I’ve thought about what being a mom would be like, many many times. I’m the oldest of four kids, so I’m no stranger to babies. I’ve watched my friends have their first, second, and third babies. I’ve seen all the TV dramas, sitcoms, and movies that revolve around being a parent. I pictured a sweet chubby baby, out for a walk in a stroller, fascinated by a butterfly fluttering by.
As adulthood set it, I started picturing bills, and childcare logistics. I wondered how I could juggle working full time, being a mom, and a wife. I googled “the cost of raising a child”, “average daycare cost in Portland, OR”. I researched maternity leave laws, or lack thereof. I read my health insurance explanation of benefits, and tried to estimate the cost of giving birth in a hospital. Funny enough though, I completely forgot about said child needing their own health insurance. I told my husband I just didn’t see how we could ever afford to have a baby.
My biological clock started ticking louder, and louder, until I couldn’t tune it out anymore. I realized my husband and I work opposite schedules, and we wouldn’t need full time childcare! I asked my youngest sister how she felt about watching our hypothetical child three afternoons a week, for a little extra money. I stopped telling my husband “we can’t do this”, and instead started telling him “actually we probably can….”
Then the ultrasound tech said, “there are two babies!” Well….that didn’t go as planned.
Fast forward nearly 10 months later, and our little girls are three months old. The first three months have been a learning curve. So many people tell me they don’t know how I do it with two babies, I always reply, “well, I don’t know anything different.” It’s true, this crazy parenting adventure would probably be easier with just one baby; but that’s not the life we have. I only know everything in terms of two; two babies, two car seats, two cribs, two bottles to warm up, two baths to give, two diapers to change, two pacifiers to find, two spare outfits to pack, two different cries to sooth, and a stroller roughly the size of a golf cart.
I’ve almost gotten use to the stares, the “oh my, twins!” as I’m trying to do my grocery shopping with two babies on my chest. I’ve almost learned to ignore it, but I feel the eyes of strangers on me everywhere I go, and sometimes I can’t help but awkwardly smile and nod, “yup, twins.” I’ve had strangers tell me how “brave” or “adventurous” I am for daring to leave the house with my babies. That’s the one statement that still leaves me puzzled; brave? What do you mean brave? I need groceries, I need toiletries, I need fresh air!
I’ve gotten creative. I’ve mastered the logistics of getting two babies in car seats, with all the things they could ever possibly need in the two hours we’ll be out, and out the door. Although, my timing is still a bit off. I’ve learned about, and acquired, all the magical products that make my life easier, like bouncers, twin nursing pillows, and a baby hammock that goes in the shopping cart. I keep a stockpile of the only pacifier our girls seem to like, because the dog seems to like them too. I line up clean bottles, ready to go for formula at night. I’ve mastered the art of eating lunch, while pumping in a too hot/too cold conference room, all the while wondering if anyone can see me through the blinds or the cracks in between them. I’ve perfected pumping in the dark, in the middle of the night, dozing off but still waking every five minutes or so to be sure I haven’t spilled any of my precious breast milk.
I quickly realized that play dates and mom groups only exist for stay at home moms; and that all the other working moms must be like me, clinging to their coffee, and trying to dig themselves out of a mountain of laundry on the weekends. My house has gotten messier, because call me crazy, but after 10 hours away from my babies all day, I just want to snuggle them for the few hours I have before they go to sleep. I fight the constant battle between having time to cook meals and eat, and realizing that if I don’t eat there will be no breast milk for the girls. Which brings me to that goddamn breast pump; carting it to and from work, from room to room in my house. I’ll save the tedious task of pumping for another post.
So, motherhood isn’t how I pictured it would be.
It’s so much more than that. It’s seeing those two little faces, and feeling like my heart will explode from all the love I have for them. It’s seeing my husband with two crying babies in his tired arms, pacing around the house while humming to them, and falling in love with him all over again. It’s secretly enjoying bringing whichever baby is fussy in the middle of the night into our bed, even though I swore I would never co-sleep, and enjoying the hour or two of one on one cuddles with one of my girls. It’s no longer being angry that you work your ass off to have nothing left, but instead being grateful for the roof over our heads and the food in our fridge, as well as the formula on top of it. It’s marveling at the simple act of the girls learning to smile, roll over, or hold a pacifier in their mouths. It’s laying down at night with my husband and saying, “Hey, we made those two beautiful girls.”