“There are two heartbeats.”
“WHAT??? My baby has two hearts????”
“Oh… right…! You might want to work on your delivery…”
Soon after being delivered the news that I was expecting fraternal twins (as opposed to one baby with two hearts), I set about launching an FBI scale investigation on multiple births in an attempt to prepare myself for what was to come.
I read books, I joined Facebook groups, I ferreted out other multiple mums and questioned them mercilessly. I became close personal friends with Google on everything I could possibly think of that might be vaguely related to the topic of twins and what life was going to be like with not one baby, but two.
But as much as my Type-A personality didn't want to believe it, there are just some things you can't prepare for. And there were just some things no one told me to expect.
1. Small things become big things.
When you have twins, small logistical issues are a BIG DEAL. If you had told me five years ago I was going to head up what was practically a royal commission into why my local supermarket wasn't equipped with a twin toddler trolley, I wouldn't have believed you. But it happened.
The store manager knew me by name (and I'm quite sure started avoiding me). I sent emails. I filled in customer complaint forms. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth via Facebook status update. I would angrily text updates to my husband ("still no twin trolley *SIGH*") purely to vent my escalating irritation with each and every passing grocery shop. We launched "twin trolley watch" in my multiple birth online forum and would post at which store the mythical chariot was available and when it had been sighted. Those trolleys became like UNICORNS to me.
You get the idea. With twins, logistics really matter. It's often a two on one situation and certain conveniences can become make or break if you want to eat that week.
2. Two for the price of two.
If I had a dollar for every time someone remarked having twins was essentially like getting "two for the price of one" then I sure as hell would have more than thirty five cents and a sticky eclipse mint in my purse.
Hell no it's not two for the price of one, it's most definitely two for the price of two....and then some! Figuratively and literally.
You see, when you have twins you will probably have no money. If you think you have money, check again, because in all likelihood, you are mistaken. The money we spent on formula alone could have made a hefty dent in Australia's foreign debt. Not to mention set up costs; two bassinets, two cots, two car seats, double the clothes, double the toys, double the nappies...
Oh and modern cloth nappies???? Hahahahaha...not likely with a strong chance of nope. Not unless we wanted to remortgage our house to buy the starter kit with enough supplies for our twenty-seven-thousand-poo-a-day twinfants. Not to mention the amount of laundering it would require! My inner environmentalist died a little inside but it wasn't going to happen.
3. Your milkshake might not bring all the babies to the yard.
I blindly assumed (and no one told me otherwise) that every twin mum just naturally makes enough milk to exclusively breastfeed them. I discovered the hard way that this is not always the case. Let's just say my lactation station had times of cessation, leaving me with deflation. What I lack in milk supply however, I more than make up for in sick rhymes. #atleastthatssomething
4. A single pram will seem like a dolls pram.
And you will become so adept at maneuvering either extra wide or extra long vehicles in tight spaces (and, where necessary, at high speed), you may consider professional motor sports as a future career option.
5. The whole world is an expert.
Everyone knows a twin. Or has a twin. Or was told once they might have been a twin in a past life.
And knowing a twin, or being a twin, or standing behind a set of twins in line at David Jones last Christmas, gives people expert opinions, none of which are interesting. All of which you will be subjected to while you're in the supermarket, without a twin trolley, while one of your actual twins that lives with you is trying to get their pudgy little fingers around a glass jar of pickled onions from a shelf just out of reach, as the other one suffers an inconsolable bout of hysteria because their sock has slipped down underneath their foot.
And there will always be someone who will argue with you that your boy/girl twins might be identical. Quick biology lesson. One has a penis. The other has a vagina. Can't be identical. It's science.
6. People will ask invasive questions about your hoo-ha and your jiggly bits.
I was warned pre-twins that I would go from normal every day human adult going about their business with their child, to at least a B-list calibre of celebrity (think ex-reality TV show contestant or local news anchor), every time I stepped foot outside with my two babies in tow.
What I didn't know was that having twins would make me the subject of incredibly invasive questions and assumptions about my hoo-ha. More precisely how it fared the birth of twins... Yes I did spend three months post birth with a frozen sanitary pad the size of a surfboard in my underpants, thanks for asking.
