The Thought of Parenting Twins Terrifies Me

Remember back in the summer I was worried about writing controversial posts? And one of those posts that I had on the queue to write about was how I’m terrified of parenting twins?

Well, the time has come for that post.

The Doublemint Twins We Are Not

The Doublemint Twins We Are Not.

To clarify: no, I am not spontaneously pregnant with twins.

But the CDC’s recent report on the climbing rates of twin births in the last 30 years has prompted me to finally write about this, because the numbers don’t lie:

The twin birth rate rose 76 percent from 1980 through 2009, from 18.9 to 33.3 per 1,000 births. (Source: CDC)

The CDC has concluded two major contributing factors for this:

  1. Higher maternal age is more likely to naturally produce twins, especially for mothers over 40, and;
  2. The increase of fertility treatments nationwide.

Anecdotally, I’ve seen the growing trend of twins in my own lifetime. From elementary through high school, I only knew one set of twins. (Hi Dilella boys, if you’re reading this.) When I got to college, I was surprised when as a first year RA, I had a set of twins living on my floor as roommates. Working in higher ed for the next seven years, it was not uncommon to see two or three sets of twins in each year’s roster of students.

It’s to the point now that when I see a double-seater with two lookalike children being pushed down the street by their smiling parents, I wonder to myself, “Are those fertility treatment babies?” It’s none of my business, true – but I can’t help but wonder all the same.

From a clinical perspective, the rate for multiples for donor egg recipients is in the 20-25% range, from what I’ve read.

So, all things being equal, I’ve got about a 1 in 5 or 1 in 4 chance that our (whenever the hell we finally get started with) donor egg cycle could produce twins. Or more.

And the thought terrifies me.

It seems so selfish, right? Like infertile beggars can’t be choosers? That I should just be graciously humble and grateful that we wind up with any children at all?

I’ll be totally honest. It’s like when parents-to-be are asked, “Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?” and they say, “Oh it doesn’t matter, so long as it’s healthy.” In our gut, we ALL know whether we want a boy or a girl. It’s just “impolite” to actually verbalize which gender you’re really hoping for.

In truth, of course we’re happy with no matter what we get. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t fantasize about things turning out a certain way.

For me, the fantasy is parenting one child at a time. In a perfect world? I’d love to parent two children spaced about 4 years apart. (And if you must know, because I’m usually pretty blunt around here, two girls.)

But twins?

*raises eyebrows and makes a worried face*

So of what exactly am I terrified?

The financial costs. NICU for statistical probability of premature birth. Double feedings. Double diaper duty! Finding (and paying) for schools for them both. Double college tuition… at the same time. The mysterious lack of babysitters (this was told to me by a parent of twins; people are more than happy to watch your kid when you’re a new parent. Important to note: kid singular).

Truly, it comes down to this: having a child is overwhelming. Having two at the same time? Doubly overwhelming.

Now, let’s stop for a moment and take a rational, distanced view of things…

Do I have any reason to worry about this right now?

No, not at all. But it’s just another of those list of One Million Things to Worry About When You’re Infertile that, had I not been infertile, probably would have never crossed my mind. And since I wrote that post last June announcing that yes, the idea of parenting twins makes me blanch a little, I hadn’t thought much about it. Until this CDC report that reveals that yes, twin births are indeed up due to fertility treatments.

I really have no reason to worry about twins. (And since my words live in perpetuity on the internet, my Possible Future Twin Children should know that yes, of course we love you, of course we’re grateful for you, and no, we wouldn’t change things for the world.) But still, somewhere, on one of the back burners of my brain, I still worry.

I guess it all just goes back to a fear of the unknown. We just don’t know how any of this is going to turn out. So rather than really addressing that fear, I harp on dumb things like worrying about whether or not we’ll have twins. Or whether or not we have implantation. Or whether or not I’ll miscarry. Or whether or not I’ll get preeclampsia, as it’s more likely to occur in donor recipients.

It’s just all those worries, swirling around in my head when truly, I need to live in the moment. Right now the closest thing to twins I have are two adorable cats from the same litter.

And yes, they are a handful.

So there, I’ve gotten that off my chest, and I actually DO feel better having put it out there. Other folks still in the trenches: does the thought of multiples overwhelm you sometimes? Are you excited by the idea of multiples?

Parents of twins: Tell it like it is. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What’s awesome about twins? What overwhelms you? How did you handle finding out you would be parents of twins?

Sound off in the comments!

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  1. Jen says

    Perhaps it’s denial and/or naivete, but I would honestly be thrilled and excited if I was expecting twins. Sure, I’d also be scared out of my mind, but here’s the thing: I’m 38 and childless. I would love to have more than one child, but I know that time is not on my side. I know that if I’m very, very, very lucky, I might achieve one healthy, full-term pregnancy before time runs out, so the idea of twins does have a lot of appeal for me.

    • Keiko says

      I can totally appreciate that candor and perspective. Maybe it’s because I’m only 29 and sometimes the thought of going to the grocery store to shop for dinner overwhelms me some days, much less the idea of parenting twins. And, as I think some folks have mentioned downthread, it’s almost like it’s taboo for IF folks to admit that some of them DO want twins. Thanks for the comment & sharing your perspective!

  2. Amanda says

    Well, I can’t talk about having twins or a fear of having them, but I can give the perspective of half of a twin set. I have a twin sister, as I think you know. My mom said that raising us as babies was easier because we got on the same schedule. We had less problems sleeping and slept through the night very quickly. She also had to entertain us less, as we had a perpetual playmate. It was our terrible teens, not our terrible twos that was double difficult. As a twin, I can say that competition was higher because we were doing everything at the same time. However, while I am not crazy close with my twin, many many twins I know experience a very close sibling bond.

    Personally? Though I will welcome whatever future hypothetical babies enter my life, I would not personally chose to parent twins after growing up as one-half of a pair.

