Did you WANT to have Twins?

Since my first pregnancy was a twin pregnancy, I don’t think I thought about wanting or not wanting to have twins. Scott and I struggled to have children and had to resort to in vitro to begin our family. We were so excited to become parents and we thought that the two-for-one deal was a great way to do it.

hand to hand

But after a “not-as-I-planned” emergency c-section and babies hooked up to tubes and monitors and the unrelenting demands of caring for such fragile lives, I desparately struggled during those first few months of motherhood. This struggle caught me off guard and rocked my world. I had always wanted a family; I had spent a lot of time around babies and children; I had gone to extraordinary means to have THESE babies. And, yet, mothering twins was sometimes more than I could handle. (You can read more about those struggles here.)

The physical challenges of having two babies (I often felt like one of those oxen with two water buckets on each side of my neck harness when I carried the car seats to and from the car), to the challenge of responding to two babies crying at the same time and me being the only person around.

During those early years with the twins I would call my mom nearly despondent because I felt like I was just barely able to get basic needs met–feeding and cleaning and changing–RINSE AND REPEAT. I found motherhood to be so rote. . .so mind numbing at times. . .that I couldn’t imagine that life would ever get better. Or, more precisely, that I would ever have MY LIFE back again.

Honestly, there was a big part of me that mourned not being able to bond and devote (maybe the word is “dote”) on a single child in a way that would be more nurturing. . .and less demanding. I remember a friend saying that she enjoyed those first few months of babyhood. She and the baby would sleep. . .then she’d nurse for a while. . .and they would just cuddle and sleep some more.

That couldn’t have been farther from my breast pumping in the middle of the kitchen floor while trying to placate two screaming babies by using my feet to make their bouncy seats bounce.

When I found out that I was pregnant with my second set of twins, the reality of what my husband and I were facing. . .and the challenges of responding to two more babies and two 18 month olds was. . .well, daunting is the nice way to say it.

Hands Full

So when I came across two essays in the New York Times where one mother wrote about not wanting to have twins while the other mother wrote about the joys of becoming a twin parent, I understood the ying and the yang. Lauren Appel (you can read her essay here) is writing from the land of toddlers and she questions whether this is what she really wanted. She feels a little, do I daresay, gypped in the process of mothering these babies.

K J Dell’Antonia (her essay is here) chose to have “twins” (one child is adopted) and responds to Appel and discusses the challenges and the joys of parenting multiples.

I feel nothing but empathy for Appel and I respect her honesty. I get it. Those first few years are hard. Now that I have a singleton, some days look at my twins, Luke and Will, and I just want to cry because they didn’t get the attention or the doting or the one-on-one time that Dylan has.

But would I wish for a different journey of motherhood? No. My only change–I would have hired more help!

I would love to hear about your experiences. Did you want to have multiples? Were you excited or depressed with the news? Has your views stayed the same. . .or changed as your twins have gotten older?




I am a mother of two sets of twins and a singleton. I explore the wild world of multiples and provide resources for other parents of multiples.
  1. I have ALWAYS wanted twins since I was a little girl. Remember when we were growing up and twins were a rarity? I thought that having a twin sister would be the coolest thing in the world. And then when I struggled to conceive, I kept hoping we would get lucky with a BOGO. 🙂
    Having Jackson first helped me to prepare for my double miracle, so I don’t know how it would be to have twins first- overwhelming as you mention. But as you know, the first year of twins was a blur, and I realized I was missing out on Jackson’s toddler milestones as I was an assembly line of bottles and diapers. My only other time I felt a pang of remorse was when the girls turned 2 and I realized I didn’t get that time to treasure their sweet infancy. I actually thought we should have one more so I could enjoy a singleton! But then the prospect of having twins again loomed, and the opportunity passed.
    I don’t regret anything about having twins, and I did want them. But there are times that having just one would be SO MUCH EASIER. 🙂

    1. Joy, I so remember the aplomb you had with your twins. I think I even remember a pretty fun halloween party that you organized for the entire Mothers of Multiples group. Your sense of humor and ability to roll with whatever comes your way–AND TO HAVE FUN WITH IT ALL–have always been qualities that I’ve truly admired about you!

  2. I was almost 5 months pregnant when I found out I was having twins……I always said i wanted twins get it done in one shot!!! So the day came I was in labour and knew that I would be having a c-section. They were born at 35 weeks 5 days. They spent 12 hours in the NICU. We were out of the hospital in 4 days. WOW we are now home by ourselves….The first 3 months are a total blur. We didn’t go any where or do anything other then feeding, changing, burping, washing and on and on. When I finally did get out of the house, I found myself looking at mothers of singletons and hating them. They get to push a cute stroller, they get to bond with ONE baby, they get sleep, they don’t have to carry 2 car seats out to the car. I just really hated them. I hated the fact that my friends that have 1 are well rested and enjoying every moment with their baby and I am just getting by and trying to make the connection with my 2 babies that they have with their singleton. Now that the boys are 3 I still look at singletons mothers in a jealous way I guess, but with out the hate. I would not trade having twins for anything I love my boys, and am so glad I only had to do it once!!! Did anyone else feel this way?

    1. Alison,
      YES! You are not alone in feeling like this! A couple of my friends with a singleton was doing “attachment parenting” and had their baby nestled in a sling when they weren’t sleeping together or their baby wasn’t nursing. I would feel like such a “less than” parent because I was so overwhelmed with getting basic needs met–mostly theirs, sometimes mine–while suffering through major sleep deprivation. I remember a singleton mom chastising me because I wasn’t looking into my babies’ eyes when I was bottle feeding and trying to carry on a conversation with her. Finding a Mothers-of-Multiples group was a life saver for me because all of my mommy friends were going through similar experiences–but since they understood they knew exactly how to jump in and help and their expectations of motherhood were so much more mangageable.

    2. Alison,
      Funnily enough, I occasionally feel jealous of singleton moms (or at least I did when the boys were younger), but I often feel sad for singleton children. My twins have SO much fun together. It’s a neverending playdate. There are so many giggles and wrestles and so much and I think about how lucky I am that they have each other to play with. I just had our third child, a singleton, and while I am amazed at how EASY it is to deal with just one baby, I’m a little sad that he won’t get that amazing bond his brothers share.

  3. Alison –
    You are SO not alone. I feel like I’m getting gypped when my single-kid friends talk about all the stuff they get to do with their kids. Reading at bedtime? Yeah right. Maybe if I had four arms to keep one entertained while the other reaches for the pages to chew. Practicing walking while holding mommy’s hands? Ok, but only for a minute because then your brother will go crawling off and I have to go after him. Gymboree? Ok, but only if both parents are available because one of us could never track both kids.

    I’m jealous all the time.

    And then. I put them down in their play yard and watch as they crawl all over each other to get to toys. I watch our daughter give her Cheerios to her brother. I get double the giggles and double the bath time splashes. My kids turn one year old in 12 days. They are interacting with each other finally. And I’m getting to see what all these twin Mom’s talk about when they say multiples are so awesome.

    So I’m hopeful that soon enough my single-child friends will be the ones being totally jealous of us.

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