My husband and I have recently celebrated our twins first birthday, we survived the first year, but full disclosure: It was not duck soup. It has been ugly at times, we have had fights where we discussed (yelled loudly about) divorce, something that was off limits to even bring up before. The honest truth about having multiples and in our case an older child as well, is that it is H A R D.
It's not just hard some of the time, or only when we are trying to get somewhere on time, it is a struggle every day to get everyone on the same page. It has taken a lot of adjusting for all of us to get used to being a family of five. Scroll through Instagram and you'll see so many big, happy looking families; Some have five, six, even seven or more kids, and they make it look effortless. Now, I know this is Instagram life and not always real life, but it still hits me how downright brutal having "just" three kids for "only" one year has been.
My pregnancy was a nightmare. I was on bedrest the last three months due to a bleed behind one of the placentas, and I frequently was hospitalized from episodes of hemorrhaging. My husband had to care for me and our then four-year-old full time, he had to play all the roles, and still find time to do his work. To say it was a “stressful time" is an understatement. I was stuck in bed, unable to work, unable to help, and although I was doing right by my babies, I felt like I was letting my other child down on a daily basis.
My twins came at 32 weeks which added to our already strained situation. I knew my boys would come early after all of my pregnancy issues, and I read up as much as I could on intensive care and infants. But you’re never going to be fully prepared for your baby to be in intensive care just by reading a book or two about it. Two babies in the NICU added a lot to our already strained life. Once the roller coaster that was the NICU ended, the reality of caring for two infants without the nurses and visiting grandparents was also something I thought I was prepared for but was not. Breastfeeding and pumping around the clock, eating to keep my milk supply up, trying to sleep, shower and feel human while also parenting my other child and feeling like I was failing at it all went on for the first few months. Throw in a cross-country move with three-month-old twins and moving into a three story townhouse for a few months, then moving again…stress, stress and more stress.
The adage, “knowledge is power,” has been something I have taken seriously, I read everything I possibly could on twin pregnancy, birth and rearing, so I also have sought articles on marriage and raising multiples. When we have a fight it has helped me to remind myself that it really is that hard and we are not alone in feeling these stresses. I try to keep in mind the statistics, 50% of parents of multiples wind up divorced, and that I don’t want us to be a part of that statistic, so I try harder. Sometimes it’s hard to be kind at 1 am when all three kids are up crying, and we only went to bed moments prior. It’s hard to be nice when I have a work deadline and feel like I’m carrying the household load all by myself. We have to actively remind ourselves what we are working towards and what we are fighting for. To some people, marriage and family may come easy; we are not those people. Getting pregnant was a fight, birthing my twins was a fight, and keeping my marriage healthy and happy has been a fight. At the end of the day, whether or not the laundry is all done, or the dishes all put away is not what matters. What matters is that your family members feel special and loved. I remind my family when we start bickering of an old saying, “is this the hill you want to die on?” Meaning, is the battle worth it? Is it worth it to fight a five-year-old on wearing Storm Trooper shoes every day? Nah. Is it worth it to argue with my husband over how he folds his dirty laundry? Super weird, but nope. Its cliché, but we just agree to disagree on some things or take a deep breath and simply move on.
Some days I feel like I did the day I met my husband, positively head-over-heels, and others I have to remind myself why I love him so much. Relationships, be they with a spouse, parent, or child take immense work and effort. The effort you put into a relationship proves how much you care about that person, and at the end of my days, I want those around me to remember how much I loved them and not how much I yelled, complained or fought. Love is an action, a verb and not just a feeling. Agape love, wanting another's highest good, a selfless love that wants nothing in return is the love I hope to show my family, but I fail at it daily, so I try harder. Make sure you think before you speak and act. Someone much wiser than me once told me that every hurtful word spoken may be forgiven, but much like you can remove a nail from a board, there will still be a hole where it once was, too many holes and that board can break. Parenting is hard, and marriage is hard, so don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Choose kindness, grace and love whenever possible; Make people feel good and don't forget to save a little of that grace for yourself.
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