The boys are at the end of their 2nd year here on Earth and inevitably I think about the day they were born. A moment in my life that I hope, remains as clear as it was the night they were born. During those first few weeks home with them, the next few months, leading up to the first year, I honestly did not see age 3. Having a newborn is hard, newborn twins is insane. There were many days I wasn’t sure I would make it until the end of the day, never mind three years later. I remember simultaneously wishing the days to go quick but the months to slow down. But here we are, age 3.
I have found out that being a parent is pretty incredible, in so many ways. But being a twin parents is beyond incredible. The hard work, exhaustion, guilt, and tears are ten-fold. But the support from the multiples community, the sweetness of watching their relationship grow, the hysteria listening to them have conversations, the immense love, is even greater.
As we celebrate their 3rd revolution around the sun, the boys will eat cupcakes, open presents, have balloons and play with their friend, and I, on this day and every coming year in June, will think about our birth story and the day I became a mother to twins.
Pregnant with Two
How many children?
2, Twin boys age 2 (still hanging on for these last few days)
What was pregnancy like for you?
My pregnancy wasn’t too bad. I was definitely a bit nervous during the first trimester as I had some spotting early on but then it went pretty well. I started to slow down around 7 months, no more working out, became harder to sit for long periods of time. I did have to go to L&D at 29 weeks for contractions but after a few IV bags of fluid I was good to go.
Things started to get pretty uncomfortable by 33 weeks, I felt like I had a baby up my throat and a baby about to fall out. I would set weekly goals, just make it to 30 weeks, 31, weeks and so on and thought I was well on my way to term until my hands and feet started to itch and I became diagnosed with cholestasis.
Mostly, I am grateful that a friend documented my pregnancy beginning at 15 weeks. I wrote weekly letters and she took weekly photos and gifted me a book filled with them on the boys 1st birthday. So my entire pregnancy is in writing.
Who educated you on being pregnant or what to expect?
Luckily, my friends all had babies right before me and were very forthcoming about their experience. We also took a birthing class led by two doulas, which helped immensely. I also read a lot of blogs from twin moms and what their experience was like being pregnant with twins.
Did you take a birthing class?
Yes, led by two doulas. It was one of the first things that my husband and I could really experience together in terms of my pregnancy. I also realized there is a lot of misinformation out there and fear with regards to birth.
What was your labor like?
Fast. I was induced at 36+3 due to cholestasis. We packed for a long haul expecting the induction to take a long time, as we had been told this by many who had been induced, and the nurse who was on duty. They gave me cervital and said in about 12 hours we will give pitocin. That never happened. I started contractions rather quickly after the cervital. Because mine was a twin pregnancy I had to stay hooked to the heart monitors and have the port put in, even though I was not having an epidural.
I labored in the laboring room and was able to move around and get into different positions. Within a few hours I asked my husband to call our doula and by the time she showed up I was deep into labor. Having her there helped ease any anxiety about labor as she was able to answer any questions I had on what was happening to my body.
The nurses had told me not to push because the baby would butt up against my cervix and it would be awhile until I was fully dilated but I kept feeling like something was coming out. They said no it is too early but I knew it was happening. My doula checked me and saw Baby A’s sac pushing out. She grabbed the nurses and suddenly it was chaos. Trust your body lady’s!!
Where did you give birth?
In the hospital, in the OR
What was your delivery like?
In some ways it still feels like a blur. Because I was having twins I had to deliver in the OR, and as they wheeled me down the hall from the laboring room, I can remember clinging to the bed rail trying to keep Baby A in, yelling with every bump the wheels rolled over “Giving birth is no joke.”
I didn’t expect as many people in the OR as there was, and I remember just looking around for Kris and my doula’s eyes. Once I found them I felt settled. The nurses kept trying to move me from the bed to the OR table but I wasn’t having it. My body did not want to leave the position it was in and thankfully my OB, was super chill and not one for protocol. She let me deliver in the position that felt right for me. I will always be grateful for that!
