About this same time last year, I started to really believe we were going to have two more babies..
before all the crazy began…. before I knew what the words Twin to Twin Transfusion syndrome or NICU really meant.. before I knew how it felt like to hold a one pound baby.. before I knew the miracle of fetal surgery.. when I thought our biggest problem was finding the right size car ( it’s not an easy task when you need 4 car seats)
.. never in a million years imagining I would soon be standing next to a plastic box for months praying for your survival ….. before I knew how much my heart would melt when you smile ..before I knew the painfully beautiful journey the was ahead of us ..
I was just beginning to wrap my head around the idea of adding two more babies to our family .. we would basically have 4 kids under 4 years old.
I was so happy and petrified all at the same time. You start to learn this combination of emotions from the highest high to the lowest low all at the same time.
And as I started to picture all 6 of us .. I also started to get a strong dose of the infamous mother’s – guilt. If your a mom I’m sure you have had a helping of this at some point. Mothers- guilt shows itself at the strangest times. You want siblings for your children but you are also afraid of losing that special one on one time with your first baby… So scared of how this change will affect them and how they will adjust.
For me, it was inevitable. I had it when I was pregnant to Juliet, my second baby… focusing and worrying about how it would change Mia’s life. How would I give my first born the attention she “needed?” Mia was was my first, and like all firsts, she was the center of it all .. she was researched and documented ..every movement.. my whole world revolved around her.. how could I possibly give my toddler and a newborn that same attention.. I knew things would change.. and change can always be a little frightening.
My second pregnancy ( like most things in my life) was planned. It was everything I dreamed of ..two healthy babies .. baby girls.. two years apart. My sister and I are 2 years and 15 days apart and my girls are 2 years 6 days. I wanted to have all my babies before the age of 35 ( pregnancy can become more difficult after that and there is a higher rate of complications and .. guess what else .. TWINS- about 5 % chance – another reason I should play lotto ) .. but two months after Juliet .. I turned 35. My plan came to life. My sister is my very best friend and I just kept reminding myself of that. Envisioning their relationship … how beautiful it would be for my daughters to have what we share. But mixed in my excitement was still this feeling of guilt…
My hospital experience with my second was so different than my first. Mia was an easy delivery.. a few pushes and there she was .. right into my arms.. and there she stayed ..for the next 2 years. My second delivery was an emergency c section. Juliet turned breech as I started to push and was in danger. Luckily our doctor was able to get her out safe with a classical c section. It is a larger incision which gives much more access to the baby and is typically done in emergency circumstances. I was terrified but Juliet came out perfect. I felt that same unconditional love pour all over me instantaneously but I was still worried and just wanted to be the best mom to both my girls … a few days later it was time to take her home…
just like all amazing things mommies do….
you just do it.. ( as Linda would say 😉) but my mom is right whenever I ask her, “How do you do what you do”.. she will always answer, “You just do.. you do what you have to do for your kids ..” 💕
you magically divide yourself .. with your stomach stapled together .. still burning and too painful to stand up straight.. you just do it …giving everyone what they need .. breastfeeding and holding a baby with one hand, while coloring a new art project with the other .. and at the time, I was still managing my career.. it’s crazy but you do it all and it’s so incredible!!
I was far from those Instagram super moms that are back in a bikini looking amazing the next day.. It took me a while to get back to myself.. I lived in sweats for a long time and rocked a messy bun way longer than I should have… but my girls were happy… and I was too.
We just started getting our groove .. in a rhythm .. as my sister called it, “Stella Finally Got Her Groove Back”.. I didn’t need a diaper bag.. (the struggles I had packing that bag.. I always would forget something) now I could throw a few diapers in my pocketbook .. leave some in the car .. Maybe take a juice box.. and we were off. I finally lost my baby weight .. skinny jeans were back on .. my body and mind strong.. I was back into my yoga practice .. that whole newborn stage was becoming a memory.. I loved every stage but now my girls are my little besties.. their personalities coming out.. our lunch dates .. manis.. play dates ..just having conversations .. we can hang out and were having so so much fun.
But suddenly ….. it happened … surprise you are pregnant.. and then.. even better .. surprise it’s TWINS. This time around .. it was a whole new ballgame. There was no plan.. none.. I never pictured our family with any more babies.. ( other then the ones my sister kept having.) She always wanted a big family.. and as nice as that sounded .. I didn’t think I would ever be able to do it .. everyone at different stages.. it just seemed impossible ( and a little crazy) Mia and Juliet had each other.. I thought we were complete…. but I was so wrong. There was a plan, except this time it wasn’t mine… it was from a power much greater than me.. it was a plan much more beautiful than anything I could have created.
But how would my girls adjust to this? Two new babies on top of a toddler and a 4 year old?? Juliet was still in diapers .. Mia just starting school.. they both love to play .. and are no where even close to independent … infants require nonstop attention.. and the sleepless nights .. then teething .. and to think it’s all doubled! How could this ever work.. what would it do to my girls?
Mom guilt showed up hard and strong.
