This past Sunday my twins turned one. I can hardly believe it. The year absolutely flew by.
I had been planning to write a little post on surviving your first year with twins, but as I started thinking about what I would say, I started to realize something. This year wasn’t just about survival. Sure, in the beginning, it was a seemingly never-ending cycle of feed, burp, nap, diaper change, repeat. And we did it all in a sleep-deprived haze. There were also the sleep issues and many, many ear infections, and bouts of bronchitis, croup, etc. Maybe THOSE parts were about survival.
But this year was so much more. This year absolutely changed my life. As a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a person. Here’s how:
I no longer procrastinate. In my pre-twin life, I was a master procrasinator. I find that since becoming a Mother of Multiples, I no longer have that luxury. If I have 5 minutes to do laundry, I better do it. If I don’t, it may sit there until next week. Act now or forever miss your opportunity. Things are actually getting accomplished around my house and often in advance of when they need to be done! I’m also more productive in the office because I never know when I’ll need to take an emergancy sick or vacation day to tend to a child.
I am learning to be flexible. (I’m still working on this, but getting much better!) In life, things happen. Even with the best of intentions, schedules and routines, there is bound to be a kink in the plans at some point. In the not-so-distant past the unexpected speedbumps in my routine would have thrown me so far off course I couldn’t recover. With twins, the bumps come frequently. I have no choice but to adjust and keep moving forward. We are all happier and more relaxed as a result of Mommy’s new abilities.
Immediate family now comes first. Growing up, I saw my immediate family (mother, father, brother and me) as one unit. Our unit was part of a bigger, extended family but I knew that the four of us were our own, standalone group. When I got married and even when I had my singleton, I still saw myself as part of that original core unit. It was only with the arrival of the twins that I’ve realized: we’ve now become our own unit. And I finally feel comfortable scheduling, planning, and standing up for what I think is best for this immediate family.
I appreciate the female body (even) more. Pregnancy and childbirth is an amazing experience. But carrying and delivering multiple babies goes beyond words. Then, watching my body provide nourishment for the two babies at the same time…I’m speechless.The female body is an amazing, amazing thing!
I am much more patient. I have developed a much higher tolerance for noise, hair pulling, eye poking and monotonous play. I am content to sit on the floor for 45 minutes and let the kids climb on me; I no longer worry about what’s NOT getting done when I sit there and I no longer worry about moving on to the next activity. This one is fun? Let’s stay with it. As a result, I’m more patient with my husband, my dog and my co-workers. I am not any more patient while driving, but I’m working on that.
I want to be there for other people. Having been through the high-risk pregnancy and the NICU experience (twice), and ending up with all of these beautiful, healthy children has made me so very thankful for all that I have. As a result, I have been finding joy in helping others – even others I don’t know. My charitable donations are up, I’m donating more time (yes, time!), I’m just generally more involved in the world around me. And I enjoy it.
I love my husband (even) more. I’ve made no secret about how involved my husband is. I didn’t think before the twins arrived it was possible to love him more. But watching him step right up and help with them and our daughter and with me…I guess it was entirely possible. Ditto that feeling for my mom and dad.
I consider my situation to be my own and don’t compare it to those around me. I no longer compare my life to the lives of those around me. I feel more free as a result. Is my life crazy because I have twins? Yup. Is your life crazy because you have one baby? Or six? Yes. And Yes. Our situations are not the same; we are all different. There is no point in comparing whose life is harder or who has it better. I just make the best of what I have and I don’t worry about what others are doing.
I find the humor in things. Two little boys alternately projectile vomiting at a 3-year old’s birthday party? That would have made me cry two years ago. Now, what choice do I have but to laugh?
So, Happy BirthdayAaron and Brady. You have made me a better person. I can’t imagine my life without you little monkeys!
Hello Everyone! Enormous thanks go to our wonderful MoM’s who have agreed to “try out” for HDYDI! We are beyond thrilled that so many of you are reading along with us, and we hope you enjoy our contest week. Please vote for the author you would like to hear more from, as the authors with the most votes at 12:00am Eastern Time on Sunday, June 7th, will be invited to write for HDYDI. Enjoy and PLEASE VOTE!
Post #1: What Happens After the Stroller? by Jennifer W.
