Being pregnant on the twins was a completely different experience from being pregnant before.

Having suffered miscarriages and a healthy both previously, from very early on I can only describe it as being “fuller”. Because of my pregnancy history, I wanted a scan very early so we went at what I thought was six weeks.

I vividly remember being so nervous at the scan that I was shaking and my husband commented on it. When I told him I felt different, he asked if I felt like I was having another miscarriage – I told him I felt like we were having twins. He laughed at me.

But the minute the sonographer touched my tummy and saw two sacs he nearly fell off the chair! While it was too early to see heartbeats, I felt in my bones that these babies would be OK.

“I was completely shocked when we found we were having two more girls.”

My eldest daughter was only two at the time and didn’t fully understand but our excitement was contagious! I was lucky in that I didn’t suffer any morning sickness, but I felt I showed very early with the twins. Also, I didn’t put on as much weight as previously as I just couldn’t find room for more food!

I was convinced we were having a boy and a girl. Twins are rampant in my family on both sides and every one of them down through the years from cousins to aunts/uncles were all boy/girl twins. I was completely shocked when we found we were having two more girls. Delighted, but shocked. The nicest part at this stage was feeling them moving and knowing they were OK.

A few weeks later, we were in for a shock!! At about 26 weeks pregnant, my doctor was convinced she could hear a third heartbeat. I couldn’t get an appointment for a scan for at least two weeks but I had my hospital appointment about eight days later so we decided to wait and see. When that time came, I made them scan me from the tonsils down to confirm there were only two!

“I can’t praise the staff at the maternity unit in Limerick enough”

Towards the end of the second trimester, the second twin’s growth was slowing down, so from then, I had to go for a weekly scan to monitor her growth. In the last two weeks, growth slowed down considerably so there was a worry that they might be underweight.

However, the birth – a planned section – was a genuinely lovely experience. I can’t praise the staff at the maternity unit in Limerick enough. The room was set up for the twins, and the doctors and nurses were amazing. Riley was born first at 4.9 lbs and Harper was 3 mins later at 4.5lbs.

Following the birth, Harper had to be taken to NICU as she wouldn’t feed so she, unfortunately, spent 13 nights there. Again, the staff were incredible, but it’s the most harrowing thing in the world to leave that hospital without one of your babies.

My advice for preparing for baby

Sleep! Sleep while you can, and enjoy your books or TV programs. Get plenty of exercise, eat good food. Relax when you need to.

My best pregnancy buy

A support belt for bump towards the end. Helps with SPD and eases back pain.

My best baby buy

A vibrating rocking chair is perfect for when you need to feed one and comfort the other, or for colicky babies. Spend your money on good car seats and a compact pram system. Don’t bother with baby outfits! I think the twins were dressed about six times in their first year. Babygros all the way.

My most surprisingly useful baby buy

Strong coffee. Besides that, I’ve always been a fan of bright-coloured noisy toys. Once the kids can turn and move they love to play with anything that made noise or lights up…

Rachel was speaking with Penny Gray, a freelance editor and writer specialising in beauty, property, parenting, health and lifestyle. She has worked for TVNow, Salon Ireland, Irish Beauty, and was Editor of Maternity & Infant magazine. Most importantly, she is a proud mum of two!