    • Keiko says

      Amanda, I’m so glad you commented – I was hoping you would :) So, let me throw this into the mix. It’s so interesting to hear your perspective that yes, being a twin is pretty rad, no matter how close you are with your sister or not, but from a parenting perspective, you’d rather not.

      • Amanda says

        That pretty much sums it up. I cant compare what it would have been like with a sibling who was older or younger, because it is just the two of us, and you also have the added factor or my sister being deaf, but there were some challenging sibling dynamics that I haven’t witnessed as much in sibling sets of different ages.

        I don’t know if my perspective would change if I was dealing with infertility, but I think that I would prefer to be able to focus on my children individually at their various points of development. The tendency to compare twins, consciously or unconsciously, i think is so strong and is done by both the parents and the twins themselves. Just my two cents. Also? On a lighter note, the dressing alike thing bugs the crud out of me. Lol

  3. Elana Kahn says

    Life with twins is crazy, but it’s worth it to see them interact with each other. It’s expensive, time-consuming and headache-producing, but if it happens you deal with it and that’s all you can do. Sometimes people get to a point with infertility – usually when you’re “older” (say late thirties or forties) – you are just so completely desperate and maybe you’d like to have a “bigger” family, so you want to jump start things with twins. It happens. I know I wanted twins when I got pregnant with mine. Do I regret having them? Nope. Is it a challenge? For sure. But I can’t imagine my life any other way. :-) But I would never, EVER do it again. So should I need fertility treatments in the future I would *always* do a single embryo transfer. Especially now with three (B”H) children, I’m no longer in that “desperate to have children RIGHT THIS SECOND” phase, so I don’t mind doing that. Whereas during that fateful IVF cycle I wanted to be pregnant so badly I was insistent on transferring both embryos. It was always the plan to transfer two.

    • Keiko says

      Elana, thank you so much for commenting (PS, I miss you!). I have always been impressed with your ability to parent 3 children – I know it has been crazy in the past so I’m glad you chimed in to this discussion.

      Thanks also for the perspective on embryo transfers. I think for us, right now, we’re thinking one (in this donor cycle that exists solely in my head right now). At the consult we had last year, the doc said that unless they I produced pretty crappy embies, he normally recommends to transfer one (at least when it comes to donor cycles).

      As for the age perspective, that seems to be the trend I’m seeing in the comments as I read down the thread. The older you are, the less terrifying the prospect of twins becomes. I guess chalk my paranoia up to being “young” (but G-d, 29 does not feel young anymore).

      • Elana Kahn says

        It’s interesting. Even though we always were going to transfer two, G-d seemed to be pointing us in that direction the whole time. We were only left with two embryos to transfer and nothing to freeze. The two transferrable embryos – one was great quality (10 cells, grade B) and the other was not so great (5 cells, grade C). Even if we were only going to transfer one, what would they have done with the second embryo that wasn’t looking so great? Well, it probably wouldn’t have made it to freeze, so it would have died. I couldn’t have handled that thought ethically, so I would have told them to transfer it anyway. In either case, they told me not to get my hopes up for twins. Ha! Embryo quality isn’t everything. :-)

  4. Hope says

    I have always loved the idea of having twins, but I think it’s mainly because I hated being an only child so much. I also have done a lot of child care work, including twins, multi-age sibling groups, and single children, or children with siblings who are more than 3 years older or younger than them, and I have to say, I find it easier to get along with and care for children with siblings who are close in age. My biggest worry, actually, is ending up only being able to have one child, and in my ideal world, I’d have 3 within the space of 4-6 years. So I’m pretty much the opposit of you on this whole spectrum.

    And just for the record, I actually don’t have a strong gender preference. I love both boys and girls. And I’d love to have at least one of each. And I can’t decide whether I’d rather have a boy or a girl for my firstborn. And I think I’d even be happy with a family of all boys or all girls. I can see advantages to both possibilities, although I’m sure I would feel some regret at missing out on getting a chance to parent a child of the gender I didn’t have.

    • Keiko says

      Hope, thank you for your comment. It’s interesting to consider the perspective of someone who’s been an only child. I have an older sister (8 years +) so while we grew up together, there was definitely a huge gap in my younger years with both of our abilities to relate to one another. It’s an age difference that I can only transcend now that I’m older- we relate SO much better now as adults. I mean, it’s hard when I’m sitting around playing with Barbies while she’s picking colleges, yanno?

      And I totally admit my preference for girls is because I’ve grown up with a sister. I totally own that :)

  5. JM says

    I feel like it’s almost taboo in the ART community to *want* twins. Like those that do are judged for admitting it. Whether the reason it financial, that the clock is running down, or that you want the novelty/attention of it, those that admit to wanting twins are a bit stigmatized. Like they’re not really infertile, they’re just doing it for the twin-factor.

    I go back and forth. I’m three years further down the road than I wanted to be having my first child. I had been hoping to be close to trying for #3 at this point, if IF had never struck. I’m facing an FET next month, and the question of transferring one or two embryos is a hot topic. We’re going with two, but don’t really know what to hope for. Like you said, we all have that canned response of “I don’t care as long as (s)he or it/them is healthy. Deep down? I just don’t know.

    • Keiko says

      JM, you hit it spot on, even though I hadn’t really thought about that when I first wrote this yesterday, although it’s true – I totally know folks who are like “Bring on the twins!” but say so in very hushed voices.

      Wishing you much luck on your FET!

  6. Drew says

    This has been a big discussion in our house recently, as we just finished our first IVF cycle. My husband and I were both of the mindset that twins would be just fabulous, and due to the cost of treatment, we’d want to hedge our bets and transfer two embryos. But then I started doing some investigation, and read and listened to what really goes on with twin birth and pregnancy, NICU stays, etc., and I became convinced that a single embryo transfer (I’m young and quite short – good for success rates, bad for twins) was the way to go. Now I’m just terrified of identical twins, since they’re so much more high risk than fraternal. Because seriously, the worrying with infertility never seems to stop.

