Posted on May 10, 2016 in Fun by Sandra Bienkowski
On June 27, 2012, my doctor uttered this life-changing sentence: “Don’t be surprised if it’s twins.” My HCG level (the pregnancy hormone) was through the roof. As a 40-something mommy-to-be, I was thrilled just to be pregnant. Twins? I had a smile glued to my face as my brain raced with questions. Twins!? What do we need? Two of everything? How big will I get? My husband and I are both planners: We like to be prepared; he’s an Eagle Scout! But how do you prepare yourself for two infants at once?
You can’t prepare
We enrolled in a Parents of Multiples class. It was great to meet other parents of multiples and be reassured from the Mary Poppins-like teacher, but I laugh when I think back on the class now. Valuable lesson of parenthood: There are some things you cannot plan for. The teacher advised us to pack a bag for labor and delivery and fill it with a tennis ball for lower back massages, lollipops as a distraction tool, lavender oil for relaxation and a favorite pillow from home. We dutifully packed our bag and thought we were ready.
Our twin girls just turned one. I am not sure if we should jump for joy or collapse on the couch. We’ve become masters of “your turn” middle of the night baby handoffs. Tired is no longer a temporary condition, but something you live with like your right arm. I am not a whiner, but I wish I counted how many times I’ve picked up and redirected two babies speed crawling opposite directions toward outlets, cat food, and the fireplace. My lower back knows. And, BTW, two new tiny people live in our house. OMG. No pressure! We are only responsible for how they turn out.
Anywho, it was a magical year of twin baby firsts, emotional firsts for me, and some pretty hilarious moments. Here’s a look back …
My water broke at 6 a.m. January 11, 2013 and I said, “Uh, Reed, we have a problem.” He jumped out of bed thinking something happened to our old cat.
My baby shower was the next day. Oops.
I felt compelled to shower and put make up on after my water broke.
As we dashed around grabbing things for the hospital, I told Reed to grab the car seats. At 33 weeks to the day, he knew we wouldn’t need the car seats anytime soon. He also knew he didn’t want to have that conversation with his wife in labor.
Pre-epidural felt like some kind of hell. Post-epidural felt like a day at a very cold spa.
January 11, 2013, late Friday afternoon, we welcomed Sydney at 4:43 p.m. and Riley at 5:07 p.m. Each weighed four pounds.
Two days later, discharge day from the hospital for me, I returned home no longer pregnant and with empty arms. It felt like the worst kind of emptiness.
A NICU nurse said, “Think of it like this … you have a team of the most expensive babysitters.”
Sara, my sister, made the transition home easier by using her key to fill our house with baby shower gifts, cards, balloons, homemade veggie soup and bread, and champagne on ice.
Knowing the benefits of breast milk I started pumping because the girls were too premature to breastfeed. The breast pump is a ridiculous-looking contraption (like something Lady Gaga would wear) that’s been attached to me six to seven times a day, around the clock, for a year. As one mom put it, “Now I know what it feels like to be a human food truck.”
My mom planned to live with us for three months to help out with the girls. The pre-scheduled day of her flight? The day the girls were born! Thank you universe.
The first three weeks I learned terms and things I didn’t want to know … baby bilirubin levels, apnea episodes, feeding tubes, wires, beeping monitors, caffeine in IV and isolettes.
Every morning and evening, weaving our way through a large NICU, we saw couples huddled around teensy babies. Some were praying and hoping their babies make it. Doctors told us it was just about “feeding and growing” for Sydney and Riley. We never forgot to be grateful.
My appetite was so ravenous from being a human milk factory that I was disappointed when we no longer lived at the hospital with the daily access to a buffet of food–from pizza to sushi.
As preemies, the girls had to pass a car seat test in order to be discharged home. It was scary to see how tiny they were in their car seats.
On February 2, 2013 the girls came home, both on apnea monitors.
We all took turns doing middle of the night feedings, Reed, my mom, me. We all were so sleep deprived my mom put on her glasses in the middle of the night only to discover they were her sunglasses.
Another time, Reed told my mom to wake him up in ten minutes when the bottles were warm so he could help. Reed woke up three hours later and asked my mom if the bottles were ready.
We are forever grateful to my mom for those first not-so-easy months. Who volunteers to wake up at all hours of the night to help with crying babies on a three-month leave of absence from work? My mom!
With my hormones pinging off the walls post-birth, and with little sleep, I had a few moments wondering if I ruined our fun lives.
Smiley Riley dances on her own, has radar for where her daddy is in the house and loves snuggles and cuddles. She is the messiest eater, putting baby food in her hair.
Sydney is so chill, except when she is shrieking because Riley took one of her toys. She loves to figure toys out and is so ticklish. She is so gentle petting the cat.
Everyone always told me you don’t know what it feels like to love like a mom until you are a mom. I finally get it. As they sleep, I stare into their cribs and feel immeasurable love. Author Elizabeth Stone said it best: Deciding to have a baby is “to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
I love Reed’s face as the he holds or plays with the girls.
I love it when the girls make each other giggle.
Waking up in the morning to two girls who smile ear-to-ear and dance side-to-side in their cribs has to be one of the best ways to start the day ever.
Having the most kind and loving friend/nanny/neighbor to watch the girls at our home while we work is something we are thankful for daily.
Having the girls taught me so much:
Wake up every day happy.
It’s not about me.
Get ready for unsolicited input.
Read baby books before you give birth. You won’t have time after.
Take time to play.
Hugs are the best.
Love is limitless.
A nap can solve a lot.
Never again will you take silence for granted.
Strangers are friendlier when babies are present.
Trust your instincts.
I love sleep.
Never will you be more motivated to be your best self and live your best life so you can be the best example for your children.
Nothing matters as much as family.
And lastly, it isn’t double the trouble, it’s double the blessings.