The Gentle Truth

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A very good friend of mine recently had twins, and since they arrived we’ve texted back and forth.  A lot of hers are variations on, “How did you do this?” or “When does it get easier?”  While I love the opportunity to help out where possible, and to act as an “expert” (HA!), I hate that she’s in the weeds sometimes.  And what I hate even more is confirming to her that the weeds are where she’s gonna be for a while.

Don’t you always want to paint a pretty picture for these moms?  You’ve had them painted for you, so why not pass on the favor, right?  You want to tell them that it will get better!  For instance, when I told my stepsister (a fellow MOT) that my 6 week u/s had confirmed twins, her first words were: “It gets better when they’re 3.”  Wait.  That wasn’t at all helpful.  It was actually more of a buzzkill.  But usually we try to stay positive, right?

Since this new mom and I are so close, I really do try to be as honest as I can.  I sent her links to my old blog like this one,  but at the same time, I do think I’m giving her too much hope for the days of plush toys, gyminis, and exersaucers.   Let’s get real.  Those things are helpful, but they only do so much, right?

Balancing the truth with comfort and hope is so hard!  New and expectant moms – when you’re asking us for help, just how much do you want?  Do you want to know about all the times I sat sobbing between two bawling babies, not sure which one to help?  Do you want to know about the time it took me 2 hours to leave my house because of the Cavalcade of Poo?  Or what about the other time I sat sobbing between two bawling babies…or the time after that?  How about all the “Shut Up Walks” I took Every Single Day for months from 5:15 – 6:15 when my husband would get home?  Or would you like me to do like my stepsis and condemn you to three years in hell and be done with you?

Wouldn’t you rather just hear good things?

“The babies will be over their reflux/sleeping through the night/entertaining themselves by the end of the week for sure!”

“Oh those smiles make up for everything.”

“They really start crying less once they can play with toys.”

In the end, I try to keep it positive, with a small dose of reality.  I think that moms need to know they’re not the only ones who sit home and cry, or hate (for brief stints) the fact that they have twins or want to smack their husbands.  But they also need to stay upbeat and polishing up the old truth can go a long way.

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17 thoughts on “The Gentle Truth”

  1. Your thoughts are right-on. Keep it postive, with a small dose of reality. The fact of the matter is that no one can fathom just what raising multiple infants is like until they actually do it. No need to freak them out prematurely!

    Even right now other MoM’s are telling me, “the next year 1/2 will be hard but after 2 it gets much easier”. This statement although well meaning dose nothing for me. Really it gets harder, what in the world will that look like. Then it gets easier, REALLY?!?

    I believe a dose of positive encouragement and truthful material advice are the best gifts we can give any new or expecting mom. The rest they are bound to find out quickly enough.
    .-= Vicky @ thecitycradle´s last blog ..A day in the life of… 8 month old babies =-.

  2. I wish that someone would have told me that there would be days that I would sit and cry with my girls while Dad was on a trip for work. Or days that I would cry because I live in Japan far from family and help and Dad is still gone! Each day gets better! I have heard that it gets better after two, but I like to focus on the things that go right everyday. Because really isn’t it all about the small victories (like the girls making it through an afternoon in the same outfit–yay for less laundry or actually getting to the bathroom more than once in 8 hours!)! I think that the biggest help for me, whether it be positive or negative advice, is that there are other MoTs/MoMs out there to talk with and reach out to. And isn’t great when you see one put together with grown twins looking fabulous–and well rested! It gives me hope for the future–the day when I get my act together. One Day! One Day far away!

  3. I think it helps to focus on the good sides, at the same time underlining the fact that You Need All The Help You Can Get. And then some.

    So I tell them about unventful pregnancies, natural fast deliveries, twins that eat in the day and sleep in the night (after all, it all happened to me … except it was ONE twin eating and THE OTHER sleeping)

    I insist on the light at the end of a tunnel: the selfsame lovely firstborn (now 9) often complains because she doesn’t have a twin sister. She thinks her brothers (now 6) have an unfair source of happiness in each other. They certainly do.

