Adjusting to parenthood when you have twins or more!
“Here are two arms and two legs” . My husband and I cooed at the gray blops on the tv screen, we held hands excitedly looking at our new baby. “And here are another two arms and two legs”, the sonographer said casually and matter-of-factly. I laughed a little and asked “That’s because we’re seeing the same baby from a different angle right?”. The sonographer raised her eyebrow at me, and gave me a quizzical look that queried my mental status. Casually, she said “No, you have two babies there”.
Silence from my husband. I started crying. We weren’t expecting twins and our first response was shock and then we both plunged into “How are we going to cope with two babies?” Nearly three years later, I can say that I did cope having two babies but there were definitely rough patches when my mental health suffered. One of my twin girls fell from a change table at the age of six months and had a minor skull fracture. She then had a number of accidents, along with a number of medical investigations and weaning of breastfeeding (with the fun hormonal effect of that), I was a hot mess. I felt defeated and depleted by motherhood, and hit “the wall”. This what when I started practising self-care, mindfulness and being kinder to myself when I realised that I was burnt-out from caring two babies 24/7. I also started Empowermums when I realise how little support there is for mums' mental health.
Every year in New Zealand, 1000 couples have twins or multiple babies. For a lot of these couples who joined the “Multiples Club” (either officially at the Multiples NZ Club or not) that first ultrasound scan can trigger a roller coaster ride of emotions that continue throughout the pregnancy, birth and beyond. Unfortunately, parents with multiples are at higher risk of mental health issues including PTSD, anxiety and depression during pregnancy and after the birth of their babies.
Here is a presentation I did for Perinatal Anxiety Depression Aotearoa about the challenges parents face when they have multiples. At the end I also talked about support services in New Zealand. Please share this post to your friends or family who are expecting multiples or have twins. Parents of multiples deserve as much support as they can get.