What You Don’t Expect Parenting Twins

parents with infant twins
photo: Khali MacIntyre Photography

Want to know what to expect when you’re parenting twins? When you are pregnant people are always willing to give you any and every bit of advice they have in their arsenal.  Some helpful, most not, especially when you are expecting twins and the advice is coming from someone who either does not have twins or doesn’t even have kids.

Even still, you listen and you try to remember and you prep as much as you can for your impending arrivals.  But no matter what people have told you and how much you have prepared, read, taken classes, it really doesn’t hit home until the babies arrive.  For me there were a few things that I was totally unprepared for when I became a parent to twins.

Sleep, What is That?

Bone Deep Exhaustion.  This is something every soon to be mother hears about, tries to prepare for and thinks they understand what will happen once the babies arrive.  But no.  You have no f***ing idea how exhausted you will feel deep into your soul.  I remember visiting home one year and seeing my brother and sister-in-law, about 6 months after giving birth and the color was gone from their faces.  They had no peachy skin-tone, but more of a grayish hue to their face.  It was an eye-opening experience. My nephew is beyond amazing, but sleeping wasn’t his strong suit.  So I went into parenting with the vision of my brother’s gray face but still no real understanding until I gave birth and ceased to have a good night sleep again.

As soon as morning comes, whatever time they decide that is, they hit the ground running, even when they are too young to move on their own.  Then when they begin to crawl, walk, run, so are you.  The amount of energy I put into the hours between rise and sleep is, in my mind, equivalent to running a marathon, everyday, but without the lovely scenery to zone out on.  It is physically draining as well as mentally.  Every day I am just trying to figure it this parenting thing out and wondering am I doing it right or mucking it up for them?

My guys were pretty good sleepers but the intense feeding schedule of the first few months, followed by, teething, milestones, sickness, transitions, toddler beds, dreams, being scared, the wind, the rain, the whatever the reason du jour is, I haven’t slept through a night since I was 7 months pregnant.  Even when they don’t wake up in the night or I spend a night away from them I still wake up about 2-3 times a night now.  I have no idea why, and it makes me sad.  I wonder if I will ever sleep again?  I miss it.  

The Dirty Work of Motherhood

Toilet Duty.  I have written about this before and maybe I am obsessing but every day as I clean potty seat after potty seat I think “where did it all go wrong?”  The intimate relationship I have with feces is one that I never expected.  

Twins equals a zillion diapers.  You could take a lovely vacation with the amount of money you spend on diapers when you have twins.  To off-set that cost we also used cloth diapers.  We got a bidet to attach to the toilet to clean the cloth diapers.  So for the first two years I was wiping asses and spraying diapers and cleaning the occasional spillage.  After that, gone were the diapers and hello to the potty chairs, which often calls for a more hands on approach.

I’m still wiping asses, plus the revolving door of seats that needs cleaning after each use.  This is a viscous aspect of parenting that doesn’t get talked about and should.  I remember a friend of mine told me about the day that her baby needed changing and toddler had an accident so she used the car wash bathroom to try to clean everyone up, inevitably getting things all over herself as she tried to maneuver in the small, public space.  “Motherhood is degrading” she said and she couldn’t have spoken truer words.

twins sleeping

The Onslaught of Bacteria.  Speaking of degrading, they have sneezed in my mouth, on more than one occasion.  No one knew how or at this point cares to learn to cover their mouth and of course when they are sick they are attached to me.  It is inevitable but still, when it happens, when someone actually sneezes in your mouth or eyes, no matter how much you love them, it is foul.  There is a reason moms become way sicker than their kids when illness passes through the house.  Her body becomes the end zone for every bacteria spewing from the children and her bed their place of rest and recuperation. 

One time while on Face Time with my mom, I thought one of the boys came behind me and hugged me until my mother said, “did you know he just wiped his mouth on your back?”  I would have walked out of the house with crap on my shirt if she hadn’t seen that.

In the past three years think I have had pee on my hands more than I haven’t.  I have drunk from my drink, which unbeknownst to me, they have also drank from and spit in, because spitting out liquid is fun.  I have had snot wiped on any part of my body that is closest to them at the time.   I have been shit on, peed on, puked on, coughed on and sneezed on, almost on a daily basis.

At least no one peed on my face. That happened to my husband when he made the fatal error of leaning over to kiss one of the boys when I was changing them.  Right in the forehead he got it.  Still makes me laugh. He also fell in pee, that still makes me laugh even harder.

Stranger Danger

Annoyance with Strangers– This really begins with pregnancy.  Every woman who has carried a baby knows that uncomfortable feeling of some strange person’s hands touching our pregnant belly.  Then when they find out you are having twins, you either have to listen to them tell you how horrible and hard it is going to be or some story about their neighbor down the street whose cousin had twins.  Everyone who has zero experience with twins has something informative to tell you about twins.  It’s great.

Twins make you a mini celebrity when you go anywhere.  People love twins.  After they are born, strangers continue with their unsolicited advice, continue asking inappropriate questions about how you got pregnant with twins and are you breastfeeding them.  And now instead of touching you, they try to touch the babies.  Hands off!  I don’t want you touching them and neither do they, indicated by their crying as you are reaching for them. I would literally be backing my stroller away and yet they would still walk forward to grab the babies not getting the hint.

