So, much like my shoe challenge posts, it seems I’ve fallen dramatically behind on my pregnancy posts, despite thinking I’d have an awful lot to say given that we’re going through something totally new with twins! When I first found out we were expecting not one but two babies I swore I would keep a diary so that I could look back and remember every second. Then I remembered I said the same thing when I was pregnant with Bailey, and that never happened, so I’m not sure why I thought I’d achieve it while carrying double the load! Still, I am keen to talk about it, so even though it already feels as though that first few months is disappearing into the baby brain fog, I’m going to do my best to sum up the experience!
In some ways, the first trimester with twins was much the same as my first trimester with Bailey. I always thought the second time around would feel different, like all the mystery would be taken away and I’d know what to expect, meaning I could just relax and enjoy it, but as it turns out that wasn’t the case. Even before we found out our bombshell I was feeling a whole world of anxiety and emotion about having another child that I hadn’t expected. As much as I was excited about finally getting to be a mother, I always found it hard to relax into that first pregnancy at the start, constantly worrying about what might happen, how I would cope and whether or not I was going to be a good mum. I thought the second time around that I would have acquired a new found confidence about the whole thing, but once we were delivered that mind-blowing news I was instantly transported to my first pregnancy and all the uncertainty and confusion that came with it. We were having twins. Everything I thought I knew about how this experience would go was wiped out in a millisecond, and I may as well have been a first time mum all over again. The pregnancy would be dramatically different. The birth would be dramatically different. Even navigating life with our newborns would be dramatically different. And while I’d always been aware that juggling the needs of a brand new baby and a toddler at the same time would bring a new set of challenges, this was something else entirely. So much like the first time, I didn’t find any of the first trimester the blissful, exciting time it’s often described to be.
There were also a whole load of new emotions to contend with. The ‘Second Baby Guilt’ was the first – the remorse I felt for suddenly smashing apart the world that Bailey had just begun to trust and explore with confidence was intense and really clouded that first few weeks of knowing we were expecting again. Then of course we found out we’d be having two babies and all the normal worries doubled in a second. At first, it was mainly logistics we were concerned about. I mean, three children. All under the age of three! It was not something I had really considered with any seriousness and out of nowhere it was happening, and happening far sooner than I felt ready for! It was as though someone had hit fast forward on our lives and it made me mourn the precious time I had left with Bailey on our own all the more, even though it wasn’t done yet! I couldn’t picture quite how one manages to juggle two newborns at the same time, much less with a toddler in the mix, and it was a very daunting prospect. Every day a new scenario popped into my head – could I carry them both together between rooms, or would I have to do one at a time? Where would they sleep? How would I attempt breastfeeding without an extra pair of hands to pass me babies? What if I had a babe in both arms and Bailey made a break for a busy main road unexpectedly? Was I ever going to leave the house again without assistance?? I knew a 2 year old and a newborn together would be much harder work than coping with my firstborn was, but three of them?? It just seemed more than would be feasible! I only have two hands!
Quite quickly though, the realisation that there were much more concerning and imminent things to worry about took over, and honestly, these days I look back at those early panicked conversations with a sense of nostalgia – the logistics part began to seem a little trivial compared to the fact that this pregnancy and any resulting birth may not go smoothly. I can’t help but miss those innocent times when the things really bothering me were having to get rid of Bailey’s much loved pram or whether two babies would both fit in a next to me crib! Because it wasn’t long before the reality of having twins set in – multiple pregnancies are far more high risk than singleton ones, and I had to face facts and understand that there were a catalogue of things that may go wrong. Twins sadly come with a higher rate of miscarriages and stillbirths. They are highly prone to preterm labour and often the babies are born with very low birth weights. Birth defects and growth discordance is twice as likely. And for myself, hypertension, pre-eclampsia, hemorrhaging and gestational diabetes were all far more of a risk for me than they were the first time, not to mention the likelihood of having a much more complicated birth. As someone who had a very healthy and complication free pregnancy and birth the first time, it was a shock to the system to suddenly have to process all of the horrid things that hopefully were small, but very real, possibilities and it made those first few months very difficult for me emotionally. I’m a natural born worrier, and found my first pregnancy nerve wracking even without all of that, so I found it incredibly difficult to get excited when it seemed so inevitable that something awful was just moments away at any time. Even an early scan at 8 weeks did little to quell my fears and I physically shook as I sat waiting to go in for our 12 week scan. Little by little those fears are easing as we progress with so far nothing but good news, but it all still plays on my mind and I think will continue until the day our babies are here and beyond.
