There is so much discussion about what happens before twins arrive. So many things to consider during the pregnancy, delivery, and preparation for two new babies. Almost as an after thought, I see new moms start to realize that now they actually have to navigate the world with two tiny little ones. And perhaps more if they have older children.
Just yesterday, I was having lunch at one of Gabriella’s favorite restaurants with the twins and my parents who happen to be visiting. I was actually able to eat my lunch in semi-peace while my 3 girls chowed down on their nuggets and side items. After everyone is settled and eating, a very pregnant mother and her toddler son sit next to us. She tells us she’s delivering twins tomorrow. WOW! Part of me wanted to pull her aside and say, “Are you sure you want to do this? Are you ready? Perhaps you’d like to keep them in the oven just a tad longer?” Then the other side of me remembered the old adage, “ignorance is bliss.” I chose to let this mama relish her last day as a mom of one. “She has no idea how her life is about to be flipped upside down”, I thought. Then I looked at my 3 girls and realized we have come a long way from the anxiety ridden days of our ventures outside our four walls.
While most of my first few weeks and months as a new twin mom are a blur, I do remember one of the first times I decided to venture out. After my parents and in-laws had helped us tremendously in the beginning, it was time for me to set out on my own and learn to somehow mother 3 children. I kept thinking, so many people have more kids than this! Surely, I can do this too. But as twin moms know all too well, it’s DIFFERENT when there are two infants in the mix.
The library seemed like a good place to start our first outing. Big sis Gabriella had been going to the library consistently pre-twin sissy’s, so she was excited to go and do something familiar and fun. Always in the back of my head was trying to balance the needs of her with the very basic needs of Valentina and Victoria. I have learned that striking a perfect balance with all 3 children is about as likely as seeing a unicorn in your backyard.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that loading into the family SUV was a colossal undertaking. Gabriella couldn’t find her shoes, Valentina needed to nurse, and Victoria whimpered for her green blankey (or “gigy” as she calls it). And then after addressing these needs, Gabriella had to use the bathroom, Valentina needed a diaper change, and Victoria was crying because now she wanted to be nursed. It’s funny to read this now, but at the time I was at my wit’s end. How in the world could getting into the car be this difficult? This is also about the time I instituted my “one activity per day rule.” This rule didn’t change until the twins were probably close to two years old.
Thirty minutes later (that’s being gracious) we were in the SUV and ready to go. Finally, I thought! Then I looked in the rear-view mirror and noticed I hadn’t brushed my hair, changed my food stained top, or fully removed my eye make up from the night before. Wonderful! Here’s a good question: Why was I even attempting to do my make up to begin with? I sighed a deep breath and reversed out of the garage. I had bigger things to worry about than my appearance. Like how the heck was I going to actually physically take the girls into the library? Our town library is tiny. Like 1,000 sq. ft. I had a great plan, I reminded myself. Gabriella would walk in, Valentina would be carried in the car-seat infant carrier on my right arm, Victoria would be in the Baby Bjorn strapped to my chest, and the bag of books would be held in my left hand. I got this!
My magical little plan worked splendidly for about 5 minutes upon arriving at the town library. Valentina decided she was ready to be held instead of being in the infant carrier, Victoria didn’t like the restrictive Baby Bjorn, and Gabriella needed help with the library computer. Then someone started to cry, and then another, and then of course for good measure, my last little angel began crying too. See, I can’t even remember the order in which they were crying…it’s all a blur.
One of the most anxiety ridden moments for me as a mom of 3 little ones is when they cry…all at once. It used to happen daily and now it’s still daily. Perhaps it’s just a lot easier to address and reason with them now. The tears dry up just as soon as they start. But back in the beginning it was not so. A baby that needs to nurse can cry like no other. And a toddler that needs her mama can also lay it on so thick you’d think she’s being tortured by the monsters under her bed.
I tried all sorts of tactics for when all 3 would cry at once. My first idea was to yell. A loud authoritative voice would surely snap them into shape. As most of you rational readers know, that actually backfired and made everyone cry harder. Ok, next tactic. I would appeal to the heart of my then 3 year old Gabriella. Surely, she would halt her tears once I explained to her that I had to address the needs of her twin sissy’s before fixing her a snack or finding her stuffed animal bun-bun that she’d lost for the 4th time that day. This was also a futile idea, for there is no grace given at this tender age.
So, what’s the solution for when multiple children are crying simultaneously? Your reaction. I used to freak out, my heart would race, and I’d feel little beads of sweat start to form on my cheeks. Now a days, I just stay as relaxed as possible and address their needs according to severity level. For example, is Valentina hanging like a monkey from the high-changer again? Or is Gabriella about to super glue her latest creation to the family room couch? I have added the character trait of “easy going” to how I describe myself now. Sometimes, you just have to let it go. It’s a season, it’s a phase, it will pass. Talk yourself down off the cliff and pick up the pieces later.
I know some of you are in the thick of it with twins, little ones, etc. You will get through it and one day you’ll laugh at your first venture out and all the ones that followed. It does get easier. I promise. In the meantime, take a deep breath, mama.