Twins Pregnancy: A Father’s Point of View

by Dan Brunkow

So you’re expecting twins. Congratulations!

Are you still in shock? I sure was. The thought of bringing two babies into the world at one time scared the heck out of me, especially since I was already the father of two boys (ages five and three). I remembered how much work the first year was with both of them, with all of the diapers, the bottles, the sleepless nights, etc… I wondered how in the world we were going to do it with two babies? I immediately started stressing out about all of things that we were going to go through once the babies were born. Little did I know at the time that the most stressful part of having twins was already upon us…the pregnancy.

I did not know at the time that a twin pregnancy is not at all like a single pregnancy. With our first two pregnancies, it was relatively low impact for me (I know, all of the women reading this are rolling their eyes, especially my wife). But to my wife’s credit, it’s true. I figured I had about eight months to play as much golf as I could before the birth of the twins, and that’s when I would really have to become involved. After all, my work was already done for the time being, right? Boy, was I wrong!

There are many things that happened during the pregnancy that surprised me, or that no one told me about. I’d like to tell you about some of those things here, so maybe you’ll be a little more prepared for what happens during a twin pregnancy than I was.

First, pre-term labor is fairly common in a twin pregnancy. I didn’t even know what pre-term labor was until it happened to my wife. This was definitely the most stressful thing about the pregnancy, and it’s something that I don’t remember anyone warning me about. Maybe my wife mentioned it to me, but you know how it is, there was probably a ball game or something. My wife went to a routine check-up at about the 25th week of pregnancy. After being gone for an abnormally long time, she phoned me from the hospital and told me that they were keeping her overnight because she was having contractions. What a shock! I couldn’t understand how that could be so early in the pregnancy. The babies were less than 3 lbs. each at the time, so we were both extremely worried. They wound up giving her medication to stop labor and kept her in the hospital for a couple of days. This was the first of four trips to the hospital to stop labor. The good news was that the medication that they gave her successfully stopped the contractions each time, and she was able to carry the twins past 36 weeks.

Second, prepare for bed rest. My wife wound up going on bed rest for about the last four weeks of the pregnancy. This is a very common occurrence for a twin pregnancy, so you need to prepare yourselves for it. We were fairly lucky because my wife was a stay at home mother, so we did not have to worry about her taking time off from her job. We were also very fortunate that my mother-in-law was able to come and stay with us during that time to help with our two boys and to help out around the house. I’m not sure what we would have done without her. My advice is to recruit family and friends if you can to help out. But however you do it, take bed rest very seriously. Make sure you’re wife stays off of her feet. There’s a good reason why many mothers of twins are put on bed rest by their doctor, and that’s so she doesn’t go into labor too early. You want your wife to carry those babies as long as she can for the health of your twins. Oh, and needless to say, golf was just not an option while my wife was on bed rest.

Third, don’t expect a full-term pregnancy. It very rarely happens with twins. The goal of a twin pregnancy is to carry them at least 36 weeks. Once you reach that mark you are considered to be out of the ‘danger zone’. Even though 36 weeks is the target, many twins are delivered earlier. What this means is that you have less time to get everything ready for the new arrivals. I would suggest getting the babies room ready earlier, start buying those baby items that you need to purchase, get things done around the house that need to be done. During this pregnancy, you may not have time to wait until the last minute!

Finally, you are about to embark on an emotional and stressful, next few months. It was truly an emotional roller coaster for us. I’ll never forget our fourth trip to the hospital because of pre-term labor. My wife started having contractions again at around week 34. The babies were both more than 5 lbs., so we were sure that they would just let it go and we could finally deliver the twins. We thought that the twins were big enough and strong enough to be born safely, so I packed up the overnight bag and the camera and we headed for the hospital, positive that we were going to finally have the twins that day. After all of the other trips to the hospital, we were ready. Once we got to the hospital we were immediately put in a delivery room. And then the contractions stopped…all by themselves. We asked the doctor to induce labor, and he refused, for the safety of the twins. Of course he was right, but we were both devastated. We were just emotionally and mentally exhausted. My wife cried all the way home.

My best advice to you is to try to stay calm, help and support your wife (she truly is doing most of the work), and trust your doctor’s advice. Remember, you’re goal is to try and carry the babies at least until week 36, which will greatly decrease the chance of complications with the birth of your twins. Do everything you can to make this happen. Trust me, even though a twin pregnancy is a very trying time for the mother and the father, its well worth it once those twins arrive!

About The Author

Dan Brunkow is the creator and moderator of http://www.twinadvice.com, a site created by parents of twins, for parents of twins. E-mail: dbrunkow@twinadvice.com

How to Approach a Parent of Twins

By Diane Johnson

You know when you run to the store and bring your twins along with you how people start coming out of the woodwork to ask all the regular questions, “Oh, twins? Boy, girl? Identical?” Then they usually follow up the question with some sort of comment that leaves your mouth agape. Well, I’ve always dreamed of handing out a “How to Approach a Parent of Twins” flyer. I never had the nerve to hand out the flyer, but in my dream world, this step-by-step sheet would be handed to every person as they reach the age of 18. Ideally, it would be a required sheet for graduation. They would be tested on how to approach parents of twins. My dream flyer would go something like this:

How to Approach a Parent of Twins

With the rapid increase in twin births, it’s safe to say that at some point you are going to run into a parent of twins (if you’re not one yourself). Here is the best way to approach a parent of twins (POT).

The first step is to take a close look at the parent with the joyful bundles. If the parent is not smiling and one or more bundle is crying, chances are good the trip is absolutely necessary and the parent is focused on completing the errand as quickly as possible. This is not a good time to stop and carry on a full conversation. If you can’t pass up getting a peek, try to do so in a way that helps the parent, such as opening the door. If the parent is smiling or seems calm and unrushed, proceed to the next step.

The next step is to look closely at the bundles of joy before beginning the question phase. This is imperative if you want to avoid any sarcasm. Asking if they are twins is okay — hey, you never know if the parent is watching someone else’s baby or not. However, it’s safe to say that if they’re dressed alike, they’re twins. Asking gender is fine if the babes are not decked out in gender-specific clothing or wearing items emblazoned with “Daddy’s girl” or “Wonder Boy.” Asking if same-sex (and that’s key — same-sex) babies are identical is fine. Asking if boy/girl twins are identical will cause the POTs to wonder if you passed biology. Once you receive an answer on identical/fraternal, it’s important to note: do not argue with the parent. Trust that they know their twins.

Step three is to notice whether or not there are any older siblings. POTs get pretty irritated when one of their singleton children is ignored. If you see another child, do not ignore him or her while gushing over the twins. Make a nice comment such as, “Wow, I bet you are an awesome big brother.” The POTs will be happy.

Step four is to bite your tongue. Refrain from asking if the parent did fertility treatments. You may get a nasty inquiry as to whether or not you’ve visited your proctologist lately. Also refrain from the “my brother’s, wife’s, sister’s, neighbor’s, best friend’s, daughter lives next to twins.” POTs never know how to address these statements, but choose to listen in the off chance you may have inside information on how to contact Mary Poppins. A few other comments to bite your tongue on: “Glad it’s you and not me.” Twins are not a disease. “How do you do it?” Well, we couldn’t very well tell the doctor to put one back, so we did the next best thing, we chose to live by Nike’s motto and just do it.

Finally, make sure that you finish on a high note. A pleasant comment, like “You have great kids,” “What a lovely family you have,” or “You are so blessed,” is always welcome.

Side note: If at any time one or both of the babies starts to fuss, cut the conversation short and move aside. The POT has only a few moments before the angels sprout horns and full chaos ensues.