I read a lot of blogs. A lot. I think it’s a great way to “hone my craft” (I’ve always wanted to say that now that I’m part of the “artistic community”) and get inspired.
And I’m a huge supporter of anyone who puts herself out there. As moms, sharing our stories is an important, dare I say an essential, part of building a world where all women can stand together, hand in hand and say there is more that unites us than divides us (or is that all those mid-term advertisements talking?)
For example, the other day, a really sweet young blogger popped up in my feed with a new post. It was a touching tribute detailing her birth story to honor her son’s first year of life. She talked about how her pregnancy was completely dictated by intuition and she did not even seek a doctor’s care. She experienced every symptom with joy and trust, knowing her body could handle the task. She had a home delivery using a birthing tub and a doula. Her piece was poetically written using all sorts of beautiful phrases like blissfully intense, birthing heaven and life-giving power surges. For this sweet, strong mom, she would not change a thing, as the process from beginning to end was “an amazing and peaceful journey that ended in the priceless gift of motherhood.”
By the time I got to the end of her piece, I was convinced her vagina was a magical portal. I imagined a place with rainbows and unicorns and babies popping out from ornate tunnels into fields of flowers.
It was almost exactly how my birth experience went.
I delivered twins ten years ago. Before you ask if they were natural, they weren’t. They were completely un-natural. In fact, my husband and I weren’t even in the same room when they were conceived. He “delivered the goods” early one snowy January morning before heading out of town for a meeting. I followed two hours later and had intercourse with a tube that shot my husband’s best swimmers up to my overly ripe, hormonally-charged eggs. Just to make sure the first group of swimmers weren’t slacking off, we sent a second batch up the next morning. It’s totally possible that I got pregnant with one daughter on a Tuesday and the second on Wednesday. This beautiful process is called intrauterine insemination.
Eleven days later, a blood test — which could barely be taken because my veins were collapsed from all the prior needles used to inject drugs and check hormone levels during the “fertility” process — did indeed show that I was with-child. I wanted to trust my body, but my doctor had trust-issues, so she suggested I stick progesterone suppositories up my hoo-hoo to make sure those kids weren’t going anywhere. My husband and I were blissfully happy for about nine days. That’s when the acute morning sickness kicked in.
By about week sixteen, I started feeling great, but I had to visit the doctor regularly because I started having edema in my feet. To quote my husband, Fred Flintstone had nothing on me. By week twenty-six, it was official. I had preeclampsia and pre-term contractions. My life-giving power surges were happening a little early.
Somehow by the grace of God, bed rest and the power of off-script pharmaceuticals, I made it to thirty-five weeks with my precious cargo. Because my kids have a sense of humor, one decided to lay breech and the other transverse, which basically means she was stretched out horizontally across my belly. My doctor lovingly said, “You never had a chance of a vaginal birth anyway.”
After a very intimate experience with an anesthesiologist who placed a six-inch needle between vertebrae in my spine, I was surrounded by 18 strangers I had never met before all ready to leap into action. It was a soothing environment. As my husband held my hand and stroked my hair, I laid on a cold metal table like Jesus on the cross, and I was resurrected as soon as I heard those two little cries.
They were little, but strong. I did it. That’s when I found my zen and calmly turned to my husband and anesthesiologist and said, “I think I am going to throw up now.”
And I did. No one was safe. I vomited on my husband, and then continued to heave for forty-five minutes while the doctor tried to sew me up as I swore to her that I did not eat anything after the ice cream sundae I devoured at 9:30 the previous night.
But it didn’t stop. I threw up on my mother in law in the recovery room, which was a beautiful bonding experience. Then it was the nice nurse’s turn who checked in on me before leaving her shift. Even my sister-in-law wasn’t spared during the epic puking phase. I was so sick that I don’t even remember the first time I actually held my kids, which I only did because my husband insisted. He wheeled my magic catheter bag and IV drip and drug-induced self all the way down to the NICU so I could hold those two beautiful miracles. Or so I am told.
About two days later, I started coming around. I took a shower, changed from a hospital gown into my pajamas and met my new best friend, my industrial sized breast pump, which got more action than my husband for the next six months.
This was my journey into the priceless gift of motherhood, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I told you our birth stories were almost the same.
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A fellow mom of multiples and I were chatting the other day about how people still think we have our hands full because we have twins; but in our minds, once your kids get a little older, it’s no different from any family having two children close together.
And I would even argue that sometimes having two is even easier than having one. Constant playmates, more offers of help, and constant playmates (did I say that twice?) are just some of the bonuses of having your children in pairs (or triplets) as opposed to one.
Yes, in the beginning it’s brutal. More diapers, more feedings, more chasing around, but it does get easier.
Until it isn’t.
Double the blessings, double the fun is definitely true — except during certain milestone events that every family goes through. It’s can be a wee bit harder when you have more than one kid going through these things at the same time.
Here’s my: Top Five Worst Times to be a Mom of Multiples.
Number 5: Santa pictures/family photos. It’s like they feed off of each other.
My twins, the first year I took them to meet the big guy.
Number 4: Learning to drive. Have you ever seen this Subaru commercial where a dad has to teach his sons to drive a stick shift? Hilarious. My favorite line from an identical twin: “Dad, you didn’t show me, you showed him!”
“Dad, you didn’t show me, you showed him!”