    • Keiko says

      “Because seriously, the worrying with infertility never seems to stop.”

      That’s really what it all comes down to. It always comes back to the worrying. Wishing you much luck on this cycle… from what I can infer in your comment, it seems like you got a BFP?

  7. Delenn says

    Oh, I am so with you. I was majorly worried when we were hit by Secondary Infertility and I knew we were going to do IVF. My son has Special Educational issues and I already knew that having another child would add more chaos into the mix. No way did I want an EXTRA child on top of that. I could not picture it, financially or otherwise working for us. And I “know” that if it had come down to it, I would have decided on reduction if need be to keep it down to just one child. (I hear from my husband that we would have had words about that, because he was firmly on the side of “let it be what it will be”)

    Luckily, for us, we did get just a singleton.

    Now, on the other hand…my brother (who is 8 years younger than me)…they had IVF–and have twin girls. They are lucky in the fact that they have family to help with babysitting…and while I love my nieces, I can see how it is a struggle for them.

    • Keiko says

      Delenn, you get bonus points for being the first to mention reduction in this context. I deliberately chose not to write about reduction because this is something that Larry and I are only really comfortable talking about in private. But you raise a valid point: what about high-order multiples? I’m not talking about extreme examples like the Gosselins or Nadya Suleman, but what about triplets? Quads?

      Again, all likely possibilities and reduction, as loaded a term as it can be, is one of those things that may need to enter into the conversation.

      Thanks for the comment!

  8. Rebecca says

    I would welcome twins if I get this current IVF to produce them. However, with that being said I don’t think it would be wise for me to wish for them. I have high blood pressure to begin with and a heart murmur that at times hurts like H*LL!

    I’m not sure at my age, 42, I could take the stress of carrying two or more babies at once.

    In a dream world I’d have a nanny to take care of them while I heal from a C-section. A Cesarian section is almost guaranteed given my age. Being an Army Wife it means I can’t afford a nanny and my spouse won’t have much time at home to help me out either. LOL I’ll be lucky if he is home when I go into labor!

    So no I wouldn’t want twins but I’ll take what I get and learn from it.

    • Keiko says

      Rebecca, thanks for your comment. You get bonus points for talking about C-sections… something that hadn’t even crossed my mind and something that fills me with complete mortal terror. Another item to add to the Twins: Cons column.

      Wishing you much luck on your cycle!

  9. Chickenpig says

    I was scared to death of having twins. Then I had them, and I knew why! Just kidding…mostly.

    First off: No matter what you read, there is no reason why you can’t have a healthy twin pregnancy. If you go into any NICU they’ll be full of singletons. It is impossible in most cases to know if twins in the NICU wouldn’t have been in the NICU if they were singletons. Full term for twins is 36 weeks, because they mature faster than singletons. The average weight of a twin born in the US is 6 lbs. Pretty hefty.

    The first year with twins is HARD. Incredibly hard. But I wouldn’t say that the expense is that greater than having two kids of different ages. Yeah, you think you’ll be able to re use that crib or car seat, but if you have your kids 4 years apart chances are you won’t. You’ll lose them, or they’ll get mousey in storage, or your first kid will have chewn the crap out of it…whatever.

    Most parents of twins would never do it again, if they had the choice. Myself included. But…. I love my boys and I wouldn’t change them for the world. If they weren’t twins, they wouldn’t be them. Also, having two babies moving around in my belly was WAY cool. And watching them be twinny, and grow as individuals in their twin relationship has been priceless.

    • Keiko says

      Oh Chickenpig (G-d, I can’t help but chuckle every time I see your handle around here) – I’m so glad you weighed in. I know you’ve got the brutal candor around here that I both welcome and appreciate :) You never tiptoe around anything.

      You raise a great point about reusing items for kids spaced 4 years apart – hadn’t thought of that. And from what I’ve been reading, it looks like parents of twins seem to feel the same: they love their kids, but if they could have a Time Travel Mulligan, would not do again.

      Also, having two babies moving around in my belly was WAY cool. And watching them be twinny, and grow as individuals in their twin relationship has been priceless.

      Total infertile lady pang in my gut. I bet that is pretty rad :)

  10. Charlotte says

    I was very clear with my RE about only doing a single embryo transfer for this very reason, and all of the non-IF people in my life were really surprised. “But you want two children, right? Why not do it in one production run!” Then again, my uncles are twins and they’re just as close as can be, and it’s a wonderful thing to see.

    • Keiko says

      Great comment, Charlotte. It’s interesting to hear that other folks were actually pushing for twins for you!

  11. Silver says

    Like Charlotte, I resisted encouragement to have more than a SET, partly because I have health issues that would make carrying multiples even riskier than it is – and don’t let’s fool ourselves because the risks to mother and babies of anything more than one are real. The other reason was that I was plain terrified of the responsibility – and I was right about that, for me, anyway. I found dealing with one (colicky) baby VERY hard in the early days and not exactly easy even now he’s one. I am BEYOND delighted to be a parent and I love him more than life itself, literally, but it’s REALLY tough at times. So, no, I wanted one live baby and one live mummy and to minimise the trauma of the early days for both of us!

    • Keiko says

      Silver, thank you for your candor. I think sometimes there’s such a pressure in the infertility community that’s like “we have to be happy with whatever we get” and that to admit that yes, parenting is some seriously hard work, twins or otherwise, is like admitting “well maybe you should be parenting in the first place”, so I really appreciate you being so open about what can be a very harsh reality for parents post-infertility. Thanks for commenting!

  12. Kimberly says

    Honestly, I came to terms with the possibility of twins long ago. But this was long before our infertility diagnosis because my mom is a twin. Her grandmother was a twin. And out of both my mom and her twin sister, they didn’t have any twins. My chances were high to begin with. The chances that at least one of the 4 kids that my mom and her sister had will produce twins? Super high and I’ll be the first one to test this theory as I’m the oldest of the 4 kids and the only one remotely ready to have kids. I worry, yes, but overall I came to terms with it. If its meant to happen, it will happen.

