If you’re pregnant with twins, you’re embarking on an extraordinary journey. There will be ups and downs but you will have the chance to be part of a select club: The twin mothers club. As a matter of facts, did you know that twin pregnancies represent only 1.3% of global pregnancies? Quick, with odds like these, run in your pj to buy a Poweball lottery ticket (extra cash will come in handy with twins).
Come on, let’s be honest, when we’re trying to conceive, we get obsessed with the early signs of pregnancy. We just want a sign because it’s too early to take a test.
I remember keeping 2-3 pregnancy tests in my bathroom because “What if that day I didn’t have time to run to the pharmacy to buy one?”. I even went as far as buying different types of tests. I kept regular ones, you know the ones with the blue lines.
I bought 2 at the dollar store for a couple of bucks each because after researching all over the Internet, they were supposed to be more sensitive than brand names (go figure). Then, if I thought that there were 2 lines, I had the more expensive Clearblue Digital Pregnancy Test with Smart Countdown, which I affectionately refer to it as “pregnancy test for dummies”.
Let’s look at what you should expect from the early pregnancy symptoms to the magical moment when you will be holding your bundles of joy (and realizing the previous night was the last sleep you will have for a while).
Twin Pregnancy Symptoms
You might have experienced some symptoms such as extreme fatigue, sore breasts, or morning sickness. In my case, I had the joy of starting morning sickness 1 week before taking a pregnancy test. When carrying twins, the symptoms are often more present and intense thanks to the rapid increase of the hCG hormone (human chorionic gonadotrophin). That’s the same hormone that gives you that pretty blue line on the pregnancy test!
- High levels of hCG can be an indication of multiples. Although some women will have a higher level and carry a single baby to term.
- Extreme fatigue has been commonly reported amongst mothers of twin-to-be. Remember that caring for 2 embryos is quite demanding on the woman’s body, you have to provide nutrients for 2. Personally, this was a big issue for me. I would almost fall asleep at my desk.
- Really bad morning sickness may be an indication. Only about half of pregnant women experience the joys of morning sickness even in a single pregnancy. It doesn’t mean if you carrying twins you will be twice as sick (thank goodness!).
- Weight gain and belly showing early is yet another possible sign as your uterus is expanding to accommodate 2 tenants. In my case, I started wearing maternity pants at 5 weeks. My best friend kept joking that my belly was getting big so fast that I must be carrying twins. Man was she laughing when I announced her a month and a half later that I was in fact carrying twins.
- Of course, you can only be sure after the ultrasound, although in my case they didn’t see baby #2 until the second ultrasound at 12 weeks.
The first 13 weeks of your pregnancy are referred to as the first trimester and will be full of changes to your body. Along with the symptoms described previously, the rapid expansion of the uterus can lead to frequent trips to the bathroom. Some women have cravings like you see in the movies. If you suffer from morning sickness, you may develop an aversion to some food or smells.
Weeks 14 to 27 are considered the second trimester. Most women refer to it as the best semester. By then, most symptoms such as morning sickness and fatigue have subsided. Your energy is coming back. This is the time to start think about the nursery, preparing for the babies’ arrival, starting to buy your basic equipment. My piece of advice: get this done ASAP as trust me, you won’t have the energy at the end. Also with twins, there are sometimes unexpected surprises… you never know what might happen, your doctor may prescribe bed rest, or your health might prevent you from doing what you want to do. I remember my husband was so nervous that I hadn’t finish preparing my bag for the hospital, he kept bugging me about it. It’s good thing he did because I was hospitalized at 32 weeks.
The exciting part is when you start feeling your babies. Depending if this is your first pregnancy or not and the position of the twins, it can happen anywhere between week 18 and 20. Of course by then people will comment on how big you are and that you should give birth any day. You’ll see their face when you tell them that you’re only 5 or 6 months pregnant, it’s priceless! I remember that by the end of the second trimester, I had difficulties reaching the steering wheel!
As your belly is growing, so may your back problems. Depending where the babies will “sit”, they may increase pressure on your sciatic nerve. What saved me was wearing this maternity belt. I started wearing it around 20 weeks up until I gave birth. When carrying twins, the last thing you need is a flimsy belt. The upper elastic band, which is removable for the beginning, becomes extremely handy toward the end. I really wished somebody would have told me sooner. Don’t go for the cheaper model, it might be fine for carrying a singleton but for twins, trust me, you need the heavy-duty one.
Depending on your health condition, your doctor may start talking about maternity leave. Also depending in which country you are residing, the maternity leave laws will differ. For twin pregnancies, the average leave starts around 26 weeks, depending on your type of work, your health and your babies.
The third semester will encompass weeks 28 to 40. By then, you will probably see your fingers and ankles turn into sausages. To be able to carry your pregnancy to term, your body will have to produce 50% more fluids and blood. Don’t worry, the swelling will remain with you until the end and you will look more and more like a blimp while your better half will remind you how glowing you look. See those lies are part of your prerogative as a pregnant woman.
The fatigue will sneak back as you will get closer to you due date. Every day activities you took for granted will now seem like the warped wall obstacle from American Ninja Warrior… That’s what it’s like now when you get a crazy notion such as putting on your socks or picking up something off the floor. This is why it is so important that you get as much rest as possible (forget it after giving birth). You should be able to feel the babies more as they gain weight and have less room.
The Roller coaster
From the day when you learn that you’re pregnant to the day, you will be on the roller coaster ride of your life. There will be anxiety, excitement, anticipation, laughs and cries. At the end, no matter how your pregnancy went and how much you are looking forward to delivery, one day you will look back on it and say: “It went way too fast”. My final piece of advice to you today, take the time to stop and smell the roses. They have a unique fragrance.