I didn’t push long and soon Kellan was born. They put him on my chest for what seemed like a second then said Kris needed to take him so I could deliver Baby B. I remember feeling confused as to why I didn’t have more time. For some reason I had envisioned a calm 20 minute skin to skin with Baby A before delivery Baby B. That didn’t happen.
Once Kris took Kellan, my OB said Baby B was still breech and she had to go in and get him. At the time I was like whatever has to happen, is great. I was ready for the contractions to stop. Seventeen minutes after his brother, Atlas was born, feet first.
Was your husband in the delivery room?
Yes. Three things that stand out regarding my husband. He put his scrubs on backwards on the way to the OR and I was panicked he was going to miss the birth. He and our doula were high-fiving each other as we rolled to the OR and I screamed in pain. When he tells our birth story, you would think he had delivered twins, that’s how intense it was for him.
How long did you stay in the hospital?
Because we checked in for our induction in the morning but the boys were born at night, that counted as our first day. So we only got 1 full day in the hospital, but a panicked call to my OB got us a late check out so technically, 2 days. I was felt safe in the hospital with the staff of nurses and never wanted to leave them.
Were you happy with your birth?
Ultimately, yes. I was sad I missed the “my water broke” scramble to the hospital. But, I got everything I wanted. A natural, twin vaginal birth with no epidural and my husband and doula by my side, and most importantly, two healthy babies. I actually loved the experience of delivering a baby and would totally do it again.
Unbeknown to me at the time my doula took picture of my delivery and I am so grateful for those images. Like everything else, it went by so fast so I am so thrilled to be able to see the moment they both entered the world whenever I want.
FIRST FEW WEEKS
Who helped you?
My mom came for a month to help, which was 100% needed. I was very overwhelmed with two newborns and I had issues breastfeeding. My dad arrived about 2 weeks later and was on house duty. We have no family that lives close so once my parents left, I was on my own. My husband works very long hours so for the most part, Mon-Friday it was just me, our dog and newborn twins.
Did your husband take time off?
I will always be grateful to his boss for giving him the week off. He is freelance and in an industry where either you are working or you are not. Plus he doesn’t get family leave, and she was incredibly supportive and made sure he got paid for that week. And she has been that way ever since they were born.
How did you feel postpartum?
I was a bit of a mess those first few weeks. I felt incredibly overwhelmed and in a bit of shock over the massive flip our lives just took. Even though I felt like I had a lot of experience with babies, nothing prepared me for having twins. It was a blow to my ego that I was struggling with breastfeeding and the intensity of life with newborn twins.
My doula helped with my breastfeeding issues and what was happening with my body. My mom helped support the babies and keeping me fed. But it took a couple of months for me to finally settle our new normal.
Did your doctor or anyone give support with breastfeeding, postpartum?
My doctor was great, I felt like I could tell her anything. And my doula, Kate. She was so supportive and helpful. And having someone so honest and informed on postpartum, along with advice and tips on helping my feeding issues and body, was a lifesaver.
Where did you find support as a new mother?
The internet. There was no one in my life who really understood what it meant to have twins. The blogs and support groups of other twin parents was a life saver, reassuring me that I was doing things right and what I was feeling or what was happening was normal.
My family and friends were supportive and I definitely asked their advice on basic baby care or milestones. There are a couple of people who I will always be indebted to for doing, what probably seemed natural, but to me saved my life. My mom, giving up a month of her life to be here when they were born and the weeks following. My cousin, who gifted me a house cleaner. That was such a gift, to sit in a clean home, when otherwise would have been a disaster those first few months, and at times have an adult to talk to during the day. And my best friend, who always brought me food, cleaned my house and would just sit and hold the babies so I could have a half hour with no one in my arms. I still get overwhelmed thinking of those acts of love.
What was your biggest challenge being a new mom?
Newborn twins, no family near by, and struggling with breastfeeding.
What was your partner’s role?
