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Feelings I experienced when expecting spontaneous twins and how to manage them (the feelings, not the twins)

Katie's twins, around two years old. They're sitting on the dining room floor, at home, eating dinner. They're wearing matching shirts: some elves in red hats with the text 'tis the season' underneath. Their empty plates have plenty of crumbs; their sippy cups are in front of them. Twin A (on the left) has food in her hand, and is smiling at someone who is to the left of the camera. Twin B is actively eating - mid-bite - and he is looking at the camera. The background is messy. We can see a mostly empty hamper and clothes strewn about the ground.

The first emotion I experienced was shock. Hearing the ultrasound tech at my 8 week appointment nonchalantly tell me, “Baby A is ...” What. The. Hell. Laying there, I laughed in disbelief.

The shock slowly wore off as the weeks progressed and was punctured by grief, overwhelm, and late night googling about vanishing twin syndrome as I digested my new reality that was likely I would be giving birth to two babies and would have two newborns to care for, in addition to my toddler daughter. I was grieving the life I thought I had and knew, and the future I’d anticipated. The mourning was real and valid and took time to process.

Acceptance arose as my family and I took steps to prepare for welcoming two babies into our lives. We shared the news with family and friends. We thought through logistics of where two babies would sleep in our home and did research on whether or not three carseats could fit across the back of our car. We thought through how to go for walks with three small children and how we could make life work with twins and toddler in a third floor walk up. Taking action aligned with our reality helped connect me with the feeling of acceptance.

All three of these feelings — shock, grief and acceptance — (along with numerous other emotions) coexisted at the start of my journey of being a parent to multiples. Feelings come and go. My shock and disbelief has evolved predominantly to awe. Grief does still show up occasionally, particularly when I’m exhausted and worn down. And acceptance has shifted to embracing my reality.

When a feeling arises, don’t judge it; don’t try to figure out what it means to be having that feeling. Notice your emotions and be curious about them and allow them to come and go, without attaching to them or putting meaning on them. Having feelings means you’re human. Being human is often messy. Just like having twins is often messy.

Written by Katie Hibey, LCPC, CYT


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