Dear Twin Mom-To-Be,
When I found out I was having twins I was a little, oh…terrified. Maybe you felt the same? I hadn’t even considered the possibility of more than one child prior to that day, and the realization that I was going to have two babies was immensely intimidating. I wondered what it was going to be like, how it would feel, how gigantic I’d end up becoming. I thought about giving birth to two children and then taking them home and never sleeping again. What did I get myself into?
As you’ve probably realized by now, being pregnant with twins is no laughing matter. It is hard and scary and can be very uncomfortable. Twin morning sickness is the kind that makes you run to your doctor for a prescription, when you’d originally thought you’d just, I dunno, meditate and drink kale smoothies (“haha”, says my first trimester Taco Bell cravings). You pee all day long (when you aren’t puking and/or thinking of puking, that is), and you become a human furnace who needs to keep all the windows wide open in the dead of winter. Everything seems to hurt all the time, eventually it becomes hard to eat and breathe (because there is less and less room for those things to happen), and you wonder if all the women out there claiming that pregnancy is a beautiful, magical time are just lying sadists.
Then there are the comments from the rest of the world. You know those comments. “Oh wow, TWO? I could never have TWO!” (uh, I didn’t think I could either, and yet, here I am!). “You’re going to have your hands full when they are born!!” (gee, I never thought of that!). And my personal favourite, the one that EVERYONE asks, “Do you have help? You’re going to need help!” (help is nice, accept it ALWAYS without guilt or hesitation, but don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t be able to handle it!).
But the thing that gets you through, the thing that gets all of us through, is thinking about your beautiful babies, the ones you will give birth to and hold and love and want to show off to everyone you see like you’re the first person to ever procreate. For some of us, this happens sooner than it should and life gets a little rocky while you spend some time in the NICU, but no matter what, there is that hope – that pretty soon you’ll have two infants, the infants you’ve been dreaming about, even if you thought you’d much rather have them one at a time. You buy baby clothes and nursery furniture and read lots of books and take prenatal yoga and your whole world revolves around the prospect of birth and infancy, how it will change your entire life, and how much you’re going to miss this incredible, blessed time when it’s gone.
Well, Twin Mom, it turns out the infant stage is over really, really, really quickly. No, really, it’s true. It was all I ever thought about, the part I figured I’d enjoy most, when they’re cute and squishy and new and snuggly. But what they never tell you is that a) having infant twins kind of sucks and b) IT GETS SO MUCH BETTER.
When Madeleine and Reid were a few months old, the three of us hanging out at home pretty much 24/7 (leave the house? Yeah right!), I remember thinking how jealous I was of singleton moms, the moms who could pop their babies in slings and have both hands free, or who could give their children all of their undivided attention because they didn’t have to wonder about what the other baby is doing or what he or she needs. I wanted to go to Mommy and Me groups or to the grocery store without feeling like the most frazzled, stressed out human in the world. I was sad that I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I was worried that I never would.
But here we are at sixteen months, and our life has evolved so much. We’ve been doing this for a while now, the three of us, figuring it out together. I never feel like I have to entertain or micromanage – the only thing that is firm is bedtime (seriously, make sure you are firm about bedtime!). The rest, we figure out as we go. When we go out, it’s like a group field trip, a little party for three, where we chat and share food and make funny faces. I get to eavesdrop on their special, unintelligible twin conversations when they’re alone. And now, if I’m lucky, I’ll even get voluntary hugs and kisses before bed from my two most favourite people in the world. There are meltdowns, sure, and plenty of days where I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and I still feel intensely stressed and frazzled, but with each passing month, there are more and more days that also feel really, really fun.
I’ve often tried to think about what I wish I could tell you, Twin Mom, about what was really ahead. But how do you convey the highs and lows, the immense challenges and the equally-as-immense joys? How can I reassure you that it can still be the best thing ever, even if being pregnant sucks, or if your twins are born prematurely, if the first few months are gruelling or if nothing goes like you think it will? How do you explain having two babies at once?
A few days ago, I met a mom of nine-month-old twins at the grocery store (FYI, there are lots of us out there and WE ARE YOUR PEOPLE. Don’t be scared to talk to us.). We chatted about the usual things like birth weights and personality differences and the weird things strangers say when they see you pushing a double stroller. We talked about the craziness of meal times and bath times and the frustration of the kids keeping each other up at bedtime when they just need to GO TO SLEEP ALREADY.
And then, it hit me. “Isn’t it the best thing ever?”
She smiled knowingly. “Absolutely.”
So, congratulations, Twin Mom. It is going to be so, so amazing.