When I entered into the new, thrilling world of motherhood, I did it with a bang – TWINS! And to be honest, I wasn’t very prepared for it, emotionally, mentally, or financially. Motherhood was not all that I had expected it to be. I didn’t experience that “love at first sight” experience that everyone seems to talk about when giving birth to their children. I wasn’t getting that motherly feeling at first. Life was crazy! And I didn’t have time to slow down and appreciate the two precious little people who I was blessed to have call me mother.
Becoming a mother is one of the hardest things I have had to do, because, to be honest, the first several weeks I felt like I was in survival mode. I was just “being” a mother. I was just playing the part, feeding them, changing them, burping them, and wishing they would stop crying and fussing.
I did not enjoy breastfeeding very much because it hurt like crazy and I seriously felt like a milk cow. It’s ALL I did, round the clock since they needed to be fed every 3 hours, and with two of them, feeding them back to back could take up to an hour! I didn’t understand why I needed to breastfeed if formula is almost just as good (other than the fact that we can’t afford formula).
They didn’t see very much at first or smile, and so it didn’t feel very rewarding or magical. I was just performing motherly duties. And getting up in the middle of the night is SO hard. I would dream I was getting up, changing them and feeding them, only to discover I was still in bed, and they were still crying. Also for the first six weeks I was still recovering from major surgery and giving birth.
Now, do not misunderstand me. I love them very much. I hated having Lisa in the NICU for three days (after birth). It broke my heart to see her hooked up to tubes and not with us downstairs. She was my baby! I hated when Alison got sick and was throwing up a lot of her food and wasn’t eating very much for several days. I was so worried about her because I care for her so much. But, I wasn’t getting the “being a mother is the best thing in the whole world” feeling….
And I go on to say how at two months postpartum, I finally started to get that motherly feeling. And it was gradual. There wasn’t a sudden moment of epiphany.
Part of the change happened because our situation changed – we moved across the country from Utah to Indiana, moving in with my in-laws, where I had extra help. Another part was that I went to a lactation specialist who gave me tips for getting one of my daughters to open her mouth up more, so my nipples stopped hurting so much. Another big help was when my babies started sleeping through the night! (Sleep is heavenly!) Also, one of my daughter’s daytime crying started dying off, and my other daughter was being weaned off an expensive formula the pediatrician recommended, but no longer seemed necessary. As things in our lives started to settle, and we got into a regular routine, I could see how blessed I truly was.
Although that motherly feeling was finally present at two months out, there was still so much more to come.
Another move in another two months’ time to a place I had never lived, far away from anyone I knew, would again have me questioning much about who I was and what my purpose was, and what exactly it meant to be a mother, especially when I was home, alone, all day long, without a car, as my husband started his first year as a high school math teacher.
My first year with twins was a whirlwind. And experiencing motherhood for the first time with twins, without having much help, left me completely windblown, as I tried to hang on for the ride. I was forced to learn as I went.
[N]othing can prepare you for being a mother, especially not to two at once. It’s a whole new world of experiences, of delights and frustrations, of sorrow and gladness, of pain and joy. […] Parenting is hard, hard work, and often extremely frustrating, because you don’t see the fruits of your labor for a long time.
Mothering is a selfless sacrifice that is often unappreciated, under-recognized, and underscored. You give and give and give. And sometimes I have a hard time giving or making motherhood a selfless sacrifice, because I am selfish. I crave time to edify myself for my personal benefit. I spend so much of my day towing to the needs of little people, that I often just want to connect with the outside world to feel like a person of worth outside of my small sphere of my home. I want to be more than “just” a mother and wife. And that selfishness is hard to overcome.
And then there is the doubt – you doubt yourself, your parenting, your choice of activities, and how you measure up to others. You fear that your faults and imperfections will one day come back to haunt you in the form of defiant teenagers or vagabond young adults. You worry if you are teaching them enough academia so they’ll know how to read before kindergarten, or if you are teaching them enough about Jesus and religion. And you also start thinking about when you should introduce sports or musical instruments, if you should home-school or not, if you should split up your twins or keep them together. But, most especially you worry about how to protect their innocence for as long as possible. Motherhood stresses you out and makes you think so much about someone under your care. And again, nothing prepares you for that, and I am still trying to learn how to be a good mother but still retain some sort of identity.
I had to learn how to get that motherly feeling, but when I did, it came full force, in its mamma bear mode, stressing me out, making me care deeply and profoundly about daughters well-beings. I now experience that motherly feeling every day, not just with my three year old twins, but with my newborn son as well. In my experience, you learn to love fully, yet differently with each passing month and each passing year. And that motherly love changes, and your kids break heart again and again in so many tiny ways, as they do more and more amazing things all by themselves.
I’m glad that I experienced twins as my first, despite its steep learning curve. I’m glad that I had to work very hard to experience that deep, satisfying, truly blissful feeling of being a mother. I’m glad that I did get that motherly feeling, even if it seemed to take forever.
If you are a new twin mom, how have you felt in your new role? How have you learned to embrace motherhood and garner that motherly feeling?
ldskatelyn is a stay-at-home mom to 3yo fraternal g/g twins and a 5mo baby boy. She loves being a mother with all her heart, and is so grateful that she gets to stay home, despite how hard it has proved at times. She blogs about her life and more at What’s up Fagans?