Expect the unexpected if you're expecting twins, what does that mean? Just ask any parent of twins and they'll tell you that having two babies at once is a blessing and an adventure from the get-go. I spoke to Marcella Lee anchor for the CBS & CW duopoly in San Diego, mom of twins Kyla and Kaze who are now twelve years old on what to expect when you're having twins.
Macaroni Kid: What was your reaction when you found out you were having twins?
Marcella Lee: My husband Tony and I were thrilled and in disbelief when we learned we were having twins. My first ultrasound showed only one beating embryo, but we went back to the doctor a week later, a second one appeared!
Macaroni Kid: Do twins run in your family?
Marcella Lee: No. We tried unsuccessfully for 3 years to conceive naturally, so we finally turned to fertility specialists for help. We decided to go ahead with the in-vitro process, but before we began, the doctor wanted me to take the Clomid Challenge Test, which measures how efficiently the ovaries are working. I guess mine were working well enough to produce at least two eggs, because a few weeks later, I learned I was pregnant...with twins! No in-vitro necessary: Such a gift and a blessing!
Macaroni Kid: Did you have to buy two of everything?
Marcella Lee: My twins, Kyla (girl) and Kaze (boy), shared a crib for the first few months, but we did end up buying two of almost everything two cribs, two swings, two pack 'n plays, two tummy-time mats, two high chairs, and lots of matching boy/girl clothing- I couldn't resist! We realized it was easier to have two of most things, since they were on the same schedule.
Macaroni Kid: Did they cry at the same time?
Marcella Lee: When they were around 8 weeks old, they both struggled to stay asleep for longer than 20 minutes, and would wake up crying in unison. We would try everything to get them to fall back asleep even separate them in different rooms, but sure enough 20-30 minutes later, they would wake up and cry again. That period felt like a LONG Stretch for us and is my most vivid memory of my twins crying in stereo, leaving us exasperated! A few weeks later, they were finally able to stay asleep for a few hours at a time, and my husband and I were finally able to get some rest as well.
Macaroni Kid: Did they play together a lot and keep each other entertained?
Marcella Lee: They played together extremely well and always kept each other entertained. They seemed to take comfort in each other's presence. They seemed happy to have a playmate 24/7. I remember thinking how special it must be to be a twin, and know you always have someone by your side. They also quickly learned how to outsmart each other. My son Kaze had a habit of taking whatever toy my daughter happened to be playing with, and I remember one day, she got clever! As my son grabbed a toy maraca out of her hand, she quickly grabbed something else. He dropped the maraca to grab the new item in her hand, and she proudly took the maraca back, with a look of sheer satisfaction.
Macaroni Kid: What advice would you give someone who is expecting twins?
Marcella Lee: The first year goes by so quickly, especially if they're your first children. Everything is new for you, as a parent, and trying to keep up with managing two infants is demanding and exhausting! I would say to enjoy and cherish every minute, because they grow fast, and those first few years are fleeting. I would also say even the strongest of marriages can be taxed, especially around the 7-8 week mark when the "honeymoon phase" of having two precious babies in your home wears off. Just remember that it's normal to feel marital strife, to feel like your partner isn't doing as much as you are doing, and is perhaps doing and saying everything wrong. We are hormonal and exhausted by that 7-8 week mark, and it's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. When our twins cried to be fed at night, my husband and I tried "man on man" -each parent would be in charge of one baby so when your baby was awake, so were you. We also tried "zone defense" - my husband and I created shifts. He would take 9pm-midnight, I would take midnight-3am, and he would take the 3am-6am shift. We would be responsible for feeding/comforting/changing diapers for one or both babies during our shift. Neither option was perfect, but I think we both agreed man-on-man was a little less exhausting. For us, it got better when our babies were about 6 months old They began eating solid food and sleeping a little longer. Now that my twins are twelve, I think back to that time and have only fond memories that make my heart smile. I do regret not being able to spend more time at home with them during that first year. I was on bed rest from twenty weeks on, so I had to return to work when the twins were only eight weeks old. My advice would be to really cherish those first few years- and take lots of video of them doing everything! Mine were born before the invention of smart phones so we don't have as much as we would if we had babies today.
Macaroni Kid: How did you get through the challenging days?
Marcella Lee: We relied on family and friends even to watch the twins for an hour or two so we could get some sleep! My parents would stay with us for a few weeks at a time and were so helpful. My friends with children who were a little older helped us with the first few bath times. My twins were only four pounds when we brought them home and they seemed so fragile, I was afraid to bathe them! It's really comforting to have good friends and family help show you what works, what might not work, and what to expect in the next stage of growth. Don't be too proud to accept help or advice. You can take it or leave it, but it can't hurt to be willing to listen to it.
Macaroni Kid: What is one of your favorite memories?
Marcella Lee: The toddler years were my absolute favorite. Their personalities really started to shine as they experienced the freedom of walking and exploring their environment. I watch over and over a video of my twins, around 18 months old, talking to each other and interacting with each other...giving kisses to each other and giving each other high fives. They were just beginning to talk and were so happy and playful. We would spend hours playing with them and watching them learn, getting such delight from pushing the button on their Leap Frog play table, then dancing to the ABC song... or sliding down a mini slide. I really miss those simple and sweet days at home!
Macaroni Kid: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Marcella Lee: Having twins is an extreme blessing and in my case, I've felt like having boy/girl twins has been like a real-life science experiment. We have raised them the same, and yet they are so incredibly different. It's interesting to watch how they learn, how they gravitate toward different interests, and how they perceive and process the world in their own unique way despite being raised in the same household, and for the most part, exposed to the same things. Each of my kids brings such joy and love to my live. 12 years in... and so far, so good... Wish me luck as we enter the teenage years!