Life With Twins: Maureen Downey's Story

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on March 23, 2009
3 min read

Maureen Downey and her husband, Bo Emerson, conceived twins Rebecca and Joey with help from IVF 10 years ago. The couple, of Decatur, Ga., had two children conceived without assisted reproductive technology, but when the couple tried for a third child, Downey went through several miscarriages, so they turned to IVF. Maureen was 42 when they had two embryos transferred. They weren't trying to have twins, but they liked that possibility.

Downey spoke to WebMD about her experiences:

I was hopeful that both would take. I was quite happy with the prospect of twins. I didn't ask for two, and I didn't go into it thinking I'd have twins.

I think it's different if you have never had any children. If this may be your one shot, I could certainly see why people would be interested in twins. But because this would be baby number 3 and our goal was three children, it wasn't that I went in there thinking, 'Gee, I really want to have twins.'

The pregnancy was uneventful ... by that I mean that I was not on bed rest. But I did leave work earlier than I did with the other two [children], and I had a series of things I'd never had before including I had heartburn, which I'd never had in my life and I thought I was having a heart attack the first time I ever had it. And I had all sorts of minor aches and pains -- collectively, in that last month and a half of twin pregnancy, I found it much, much rougher and tiring [than her previous single-baby pregnancies.]

Rebecca and Joey were born at 39 weeks -- nearly full term -- in a scheduled C-section. Downey's uterus didn't contract properly afterward, causing her to bleed.

The aftermath of birth was more complicated than I had expected. I think I lost a third of my blood from hemorrhaging after they were born. I went home incredibly weak and anemic.

In terms of recovering energy and stamina, that was a full-year process.

Before the twins were born, Downey and Emerson had prepped the twins' nursery based on what they thought they would need.

I was not a rookie. When we came home that first night from the hospital, we had thought we had laid in supplies of everything we needed -- clean clothes that were washed in the drawers.

They went through so many little outfits that first night that they would wet through or they would nurse and spit up that we were pulling tags off things... that were still in the boxes. We were simply unprepared for that.

It was a surprise to me. I had to ratchet up my expectation of how much work they were going to be.

That first year was a complete blur.. in part because [we] didn't have any help. It was such a shock to my system in terms of the physical aftermath of having lost that blood and having to rebuild ... and because of ... nursing."

I like chaos. If you are the kind of person that, in the ideal family, would only have one child, twins, I think, are going to be an adjustment, because they are a little traveling circus unto themselves.

They are loud and they are boisterous and everything is complicated. With babies in particular -- going to the grocery store, and strapping two in their car seats, keeping two in the car -- that can be hard.

My husband and I are both sort of accustomed to noise. But I do notice when I have friends over who only have one child, I often see them flinching. And I think it's the fact that we have four in our house, although most of the noise comes from the twins.