I went to my 20-year high school reunion last weekend. It was so fun to see everyone and chat about both old times and new. Martha and I were talking about our children and parenting. She was telling me about how different it is to have twins. (I can only imagine!) So, I asked Martha if she wanted to write about being a mother of twins on Secrets of Moms, and she said yes, so here’s Martha…
Having twins was something no one could have ever prepared me for, and even if someone had tried, I highly doubt I would have believed them. Because I already had a child (my son Blake was four when the twins were born), I ignorantly thought it couldn’t be that much harder having two at one time. And now, over two years later, I still cringe a tiny bit when I think back on being that naïve.
Every stage of having twins brings its own unique set of challenges and adjustments. Take nursing, for example. Moms of twins don’t get to use the cute little boppy pillows with the fashionable polka dot cover. No indeed. We get to use pillows that are covered in material similar to the “robes” you wear for your annual exams and, when put in position, kind of feel like a large dog curling itself around your belly. And then there’s the issue of milk supply. Although this is certainly not exclusive to twin moms, with twins it almost becomes a full-blown obsession. I had dreams about the supply of breast milk in our freezer. I remember crying to a babysitter one night because I had come to the realization that, before there was formula, “mothers in the dark ages who didn’t have enough milk probably had to choose which twin to keep alive.” She tried very, very hard not to look at me like I was crazy.
The physical nursing of twins is like running a marathon that lasts for months (which is probably how long it would take me to finish an actual marathon). In those early days, I literally did not get off the couch at all, going from one feeding session to the next. When one twin was done, would remove him or her and then hand me the other one. At some points I don’t think I even paid attention to who was who – if someone had handed me a baby who wasn’t mine, I probably would have just started nursing that one too.
Probably the most difficult stage of having twins is the extreme sleep deprivation that comes with having two babies up all throughout the night. Those who have experienced one baby who doesn’t sleep well has suffered plenty, and when you throw a second little angel into the mix, it pretty much guarantees that your pillow will become the most unused item in your house. I would say more about this, but I was so tired during the first six months that I’m not even sure I really remember what happened. I do remember falling down the stairs a few times, and hitting my head constantly on doors and cabinets because I was moving too slow to get out of the way in time.
Now that my twins are two, I’ve started hearing a new set of comments regarding the ease of taking care of them. As much as well-intentioned commentators
believe it to be true, having two-year-old twins is not the same as having a two-year-old and a three-year old, or even a one-year-old and a two-year-old. The difference is that you are dealing with two very mobile toddlers with whom you are not yet able to communicate with effectively. This plays out on a trip to any park that does not have an exterior fence (which, in my experience, is pretty much every park there is). Two-year-olds are fast enough to run swiftly towards the nearest street, but are not yet old enough to understand what you mean as you desperately yell “the tires on that semi-truck are NOT your friends!!” And of course there are the times that they decide to run in completely opposite directions. Sometimes it seems as if they are conspiring against me. But then I think about things like how they believe Elmo is real, so they probably aren’t actually that sophisticated.
As they get older, the memories of the early fatigue and struggles have started to fade away. To watch them grow and already have such a special connection to each other has truly been amazing. Supposedly when twins turn three, it gets a whole lot easier. I will admit I’m pretty excited we are getting closer to that milestone. I just hope that someone lets my twins in on the expectation as well…