Would you believe me if I said I picked out my wedding date years before I even knew my husband existed? I sure wouldn’t. Would you also believe me if I said I always told people growing up that I wanted twins and then decades later I actually had twins? Me neither, but it’s all true! Irony has always followed me around, even in motherhood, and I am here for it! My grandfather was an identical twin and his stories of he and his brother always mesmerized me as a child. So when my husband and I found out nine months after we got married that we were expecting twins, I was completely over the moon.
When I was pregnant, I did the best I could to prepare for the birth of two babies at once. I ate healthier than ever, never missed a single OB-GYN appointment, and read a few twin pregnancy books. I consulted other mums about twin baby registry must-haves, collected the essential baby items. We set up their nursery in advance, and picked out their names. I’m kind of a planner at heart (alright, yes, I’m actually totally type A). I just kept checking off my to-do list as each week went by.
If I had to describe my twin pregnancy in one word, it would be “textbook”. It was a textbook pregnancy -where everything was uncomplicated and happened on cue – and I am grateful for that. I delivered full-term (for twins) via C-section at 37 weeks + 4 days to a healthy girl and boy, Joules and Ames, in October 2017.
Raising twins has been a complete joy, but motherhood hasn’t always been easy. The two things that surprised me most about twin motherhood are also the same two things that challenged me the most. I think the first thing that surprised me about twin motherhood was just how little sleep we were actually getting in the beginning. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever pushed through. At first, some family members and my husband were suggesting that we get a night nanny from the get-go. My initial reaction was a hard no. I’m usually an “I’ll do it myself!” kind of woman. I didn’t like the idea of someone else outside of our trusted family members looking after our newborns. However, about two weeks after giving birth, in my state of severe sleeplessness, I then totally caved and said, “Yes, please!” We had a night nanny a few nights a week for the first four months. It was the best decision ever—a lifesaver, really! I never expected needing (and enjoying) that help as much as I did.
Adjusting To Motherhood
I was even more surprised by twin motherhood when I shockingly decided to reduce my work hours. As a pediatric nurse practitioner with several degrees including a doctorate, I never thought I would be someone that would even consider not working full-time. I had put in a great deal of school and training into my career. So, naturally, when I found out that I was having twins, my plan was to continue working full-time as usual. Once I met my children, though, everything changed. The daily workload of caring for two babies at once was significant. In the throes of new twin life, I simply couldn’t imagine myself jumping straight back into my high- intensity job full-time.
Making the decision to go part-time was an extremely painful one, full of many emotions. It truly felt like an identity crisis! However, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. It afforded me the opportunity to witness all of the twins’ “firsts” and to start a twin blog to help other new moms. That said, though, I do wish that I had better understood that it’s okay to change course. It’s okay to do what’s right for me; no decision has to be forever. It also would have been beneficial if I had more thoroughly evaluated all of the pros and cons of reducing my work hours before giving birth. It was tough to navigate those decisions during such an emotional time with two newborns at my side.
Luckily, all of the hard moments have been outweighed by all of the joy that my twins have brought me. There are so many precious moments that will stay with me forever. Hearing each twin say “Mama” for the first time was unlike anything I’ve ever felt. It stirred such a burst of happiness within me – it was hard to imagine anything topping that. When they started saying “I love you” to each other and hugging each other, it was so special. Those defining moments of their twin bond became equally as precious to me.
Advice For Those New To Motherhood
If I had to choose just one piece of advice to give a new mum, it would be this: don’t be afraid to ask for or to accept help! Even the most “I’ll do it myself” kind of people need an extra hand sometimes. Whether it’s to run an errand, feed your baby, bring you food, or wash bottles, it’s okay to allow others to do something for you after you give birth! It doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you any less of a mother. It makes you human! Accepting help from others was something I struggled with initially. Over time, though, I realized that it really does take a village.
Along those same lines, mum guilt is a real thing that just simply isn’t talked about enough! While there is a list of things that caused me to unnecessarily feel mum guilt, the most noteworthy one was feeding my twins formula. Even though I’m a pediatric nurse practitioner and I understand the beauty and health benefits of breastfeeding, it just simply wasn’t a part of the equation for me and my babies. Neither of my twins latched well and I had to turn to pumping and supplementing with formula. Due to decreasing supply, I was only able to offer pumped breastmilk for the first two months.
Society (and even family members) can sometimes make you feel like you’re not a good mum if you use formula. As my children continued to thrive and grow happily, I later realized it was completely unnecessary to feel bad about how I fed my twins. Fed, no matter how, is best. Instead of feeling mum guilt about anything and everything, we should be giving ourselves permission to do what’s right for us. We’re allowed to make mistakes and be imperfect. Motherhood is hard enough as it is!
Finding balance in this wild world of motherhood can be tricky, but it’s worthwhile to put the effort into finding it. I love to be with my children. I love my job at the hospital. And I love to have a creative outlet (i.e. my twin mum blog!). With the help of grandparents that sometimes watch the kids during the week, my husband that watches the kids while I work weekends, and our upcoming plans to put the kids in preschool, I’ve been able to find a balance of all the things I love in my life. It took time to get here, but at least we’re here now. Though every season of motherhood has had its joys and surprises, challenges and solutions, and lessons and growth, I’m just here enjoying the ride. And I find comfort – just as you should – in knowing there is such a wonderful, supportive community of mothers going through this ride, too. We are in this together!
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To read more stories in our family series, check out our Matters of the Heart section here!