Surviving Twins, With Gratitude

This was written and shared on my blog in November 2010, and soon after was published on the Momoir Project, followed by the spring of 2011 in Multiple Moments Magazine.


Surviving Twins, With Gratitude

It's a crazy household all day, but the real fun begins when all three kids wake up hungry after nap. Between then and bedtime I triage each "emergency" in order of seriousness. In this case, my four year old will ask for a snack every three seconds until I provide it, so she's first on the agenda. I then set her up with a craft, telling her she needs to stay quiet while I feed her brothers. This rarely happens but there's no sense in giving up hope.

I move on to the boys, whose bottles have been heating since before I started their sister's snack. I change the diaper of whoever is whining loudest, flashes the biggest smile, or unintentionally waves an arm as if to say "Pick me!". When both diapers are changed I place them each in a corner of their oversized leather chair and I take position in front of them on the ottoman in an attempt to tandem bottle feed them. On occasion it works, but generally one wants to play with his brother, or the bottle, or look at their sister who has already given up on the craft and loudly come to join us. So I resort to picking up whoever is misbehaving less and hope to feed him quickly before his brother protests. Insert muttering profanity here.

When both boys have been fed, I move them to the living room and engage them in hands on play and exercises. Usually their sister is involved and this elicits hysterical laughter, accompanied by some sort of excitement induced vomit. When the boys get tired, or are bored with "Head and shoulders, knees and toes..." for the umpteenth time, I put them in their exersaucers and head back to the kitchen to start making supper.

On evenings like this, with my husband at work, I am hyper-organized and have therefore had supper planned since the morning. I let my daughter help out with the quick preparation (generally more of a hindrance than a help) then I start taking oversized, barely chewed bites while I quickly heat up the boys' food and nag at my daughter to eat her vegetables.

I get the boys settled in their high chairs and they start yelling at me in stereo until their supper arrives, apparently under the impression that I am starving them to death. My daughter offers to feed one of the boys, then without fail decides she's bored just as she's made a mess of whoever she's been feeding and knocked over her own milk. So I then take over and feed both babies myself. I've learned it works best if I jam a couple bites in one boy, stuffing his mouth full so that he is too busy chewing to yell for more food while I switch and do the same for his brother. Back and forth, back and forth until two bowls of food are empty.

When supper is over the kitchen is a disaster. Often at this point one of the boys is asleep in his highchair, his brother is surprisingly entertained by his own hands, and their sister is off in her room. I don't dare disturb any of them and pray this will continue long enough to let me clean up. I load the dishwasher, assemble the leftovers, and maybe even sweep the minefield formerly known as our floor. Then I take a big breath, knowing that I may have survived another meal, but I still have bedtime to tackle.

I revisit the boys' bums, put them in jammies and lay them on our bed where they quietly snuggle. In the mean time I am arguing with my daughter about what pajamas she'll wear until she eventually ends up in only her panties, somehow claiming she's "burning hot" in our freezing cold house. She then reminds me she has not had her bedtime snack. I leave her alone with the boys and remind her she needs to YELL if they start rolling. I run and cut her some fruit, frantically checking on them every few seconds (because you get a bit paranoid when you've previously left a baby in his sister's care for a second and he's rolled off the bed without her batting an eye).

When snack is done, she concedes to teeth and pee then we begin reading stories and back scratching and talking about our day. I give her a kiss, tuck her in, and try to make my exit. She stalls for as long as humanly possible until I shut her door behind me, hoping it's the last I'll see of her for the night. Unlikely.

After three more appearances for "I'm thirsty/I think there's a bug in my room/What was that noise I just heard?" or something similar, I am confident she is finally asleep so I turn back to the boys who have nodded off just in time for their last bottle. With red eyes and some fairly pathetic whimpering, they gulp down their bottles and are back to sleep and into their cribs. Thankfully, they're usually out until morning.

Then finally, the house is blissfully silent, and that's when I begin laundry, cleaning, and planning for the next day when I start all over again. If it's a really exciting night I might squeeze in an episode of Friends or Seinfeld, but otherwise I'm asleep before my head hits the pillow.

Likely, this is not a scene that many would envy. In fact, in the past I probably would not have been envious of it myself. But then, a year ago, two of the key players in this intricate production were born far too early and far too small and we didn't know if they would even survive to make this our reality. Thankfully, this hectic existence is very real, and the three stars of the show are happy, well adjusted kids. I may be exhausted, but I am blessed beyond belief.

The First Time

Originally published on the Momoir Project.


The First Time

Most of the early days consisted of staring at my twin boys through the glass of their isolettes. I held one of them whenever they could tolerate it, although often times neither of them could. It was a fine balance between giving them time to stabilize on my chest, and returning them to the safety of their isolettes before they were caused any stress. Having babies that were regularly too unstable to handle my touch was an unbearably helpless feeling.

Fifty-nine days after their premature birth I went to visit them, as I had done every other day, except something was different about the way the staff were looking at me. In a panic, I asked our nurse what was wrong. With a timid smile she assured me the boys were doing well and they thought today I might try holding them at the same time. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – I was about to hold both of my boys together. I had desperately longed for this, but had been forced to suppress my hope because I was so tired of the daily disappointments. Today it was actually happening and I couldn’t do anything but cry uncontrollably. I had envisioned this moment more times than I could count, and now, it was finally here.

After I composed myself, the boys were very carefully laid on my chest, their fragile bodies almost weightless. Their tiny faces peeked up at me through a mass of tubes and blankets. With every assisted breath, their chests rose and fell rhythmically against mine. I softly touched my lips to the top of their heads and enveloped them with my arms, ensuring they felt each others’ presence. I watched their heart rate monitors and saw that everything was within normal range; they were adjusting well. I tried to relax and take it all in, but sat completely still for fear of distressing them. Holding my babies should have come naturally moments after they were born, and yet here we were two months and hundreds of complications later.

Like always, the room was full of staff, families, and relentlessly beeping equipment, but it felt as though the boys and I were the only ones in the room. I saw the pure joy on everyone’s faces around me and realized that they too had been anxiously awaiting this moment. As I looked down on the miraculous babies I was holding, I felt at peace for the first time since their birth. They still had a long and uncertain road ahead of them, but for those few precious minutes everything was as it should be. My boys were exactly where they belonged.