The Hard Truths

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Categories Parenting Twins, Perspective

A mother of twins shares the hard truth of multiple motherhood

Lately I’ve found myself given the opportunity to chat with and encourage women who are pregnant with multiples.  They always want to know what to expect.  It’s difficult to prepare someone for this crazy journey, but I don’t know that I always share the real hard truths.  Let’s face it, ladies, our job as a MoM is hard!

So here it is, MoMs to Be and New MoMs.

The Hard Truths (and hopefully some laughs too!) on my 22 months of twin mommyhood:

  • Your friends with singletons DON’T truly understand or relate. Seriously.   Join a MoMs Club, find a friend with multiples you can email to ask questions, email one of us at HDYDI!  Knowing you’re not alone HELPS.
  • Getting up at night to feed more than one baby (2, 3, 4…) is SO TIRING.  This sounds horrible, but when I was so delirious and going on hardly any sleep, I would have to literally pray myself out of bed. I wanted to take care of my precious newborns, but my body didn’t want to move. Once I was up, it was a sweet time with my girls. It was also when I started reading the Twilight series (haha) since they girls would have to sit up for 15 min after eating due to reflux. Twilight also helped get my tired self out of bed. :) Laugh if you will, but the books are a sweeeeet love story and very well written. 😉
  • You WILL have moments (or perhaps every moment for a while…) where you are overwhelmed and wish you had more than 2 arms and 2 hands.  Trying to balance multiple babies is HARD.  When you feel overwhelmed, try to find the FUNNY in it.  And it could always make a good blog post. 😉  My first night alone with the girls was a comedy of errors.  Like- pump spraying milk everywhere, screaming babies, even finding a screw in the crust of my pizza??!!.  Oh and my first time to take them to the doctor by myself?  It’s truly my most embarrassing mommy moment!!!  The main lesson I learned that day was you must adjust a Double Snap n Go to fit your brand of carseat.  Otherwise, your children will be standing on their heads… :/  Either laugh or lose your mind.  Your choice. 😉
  • You may feel out of control sometimes and that’s okay.  At the beginning, it’s new and a learning experience.  At the toddler stage, they are trying to gain independence. And really, you just feel that way… you’re still the mama. :)

With raising multiples comes tears- both of frustration and pure elation, JOY, constant moving, not much sitting, organizing, balancing, full arms, overflowing hearts, and a special, wonderful experience that I woudn’t trade for anything.

Have a Hard Truth to add?  Do tell!

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19 thoughts on “The Hard Truths”

  1. The thing I always tell expecting moms (if they don’t seem like they’re already freaking out too much) is that their experience of being a new mom is going to be completely different from what they might have imagined. You don’t have those lazy hours of dreamily staring at your precious newborn as she sleeps. Infant twins, the first four months in particular, is a lot of management and coordination. I remember saying to a friend when mine were little that, “I spend so much time managing them, I don’t feel like I ever get to enjoy them!” She agreed.

    It does get better. Feedings go faster, you get more efficient, the babies get more fun and interactive. But I really think there’s a mourning period when you realize that your experience of new motherhood is not at all what you might have expected. And it’s OK to take a minute and be bummed about that.

    But also know that this crazy experience will, in the slightly longer term, turn you into a SUPER MOM! Capable of changing a diaper with one hand! Able to leap two exersaucers in a single bound! I really am grateful for having twins and the kind of mom it made me: practical, laid back by necessity (you just don’t have TIME to freak out over every little thing!), and unafraid to try almost anything at least once.

  2. The thing I always tell the new moms I talk to is “You will get through it.” It may take six months, it may take a year, it may take longer, but you will get to a point where you’re no longer sleep deprived and you actually have time to ENJOY this crazy life.
    Quadmama recently posted SunscreenMy Profile

  3. Goddess in Progress’ comment made me aware of something I’d never been able to admit. “But I really think there’s a mourning period when you realize that your experience of new motherhood is not at all what you might have expected.” So true. So true.

    And I think it’s only natural to have a fair amount of Mommy-Guilt over holding one baby more than another. Remember that even though one baby may need a little more attention, more than likely that will change. Also, your babies won’t hold it against you that you had to pay a little more attention to his brother that day due to his teeth/colic/acid reflux/tantrums/[insert reason]. They love you unconditionally just like you love them!
    Amanda recently posted UmMy Profile

  4. I agree with the comments that mention a “mourning period”. And I hope this doesn’t sound too depressing but for me, I was mourning the loss of my old life, and the old me. Because twin motherhood changed fundamentally and by necessity every single aspect of my emotional and physical being and and that is not an exaggeration. My boys just turned 3. I’m in some wierd mental space where I STILL cannot believe I’m doing this. That God blessed me with them is surely a miracle, but what on earth made HIM think I could handle it ?!? I literally ask myself that question and no one “gets it” except other MoMs. The toddler period was so intense I actually considered changing my identity and leaving town. The fact I didn’t do that is proof of God working in my life. It is not by my own strength or abilities that I parent my boys, that’s for sure.