    My husband, on the other hand, is petrified. 100% freaked out about the concept of twins. Hubby is worried about the early stuff the lack of sleep, the food, diapers, buying everything in doubles, where I worry less about that and more about the long term stuff like college funds.

    • Keiko says

      The history of twins in your family is really cool, I have to say Kimberly! And I neglected to put in my post: my husband is also not too keen on the idea of twins (caveat being, we’d be happy with whatever we can have and would love them regardless).

      If its meant to happen, it will happen.

      It sounds so simple, but it really is true. It’s the kind of thing I need to remind myself once I start winding up The Infertility Worry Machine, that really, apart from a very few things, there’s very little I can control.

      • Kimberly says

        I know it sounds simple, but it did take me a while to come to terms with it all. And honestly, I did have a pregnancy scare in the early stages of our relationship and I did panic because I knew the chances of twins and I didn’t think we could handle it then, that if it did happen, it would be a strain on our still new relationship. I freaked out. Its why I was always extra careful before we were ready for kids.

        But I understand the freaking out. We have so little control over everything related to how our bodies work when it comes to getting pregnant that we start worrying about everything else to take our minds off of the other stuff. Its a vicious cycle. :)

  13. Esperanza says

    I’m kind of surprised that you didn’t mention the high (much higher than for parents of singletons) rate of divorce in parents of multiples. Maybe it’s because you are so sure you and Larry will be together forever. ;)

    I have to admit, I used to (read: before having a baby) think that having twins was no big thang. I mean, I babysat two sets of twins (both had siblings – a set of girl twins with an older sister and a set of boy twins with TWO older brothers) and I could handle it, right? Then I had my daughter and I was like, oh HELLZ NO! I could NOT do this with two. NO EFFING WAY. So yeah. I get your fear. It’s totally understandable. I think parents of twins probably get it too. ;)

    I totally understand what you mean, about everything being so uncertain so in an attempt to find some kind of control you grasp at certain worries and obsess over them. It’s a natural way of dealing with unknown, I’m sure.

    I was also wondering why you want to space your children four years apart. Could you tackle that in a post some day?

    (PS I had oatmeal for breakfast today! And I was in bed by 10:30pm last night! :)

    • Keiko says

      Oh Esperanza, I didn’t even know about that divorce statistic. Thanks for that ;) (I keed, I keed. Seriously though, did not know that, but totally makes sense.)

      As for spacing them 4 years apart… there’s an 8 year gap b/t my sister and I that you know, if I were in control of the world, I wish wasn’t so wide. I mentioned up-thread that my sister and I haven’t been able to really appreciate each other until our adulthood. Larry and his younger sister are 4 years apart and I’ve kind of admired that spacing. I know “average” is like 2 years apart, but I just feel like for those first 5-6 years, it would be constant baby/toddler stuff all the time, which, from what I’ve observed, is the most exhausting part. I figure 4 years provides a little cushion of “Okay, I’m ready for diapers and bottles again.”

      Weirdly now, as I’ve typed this response, I also feel a pang of anticipated disappointment: what if we only ever get to have one child? Larry would really like just one, but from the perspective of someone who’s a younger sibling, I think kids just do better in pairs – nice, non-twinned few years apart pairs :)

      And – hooray for breakfast! I was late to a seminar this morning b/c I deliberately made myself stop and grab a box of granola bars on the way :) It’s made a HUGE difference with how I feel overall in just over a week already.

  14. Daryl says

    I actually had a dream last night that I gave birth to twins. Weird. My husband is positively giddy at the idea of twins or even triplets, and he thinks there’s a higher chance we’ll get them because we’re doing IVF (eventually). But that’s assuming we transfer more than one embryo, and that if we do, more than one stick. I might be okay with twins, but I don’t think I could handle more than that. But I’m like you, in that I worry about things I have no business worrying about (yet).

    • Keiko says

      ~~~weird dream vibes~~~

      I have that effect of just getting into people’s dreams, apparently ;) That’s interesting that your husband is jazzed about twins – mine is very much the opposite. That’s what I need to commit to this year: learning to drop the unnecessary worries.

  15. Justine says

    I am friends with a couple who has been in infertility treatments. They’ve been remarkably successful each time, and have two children, two years apart. They wanted a third, and apparently got triplets. And then scheduled a “reduction.”

    I had a really hard time with that one. Having lost multiple pregnancies of my own, and knowing that she, too, lost one, I thought: are you crazy? And how can you destroy the life that you so desperately wanted? (Yeah, did I mention they also have a full time nanny for the first two?) On the other hand, I get it. They already have two kids, and they didn’t want three more. They are now pregnant with twins, and are preparing for their arrival. Both boys.

    It’s been harder for me to talk with them lately, though. I suspect I’ll get over it, but I’ve felt terribly conflicted about it.

    • Keiko says

      Justine, thank you so much for your comment. It really took my breath away in knowing your history. Reduction is a very touchy subject for me, and one that I mention up-thread, that Larry and I pretty much keep to ourselves. I wrestle with those same emotions: how can you “reduce” a life that was so desperate wanted? How do you even choose? But everyone has different circumstances. Who are we to judge?

      (Even though, yeah, we totally do it all the time.)

      I think it’s perfectly fine for you to feel conflicted. I know you’ll reach out to them in your own time, but the pain of what their choice means to you is valid and real.

  16. robin says

    My husband’s cousin had twins (no meds). She said at first it was CRAZY. But then… they entertained themselves! They played with each other, they were / are each others’ friend. It seems like at first twins are overwhelming when they are just eating/pooping blobs, but once they start to notice others around them they can actually become maybe a little easier? Or maybe it’s just all relative to the craziness of two eating/pooping blobs.