In the early weeks he was mostly support and an extra set of hands as I was breastfeeding. For the most part, when you have 2 adults and 2 babies, it is a man on man defense.
What was the biggest surprise the first few weeks home?
The schedule was overwhelming. Even with tandem feeding there was not a minute of the day that wasn’t devoted to the babies. There was not sleep when they sleep, though is there ever??
Also, their personalities. I think because we had two, it was so clear how different they were and what their personality was like. It is a lot easier to notice when you have a comparison. It has also made it easier to see who they were the day they were born is who they still are today in the days leading up to age 3. There was and still is, nothing like watching two people develop at the same time.
Lastly, their connection to each other. It too, has been there since day one and it was so sweet to see in those first few weeks how they gravitated toward each other, even when they couldn’t really move.
What do you see the biggest difference between raising children today vs. when your mother raised you? What is better today, what was better then?
Today there are more resources and support for women during pregnancy and postpartum. People are also more honest about birth and your body. Hopefully that open dialogue expands and continues.
Also access to information is better today. It is incredibly helpful to being able to connect with people, especially when you have special circumstances. Being able to speak to another mom virtually can make parenting twins less isolating. But it can also be a curse, I try not to look up any ailments online but inevitably I do and the diagnosis is always grave, lol.
It seemed like there was more of a village when I was a kid, then now. I feel like we have to work harder to find a community.
Within the realms of society what is your biggest concern regarding your children (environment, race, education, etc)?
Sadly, as I write this our society has suffered another tragic loss of lives due to gun violence. So that is where my fears lie today. Working in government is supposed to be about public service and yet it has become an environment ruled by greed and money and it frightens me that my children’s lives are now at stake.
I also worry about raising boys in a culture of rape. Not just them knowing and understanding what is consent, and having respect for women and equal rights. But also fear for what they might perceive as a threat to their masculinity within a world where an aggressive man is still considered better. I want them to be men who are feminists and not feel like they are less of a man because of it.
Best advice given to you when you became a mom?
Keep your twins on the same schedule, because a few months down the road you will actually get some breaks. The best advice ever and very true.
My mother told me “it’s easier to train a puppy than a dog,” which sounds like a terrible comparison, but it has proven to be true. I found that the earlier I decided to make a transition, the easier it went. We lost the pacifiers, moved from bottles to cups and potty trained all on the early end of the spectrums and were better for it. Their memory is short so it wasn’t a long tortuous process for them or us when we made a move.
Best advice you can give to new moms
Give yourself a break. This is especially true for us multiples moms. It is nothing like having one baby so don’t compare your experience to your best friend with a singleton. Reach out to other parents of multiples, you will find great comfort and confidence in them.
Twin parents – when you are crying with guilt because you can’t hold both at once or have to deal with one baby then another, just remember, they have been together since the beginning of time and don’t know any different. No matter what happened the day before, my twins still wake up every day still loving me as much as they did the day before. They are pretty incredible in that way.
What was/is the greatest joy in being a mother
Watching their joy at life. I hope as they get older a bit of that stays with them always. Yesterday at the park the maintenance guy turned on the sprinklers so the kids could cool off from the oppressive heat. Watching them strip their clothes off and run with true wild abandon through the spraying water, squealing with delight the entire time, fills my heart.
Just watching twins go through life together. They are so very different and yet have a relationship like none other. We have been so lucky to see these two little people navigate this world hand in hand.
What do you know about your birth?
I was born 2 days early and because it was on the last day of the year my parents got a tax exempt. It was a long labor and my dad fell asleep during my mother’s labor, defending himself to the nurse saying he was exhausted. She was not sympathetic.
Any personal thoughts?
I think women rock! I have always felt I was a feminist but even more so now since I have become a mother. The level of respect I have for women has skyrocketed. What our bodies can do and what we accomplish after having children is astonishing and should be respected by each other and society. I hope with each other and with our children we can keep having honest conversations about pregnancy and birth and SUPPORT women.