Some twins are just born early.
The silver lining is that the overwhelming majority of twin births are not very pre-term (before 32 weeks) and even better – over 40% of twins are born after 37 weeks. The largest bucket of twin gestation periods is between 32 – 37 weeks. So, if you had a set of amazing pre-term twins, you are not alone girlfriend!
If you’re pregnant with twins I hope you make it to the >37 week bucket…sending positive energy your way.
But if you don’t…even more good news, pre-term twins are less likely to need oxygen than pre-term singletons. This is likely due to the steroids given to many twin moms prior to birth to help with the babies’ lung development. Isn’t modern medicine wonderful?
Extra time in the hospital, food logs and extra pediatrician appointments are not what most moms imagine when they think about the first few weeks with their child (ahhem children), but what is normal anyway? After all life is never exactly as you expect it to be.
And if you are still in the throes of preemie care – from someone on the other side (well almost – usually it takes 2 years to get fully back on track), you’ll always be a proud preemie parent who has lived in the trenches and witnessed the truly amazing power of the human body, a mom who has cheered on tiny infants that have more tenacity and endurance than an Iditarod team. While the struggles and frustrations fade, undertakings that were colossal at the time become matters of fact.
And I know from experience, it’s easy to look back and say, “I could have taken it easier. I could have eaten better. I could have worked less.”
Someone from the outside looking in may unknowingly say, “You could have rested more.”
Sure. I have no idea what would have happened if I spent my pregnancy eating organic farm to fork meals served to me on a hand carved tray complete with bud vase and fresh spring water or if I spent my mornings frolicking in a sunny field of wild flowers and my afternoons napping on the world’s most ergonomic bed, forgetting all adult responsibilities. But that’s not reality. And the juxtaposition of going directly from that idyllic environment to caring for two crying infants during the night, just like that, is unfathomable.
The reality is that 1 week before my babies were born (so this would have been at about 32 weeks) I was measuring about the size of a singleton mom at 41 weeks along. Why do they even get out a measuring tape and subject you to that torture only to confirm what we already know? “Yes, you are getting really big.”
By the time the boys were born I had gained almost 50 lbs., had high blood pressure and was diabetic. Bottom line, the human body is designed to compensate for different situations but it isn’t really primed for carrying litters and that takes its toll. I’m sure my petite 5’ 4’’ frame wasn’t doing me any favors.
Ultimately, if you weren’t on hard core drugs and you weren’t participating in an Ironman at 29 weeks in, it wasn’t your fault your babies were born early. The numbers don’t lie – there is no way that 58% of twins being born pre-term is a cause/effect relationship related to what you specifically did or did not do. It’s just how it works with twins – most of the time there just isn’t any more room at the inn.
So goodbye guilt.
Hello preemie power. Here’s to basking in the sense of accomplishment of getting your twins from preemie to prosperous.
And as I look back, every extra day that I made it as a pregnant mother of twins was a gift. I feel blessed to have made it as long as I did (33 and 2) and am still amazed that with just one shot of corticosteroids my slightly more than 3.5 pound boys didn’t even need oxygen…they were feeders and growers.
Celebrate the wins and tackle the road blocks. Celebrate how special it is to be a preemie mom; how special it is to witness miracles.
Expect the unexpected.
Editor’s note: Twin birth data was calculated from a 2009 study and March of Dimes statistics.