    I used to run youth groups and teach after school and the incidence of twins was so insane. My high school youth group one time (which was pretty small) had two sets of identical twins that were BFF. They used to sit across the table from each other so it looked like there was a mirror going straight down the table. I’m good with faces so I could tell them apart even when they wore similar clothing, which they thought was hilarious and amazing.

    • Keiko says

      Robin, thanks for sharing. This is a great comment, from the image of “eating/pooping blobs” (because truly, that’s what babies are for the first 3 months) to this mirror image at your high school youth group. I will say, the idea of them entertaining themselves certainly seems attractive – it’s just all the REST that seems a bit daunting ;)

  17. Jjiraffe says

    Oy. What a question!

    There are significant real challenges that parents of twins face. The majority of mothers usually are not back to work until their children are at least six (because of the very unique and expensive childcare needed), most face larger financial issues, are more poor, and marriages and relationships are more likely to fail than with non-twin marriages. This was from a study done in the UK which I can
    dig up. It was fascinating.

    The main advice I remember from this book about “surviving twins” that I read was a personal quote from a harried dad of toddler twins. He said something like: “We decided to drain all of our savings just to throw money at the problem and get help. You have to!”

    I don’t know. It’s really hard, it’s really expensive but there are some definite pluses: the relationship between the two is very specific and close. They urge each other forward in a way I didn’t know was possible. They spoke earlier than other kids, they are uniquely confident in a way I don’t see from singletons. They know someone has their back. They are able to rely on each other, and that lessens my load in a way.

    I did love most of the attention I got from being a twins mom. That sounds weird, but sometimes I feel like a celebrity when I am out with them. People are fascinated by twins, even now that they are more common. They are fascinated by how the pregnancy worked, how you dealt with doing everything when they were so little. A lot of people tell you you are a SuperMom for being able to handle such a load. So basically, there’s some flattery. And because I am shallow, I enjoyed that. ;)

    • Keiko says

      Jjiraffe, such an insightful comment – thank you! I also didn’t even think about the downtime associated with raising newborn twins. If you have a link to the UK study you can post here or email me, I’d love to take a read.

      I enjoy hearing about how your twins have interacted and from a purely developmental standpoint, it seems like twins do each other good.

      As for the attention-getting – HA! I love the honesty here. Is part of getting pregnant wanting some of that amazing mommy-to-be attention? Yes, I’ll own that. It’s not the sole motivation, but hey, it’s a nice bonus :)

  18. claire says

    I actually think about the twin things a lot too… and I am in the now imminent donor egg cycle in sight.. so i am also thinking about lot about something that is very very theoretical.

    I did my first DE cycle overseas. In a country that has a public health system. Where they really push single embryo transfers.. so much so that the 2 cycles they cover (sorry this is like salt in the wound i know… ), unless the embryos really look fragile, they’ll do one transfer, then freeze them, and then pay for each transfer there after. They call a cycle one retrieval and all the transfers from that.

    For them it is in their best interests because they have to pay for all the complications and NICU. And while many many individuals might skip that, at the group level that health system has chosen to pay for the freezing and multiple transfers of single embryos.

    I was pretty devastated when I walked in and they said ‘we’re going for 2 today’ because i knew right then that there was nothing to freeze and the chances were low.

    But now when we are planning for another cycle… I really really want to go back to NZ to do one because I don’t want the financial pressures to be involved in my decision making. I really want to do SET again… well I want the option of SET and multiple transfers…

    But back to your question…. Two of my closest kid friends (like nephews really) are identical twins. Those first 2-3 years were really tough.. but now I see lots of benefits. They always have a sibling interested in similar aged activities. My other two closest kid friends are 3 years apart but the youngest does a really good job of acting 3 years older than she is, so she nearly acts like a twin. Seeing these kids (and I also have 2 really good friends my age who are twins), i think WOW that is one of the best ways to go!

    And then I go to work… as a speech therapist… and do child and birth histories with new clients. And that is the other side of the story. Some birth complications are life long experiences with therapists, IEPs at school, special doctor visits… I know many people who is that typically developing twin, and the other twin has various disabilities. This is my biggest fear — not the special needs… since I was 15 it has been normal in my life to be in charge of 3,4 even 5 kids with autism and take these groups for adventures around town — nor having 2 kids with different needs — the fear is of having 2 kids the same age, but needed very different supports. I am in awe of the parents who are raising a kid with a disability and a twin who isn’t and making sure both get what they need and you don’t get spread too thin.

    • Keiko says

      Claire, your comment is just fascinating. Thank you for sharing your story! No salt in the wound at all – I’m lucky I live in a mandated state, so it’s similar to a public health system setup. It’s not surprising they encourage SET, if only as you mentioned for the costs associated with multiples during pregnancy and after their born. It’s also interesting to note that at least here in the States, mandated states actually have fewer instances of multiples from fertility treatments than those without mandates. (It comes from a “put as many as you can back there b/c we’re paying out of pocket for this” mentality, whereas mandated states have the “luxury” of SETs.)

      I also hadn’t considered the possibility of different developmental needs within a set of twins. A daunting challenge for any parent for sure.

  19. Liz says

    I always thought it would be fun to have twins and I was a little freaked out, but also really excited when I found out that we were having twins after a round of fertility treatment. I had them at 37 weeks and they were each 7 pounds – no NICU time, we all went home together. They are 9 months old now and pure joy. Yeah, it’s hard at times, I’m really busy, and it’s expensive. But I hear the exact same thing about having one baby! This is going to sound super smarmy, but sometimes I wonder what people with one baby do with themselves. Having twins is all I know, so to me, it’s not more overwhelming than being a first-time parent would be anyway. And my husband was forced to do more parenting right away, more than he would have been able to if we had one baby. Sometimes I feel guilty that I can’t give 100% to each kid, but it is what it is. The giant stroller is also a pain in the butt sometimes, especially in stores. I feel so incredibly blessed, especially because I had infertility and always wanted at least two kids – now I don’t have to stress about whether or not I’m able to have another. If we have another naturally, then that would be wonderful, but if not, our boys already have a brother.

