Pregnancy is rarely picture perfect and even when planned, it doesn’t always go to plan! Real stories lie behind the picture perfect images of pregnancy and motherhood that we are shown. A different reality is often hidden behind those that we show to others. In Behind the Bump we hear from women and men whose experiences remind us that a perfect and planned pregnancy isn’t necessary for both lives to always matter.
How did you feel when you discovered you were pregnant?
I’ve always been organised… I knew that I didn’t wanna give birth around Christmas so I was carefully planning the pregnancy. We had been trying for about 7 months so I’d taken previous tests and so far they’d been negative. In May my period was late so I took a test one day while my husband was out milking, not really thinking that it would be positive but to my surprise, it was! I remember thinking, “Oh my word…” I considered hiding the test somewhere to surprise my husband but I couldn’t keep it in and showed him as soon as he came in. He was thrilled and super calm (as per usual). We were living in a mobile home and were in the process of building our own house. However there would be enough space for my husband, the baby and I so I wasn’t super worried. This was all part of the plan… or so I thought…
When did you find out that you were carrying twins, and how did you initially react?
In the first trimester, my pregnancy was really smooth. Beyond feeling tired, it was all going well. I’d been watching loads of new mum content on Tik Tok in the lead up to our first scan. Weirdly, I kept coming across videos of mums finding out that they were having twins. I asked my husband if he thought we could be having twins but he laughed it off as we never really had considered that could be an option. As the midwife started to scan me, she didn’t say anything and I instantly recognised what I could see on the screen, I’d seen it plenty of times over the past few weeks on Tik Tok… “Well, what do you think of that? Congratulations! You’re having twins!” I was shocked and burst into tears – not sad tears, just overwhelming. We were all wearing facemasks but I could hear my husband laughing. Looking over at him I said, “ I told you we were having twins!”
Did your feelings change after you’d had time to process the news?
We were really excited. This wasn’t part of the plan but I loved the idea of the babies always having each other from day one. I loved telling people that I was pregnant with twins, their reactions were priceless. We couldn’t wait for them to arrive! There were some creeping doubts however when we started to think about space – how would two babies fit inside our home?
How did your friends/family react? Were there any patterns in language used? (Double Trouble, etc)
I knew that I’d start to show quite quickly and telling the boys’ grandparents that I was in fact carrying twins was so much fun (even though it did take them a while to twig on why there were two baby grows..)
Repeated phrases didn’t really come until after the boys were born: “you’ve got your hands full, double trouble, (from complete strangers), are you gonna dress them the same forever?” Everyone had opinions. People are fascinated by twins and this fascination manifested very early when people would do a double take at my growing bump!
What were the stand-out moments in your pregnancy?
I loved having a bump and feeling the twins kicking… we would try to figure out their personalities by which would move more to music etc. Twin 1 always kicked more to music and to this day he definitely is a big music fan. I was in awe of what my body did, it was amazing but you’re the one left with the body changes. People tried to be kind but it often backfired. I’d receive comments like: “You look amazing… for having twins.” I was often left thinking, “Is that a compliment?”
I lost my job due to Covid and decided to start a business. Additionally I’d moved away from my friendship circle when I got married and now I was carrying twins so there were lots of big changes all happening in a very short period of time! At this point, I was really starting to feel exhausted – carrying twins is very tiring indeed!
What is the best thing about having twins, and the most challenging thing?
I’ll start with the best thing – watching their personalities develop – they’re identical but they’re so different. They’re so funny. They seem to have picked a parent in terms of what they’ll say – mama vs dada. I remember the day they first smiled at each other –it was the cutest thing ever. They love to chase each other and play peek-a-boo. I couldn’t imagine having one without the other. I get lots of questions while we’re out and about– “when were they born, are they identical, are they fraternal?” I’ve got a script in my head of answers to frequently asked questions. There’s definitely an understanding between mums of twins – they get it!
From day 1, being in the hospital on my own due to covid restrictions was really tough. I went in on 22nd December. Both babies were head down so I was in to be induced. This process felt like forever, as if the twins were happy to stay in their own wee world. Finally on 23rd December in the evening, I was told that I’d be taken through in the morning to get my waters broken and my husband was told to be back by 7am. I was woken up at 5am by the midwife – “ring your husband, you’re going through now” Thankfully my husband arrived just on time. The twin consultant broke my waters and Bang! You’re in labour. My contractions were less than ten mins apart from the start because of being induced. I’m not the kind of person to complain and they thought I was okay because I was quiet, but in reality it was so awful that I couldn’t move from a certain position on the bed. I had my epidural quite late but I was so grateful when I got it as the pain suddenly went away and I decided I’d like some Percy pigs. Suddenly, one of the boy’s heart rate dropped and it was all systems go as I was wheeled in for an emergency C-section – thankfully my husband was allowed in and our two boys arrived safely into the world. They were so calm but if you picked up one, the other would cry.
Twin guilt: only being able to deal with one at a time. They both need you and want you and there’s only one me… Over time I desperately tried to bond with them both equally but it was so so difficult. I absolutely hated lifting one and leaving the other in their cot. I would stress if I lifted one for a cuddle the other might cry in 5 minutes and I would have to switch babies causing them both to be upset so I’d end up letting them stay together if they were happy. Although I do wish I’d stressed less and cuddled them more. I’ve frequently thought, ‘Surely if I had one baby then this would be so much easier!’ Although I knew that also wasn’t the case.
How have you adjusted to becoming a mum and starting a family?
At the beginning it was overwhelming and difficult – two babies and recovery from an emergency c-section. I’m an independent person but on Christmas morning in the hospital I knew that we couldn’t do it in the mobile home. We moved in with my in-laws… The reality of looking after two babies wasn’t easy. My husband was amazing and really looked after the three of us. Six weeks later I could drive again. We went to a baby group and absolutely loved it. We took them swimming and to baby sensory. Getting out and meeting other mums was super helpful. It is hard, but getting out and about makes it so much better.
As challenging as it has been, there are so many highs that make it worth it. Their giggles and smiles are everything. It’s so special watching their relationship grow and develop. It really does take a village to raise a child/children and sometimes the least likely person is the most willing to help. A friend coming and helping with a feed meant the absolute world when having to feed both at the same time. People will often say, ‘I don’t know how you’re doing this!’ Even just seeing people and having an adult conversation can be so meaningful. There’s so much love given to the boys which is amazing but remember that there’s a mum there too who might be struggling. I’m definitely much more careful with how I speak to my pregnant friends, even just asking how they are is massive.
Mum’s often feel guilty for accepting help because they don’t want to be a burden, so sometimes you just need to go and help. We had over 50 visitors in our first month – which was really lovely but it was A LOT. Simple things like sending food or helping clean the house can mean the world. There were days when I sat and cried when the boys were incredibly hard work and all you want is someone to walk through the door.. becoming a mummy can be very lonely. An immense amount of planning goes into leaving the house… it’s not as simple as grabbing the keys and going now!
What do you wish you’d known before your pregnancy and have you any advice for new mums?
Do what works for you and your family. It’s a learning process. It’s ok to accept help and no matter what life throws at you – you’ve got this. Take each day as it comes. It may not be easy but it is a massive blessing to raise children.