People are so intensely interested (otherwise known as "nosy as f*ck") that they seem to lose their filter. Random strangers start questioning you about your fertility, whether they're "natural" twins, if you had a c-section, stitches, if you are "feeding them" (no they cook for us mainly).
You either become adept at giving very evasive answers, or adversely, very gory, conversation-ending ones. My preferred method is the latter.
7. All twins are not created equal (apparently).
Fraternal. Identical. IVF. "Natural". High risk. Super high risk. Super duper high risk. A subset of people exist that seem to believe some twins are "more twins" than other twins. There I was thinking carrying twins, and birthing twins, probably meant you had twins. Shows what I know.
8. Sometimes you might feel a tiny bit of jealousy towards singleton mums.
Occasionally when my twins were infants I would look at singleton mums with their streamlined prams fitting seamlessly through the aisles of Target, or sitting at a cafe helping their singleton toddler not spread a babyccino from one end of the room to the other, and feel a pang of envy over what seemed, from the outside, like it might be a slightly less complex experience.
Realistically, there were some things as a mum of young twins that were just less achievable and sometimes that could feel isolating. But at the end of the day, it really wasn't anything that double the cuddles couldn't fix.
9. Child proofing is not optional.
Any parent can attest that taming one toddler is borderline impossible. Well let me tell you, taming two, as one goes through your bathroom cabinet and the other systematically rips single pages out of every book you own is a whole new ball game. You simply can't be two places at once, so you're going to need a playpen the size of Africa and/or every drawer closing, cupboard locking clip that's ever been invented in the history of child safety.
10. You may never have a single photo of all of you together smiling at the camera.
Unless you are really good at Photoshop.
11. You are stronger than you think. Literally.
It's true, having multiples can push you to what feels like your absolute limit, and it will certainly teach you that you can cope with more than you thought you could; and that you didn't realise how strong you actually can be.
You will also discover that you possess super human strength you didn't realise you had either, when you have to pick up your twins who weigh 14kg a piece, simultaneously, and carry them to the car.
12. In some ways (not many) it's easier.
Or at least it becomes that way over time. Twins have a built in best friend and constant companion. There's always someone to play chasey with, or kick a ball with, or to build a Duplo house with. The possibility for fun is multiplied by two!
This gives you extra time to do really fun stuff like vacuuming the house or hanging the washing on the line that you might not otherwise have had the luxury of doing.
In another happy turn of events, people tend to cut you a little extra slack when you have twins. Left the house with everyone's shoes on but your own? Accidentally put sultanas instead of coffee beans in the grinder? Leftover Cherry Ripe smudged into the corner of your mouth (all day)?
People are less likely to be silently judging you when you have baby twins at home, and more likely to be making you a casserole.
13. Their capacity to love one another will take your breath away.
My twins have a bond and a love for one another that I don't even think I truly understand. They do also hate each other sometimes too. But the love. The love is what prevails. And some times it's so beautiful it makes me cry like Dawson when Joey left to sail off into the sunset with Pacey.
See two newborn twins talking to each other. Post continues after video...
14. It will, without doubt, be the best thing that ever happened to you.
When announcing my twin pregnancy, a family member said to me, "I wouldn't wish twins on my worst enemy". And you know what, that person had no idea what they were talking about.
What having twins has done for my life is immeasurable. I now believe I can achieve the seemingly impossible. I've seen my body do it. I've traversed my lowest lows and coped, and eventually even thrived, with two human babies that I managed to keep alive, when I'd never even changed a nappy before.
I've been woken up in the night 145 times, sometimes by simultaneously crying newborns, while my husband was on night shift. And I got through it. I have raised two of the most amazing, funny, clever little human beings, that I love higher than the moon and deeper than the ocean, who also happen to be twins.
And now they have a singleton little sister too, so we have the best of both worlds! Our hands are full, but not as full as our hearts.
You know what other twin parents DID tell me to expect when I was having twins? That it would be twice as nice... And they were right.
What did no one tell you about having twins?