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A story of twins!

When the 9 Month Club asked me to share my experiences of being pregnant and a new mum of twins I was more than happy to oblige. At the time I didn’t really know any other twin mums and as exciting as it was, it was also extremely daunting.

After undergoing PGD IVF due to a genetic condition (Tay Sachs disease) that my husband and I are carriers of, we were delighted to discover the IVF was successful and a little on the shocking side (understatement of the century) to discover at an early scan that we were having twins. We’d opted to implant one embryo so hadn’t even contemplated twins and the fact that one embryo had split into two foetuses meant they were identical.

With a two-year-old daughter already at home, our immediate thoughts and worries covered everything and anything from how she would feel having twin siblings, how we would manage financially, how we would fit everyone in the car and how huge I would get during the pregnancy.

The consultant warned us not to Google anything (which obviously I did) and this didn’t help with anxiety levels and freaking out about the risks of things like TTTS (Twin to twin transfusion syndrome which can happen with identical twins) but I then felt a lot better once I realised Google rarely shows the much more common positive stories. It was also very reassuring that we were scanned every two weeks to monitor and catch TTTS in its tracks should it occur which fortunately in our case it didn’t.

Another stress of a twin pregnancy is delivering prematurely which the hospitals and neo-natal departments are very geared up for. This wasn’t an issue for us as I somehow made it to the date my C-Section was booked in for at 36 weeks and 3 days. Identical twins should be delivered before 37 weeks and I felt more comfortable with my consultant’s recommendation of delivering via an elective C-Section.

What was set to be a ‘smooth’ delivery day actually turned out to be one filled with a fair amount of drama. Having gotten scrubbed up, received my briefing from the anaesthetist and now on the verge of being wheeled into the theatre, the doctor came into the room and informed us that the surgery could no longer take place at that hospital as they had run out of beds on the neo-natal unit which there was a high chance my twins would need! As a result, we rushed to another London hospital where they had neo-natal availability and space to do the procedure should we require it.

The surgery was the most surreal experience of my life... my whole body numb and tingling from the drugs and watching everything as they presented us with our two baby girls, overwhelmed with emotion. By some miracle they were both excellent weights at around 5lbs each and in great shape so neither of them required any neo-natal support.

We spent 3 days in hospital where we were well looked after and although that time is very blurry, I distinctly remember going through absolute high points of feeling indescribable amounts of love and elation mixed with sheer panic and breakdown moments about now having 2 newborn babies to deal with, severe sleep deprivation and how on earth we were going to cope for the next 18+ years.

The first few weeks at home were equally blurry but with lots of support from family and friends, we somehow fumbled our way through the early newborn stage. I chose to breastfeed after doing so with my eldest and this actually ended up going on for way longer than I intended until they were around 9 months old because they decided bottles were not to their liking! Yes at some points it did feel like I was literally a feeding machine with one on and one-off in rotation but fortunately they were quite quick feeders so I did get some time in between and this increased as they grew. One question I got asked a lot was whether I fed them at the same time and despite managing to do this once or twice, this was a big no mainly due to the sheer awkwardness of arranging two babies on me simultaneously.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how many people stare at you when you are out and about pushing twins in a double buggy and ask you all sorts of things. In many cases, it’s pleasant chitchat and nice to make so many people you pass smile but there were frustratingly a lot of situations (and still are) of people making comments like ‘twins - that’s my worst nightmare’ and worse which, even if said in jest, is not something anyone let alone a new mum of twins really wants to hear.

Another big change came when it was time to go back to work. After doing the finances and realising it just wasn’t viable to pay for three children at nursery I had to hand in my notice. Thankfully I had a ‘side hustle’ to fall back on which has now become my full-time job and fits in with childcare but I would 100% push for some extra support/childcare vouchers for twin mums who want to work to make it financially feasible.

My girls are now 3 years old and have turned into right little characters. Although they look the same to most people I can tell the difference 95% of the time, mainly down to their unique mannerisms and personalities. The relationship they have with each other and my older daughter (who loves bossing them around) is amazing to see, and for every challenging moment, we face there is double the amount of love and fun.

Lauren Kayser

For The 9 Month Club

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