    • Keiko says

      Liz, thanks for your honesty and candor. I love this:

      This is going to sound super smarmy, but sometimes I wonder what people with one baby do with themselves.

      :) At the end of the day, it’s totally about blessings. As I’ve learned from many, many instances in my life, they are often disguised in one way or another.

  20. Katie says

    The thought of twins terrifies me but the thought of going through more years of infertility to have another one scares me more. Bring on the twins!

  21. Betsy says

    VERY interesting comments! I think I have gotten a lot out of reading them. We are starting injections for our first IVF this week (EEK!) and there has been lots of discussion about 1 or 2 embryo transfers. I want one, my husband is not as sure.

    My biggest fears with having twins is the cost and giving them the attention they need. And the cost not so much as in diapers and “things” but the “oh crap we just emptied our bank account to afford to have you two, and now I can’t afford to stay home with you but I sure as hell can’t afford to put BOTH of you in daycare! So here goes our house on the market and a trailerpark…” <– That's the money part that scares me. And then I worry that they won't get the attention they need at the big events of their life b/c they will have a sibling RIGHT THERE going through that thing at the same time – birthdays, graduations, etc that they will have to share with another person. If I'm a kid, I want all my parents' attention on graduation day! Maybe I'd feel different if I had a kick ass sister though.

    But I do want more than one child as I was an only child until I was 13 and I was super bored and lonely. I want my kids to have siblings but not sure if I want that to happen via twins. But the commenters that are pro twins after having twins are definitely encouraging.

    Good discussion!

    • Keiko says

      Hi Betsy, thanks for commenting! I’ve learned so much from all the comments here too – I’m glad I decided to man up and finally post about this, because the comments alone have been worth it.

      I’m with you on the financial aspect, and as much as I hate to say it, the financial investment we’ll be making just to HAVE children, let alone, yanno, feed & clothe them once they’re born.

      Here’s hoping your first IVF cycle is your ONLY cycle – good luck with all those injections and for the rest of the cycle!

  22. Aimee says

    Your post hit me hard because my younger sister just had twins in July. When she told my husband that they were expecting twins, and he told me, I freaked. This is her second pregnancy – she can end up with 3 kids and I can’t even have one?! I would love twins…or at least the idea of twins…as a first pregnancy.

    My sister went almost full term, and had a labor tons quicker than her first. So that part was great for her. But seeing her get only 4 hours of sleep a day, seeing that the babies will not stay on the same schedule and only one will take a bottle, seeing her have to put them to sleep in two different rooms because they wake each other up…that makes me a bit less excited about the whole twin prospect.

    Of course after 8 years, I’ll take whatever multiple of offspring I can get. As another commenter said, I might only end up with one chance at a pregnancy, so I want to make it count ;)

  23. Alexicographer says

    I’m no longer in the trenches. I climbed out of them after, well, it depends what you count, but around a half dozen IVF cycles (a total of 8 embryo transfers including FETs), taking with me one kid after achieving exactly one singleton clinical pregnancy (and maybe a few chemicals, but very faint ones), and leaving behind my hopes of having two children.

    I never wanted twins. I know there’s no Pain Olympics, so I say this not to reflect badly on others who have made different decisions or had different outcomes, but I was always entirely clear that for me, there are things worse than never being pregnant (most involving loss, some perhaps including disability and/or medical crises), and that having a twin pregnancy would significantly increase my prospects of experiencing those.

    That said, except in my very last IVF, I always put back 2 embryos. This was against the advice of every RE I worked with, who always advocated for more (when they were available, which was actually only 3 cycles + the last one about which, see below). My DOR status made any pregnancy unlikely, and multiples still more. And in a pinch, I decided I was willing to face the (lowish and ultimately unrealized) prospect of twins — but not more. I was down to the wire on that when on my last (and unsuccessful; I did 1 FET and 2 fresh attempts after our son was born, none worked) IVF I did put back 3, but in a context where with 6/7 prior attempts not having led to pregnancy at all, at the age of 41, and having been told the 3rd of my 3 embryos wasn’t good enough to freeze — well, in it went. But I agonized, and it annoyed me that my RE, though perfectly able to assure me I had a low chance of twins and still lower of triplets was nonetheless unable to tell me whether putting back 3 instead of 2 improved my prospects of achieving any pregnancy (let alone a healthy pregnancy) at all.

    Which really is the issue, and it disturbs me how few REs can answer, or have even thought about, that question — does putting back one “more” embryo, after however many one has decided on, improve the chances of achieving pregnancy? Taking home a baby? (For a youngish woman and/or youngish eggs, the answer to both those questions is generally “no” or “not much, and not at all as compared to one fresh and one frozen transfer.”).

    (Also omitted from many discussions, including this one so far, is the reality that as far as we can tell — they aren’t tracked nearly as closely — the less invasive and less expensive approaches to treatment — stims + intercourse or + IUI — are more responsible than is IVF in contributing to the rise in multiple births)

    And it’s tough. Because whatever you want, you are making decisions based on probabilities that may or may not turn out well for you and your offspring. So I’m not going to say what I did was “right” and different choices would have been “wrong” (or vice-versa). Truthfully, I am happy with where I ended up, even given that I have given up that dream of a second child (I think). But it’s possible that had I not insisted on (just) a DET with my first cycles, I’d now be happily mothering 2 — whether twins or a singleton born from one of those cycles and another subsequent singleton. It’s possible that I’d be mourning my lost twins and mothering my subsequent singleton — or mothering no baby at all born to me. There’s just no way to know, and of course that goes for each and every one of us. It’s hard. Every decision I made, I was able to think, “If I try this and it doesn’t work [however defined], will I regret having tried it?” and I kept going as long as the answer was “no.” But it’s still hard.

