Friday, September 20, 2013

Mothering Multiples

I am a mother of twins....
my boys are fraternal twins and they will be 13 years old next month.
My boys are precious, and I can't imagine life without them!

This is me being brutally honest about my experience mothering multiples.
It's not a "happy and uplifting" story.
But I am not about pretending I am least not anymore...LOL
I learned that with age...and being a mother of multiples.
I am sure many will read and think I am the worst mother....
I am just me.

So... to be perfectly honest, I was not thrilled when I found out I was having twins.
In fact, I thought the OB/GYN was joking at first...
there are no twins anywhere in my family...
sadly (at the time) he was not joking.
I already had two daughters, ages five and two,
and I thought long and hard before deciding to have a third.
I could handle three....ONLY three...
I was all about order, being organized, being in
Surprise! I was going to have four!

It was a very difficult pregnancy.
Let's just say many pure iron injections, blood transfusions, fractured ribs,
and a pregnancy related heart condition later (just to name a few),
I gave birth to twin boys at 39 1/2 weeks who weighted in at almost eight pounds...

Mothering twin babies is overwhelming....
at least if you are like me and could not afford a nanny, baby nurse, or cleaning lady.
Both my daughters slept through the night by a month old...
I was sure the boys would too...NOT....try about 10 months.
In my true form, I went into my situation thinking,
"I can do this all by myself"
Also true to form, I thought to myself.
"asking for help would mean I am a failure"
My twins were born in October and by February,
my parents had an "intervention" with me.
I would not ask for help, so they forced it on me....
I was so sleep deprived, I was beyond functioning.
I was also recovering from a post-partum depression.
I felt like a total and complete failure.
My Michigan mom stayed for a week and while I literally slept for a week,
she did laundry, cooked, did the shopping, fed babies, changed babies,
and carted girls to school and to activities.
Virginia Mom found a college nursing student to babysit five afternoons a week 
so I could sleep, run errands, or...sleep.
Virginia Mom picked up where Michigan Mom left off when she flew home,
and somehow we made it through the first year.
Unfortunately, I don't remember much of it.
Once my boys were born,
I loved them beyond belief and could not imagine life without twins.
They were pure joy.
But it was an adjustment.
Financially, it was a massive strain on our budget to have two babies...
all of the equipment I already had...I had to buy more of...
a crib, high chair, car seats, stroller,
of course I had boys so none of my baby girl clothes would work!
Friends and family were extremely generous,
and we had just about everything we needed by the time they were born.
Between the monthly pampers and formula expenses,
I could have been making a car payment on a Mercedes convertible.
Learning how to grocery shop pulling one cart with one baby in it,
while pushing one cart with another in it was an acquired skill.
(there is MUCH more baby equipment for twins today than when I had mine)
Many people passed judgment.
"You should really keep a better eye on your children"
when I had the twins outside playing and one boy is running in one direction
and the other is running in the opposite....into the street.
"Why aren't you nursing them?"
when I had one in my lap with a bottle while holding a bottle for the other in a infant seat
(I would switch half way through so each could be held during a feeding)
"You really should not dress them alike so they can learn to be individuals"
as I dressed them alike until they were toddlers because it was easier to keep track of two that way.
I did the best I could.
I was not perfect.
I went to a mothers of multiples support group once, when the twins were about six months old.
I was excited to meet a group of woman who could empathize with me and my situation.
I am sure most groups are amazing and offer a lot of support.
Unfortunately, the one in my area was full of VERY affluent women,
many of which were THRILLED to have multiples because they had had fertility issues.
The room was filled with perfectly well rested, well dressed, well manicured women,
who were all sharing information about their nannies, their housekeepers, and their cooks.
I left in tears.
I felt like a dumpy, frumpy, hot mess compared to those women!
What was wrong with me?
(I know that now)
Before I found out I was having twins,
I planned to savor EVERY moment of having a baby...
I LOVE LOVE LOVE babies and knew it would be my last.
Sometimes I still mourn the loss of that precious time,
because I honestly have very little memory at all of their first year.
In fact looking at pictures is sometimes painful because I feel like I missed a lot.
My early experience of mothering multiples is clearly
not a glamorous story.
It's kind of a sad story.
But I would not change a thing.
I ended up learning a lot about myself.
I grew up a lot.
I learned what is really important in life.
I felt the pure love of my family, friends, and church family.
I learned I am stronger than I thought I was.
I learned it's ok to be weak.
I learned to let go.
I learned to hold on.

I learned that my girls would not die if they did not have a bath every single night,
I learned that lipstick and a baseball hat was appropriate grocery store attire,
I learned that no one would stop growing if mac-n-cheese was IT for dinner.
I learned that I did not need to iron every dress for school (yes I actually ironed my girls clothes).
Somehow, I had a picture in my head of what being a "perfect" mom was...
and it was unrealistic, unattainable, and I was "failing" at something that no ONE person could do.
It was hard to let go of my "standards"
I still struggle with it at times...
I mourned the life I thought I was going to have,
and gradually learned to embrace the life I actually had.

While I don't have many memories of my boys for the first couple of years,
 the memories I do have are happy ones filled with joy and love.
My story of mothering multiples may sound quite depressing,
but it has truly been a gift in too many ways to mention...
in addition to the gift of having two amazing sons...of course!
See my post here to experience some of my twin's shenanigans...LOL.
 I do know that I did something right that year...
and the next, and the next, and the next after that...
because here I am almost 13 years later
and I have FOUR children
who are
kind-hearted, loving, honest, spiritual, trustworthy, self-confident,
smart, well-mannered, talented, funny, empathetic,
and most importantly,

 (my babies)
I am still learning.
 I am not perfect.
But I am perfectly ME.

