I’ve always heard that no two pregnancies are the same, and I have certainly experienced the reality of this statement in my own pregnancies. There are a number of explanations for why this pregnancy has differed from my pregnancy with Charleston: I am five years older; these babies were conceived through fertility treatments, whereas Charleston was conceived naturally; I’ve already experienced one pregnancy, so both my body and mind know what to expect; and, of course, I am carrying two babies this time as opposed to just one. (These two babies have been measuring average-to-large my entire pregnancy, whereas Charleston measured small throughout gestation, which also plays into the differences.)
Because I’m fascinated by comparisons, and because growing babies is occupying a lot of my mental space these days, I thought it would be fun to write a post on how my experience with pregnancy has been different this time ’round.
+ During my pregnancy with Charleston, we did all of our prenatal and postnatal care at a wholistic birthing center (unfortunately we were transferred to the hospital during labor, so he was unexpectedly born in a hospital). Because this pregnancy is high risk, we have no choice but to deliver with an OBGYN in a hospital setting, and all of my prenatal care has been at a doctor’s office. Though I love my doctor, I miss the more intimate environment of the birthing center and the personalized care we received from the midwives there.
+ I’ve learned that with twins, you see your doctor a LOT more frequently, and the babies are examined via ultrasound at each visit. This has its advantages (extra reassurance that things are progressing smoothly, more “screen time” with my babies) and disadvantages (having to make time in my schedule for visits, extra ultrasound exposure—which I’m not entirely comfortable with).
+ We took an extensive Bradley Method birthing class to prepare for my delivery with Charleston. (We’re talking ten weeks and more than thirty hours of class time.) This was in addition to a prenatal nutrition class, a breastfeeding class, a CPR class, an infant care class, and birth-related classes provided through our birthing center. This time, since I’m already familiar with the process of birthing a baby, the education has been scaled down quite a bit. I’ve been reviewing my Bradley class materials, listening to birthing podcasts, and reading a few new books. We also took a one-day birthing class/hospital tour through our OBGYN, I took a refresher CPR course, and I met with a lactation consultant to discuss the logistics of breastfeeding twins. Written out, that still seems like a lot of education, but it’s quite a bit less than last time!
+ We kept almost all of Charleston’s baby gear and clothes, so other than diapers, car seats, a few girly outfits for our daughter, and a handful of twin accessories (like a double nursing pillow, a double stroller, and a double baby carrier), we have very little to buy.
+ I exercised throughout my entire pregnancy with Charleston, but with this pregnancy my doctor has asked me to avoid all exercise other than walking and swimming. And to be honest, I haven’t really minded because I haven’t had the energy for any extra physical activity.
+ We’ve had a lot fewer decisions to make this time regarding things like circumcision, vaccinations, and sleeping arrangements; we did our research prior to Charleston’s birth and plan to stick with the same decisions for the twins. However, I also learned with Charleston that things rarely go as planned, so I am much less concerned about making plans and sticking to them. (This pertains to everything from our birth plan to our feeding and diapering options to whether or not we will sleep train).
+ I’ve been seeing a chiropractor since fairly early in my pregnancy. It wasn’t a necessity when I was pregnant with a singleton, but with twins, I don’t know if I would even be able to walk if it weren’t for the weekly chiropractic sessions that are saving my back.
+ We are taking a much more laid back approach to checking things off of our baby to-do list. Ironically, we have been getting everything done (setting up the nursery, making birthing plans, completing classes) much sooner than last time—partly because I was working during my first pregnancy and had less time, partly because I am aware that the twins will likely be born early so I have mentally moved my own due date forward on the calendar, and also because everything seems less daunting since we’ve done it all once before.
This is the section where I might verge into complaining territory . . . because every pregnant mama needs an occasional, old fashioned venting session on the internet. If you’d rather not indulge me in my pity party, feel free to skip ahead!
+ I began experiencing pregnancy symptoms like fatigue and nausea much earlier this time—like, before I even had a positive pregnancy test!
+ The typical third-trimester pregnancy symptoms showed up early and have been pretty miserable. I had no idea how easy I had it in my first pregnancy! For the last couple of months I have been experiencing: severe back pain; fatigue; swollen feet and ankles and thighs; hormonal acne; insomnia; nausea; difficulty breathing; congestion; bleeding gums; shooting pains in my legs (caused by my uterus pushing down on my sciatic nerve); round ligament pain; indigestion; heartburn; bloating; lack of appetite; restless legs; pubic bone pain; rib pain (the babies seem to like to hang out under my rib cage); and, since about 27 weeks, nearly constant Braxton Hicks contractions (ten or more each hour) that are always uncomfortable and sometimes quite painful.
+ I’m experiencing double the baby kicks and movements—one of the few perks of carrying twins, and it’s a good one!
+ I’m moving MUCH more slowly this pregnancy. Carrying around so much extra weight is about as difficult as it looks. . . .
+ My belly is MUCH bigger and started growing much faster in this pregnancy. By 9 weeks, I already had a noticeable bump. By 20 weeks I had gained more weight—and my belly was bigger—than at 37 weeks with Charleston (which is when he was born). I’ll admit it’s been funny to have people ask when I’m due and observe their shocked faces when I tell them how much longer I have, since I’ve looked like I am about to pop for several weeks now. (The left picture below was taken five days before Charleston was born; I was about the same size then as I was at 19 weeks with these twinsies!)
+ I have more realistic expectations regarding the birth of these babies because I learned through my delivery with Charleston that things rarely go as planned. Since labor with twins is even more unpredictable, I am holding my birth plans VERY loosely.
+ In a similar vein, I’m much less Type A/controlling with everything in this pregnancy. (Case in point: these twins still don’t have names, and I’m totally fine with that.) Being a high-risk pregnancy has forced my hand with this one, removing many options (such as delivering at a birth center or at home). And to be totally honest, I’ve been too tired to care about a lot of the details I attempted to micromanage when pregnant with Charleston.
+ I’m not nearly as anxious about the act of giving birth itself, because I know what to expect. However, I am MORE nervous about the possibility of a c-section, which is likely.
+ I am not too concerned about breastfeeding. I had a successful (if VERY extended) nursing journey with Charleston, and while I know nursing twins will be somewhat more complicated, I am confident we will be able to make it work.
+ I have spent less time worrying about everything related to my pregnancy and delivery being perfect, but more time worrying about the babies’ well-being, simply because there is so much more that can (and often does) go wrong with twins.
+ I spend more time focusing on the babies’ movement because I need to make sure that both of them are active. With Charleston, if I felt any movement at all, I knew he was fine; this time, it’s harder to be sure that both twins are moving normally.
+ I have been more accepting of my body changes and weight gain this pregnancy. I know from experience that losing the baby weight will not be a problem for me. And because I am carrying two babies (plus double the placentas, extra amniotic fluids, etc.), I have been giving myself plenty of grace in this department.
+ I am appreciating the good parts of being pregnant more than last time, as I recognize this might be my final pregnancy.
+ I haven’t spent as much time talking to and bonding with the babies as I did with Charleston when he was in utero, simply because most of my “mommying” energies are taken up by time with the child who is already here. However, Charleston’s involvement with this pregnancy—the hugs and kisses he gives my belly, watching him chat with his brother and sister—have more than made up for my own one-on-one (one-on-two?) time with them.
If you have been pregnant more than once, were your pregnancies very different? How so?