Twice the Feels

Daughter: My husband and I sat waiting to be called in for my first ultrasound, giddy and eager and at least half an hour early to our appointment. Classic cutesy new parents-to-be. Entertained by the rambunctious three year old boy gallivanting around the waiting room under the watchful but tired eyes of his father, we exchanged giggly whispers about how our baby would be that age someday.

I was just nine weeks along in my pregnancy, but so far I felt like I had been doing everything right. I was already reading parenting books and watching documentaries in my spare time. I had done hours of research into birth options and local hospitals and birthing centers. I had scheduled myself to join a “birthing circle” in a few weeks during which mothers would share their birth experiences with wide-eyed and bushy-tailed mothers-to-be. I knew I wanted a natural, un-medicated childbirth and had found myself a certified nurse-midwife who came highly recommended by the local crunchy moms on the online parenting forum I was already actively part of.

All of this preparation and organization is not my typical approach. With anything. In fact, I am pretty consistently a disorganized and last-minute kind of person. I get things done, but I get them done when they need to get done and not a moment before and certainly not in a linear, orderly fashion. But I was determined that my pregnancy was going to be the exception. I was going to be on top of things. I was going to be a proactive and thorough and responsible adult. I would not let my scattered disposition get in the way of what I envisioned would be a picture-perfect start to my journey into motherhood. None of this was easy and it pretty much meant that I had not cooked or done laundry in weeks, as trying to be on top of my mommy game while also experiencing all of the lovely first trimester nausea and fatigue took everything I had. But I was willing to do what it took and so far things were looking up.

Finally my name was called and I laid down on the table and lifted up my shirt and the technician did her thing. I was probably the zillionth pregnant woman she had seen that day as she seemed to be on automatic pilot as she quietly slid her instrument back and forth across my abdomen. My husband and I eagerly watched the screen, waiting for her to explain what we were looking at. She didn’t say much of anything until she asked me to go the bathroom to empty my bladder. Apparently I had taken my instructions to show up with a full bladder a little too seriously and was blocking her view of my uterus. When I got back she tried again. I was admittedly getting a little nervous at this point as she was still rather quiet. I looked over at my husband and he gave me a reassuring smile. Finally, in the tone one might use to ponder aloud their options for lunch, she said, “There’s two”…

Two. I could now see two shrimp-like shapes side by side. How had I not noticed that? I could not speak for several seconds and instead looked back and forth between the screen and my stomach in utter shock. How on Earth are two humans going to fit inside of me?!?”. I was busy trying to wrap my head around this seemingly impossibility when I heard my husband blurt out, “Two babies!?” as though he wanted to make sure she wasn’t just confirming my number of ovaries. The technician, who had yet to so much as smile, let out a chuckle. “Yes”, she said. “Twins.”

And that was the end of my short-lived period of feeling in control. Silly me. I should have known it wouldn’t last. Since the day I found out I am growing two humans, I have switched to a hospital with a great NICU, switched from a midwife to a doctor and then, upon learning what type of twins I am having, was transferred from that doctor to a high-risk specialist. I have learned that my due date is basically irrelevant as going past 37 weeks is not an option – and that’s if I even make it that long, which is apparently not very likely. I have transitioned from losing myself in cleverly written natural birth and parenting books to sifting my way through acronym-laden “moms of multiples” forums trying to learn all the strange lingo that is used when discussing twin pregnancies.

Suddenly my chances of needing a C-section are significantly higher. Suddenly hiring a doula and creating a birth plan seem pointless. Never mind the fact that I am about to become the size of Alaska as I approach my third trimester; I am more concerned about how the heck one goes about breastfeeding two infants.

I’ve heard parents say they made sure “everything was perfect” for their first child only to let go of this unattainable standard by the time their second child entered the picture. Well I am halfway through my first pregnancy and I think I have already gotten to that point of fully accepting imperfection. I think I took a high-speed train to the land of lower standards. I don’t know yet whether I am relieved or anxious about this fact, but, despite feeling elated and fortunate and already in love with my two little girls, I know that my days of being one step ahead of the game are already over.

Overstimulated

Mother: When Brittni was 18 months old, I took her to a Gymboree Play & Learn class. It will be fun, they said. Your child will be engaged, make friends while developing early skills, and you can relax and enjoy the time!

My daughter’s eyes widened when we walked into the brightly colored and well lit room. Fast, upbeat children’s music played as we took our seats around the red and blue parachute. A robust, bubbly blond lady led the group, singing cheerily and loudly. Babies bounced and laughed, waddling toward the lady, toward each other, toward the fun.

My baby girl clung to me and began to cry. The crying escalated to screaming. People stared. What was her problem? their looks seemed to say. The bubbly lady looked surprised, annoyed even.

I picked up my daughter, looking for a quieter spot to soothe her. But I couldn’t settler her down. Every corner was filled with color, lights and sound. It was supposed to be a blast! For most of the little people, it was. But for my baby, it was hell in living color. And I’m not gonna lie, it was rather over the top for me too.

Isn’t everything new for babies? Why do we need to create a world just to stimulate them when they are so easily stimulated already? But I was here to be social, because a friend had asked me to come with her and her child. I handed over the money and the time so my highly sensitive baby could be entertained. My mistake.