When my husband and I planned on getting pregnant, we had it all figured out. We would have one, maybe two kids. We would live in our small apartment for awhile. One of us would work part time, and we had a friend who could provide us with affordable childcare for the rest of the time. Easy peasy. Being a mom would be straightforward. I was good with babies – I have two much younger brothers. My youngest brother was just a baby when I moved away from home. I had babysat for as long as I could remember. I felt well prepared for my motherhood experience.
My friends were all starting to have kids, and things seemed fine. So, needless to say, I was pretty shocked when the ultrasound tech said “Here’s baby A…. and here’s baby B!” My husband told the tech to stop joking around, and then swore at him. I cried. We were so terrified of the future! What were we going to DO?!? We had it all planned out – for one baby!
Once it really hit us that, no, he was not joking, we were actually having two, our fear didn’t exactly subside. Slowly, though, our fear was mostly replaced by excitement. We were at the point in my pregnancy where we had already told everybody that we were expecting. Getting to tell everyone that we were expecting another one was actually a lot fun. No one believed us!
And then, at 39 weeks, our babies were born. Fraternal twin girls, born one minute apart. That is when the real adventure began. It sounds all very cliche as I type this, but I was completely taken aback by how fucking hard those first few weeks were. The cliche exists because its true.
I imagine that being a mom to a singleton is also very difficult, but the first few weeks with twins… EVERY SINGLE THING was complicated. Forget about trying to leave the house. My husband and I couldn’t even take turns doing the regular daily tasks, because each of us ALWAYS had a baby in our arms. For the first 7 weeks I was terrified to even be ALONE with them.
Luckily, my mother-in-law came over every day to lend me a hand (a saint, she is). How different this experience was to what I had envisioned. I had imagined with one baby, I’d just strap that baby on and go for a walk! Go meet friends! Go to a new moms group! My reality was this: coordinating even the seemingly simple action of going outside was a huge ordeal. So going and meeting people? Ha! No. Never! For us, the great irony was that after literally doubling the size of our family, we were really lonely. Those first months seemed to go by so slowly.
We Got this
But, things did eventually become easier. Once we had established routines and both felt more comfortable in our roles as parents we could go out again. Looking back now, I try to remember how I felt at that time. Though I can recall a familiar feeling state, my memories of early parenthood are not as vivid as I hoped they would be. I’ve found myself feeling jealous of singleton moms because I didn’t have the time to experience the focused, special bonding, one-on-one time with my children. However, now that they are growing up and I see the way being a twin makes them who they are, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The Twin Thing
Twins are interesting, partly because of the way they tune in to each other. This is yet another cliche that holds true! They have a constant playmate. They know how to share. They know how to stand up for themselves. They know how to work together. If one of them is crying, the other tries to comfort her, and then tries to explain to me why she is sad. (And usually its something kind of funny, like, “She sad because she put her finger in my mouth and I bite it.”)
They play in such an interesting, cooperative way. I’ll listen to them play doctor’s office or restaurant, or another imaginary game, and all of a sudden, in the middle of playing, they will seamlessly switch roles with one another without verbalizing anything. They take on each other’s imaginary character without interrupting the narrative they are creating together.
They will do this not only during play, but also when they paint. They seem to share a singular vision of what they want to create and work through the painting collaboratively while each working on their own paper. One of them will say, “I making mama!” and the other will say, “I making the house!” Their finished artworks are completely different, but they can both explain what is happening in each other’s picture.
Multiples not Duplicates
Seeing them develop into their own little people is amazing. Yet even as each twin becomes their own person, they still rely on each other to figure out the “big stuff”. For example, to get through something they perceive as scary, they will support and affirm each other. When one is frustrated with something, the other will help to troubleshoot the problem or help calm her sister down. Their bond is so special and unique to the twin experience. They grow up collaboratively into two distinct individuals. Its hard to put in words beyond this, but, if you have ever met a set of twins, or are a twin yourself, then you know what I mean. They look out for each other in a special way. They are always a pair. Even when we do things individually with them, they ask where their sister is the whole time. So, in essence, they are never apart!
As I watch them hold hands, help each other, and love each other every day, I am reminded that I get to experience something truly special. Something that many parents never experience. When people say to me (and,yes, they actually have said this) “I can’t imagine what you go through. I am SO GLAD I don’t have twins!” I think, “Well, this is all I know as a parent,” and the beautiful times truly outnumber the frustrating, hard times. My husband and I often talk about how now, we can’t imagine it any other way. We really are the lucky ones.
My Favorite Twin Resources:
For empowering birth stories, and encouragement in having a holistic birth experience: Having Twins and More by Elizabeth Noble:http://www.amazon.com/Having-Twins-More-Pregnancy-Childhood/dp/0618138730
For child development, The Wonder Weeks:http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Weeks-Stimulate-Development-Predictable/dp/9491882007/
For attachement parenting advice, Naturally Parenting Twins website:http://naturallyparentingtwins.net/