My twins are fraternal and to me look nothing alike.  But as I look back on baby pictures I can see how people mistook them for identical.  So in that case, I am sorry if I sounded a bit rude when I said no, they are not identical for the millionth time, (this really should be my husband apologizing).  But what I cannot forgive is the ridiculous exclamations like “do you know one has curly hair?” or “were they born on the same day?”

I also cannot get past the number of people who have stood there watching while I try to hold a door and get my stroller through it, or made us walk outside of the cross walk because they won’t move aside or literally stepped over us or pushed past as I try to get everyone organized and out a door.

family hiking at Fryman Canyon

The Village

The Kindness of Strangers – The amount of people who have helped me over the past three years has been so incredible. We live during a time when everyone, including myself, is in a rush to get everywhere.  For someone to literally stop what they are in the middle of doing to lend a hand, is at times overwhelming.  Being a new mom, more importantly, a new mom to twins, constantly has you in a state of panic when you leave the house.  It can be hard to not feel you are putting people out because your stroller takes up so much space or it takes you 20x the amount of time to get from point A to point B.  When a stranger shows patience and understanding, it can make a mom’s day.  

So to all those strangers walking down the street who stopped to let me by, let me go before them in line, helped me get on and off planes, opened doors for me, helped pick up the contents of my bag that have spilled everywhere, given an encouraging word, helped me in a baby class, told me I am doing a great job, I want to thank you from the bottom of my exhausted, bursting heart.  You will never know how many of you saved me from a meltdown. I will always try to pay it forward.

Check Out: When Will I Sleep Again?

The Well-Intended Lie

The Well-Intended Lies

I lie constantly to the boys. It is my go to when I need to get out of a desperate situation with them, and it works every time. My lies have diverted meltdowns, answered the unanswerable, been used to get us from point A to point B, saved me from having to talk about the same thing over and over, or any situation where I have backed myself into a corner.

The Meltdown Lie

This just happened yesterday. We were at our playground celebrating a friend’s 3rd birthday and everyone had balloons. As they walked through the mass of trees and branches I thought, this isn’t going to end well. And it didn’t.   Sure enough a balloon got caught in a tree, came loose from the ribbon and floated away. Poor Kellan was looking in circles for his balloon still holding the string, not realizing a tree branch had freed it.  I had to break the news that his balloon went into the sky.  Just as the tears and screams were just about to spill I told him “your balloon went way up in the sky to Sector 7.”  

Sector 7 is a book we read where a boy goes up into the sky to Sector 7, the place where clouds are formed. It is one of the boy’s favorite books and I used it as a lifeline to prevent a tantrum in a public place  about something I couldn’t fix. Just hearing his balloon was in Sector 7 made him happy. I told him later we would look for a balloon shaped cloud and see his balloon again. He carried on with his adventure walk talking about his balloon being in Sector 7. Crisis diverted.

Photo: Damn Delicious
Photo: Damn Delicious

Same Thing Over and Over

Every day on our route to swim lessons we would pass by a mattress store that had a sheep on the roof. The boys saw it one day and then every day since we had to look at the sheep. Well, one day I missed it, actually I forgot about it, until a voice from the backseat asked where is the sheep? I tried explaining that I missed it, but they would not accept that as an answer. They would not stop asking me about the sheep the entire ride to swim. Then an hour later on our way home, the minute we got into the car they asked about the sheep. I said we would see it on the ride home, but for some reason I missed it again #assholeparent.

I knew that they would flip so I told them the sheep had to go get a haircut, which is why he wasn’t there today. Yes, that made perfect sense to them. They even discussed which chair the sheep sat in getting his hair cut, the police car or the fire truck? And to this day when we drive in that direction they talk about when the sheep got his hair cut.

Getting Point A to Point B/ The Unanswerable

A few examples would be: Rain is coming (perfectly sunny day), the playground will close if we don’t hurry, the store will close, the restaurant will close, the trees need to rest, the squirrels need to eat, Tank (our dog) needs to nap, the moon is sleeping… This list is endless.

I know I am not alone in this. I have heard other parents come up with insane answers to prevent the world crashing down on their toddlers. We were at the botanical gardens on a day that happened to be the Camellia festival. There were these flowers every, in contests, displays throughout the garden and even a craft table where kids could make their own paper flower.

There is also a train that runs through the gardens that is a massive hit but always has a long line. A mother was trying to leave the Gardens with her kids and one of the younger boys wanted to ride the train. She told him every reason they had to leave, and when he wouldn’t accept it she said,

“Only Camellia’s can ride the train.”  
Not missing a beat he said, “I am a Camellia.”
She said” No you are a Tyler, not a Camellia.

He couldn’t argue that fact and off they went, at a faster pace, with no tears to the parking lot.

Someday my little white lies are going to catch up with me and I will be screwed. I love that the boy’s imagination and belief in me is so grand. And I abuse that trust, for the good of all mankind really. I only hope that catching on to my lies will coincide with their ability to maintain some semblance of composure when I forget to point out something on the road or run out of Star Wars Band-Aids.



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