If I told you my wife Jess and I wanted to get pregnant at the same time, what would your response be? If it’s anything like our friends, it would be some combination of shock, delight, a wee bit of horror.
The most common ensuing questions were either aghast (“Why? Aren’t you scared of both being pregnant at the same time? How will you support each other?”) or vastly intrigued (“Wow, you should get on social media so we can follow your journey–this is fascinating! I can’t wait to see what happens!”)
Our initial conversations around starting a family involve a concern that is on many women’s minds as family-starting has been increasingly pushed into women’s 30s: the infamous biological clock.
At 32, I was beginning to get a little concerned about having difficulties conceiving. Jess had really wanted to have her first child before age 30 before her fertility would start to decline (she was 29, so we were coming up on this milestone!), and she was also thinking about how the chance of having a gentler post-pregnancy recovery was higher if she wasn’t too late into her 30s.
In the United States, mothers having babies in their 30s are the highest they’ve been in thirty years. It’s true that mothers in their 30s are perfectly capable of having perfectly healthy, happy children; but it’s also true that the older a mother gets, more risks or complications can occur during the pregnancy. We aren’t alone in worrying about fertility or pregnancy recovery–many women share the same fear, even if they’re younger.
What started off as a jest between us– “We should both go at the same time and leave it up to the universe, just see who conceives first!”–quickly morphed into an actual consideration: “Hey, what if we did both try to get pregnant at the same time?”
There were some very real cons–what if someone had a tough pregnancy, what if we both had a tough pregnancy, what if our plan worked too well and we were both due at the same time–but there were some very real pros. Ultimately, the following 3 reasons convinced us that we wanted to try for Irish twins (a term for babies born within one year of each other).
- The most convincing reason was giving our babies the opportunity to develop a twin bond. Granted, they wouldn’t be sharing the same womb space, so they wouldn’t have the in-utero bond that twins develop. However, having a same-age sibling to share all developmental milestones and grow up with felt like it would lend itself naturally to developing a bond similar to that of twins. As a Montessori educator, with years of experience in early childhood, I absolutely believed that having a consistent companion during such critical developmental periods would create a unique opportunity to cultivate empathy in our children, and there’s tons of anecdotal evidence of twins developing incredible empathy with their twin in particular that flows out to other people as they grow. The more scientifically reviewed data on whether twins are better at empathy than the general population is a bit harder to come by, but our understanding of the development of empathy seemed to support Jess’s and my intuition, that the twin bond could be a beautiful thing for our future babies.
- Getting the newborn phase over with. I love babies, but I also love sleep, and the nightmare stories I’ve heard from my friends who are parents did not make me excited to drag out the sleep-deprived years any longer than necessary. Getting the sleep deprivation and diapers done with all at once felt like a great bonus.
- Sharing an incredibly unique biological journey with my wife. I’m not going to lie, I’m sad that we can’t create a family just the two of us, and the vast deluge of heteronormative messaging around how beautiful it is when a man and woman create a child together and how that’s just assumed to be the default way to have a family (everything else is alternative or weird) didn’t help. Finding joy in a pregnancy experience that we could be sharing together, at the same time, felt incredible, rare, and special. So few people get to be pregnant with their partners (either because their partner biologically can’t gestate–the advantage of being a queer couple in this heteronormative world!–or because other people don’t want to be pregnant at the same time because they’re not wildly ambitious and crazy like my wife and I are.)
Once we decided on our timing and our sperm donor, we set about trying to conceive.
Stay tuned for the next installment in our story–aiming for Irish twins and conceiving Irish triplets instead!