I can’t count the number of times between my pregnancy and my twins’ first year of life I have heard the phrase “double trouble”. It is an understandable assumption that with two babies everything will be doubled. However, while we have needed twice as many diapers, two car seats, and two cribs that does not mean everything else doubles too.
All moms feel insecurity and guilt; it’s terrifying raising a little person. There are so many ways to do everything and everyone has an opinion. It’s hard to ever feel like you are doing anything right without questioning how you could have done it differently. This is a universal mom feeling.
Twin guilt is not double; twin guilt is different. Twins, while they were created at the same time, are two completely different people. This means their needs are often if not always different. One of my boys can easily fall asleep in the car while the other takes about 30 minutes to fall asleep. The one who falls asleep first will wake up first and begin to cry while the other twin is still finishing his nap. In this moment I have to make a choice; do I stop the car and tend to my baby who is crying, knowing this will wake up his brother, or do I keep driving and let one baby cry so the other can finish his nap? This is twin guilt and it happens many times a day. I constantly have to choose one baby’s needs over the other. I feel guilty not tending to the crying baby but equally guilty about waking up his brother.
Snuggling with my boys is the best, however, they are in a new phase where they don’t like to share. One baby will crawl over to snuggle and the other will come behind him and try to push him off. I love when they nestle into me and all I want to do is hold them tight but someone always feels left out. In these moments, I sometimes have the thought, “I wish I just had one baby.” I feel sad I cannot simultaneously give both boys what they want. This is twin guilt. It’s always feeling like I wish I had more to give. It’s feeling angry with myself and my fantasies of life with a singleton.
When my husband comes home from work, I want to give him a hug and kiss. I want to hand him our baby and go take some time for myself. This is my fantasy of what life with a singleton would be. Instead he comes home in the evening when the boys are often a tough combination of their most cranky and most mischievous. I know my husband would love a moment to decompress after a busy day at work. I need him to help me with a baby, with bath time (which feels impossible alone) and putting the boys to bed. I immediately start asking him for things and he gets right to work but I can see he’s tired and often stressed from his day at work. This is twin guilt. I feel guilty I cannot do more for my husband, I feel guilty his whole life outside of work is filled with the demands of being a twin dad.
It took us a long time to get pregnant. Fertility was a struggle that took so much out of me but I always said when I had a baby it would all be worth it. Two babies are a blessing but not an easy one. Twin guilt is wishing life were easier when you feel like you should be spending your days being grateful to have children. Twin guilt can be consuming. It can make you feel like a failure as a wife and a mother. It can make you forget who you are and how strong you can be. While it can be consuming, there is a force stronger than twin guilt and that is twin love.
It would be dishonest to say twin love can make twin guilt disappear but it can make a parent’s heart swell with joy. While I envy my singleton parent friends, there is nothing that compares to the joy of watching twins grow up and bond. When my boys make each other laugh, there is no better sound. When they learn new skills from each other, I know this is an experience that is not only exciting but also unique to twins. When I watch them push each other around in their little red wagon at 10 months old, I know how lucky I am. There is nothing that compares to the joy of being a twin mom.
This has without a doubt been the most challenging time in my relationship with my husband. The lack of sleep, competing needs and the never-ending work of twins can make it hard to make time for love and romance. When we can, we try to take the time to talk about what we have accomplished. We watch videos of our boys and laugh and hold each other. I have never felt like our relationship was stronger because if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything. My husband has been at my side through fertility, bed rest and life as a twin parent. When he wakes up and plays with our boys so I can sleep in, it makes me appreciate him and realize how special he is. When I wake up and see the three of them laughing and reading a book, it makes me realize how lucky I am and how much love is in our house.
Being a new mom is filled with doubt and insecurity. When I take a step back, I realize I’m writing this article while walking on the treadmill and that today I got my twins out of the house on my own, like I do so often. I’ve learned to avoid car naps, to find ways to sneak in snuggle time with each baby, to make time for date nights with my husband and to be proud of what I have done. I have come to realize, I have super human strength I never imagined I could have. I have survived fertility, bed rest, and so many sleepless nights followed by so many exhausting days. If I never had twins I would never have realized I’m a superhero! It’s not easy being a superhero but it is truly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t change it for anything.