My toddler and I had a great thing going. We napped when we wanted (yes, we). We came and went as we pleased. I had a kid-friendly, work-from-anywhere business that I could do with him in tow. 18 plane rides by the time he was 2, and monthly 4ish hour car rides to see mom and family in DC – he was used to being on the go. We had fun. We loved the non-stop adventure. Thankfully, my husband was pretty understanding. We did it with relative ease. And then, I hit the jackpot with a twin pregnancy.
They tell you it’s going to be hard. Who, you ask. Everyone. Parents of twins, doctors, family, friends, random strangers at the grocery store. Guess what, it is. All of it. The pregnancy, the delivery, the breastfeeding, the sleepless nights, the napless days, the general speedy blur of the first year. Now, I’m not downplaying a singleton pregnancy, delivery or home-life. (By the way, singleton is a word I never thought I’d be using. Ever.) It’s not easy. Every parent knows that. But I’ll put it to you this way – almost every person that found out I was having twins asked one question, “Do you have help?” My response was usually a casual, “yea, mom and in-laws will be in town for the first few weeks.. we’ll figure it out after that.” Okay people, I get it now. I totally and completely get it.
They tell you it’s going to be hard. Who, you ask. Everyone. Parents of twins, doctors, family, friends, random strangers at the grocery store. Guess what, it is. All of it.
Help would have been really nice as early as the first trimester. How is it that most people feel the absolute worst before most people even know they’re pregnant? The nausea. Completely debilitating for 3 months straight. Having nausea so bad you feel like you’ll pass out at any moment. To move from bed or even think about food was virtually impossible. ‘Double the nausea’ – and they’re not kidding. Trying to keep an extremely energetic toddler alive and entertained, survive myself, and eat to nurture two energy-sucking blessings that had yet to enter the world.. probably the most difficult task of the century. At least, up until that point.
Sex. Who’s having sex? By the time you feel like you won’t vomit at the thought of movement, you feel bigger than a house. That’s right, a house. (My poor husband.) But get this, you feel like a house only for the mere fact that your belly is growing at twice the speed of a normal pregnancy. You’re not a house. Yet. Yup, just when you think you can’t get bigger, you do. I remember this from my first pregnancy – but it is to the 50th power in a multiples pregnancy. I marvel at the fact that the human body can expand, shift and retract that way it does.
Sex. Who’s having sex? By the time you feel like you won’t vomit at the thought of movement, you feel bigger than a house. That’s right, a house.
Which brings me to labor and delivery. I had a cesarean with my first. That’s a story all in itself. To be brief, I was all gung-ho about a natural and intervention free delivery. 22 hours of natural labor, a baby that was not cooperating with his position, and I ended up with every intervention possible. Not at all my dream delivery. So, fast-forward 3 years a month and a day, and we’re ready to bring the girls into the world. My dream delivery, a VBAC. I had an amazing doctor who was known as the ‘if anyone will let you attempt that, she’ll be it’ doctor. She had the experience and the willingness to take risks other doctors would not take. But that being said, she was also known as the ‘that doctor saved my life’ doctor. So, she was really really good.
I had to be induced at 37 weeks. Strike one. (The fear that lingers after a previous cesarean delivery is hard to deal with. And the fear is often what takes us right back to where we don’t want to go. I did a lot of praying. And He did deliver.) The girls were doing great, but I wasn’t progressing as fast as the doctors like to see. Water (one) was broken. (Yes, one. Remember, there are two in there. Twice the everything.) Contractions unbearable. Epidural. Strike two. Once we got to the point of pushing, it seemed to take forever. They tell you the epidural doesn’t help with the very end. But my gosh, I swear they turned that thing down because it was hard. All of it. Vaginal delivery is no easy feat. Even with an epidural. Abigail was born healthy and thriving. Miracle number one for the day. There is something to be said about ‘delivering’ your child. It was very different for me than the cesarean. I had my moment. Then, crap, there’s still another baby that needs to come out. Ultrasound to check positioning. Crap, she’s breach. Strike three. Attempts to flip her were unsuccessful. Strike four. I had to sit and not push for 45 minutes. That was even harder than pushing was. That is, until I had to push out a Frank Breach baby. That’s right, butt first. I’m still in awe at the fact that my doctor even attempted this. But we were both determined to get that baby out without a cesarean. We did. It was merely impossible. With shear determination, the grace of God, and a lot of encouragement from a supportive husband and doctors, we did it. Selah only needed a little bit of oxygen to be safe – but not at all like your typical ‘less than thriving’ breach baby. A true miracle. Another testament to the wonder of what the body is capable of, pushing out a butt-first baby. And I even got to delay cord clamping for both of them. Amazing I tell ya.
There is something to be said about ‘delivering’ your child. It was very different for me than the cesarean. I had my moment. Then, crap, there’s still another baby that needs to come out.
Feeding and breastfeeding, the first month. Pumping, there was a lot of pumping going on. Pumping and breastfeeding and feeding. It seemed like it never ended. I was determined to have enough milk for twins and to not give formula. I had no idea it would be so much work. But we plugged along. There was no ‘oh I’ll just pump and have mom or Ben (husband) feed them when they wake. And I can continue sleeping.’ That’s not possible. Why? Because I would have to pump again while they were feeding them with the bottle I pumped earlier. They were gassy. They cried. They wanted to be close to me. To be held. By me, by anybody. They wanted to be close to each other. There were many nights I only got one full hour of sleep. And that was ‘with’ help most nights for that first month.
I was determined to have enough milk for twins and to not give formula. I had no idea it would be so much work.
There’s so much more to tell. But for the sake of keeping this from being a novel, I’ll close with this. Chaos ensues. And then, we up and moved to Switzerland. Crazy? Yes. And the blessed chaos continues on the other side of the Atlantic.
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