The following is a guest post from one of the best and most influential writers in the game. The best new moms I know, and doing it all with twins. Of course I’m talking about my wife.
When you make the decision to have children it’s a major step in your life. You are making the conscious decision to bring a new life into this world, nurture it, guide it, and hope that at the end of the day you raise a half decent human being with as few issues as possible (admit it, we all have some sort of issues).
We made this decision, not lightly, in the late summer of 2015. We’d been married four and half years, together for over a decade, traveled to over 25 countries, owned a convertible and felt pretty secure in where we were in our lives. Everything I read online warned me that trying to get pregnant was not an easy feat and could take months and even longer to happen. With this knowledge, I wasn’t prepared to holda positive pregnancy test a mere 3 months later. My husband, ever the practical engineer, wasn’t going to believe an at home pregnancy test, despite their claims to being 99.9% accurate. So I scheduled a “pregnancy confirmation” appointment with my OB/GYN and surprise surprise received confirmation that I was indeed pregnant. By his calculations, I was 5 weeks pregnant. We were excited, scared, all sorts of emotions rolled into one. The planner in me started to plan and make a list of what we’d need, the projects at home that needed to get done to prepare, the baby gear we’d need to acquire, etc. But what the planner in me did not plan for was the news we would receive a few weeks later at our first ultrasound…
… we were having twins. Not one, but two babies. So overnight we went from a family of two (three if you count the dog and we certainly do) to a family of four. My husband found his sense of humor and asked the ultrasound tech to double check and make sure there were only two that she saw, meantime, I was in complete shock. I alternated between laughter, tears of joy, tears of fear and overall disbelief. I was shaking, laughing and crying. I was afraid that by the time my OB walked into the room they would have to haul me away for psychological evaluation.
I won’t bore you with the details of the pregnancy. The more than three dozen various appointments, including regular visits to the OB, bi-weekly visits to the perinatologist, and a handful of visits to the fetal cardiologist. This was a warning of what was to come, things will never be simple again. I’m happy to say that on a beautiful day in Northern NJ in June, I delivered to perfect baby boys. All 8 limbs, 20 fingers and 20 toes were accounted for. They are just as spectacular as I knew they would be and way more than a handful to take care of. I still marvel at the fact that I have two little angels (only when sleeping) and look forward to the many adventures and learnings I will have over the years.
The pregnancy and first six weeks have flown by. It still feels like just yesterday I found out that we were having twins, but despite that I’ve learned plenty. Below are just a few things that I have learned or made note of for myself.
I’m 31 years old. I don’t do doctors. Not because I don’t like them but because if I feel fine why do I need someone with a degree to confirm that I’m fine. Ok, this is horrible mentality but bear with me. So when we decided to try to have a baby, I figured now would be a good time to find a doctor, after all I couldn’t deliver a baby. I put in a lot of time and research into finding a doctor with a good medical reputation, good reviews — one that took my insurance and was affiliated with a good hospital. My research paid off. From the moment I set foot into his office, I knew that I could trust him and that he had my best interests and my babies’ best interests in mind. He walked me through every step of the pregnancy and I can’t even begin to describe the relief I felt the morning of my scheduled C section when he came into the hospital room prior to being wheeled off for delivery. Lesson learned: Do your research, don’t settle. If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, you need to find a new one. Trust your gut.
Healthy mommy, healthy baby
If I were pregnant with one child, and given my pre-pregnancy weight, my total pregnancy weight gain was to be in the 15–25 lbs range. With twins, this changed to 35 to 45 lbs. If you stop the average Joe on the street, you’ll quickly get the “You should be eating for two” advice. Guess what, that’s far from the truth. With twins, I was technically only allowed an extra 500 calories a day, the equivalent of a plain bagel with cream cheese or roughly four slices of bacon or a Venti Caramel Frappucino. You get my point, it’s not eating for two or even three. Prior to getting pregnant I was working out 3 to 4 days a week at the gym and an evening walk for the dog that amounted to an additional 2 miles a day. My husband and I were also cutting down on the number of take-out meals that we had for dinner and instead turned to lean protein with plenty of vegetables. For the most part I kept this up and became even more self conscious about what I was eating. Afterall, whatever I ate, the Lads ate. Don’t get me wrong, I allowed myself an extra slice of pizza here and there but I didn’t take anything to an extreme… well maybe just my pickle consumption, but that was at unhealthy levels prepregnancy as well. Lesson learned: This isn’t an excuse to pig out. The more weight you gain, the more weight you have to carry around in addition to the humans you are growing. And it’ll just be that much harder to get back in shape.