Our story begins with two Aggies meeting on E*Harmony in 2005, and getting married in February 2006. We started our family early; we had our first child in August 2006. While still getting use to our first son we were pregnant again. Thinking nothing of it I went to the doctor to find out that we were having spontaneous triplets. So I carried our triplets for 36 weeks 6 days and had the perfect pregnancy with no complication or limitations put upon me. Four months later we were pregnant again with our last child. So if you are asking yourself, “I do not think they know how that happens!” We do and we finally decided that we would have 20 children unless we had surgery to prevent that from happening. So we are a family of 7 with 5 children under the age of 3. When our children were small we called them the “zoo” because they were gated in our house. Now that they are older we call them the “safari” because they roam my house. You can find our adventures, experiences, and the confessions of a tired mother on our blog: The Wilcoxson’s.
After we found out that we were having triplets there were several things that went through our mind, one of them being that we could not logically escape being a minivan family. With that dilemma out of the way we had to find a stroller. We decided that we would get a triplet stroller and still have our single stroller as well. The nice thing about strollers is that you have some protection from the public and some warning when the grandmother or curious mother gets too close to the stroller. What happens when the stroller is no longer an option or something that your child dreads?
With our oldest almost 3 and the triplets turning 2 they are at the stage where they no longer want to be strapped into the stroller, but want some of the freedom that comes with being in a family with singletons. With that want and need for independence my husband and I had to find a way to give that desire to our children. Independence was not going to come at the cost of safety though. Holding hands was not an option because my husband and I do not have enough hands. We like to tell people that we cannot play man-on-man with our children but zone defense. So the searching began.
There was an option for leashes, but I could see that in the newspaper: “Mother of 5 decides to walk her children like a dog walker.” We did not need anymore attention than we already receive when we are in public. Then one day I was looking at educational toys on the internet and found the solution. With a little engineering and some common sense we were going to make this work for us. You see I found a toy for beading animals or cars at One Step Ahead.
We decided that a rope with 5 animals on it would do the trick. So my husband and I ordered the beads, got some nylon rope and decided that we were going to put the tractor and the barn at the end so that mommy and daddy could have a bead as well. Each child gets an animal and then there is a loop for their hand when they get older and do not want to hold onto the animal any longer.
After we put our “leash” together we had to try it out before we went into public with it. For about three weeks we walked to the mail box and around our street to get the kids use to the walking together and the distractions around them. Then we moved up to using it at church for about a month. Now my kids will not go anywhere unless they know that the animals are in the bag. I am so proud of them because they do not let the animal go unless we give them permission and they do not let other people distract them from the “mission” at hand.
I have found that as our children grow older the independence and freedom that their singleton friends have will take some strategic planning on our part to give them the same freedom or a resemblance of that freedom. No matter if we are in a stroller or walking we will always attract attention and people looking on like we are aliens from another planet because we have more than our normal quota of children in our society.
Post #2: I Have Two Turning Three, by Alix
Alix is mother to nearly-three-year-old identical twin boys, Nathan and Max. She spends her time in one of the following ways: working from home (read: balancing her lap top in one hand while reading Cool Cars for the forty-seventh time while simultaneously microwaving leftovers for dinner), staying up late (read: loading dishes and folding three hundred size-3T tee shirts), and relaxing (read: actually sitting down while the boys run circles through the house). Luxurious, it is not. But fun? Oh, yeah! Alix works part-time, mostly from home and shares child care with her husband, a university professor.
I found out I was having identical twins at 9 weeks. Just for the record, this is not a post about the always-humorous but repetitive “I fainted on the ultrasound table!” or “My husband threw up on the ultrasound tech!”. Or even, “I thought I was having a heart attack!” (O.K., I actually did briefly think I was having one, but that’s for another post). However, I will say that for the most part, the weeks following this very unexpected news are now a total blur. One of the few distinct memories I have from that period is of my mother-in-law saying to me, “I’ve gathered that parents of twins say the first three years are the hardest.” She wasn’t saying this in a patronizing way. On the contrary, I think she felt a bit of the overwhelming sense of awe and fear that I’m sure I was feeling (but can’t really remember now). THREE YEARS?? That moment I do remember. That moment is stamped so clearly in my mind I can actually remember the glare of the fluorescent kitchen light overhead as I tried to absorb this concept (and, of course, failed). Who can absorb three years??