Number 3: Terrible twos and threes. The frustration, tantrums and stubbornness does not seem to be doubly worse, but instead ten times as worse. And they are crafty. They don’t do it at the same time. They spread out the joy so one is always whining or crying or fussing. They say that the newborn stage is the hardest. Well, I think “they” were smoking crack. Anyone who has survived the terrible toddler stage with multiples knows that dealing with feisty twins for 24 hours a day/ seven days a week is enough to make anyone drink.
Number 2: Puberty. They say that the terrible toddler stage is the hardest? Well “they” were wrong. When it comes to puberty, it doesn’t seems to be double the hormones when you have twins. It seems to increase exponentially. You will never know how many times a door can slam until you are in a house with twins going through puberty.
And the number 1 worst reason to be a mom of multiples: When they hand out recorders!
Sure, this is what it looks like.
Seriously, twin moms should be exempt. One of these painful instruments is almost too much for a parent to bear, but give a home two (or even three) of these things playing different songs at the same time. Yes your ears actually can bleed from bad music.
What do you think is the worst time to be a mom of multiples?
As we entered an elevator this evening, I was asked a question I have heard a thousand times by a nice older gentleman: “Are they triplets?” he said squinting his eyes on my three girls.
“Irish triplets,” my youngest knowingly said, providing the answer we’ve given so often over the years.
“These two are twins, and she is sixteen months younger,” I said with my standard smile.
“Wow, you’ll have your hands full in a few years….I don’t envy you! Three teenage girls, three weddings, three college educations…all at the same time. Wow, I wouldn’t want to do that. Wow. Hope your husband is loaded,” he said.
Fortunately, we were only going to the fourth floor, so I did not have to hear all the ways having my kids close together sucked. Yes, I am terrified about the impending hormones that will hit our house with full force all at the same time. Yes, I have thought about the cost of three weddings and it already gives my husband heart palpitations. Yes, we are really hoping all the soccer training will pay off one day in scholarships since we will have three kids in college all at the same time for several years. But hey, dude, thanks for the reminder. I was enjoying myself and needed to get whipped back into reality.
Obviously this was not the first time I had heard this commentary. My husband and I hear it all the time from random people we don’t know, some speaking with adoration and some with pity. Sometimes I handle it with a smile and endless conversation, other times I have to take deep breaths not to throttle someone.
Any parent of multiples can tell you the whackadoodle things people have said to them. It ranges from “Are they natural?” (no ma’am, they are genetically modified) to “Are they identical?” (here is your hint….if one kid has blond hair and blue eyes and the other has brown hair and brown eyes, then no, they are not identical.) This stuff is easy to laugh off and take with a grain of salt.
But then you get the people who say things like this: “Better you than me, I could NEVER handle twins!” (well, I thought about sending one back, but I lost my receipt.) Or “Three girls, you are so screwed!” (yeah, I talked to God about setting me up right with the two boys and a girl I asked for, but he must have been focused on something else that day.) These are the comments that often make me bite my tongue in two in order to preserve some sense of decorum.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I regret having my children in the order I did. I feel blessed to have any children, nonetheless three. In fact, after dealing with infertility for nearly three years, I would have been ecstatic if that sweet ultrasound tech told me I had a litter inside me nearly a decade ago.
But having twins is hard. Not doubly hard, but exponentially harder. Then there was getting pregnant with the third, just when I started looking like I wasn’t pregnant from the twins. I can honestly say that I cried almost every day when I found out I was having another baby so soon, including every single time someone told me a story about their cousin’s best friend’s sister who had fertility treatments and them BAM! They got pregnant right after. Because sharing that information with me subsequent to me getting pregnant really helped my mindset.
And when people say to me that my girls are like having triplets, I often respond with: “I would never insult a parent of triplets by saying I could understand what it’s like to have three babies at once.”
There is a lot online about dumb things people have said to parents of multiples. Some are hilarious, some are crass, and some are even defended by the notion that a stranger asking how you breastfed two at once is just polite conversation. As the receiver of these extremely personal questions, it’s hard to read things this way, but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
These guys probably are identical. And creepy.
I’ve also read a few articles from parents of multiples that have provided some suggested “approved” commentary of what you should say to a parent of multiples, most of which I don’t get. This includes:
+ “The more the merrier!” Um, I don’t know about you, but this was not my thought at 2:30 a.m. when my 16 month old twins woke up as I was nursing a newborn. It’s hard enough when one kid wakes you up out of a dead sleep. Adding another one (or two) doesn’t normally help the sleep deprivation.
+ “You are SuperMom!” I know this is meant as a compliment, but I don’t want to be SuperMom. I just want to make it to bedtime with all the kids alive.
+ “God only picks special parents to be moms of multiples.” This is a nice, well-meaning sentiment, but I like to think God has bigger fish to fry than divvying out three kids to me in 16 months. Or he has a really twisted sense of humor.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have one kid, three sets of twins or ten kids spread out over twenty years, it is all hard and we all just want to love our kids and see them happy.
So, the next time you see someone with twins, triplets, quads or a litter, maybe you can just give them a little smile. But just in case you can’t hold your tongue, I made you a little cheat sheet in order to help the conversation:
+ If you hear someone is having multiples, try this: “Congratulations! Let me know how I can help!”
+ If you see a parent of multiples in the grocery store, try this: “They are beautiful! Do you need any help?”
+ If you see a set of kids that look exactly the same at the playground, even if you want to ask all about their genetic make up, breast-feeding history, and sleep patterns, try this: “You have some really cute kids!”
+ And if you see a woman with three beautiful little girls that look like triplets that are acting well-behaved in the elevator, try saying: “Girl, you’ve got this.” And maybe a high-five.
What crazy things have people said to you about your brood?