You may be pregnant with twins but at Week Four, you still don’t know it yet. Yup, that stick definitely turned blue this morning indicating that you’ve got a bun in the oven but it’s still too soon to tell that you’re having twins. More surprises are on the horizon in the weeks to come!
Once your shouts of joy have subsided, your first order of business is to call your OB/GYN to schedule a blood test to confirm your pregnancy suspicion. (You won’t get any face time with the doctor, however. This is purely a fact-finding mission, with the blood test administered by a technician or nurse.) The test measures the concentration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone released once the fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube, implants on the uterine wall and the placenta begins to develop. The amount of the hormone grows exponentially during the first few weeks of your pregnancy, peaking between Week 12 to 14. So what does hCG have to do with a twin pregnancy? An elevated level of the hormone is one of the first indications that a woman is carrying twins.
If your hCG level registers unusually high, you may get a phone call from your doctor’s office asking you to come back in for a follow-up blood test. No need to worry as it’s merely given again to determine whether or not you miscalculated the date of your last period, subsequently skewing the test results, or if you’re in fact pregnant with twins. But hold on a minute! Before you start celebrating your double blessing, dial it back just a bit as a lot can happen this early in a twin pregnancy, namely, Vanishing Twin Syndrome.
Vanishing Twin Syndrome is a phenomenon that occurs when one twin fetus fails to thrive and spontaneously aborts during the first few weeks of pregnancy. The fetus is then adsorbed back into the mother’s body often before she even knows that she’s pregnant. An early ultrasound where two gestational sacs are visible can suddenly show only one sac just a few weeks later. It’s definitely one of the disadvantages of an early twin pregnancy diagnosis. Some scientists believe VTS is so common that they debate whether doctors should wait a prescribed number of weeks before even telling a patient she’s pregnant with twins! U.S. researcher Dr. Charles Boklage, for instance, believes that for every set of twins born in the world, there are approximately nine other pairs where only one twin survives and is subsequently born a singleton. Furthermore, researcher Althea Hayton also believes the syndrome is widespread and that many people roaming this planet, one in ten in fact, are “womb twin survivors.” But not everyone is onboard with the high rate of Vanishing Twins Syndrome. In fact, researchers in Australia found that women pregnant with twins have no less chance of survival than singleton pregnancies.
But the question still remains: Would it be better to learn of a twin pregnancy early even if there’s a chance of losing one twin in the coming weeks? Would finding out early about a twin pregnancy only to be told a few weeks later that you were now having a singleton ruin the whole pregnancy experience for you? Is it better not to know until the twin pregnancy is well established?