Fast-forward to May 2009. My identical twin boys, Max and Nathan, will be turning three in one month. This is definitely not a post about how everything has suddenly become efficient, peaceful and orderly in our home, nor is it a post about how I pine for those oh-so-difficult-yet-magical early days with two babies (really, I don’t, but again, that is for another post). Rather, this is a post about the evolution of our family, and the ever-changing challenges of raising two boys born on the same day.
My husband and I spent the first year or so reminding each other that the boys would eventually sleep through the night (they did), they would actually use the bathroom and thus eliminate the need for refrigerator-sized boxes of Costco diapers (again, they did) and would become more independent (still waiting on that but optimistic). And at every point, we were surprised that the things we waited so eagerly for happened so quickly that we only remembered how eagerly we awaited their arrival after the fact. I have no idea if this is the same for parents of singletons, but certainly we were so busy and exhausted that all sorts of things in our household were only noticed after the fact (lack of clean laundry, groceries, gasoline in the car, etc.).
The second year of the boys’ lives, the death grip of exhaustion lessened. I was still nursing, but only in the mornings and before bed, which felt incredibly liberating compared to the hours I’d spent nursing every day during the first year. The boys were now sleeping, eating regular food, and walking. Somehow, though, people seemed to think that life must have gotten a lot easier for me than it really had. People would stop me and say, “Wow, that first year with two must really have been rough, eh?”. Or, “I bet you feel lucky to have survived that first year!”. And as I madly chased after two toddling boys incessantly moving from one source of danger to another (and often in opposite directions), I thought to myself, “What the hell?? I’m still just surviving here, people! Isn’t that obvious?!” And my mother-in-law’s words came back to haunt me.
And I knew then, I just had to make it to three.
And here we are.
I decided to host a birthday gathering for the boys, their first big celebration of this sort. They are really excited to have a party, and I realize that I am, too. I feel as though this celebration is for all of us. We have made it this far. We got to three. We got to three!!
The boys’ third year will, I know, bring its own round of challenges. The boys will start preschool in the fall and my husband and I are finding it hard to imagine not having them running through the house trailing laughter and chaos all day long. This will be a big transition for all of us, one of many. I remember a parent of twins saying to me, “The days pass so slowly, the months and years, so quickly.” So true.
Three, here we come. I think we’re ready.
Post #3, By Sarah
My name is Sarah and I’m a mid-thirties mother of four. After a seemingly normal full-term pregnancy, my first baby, Abigail, was born sleeping in June 2006. In an odd twist of fate, I became pregnant with spontaneous identical triplets a few months after Abigail’s death. Against the odds, the girls were delivered at 35 weeks, 6 days gestation. I work full time in the wonderful world of tax and enjoy photography, writing and running in my very limited free time. I currently blog about our daily craziness at http://thegreatumbrellaheist.blogspot.com/
Today, as I pushed over sixty pounds of toddler in our triple jogging stroller, I thought of that common question asked of parents of multiples everywhere. When does it get easier? If you peruse any message board for caregivers of twins, triplets and more, you will see that question asked over and over and the response is usually the same. It doesn’t get easier. It just gets different. So now, as I listen to my three toddlers scream in their cribs because going to bed is such torture, I really do wonder when it will get easier. My husband, Rich, and I have told ourselves that the magic age will be five. It seems better than choosing three or four and then being disappointed and I don’t think I can make it to seven or eight.
We moved into our current home approximately 18 months ago. The girls, who were 6 months old at the time, began to share a bedroom. It was a new experience for all of us. My husband and I debate the room sharing situation on what feels like a daily basis. We can discuss and theorize all we want – the hard truth is that our standard builder’s special only has 3.5 bedrooms. The .5 room is an office and seeing as Grammy, my mom, sleeps over quite a bit, we only thought it appropriate to give her a bedroom. That leaves us with three girls in one room.
