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Double Happiness

Life With Twins: The Mother of All Parenting Jobs

On June 27, 2012, my doctor uttered this life-changing sentence: “Don’t be surprised if it’s twins.” My HCG level (the pregnancy hormone) was through the roof. As a 40-something mommy-to-be, I was thrilled just to be pregnant. Twins? I had a smile glued to my face as my brain raced with questions. Twins!? What do we need? Two of everything? How big will I get? My husband and I are both planners: We like to be prepared; he’s an Eagle Scout! But how do you prepare yourself for two infants at once?   

You can’t prepare

We enrolled in a Parents of Multiples class. It was great to meet other parents of multiples and be reassured from the Mary Poppins-like teacher, but I laugh when I think back on the class now.  Valuable lesson of parenthood: There are some things you cannot plan for. The teacher advised us to pack a bag for labor and delivery and fill it with a tennis ball for lower back massages, lollipops as a distraction tool, lavender oil for relaxation and a favorite pillow from home. We dutifully packed our bag and thought we were ready.

When my water broke and we found ourselves in the hospital, all I wanted was an epidural. My husband dove headfirst into his iPhone so he could send everyone updates. My sister rubbed my back. All the stuff we were supposed to take was left untouched in our bag.

Sydney and Riley were born five weeks early and weighed only four pounds each. Doctors let us take a quick peek before they whisked both away in a well-choreographed dance of tubes and tests. Doctors soon assured us that the girls were doing well and their NICU stay would just be for “feeding and growing.” In fact they were in the NICU for three agonizing weeks.

The first six months is crazy town

My mom moved in with us for three months to help. I was a human milk truck, producing so much milk that we stored it in a special freezer in the garage. My mom, husband and I started a milk-bottle factory: production, consumption by the girls every two hours, and nonstop bottle-washing. We were all operating in a sleep-deprived haze. My moods felt like a cue ball in a game of pool. I will confess: I had a brief moment when I wondered if I had ruined our carefree life of martinis, dinners out and watching the sun set over the mountains. Then I would take one look at our sleeping babies and all selfish desires dissipated.

You do everything twice

Two diaper changes. Two bottles. Two cribs. Two baths. Two babies waking up crying. You develop an intimate relationship with the baby monitor. It watches your precious offspring, and you watch it. The nurses in the NICU told us to keep the girls on the same schedule to retain our sanity. Our twins didn’t get the same message. You wonder why people without kids don’t worship their sleep time more.  

We get asked the same questions asked all the time: Are they twins? Yes. Are they identical? No. Do twins run in your family? No. Are you going to have any more? (laughter)"

Twins create a sense of community

There is something a little bit magical about twins (or maybe it’s just babies) that make complete strangers nicer. People exclaim, “Oh! Twins!” and just start talking with you. Usually, they know a twin, have a sister or brother who is a twin, or they are parents of twins. We always ask for their best twin advice. We often hear: Don’t dress them alike. And: Treat them like individuals with their own identity. It makes us happy to hear that twins have an inseparable bond and they will likely remain close as adults.

I’m filled with gratitude

I jot down three things I am grateful for in the morning to keep some sort of gratitude practice. Lately, I’ve discovered the things I write down are things they do or say. Riley says, “Music makes my body move.” Or Sydney says, “Mommy, you have big teeth.”

I heard that parenthood can teach you a lot about yourself. I am still learning. I may still like to plan, but now I expect the plan to take on a life of its own. I think this is the magic of childhood and adulthood—letting go of how we think things should go and just embracing how wonderful things are.

Sandra Bienkowski is a regular contributor to Live Happy and the founder and CEO of TheMediaConcierge.net.

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