Baby announcements can be so exciting. There’s this breathless feeling of wanting to share your incredible news with the world. When it happens again right after you’ve just had a baby, however, it can feel pretty awkward.
Sure, it’s still a miracle, but you know that the reaction is going to be different this time around. In my case, our baby was just a few months old when we discovered that I was expecting again… and that it was twins! While we were excited (and nervous!), we waited a while to announce it because we knew that people would have something to say. We just weren’t expecting how crazy things eventually became.
As my belly grew, we learned a lot about what it’s like to live through back-to-back pregnancies. Here’s some insight that I’d like to share.
People will make stupid comments
I cannot even begin to describe the ridiculous things that people said to me when they found out I was pregnant again. There seemed to be no limit to the number of comments I was forced to endure. The people around me seemed unable to exercise restraint or tact, and often, my feelings were hurt. Prime examples include:
• "You know how this works, right?" (Yep! Pretty sure I don’t need the "sex talk!")
• "Wow… what are you going to do?" (I dunno… give birth?)
• "You guys need to take a cold shower next time." (With so many babies, we probably won’t have time for showers, right?)
• "You are the most fertile person I’ve ever met." (I doubt it, but okay.)
• "This is the last time, right?" (I don’t know, but that’s not a topic you need to worry about!)
I was amazed by how sensitive I was to these types of comments. It almost felt like public shaming. It was absolutely terrible, so I’m glad we waited a while before sharing our big news. I can’t imagine having to deal with this while I was still reeling from the news myself!
Your body will probably struggle
Some women will be just fine carrying back-to-back pregnancies, but many will feel the strain. Research shows that getting pregnant within six months of giving birth can have negative consequences, and I think I experienced every single one.
Each pregnancy ache and pain that I had felt leading up to my four previous births came sooner than expected and was much more severe in intensity. Of course, I was expecting twins, so that didn’t help the situation! I had horrible hip pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, cardiac arrhythmia, dizziness, and so much more.
With my other, well-spaced pregnancies, my body felt pretty much back to normal before my six-week checkup. This time, I’m struggling to recover nine months later. My hips still don’t sit right, I have numbness in my fingers, and the weight has been harder to lose.
Your breast milk might dry up
I didn’t know it at the time, but the first sign that I was pregnant again was that my breast milk supply suddenly tanked. I have always had an abundance of milk, so it surprised me when, suddenly, it seemed like the well had run dry. My baby never seemed full, and when I tried to pump, I got next to nothing.
La Leche League explains that most women will experience some decrease in the amount of milk they produce during pregnancy, and I think mine was hugely affected because I was expecting twins. Fortunately, I was able to boost my production with some herbal supplements. Still, I look back and feel really bad that my little guy didn’t have the full breastfeeding experience that his older siblings had enjoyed.
The chances of conceiving twins go up
I never knew this before, but there are studies showing that breastfeeding mothers are more likely to conceive twins. More research is needed to fully understand the phenomena, but there is evidence to suggest that the hormonal changes a nursing mother experiences actually increase her odds of releasing more than one egg during ovulation.
I, of course, learned about this when it happened to me. Still, it looks like the correlation is mostly tied to fraternal twins, and my boys are identical. You never know, though!
You will have less time for your baby
That first year of life is so precious. I love just focusing on my baby, soaking in all of their coos, and watching them hit their milestones. Unfortunately, this is a lot harder to do if you are exhausted from growing another human being (or two!).
In our case, we had so many doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds to monitor the twins. When we did have a day without plans, I often just wanted to sleep. Plus, my growing belly made it hard to carry my chubby baby, and crawling around on the floor with him was basically impossible. Some days, it just broke my heart that I couldn’t interact with him the way that I wanted to.
Planning can get tricky
While expecting a baby, most moms will spend a good amount of time planning things out. This is so much more difficult with back-to-back pregnancies. We were still trying to find a place for all of our son’s gear when we realized that we’d have to accommodate two more little guys in the very near future. Suddenly, it looked like we would have to find a new home (and, eventually, we did).
Also, we needed to be comfortable with leaving our boy with caregivers for a couple days while I was in the hospital giving birth. Usually, parents will take their time preparing to be away from their new baby overnight for the first time, but we knew that even if we didn’t feel ready, it was going to have to happen. With two babies, I definitely didn’t want to be left alone in the hospital. It was tough!
You will be completely exhausted
Pregnancy can be exhausting in so many ways. Not only are you literally, physically tired but you have mood swings, indigestion, and a lack of coordination as you get bigger among other things. You might struggle to focus on work, argue with your partner more often, and generally just miss having your body to yourself.