I have good friends who are twins and they shared a bedroom until their early 20’s. I remember being slightly jealous of their camaraderie because I was not lucky enough to have a sister. I have convinced myself, through a sleep deprived thought process, that once the girls are older, they will enjoy sharing a room. I expect there to be a lot of comforting going on. You know what I mean. One of them wakes up afraid of the dark and her sister will tell her that it’s okay. Okay, maybe if I believe hard enough, it will happen.
When the girls were about 18 months old, we pushed their three cribs together to form a big square in the middle of the room. We thought it would be fun for them to share books and dollies during that wind down period prior to falling asleep. For the most part, this crib configuration worked out. We experienced a few incidents of book stealing and book tossing. And by book tossing, I’m referring to a book landing on someone (possibly on the head) while she is sleeping. It’s not very pleasant – I can assure you. But then there was the night that I crept into their room to check on them and found Emily and Allie holding hands through the crib slats, asleep. My heart just about burst open.
We, unfortunately, separated their cribs last month after I caught Allie pulling Anna’s hair. The girls didn’t complain too much about the new set-up – not that they really could, anyway. We were hoping that having some space between them would lessen the number of times that they awaken each other. It hasn’t.
Of course, having the girls share a room means that there is a constant source of entertainment for us when listening in on their conversations. The latest phase is Allie, the oldest of the three by 30 seconds, telling her sisters to go to sleep. That’s exactly how she says it. “Emmy, go to sleep.” You see, although my girls are genetically identical, their sleep habits are not. Allie seems to require and/or want more sleep than Emily. Anna, the middle child, varies. Allie has decided that the other two should conform to her sleep schedule.
So back to when does it get easier. At six o’clock Sunday morning, an alarm went off in the girls’ room. We keep a sound machine and a Bose CD player in there and apparently, one of the girls accidentally set the alarm while they were “exploring” their room before either nap or bed. And by alarm, I mean the annoying beeping kind. Rich ran in there to turn it off and optimistically thought he could sneak out unnoticed. I listened to events unfold over the monitor from the warmth and comfort of my bed. Rich picked up Emily, who was the first to spot him, hoping to prevent her from awakening the other two. Anna started in on one of her uncontrollable crying jags while Allie yelled, “Anna, go to sleep.”
In some sense, life is easier, although different, now. It is far easier for one adult to care for three toddlers versus three infants. When mornings such as these occur, my husband and I take turns napping. I can nap at any point during the day so I always offer Rich the first adult nap slot and I take the next one.
And yes, at almost 26 months old, my girls still sleep in their cribs without crib tents. I am blissfully unaware of any attempts of crib escape. Believe me, they will be sleeping in those cribs for as long as possible.
Do your multiples share a room? If they do share a room and you had the resources, would you separate them?
Post #4: Best-Laid Plans, by Jen from Diagnosis: Urine
I’m a freelance writer, and mom to a 6-year-old, 4-year-old twin boys, and a 2-year-old. I worked full-time until February 2007, and since then we’ve relocated for a job, lost that job, experienced unemployment, and have lived to tell about it. My blog, diagnosisurine.blogspot.com, is an attempt at entertaining people with my angst over transitioning from breadwinner and go-getter to stay-at-home mom to a tiny quartet of destruction.
Like many others before me, I was at my most knowledgeable during my first pregnancy. I had researched it all. I had a birth plan, an infancy plan, and a toddlerhood plan.
But, alas, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…” You can guess how long my plans lasted.
Having twins two years later was like my first go-‘round all over again. I relearned everything, from the mechanics of breastfeeding to the mechanics of folding the double stroller. I did it while working full-time, mostly from home, while caring for a 2-year-old as well.
A baby’s cuteness blinds people to the reality of caring for a newborn. “Enjoy every minute of it!” kindly grandmothers admonish in the grocery store, and you smile and nod but fight back tears thinking of how very tired you are, and how the baby only sleeps when you’re out of the house, and how the longest stretch of sleep you’ve had in a week, is 30 minutes.
The baby-blindness goes double for twins. I remember getting a lot of, “Oh! You’re so blessed!” But I didn’t feel especially blessed. My boys were healthy and for that I was grateful, but in all honesty we’d tried for one baby, and we couldn’t afford two. I spent the twins’ first year steeped in guilt for all the times they cried and I could only comfort one of them, for the times I snapped at my daughter, for the way my marriage and the housework were neglected, and for the concessions my employer and coworkers had made for me.