  5. My hard truth? You will be jealous of singleton moms. This was something I never expected and it took me by surprise. I would see them in Target and they literally looked like they were skipping along with their light-as-a-feather infant car seat. But the look on their face when they saw I had twins? More than makes up for that.

  6. I would tell an expectant parent to be sure to write down any memories they want to actually remember, because otherwise they just WON’T. No matter how much you think you’ll always remember the day they first laughed, you’ll be way too tired and it’ll never stick in your brain. Write it down or lose it forever.

    You’ll also forget words. Words you’ve known your whole life – gone – just like *that*

    I’d also tell them how great it is when the babies start to notice each other and play with, coo to, and laugh at each other. They’ll always have someone (or more) to play with.

    Establish a schedule and stick to it come hell or high water. Don’t let anyone tell you to delay the nap or bottle just this once. Don’t do it! Stick to the schedule – everyone will be happier.

    Also, while parents of singletons can’t truly understand what parents of twins go through, neither can parents of twins understand a triplet parent’s life, or quads, etc. And dismiss as clueless anyone who tries to tell them that because their singletons are close in age they TOTALLY GET IT. Ha!

  7. It’s hard to tell someone who is just beginning that the first year will be hard. Exhausting, grueling, brink of insanity hard BUT you will get through it.

    Funny thing is though I think it’s kinda like child birth. Yes, it’s painful and hard but after you’re done you have a hard time remembering exactly what it was like.

    My boys are only 2.5 and already life is so much easier and the memories from that first year are starting to fade. So much so that we decided to do it again, this time only one.
    Cristal recently posted For PatrickMy Profile

  8. I have had several friends have twins since I had mine. The first thing I told them was to do whatever they had to do to get help for at least the 1st month. My mom and mother-in-law honestly saved me on more than one occasion. My husband is an athletic trainer and the boys were born on the first football game of the season. My mom and mother-in-law practically lived with us. I will never be able to repay them for the first 2 months they spent with us.

    The next thing I told them was that one day, you are going to wish they were one month old again and would lay in the same place until you picked them up. Honestly, there are days in our toddler world that I would totally trade for one of those middle-of-the-night feeding days again!

    I tell them they really should consider cloth diapering. Mostly I get completely horrified looks at that!

    And I tell them to set a schedule and live and die by it. Without a schedule life is chaos.

    Somedays you will all sit on the floor and cry together.

    I tell them that in the beginning it took me 4 hours to leave the house…from start or driving out of the garage. But by the time they were 6 months old I could do it in an hour and a half.

  9. My advice is take time… time to be a full-time parent to your new babies, and then, when you feel ready, time to do something other than being a full-time parent. At about 6 months old I wanted to something other than just look after babies, but before that I couldn’t handle much more than getting dinner on the table and keeping up with laundry. With my singleton son, I was ready and able to do something for myself far earlier, and in some ways, I wish I had taken more time to just be with him before getting caught up in so many other things. I hoped that with a second child I’d get more time to just be with my baby, but then I had to babies, so there was way more to do.

  10. You will feel guilty…guilty that you can’t comfort both crying babies; guilty that you can’t sit and cuddle to your (and their) heart’s content; guilty that you can’t take them both to the park, or swimming lessons, or out to eat…without a helper…

    But I tell myself that I’m making my children stronger and more independent. And I agree with Goddess in Progress, that having multiples (at least for me) forced me to be a little more laid back that I surely would have been with one baby…and that’s probably a good thing in the long run. :)
    MandyE recently posted Adventures in WaterMy Profile

  11. My piece of advice is to realize that every parent-child relationship is unique. What comforts one baby may not comfort the other – even if they’re identical! Different babies have different needs, and that’s okay.

    I think we parents of multiples learn early what parents of singletons learn later: there is no “perfect” in parenting, and how boring would it be if there were!

