Back 2 the Future: So blessed/so depressed

triumvirate of evil 020305
My twin pregnancy was diagnosed at our 20-week ultrasound. Our twins were healthy and the pregnancy was low-risk, as twin pregnancies go. We were flooded with congrats and well wishes from friends and family.

I spent the first week after the ultrasound in complete shock. Sometime during the second week, I calculated what our daycare expenses would be. By the end of that week, I was very, very depressed.

According to the multiples pregnancy books I read, this is normal. Knowing that only made it slightly easier to deal with. I felt so guilty for having to fight back tears when people told us how blessed we were. People told me how much they always wanted twins, and inwardly I felt that they didn’t know what they were talking about. We were going to be under tremendous financial strain, as the bonus baby necessitated a move from our apartment and an upgrade from our small cars to a minivan. Not to mention a double stroller, a second crib, second infant seat, etc.

Also, reading the statistics on multiples pregnancies is a terrifying pastime. I hesitated to think much about the babies or the future, especially in terms of happy glowing mommy moments with my healthy babies. I focused on gaining weight and getting through the day. I didn’t get excited about actually holding and meeting and having my boys, until the night before they were born.

To clarify, I don’t think I was in a clinical depression while pregnant with them, or postpartum. However, I felt very depressed and that feeling persisted for quite some time after they were born. By which I mean, there were many happy times, but there were also many, many times I cried and wondered why God had done this to us. When people told me how blessed I was, I thought about the long days listening to the babies scream while I tried to work from home. I thought about the hours upon hours my 2-year-old spent watching cartoons, and how many of her meals consisted of dry cereal or crackers. I thought about how many of my meals consisted of a handful of M&Ms or, if I had the luxury of time, a can of green beans. And I thought, if this is a blessing for me, it is a terrible punishment for my children.

Time has given me the gift of understanding of how quickly and how certainly things change. That first year after the twins were born, I lacked the perspective to understand that this was but a season, and it would change, and I would be able to enjoy my children and my family and my entire life so much more. I was focused on surviving the day-to-day, instead of enjoying the day-to-day. I’m not sure a mere change of attitude would have remedied that, given our circumstances, but it would have been easier to get through that intense first year if I could have but glimpsed the future.

Certainly, life with kids aged almost-three to seven is worlds easier than life with three under three. We still have our rough times, but they don’t compare to that first year. And now, because I have seven years of parenting under my belt watching how quickly kids flip in and out of unpleasant stages, it’s easier for me to let a few bad hours, days, or weeks roll off my back. My first round of having three kids under age three was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but soon after that it got to be a lot of fun having them so close in age. So much fun that I was thrilled to sign up for a second (much easier) round of three under three when my fourth child was born. And I was secretly a bit sad it wasn’t twins.

Jen is the married work-from-home mother of 7-year-old Miss A, 5-year-old twin boys G and P, and 2-year-old Haney Jane. She blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

24 thoughts on “Back 2 the Future: So blessed/so depressed

  1. Hi there

    Firstly, I’d like to say how closely you reaction mirrored mine…. the husband… I cant really speak for my wife because I was in shock. It was back in December 2007 when we had decided to try for another child. We already had a boy, Sam who would have been 2 and a half at the time.

    Similarly to you, we thought we had all the gear, Pram, cot, car seats… clothes etc..so this pregnancy should be a lot cheaper than the first…right? We were very fortunate to fall pregnant straight away and for that we feel extremely blessed and things happened as they did with the first… Morning sickness, my wife showing quite early on, tiredness etc… We went for the 12 week scan ( we have them at 12 and 20 in the UK)… and before the sonographer said anything… we looked at each other as we could clearly see 2 heads.. “Well, I’d like to tell you that you are expecting twins….”… My first few words consisted of a few expletives, then a feeling of happiness, then shock, then worry…and thats where I stayed for what felt like 6 weeks…..worry. Worry that all our planning was out the window… worry that we couldn’t afford the childcare for my wife to go back to work to help pay the mortgage… worry that we wouldn’t be able to cope.