    (And intending no offense to those who expressed it, I don’t buy the “if it’s meant to happen” idea. I’ve been around here too long and seen too much tragedy to believe that, e.g., Cecily’s loss of Nicholas and Zachary was “meant to be.”)

  24. Lisa Stark says

    I have twins from IVF and then a year later I had a “oh by the way your infertility is cured baby” naturally so I have twins and a third a year younger which is pretty much triplets. Is it hard? Yes! Every single day is hard and packed and busy. And I wouldn’t change a thing. After struggling with infertility I am so thankful for my wonderful,healthy, crazy kids. Never for one second do I forget the days when I was desperate to have one child. And to echo what another twin mamma said, I too wonder about the women who can barely handle one. I guess god gives us what we can handle. So, have faith. You and Larry can do it. That is the other plus of twins. The husbands can’t sit on the sidelines. They are in the trenches from day one.

  25. Jenn says

    When we were going through IVF, I definitely harbored what I thought was a sincere hope to have twins. Knowing that we might not ever get another chance, and that I’d always wanted more than one child, I really thought it’d be great to have two at once.

    When we found out we are having one, there was a momentary twinge of regret. (Thrilled to be pregnant, but slightly jealous of my friends online who were expecting twins.)

    But, I will say that that momentary twinge was followed by a surge of overwhelming, powerful relief!! I couldn’t believe how worried I had been about having twins! I must have been masking the worry by turning it into hope, because once the reality set in, I was so, so happy to be expecting one. All the omg-what-was-I-thinking feelings kicked in and I realized I was not prepared for two at once.

    So, while I’m sure we would have handled twins just fine, I realize now that I was secretly terrified of them and refused to allow that feeling to take hold. Kudos to you for realizing it and addressing it!!!

  26. Marci says

    I was hoping for twins and especially for a girl/boy set, so I could be done and feel like I didn’t HAVE to go back for more ART. I love my baby girl, but our family doesn’t feel complete with just one. Before we had baby girl, I actually didn’t care what we had. After two miscarriages, and 7 IUIs, and years of drugs and shots, holding my own baby really was all the mattered. I sometimes had preferences or pictured myself with a boy or a girl, but I’d be as likely to want a girl today as a boy tomorrow, so net result, no real preference. She far exceeded my minimum requirements though. She’s lively, intelligent, inquisitive, and as hoped, healthy.

    And part of me wonders how I’d have coped if she had been twins, given the amount of running me ragged she is doing by herself, but I’m sure I’d have found a way.

  27. Rebekah says

    The thought of twins (again) terrifies me. I was pregnant with twins from ART and lost one. The pain of going through IF and the countless DE speeches, then the loss of a twin (we found out at 20 weeks) and then the complications from the rest of that pregnancy, delivering the 2nd placenta . . . leaves me feeling robbed of the whole pg experience (as if I hadn’t already been robbed). Now we are adding a donor egg cycle several years later and the thought of 2 scares/worries me. When all I really wanted was to have a miracle cure from IF. At the same time I think sheepishly, was that too much to ask? Thank you for writing this; it was beautifully articulated.

  28. onceamother says

    I won’t lie to you and say that having twins is easy, but it certainly does have its advantages. My 10 month old twins have never had to learn to socialize, because they have known how to play with others since birth. Unlike many mothers of singletons that I know, I can leave the room because they have the comfort and security of having one another around all the time. They aren’t scared to be put to bed at night, because their sibling is always there with them. Don’t get me wrong, all kids go through stages of clinginess, separation anxiety etc. when it comes to their parents, but I truly believe that this is less so with twins because while they might notice you are leaving the room to go to the bathroom (and not really like it) there is the other one there to distract them into playing until you come back. Then there is the beauty that is that extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning because they are playing peek-a-boo with eachother through their crib rails, rather than calling for me to come get them.

    There are certain milestones that really ONLY come with multiples – like when they first realize the other is a separate being from themselves, developing their own little language, inventing their own games – not to mention how just damn cute it is when they hold hands while I breastfeed them, or point out the world around them to one another. T

    Twins are overwhelming at times. For me the most overwhelming part, honestly, is not being able to run to the store without people stopping you every five feet to point out that you have twins, and they really should improve the whole stroller/door jamb equation, but at the end of the day, even though I may be more haggard than a mom of singletons (I can’t really compare, because my only singleton experience was with my extremely sick first child, and she never came home) and I may be more tired. Even though my boobs may be twice as saggy from tandem breastfeeding, my stomach twice as stretched, and my bank account twice as depleted. While I might deal with twice the spit up, and boogers, and have twice as many splatters of food across my shirt, or changed twice the diapers – I truly, TRULY wouldn’t have it any other way.

    And no, I’m not just saying that. ;)

  29. Amy says

    I always thought twins would be cool until I was pregnant. The thought of two then terrified me. The thought of two infants is horrifying. That was serious the hardest thing I ever did in my life (living through the infancy stage of my daughter). But now that I have a 14 month old….totally jealous of my friends whose kids have playmates. But I still would only want one at a time. But really with having one (5 years ttc) I’m not even sure I want a second. It’s seriously hard work.

  30. maryevelyn says

    As an infertile who got lucky with IVF number one with a singleton, I have to say that I wish it had been twins. Since the birth of my daughter I have had 2 FETs and one IVF and all hae resulted in miscarriages. I can’t afford any more cycles, and I hate that my daughter will grow up alone. Had she been a twin, I wouldn’t have all this guilt about her missing out on the sibling relationship.
    Just another perspective…

  31. Lindsay says

    It’s funny you posted about this, after dealing with infertility and two IUI cycles later, we are 9 weeks pregnant and expecting twins! I was relieved when I saw two on the screen instead of the 6 I feared might be in there(too many episodes of raising sextuplets and texas multi-mamas to blame for this). I am grateful to be pregnant, but it’s scary thinking about financial costs, parenting two babies and I hadn’t thought about people not wanting to babysit two babies until your post(now another worry to add to the list) I have been extra nauseous, they say twin pregnancies can make you doubly nauesous. I wouldn’t have chosen twins if given a choice but when it happens,you accept the reality you are given and make do. I don’t know what I’m in for yet, I guess we’ll see. I also secretly or not so secretly hope for either a boy and a girl or two girls while my hubby wants two boys. the thought of two boys scares me a bit, envisioning wild hyper active boys who refuse to be toilet trained. I agree that most people have a tendency regarding boys/girls, I just feel I am meant to raise a girl, but I will love whoever I end up getting. Good luck with your journey! Thanks for the post about twins.