Many thanks to my Virginia parents and Michigan parents,
who have ALWAYS been there for me,
and who continue to provide me unconditional love, enormous support,
 and "mercy missions" when needed.
I love you.







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Simply LKJ said...

Christine, such an honest and heartfelt post. I have long admired moms of multiples. I have numerous friends/neighbors who have twins, and at one time we had 5 sets of twins and one set of triplets (all very young at the time) living in our neighborhood. I knew how hard it could be raising one or two (not close in age), I couldn't imagine that times two or three, or heaven forbid 4 or more!!
And I agree, there are so many more "things" that help support moms of multiples today. There were no fancy smancy strollers and such.
I think it is hard for all moms to ask for help. I hate that in our society it makes us feel like a failure. While in many other countries, it is the norm for someone (or family) to step in and help right away.
The boys are beautiful!! Or I guess I should say very handsome.

Nancy said...

Wow! I felt like I was reading my own story (except our twins were our first children). I remember my parents coming out to help us for a week after ours got out of the NICU and I cried so hard when they left because I knew that was it...I was on my own and had to figure it out. Only by the grace of God did we survive. Seriously. It was ugly. I only wish that I knew then what I know now...time flies by and you'll miss those days. Thanks for your honesty and for a touching post. :)

Katie Clooney said...

What a beautiful, candid post Christine. I'm sure that this will assure all the young moms at home with children - mutiples or not, that nobody's perfect and it is the toughest job in the world (per Oprah). I do have one question though.... 8 lbs EACH!!!! You deserve a medal. Have a wonderful weekend. You deserve it!

Caroline said...

I read this and started to cry in Spanish class mother!!! Love you SO much. So blessed to have you and such great siblings. XOXO

ShelBeau said...

Love some of their expressions in a lot of those toddler photos! Speech bubble worthy, no doubt! ;)

ShelBeau said...

Love so many of their expressions when they were toddlers. Adorable, double-trouble, those two! ;)

Tara said...

Thank you so much for this post. I am a mother of 20 month old twins that were conceived through IVF and I cried reading your words of honesty. Yes, I prayed hard for my 2 babies for a long time, but I feel the exact same way you do.
I feel like you were speaking my exact story. I tried to be perfect, tried to do everything myself (still do!), and feel like a huge failure. I feel like all eyes are on me, especially having 2. We are like a side show when we go out in public because for some reason twins attract attention!
I also feel like the first year was a blur and I get really upset when I think about it because I feel like I didn't get to enjoy the baby moments because I was just trying to survive each day.
I still have so much to learn, obvisouly since mine are still babies, but I'm slowly learning to let the idea of being perfect go. I will survive and so will my kids!

Linda Jenkins said...

I identified with so much of what you wrote! My boy-girl twins are 4 and in many ways we are just coming back out into the world. Thanks for sharing such an honest and meaningful story. I think it will help a lot of new moms of twins to see all you went through and how far you've come. I'm certainly inspired. :) And love your photos! -- Linda @

Preppy and Proud of it! said...

Amen and amen! People used to tell me they wished they had twins, well that's cause they didn't! When baby number two turned out to be numbers 2 and 3 I cried. I also had a hard pregnancy that included appendicitis at 20 weeks and then bed rest till 39 weeks. I couldn't wish I didn't have these wonderful people in my life but it's not easy by any means!

Melissa said...

I think I've been reading my own biography. Twins motherhood has been such a journey of embracing the life I have, rather than the life that Pintrest, Facebook, etc., tell me I should have when comparing myself to others. It is a daily struggle to not be at odds with my own expectations and my perceived expectations of others. God has humble me again and again. Take another lap around Mt. Sinai!!! One side note, my boys didn't sleep through the night until 10 months either!

Kelly said...

First off, all of your children are beautiful! I am a mom of (almost) 3 year old b/g twins. It's always nice to read someone being real. Most blogs I read only talk about the positive. It makes me feel (I know I'm not) the only one struggling. I try to remind myself that they are only two and I will miss this age in a few years...right?!

Mocadeaux said...

My son and daughter-in-law had twins a year ago. I went to help for a few weeks and after a couple of days we all realized that help was going to be needed for much longer. I was honestly unprepared for how much more work twins would be. Worth every single second, though! I was blessed to be able to and to be asked to stay for two months. Between me and other family members we were able to cobble together a team of helpers until the boys were five months old. At that point my daughter and son-in-law moved to be closer to the babies. My daughter, while job hunting, has been going over to help with the little guys all day, every single day. It's an incredible gift to my son and daughter-in-law and a tremendous bonding opportunity for my daughter. It takes a village!

Anna said...

Great post! I have b/g twins that will be 12 next month. My pregnancy was great until 27 weeks and then bed rest and their premature arrival at 32 1/2 weeks. The first several months were horrible! We celebrate Christmas (I think!) and people kept saying how special it was for us...I don't remember. My kiddos slept through the night at 3 months and I actually started to feel great. What is so challenging is how glamorized having twins is. I got so tired of the comments, especially now that you have a boy and girl you don't need to have more children! Or the comments that they didn't believe me that they were twins (my son was always bigger by about 5 pounds), so I started telling people that they were 6 months apart and would walk away! Life now is pretty good. My kids are their own individuals despite all the negative comments in the early years and like yours loving, caring and super kids! Bless you as you continue your amazing journey with your children!

Lobster Meets Peach said...

What a beautiful honest post! While I do not have multiples I do understand this need for "perfection". And I too have a very hard time asking for help. For the life of me I have no idea why! How nice that you had (and still have) family to force their help upon you.

You are a wonderful roll-model, who was smart enough to give up on "perfection" and know that did not make you a failure. Thank you for your honest and brave post!!!

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