By Jennifer Landels
When I found out, at 36 weeks of pregnancy, that I was having twins, I burst into tears.
They were not tears of joy. Not only did I have to throw my carefully planned homebirth out the window, I was gripped by fear. I already had a three-year-old, and knew how much work one newborn was. How on earth was I going to cope with two?
Nonetheless, I survived. Granted, the first eighteen months were pretty much a blur, but some way, somehow, I’ve ended up with two beautiful, clever, and for the most part, happy teenagers, so I guess you could say it all worked out eventually.
There is something wonderfully resilient about multiples. They’ve had to compete for parental resources since conception, and they’re born knowing more about sharing than some people learn in a lifetime. They can fight like Tasmanian devils one minute, then turn around and play happily together for hours afterward. Over the years I have worried far less about my twins than I have about my eldest daughter because I know the twins will always look out for each other.
Some multiples are born with incredible uphill health challenges, but premature twins seem to thrive and gain weight faster than singletons born at the same gestational age and weight. Maybe it’s because they’re never alone. Ask a twin what it’s like to be twin, and she’ll shrug. For them, having a twin sibling is as normal as being a singleton is for most of us. And yet, what a marvelous secure feeling it must be to know, deep down, that someone’s always got your back. That, I think, is the payoff for those who have experienced the stress of a multiple pregnancy, and the sometimes overwhelming task of caring for more than one baby at once. Believe me, not only does it get better, it gets great.