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Julia’s Story

Julia is 32 weeks pregnant with twins. At the age of 37, she already has two boys under five years. Her eldest Patrick is 4 1/2 and her youngest Marcus is just 22 months old. The fact that she is considered an "older" mum expecting twins places her pregnancy in the high-risk category.

 Julia is 32 weeks pregnant with twins. At the age of 37, she already has two boys under five years. Her eldest Patrick is 4 1/2 and her youngest Marcus is just 22 months old. The fact that she is considered an "older" mum expecting twins places her pregnancy in the high-risk category.
The following interview highlights the various concerns facing Julia during her multiple pregnancy.

"To me it’s like going into a rodeo, you just have to hang on for the ride", says Julia, contemplating the prospect of being a mother to four children under the age of five.

Was choosing to have children later in life a conscious decision? Yes, it was a conscious decision. For us it was a lifestyle choice. We liked our lifestyle and were interested in travel and further study.

Have you a history of multiple births in your family?

No. However, being in the 35 – 40 age bracket increases the likelihood of a multiple birth pregnancy to 1/60.

Do you think there are any significant disadvantages in delaying parenthood?

Yes. I think you get tired more easily as you get older which makes it generally much harder. As a younger person it’s difficult to appreciate the risks associated with delaying pregnancy and childbirth. Issues such as infertility, disabilities and the prospect of a more difficult labour are of more concern to women in the 35 – 40 age bracket. These issues are not appreciated until one finds oneself in that particular circumstance, as has happened to a number of people I know.

How are you coping being pregnant with twins?

Not particularly well. I just feel so heavy and tired. I find getting around much more difficult.

Has your pregnancy affected your relationship?

I have felt really frustrated at times that my partner has not appreciated how hard it has been. Initially he didn’t realise how low in energy I was and the full impact of the pregnancy on my body. At times I even felt resentful towards him.

How has your experience differed from previous pregnancies?

The minor problems I had in my previous pregnancies have been worse this time around.
Women who are pregnant with twins can expect to gain as much as 20-25 kg. I’ve gained 12-14 kg so far with most of it going on in front, so it can be really awkward to get about.
The extra weight has also placed huge pressures on my pelvic floor and ribs, and I’ve suffered backache.
It’s like being hugely unfit, just walking up the driveway takes me a minute to recover. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Have you any significant worries or fears in relation to the health and birth of the twins?

I’m a little less blasé than I was with Marcus (her youngest son). I don’t know what is in store – it’s a little more unknown. But I know I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to get on and do it.
Difficult labour is not something I really worry about.
I guess I’m mostly concerned about the first few days – how to cope, manage and adjust. Taking them home is extremely daunting especially with Marcus being so young. Marcus to me is still a baby, he still needs to be picked up and held, and that won’t change until he’s at least three. I’m not really looking forward to post-delivery; it’s bewildering.

Have you made any significant changes to your lifestyle?

Yes, my lifestyle has changed considerably. I’m not working at the moment and have moved home with my parents for the time being.
I consider the non-physical issues of this pregnancy to be as significant for me as the physical. I feel worried that people will see me as ‘just a mother’ with a tribe of young children and this implies to me that I somehow have less social value/standing. This is something I am still working on.

How are you adjusting to the idea of becoming a mother of four?

Changing your own perception of yourself, from career oriented/professional to ‘mother’, can be difficult.
I suspect that these issues affect older women more than many younger women, perhaps because they (older women) have more at stake both from a career and lifestyle point of view and perhaps because younger women often tend to be a bit more relaxed/laid back about things.
As well, there is such an enormous effort required in adjusting to the obvious lack of independence. You find yourself having less mental flexibility in coping with child-rearing issues and perhaps less confidence as you become more precious about things.

Have you got any strategies for managing post-delivery?

No real strategies. To me it’s like going into a rodeo, you just have to hang on for the ride. It’s sink or swim and you just have to hope you keep swimming.
I’m considering organising some paid help and therefore professional support. I’m really grateful to family and friends but I don’t want my family to feel obligated.

Have you any tips for women, especially older women, who discover they are pregnant with twins?

I would suggest to not have too high an expectation of yourself and to accept assistance when offered. I guess this time around I’ve been a lot kinder to myself. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve had kids or whether it’s because I’m getting older – and somehow wiser.
I used to refuse assistance when offered – I would say, "I’m fine".
I didn’t want to be treated differently or like an invalid.




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