When people saw me out with three kids under three and said, with a chuckle, “It only gets worse!” I wanted to cry or smack them, depending on the day.
I’m here to tell you the truth: It does get better.
My twin boys are four now. My oldest daughter is six, and we even added a fourth – our youngest daughter is two. I work for myself now, so I get to stay home and figure out my own hours. It is worlds easier than our lives were four, three, or two years ago.
Now, because I’m here to tell you the truth, I’ll also admit that it still sucks sometimes. There are speech delays, potty training crises, typical childhood phobias and obsessions that are only magnified by the presence of four children experiencing them simultaneously under one roof. Yes, there are days I hate this.
Today, for example, wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I’m three hours past the deadline for submitting this post. There were fevers and diarrhea and encounters with neighborhood dogs and trampolines, and minor squabbles and tricycle jousting, and that was in the course of about an hour. I do the best I can. Most of us do. Sometimes my best involves a “teachable moment” and a cute blog post with pictures, and other days it turns into me growling at the kids, each word punctuated with brief, terse silence; followed by a blog post lamenting my numerous failures.
So, in case this is the only post of mine you ever read – especially since I am late and will be lucky to be included at all – please know that it does get better. I promise you, what you go through during the newborn and toddler years with your twins is exhausting and punishing and of course it’s worth it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not 18 years away.
Our family of six is out for our nightly post-dinner, pre-bedtime walk. I am pushing Brett in the single stroller, Brian is pushing Aaron and Brady in their side-by-side, and Alaina is riding next to us on her big girl bike. A&B spontaneously burst out into song. We’re not sure what words they are singing, but the melody sounds a bit like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Brian and I take a moment to smile at each other and share a “Yup. All of this is ours.” proud moment. And then…
Screaming! Terror! A chorus of Brady’s “NOOOOOOOOO”. Aaron’s silence (because his mouth is otherwise occupied, full of his brother’s arm.). In 1.1 seconds we’ve gone from a Norman Rockwell painting to an audition tape for “Nanny 911”.
Sadly, we have no idea why.
And then, back to singing.
And so it goes. 22-month old brothers who love each other one second and are trying to kill each other the very next. Over nothing. Brady enjoys hitting and hair pulling, Aaron prefers to bite. Neither have ever turned their aggression towards anyone except their other half. And as quickly as they turn it on, they are over it. Leaving their father and I to scratch our heads and stare dumbly at them – and each other – thinking “What the HELL was that?”
We know they love each other. They play, they cuddle, they bring each other their cups and conspire together. We listen to them on the monitor in their room at night talking in their little twin talk we don’t understand. We hear them waking up in the morning and whispering to each other and giggling before they shout out for “DaddEEEEE”. So what is going on? Why are they so hell bent on hurting each other for what seems like no other reason than sport?
Perhaps it is a function of spending too much time together? Perhaps they are just boys being boys? Who knows. But it is frustrating to say the least. And mind-boggling that after 15-seconds of all out WAR, before we can even react, they will go back to just dancing or singing or building a tower together.
My boys are acknowledging each other in a positive way!
Sure, in the beginning they needed to be near each other to sleep. But that was an instinct not a choice; a simple result of having slept together for 34 weeks prior.
But as they grew and we moved them to separate cribs, they seemed to pay almost no attention to each other. I kept wondering when they would like each other. If they would like each other.
Now in their 18th month, they are really starting to care for one another. Sure, they still take each others toys away, just for the sake of it — not because they actually want that toy — but when it counts, they are proving that they do love each other:
When one cries, the other will come over and rub his back or smack pat him on the head.
When one gets hurt, the other one will cry in sympathy.
When they go to bed, they can be heard for 15 minutes in their room blowing each other kisses.
When they wake up in the morning, they can be heard “talking” and laughing with each other for a while before yelling out for “Daaaaadeeee” to come get them out.
We even caught them holding hands before bed the other night. Finally, the twin bond is starting to emerge.
When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was determined to raise them as independent little people. I never referred to them as “the twins” and preferred that other people avoid that as well. When they were born, I tried my hardest to avoid dressing them in matching outfits (which was hard because people REALLY like to give them as gifts…and see them worn!) in an effort to emphasize that they are, in fact, two seperate beings.
