Adventures in Twin Pregnancy

Anyone who’s been pregnant with twins or higher-order multiples knows it’s a very stressful time. They don’t call it a “high-risk” pregnancy without good reason! Medical professionals will run through a laundry list of potential complications that could arise. One of the most feared is premature labor. Twins usually arrive earlier than singleton babies, and sometimes it’s too early. Bed rest is a common prescription as doctors try to stave off the progression of labor. I was very fortunate to avoid this problem. In fact, my labor had to be induced at 39 weeks, and my twins were born at 7 lbs., 13 oz., and 6 lbs., 9 oz. I know that my case is rare, though. Many women go into labor much sooner when they’re carrying twins, putting their babies’ lives at risk.

Another problem that can pop up if you’re carrying identical twins is Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). With this condition, the placenta may be shared unequally between the twins, leaving one baby with too small a share of the placenta to receive the necessary nutrients to develop normally. This baby will also suffer from little to no amniotic fluid. The other twin may become overloaded with blood, which puts a strain on this baby’s heart to the point that it may develop heart failure. This baby may also develop too much amniotic fluid. There is a 1 in 930 chance of having TTTS in pregnancy. Before TTTS could be diagnosed by ultrasound, less than 10 percent of twins with the condition survived. Now the odds of survival have greatly improved through medical intervention during pregnancy and after birth.

Because of the potential for these complications, most women who are pregnant with multiples are monitored very closely. I remember going through very thorough ultrasound exams every single month. I would lie on the table for hours as the technician measured this and that, and tried to extract some movement from each baby. I would study her expression intently, trying to decipher whether anything was wrong. “Was that a little frown?” “Is she spending too much time in that one spot?” “What does she see?” Hundreds of scary thoughts would run through my mind. Monitors were also hooked up to each baby, during which I was instructed to push a button every time I felt a movement. Again, I’d obsess over possible complications. “Am I not feeling enough movements?” “Was that a movement or not?” After one such ordeal, they told me that Baby A was experiencing lower-than-normal movement. “Well, he could have just been sleeping during the appointment . . .” they told me. Thankfully, all was well at the next appointment, so that must have been the case. But that didn’t stop me from worrying about it all month and being even more stressed at the next appointment.

The physical discomforts are also exaggerated in a twin pregnancy. My legs swelled up like redwood tree trunks, a condition I never experienced with my two singleton pregnancies. None of my shoes fit. At a certain point, I could barely find maternity clothes that fit because I was so huge! The doctor ran out of tape on his tape measure to go around my belly. I had to resort to wearing one pair of shoes (tennis shoes with a zipper that had to be left open) and slippers, and just a few maternity “tents” that I could barely squeeze over my belly. And I won’t even bother to describe the myriad stretch marks that now cross my still-flabby belly (a condition commonly known as “twin skin”). Getting in and out of the car, finding a comfortable position in which to sleep, and even getting myself off the couch were all Olympic sports.

A twin pregnancy is not for the faint of heart, but obviously the rewards are many when those two little babies arrive. During your twin pregnancy, try not to stress out too much (easier said than done, I know), and do take very good care of yourself! Listen to your doctor’s advice and try to enjoy your pregnancy. It will be over all too soon, and then you’ll have a new set of challenges to deal with!

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About Susan Heim

Susan M. Heim is an author and editor, specializing in multiples, parenting, women’s and Christian issues. Her books include "Boosting Your Baby's Brain Power"; "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Twins and More"; "It’s Twins! Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence"; "Twice the Love: Stories of Inspiration for Families with Twins, Multiples and Singletons"; and, "Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year." Upcoming books include "Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family," "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Women," and "Moms of Multiples' Devotions to Go." Susan's articles and essays have appeared in many books, magazines and Web sites. She is a member of the National Association of Women Writers and the Southeastern Writers Association, and has a degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. Susan lives with her husband and four sons (two teenagers and twin grade-schoolers) in Florida.

Comments

  1. Hello everyone – I hope this is a good place to say this given I am at my wits end. My name is Sarah and my husband and I have been trying (unsuccessfully) to conceive for almost four years now and have been through much together through our lives. I have experienced two miscarriages and several different doctors in an attempt to conceive our first child.

    My husband is 31 and I am 29 years old and following my first signs of pregnancy which I identified really early at around 3 weeks, our baby unfortunately did not make it past the first month. In our second pregnancy, the hospital for some unknown reason did not take a blood test to verify the pregnancy. I was visited at home by the local nurse and on each occasion in light of our previous miscarriage I asked again for a blood test to confirm all was well.

    Despite them not doing a blood test I insisted upon an ultrasound as I just had to know everything was ok – the ultrasound confirmed something I think we both already felt that the baby again didn’t make it. As you can imagine we were both devastated (again). The doctors told us I had a problem with my uterus, and the uterus walls were abnormally thick, which it was assumed was causing the problem – we were told to persevere…

    So we continued to try and recently I fell pregnant for the third time. I experienced bleeding for almost 1 month straight and the doctors could not really give me any answers why I was bleeding and simply conducted routine blood work to ensure I wasn’t loosing too much blood and a brief check to look for any abnormalities. A little while later, you guessed it the baby passed. This time I was given more information from the doctors whom suggested there is the potential that my body does not produce sufficient amounts of the progesterone hormone to stay pregnant in addition to the thick wall of my uterus.

    As you can imagine both my husband and I are exhausted and so want to have a baby but are determined – there are some procedures I can undergo apparently and also some drugs which can help with the hormone levels but I am really at my wits end. I regularly scour the internet looking for answers to my questions and recently came across this site (conceptionadvice.co.cc) which seems to show some good success stories, I will try anything at the moment, has anyone here heard about this or tried the course? I am running out of options (although we continue to try) and would appreciate any help anyone can provide to us.

  2. Having twins is not easy to us moms. Being with one kid is not easy to us how much more twins. Being a mom I always ask my self to have a twin kids. But, as I have my son I didn’t want to have it. Taking good care of them is not easy.