Pregnancy and the miracle of life is exciting. However, finding out twins are knocking on a woman’s uterus door can be an overwhelming experience. Personally, the idea of having multiples frightens me. I have four kids and each arrived solo, for which I will be forever thankful. The blessed guardians of multiples are absolute parenting warriors and should receive special parenting perks (like bathroom cleaning service for life and a get-out-of-laundry free card).
Too often for me there are days my singletons create enough chaos to reinforce that God and the stork knew I was a one baby at a time type of gal. That being said, a lot of my friends have twins (or quadruplets!) and I am amazed at how well they juggle everything. Some outstanding moms even agreed to be interviewed for this piece regarding their duties of double the diapers, double the feedings, and double the poop explosions.
I opted for a Q&A format for this post, over my typical narrative voice, because every mom’s answer was great. It is my hope that through their remarks many will be able to realize how tough, unique, and amazing parents of multiples are in a multitude of situations.
Meet the Moms
Anna: Mother of two older boys and one set of identical girls. Her daughters arrived during her third pregnancy which quick-started her national average two-child family to a party of six in nine months.
Julie: A mommy of four with the super human power to only be pregnant twice. That’s right, this amazing lady has had two sets of twins naturally. Both are fraternal. She has two boys in 2nd grade and soon to be 4-year-old daughters.
Cortni: Another mom of four with non-identical boys taking center stage as twins and middle children. An older daughter and younger daughter complete her family and make Cortni smile as she battled fertility issues on her path to motherhood.
Heather: Her first pregnancy resulted in twins and also coincided with her husband’s residency for medical school. Talk about being busy, while also welcoming a boy and a girl into the family. Heather’s twins are now third-graders, and she also has a daughter in kindergarten.
Jen: A wonderful wife and mother of three. Her first baby arrived on a hot summer day and her fraternal twins arrived a few years later in the dead of winter. The twins gave Jen and her husband early Christmas gifts in the form of a healthy baby girl and boy after a difficult delivery.
Q1: What was the initial reaction to finding out you were having twins?
Becoming pregnant can be a planned event, a fortunate surprise, or a long awaited hope. A lot of answers differed for my twin moms, but initial reactions were pretty consistent across the board. Shock and awe was a common reaction and many moms commented that having twins makes a couple gun shy to expand their family, because as in Julie’s case there is always a chance of having multiples again.
Anna: You’ve got to be kidding me!” was Anna and her husband’s first thoughts followed quickly by “Oh my goodness, we’re going to have four kids! We felt prepared for three, but adding two at once just seemed like so much more.
Julie: My initial reaction to the first set of twins was surprise and excitement! (My husband) Caleb was shocked and nervous. He almost passed out because he initially thought it was triplets, the way she moved the picture. With the second set, I burst out crying as soon as I saw them because I knew how hard it would be and I was scared we’d end up in the NICU or worse. I knew it would be expensive and I would miss out on some stuff with my boys, like preschool events. Caleb wasn’t shocked the second time, he said it was more like, “Here we go again”.
Cortni: I immediately started thinking about all the excitement with having twins plus all the anxiety of having twins. Double the everything: diaper changes, feedings, clothing, etc.
Heather: We had an idea they were twins as my HCG levels were high. My husband was in residency so he knew what to look at in the ultrasound. He saw there were two and his initial thoughts were “Please don’t let there be a third!” And with our second pregnancy (we repeatedly thought) Not twins again, not twins again.
Jen: My initial reaction, especially since we were not undergoing any fertility treatments and twins do not run in our family, was complete shock. I was scared and overwhelmed. Immediately, the doctor started talking about risks with carrying/delivering twins and she actually stopped and said, “Oh, yes, and congratulations!” It took a little while to move into being excited about having twins. (My husband) Dave’s initial reaction was shock and then he immediately mentioned financial concerns.
Q2: From newborn to elementary school, what was the easiest and the hardest stage with the twins?
Every mom had a little different answer for this question, which shows perfectly how every child, baby, and parent is different. Navigating through diapers, swaddles, tantrums, and potty training can vary for families with twins, just as easily as they do for households without multiples.
Anna: We felt like newborn to ten months was easy. As soon as (the twins) started moving it got much harder. But the baby stage was about as easy as it gets. I tandem breastfed and both slept well and luckily had no health issues. They walked shortly after one, then ran in opposite directions.
Julie: The easiest stage has been anything past potty training! As soon as they are able to tell you what they want or need and are able to understand consequences, it all improves! The hardest has to be potty training. The boys took forever and I lost my cool, a LOT! I didn’t even want to start with the girls, but they asked and it went as smoothly as we could have hoped. Now, it’s about getting your turn with the toilet in a big family! We are extremely happy to be done with diapers.