    If all else fails, I produce pictures of the twins sleeping the same cot, their noses touching, at age 3 months… and follow with the twins sharing a (vacation time) bed and sleeping cuddled together last winter.

  4. Yes, its very, very hard to figure out what to tell new Moms isn’t it? They ask me. Do I tell them how I sat in my house for the first month, crying every second of the day, regretting my decision to have kids because I felt like I was swimming under water most of the time?
    Or do I tell them about the good times when the fog lifted, the smiles, the falling in love for the first time with 2 little creatures who didn’t even know what love was? I don’t know…there is the good, the not so good, the bad…and the REALLY BAD. Raising multiples is far by the most rewarding, yet hardest thing I’ve ever done!!
    .-= Christina´s last blog ..Thanksgiving Thursday, and Kenny Chesney =-.

  5. All of us parents of multiples know that it is often exhausting to the point of tears and frustration … especially in the first year. Arming new parents with information doesn’t seem to me to be either positive or negative. I’ve always felt that being prepared for difficult things makes them easier. Why not tell someone with a funny story how awful a particular day was and let them know they are going to have a few of their own funny stories to share. Wouldn’t you rather know that there will be days when you are afraid you can’t do it, or days you think they are being damaged for life because neither is getting enough one on one time, or that some days it’s just all too much and you’re so exhausted you just cry along with the babies …. AND IT’S NORMAL … AND IT’S OK … and it passes.

    Then they smile at you … and it just becomes a funny story to tell later on.

  6. It’s all about balance, right?

    I had dinner last night with another mom of twins. We were talking about daycare, and I said something about how the time away from the kids, doing grown-up work at my job, allows me to be a better mom. My friend teared up and said, “Thank you for saying that. I feel so guilty looking forward to Monday.” There are plenty of full-time parents who do a spectacular job, but for us, daycare/pre-school is the right solution. And it’s okay to admit that we can’t do it all, as long as we celebrate what we CAN do!

    I definitely found that an acknowledgment that raising twins was hard, as well as fun and fulfilling, was helpful in the fog of new motherhood.

    One thing I try to keep in mind is that some parents don’t want advice. I try not to give it unless asked.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Re-emphasizing individuality =-.

  7. I agree – keep it postive but with a small dose of reality.

    One thing that I like to say is that I thought it got easier once I got used to being a parent. At first everything was so new and different and overwhelming and it was a big adjustment to get used to having to think of two very demanding little people before myself. But once you get used to the fact that it isn’t all about you and you learn how to deal with everything constantly changing and figure out who to go to for advice or sympathy, it gets so much easier!

    I also thought that it got easier once they slept through the night. The days were still tough, but once I wasn’t a walking zombie from lack of sleep, it was better.

    I hated being told that it got easier when they were 2 or 3 or whatever far off time! Not very helpful and rather discouraging.

    I remember calling a good friend in tears about my problems breastfeeding. Just having her listen and have her tell me that on so many days her husband had come home to find her and the baby on the floor crying made me feel lots better.

    Advice that I got that helped me:

    If someone offers you help, say “Yes, thanks!” and don’t try to do everything yourself.

    Don’t feel badly about taking time off for yourself. If Mom isn’t happy, no one is happy.

  8. People kept telling me the first year was the hardest. Now with an almost 4 yo and twins that are almost 2, I think the 2nd year has been way worse. Then the other day someone said, “It probably doesn’t help, but I think around age 4 things get easier.” I almost had a party. I can make to age 4..piece of cake…as long as I have something to look forward to…my secret fear is that the real truth is there is no end in sight.

  9. Whenever I meet a mom of newborn twins and she finds out I have quads said mom tends to look at me like “wow, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” If she seems really frazzled I’ll ask about specific milestones (sleeping through the night, etc) if they’ve reached one of the milestones I focus on how great that is… we all know raising multiples is hard… it’s nice to have a cheerleader every now and then.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..School Supplies… Or How I Blew $100 in One Day =-.

