I was wrong. Quite frankly, I don’t say that very often.
In December 2009, I gave birth to my twin daughters at 31 weeks. The months that followed were among the most difficult of my life: caring for two premature babies, with no hired help (which is unusual here in NYC!), and just to make it all harder on myself, I insisted on exclusively breastfeeding them. I didn’t enjoy the first few months with my girls and, rather than reveling in the joy of those early moments and milestones, I felt like I was just struggling to get through each day.
Mothers of twins as our first children have a unique perspective on child bearing and infancy. (FYI, we regularly talk about you moms of singletons amongst ourselves on our twins-related message boards. And, yes, we always reference one baby as a “singleton.” Habit.) Basically, we think we are better than the rest of you. We have a much larger load to carry, as we had to battle through and fight our way to the other side. We are a special breed of warrior-moms. From our ringside seat, it looks so easy for you. There are (generally) two of you and one baby so someone can always get a rest. You can just pop one baby on a breast so easily. You can just strap that baby on and go anywhere, anytime. I mean, really, how hard can one full-term baby be? When you complain about your exhaustion or how “hard” things are with a newborn, we think that you are, at best, overly dramatic or, at worst, just downright wimpy.
My husband and I knew even when I was pregnant with my twins that we would eventually want one more baby. After having such a rough start with my twins, I felt strongly that I wanted to experience what it is like to have one “normal” (i.e., full-term singleton) baby. When I finally got pregnant with my #3, I couldn’t help but feel like this was my dream fulfilled.
It all went swimmingly: I had an easy, complication-free pregnancy. I felt great. I was doing handstands in yoga right up until the day I delivered. My baby arrived exactly on her due date. My total labor and delivery took under two hours and I practically skipped out of the hospital the next day. Could I have ordered an easier baby? This was all going to be an easy-breezy walk in the park.
Then reality kicked in. My wonderful little “easy” baby turned out to be colicky and cried for much of the day and well into the night. We spent hours upon hours sitting and bouncing her on an exercise ball. She refused a pacifier. She required constant holding and refused the swing, the bouncy seat, the other bouncy seat, the bassinet and the snap ‘n’ go. Her digestive discomfort led her to fuss and push at the breast during her waking hours, and she got most of her calories from her many, many night feedings. I was (and am) beyond exhausted.
The sleep deprivation is brutal... pretty much exactly as brutal as it was when I was sleep deprived with my twins. Just as when I had newborn twins, I now find myself frequently on the verge of tears; I cry over nothing and everything; I yell and scream totally irrationally; I am constantly befuddled when I walk into a room because I cannot for the life of me remember what I came in there for.
Turns out there is no such thing as an “easy” baby, at least during the newborn stage. Anyone who tells you otherwise is delusional or the evolutionarily-required memory-erasure mechanism has already kicked in. Plus, not only did I gain a newborn, but I also did not get rid of the two toddlers I already had. So basically I ended up with not just one but THREE little people screaming at me for hours every day.
So I take it back. I take it all back. The glares at you singleton moms on the street. The evil thoughts I had about your lack of fortitude. The envy I had for your easy days and nights. The bitterness I felt for what I had to endure and you didn’t. Babies are wonderful and amazing little creatures and I could not be more lucky to have ended up with the three beautiful girls I have. But having babies is no walk in the park and those early days are rough, regardless of whether you have one or two or three babies. I know that now.
Allison is a lawyer in New York City and spends an inordinate amount of time corresponding with other twin moms about things like toilet training. She somehow managed to find the elusive job that offers actual work-life balance, enabling her to put her expensive law school education to good use while also enjoying plenty of time at home with her three beautiful girls, weekend yoga classes, and the occasional dinner out with her husband, who makes it all possible.