot of people in the room when this happens. There’s no earthy birth plan, no wiggle room. This is just how it’s going down. If I had my ‘druthers, things would maybe be different. But I don’t. And I have to be okay with it, since the goal is just to get these kiddos out as safely as possible.
Eating for Three
On a lighter note, did I mention yet how big I am? Oh, I did? Well, let me talk about that some more anyway. Because I am huge. I have, in fact, been huge for months now. I cannot put on my own shoes. Or pants. I cannot bend over. I need help turning over in bed. I am like a sack of mashed potatoes with an avocado pit buried inside.
Seriously, as someone who didn’t know a whole lot about pregnancy before I got pregnant, I always assumed that pregnant bellies were kind of squishy. But they’re not. My belly is hard like a rock. Or a bowling ball. Or “two bowling balls,” as my family gently reminds me. Daily.
Someone (who hasn’t seen me recently) asked me the other day if I’ve been exercising through my pregnancy. HAHAHAHA. NO. No, I have not been exercising. I haven’t exercised since I was about six weeks in. Instead, I have been shoveling Klondike bars in my mouth and begging my husband to stop at the gas station to buy me slushies on his way home from work. I’ve become a sugar-obsessed eating machine. I can barely walk from the couch to the fridge without getting winded. I now weigh more than Manny.
And you know what? My doctor is totally okay with it all
Seriously, every week he praises me for my “right on target” weight gain. He tells me how great the babies look. People tell me I’m glowing. Of course, I’m pretty sure either Manny or my mother scout out these people ahead of my arrival and pay them to say that, but I don’t care. I love the flattery! I am a whale and yet everyone, including the medical professionals tasked with monitoring me, is totally okay with it. They downright encourage it.
Have I mentioned I’ve become lazy? I have cooked dinner exactly twice in the last six months. I stopped walking the dog weeks ago. Such tasks have fallen to the strong shoulders of my wonderful husband and family, while I lay supine, in a sugar-saturated state of drowsiness. And, still, everyone tells me to “slow down” and not “over-exert” myself. It’s weird. But… twins.
In a nutshell, twins mean never having to say “low fat, please.” Lord help me when they arrive and I decide I want to fit into my old pants again. But the few times I’ve confessed this fear to others, especially others who have had and nursed twins, they say, “You’re worried about that?! Ha. You’ll lose five pounds a week!” Hmmm. Is this just a lie we, as a society, tell suddenly rotund pregnant women in general? Is it a lie that is twin-mom specific? Can it possibly be true? I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I’m going to get myself another Klondike bar.
In all seriousness, the other interesting thing about this twin pregnancy is the incredible generosity people have shown Manny and me. I assume many, even most women in their first pregnancy feel a glow of love from their friends and families, who come out of the woodwork with gifts and outpourings of support. I want to think this anyway. Because for us, the gifts and offers for hand-me-downs started early and have continued as our due-date looms nearer. Cribs, top-of-the-line strollers, clothes, nursing gear, toys — everything a beloved set of twins could want in the world during their first year of life has magically arrived at our door. It has been humbling and awe-inspiring. You see just how much your loved ones love you, how much they’re rooting for you. Your faith in humanity is not just restored, it is expanded by the constant kindness that washes over you.
In fact, everything about the experience of carrying twins is humbling in some way. Each day they stay in there and keep cooking is a victory. Each ounce they gain is a triumph, a little more insurance for the day they arrive. And they will be here… soon. Hopefully not tomorrow or the next day, but one day not too long from now Manny and I will go from a family of two (plus Riley) to a family of four (plus Riley). Like, we’ll wake up one day and go from zero to two kids. Neither of us can wrap our heads around that.
My dreams are bearing this out. Just last night I had a dream that Vladimir Putin tried to gift us a Russian oil refinery in honor of the twins’ birth. In my dream, I prudently turned him down (in German, no less, because… dreams), so he compensated by sending us a Russian nanny named Natasha.
I mean, I’m pretty sure it was a dream. But if there are any Russian nannies out there who want to come to Savannah to work for free, we’re taking applications…