So you're expecting twins. Congratulations!
Are you still in shock? I sure was. The thought of bringing two babies into the world at one time scared the heck out of me, especially since I was already the father of two boys (ages five and three). I remembered how much work the first year was with both of them, with all of the diapers, the bottles, the sleepless nights, etc? I wondered how in the world we were going to do it with two babies? I immediately started stressing out about all of things that we were going to go through once the babies were born. Little did I know at the time that the most stressful part of having twins was already upon us?the pregnancy.
I did not know at the time that a twin pregnancy is not at all like a single pregnancy. With our first two pregnancies, it was relatively low impact for me (I know, all of the women reading this are rolling their eyes, especially my wife). But to my wife's credit, it's true. I figured I had about eight months to play as much golf as I could before the birth of the twins, and that's when I would really have to become involved. After all, my work was already done for the time being, right? Boy, was I wrong!
There are many things that happened during the pregnancy that surprised me, or that no one told me about. I'd like to tell you about some of those things here, so maybe you'll be a little more prepared for what happens during a twin pregnancy than I was.
First, pre-term labor is fairly common in a twin pregnancy. I didn't even know what pre-term labor was until it happened to my wife. This was definitely the most stressful thing about the pregnancy, and it's something that I don't remember anyone warning me about. Maybe my wife mentioned it to me, but you know how it is, there was probably a ball game or something. My wife went to a routine check-up at about the 25th week of pregnancy. After being gone for an abnormally long time, she phoned me from the hospital and told me that they were keeping her overnight because she was having contractions. What a shock! I couldn't understand how that could be so early in the pregnancy. The babies were less than 3 lbs. each at the time, so we were both extremely worried. They wound up giving her medication to stop labor and kept her in the hospital for a couple of days. This was the first of four trips to the hospital to stop labor. The good news was that the medication that they gave her successfully stopped the contractions each time, and she was able to carry the twins past 36 weeks.
Second, prepare for bed rest. My wife wound up going on bed rest for about the last four weeks of the pregnancy. This is a very common occurrence for a twin pregnancy, so you need to prepare yourselves for it. We were fairly lucky because my wife was a stay at home mother, so we did not have to worry about her taking time off from her job. We were also very fortunate that my mother-in-law was able to come and stay with us during that time to help with our two boys and to help out around the house. I'm not sure what we would have done without her. My advice is to recruit family and friends if you can to help out. But however you do it, take bed rest very seriously. Make sure you're wife stays off of her feet. There's a good reason why many mothers of twins are put on bed rest by their doctor, and that's so she doesn't go into labor too early. You want your wife to carry those babies as long as she can for the health of your twins. Oh, and needless to say, golf was just not an option while my wife was on bed rest.
Third, don't expect a full-term pregnancy. It very rarely happens with twins. The goal of a twin pregnancy is to carry them at least 36 weeks. Once you reach that mark you are considered to be out of the 'danger zone'. Even though 36 weeks is the target, many twins are delivered earlier. What this means is that you have less time to get everything ready for the new arrivals. I would suggest getting the babies room ready earlier, start buying those baby items that you need to purchase, get things done around the house that need to be done. During this pregnancy, you may not have time to wait until the last minute!
Finally, you are about to embark on an emotional and stressful, next few months. It was truly an emotional roller coaster for us. I'll never forget our fourth trip to the hospital because of pre-term labor. My wife started having contractions again at around week 34. The babies were both more than 5 lbs., so we were sure that they would just let it go and we could finally deliver the twins. We thought that the twins were big enough and strong enough to be born safely, so I packed up the overnight bag and the camera and we headed for the hospital, positive that we were going to finally have the twins that day. After all of the other trips to the hospital, we were ready. Once we got to the hospital we were immediately put in a delivery room. And then the contractions stopped?all by themselves. We asked the doctor to induce labor, and he refused, for the safety of the twins. Of course he was right, but we were both devastated. We were just emotionally and mentally exhausted. My wife cried all the way home.
My best advice to you is to try to stay calm, help and support your wife (she truly is doing most of the work), and trust your doctor's advice. Remember, you're goal is to try and carry the babies at least until week 36, which will greatly decrease the chance of complications with the birth of your twins. Do everything you can to make this happen. Trust me, even though a twin pregnancy is a very trying time for the mother and the father, its well worth it once those twins arrive!
About the Author
Dan Brunkow is the owner and moderator of http://www.twinadvice.com. TwinAdvice.com is a site dedicated to providing parenting advice to parents of twins, from parents of twins.