As they grow – and appear to be very, very much alike physically – I find myself trying hard to point out their behaviorial differences. Sometimes they are true observations, such as “Aaron is a much faster crawler and Brady goes more slowly, trying to work on technique”. But lately I’ve also found myself guilty of saying things like “Aaron is great at self-soothing, Brady is not as good”. I didn’t think too much of it at first, until I was awake and rocking Brady at 4:30 am in the morning. And I had to wonder: Did I do this to them?
For all my talk about Aaron being better at self-soothing, is it because I have a tendency to pick up Brady first? Have I forced Aaron to be more independent (and wait it out) while encouraging Brady to be more dependent on the cuddle, the rock, the touch of a parent while falling asleep?
I have also heard myself proclaiming “Brady will eat anything, Aaron is more picky.” Is that true? Or, do I subconsciously give up on new foods faster with Aaron because I have labeled him in my mind as the finicky one?
I’m not sure. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation I guess. But I am starting to worry about the danger of labeling my children in a desperate attempt to find the differences between them. All this labeling seems to be actually driving and encouraging those behaviours that were perhaps not really there before.
One thing I will have to start working on is accepting that they are, in fact, identical twins. They will look alike. They will behave in a similar fashion. Their personalities will come alive on their own and their differences will shine through. In the meantime, perhaps, I should start celebrating some of these special similarities instead of trying SO HARD to force them to be different people.
*Ahem* Yes, the above mentioned title refers to yours truly. To look at me, you would think I was just an average minivan driving suburban mother of two. But I can spy a double stroller faster than my kids can pull all of the wipes out of the container. I know that a lot of families have double strollers for their non-twins families, but I am especially good at identifying the strollers housing two from the same womb. And then, I actually approach these people and talk to them! Strangers! People who are avoiding eye contact with the rest of the world, hoping to ward off the “are they twins?” comment. So yes, I am a self proclaimed twin mom stalker.
There is just something magnetic about other mother’s of twins (and more!) Finally, women who “get” me, women I can identify with, learn from and commiserate with. Friends with singletons are wonderful, but the instant support and understanding of MoM’s can’t be beat.
It is pretty cool, belonging to this “twin club.” It comes with some instant celebrity, which was in itself rather surreal. (And rather unwelcomed during the infant stage-“Don’t these people know I have 3 seconds before meltdown to GET OUT OF THIS STORE?!!!”) I have never belonged to a secret society, a popular club or sorority. But having two children from the same pregnancy has opened up doors that a secret handshake could never compete with.
I really like being a mom of twins…most days! I like a lot of the attention, the looks of admiration as I juggle my twosome, the “I don’t know how you do it” comments from friends having their first child.
But the funny thing is, our celebrity is fading…my babies are quickly turning into toddlers, who don’t look very much alike. They are now 3 lbs and 1/2 a head apart. We don’t get very many double takes, because I don’t think people recognize them as twins. And really, that is okay! I actually don’t want the kids receiving a lot of attention from strangers just beause they were born on the same day. When they are old enough to understand, I don’t want them to feel like people are always watching them…I wonder if we as a family will attract less attention because my kids aren’t identical…or triplets.
But for now, while it lasts, I will enjoy our twin celebrity status, and continue seeking out all of those mom’s like me, because it feels great to belong to a group, especially the MoM’s group!
Jason and I have chosen (prior to finding out if they were I or F) NOT to dress the girls in the same outfits. He is adamantly against it, due to the traumatizing effect that being dressed exactly like his younger brother, who was the same size but three years younger, had on him. I think it’s better to dress them differently to support individuality. Friends and family have all warned me that I’ll be sorry in years to come when the girls start talking and oh yeah, fighting over clothes. Oh boy. Can’t. Wait. We shall see if that’s what really happens or not. Just in case, I have bought clothes that are similar, but different colors or patterns. The way I figure it, I’m not going to designate who’s clothing is who’s, I’ll let them figure it out and if there are any issues I will do my best to keep it civil. What’s the worst that could happen?
So what about your family? Do you dress your twins alike? Are your twins fraternal or identical? Though, apparently, identical twins aren’t that identical anyway!