Cortni: The easiest stage was first year, especially the first few months. With my other kids, it was hard to let them “cry it out” or self soothe. With the (twin) boys, it made this easier because they always had each other and seemed to soothe each other. They slept together for the first couple month, swaddled next to each other and this helped them sleep better along with stay on similar feeding schedules. The hardest stage by far was the 12-18 months. This is the age when they are on the go and just learning to walk with no concept of their safety. When you have two little people going two different directions and getting into two separate things (usually messy) it gets very challenging.
Heather: The first three months was the hardest due to not much sleep. I thought I was doing pretty good during that time, but I was actually a zombie. We didn’t have any family around (9-12 hours away). My husband was in the toughest year of his medical residency with on-call so he couldn’t help that much. Then again at three-years-old because the kids were into everything and were threenagers!
Jen: The twins are three and a half now. To be honest it was pretty hard until they were about two-years-old. Between 2-3 years was actually pretty good. Recently, I have felt a lot more frustration as they are both trying to assert themselves more. They are so different and they really know how to push each other’s buttons. We joke all the time that they are like an old married couple who bicker all the time, but could not live without each other.
Q3: Do you always dress your twins alike?
No person on the planet can resist a pair of adorable babies in matching threads, but sometimes the reasoning behind dressing twins alike goes beyond cuteness and is done for a practical sense on top of parental enjoyment.
Anna: Yes, we’ve always matched or coordinated the girls’ clothes. I think it’s cute but it’s just easier that way and it feels weird when they have totally different outfits on. We also didn’t get much for hand-me-downs so it’s easier to buy two of things or coordinating outfits—on sale of course. I designated them colors: Eva (aqua/mint/turquoise or anything not pink), Mia (coral/pinks/reds). A lot of close people know my color scheme and it definitely helps their brothers tell them apart at quick glance. Once they have an opinion, which with girls probably happens sooner than later, I’ll let them choose outfits.
Julie: When they were babies, we were gifted a lot of matching/coordinated outfits and it was REALLY cute. I like having matching outfits because it makes it easier to find them in a crowd and when one outfit gets ruined, there is a backup.
Cortni: From birth to about the age of 3-4 (years) we pretty much dressed the boys the same. This was primarily because many people gifted the boys with clothing and when they did so, it was two of everything. Personally, I kind of got tired of having two of everything so by the time the boys were three or four, I started to buy different clothing for them. I also realized that we would get more bang for our buck by not buying double. The boys would have more clothes to choose from too.
Heather: They were never dressed exactly alike since we had a boy and a girl. However, I would put them in the same sports team shirt, location shirt, or colors on occasion, especially around Easter and the holidays.
Jen: Yes, I love dressing the kids in coordinately outfits. (It is) harder to do matching with one being a boy and one being a girl. I also am a big fan of hand-me-downs and consignment clothes for the kids so matching clothes is difficult. I will admit they rocked the girl in pink and boy in blue theme a lot when they were younger. I just think that it is fun and I don’t think it hurts anything. My kids are their own people and they definitely know it!
Q4: Is there something about twins that makes parenting easier in certain ways?
I would immediately respond no to this question, but all of these moms love their family dynamic and were able to make great points that show their kid do benefit from being a multiple.
Anna: I can’t say twins make parenting any easier, but they cause me to reflect a lot more and be thankful for our many blessings.
Julie: The only thing I can think of is the fact (that) they have a playmate. That and I can ALWAYS appreciate a good BOGO sale!
Cortni: When I think about parenting twins, it does seem to be easier in the sense that you have two kids going through the same stages together verses separate stages with separate abilities. For example, potty training was easier with the two of them because they could do it together. They can relate to each other so if one does it, the other learns from them and wants to do it too. The boys have (also) always had a buddy to share the pain with on all their developmental shots and doctor appointments.
Heather: Since my children are twins, I do know more kids in their classes plus half of the parents. Even though they are only eight, I also hear the gossip from both sides. I know how the boys act and how the girls act towards each other.
Jen: My husband said he thought it is easier for them (the twins) because they always have someone to interact or play with, and I agree. There have been instances where I have seen them soothe one or the other when we were having trouble calming them down.
The miracle of multiples and parents like Anna, Julie, Cortni, Heather, and Jen are amazing. Thanks for sticking it out in this long read, which has more to come. Stay tuned for part two in my Twin Mom Series where I address the subjects of school and birthdays.
Parents of multiples, how would you answer these questions? Leave your comments answers on our website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org