Friday, February 12, 2016

Raising Twins: I wish someone had told me

“Fighting Fears With a Baby in Each Arm”

When I think of our first weeks with twins, one person always comes to mind: Kenny G.  Our Thanksgiving preemies and NICU graduates had to be woken up to be fed every three hours.  So when it’s Christmas time, what better way to smoothly wake you and your spouse in the middle of the night than with some soothing, holiday jazz!  Except it often worked too well, and we would either sleep through the alarm for 45 minutes, or we would argue at 3:10 in the morning in a half-asleep stupor: “I just heard this song like two minutes ago.  It CANNOT be time to feed them again!”  Oh, but it was, my sleepy former self.  It was . . .

No doubt, caring for two babies (or more!) at once can force a mom to forfeit some of the “ideal” baby experiences such as natural delivery and nursing.  And oh yes, twins can be exhausting.  One has to look no further than our history with Kenny G or our family’s December and January 2010-11 photo albums, to confirm the exhausting part.

(And there’s a lot more of those sleeping beauties (pint size and full) when you look through our photo archives.)

Before our adventure with our fraternal twin boys began, there was no question from anyone that we were going to be a teensy weensy bit tired.  But we also were given unwanted negative thoughts and fears before our boys arrived, ironically coming from people who neither had twins nor were a twin.  These were the people warning us how much our lives would alter, telling us we wouldn’t get out by ourselves for a long time, making frightening faces, and begging us to hire a night nurse (On a Christian teacher’s salary?!  In fact, I did have a night nurse.  His name was Ben, and I shared a bed with him.  Nice arrangement, huh?)  

Cutest night nurse EVER.

Instead, my biggest cheerleaders were the people in my life who had twins.  And no, their tales of twindom were not all sunshine and lollipops.  But their tales were also not littered with words like “hellish.”  When I talked to them, I didn’t leave scared but instead encouraged. 
With both the rally of the cheerleaders and the pessimistic roar of others, we lived to tell of pushing through the twenty diaper changes a day, the round-the-clock pumping, and the plethora of bottles that needed cleaning.  But by month three, I was charged and ready to start proving the pessimists wrong.  We accepted offers from people to babysit, and we went out on dates.  I lugged both babies along to Target, to coffee shops, to the grocery store, and to restaurants.  And when the pediatrician told me I would need help bringing both babies to the doctor’s by myself, I proceeded to prove her wrong too.  

So a quandary arises for me when asked, “What do you wish someone had told you before you had twins?”  Do I wish that I hadn’t been told all the potential negative aspects of caring for twins?  Or was it that negativity that drove my intensely competitive side?   My side that hates losing in tennis, in Parcheesi, in anything for that matter.  Which might be why when I was pregnant with our third child and everyone said, “Having a single baby will be a cakewalk after twins!” I never bothered to rally my competitive spirit.  After our third child’s birth, I found myself treading water for two years wondering when the cakewalk would start.  And still I wait.

Yes, twins are hard (as is adding any additional baby to a family), but not beyond reason.  And for some it may be harder than for others.  Job situations, other siblings, the temperaments of the babies, and life’s logistics all play a part in the challenges of raising two babies at once.  Please, ask advice from families with twins.  But also don’t forget that although your situations have great similarities, your experiences will never be entirely the same. 

The most important piece to remember is that at the end of the day, even with the good, bad, and ugly advice, there are two little people with a beautiful link to the other.  And you get to be witness to that every single day.  Yes, with the birth of our twins my house became messier, my laundry higher, my to-do list longer, and my hair grayer.  But the silliness, the ever constant wrestling matches, and the intense bond between my two bald babies turned rambunctious five year olds, reminds me why we ditched our dreams of smooth jazz and instead embraced a life with a whole lot more rock ‘n’ roll. 

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