Published on Elephant Journal Here:
“I didn’t ask for twins,” I admitted to my best friend on the phone as I cried myself to exhaustion. This came on the heels of a silly ranting Facebook post that my husband put up (and quickly deleted) about not having any time nor energy these days.
Someone commented #lifechoices.
It was a dumb thing to even acknowledge, nonetheless have an emotional response to, but we did and I was angry.
The truth was, I wanted three kids. I actually wanted four, but my husband and I had settled on three and I felt good about that, like I could handle it with ease. I figured I had three to four years to make this happen since my husband is 10 years older than me and we wanted to be young, cool parents. (Clearly, I had it all figured out). We were really on a roll after my daughter, Summer, was born in October 2013. She was easy breezy. We continued bragging about how easy she was, what a good eater she was, what a good sleeper she was, how we just thought parenting was the easiest and most fulfilling job in the world. We were “those” parents. I annoy myself just thinking about it now.
She was so easy that only nine months after her birth, we started not, not trying again. Little did I know, since I had just stopped breast feeding, I would be pregnant in about 15 seconds. I shot up the morning after my 31st birthday and felt a strong pain in my stomach muscles. A pain I had only ever experienced when pregnant. I hopped out of bed, took a test and at 5:15 in the morning tapped my husbands shoulder, he rolled over and saw the “+.” We both squealed in excitement.
And there you have it. We were so excited, anticipating another round of perfection as far as babies go. Now fast forward six weeks—we bounced into the doctor’s office to chat about my options. A.k.a my supposed demands. I would not be getting any ultrasounds or invasive tests, round two of a natural water birth, hypnobirthing and no meds, here we come! (Again, childbirth pros over here).
And that’s when it happened, the doctor smiled and said “umm… there’s two.” Our world seemed to have frozen in time. There you have it, three under eighteen months. Everything changed, and in the coming weeks we came to find out we had Monochorionic-Diamniotic “MoDi” twins (identical twins sharing a placenta).
They were high risk due to blood flow issues switching from Baby A’s umbilical chord to Baby B’s and I was scheduled to have ultrasounds every two weeks. Thus began our journey of a complete: shove our plan, our opinions and all previous thoughts on life in general back in our faces.
We wanted to be surprised on the sex of the babies, but somehow I just knew these little stinkers were boys. It was a constant rotation of who needed attention more starting at 16 weeks. I would go in and Baby A was showing minor issues and next appointment it would switch and Baby A was fine but we could lose Baby B.
The drama was real and never ending, every appointment was high tension. They were both head down, and then at the last minute Baby B decided to flip. 16 weeks of The Webster Technique was no match for my stubborn little men. It was a constant roller coaster ride but they made it, healthy and thriving they raced into our lives at 37 weeks and 1 day. My med-free water birth was switched to an induction with epidural (at 9 cm, super comfy), but I got to have them naturally with Baby B pulled out breech after an intense internal maneuvering by the doctor, the flipped him and pulled him about by his ankles. They seemed great, no NICU and no medical issues, but right off the bat they were high maintenance to say the least. Fussy turned into colicky and we went from eight hours of sleep a night to a very broken 2-3. Our lives got hard, too hard. My fairy tale of a sleeping baby on my chest as I worked turned into nursing 14 hours a day in a constant baby rotation and having to leave the house just to make a phone call because they never stopped crying. Work was hard, life was hard, marriage was hard. We couldn’t make it work, nothing made them happy and we tried it all. They had constipation problems, nursing problems, colic, reflux, digestion issues, belly aches, tooth aches, a weird cough and non-stop fussing and screaming. It was enough to make anyone crazy, especially on no sleep. My husband and I were doing OK in the beginning, I call it denial, since it’s normal baby stuff, but by the third or fourth month we really started falling apart. You don’t just focus on fussy babies when your head is that foggy and tired, you start questioning life in general.