I know that, even in the hours right after giving birth, I’ve always been so happy to feel a lot more like "me" again. Just when things were finally feeling back on track, I was already pregnant, and the fatigue felt worse than ever. That, of course, was exacerbated by the fact that we had a newborn keeping us up all night, too. I just could not get enough rest!
I won’t sugarcoat it. I felt like I couldn’t get much done, and I cried a lot. I was just mentally, emotionally, and physically depleted.
You might feel embarrassed
No one should ever feel ashamed of being pregnant. It’s a personal decision to have a baby and, really, it’s no one else’s business. That being said, I definitely had pangs of embarrassment while pushing around my infant with a huge, obviously pregnant belly.
I can remember going to a department store for supplies and seeing the shocked faces for the first time. To be completely fair, the reactions from people seemed genuine and uncontrollable. They would smile at my baby, look at my protruding middle, look back at the baby, and I’d see the realization set in.
In those moments, I felt like some pervert who wasn’t responsible enough to space her pregnancies properly. They didn’t know that my birth control had failed, and I’d find myself sneaking this fact into conversations with strangers just to save face. Fortunately, by the end of my pregnancy, I found peace with my situation and stopped explaining my life to others.
Preparing an infant for a sibling is rough
There are so many books, videos, and classes geared towards preparing a toddler for a new sibling. A baby, however, lacks the ability to understand any of these concepts. Their sweet little minds are still figuring out their own existence, and they haven’t even acquired basic language skills! As a psychology professor, I realized that, cognitively, my little boy just wasn’t ready to talk about babies (but I still tried!).
Our son was pretty possessive of me, and I feared that he would resent me (and the babies) for his lack of time with me. Teaching him to share my attention seemed impossible, but fortunately, when we brought them home he seemed to grasp the concept on his own. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve done the best we could.
You will feel like you cheated your baby
As we managed the pregnancy and, later, brought the twins home, we could not shake the feeling that our son was being cheated in some ways. In fact, we still feel this way. Out of sheer necessity, the gear, clothing, and toys that he could have slowly grown out of needed to be allocated to his newborn brothers. The morning snuggles we had been enjoying with him were often interrupted by a screaming baby. As was his playtime. And his bedtime.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish we had had more time between the births. The twins arrived two days after our son’s first birthday, and it just felt like too much too soon. We love having them all together, and, as the babies get older, it’s cool to see them all playing together (we also do our best to carve out one-on-one time), but there will always be that pang of guilt.
You might feel completely terrified
Our son was nestled in his father’s arms when I decided to take the pregnancy test. When the positive result came up almost immediately, I just sat there in stunned silence. For a moment, I felt, said, and thought absolutely nothing. It was like I had shut down temporarily and the universe gave me a brief reprieve before the madness set in.
When it did, I threw the test under the bathroom sink and gave in to sheer terror. My partner did his best to calm me, but I could see the panic in his own eyes. We just kept looking at our baby boy, not understanding how to digest this news. Our family had just grown, and life was already pretty rough. How could we handle more than we already had?
When we found out we were expecting twins, it had the opposite effect of what we expected. We felt calmed in some way, like it was meant for us to have more. We felt confident in the fact that our family was turning out exactly as it should — but that didn’t stop us from feeling completely and utterly unprepared and overwhelmed sometimes. In those scary moments, we went on message boards and sought support from other parents who had back-to-back pregnancies. We knew we’d find a way to be okay, somehow!
You will feel like an old pro
The biggest upside to getting pregnant again so soon is that we felt like super pros! We found ourselves not sweating the small stuff as much because we knew what to expect and, really, that took some pressure off of our stressful situation.
We knew our hospital and specialists. I remembered all of the uncomfortable pregnancy sensations and warning signs. I still had all of my maternity clothes, and we had all of the basics we needed to bring our babies home (although, we did have to double up on a few things for the twins!). We were seasoned veterans by the time I went into labor again, and that was a fun feeling.
Back-to-back pregnancies happen
At the end of the day, the one thing you have to remember is that you aren’t the first and you certainly aren’t the last person to experience a back-to-back pregnancy. As I became more accepting of my situation, I spoke to more and more women who admitted to having the same experience.
Whether it was a young mom at the mall or an older neighbor whose grown kids were born less than a year apart, I began to realize that I was part of a small community of mothers who had given birth in quick succession and had lived to tell the tale.
The days are sometimes long, and the noise level is often insane, but I look at my beautiful trio and realize that I wouldn’t want it any other way.