The title of this article was a question asked on a twin-mom facebook page, and after reading it, my reaction was: “Hhmmmmm … good question, and really worth exploring!”
As women prior to becoming mothers, we can only imagine what it will be like to have a baby. While pregnant, our imaginations work overtime as we wonder what he or she will look like, and we especially hope and pray that the baby will be healthy. Perhaps, we imagine billowing curtains as we sit enveloped in a flowing cotton nightgown breastfeeding our baby quietly in a comfortable, cushioned rocker to the early morning sounds of chirping birds as the sun streams in along the nursery floor. Ahhhhh, future motherhood.
Not having experienced parenthood, and only going by others’ stated experiences and advice, we anticipate that our amount of sleep will probably diminish once the baby arrives, and that it’ll be challenging at times adjusting to parenthood, but no one and nothing can really prepare you for the realities of parenthood. We truly only learn first hand when the baby arrives.
It will take time for us to live, experience, and look back in retrospect in order to one day answer the question: “Is it what I expected it would be like?”
All new experiences teach us what we didn’t already know. We realize that there are some things that we didn’t know we didn’t know! As brand new mothers, we lay in recovery from labor and childbirth and find that nothing looks the same, everything has taken on new color and new perspective. Everything has changed forever. We’re filled with a joy, anticipation and love that is combined with exhaustion, a little fear and apprehension. Are we a bit overwhelmed? Oh yes … but we don’t know the definition of overwhelmed until we are hit with the reality that this little person now completely depends upon us for everything from this moment on.
New Parenting X 2
Now let’s imagine that we don’t only have one brand new life depending upon and demanding of us. What if there were two, three or more little people suddenly needing us 24/7? I’ve been asked over the years from moms who had their children one at a time, “How in God’s name did you survive the first weeks or even months with twins? My ONE baby’s colic, sleep inconsistencies, teething, diaper rash, colds, viruses, ear infections and acid reflux almost killed me!”
I’ll admit, that there were times that I was holding on to the last fiber of the last inch of my last rope by my finger nails, but I did survive, and actually came out on the other side a now more confident, self-assured, stronger person, just as any difficult experience that tests you to your limits will leave you. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! All moms will admit this truth. Motherhood really toughens us up, and it’s not for wimps or the faint of heart!
Now with the difficult side of new motherhood mentioned, what about discoveries of the wonders, the joys, the amazing moments that we never expected?
Before our babies are born, we truly cannot imagine the incredible, unconditional, complete love we feel for these tiny little creations that we hold for the first (or 1,001st) time. Their incredible beauty, the miracles that they are, the wonder in their eyes, the expressions on their faces only begin to introduce us to our unique privilege to re-experience life through them. As we learn our babies’ likes, dislikes, and habits, and strive to make them happy and safe, we change ourselves in a way, tailoring our routines and placing our own needs after our children’s. Isn’t it amazing how much we change, and (for the most part) really don’t mind giving up some comforts, some of life’s conveniences and pleasures that up until motherhood were routine in our day? For instance, do you remember just waking up on a weekend morning when you wanted to? Or, taking a shower everyday (ha!)? Remembering if it were today or yesterday when you last brushed your teeth? Or, running to the store for something you wanted at a second’s notice, instead of dressing the toddlers and trying to figure out the best method of maneuvering two babies or toddlers and a grocery cart? Or, running out to meet a friend for a quick before work coffee or lunch on your work break?
Enjoy the following compilation of the other moms of twins who’ve answered our title question, asked by twin-mom Courtney:
Kara: Pretty much….I almost cried watching TLC’s multiples. Had to turn it off because it was like they filmed my house. If you’re expecting, I recommend watching it.
Judi: It’s a extra gift from God Yes, there are times that it’s a challenge, BUT it’s all worth the effort. My twins are now 21 & I wish I had a lot of the new products that are on the market to help new moms now.
Amy: Better than I ever could have expected Definitely hard, but not as hard as I had thought it would be.
Judy: I had no specific expectations, so each day is a new adventure! It’s not as hard as people said it was going to be. At least for me, that is, but I’m pretty easy-going.
Michelle: I agree with Judy so far, but since my girls are just 11 weeks old, I might change my mind many times!
Meagan: … I find myself SO blessed each and every day with double the smiles and laughs and the totally different personalities! Yes, it is VERY stressful at times, you feel like crying(and on some days you do), and you just don’t know what to do… but I think that’s with ALL parents! … My favorite quote that I live by each and every day, “God only gives you what you can handle”! So by that, we’re all doing great!!
Ashley: I never know what to expect but I love it and would never change it.