Suddenly, what was once just two crying babies was now a need for change. We wanted to move, we needed marriage counseling, we were questioning those around us, we wanted a fresh start, we wanted the past six months to just disappear.
Advice from the world starts to wear you down. Well intended comments seem condescending and hurtful. People asking us if we tried putting them in a crib together, have we tried to feed them more, have we tried dairy milk instead of soy, have we tried, have we tried, have we tried. YES! We tried everything, literally EVERYTHING to make our lives easier, to make them not cry all day, to get them to sleep, to return to sanity and nothing worked.
What many don’t realize or consider when you have two babies at once (along with a toddler), is there are no breaks, if one falls asleep there is another just waking up. No schedule or planning can keep 3 babies synched up, it’s just not the way babies work. It was a type of torture I have never experienced before. You love them so much and are so angry at the same time. Your body aches, your heart aches, you want to cry but you are just too tired to and the worst part? No one understands. Literally, no one! I understand now, it’s because anyone that went through the hell of a colicky baby, even if it was just with one kid at a time, they block it out and never want to discuss it again, and those that are in the thick of it have to disappear just to survive it. Friends stop asking to hear about it, family does what they can to be supportive, but there are whispers of “holy shit” every time they leave the chaos of your home.
So, here’s the thing, there’s a reason behind my rant, a lesson to be learned. My boys are 11 months now. The cold hard truth is, not only are my boys mirror twins to each other, as it turns out, they are mirrors of my husband and I as well. I’m a firm believer that every single thing which enters your life, enters for a reason. It took 11 months, but I think we are finally realizing what we just survived and why.
As we were chatting with friends recently about the things we are currently involved in, they said they don’t know how we go in so many directions. My husband laughed and said, “And we wonder why our boys are in such a rush.” That’s just it, every single thing our sweet boys have taught us so far has been yet another thing about ourselves that we are working on changing. They are in a hurry to eat, a hurry to learn, a hurry to walk…to run, a hurry to live and to do just about everything throughout their day. They can never settle, bouncing from one toy to the other, one parent to the other, fussing all the time if they are not constantly stimulated. A play room my daughter has been happily playing in for two-and-a-half years, they are already tired of and trying to climb out of.
My husband and I are workaholics. We love working because we love our jobs and we find fulfillment in that. But through our children we finally had to ask the question, where should our fulfillment be coming from? Something was broken, because we were no longer happy being pulled back to work at 9PM. Despite loving what we do we kept searching for more, always sending a constant unsettling energy out into the universe. We had never lived in one house for more than two years together, had moved up and down the East Coast four times, were constantly changing direction, goals, hobbies and routines. We have addictive personalities and have become addicted to starting new ventures.
During my pregnancy with the boys, we knew it would be hard, but we committed to opening an art gallery. We seem to have an “all-in” mentality in everything we do and while that helps us accomplish goals, it also can result in 3 babies in 17 months, 5 businesses, total exhaustion and complete mental shut down.
So, what have we learned? These boys have taught us so much about ourselves as individuals, as a couple, as parents and as business people. As individuals and parents, we are taking a breather. Learning that we have a lot to learn still and enjoying the process. As business owners? We are hiring quickly to alleviate our stress, ending our work day at 4 p.m. every day, not working on the weekends, doing things that may not make us money but absolutely make us happy and the biggest change I have seen? A final commitment to stay put. We agreed we are staying in our house and making it our home for as long as we need, so we are on to year three in one location and it feels wonderful. As it turns out, “You can have roots and wings.”
They are us and as we get to guide them, they get to guide us. We are all changing together and it’s beautiful. Seeing this change within our family of five has been exponential. We have a tradition when the kids start getting nuts at night and we all start doing “Om’s” to calm everyone and reset the energy of the day. Our daughter leads and at two years old she takes a deep breath and does a loud “om” with her tiny hands in prayer. The boys stop what they are doing and watch her in awe. So, no…I did not ask for twins. The universe saw that I needed twins and that’s the gift I was given.