Help for Moms of Multiples

Abby Anders

Every mother knows that the day you find out you are having a baby is full of emotions. You are excited, nervous, scared and in some cases (including mine) surprised!

Actually, that's putting it mildly. I was shocked. We already had one child but weren't expecting to have another. We were not going through fertility treatments, and in fact I was definitely trying NOT to get pregnant. So maybe we were slightly more taken aback than some expectant parents when the words "second amniotic sac" came out of the mouth of the ultrasound tech. Pardon me? Second what? And the thing is that everyone in the doctor’s office acts like it is no big deal. Of COURSE you will get to be approximately the size of a tank! ABSOLUTELY you can handle two babies! SURE you can afford it! And if you have any questions you can ask... Uh...well... just Google it.

And that's where you run into trouble, especially if you live in a relatively small town. Or of you are a person who asks lots of questions (like me). WHY am I having twins? How do I know if they are identical or fraternal? What are the risks? Is there any special baby gear for multiples? Do I really need 2 of EVERYTHING?

Unfortunately, I had a lot more questions than answers. So that's where this blog comes in. Hopefully I can help out some of you other multiple moms out there by sharing what my experiences have been over the past year.

So let's start with the basics. Why are you having more than one baby? If you were receiving fertility treatments, you already know the answer to that question. And whether or not you conceived using a fertility treatment is a question you will be asked repeatedly. By everyone you meet, it seems. I have to say that I was always slightly taken aback whenever someone felt that my reproductive system was in any way their business. I found the best thing to do when people ask if I had IVF is to just smile and say "No, just lucky, I guess." Yes, it's intrusive of people to ask but they really don't mean any harm.

The next question will be "Do twins run in your family?" You will be asked this question literally every time someone finds out you are having twins. Unfortunately, the answer to this one is a little more complicated. Because depending on whether your multiple babies are identical or fraternal, family history could have nothing at all to do with it. Having multiple babies who are fraternal can run in families. Basically because releasing more than one egg at a time can be a hereditary trait. Identical twins are always an anomaly.

Which leads us to the most common question you will hear, and that is "Are they identical or fraternal?" I found out pretty quickly that this can be a tricky question to answer, mostly because there are so many widely accepted beliefs about how to tell the difference. There are two ways to conceive multiple children. Either your body releases more than one egg and each egg is fertilized (fraternal), or one egg is fertilized and then splits (identical). Depending on when the egg(s) are fertilized and/ or split, they can be in one amniotic sac or two and have one or more placentas. In my case, the two babies had separate sacs and separate placentas. This means they could be either fraternal or identical. Unfortunately, people don't really want to accept that you don't know whether your babies are identical or not. Typically, the conversation would go something like this:

"Oh, you're having twins! Are they identical or fraternal?"
"I'm not sure"

*blank stare*

"What do you mean you're not sure? Are they in one sac or two?"
"Well, two, but you see..."
"Then they're fraternal! That's how to tell, you know."

Initially, I tried to educate these folks. But then I realized that they don't REALLY care if the babies are identical or not. They are just fascinated by the multiple baby thing and want to be a part of the conversation.

And, really, that's the main thing to always remember. Yes, people are nosey and invasive and generally misinformed. But you know what? They are also genuinely excited for you. You! A complete stranger to them. And for whatever reason it makes them really happy to have that 5 minute conversation about your babies.

So just try to relax and enjoy all the attention you are getting. If you are like me, that will take some getting used to. But believe me when I say that there will be times when you are truly grateful for the extra prayers and offers of help that start coming from seemingly everywhere. This is your moment! You are growing people! Enjoy every minute.

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