    I will confess having sometimes felt a feeling of superiority when a mom of a singleton complains because her newborn isn’t sleeping through the night at six weeks old or some such thing. In my head, there’s a mean little voice saying, “Oh yeah? Well my TWO babies didn’t sleep through the night until they were over a year old, my husband was in Iraq, and I work full time. Take that!” And then, I realize, this mom is still seeking perfection. She’s still seeking doing it all: having a tidy house and being rested and looking gorgeous, while I’m at peace with just doing the best I can and don’t mind that I look haggard and my kitchen counters are covered with paper.
    Sadia recently posted VacationMy Profile

  12. My hard truth/advice: Expect the first year to be absolute hell. Really. Then you just might be surprised when you have moments that aren’t! This was the attitude I chose to have when we discovered our twins. In the months following their birth, people would ask how it was going. I would tell them that I expected it to be hell and it isn’t quite that bad. Now that my twins are 15 months old, I look back on that first year and wonder how I did it. It really does seem like hell in retrospect but it is amazing that I didn’t totally think so at the time!

    Also, and I think this bears repeating, you might not like to ask for help but you will need it. Take it EVERY TIME it is offered. We had a lot of help (both volunteer and paid) and it really has made all the difference.

  13. Great post!! I agree with all previous comments. Learn quick that your best is good enough. there is no such thing as perfection, don’t try to live up to the impossible.

  14. I go back and forth on advising twin-parents-to-be. On the one hand, I don’t want to sugar-coat it. (I was miserable for the first six months. Miserable. I wouldn’t live through them again for anything.) On the other hand, I don’t actually think it serves any purpose at all to scare parents-to-be — I know I HATED that when I was pregnant, and knowing it would be hard did not make it any less so.

    I agree with Cristal that it’s like childbirth in more ways than one. When someone is pregnant, there’s no point in saying, “Childbirth is really going to hurt. Like, horribly. It’s the worst pain of your life. You will scream for drugs.” I mean, does that information actually help someone in labor? But saying it’s a picnic doesn’t serve her well either — she needs to be able to prepare mentally however she can.

    I generally say to people that: a) it’s really, really hard — the first six months we probably the hardest of my life — but now I thoroughly enjoy my children and my life; b) everyone’s experience is totally different, so you may get easy babies or you may get difficult babies or good or bad sleepers or any number of other unknowable variables, and c) time will keep moving forward whether you’re enjoying yourself or not, so try not to despair when things are hard. Just repeat (as I did ad nauseum): “It’s not forever, it’s for now.”
    Rachel recently posted Month 20My Profile

  15. Ok, I’m getting scared!! I just happened upon this site and my twins are due in 5 days. I also have a 4, 3, and 18 month old. I sure hope I can do this!!!!

  16. I also don’t feel like I can really be honest with expecting MoMs. The truth really hurts and you just have to work your way through it. I wish somebody had been honest with me before and during my twin pregnancy. Before I became a MoM, I remember seeing an old friend who told me a little about her twins when they were infants, and I thought she was teary eyed from lack of sleep and tough life choices the twin pregnancy initiated for her family. Now I know that was just the tip of the iceberg.

    1. Just do whatever it takes to make it through the day, one day at a time. Throw expectations out the window and just make sure everyone is adequately fed, rested, and semi-clean, yourself included. Don’t let any other chores take priority over feeding and sleep.

    2. The first year after their birth may easily be the worst of your life. It will get better. It’s OK to talk about depression, meds, and therapy. Don’t expect your single-kid friends to have any idea what hell you are going through. Talk to other MoMs for empathy and tips. My mind, body, hormones, and general existence were in freak-out mode for most of the first year, and I consider myself to be a good mom. My MoM network really helped keep me sane, even if it was only a sounding board.

    3. Don’t forget about your own needs. After the babies come out, almost no one cares about how mom is doing. I could barely walk for the first 4 weeks after my repeat c-section and needed more help than I got. I now wish I had stopped breastfeeding sooner than I did, as my quality of life improved drastically after the switch to formula, and nobody died from that “drastic” decision. I also should have taken more time off for myself, out of the house and without the babies.

    4. When you make it to the other side (survived the first year with multiples), you will be a Professional Mom. You will be more confident in your mom abilities than you could ever imagine. Lots of times I see “regular” moms (not MoMs) and think they have no idea what they are doing, since they don’t have multiples. Of course, I only have twins and can only bow down to the moms of triplets or quads.

  17. I was so exhausted, I used to cry in the mornings because another day was starting.

    Not only will you get through it, but you will conveniently forget how hard it was. my husband and I know it was hard, and we know we were exhausted, but we don’t remember those exact feelings. I wouldn’t trade my twin experience for anything.
    Leigh Ann recently posted What a difference a week makesMy Profile

  18. My husband and I found out recently that we are expecting Quads, and I am terrified. I am grateful there are others to share their experiences with me

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