On this episode, we discuss your couple relationship and why it’s important to nurture it before, during, and after your multiple pregnancy.
We hear from Psychologist Dr Gretta Little, who offers some practical tips to help keep you on track, and warning signs to look out for that might indicate you need to get some outside help.
Rebecca Perrie and Jannelle Snaddon share their stories of the ups-and-downs they had in their relationships while carrying their multiples, and after they were born.
And, I talk about the pressure the complications in my twin pregnancy put on my couple relationship.
It’s no secret that carrying more than one baby at a time puts enormous pressure on your couple relationship. And with multiples, there’s the increased risk of complications along with being concerned about how your family unit is going to operate when you take home more than one baby.
Psychologist Gretta Little says it’s important to share your feelings about what’s happening and use your pregnancy to reflect on how you’d like things to be when you take the babies home.
“If you can talk about how you want to be parents of multiples, how you were parented yourself, what you want to do the same, what you want to do differently, and how the two of you might have common ground in that and how you might support each other in going about that,”
When complications arise in your pregnancy, it’s important to be realistic about what’s achievable for your relationship and not having high expectations of your partner and what they’re going to be able to bring to the relationship.
“It’s good to think about how you’re going to handle conflict together and how you’re going to be able to talk things through about that,”
“But, realistically there may be times where that’s not always possible and that might just have to wait until the babies are a little bit older or more-well,”
“I don’t think anyone ever really expects to have more than one baby, so it can be a bit of a shock,” says Dr Little.
Dr Little suggests joining the Multiple Births Association where you get to meet other people who are parents with multiples, which can help normalise the experience and help you realise that people have done this before and that it is achievable.
Warning signs your relationship is in trouble
When you’ve been through months of the emotional upheaval of coming to terms with being the parent of multiples, you might have fallen into the trap of neglecting not only yourself but your partner. If issues aren’t addressed, your relationship could be headed for crisis point. Dr Little says there are some clear signs to look out for before you get to this point.
“Warning signs would be increased conflict in the relationship or not talking to each other,”
“And, if you’re having frequent feelings of anger or disappointment about your partner, that would be an indication that it would be good to get some help,” says Dr Little.
“It was a time of where you make or break, we worked as a team, we still had our moments, and we got through it,” says Rebecca.
When the twins had been home for about six-months, Rebecca and Troy enlisted the help of infant sleep specialists to help get the girls into a routine. Rebecca admits that helped not only the babies but steered her and her husband back in the right direction.
Jannelle Snaddon admits that she put her entire focus on her preterm quadruplets and failed to give the needs of her husband a priority.
“I don’t deny that Matt loves them any bit less than me but I don’t know if other mums can understand, we’ve carried these little guys in our bellies and given birth to them, or had them taken out,”
“They were my everything, and Matt, of course, is always going to be there and I love him to death, but these four people took the front seat and they jumped ahead of him,” says Jannelle.
Jannelle remembers a time when Matt arrived home from work, sat her down, and very seriously asked her if she’d found someone else.
“I just burst out laughing because I thought it was the most hilarious thing I’d heard,”
“I’m not going to sugar coat it and say we just love each other so much and that’s how we made it through,”
“Even now, it’s really hard but we respect each other and our family together is very important to each of us, so we just try and make it work the best we can,” says Jannelle.
It was a long journey for Jannelle and Matt, which started with the decision to undergo IVF. Jannelle says she is extremely grateful that Matt put up with her all this time, especially with all those hormones and emotions while trying to conceive.
“It did start at the IVF journey because I was all over the place with hormones and things like that and there’s so many times I think I don’t know how he put up with me,”
“But he did and he stayed and dealt with all of those emotions at that time and then to the NICU,”
“You go up down, up down, up down and we’re still there now,” admits Jannelle.
If I’m honest, I did exactly what Jannelle did. As you’ll remember from previous episodes, my pregnancy was fraught with anxiety, which laid the foundations for serious relationship problems.
Finding out early on in the pregnancy that there were serious complications and then with the girls being born extremely early, a lengthy NICU stay, and then the realities of caring for two extremely tiny babies who just didn’t sleep, it all weighed heavily on that coveted couple relationship.
Of course, there were times when we grew really close, and that was great to have that feeling of support. However, after the babies were born I guess I just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t as completely committed to the girls as I was. Don’t get me wrong, he clearly loved them immensely but not to the point where he pushed everything else away like I did.
Little by little, as the years went by that connection you expect with your partner waned until there was absolutely no communication left. We never went out and did anything together as a couple, if we were invited anywhere I would stay at home with the girls and he would go, alone.
You see, the advice that’s given is to ask for help or if help is offered accept it. But when you’ve got more than one baby, especially when they are premature, the help isn’t freely offered. I would have people say to me “If you get really, really, really stuck we might be able to help” I don’t blame them, they were probably terrified. You see, I had successfully positioned myself as the strong one who people would turn, so when I needed help I just don’t think they knew how.
In the end, we were unable to rebuild our couple relationship.
Separation and divorce rates are significantly higher in couples with multiples.
Increased conflict in the relationship, or not talking to each other, are warning signs that your relationship is headed for trouble.
If you’re having frequent feelings of anger or disappointment about your partner, that would be an indication that it would be good to get some help.
It’s important to be realistic about what’s achievable for your relationship and not having high expectations of your partner.
Coming up on Episode Seven, we explore birthing options for multiples.
We hear from Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist Professor Craig Pennell about the types of twins that will require a caesarean delivery and those that can be safely delivered vaginally.
Founder of Rockstar Birth Magazine and Rockstar Birth Radio, Shalome Stone explains why creating a birth plan is important.
Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Doula Elysee Jamieson shares her experience of birthing breech fraternal twins.
And, I’ll tell you why my girls were delivered by Caesarean section.