This was one of our first questions too, and it is surprisingly difficult to answer. Since we only discovered there were two babies at 20 weeks, apparently we will never be totally sure unless we have a DNA test done on the babies after they are born.
What we do know is that the babies each have their own amniotic sac and what appears to be one fused placenta. This means they are likely fraternal (dizygotic), or formed from two fertilized eggs. This is the most common kind of twin pregnancy. We are happy with this news because it generally lessens the risks associated with being pregnant with multiples.
Identical twins (monozygotic), who form from one fertilized egg that splits, generally grow in one sac and share a placenta. This can lead to risks such as Twin to Twin Transfusion. But identical twins can sometimes have their own sacs and placentas if they separate in the very early days of conception.
Clear as mud? Suffice it to say, we think they are probably fraternal, but we are not totally sure!
Q: Do twins run in your family?
Twins are all throughout Mark’s family tree. Mark’s siblings are twins, his mother is one of two sets of twins in her family, and his cousins are twins. In my family, twins are a less frequent: I have second cousins who are twins, but that’s about it.
This is because fraternal twins come from “hyper-ovulation,” or the release of more than one egg in a cycle, which is a trait that can only be passed down from the mother’s family. So even though the twin gene runs strong in Mark’s family, it has no link to our pregnancy!
Hyper-ovulation can also be caused by advancing maternal age, and I am 34 years old. It can also just be a random occurrence!
The night before my first ultrasound for this pregnancy, I was sitting in my rocking chair in the dark, just after putting Silas to bed. It was Mother’s Day, and I was reflecting on the new life growing in my belly. I was about halfway through the pregnancy at 19.5 weeks and had been feeling flutters for about a week and a half. I put my hand on my belly, which had really “popped” in the previous week, and felt so much movement. It was everywhere, from high up on my belly to my pelvic bone. How could this be? The baby was so small. Either this baby can move fast or… could it be? Twins? The thought was terrifying to me, and I quickly put it out of my mind.
The following morning, as we headed out the door for the ultrasound, I mentioned to Mark how I had the strangest feeling there could be twins. “No way,” he said, and we both laughed, as we buckled Silas in his car seat. Because that would be crazy.
Silas and Mark waited outside while the ultrasound tech took measurements of our little baby. We were so excited to find out the sex, and she suggested letting them wait outside before the big reveal. Time ticked by in the dark, quiet room and she moved the wand around my little bulging belly (to me at that point, it looked lopsided, which I thought was kind of funny). I felt very relaxed and let the tech do her thing. At one point she said, “I don’t want you to worry, I am just taking a while to get all the measurements.” I wasn’t worried at all. In fact, I was glad she was taking her time, because I know these ultrasounds are so important to finding any defects as early as possible. My mother’s instinct told me everything was fine.
Finally, she peeked at me over her glasses. “I have something to tell you,” she said, with a little smirk.
I gasped and looked at her eyes. “You do?” And I knew exactly what she was going to say.
“There are two.”
I threw my head back on the pillow and put my hand over my eyes. “Oh my God, oh my God.” I was crying. I could not believe it. She reassured me that everything looked great. But there were definitely two. “Congratulations,” she said. She turned the screen so I could look.
My mind started racing and all I could think about was: How am I going to do this? Having one newborn is challenging enough – but two?
And, to make life that much more interesting, I had only accepted a new job offer – pregnancy and all – the previous week. Now, I would be going into a new role pregnant with twins. And, returning to work next year as a mother to three young kids. Three children! Something I never once in a million years imagined. HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS?
These fears raced through my mind. It was combined with amazement and joy, for sure. But the fear was gripping.
The tech went to go get Mark and Silas. I was lying on the bed with tears streaming down my face, and I was smiling. But I must have looked scared.
“Everything is OK I said,” I said, sniffling. “But there are two babies!”
Silas was studying me carefully and stuck close to Mark. He knew mom was a little off her rocker.
I was ready for Mark to turn white and pass out on the ground. But he smiled, looked at the tech for confirmation that I wasn’t joking, and touched my arm. “That’s wonderful news.”
He was so genuine, and it was just what I needed to hear.
It truly was wonderful news. It’s a miracle! And most certainly the biggest shock and surprise we have ever received.
The tech then asked if we wanted to find out the sex. We did, and she showed us. Two boys! We were going to be the parents of three little boys. That made it seem even more real.
Yes, we suddenly had a million things to figure out: Is our house big enough? Do we need a new car? How will this affect my new job? What does this mean for the pregnancy and childbirth? And how in the world do you breastfeed and care for two newborns?
But just a few years after deciding to have children, we suddenly found ourselves a soon-to-be family of five.
Life is crazy, and amazing, and so full of surprises.