“Most parents are astonished, slightly excited, but mostly afraid when they learn they’re having multiples. It encompasses the entire emotional spectrum. After the ultrasound tech said, I felt everything, ‘So, I’ve got some news…’ 30 seconds into the scan. There are two infants within.’ My kid and I were the only ones in the room. I merely came in for a routine ultrasound to see how far along we were in our pregnancy. ‘My hubby is going to flip!’ I thought to myself as my brain absorbed the words. Then all of a sudden, all of the ‘How in the world is this going to work?!’ ideas flooded my mind.
Will my body be able to cope with the rigours of twin pregnancy?
We made it with patience, yoga, milkshakes, naps, lots of protein, compression socks, more naps, meditation, and positive affirmations. It was the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve danced in heels on a steel stage for almost eight weeks on Broadway and as a Rockette. As a professional dancer, my body has put in a lot of effort. But a 36-week pregnancy with twins? Now that I think about how demanding that was, I shiver.
I had to concentrate on the positive aspects of the situation, on what I could accomplish that day. It might be strolling, or a few modified yoga poses on some days. I could only do one thing almost every day: relax. Oh, my goodness, I’ve never slept that much in my life. However, the start of the knowledge that is slowing down is a gift. I had no choice but to calm down and be kind to myself. I didn’t have a choice. As much as I resisted it at first, I’ve come to realize that slowing down has a lot of benefits. Now that I’m aware of how amazing it feels, I look forward to this slower pace daily.
What happened during my birth?
It didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, but it was still a powerful experience. My first two children were born at home with the help of an excellent team of midwives. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m not saying it was easy, but I felt safe and supported by my team, at ease in my own house, and entirely submitted to my body’s power as I frickin’ born my son while standing alongside the bed. I felt like a superhero/goddess/warrior all rolled into one exhausted mama, starring at my kid as he was placed on the bed in front of me at the time. It was a life-changing experience for me.
In the same way, I gave birth to my daughter at home, standing alongside our bed. I treasure those memories, and I’ve since been a supporter of a mother’s freedom to choose how and where she feels secure giving birth to her child. Each delivery is different and unpredictable, but every mother deserves a say in her experience. Because of my faith in birth, I inquired about having my twins delivered at home. They had different plans in the end. When labour started at 36 weeks, my team and I decided to go to the hospital.
I had no idea how unique this birth would be. ‘I trust my body,’ I told the medical team, and I had to use my voice to argue for myself and my babies confidently. I have faith in my children. We have earned the right to work.’ I stood firm, signed paperwork, and politely declined their fear-based advice. I merely desired the opportunity to work. Birth is so intuitive, and I knew deep down that I had to try to labour on my own.
My twin birth was a testament to a strength I didn’t realize I possessed. It is shared here from the bottom of my heart.
I’m not sure how I’m going to breastfeed twins.
I was a seasoned milk producer, but twins?! This was unfamiliar territory for me, and I had no idea how serious this commitment was about to become. I’m healing from two types of births on day one after giving birth. Baby A was born vaginally, whereas Baby B was delivered via cesarean section. This necessitated some focused healing time, so I scarcely left the bed for the first few weeks. I sat buried in babies, breastfeeding on demand, staring at the two of them in astonishment.
I stood there watching the three of us figure out this new communication mechanism. During my pregnancy and birth, I trusted my body’s wisdom. As my body worked (on overdrive) to generate milk for these two growing sons, I had to keep this exact intention in mind when breastfeeding. I was confident that we’d figure out a system that worked for us. I ate nutritious food (I was always hungry, holy wow, greedy! ), drank plenty of water, and rested. I thought the twin pregnancy was difficult, but the postpartum recovery and breastfeeding journey tested my patience even more. I didn’t set any deadlines for myself. I didn’t have any expectations. One feed at a time, I concentrated on and rejoiced. (*If you have trouble nursing, I strongly advise you to get help from a lactation specialist.) They can evaluate your baby’s latch and suggest other holding options.)
Breastfeeding twins could be blissful at times. My heart soared as I watched the three of us become closer. It’s impossible to describe how pleasurable it is to breathe in two fuzzy-headed babies following a breastfeeding session. While breastfeeding, it was worth every painful moment of frustration to see them discover each other and touch hands for the first time.
I felt depleted at other times. I was giving so much of myself, yet I was devoted 100 percent. Long nights, rounds of mastitis, and sacrificing what I felt required were all part of the deal. The word “exhaustion” doesn’t even come close to describing how I felt in those early months.
Surprisingly, I’d do it all over again without a second’s thought. Because as our nursing experience proceeded, we found our stride, we made it work, and I’m so proud of it. I breastfed my twins for 28 months and will never forget how amazing that time in our lives was.
How will we prepare for an increase in the number of children we have?
We were expanding our family from two to four children. Quite a promotion! ‘It takes a village,’ as we’ve all heard, so bring them on. We had grandparents, aunts and uncles, babysitters, and postpartum doulas (who are angels!) lined up to help us out when we needed it. A food train was quite helpful at first. I needed to stay in bed as long as possible after surgery. This appeared to be a lot of books being read to my older children as they cuddled up to the twins and me. If someone offered to fold a basket of laundry, empty the always-full diaper pails, or load/unload the dishwasher when they came over to visit or deliver food, I always accepted.
Accepting and receiving assistance is a sign of courage.
I became accustomed to letting go of any aspirations of a spotless home. I had no intention of impressing anyone, nor did I care. My mental, emotional, and physical well-being were my top priorities. That meant a live-in home, declining social invitations, and understanding that I wouldn’t be able to do as much…for the time being.
‘This is only temporary,’ says the narrator. When the demands of the four children under the age of six felt like a wave engulfing me, I reminded myself of this. ‘I’m sure I can handle it.’ Simple but accurate. I needed to remind myself that we’d sort it out with love and care for myself and my kids.
The arrival of the twins shattered everyone’s world. We all had to acclimate to living as a family of six over time (and with many tears). As we share this delightfully messy journey, we embrace, laugh, weep, hug, apologize, and hug some more.
‘How do you do it with four kids?’ people wonder. ‘Moms always figure it out,’ I say with a shrug. We figure things out even when we don’t know-how. We have an unstoppable desire within of us. Our lowest points do not define who we are. It is love that propels us ahead. We make painfully slow progress one baby step at a time, whispering to ourselves with tears in our eyes, ‘I can do this.’ We do.
As we attempt to grasp all of the ‘How’s,’ here’s to faith in the uncharted adventure of parenthood. Arms and hearts outstretched, ready to receive. This is a team effort. “We’ve got this.”
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