When I first began my journey towards becoming a mother, a visit with an infertility counselor was mandatory. It was a mostly predictable conversation for me where I was asked what I would do to cope with parenthood, the stress of treatments, and the potential that the treatments might not work, but then the counselor asked me a question I was not expecting, “What do you think you will do if you succeed…A LOT…as in you become pregnant with twins (or more)”. My response was, “Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!”.
Truthfully, before cancer, chemo, surgeries and the impending 4th decade laid waste to my ovaries, I actually had a genetic predisposition towards twins. Growing up, my family would always say “You know, every third generation is twins and guess where you fall?”. I have two sets of second cousin twins and my grandfather was a twin. I don’t know if it is true or not, but I was lead to believe, growing up, that I had a 90% chance of having twins. So, while the question the counselor posed was totally unexpected and I did go “Aaaaahhh” quite loudly, in reality, I did it mostly for comedic affect. But afterwards I thought to myself “Ha! Twins! I’ll be lucky if I can even fall pregnant.”
Guess who is laughing now?
I am a single mother by choice to almost 2 year old wonder twins! Over three years after that visit to the counselor, all my attempts with IUI and IVF had failed and I was given “the talk”, but in the end, I was blessed with a boy and a girl through IVF and embryo donation.
Since before I began trying to conceive, I had been involved with the Single Mother by Choice (SMC) community and in all that time I had only met one other single mother of twins. When I learned I was going to have two, I felt like a bit of an outsider in the SMC community. So, it was quite a surprise when the two women I had met at a recent conference when I was 11 weeks pregnant, both became pregnant with twins within 6 months of my pregnancy! Once their twins were born, it seemed all the twin SMCs started to come out of the woodwork. Our little offshoot of the SMC community has grown in the last year and it is an amazing resource for moral support and advice. As SMCs we all have an unique lifestyle and perspective that many of our non-SMC friends and family just don’t get, but mothers of multiples face even more unique challenges. It is something that cannot be put into words and can only truly be understood by someone who has walked in these footsteps.
Some of us were excited in the face of the initial news of multiples, but some of us were downright terrified. We all face unique challenges and our own moments of terror as our little ones grow, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. The most amazing part of this kinship for me, is the moral support. Whenever things get rough we can look to each other and say “Hey, she survived this. So can I!”. It’s such a gift to have examples to follow and sources for advice for our unique challenges.
Our little group includes everything from school teachers to surgeons. We all juggle our careers and our family in unique ways. Our children’s temperaments range from high needs to so laid back they are in danger of falling over. Many of us faced unique medical challenges associated with twin pregnancy, preterm birth (the average twin delivery is at 37 weeks), many of us had to endure NICU stays for our babies, and some of our babies were born with conditions more common with twins such as Torticollis and flat head syndrome. We are more likely to have to handle speech delays (and twin secret language development), nursing challenges, and so on. We also have to juggle our finances and deal with the frequent money hemorrhages and childcare costs that come with having a twofer. It’s funny and a bit silly to me now, but I hadn’t even thought about the fact that each checkup meant double the copays until we were at their first pediatric visit.
Ours is a story of hope and perseverance but most of all it is a story of immense blessing. Recently, some of the ladies got together for a playdate/photoshoot and seeing each of us caring for our two little monkeys and watching the children interact with each other was such a joy. The photographer, a married mother with TWO sets of twins herself, said she was amazed at how non-chaotic the event actually was and was truly impressed that we all had chosen to be single mothers and were all raising such amazing, healthy and happy little people. We even managed to get one photo where everyone was looking at the camera!
I’m sure there are some women out there reading this now who are considering medicated IUIs or IVF and are concerned about the chances of multiples. Or there may be other mothers of multiples or expecting mothers of twins or more out there who are struggling to relate to other SMCs who have just one child to focus on. To all of you, our little group is here to say, “You can survive this!” In fact, you may find that it is the most amazing and wonderful experience you have ever had. I only hope that all the other twin mommas out there are able to find a group as terrific as our little band of sisters.