Don’t have a plan
Ok, you can have a plan but plan for your plan to deviate. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting and every other baby blog under the moon. 99% of them stressed the importance of having a birth plan. Here was my plan: Deliver two healthy baby boys. It was that simple. For me, I was going to do what was best. I had a C Section because there was a medical need for it. Sure I’ve felt judged prior to and post delivery for having a C Section, but guess what, that’s what was medically best for my boys. I still gave birth despite what some might believe. Why would I jeopardize their health and safety because I had a plan? Lesson learned: It’s good to plan but be prepared for curve balls and the unexpected.
Baby Blues Are a Thing
Being pregnant is like being on an emotional rollercoaster. There are highs that at the blink of an eye can turn into a low but then bounce right back to a high. My advice, change the channel when the ASPCA commercial with the Sarah McLaughlin song comes on… trust me on this one!!! After giving birth, your hormones do all sorts of crazy stuff and you plunge into a sort of funk. I was fine at the hospital, but as soon as I walked into the house, the waterworks turned on. I cried at everything. I took everything literally. I felt overwhelmed and was second guessing this whole mom thing. So I did what any sane person does, I turned to Google. What I learned is that all this was normal and to be expected. Every new mom experiences some version of these baby blues and fills herself with self-doubt. I’m happy to report that 6 weeks postpartum the water works have died down. They still come on when the crying is going on in surround sound and my frustration and not being able to figure out what’s wrong peaks but I’m learning to cry it out, take a deep breath, blow my nose and remind myself that I’m doing my best and that’s the best I have to offer. Lesson learned: It’s ok to cry. Crying is therapeutic. Just keep an eye on what’s behind those tears. Baby blues are to be expected and are short-lived, postpartum depression is a whole other animal and needs to be addressed. Talk to your significant other, talk to other moms, talk to your doctor, talk to whoever but speak up if you think your blues are lingering just a little too long or seem dangerous.
Fed is Best
This one is controversial. In the one corner we have breastfeeding. We’ve all heard breast is best. We’ve heard what a miracle breast milk is. That if you exclusively breastfeed your child will be healthier, smarter and develop a superpower to rival that of Spiderman. In the opposing corner, you have formula. The ugly alternative that no one should talk about because how can you even bring up another option other than the breast. In fact, if you feed your child formula, you might as well just puree McDonald’s Big Macs and just feed them that from birth. Ok, maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but you get my point. These two competing ways to feed your child can leave a lot of moms confused and fighting internal demons when things don’t go according to plan (remember what I said about plans). While pregnant, when family and friends would ask if I would breastfeed, my answer was always, I’ll try but at the end of the day I’ll do what’s best for the Lads. I had every intention and was very excited when both boys seemed to latch on right away as soon as we were reunited in my hospital room. Things got a little derailed when Twin A had to go to NICU for low blood sugar levels and Twin B was losing more weight than would be typical. I had every intention of leaving the hospital with both boys, so I did what was best, I cracked open a bottle of formula for each and fed them. No guilt, no hesitation. That quickly changed when the hormones took over (see Baby Blues) and I was overwhelmed with guilt for not choosing the “right” option for my Lads. After a lot of soul searching, googling, tears and even a meeting with a support group, I got over the guilt and stopped Googling. I was feeding my boys and that’s what mattered. They were getting the nutrition they needed and are thriving. Lesson learned: Fed is best. There’s nothing more to it. You need to do what’s best for your children and your family. No guilt. A lot easier said than done, but know you are not alone in the struggle.
There are so many more lessons that my husband and I are learning almost daily. We are six weeks in and every day brings something new. A new milestone, a new question. It’s quite the roller coaster ride and we are enjoying it. Our frustration levels have their highs and lows but we are doing our best. We are trusting our parental instincts and making the best of each situation. Before we know it, all this will be over but hopefully we’ll remember the lessons for the next round… maybe :)