I’m A Mum To Twins, Here Are 7 Things Parents Of Multiples Never Want To Hear

Telling a parent of twins "they've got their hands full" is definitely not helpful.
Milan_Jovic via Getty Images

As women have babies later in life and more couples use IVF to start families, the number of parents having twins has grown massively in the past 40 years.

In fact, in the UK, around one in 65 births is now a multiple.

You may have noticed more twins at the playgroups you attend or at your child’s nursery or school.

However, as a mum of twins, I can safely say that despite there being more of them, they are certainly still a novelty to lots of people – and don’t they like to let you know it.

Since the day we had our 12-week scan and found out I was carrying two babies, we’ve become used to people’s comments – most are kind and supportive, but some seem to forget to filter their thoughts before they open their mouths.

On those days when I was exhausted from feeding two babies and looking after a toddler, I would dread walking down our high street for fear of the attention our huge double pram would attract.

Every time I’d stop to cross at traffic lights, I could guarantee that the person next to me would peer into the buggy and make an unhelpful comment like, “ooh double trouble”.

I’m a polite person, so no matter what I really wanted to say, I’d always smile, thank them and walk on. But the remarks had an impact on my mental health, especially when I was feeling overwhelmed.

I’m not saying twin parents want to be ignored when they’re out in public – but in most instances a “congratulations” or “can I help?” would be preferable to some of the comments below...

1. ‘You’ve got your hands full’

Now this is a classic and not necessarily one that’s exclusive to twin parents, but probably the one that my husband and I hear most often.

I know it’s an observation, and it’s true – a lot of the time I did literally have a baby in each hand – but it’s not a helpful thing to hear.

Parents of multiples are acutely aware of the fact that life has become a huge, exhausting juggle. They don’t really need reminding of it every time they get on a bus or go to the supermarket.

Mum of twins, plus an older child, Hilary Berlin-Taylor, who is 38 and lives in Streatham, recalls hearing “you’ve got your hands full” four times on one bus journey.

But she says one person managed to make her day brighter. “As I got off the bus near home a lady smiled and said ‘you are doing great’. And my goodness, I needed to hear that that day,” she recalls. More of that please!

2. ‘I’ve got two close in age so I know what it’s like’

There’s only one answer to this and it’s, “erm, no you don’t, actually”. Having two children close in age is really challenging in its own way – there’s no denying it. But having had a singleton pregnancy first, I know the differences firsthand.

From the moment you find out you’re having twins, the worry begins. Twins and triplets are more likely to be born prematurely and to need special care. Carrying more than one baby obviously takes its toll on a woman’s body and labour can be more risky.

Then, whether you choose to breastfeed or not, you’ll still be spending most of your time in those first few months feeding, winding and changing your two babies.

There’s not a lot of time for anything else, especially sleep. Then there’s the mayhem involved when the two of them start walking, having tantrums and needing potty training. It’s a never-ending rollercoaster.

3. ‘Were they natural or IVF?’

You get used to answering strangers’ questions when you have twins, but I’m not sure why so many of them seem to think it’s acceptable to go beyond the usual “what are their names?” and “how old are they?” enquiries.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked, “were they natural or IVF?”. This is a deeply personal question, and one which could be quite emotional for some parents to answer.

As mum-of-four Janice, who preferred not to share her full name, says: “Does it matter? Would you ask that if it was a single pregnancy?”

I can categorically say that no strangers asked me how my first son was conceived. They also didn’t ask me if I “had a vaginal delivery or Caesarean” which is what happened to me when I was sitting in a National Trust café breastfeeding my eight-week-old twins.

Father-of-three, including twins, Victor Zasadski, 40, from Wandsworth, says: “I think people are interested, confused or just don’t know what to say. Often it’s simply not-thought-out biology questions such as ‘were you trying for twins?’ or ‘are they identical?’”

The latter is always an amusing question to answer when your twins are a boy and a girl.

4. ‘I don’t know how you do it’

This statement is one I find especially frustrating as it not only emphasises how difficult looking after twins is, but for some reason it always makes me feel quite lonely and like people can’t empathise.

Also, as with any challenge in life – whether it’s to do with parenting, work or something else – there’s no choice involved.

We have been blessed with a wonderful bonus child – and yes, it’s hard work – but we can’t, and obviously wouldn’t, change a thing.

Like all surprises in life; you adjust, adapt and get on with it. But hearing this on bad days has left me in tears on many occasions.

5. ‘Enjoy this time, it gets so much harder after the first year’

For Lauren Eells, who is 35 and lives in Tooting, her twin babies were born very prematurely and needed special care for a number of months. It was an incredibly stressful time for her and her partner.

The twins are five now and thriving, but she still remembers people telling her, “oh enjoy this, it gets so much harder after the first year”.

I think it’s safe to say that while there will be highs and lows ahead (I’m dreading two sets of teenage hormones) the fear and exhaustion of the first year is incomparable.

And let’s try not to terrify parents about what’s ahead of them, shall we? Ignorance is bliss in this situation.

Tassii via Getty Images

6. ‘Are you going to have more?’

I was asked this question at my babies’ 10-day check-up by a midwife. I had three boys under two-and-a-half years old and she wanted to know if I was planning to have a girl next.

Yet another incredibly intrusive question and one that I definitely wasn’t asked after my first baby. Also, I’m sure midwives are aware but it’s not possible to preorder a baby according to their gender.

On the flip side, mum Becky Barnard, 34 and from Balham, says now people know her husband has twins “he’s never been asked so many times about if he’s going to have the snip”.

7. ‘I wish I had twins, it’s so cute’

This final example just accentuates the fact most people have no idea what the reality of twins involves.

Victor’s wife Catherine Darlington, 40, says she’s had strangers make frivolous comments about why they’d love a pair of babies, usually because they’d like to dress them up for Halloween or Christmas. Victor says he’s even had strangers ask to take photos of their twins.

I think he sums up twin parenthood well: “Most things come from a kind place, but it can be a bit annoying. You become a centre of attention. It’s a bit like being a celebrity, except you’re not paid for it!”

If you’re expecting multiples you can get support and tips from https://twinstrust.org/