I have enjoyed the “process” leading up to things my entire life. Packing for a vacation or sleep away camp, getting my school supplies ready at the end of summer, anticipating the decorating we would do around the house once the temperature dipped below 70 degrees. The initial weeks before a new or familiar venture always had my heart excited, and I could often not wait for what to look forward to next.
After experiencing heartbreaking infant loss with my son in October 2019, I began the process of working through my grief while distracting myself with the intense desire to get pregnant again. I spent hours most days dreaming about having another child and growing our family. Through these daydreams, though, I became relentless – researching and googling about ovulation cycles, testing kits to buy, and the best time of the month to try to get pregnant. I had a calendar with highlighted notes to monitor my cycles with sticky notes littering the sides. Now, hear me out. I am not knocking any of these processes. For people who are ready to grow their family, it absolutely makes sense to get in tune with your body and understand how it all actually works. However, this was the beginning of some obsessive behavior that trickled down into other aspects of my life, and I am happy to be on (somewhat) the other side with a different perspective.
Fast forward to April of 2020, when we had our first positive pregnancy test. YES! It had worked! We were elated and couldn’t wait to start this journey again. Several weeks later at my first ultrasound appointment, full of nerves and excitement, the technician looked at the screen, then back to me. “Do twins run in your family?” Cue the record scratch. My husband and I were expecting twin girls!
From that moment on, my pregnancy was filled with two things: complete joy and, at times, crippling anxiety. I ordered books off of Amazon, followed every twin mom account I could find, listened to podcasts about twin pregnancies, and consumed myself with learning about infant sleep and breastfeeding. I invested in two expensive bassinets and two of the most popular swaddles I had heard about on Instagram. I purchased breastfeeding classes, newborn care classes, and postpartum PDFs on how to take care of yourself following delivery. I had a nursing cart filled with all of my breast pump accessories – pretty much every nursing gadget under the sun. Frozen meals began to pile up in our tiny refrigerator’s freezer. While all of this research and ‘prepared-ness’ helped fuel my excitement, I also found that the obsession of it all began to increase my anxiety. Even while it felt great at the moment to check things off of a list, I was often left with feelings of doubt or wondering if I had learned enough ahead of time. I would stay awake at night with racing thoughts of baby sleep, trying to almost memorize what the sleep course had taught me. Looking back now, I spent precious time (and money!) borrowing trouble for future scenarios that didn’t even end up happening.
When my twins were born, I quickly felt the extreme constraint of breastfeeding two babies. Within the first three weeks of their life, I had completely thrown in the towel on breastfeeding and began formula feeding. The freedom that this brought me was immediate, and the ability for my husband and others around me to help was huge in my postpartum experience. Like every newborn everywhere, my twins would wake us up every two to three hours to eat. They had consistent and inconsistent nights, they regressed, they transitioned. Did the expensive bassinets help? Maybe. Did the class on infant sleep actually get my girls to sleep through the night by twelve weeks? Nope. Don’t get me wrong; those popular swaddles ended up being our saving grace. And the research done on taking care of myself after delivery was worth every penny. But I was a new mom handling two very different babies, and the only choice I had was to roll with what they gave me and adapt.
To all of the expecting mamas or new mamas reading this, please know that informing yourself and preparing your family for your new addition is necessary! But putting too much pressure on yourself to have everything ready before your baby is born isn’t smart or helpful. It steals your joy and only drives future obsessive behaviors. What is helpful? Keeping an open mind. Being flexible. Being ready for different outcomes. These tiny humans are anything but predictable, but learning to thrive in the unpredictability that often accompanies twins has been one of the greatest qualities I have gained in becoming a mom.