Christa: I don’t remember having too many expectations before hand, with the exception of coming home with two babies…… 10 years later ….. no one would have ever thought to expect the ride you get from having twins…. my advice stop expecting and let life happen
Jessica: I thought it would be a lot harder so its a piece of cake. Now I have a cousin having triplets and I am the only one who told them it wouldn’t be that bad. Everyone else scared them, but I’m the only one who had more than one at a time so it made them feel much better.
Courtney: I thought the first year was absolute misery (just being honest!!) and feel like I had NO idea it would be that hard! BUT! After that first year, I feel like twins become so much easier than singles!! I was surprised by that too! I mean, for so many reasons… they can’t get into too much trouble because they tell on each other. lol. They also entertain each other and help one another… learn from each other…. the list goes on!
Luann: I agree that I didn’t know what to expect, except for a lot more diapers! I knew it was going to be hard but what in life isn’t? Everyone asks me, “how do you do it?” Especially now that I’m a single mom. I always answer, “one at a time!”
Lee: Yes and no. I really do not have anything to compare it to since these were my first kiddos. We were really surprised but I do have to say ever since I was a little kid I always said I was going to have twins … I am the only one in my close family with twins … so that has made it hard since no really knows what it is like and cannot really help out with different questions I have. We are part of that special twin group and I love it. I would not trade it for the world even though it can be hard at times … my b/b twins bring so much joy, fun and learning to my life I just have to sit back and smile. I had a friend tell me that “God only chooses special people to have twins!” and I am a believer in that!
Liaco: Wish I could say it was all sunshine and roses, but that would not be the truth. However, it was not so bad that we decided to have another baby I would not trade the good, the bad, and the ugly for anything else in this world. As hard as some days are, other days are so joyful, that I would not imagine not having these beautiful little girls in my life. These girls make my life better and MUCH more colorful.
Hillary: Courtney, I’m hanging on every word u say and hoping it gets easier … mine are 9 months and this could possibly be the most tired I’ve ever been in my life!!!
Lori Anne: I really didn’t “expect” anything… they were my first, so I had no prior experience, and I was going through a divorce and knew I would be raising them by myself. So… I made a promise to myself:one obstacle at a time. … I believe it not only helped me, but it helped my sons as well. They are almost 2 and they have a schedule, and they are very happy boys. There is rarely crying and fits involved in the daily activities. They are very independent and I am very grateful that they are as good as they are. In my opinion, sometimes people focus too much on expectations and future decisions, instead of concentrating on the “now”.
Sara: I have to be honest….The first year was very easy for me. My husband and I did not have “in house” help and we also have another young child, but everything clicked. The twins ate and napped and slept at the same time … I was very fortunate. Then they turned ONE. They still eat, nap, and sleep at the same time, but they are a lot to handle. They just turned two, and are still a lot of work, but it has calmed down. My point is: you never know what you’re going to get.
Cara: They made my first two singletons seem really easy (and they did not seem easy at the time). I guess it has given me … um … perspective?
Bambi: It was so much harder than I ever imagined. I had already raised three children, but nothing could’ve prepared me for twins. Perhaps I simply had difficult twin babies??
Expectations vs. Reality
No one can possibly predict or imagine what life is going to present to us each day. Are those expectations we have about certain future events in our lives something we do intentionally or do our imaginations and dreams just entertain us with images or scenarios of what might be?
As it turns out, life rarely gives us what we expect! When it comes to our expectations or preconceptions (pun intended about motherhood, especially twin motherhood, the only things to expect is the unexpected!
During a visit to my mother-in-law’s home when my last set of twins were six months old, she and I began reminiscing about the early weeks following the babies’ arrival (during which she was temporarily with us to help with the other four children). I said, “Oh yes, those were some challenging times!” She quickly replied, “Challenging, no. It was HARD.” And those were my 3rd set!
We may gain experience, but as all moms know, each child is different, and each time a new baby (or babies) arrive, we face new challenges with our older children’s continued needs in addition to our new babies’ needs.
Difficult, busy, challenging and exhausting … those are reasonable expectations for any new mom to have. A realistic description of, as in the opening example, of breast feeding our babies may consist of doing so while the our other kids run through the house noisily, while one baby won’t eat and continues to cry, while we wince as our sore nipples hurt, and we sit beside the clean, unfolded laundry piled up on the sofa next to us, and we realize we should’ve taken the meatloaf out of the oven BEFORE sitting down to nurse … BUT there will be those moments when the sun streams in as the breeze billows the curtains as we look down at our tiny, sweet nurselings and look over at the bunch of wildflowers our toddler brought to us next to us on our night stand …
… just wait and see.