I almost felt sorry for them.. my girls .. all that they would “miss out” on. A few weeks later .. I started to discover the boys were sick.. and then I became sick.. bedrest.. the traveling back and forth to Florida.. oh it was bad.. I wanted to give the girls so much and I just couldn’t. The entire summer was spent in the NICU.. and I again had a c section so there was no swimming, no beach, no pool.. my heart and head constantly torn between enjoying my beautiful girls in whatever moments I could steal and thoughts of my twin boys fighting for their life inside a plastic box. Luckily my mom, dad and sister stepped in and made sure my daughters didn’t feel any of this .. my husband and I were a true team .. I learned a whole new appreciation for the word family.. but, at least for me, it was so hard to make the Guilt stop. They didn’t deserve any of it. They needed me.
As much as I worried about my sons.. I worried about my daughters. The main thing that kept me sane all those months was over and over again hearing my sister and mother tell me ” I have your girls .. they are happy.. just worry about the boys..” Just writing those words brings back tears. My sister is truly a second mother to my daughters. She was pregnant at the time and had three boys of her own… and still not a day went by when she didn’t ensure my daughters were ok.. and not just ok but happy and having fun.. and feeling very loved. She is my angel. And when I was in the hospital with my sons .. whether it was a “good day” or one of the many bad days.. I knew I could be present for them. And when I would come home I was able to do the same for my girls… …and like a switch …. you would go back and forth ….trying to live two lives.
The word Guilt took on a whole new meaning.. as a mother it’s hardcoded into us.. all day long .. for not reading that book one more time after you have already read it 100 times that night …but in little amounts its normal and not always such a bad thing. It can push you to be your best in tiny doses. But then there is a different kind of guilt .. it is ugly and unfair… it is when you blame yourself for situations that are completely out of your control.
When you have a preemie in the NICU you could write a book about the things you blame yourself for .. I’m sorry my body wasn’t able to keep you safe longer.. I’m sorry I can’t kiss you goodnight every night.. I’m sorry I have to leave you in a hospital everyday with strangers taking care of you .. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more.. I’m sorry I’m able to walk away and leave you here .. I’m just so so sorry you are suffering …
As much as you may want to ignore or deny it.. I’ve always found it more productive to acknowledge these feelings that start to pop up.. let yourself feel whatever it is.. try to give it a name…. whether it be guilt or fear or sadness .. it doesn’t mean these feelings will be there forever…. but once you recognize it and validate it, you can start the hard part of processing and working through these emotions. If you just try and suppress it, many times, it will just come back with vengeance. For me, connecting with other mothers who understand is a life saver. It is even better if you find someone in a situation similar to yours ( please anyone going through this know know you can reach out to me) Unless you have lived through it .. no one knows what it feels like.
It’s almost a full year now.. from when we were told we were having twins to today. So much has changed .. but still so much has stayed the same..
I am mommy.. not just a mother but mommy.. the title itself gives you some kind of superpower. To multitask like no other.. to function on no sleep.. to be a chef, personal assistant, teacher, nurse, housekeeper .. the laundry the grocery shopping.. even down to reminding them when to pee so it goes in the potty and not their pants .. yes we do it all… it is the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever done. The payment… not in dollars…but love … and it is your greatest achievement.
Through this I have learned so much, not only about myself, but also about my children. With all these jobs… one of the things I have learned is that it is not my job to entertain them 24/7. Children need to be loved and taught right and wrong ..and they also need to learn how to entertain themselves. For whatever reason, I believed this was my job.. but I know can see that them learning to entertain themselves is one of the best things I can do. We play .. I love to play ..but I’m no longer feeling the need to organize and orchestrate their fun every minute of the day. I can see that doling our activity after activity .. planning their every move .. it just robs them of their independence… hinders creativity. Think back to your childhood.. how much you used your imagination.. “go play in the backyard” .. and we would.. for hours.. pretending the screws on the shed were magic buttons .. catching fireflies .. playing tag… things were simple and in my opinion better in many ways. Over-parenting.. hovering.. it’s suffocating .. and hinders growth. I’m still involved and having fun but approaching it a little different.
I don’t know how it is even possible but having my boys showed me a new love for my girls. They are not the little girls I wanted to feel sorry for… they are not being deprived in any way.. it is the exact opposite.
They are full of so much love for their brothers. Peter and Maurice adore them. I have given them double the cuddles, double the hugs, double the love. It has made them better.. they are more compassionate .. more understanding.. more independent .. more patient. My girls are kind and giving. Juliet is so tender a natural healer.. and Mia so intuitive.. she is able to stop their crying in an instant. They help me .. not just with getting diapers and supplies.. but they actually helped me heal.. the guilt I held on to.. the story I created …. like so many stories we create about ourself … it was so wrong
If I only had a glimpse of what our life would be like.. how your sisters love to hold you and rock you to sleep.. how they run for a pacifier the second they hear you cry.. how they love to tickle you and make you laugh… what it feels like to hear all four of you giggle at the same time.. the way their eyes light up when they kiss you each morning and night..
If I only knew then …I would have understood it’s not what I was taking away from you.. it was all that I was giving to you.. the amount of unconditional love you all receive is immeasurable and was just multiplied by two. You now forever have two new best friends who will be by your side like no other … and this is just the beginning ..
my babies the greatest gift I could ever give you is each other .. your siblings … your very best friends… the ones who will always be there for you no matter what… as my sister has always done for me … forever cherish it 💗💗💙💙as you do now.