The morning I flew out to Nashville for Blissdom I woke up at 2am. Having had only 4 hours of sleep, and not needing to get up till 5, I was hoping I’d pass back out. Only, that didn’t happen. Instead, I laid in bed till 4:30 thinking about the twins.
And all the huge, life changing events that are coming with them. Before them. After them.
While I tried to tell myself over and over that I have 5-6 months (maybe) and things always tend to work out (even if it’s not in the way I pictured) – I just couldn’t shut my brain off. I saw myself so tired from lack of sleep, dealing with 3 screaming children, Bella being left out – having to give up everything I wanted to do to achieve the “Motherhood” standard that is set so very high, and I simply broke.
I climbed into the shower and started to bawl. And cry, and cry, and cry, and got out and sat on the floor naked and sobbed. Then I threw up. I was so overwhelmed, so lost, so confused, so emotionally torn on all levels. My brain thought about two babies and literally shut off. I couldn’t even picture it. I had such a hard few months with Bella that all I could think of was, “God, what did you do? I can’t physically care for two infants at one time – I’m going to mess this all up. I will fail at motherhood.”
Then there was the guilt of it tugging away at me. Because there is no guarantee I’ll have two. Or even that they’ll be healthy enough for me to fail at taking care of. They might be in the NICU. I may only be able to touch them through glass. I could lose one. Both. And these thoughts haunted me as I cried because all I could think of was how ungrateful I was being when so many people would give anything for one baby. Here I had no idea the outcome of my two and I didn’t even know how to be happy about it.
It ate away at me all weekend. The guilt of feeling overwhelmed, I had no idea how to respond anymore when someone asked how I felt about it. I knew telling them, “Like someone made a big mistake but if I say that and lose one or both then it will be my fault for not being happier about it.”
When I got home, I started to reach out to moms of multiples – one I had actually worked a summer with right after hers were born (and she had 3 other children so 5 under 5!) and reading blogs of moms who had twins. It was amazing how every one of them felt the same way as me – and felt guilty about it. And one thing stood out over and over again in all the thoughts and advice:
You’ve got to learn to let go.
With Bella, my expectations of motherhood were so high that I felt “on” all the time. Everything had to be done right. I had to exclusively breastfeed. We had to only cloth diaper. There was no sleep training. She needed to be worn. Perfect strollers. Car seats. No TV. Milestones would be hit. Although she balked at some and we did have to cave to others that never worked for us, as a mom of a singleton I felt pretty smug about what I had done.
Then life handed me twins.
These past few weeks have been a real struggle to get past some of the expectations I had of this pregnancy and as the mom of a toddler. But I know it’s nothing compared to what’s coming. I hate to put it this way, but I honestly have to lower the bar. I’ve heard that with multiples, survival is the only thing that matters for a good, long while.
So as I contemplate this, I start to tell myself:
I can do formula with breastmilk and no one will die. Heck – isn’t this one of the reasons formula was invented?
I can wear one baby or put them both in a stroller.
I can try for a vaginal birth. I can have a c section. Whatever is the safest at that point.
I can buy disposables with my cloth.
I can co sleep. I can sleep train.
I can have other people care for Bella. For the babies.
I can take a break and go pee – even if they cry.
I can do whatever needs to be done – because guess what?
I’m having twins. Two babies at one time. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure they are safe, healthy, and have a mother who is able to enjoy them and give them as much attention as she can.
Whatever that means for us.
Because I know if I go into this with absolutes, will not’s, and should have’s – I will regret things that truly don’t matter in regards to survival. My mental health is more important than making sure I pump 24-7 or wash 6 loads of laundry a day.
It’s so hard to let go. Harder still to have the well meaning, “But my sister’s boss EBF’ed her triplets, baby wore all 3 round the clock, and now they are 5 and all speak fluent Chinese! You can TOTALLY do this if you try.” Your sister’s boss is a rockstar, that is amazing, and I’m going to be my own rockstar here. My way. Whatever works for Sam and I as we face challenges no one who hasn’t had multiples can comprehend. We very well might be able to do things we never imagined, but I’m not going to force myself to make it an absolute.
It’s almost a relief to give myself permission to just do whatever it takes.
Setting that bar lower – guilt free – remembering the key is for everyone to survive for a while. Then later – adding back in the treats and smugness as we fall into a routine. One “My Baby Speaks Chinese” video at a time.
*ETA – I wanted to add that if you do the above because you had/wanted to, I certainly don’t consider it a failure or that you lowered your bar. Everyone has different expectations of themselves, mine aren’t better or worse. They were just ones I wanted.