My size was one of the earliest physical differences! I already knew that I was likely to show earlier with a second pregnancy, but even I was confused at what appeared to be a tiny baby bump emerging as early as 6 weeks! I’m carrying a lot more weight than I was when I got pregnant with Bailey, which I tend to carry round the middle anyway, and I am very prone to bloating, so for a short while I told myself I was imagining it. But after a couple of weeks of having to work really hard to hide my burgeoning bump even I had to admit it seemed I was growing at a ridiculous rate! By the time we headed for that early scan I could no longer do up jeans I’d been wearing the week before, so when the Sonographer explained there were two in there it suddenly all made sense. Then, of course, there were the pregnancy symptoms! As I already mentioned, my pregnancy with Bailey was very straightforward. We always joked karma would come back to get me if I had another, and boy did that prophecy turn out to be correct! Double the babies means double the hormones, and while the first time I seemed to get away with a minimal amount of nausea for a couple of weeks and some aches and pains towards the end, this time I seemed to fall foul of all the unpleasant things pregnancy has to offer. The sickness started the day before I even took the test and daily vomiting lasted until around 10 weeks. Even after that, nausea intense enough to affect my day to day activities persisted until around the 15 week mark, and I’m still prone to the odd wave now, especially in the car or after a bad night’s sleep. Dizzy spells were regular, as were tension headaches which seemed to intensify when heat was applied, meaning taking showers, cooking on the hob or even just wearing a facemask became rather uncomfortable. I couldn’t take Bailey to the park alone because the movement of the swings or roundabouts made me feel as though I’d pass out, which only amplified the mum guilt I was already feeling. Constipation plagued me for a good two months despite drowning myself in water and forcing prunes down like they were going out of fashion, and that bought on a delightful bout of haemmeroids (I know, gross, but turns out, pregnancy can be really gross…) When I wasn’t nauseous, I was ravenous, but the thought of almost all foods made me sick to my stomach, so every night Dan and I would do a merry dance where he suggested all the foods he could think of that might tempt me, and I would turn them down until he happened upon something really inconvenient like a very specific Chinese takeaway at 9pm on a Tuesday! Which would inevitably give be chronic heartburn. And the tiredness – the tiredness was something else! I remember finding the working week tough in those early days with Bailey and being ready for bed by 8pm, but this time around it was an all consuming exhaustion that sapped all my energy. I’m extremely grateful now that we both were furloughed for the entirety of the first few months as I spent most of my time laid up on the sofa and had to let Dan take charge of anything that required even the slightest effort (especially feeding Bailey because the smell of most food made me vomit as it was, never mind after he’d half chewed it and offered to feed it to me!)
So all in all, it wasn’t an easy time. Things have gotten better since we crossed into the second trimester – I certainly am feeling much better and have been managing a 3 day week at work without collapsing (though I must admit an afternoon snooze while Bailey is napping on Thursdays and Fridays has become a bit of a staple…) but the jitters and the uncertainty remain, and perhaps that marks the biggest difference of all with this second pregnancy. It’s much easier to feel happy and excited about our impending babies now, especially since I started to feel them moving more, but I think there will always be a slight sense of sadness follow me around until they are born. This is most likely my last pregnancy, and I feel more than a little mournful of that. When we started to talk about having another child it was always with the thought that we wanted to leave a window for a possible third, but now that we know that third child is already on it’s way it feels like someone stole that time away from me, and their arrival will abruptly bring forward the end of an incredibly happy time in our lives. For all the difficulties, anxieties, the sickness and the pain, I love being pregnant, and it breaks my heart a little to think that there may only be a few more months before the experience is over for good. It’s not always romantic and pretty, but it really is magical and I don’t feel quite ready to let go of this part of me. I wouldn’t change things, of course, I feel very fortunate that we are getting to experience something as special as twins, but it’s still a little hard to accept, especially when I’ve felt so poorly and anxious for so much of it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, because fingers crossed we still have a few months to go, so for now I’m trying to focus all my energy on enjoying this time, cares and all, before our little bundles are here and we start another new journey! Wish us luck!