Since my first pregnancy was a twin pregnancy, I don’t think I thought about wanting or not wanting to have twins. Scott and I struggled to have children and had to resort to in vitro to begin our family. We were so excited to become parents and we thought that the two-for-one deal was a great way to do it.
But after a “not-as-I-planned” emergency c-section and babies hooked up to tubes and monitors and the unrelenting demands of caring for such fragile lives, I desparately struggled during those first few months of motherhood. This struggle caught me off guard and rocked my world. I had always wanted a family; I had spent a lot of time around babies and children; I had gone to extraordinary means to have THESE babies. And, yet, mothering twins was sometimes more than I could handle. (You can read more about those struggles here.)
The physical challenges of having two babies (I often felt like one of those oxen with two water buckets on each side of my neck harness when I carried the car seats to and from the car), to the challenge of responding to two babies crying at the same time and me being the only person around.
During those early years with the twins I would call my mom nearly despondent because I felt like I was just barely able to get basic needs met–feeding and cleaning and changing–RINSE AND REPEAT. I found motherhood to be so rote. . .so mind numbing at times. . .that I couldn’t imagine that life would ever get better. Or, more precisely, that I would ever have MY LIFE back again.
Honestly, there was a big part of me that mourned not being able to bond and devote (maybe the word is “dote”) on a single child in a way that would be more nurturing. . .and less demanding. I remember a friend saying that she enjoyed those first few months of babyhood. She and the baby would sleep. . .then she’d nurse for a while. . .and they would just cuddle and sleep some more.
That couldn’t have been farther from my breast pumping in the middle of the kitchen floor while trying to placate two screaming babies by using my feet to make their bouncy seats bounce.
When I found out that I was pregnant with my second set of twins, the reality of what my husband and I were facing. . .and the challenges of responding to two more babies and two 18 month olds was. . .well, daunting is the nice way to say it.
So when I came across two essays in the New York Times where one mother wrote about not wanting to have twins while the other mother wrote about the joys of becoming a twin parent, I understood the ying and the yang. Lauren Appel (you can read her essay here) is writing from the land of toddlers and she questions whether this is what she really wanted. She feels a little, do I daresay, gypped in the process of mothering these babies.
K J Dell’Antonia (her essay is here) chose to have “twins” (one child is adopted) and responds to Appel and discusses the challenges and the joys of parenting multiples.
I feel nothing but empathy for Appel and I respect her honesty. I get it. Those first few years are hard. Now that I have a singleton, some days look at my twins, Luke and Will, and I just want to cry because they didn’t get the attention or the doting or the one-on-one time that Dylan has.
But would I wish for a different journey of motherhood? No. My only change–I would have hired more help!
I would love to hear about your experiences. Did you want to have multiples? Were you excited or depressed with the news? Has your views stayed the same. . .or changed as your twins have gotten older?