  32. Jenn says

    I always wanted twins and after dealing with years of infertility was so excited to learn we were expecting twins after IVF#2, unfortunately I went into early labor and lost both of them. It really annoys me when people get so excited over the thought of twins but don’t think how high risk the pregnancy with them really is. After my loss I changed dr’s because I felt if I was watched a little closer I might not have lost my babies.

  33. Rebecca says

    It’s been incredibly interesting to read everyone’s responses. I’m currently pregnant with twins after IVF and I’m thrilled. I’m also terrified. But, more than anything, I’m just afraid of getting them both here healthy. The possible complications keep me constantly nervous. After that, yeah, the amount of work and commitment involved with two seems overwhelming sometimes. And, I fear sometimes that I won’t have the individual bonding experience with each. But, I also am so excited to see them interact with each other.

    I think for me, like some said above, age is a factor here. I’m 37 and really want to have two children (I have “I was an only child and don’t want to have only children” syndrome). So, given that my eggs seem already to be shutting down, we’d have to work on the next one immediately after the first one is here. And, the thought of going through IVF again (we have one frozen embryo) both physically and emotionally and, let’s face it, financially scares the crap out of me. When we found out that both embryos “stuck” some of that went away.

    And, assuming it worked, we’d likely have to deal with a toddler and an infant simultaneously — in some ways, it seems like it might be easier to have two that are at the same stage of development rather than at two equally dependent but very different stages of development. (Of course, I realize that having two at any stage of development is going to be absolutely chaos.)

  34. Rebecca says

    I love everything about having my twin 3 and a half year old girls. Yes, it was a risky pregnancy and I had a scary delivery, and they did need nicu time, but I would not change a thing. We just had to have faith that God would see us through even the hardest times and He did. As far as money is concerned, Nicu is usually paid for by insurance and most twin moms don’t need it for more than a couple weeks if at all, I had other conditions that led to early delivery. If you’re worried about paying for diapers and clothes, use cloth diapers which are easy these days, and join a twin club or find the moms of multiples facebook page to buy twin clothing from very cheaply. Feeding them, nursing twins is an amazing way of bonding and shedding pregnancy weight fast. It saves a ton of money. Also, puree your own baby food which is easy and also saves money. These are things you can do with one baby too to save and it’s also healthier for the baby to have fresh organic fruits turned into baby food.

    The early days were hard, a lot of work, but I had my mom to help me out when my hubby went back to work. I had them on a routine and it really wasn’t all that bad, it was all I knew so to me it was norm. We fed them at night at the same time when one woke up, we woke the other and fed and put them back down. I didn’t get out much with the twins unless I had help, but when they were one, we made some mommy friends and that was fun. These girls are the best of friends and really love being together most of the time. They have each other to entertain themselves and they can play for hours together, which allows me to get things done sometimes. Dressing them alike has always been the easiest for me, one outfit times two, and it’s also super cute too. Having twins is really special, people look at you and smile, because it is a really cool thing. And once they were potty trained, no more diapers, that’s the beauty of two the same age. They are both at the same stages all the time, which is fun to watch. I love having twins, it is the biggest blessing of my life. As long as a mom has a supportive husband, that is willing to be a dad and change diapers and feed them and do everything the mom also does, and family that can baby sit now and then for you to go on dates, if you have a chance for twins, take it. I prayed about it before our IVF, whether to put back one or two of the two we had. I was given a huge sign from God and I knew I was meant to have two. Try praying about it. If you love babies and children and want to be a mom, you will do just fine with two at a time if that is God’s will. :)

  35. Krissi Mcvicker says

    I am an identical twin and after 6 IVF cycles, I have an almost 5 year old and 2 year old boy/girl twins and I couldn’t be happier. I always had images of twins, about how great that would be as I did treatments. I put in 2 embryos each time (and got my daughter on the 3rd cycle) until I suffered a chemical pregnancy from my 4th IVF and decided to put in 3 embryos on the next FET and got NONE. When we put in another 3 on the next (and last) FET, we almost got triplets! YES, that terrified me. But, one stopped growing and we were left with twins and I was so relieved and excited! I did have many fearful thoughts about NICU time and keeping them healthy, and my pregnancy was difficult. But, I delivered them at healthy weights at 37 weeks 2 days, no NICU time at all. The first year was overwhelming, especially after the first month when I shattered the heel of my foot in a car accident and needed to be on crutches for 7 weeks!! If life with infant twins and a toddler was rough, add that into the mix and it was incredibly taxing and stressful, but I got through it. Onceamother put it best, even though it’s twice the craziness, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being a twin and being a mom of twins. It’s the greatest gift in the world! I know the bond I had and still have with my sister is like no other and the bond I see my twins have makes my heart melt. Of course they fight and get into things, and make twice the mess, poop, crumbs, screams, and interruptions of sleep, but it truly is ALL worth it. While I’m not looking forward to two college tuitions at the same time, and right now I’m just focusing on next year’s pre-school costs, having twins has many upsides too. One example: knowing they’re my last kids means when they’re done with diapers, I don’t have to buy ANY more even though I’m currently buying twice as much. If you do become pregnant with twins, don’t let the thought scare or overwhelm you, accept it as a double miracle and take it as it comes…it’s the only way. Good luck with your donor cycle!!