    And as you said, you get lots of nice positive comments, but at the time I had so many concerns running around my head about what we were going to do… coupled with the fact that the joy of carrying twins brings the dangers of carrying twins. Things like TTTS.. for which we seemed to be in the higher risk category because of being identical. I spent hours on the web trawling though lots of negative statistics… it was a minefield. S0 at the time it was hard to appreciate how lucky you were.

    I dont know what happened… maybe the scans we had every 2 weeks took the strain off the worry…but after about 20 weeks.. I started to get excited.. obviously still worrying about how I was going to support this increase in numbers into the family….

    C-section day… 2nd September 2008. Wow, what a day. Proud father of 2 new additions. Identical twin boys, Aaron and Ethan. As Jen says, its a massive rollercoaster of emotions.. My wife felt lost… we had our son who had been used to undivided attention having to share us.. and share us making it sound better than it was.. We seemed to have a lot off issues to start with, the boys weren’t feeding, losing weight, chest infections, etc… It was like fire fighting and my eldest was bearing the brunt of it… we tried as hard as we could to give him some dedicated time, but there never seemed to be enough hours in the day…

    But slowly but surely, you seem to get a handle on it… you learn to manage your time..I look back now at that first year (They are now 14 months) and think…wow, how did we survive… but you just do…

  2. I also felt a lot of anger and resentment that first year. It was compounded by the fact that I was part of a new moms group where everyone was having such FUN with their babies – vacations, trips out of the house, etc. I also felt like we were just trying to survive, and I didn’t feel like myself for a long time.

    I’m not sure that any type of knowledge would have helped. Between the sleep deprivation, constantly ill babies, worries about their health, worried about money, it was the most stressful year of my entire life.

    Now we’re on freaking easy street at 3.5 and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that doesn’t negate how extremely physically and emotionally difficult that year was.
    .-= LauraC´s last blog ..Fall cleaning =-.

  3. Thank you for your honest post. The first year with 3 under 3 was the hardest time I’ve ever experienced, but so agree that perspective and time have made me see things differently.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Whooooosh! =-.

  4. Okay, I don’t have twins, my youngest girls are 10 months apart, as I’m sure you already know. However, what you are describing, minus the worries about a multiple pregnancy, is exactly the way I feel now. Leila nearly 6 months, Mys at 16 months, and D-man at 3…are killing me. It isn’t just me though, the strain of having so many seriously needy beings at the same time, is sucking the life blood out of our entire family. It sucks so badly for my older kids that my conscience hurts. The only thing that keeps me going some days is knowing that other families have come out of this and thrived…otherwise???
    .-= Viv´s last blog ..Halloween…the cute and the political =-.

  5. I have 3 under 3 now. Glad I am not alone in how I feel most of the time. First year is a blur of tears – theirs and mine. I am happy to know things will improve. :) I had the same emotions when I learned I was having twins at 16 weeks…crying on the ultrasound table, total fear, totally calculating the costs of day care. Then, of course, 80 days on a hospital bed for the TTTS of the twins did not help matters. Anyhow, we survive. This is fun sometimes (other times not so much.) Thanks for the perspective and encouragement.

  6. I had so many days during my pregnancy when I would cry and wonder why God thought I could handle this. I remember having a complete breakdown in front of my dad and stepmom when two of my daughters came home. I really didn’t think I could do this. But time (and some sleep) brought me clarity. I wouldn’t have it any other way… still, I don’t want to relive those first few months!
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Daylight Savings Time… Or Why I Can’t Sleep In =-.

  7. This is the first time I have commented, but this post hit home for me. I, too, became a little depressed and overwhelmed upon discovering we were to have twins. In fact, the depression lasted well in to the twins second year after birth. Now that the twins are three, and we have added another child into the midst of our chaos, things are getting easier and I realize that I have done a pretty great job at raising my family. Thanks for the post.

  8. I think one of the most devastating things a new mom can feel is that she is missing the happy, fun life that motherhood is “supposed” to be. Sometimes it is happy and fun. And sometimes it is terribly frustrating and stressful. And just because it is hard doesn’t mean you aren’t a good mom, or that you don’t love your babies with all your heart. One of the most powerful testimonies to new moms (of multiples or singletons) is how it is a struggle, at times, for EVERYONE! Thanks Jen!
    .-= Sara D.´s last blog ..How to spin a web of almond bark. =-.