  10. I read somewhere that “it doesn’t get better…it just gets different.” Boy, isn’t that the truth! Yes, the first month is the worst with them waking every few hours but I miss the days when they didn’t talk back or roll their eyes. I miss the days when they didn’t bicker or wrestle each other to the ground for the TV remote (for goodness sake–it’s a remote!!) They were so cute and innocent in those days. Their eyes were so wide! I think everybody needs to experience their twins in their own way. There’s nothing any of us can say to lessen the pain or promote the joy–we all have to live through it and hopefully find the joy.
    .-= Christina Baglivi Tinglof´s last blog ..Singing the Road Trip Blues =-.

  11. My kids are now 2.4. My latest pet peeve is when people say to me—you think this is hard? Three is MUCH WORSE. Thanks a lot. While it may be true, I simply don’t want to hear it and find it fairly rude to say to me, especially when I’m having a bad day. Sure, it stays hard. Sure, it might get harder, but I don’t think it ever helps to point it out to people, especially when they are struggling. I think the same is true of people with newborn twins. And honestly, I’m one of those people who thinks NOTHING is as hard as the first four months. Nothing. It does get easier—you sleep again—you stop BFing 24/7—etc…o course you have tantrums, but you also have language and playgrounds and all such fun. When I’m talking to pregnant or new moms, I try to focus on the things I found really helpful versus how hard/easy it is.

  12. The problem with “it will get better at …” is that it doesn’t actually help with whatever hard moment someone is going through. First time parents hear “it will get better” but don’t really believe it in their bones, so hearing it doesn’t do much to blunt the current difficulties. Parents with other kids know it will get better, so they don’t really need to hear it. Both types of parents want advice. Or rather, what I want (as the mother of 3 month olds) is advice on how to get through NOW. How do I get them to nap when I am home alone with them? Why does my boy take 3 times as long to get to bed at night as my girl?

    I know it will change, but what do I do now? I can not be the only one feeling this. Hearing it will get better shows the speaker/writer cares, but doesn’t do much to help. Pretty much every “wow this is hard” post on my multiples group’s web site elicits “it will change” supportive comments – again, nice but not actually helpful since it is not advice.

    I say – tell a new or expectant parent the truth – it is really hard but worthwhile, and you will be available to talk about what you did to get through various hard moments. (Actually, this is the same thing I’d say to people expecting a single baby as well. The feeling is the same if the intensity is different with twins.)
    .-= nonlineargirl´s last blog ..Two Little Girls, Three Little Pigs =-.

  13. I struggle with this same question. How much reality? How much encouragement? My best friend had twins 18 months after me, and I was so excited for her. And scared for her.
    I tried hard to tell her that they were amazing, and I loved them. But it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and still is. I told her about the crying while they cried, that the sleep deprivation almost killed me, that my marriage took a beating. I repeated a million times, “you can call me anytime, day or night. I understand.” As hard as it was to balance what I was telling her, being able to share it was so special.
    .-= Gwen´s last blog ..Playdate at Sarah’s =-.

  14. I just love the “shut up walks”. I really love that expression and I have taken many of them with my three boys- ages 3 yrs, and 17 mos twins.

  15. I’m with you and keep it positive with a dose of reality. I have a friend who recently had twins and I wanted to let her know that there are going to be hard days and she should know that we ALL have a hard time at times, etc. I hope it will encourage her to reach out when needed.
    .-= becky@oursweetpeas´s last blog ..So Happy It’s Friday! =-.

  16. One of the better things my husband and I repeat to ourselves when we need cheering up through one of the bad parts is what a lot of multiples moms in my area have said to me – It doesn’t get “better” necessarily, it gets different.

    When you’ve been dealing with the same horrible problems over and over, times however many multiples you’ve got, knowing that the challenges will at least change does sort of help us.

    The truth is, some of that “different” IS “better.”
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..Stairs =-.

  17. You got hour long shut-up walks? That’s not fair. Not fair at all.

    My advice for people who want to have or who are having twins? REST UP.

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