  9. After my twin boys were born I was so sleep deprived and so mean to my husband and trying so hard to be “perfect” and feeling like I was failing, that I went to my doc and said, “look, you need to give me some drugs bc I can’t do this! I’m a lunatic and I cry at the drop of a hat. Something is wrong with me!” He said, “yeah, you have newborn twins, that’s what’s wrong with you!” I asked him if he was gonna give me drugs or not and he told me to ‘bite on a stick. It’ll get easier.” I was so angry that I wanted to throw a stick at him! Here I am asking for help and he tells me to bite on a stick!! What?? But, he was right. It did eventually get easier. Two and a half years later I cringe when I think about how impatient I was and how nasty I was to my poor husband. But we got thru it. I know I’m a good mom and anyone that thinks otherwise can kiss my patootie :)

  10. Oh, I’m glad you were honest about your experience. When we found out (TOTAL SURPRISE) I sobbed on the exam table, totally floored. And when people would be happy for us I would think “This pregnancy could kill me. My twins could have major health problems. We’re going to be broke!” It just seemed so serious. I was excited about it, but I wasn’t giddy.

    For me, the first few months were the easiest. I was happy to get up in the night. My husband and I were both home full-time for three months (I was on maternity leave and he is a SAHD). But it became harder and there were lots of tears and very little sleep and despite coming home from the hospital 5 lbs over pre-preg weight, I gained 35 pounds from all the stress and chocolate chip eating. We’re still struggling at 2.5 years, though there are moments where we see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are working on reentering society, bit by bit, but we’ve a rough go of it.

    Twins are wonderful and they have given me a crazy interesting parenting experience (I also have a 7 year old girl) and I love to see them love each other and I love how they’ve added to our family. But for people without twins to say it would be “so fun,” means they only see the cute and not the moments that, honest to god, test your soul and sometimes even break you.

  11. I’m with Jen and LauraC, mine are older now. I had 3 under 2 for 8+ months and now they are 4, 3, and 3. I agree that we are on easy street now. They are a huge amount of fun right now.

    The beginning days were awful. I was so worried that no one was getting enough holding, or hugging. I was convinced at the time that they would be pemanently damaged by watching a DVD, not getting enough breast milk, having a bottle propped, and (insert angst here)….

    So my advise to new MoM’s … relax … you ARE giving them enough and they will be fine. The reality is they are getting more love and attention then some kids that are singleton’s.

    I’ve read many times other MoM’s say that it doesn’t get easier it just changes … I don’t agree … for me it has absolutely gotten easier.

  12. In 2 days my twins will turn 1. This year has been difficult and occasionally disappointing. I experienced infertility (our twins are IVF twins) and had high expectations of motherhood, particularly mother-child bonding. I was disappointed, too, in the failure of my obgyn to really inquire about my welfare after the combination of infertility, high-risk pregnancy, low-birth-weight twins, and emergency C-section with complications. Last week I started reading a book on postpartum depression and anxiety, “This Isn’t What I Expected,” and it mentioned postpartum stress syndrome/adjustment disorder. Its description was an absolute ringer.

  13. I got teary reading this post and everyone’s responses…this is the beauty of this website I think…it’s like a giant hug somedays, knowing you’re not the only one, that other parents have survived the same experiences, and that the kids are no worse for the wear! :) Someday we’ll all look back with such nostalgia and all the bad might just be completely wiped away!! We’ll only remember those blessed moments watching 2 (or more) babies sleeping peacefully….right???

  14. Thanks for sharing everyone … I really do feel better knowing that I’m not the only one who went through these things. At 18 months, it is getting easier in some respects, but honestly, I’m glad I don’t remember that much of the first year. But, they seem to be turning out OK despite all the crying and screaming. Thanks for helping me vent; I feel better and, yes Susan, even hugged.

    G

  15. Thank you for your honesty. I’m a mom to 3 under 3 and it’s hard. Hard doesn’t even really describe it, though. Most people think having twins is all rainbows and ponies (and matching clothes) but we twin moms know the daily struggle that it really is. NOT that I’m not blessed and thankful, it’s just so different from having one baby at a time. Throw my toddler in for fun and well, chaos! I hate wishing my boys older but I can’t help but wonder how much easier it will be in another year or two…sigh.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Just tryin’ to be helpful… =-.

  16. Like Viv, no twins, just a big family. Jen I can really relate to your description of surviving day-to-day instead of enjoying day-to-day. That’s how I feel now and just described that exact feeling to someone the other day. I feel terribly guilty that I can’t enjoy the children more. Thank God for blogs, to both read and write. CS Lewis said we read to know we are not alone, and boy, do blogs do that for us in the modern age.

    Thanks for writing about the bad times and exposing the dirty little secrets of when motherhood is hard. We all know it anyway, so we need it out in the open.

  17. As always, you hit the nail on the head. With twins and a younger one 25 months apart, I was there too. I didn’t even know how hard it was then because it was the new reality and like you, I didn’t have the foresight to know that it was a season. I wasn’t disappointed that #3 was a singleton but if I ever had more, I”d put in a request for twins. That being said, I’m trying to keep that from happening! =)

  18. Thank you, thank you!

    I had a similar situation, but I found out that it was going to be twins when Iwas only 5 weeks….that didn’t make it easier because I just went into denial. Like you our older daughter was 2 1/2 when they were born, and that first year was a blur. Tomorrow will be their second birthday, and I can’t believe it.

    I also felt very guilty about my feelings. And I still struggle with that.

    I have met other women pregnant with twins who tell me that they feel this way, and I try to be there for them to let them know that what they feel is OK. They are not bad or horrible. The first year is hard, it get’s better….but you are not alone!

  19. Thanks so much for writing this post. I can identify with so much of what you said. I was 26 weeks pregnant when we discovered our twins. It was a complete shock, to say the least. We already had a 2 and a half year old and I was overwhelmed by how I would handle it all. Plus, everything about the pregnancy seemed to be an up hill battle. The midwife I had wouldn’t work with me after our twin discovery and I was facing a $10,000 hospital bill and an almost inevitable Cesearan. At seven months pregnant, I felt like I was starting over. Then, due to a care provider error, I accidentally found out the sex of my babies which sent me into a deep depression. (Not because of what I got but because the surprise at the end of all the labor is what makes it worth it for me.) I felt like everything I had wanted had been taken away from me the moment we discovered the bonus baby.

    Luckily, things got much better at the end of my pregnancy. I’d made peace with my fate and my twins, who are 8 months old today, are just an absolute joy to me (as they are to their big sister). They were born at home at 39 weeks and 4 days so I consider myself very lucky that all the stress of their discovery did not seem to affect them.

    But, good god, it is such hard work.
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Almost There =-.

  20. Thank you for your honesty. Your feelings and situation mirror mine. I constantly tell myself that this is only a period of my life. It has become my daily mantra. Thank you.

  21. I’m a mother of 27 month old twins, boy & girl conceived naturally. Unless you’ve had multiples, you can never understand it. I could cry right now to read that other people have gone through the exact same thing. Sometimes you feel so alone. The strain on your marriage, the finances, the can’t sleep from anxiety although you are exhasted… It is a matter of survival day to day, and people don’t get it – my friends who are moms still have no clue to this day. I felt the same way as all the other posts – how is this a blessing? why did I ever get pregnant?
    But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it does get better, and my children are the best thing that could have happened to me. I wouldn’t go back in time to change anything. It’s an incredible challenge, you make huge sacrifices, and the first few months feel like they last years. They don’t, you get through it and come out alive on the other side. We’ve all lived to tell our stories!

  22. I’m feeling completely lost. Noboday seems to understand how overwhelmed I am. My husband travels a lot and I have no support we have 3 kids. I’m trying to enjoy my blessings but i’m so stressed out. I want to enjoy life and my husband wants me to be happy and all i feel is pressure

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