The most difficult part of raising twins for me has unequivocally been the transition to needing help almost every single minute of every single day, and learning how to ask, find, receive and manage the help I need. I am sure there are moms (twin moms too) out there that do it all on their own – and to those mothers – I commend you. I look at my female tribe, with our night nurses, our nannies, and our cleaning people and I am fully aware of just how privileged we are. Almost all of us are reminded on a regular basis of the fact that our mothers, and the generations of women before us did it without these supports and managed to live to tell the tale. I have resounded to the fact that the world has changed since that time, and that the information that is so readily at our fingertips has exponentially increased the weight of the responsibility of modern parenting. SIDS, dry drowning, imbedding social and emotional intelligence, attachment theory, organic foods, bouncing back, and the pressure to breast feed are just a few examples of the mental load that comes at such a high price to our time and energy in modern day parenting.
The acknowledgement that I needed help, and a lot of it, was and is still a bitter pill for me to swallow. For someone as independent, free spirited and competent as I have always been, I have felt like a failure all too often for not being able to manage my life all on my own. I was born a little girl that wanted to do all things all by myself, and delegating responsibility has never been my strong suit. Needing and enrolling others to help you is a serious predicament that takes a great deal of time and energy and can come with a great deal of disappointment (see next post). If I were to give any single piece of advice to twin moms (and all moms really) it would be to quiet all those pressures inside of yourself that getting the help you need makes you weak, or less of a hands on mom, or is somehow short changing your children. You only have two arms, you only have a certain number of hours in a day, and you need to sleep to be a functioning human being.
As an aside, getting this help in the absence of local family support is a relatively new phenomenon sociologically speaking and lets just be honest, it comes at a serious price $$$$ that many cannot afford. The money we have spent on the help has also come with a great weight and guilt when I am unable to use the help most efficiently (say when I have someone there but I cant relax enough to take a nap) or when its difficult to let someone else care for your children when you wish you could be doing it all yourself.
Giving people orders, telling others what to do, making sure everyone knows which bottle is for who, how to put on their sleep sack, what babies needs to be rocked in what way, and who you told what to is a serious task and it takes a tremendous amount of time. It also takes a long time to build a real relationship(s) with your caretakers. Even worse is that babies in their early months change and transition so rapidly that the routines and daily tasks create a kind of fluid and never ending list of roles and responsibilities to delegate. Every single day there is a list of new quirks, new needs, new toys, and new equipment that needs to be explained and outlined to anyone who is helping you care for your children. And the minute you get your hands around it, and everyone is on the same page, someone gets sick, and someone has finals, or your husband leaves on a business trip and you are back to square one and reconfiguring the entire puzzle all over again.
In the early months, managing my support system in a way that I could teach others how I wanted things done with the constant concern for how they felt and how I was perceived by them truly exhausted me. This burden was even more paramount when it came to my relationship with my husband (see post number three). Letting someone new into every single facet of your life – your naked body when breastfeeding, your arguments at home with your husband, your most personal space and anxieties is well….exhausting. In those early months it often felt that the task of establishing, training, and managing the help along with their own needs and personalities took more from me energetically than I got in return.
With that said, the silver lining of this entire process now that we are 7 months in has been the family that we have created with our support system. I can truly say that the team of people I have around me that help me care for my children are now closer to me than most of my family and friends. They have been in the war with me day in and day out, and once you get over the fact that there are people in your home every single minute of every single day, and that you have no sliver of privacy left in your life, you will find that you create an intimacy with your care-taking tribe that is invaluable.
Because I didn’t have a mother to help me in the night, it was my night nurses that listened as I sobbed at 4 am, they were the ones that came to the hospital when my newborn wasn’t getting enough oxygen and whom I texted photos of green poop or snotty noses. It was my nannies that come over when I need something and offer to spend the night when my husband is in Hong Kong for weeks at a time. They have been my shoulder to cry on and whom I lean on when I haven’t slept in days. They are truly here for me, and they know what I need, what the kids need, and how to show up for me. They have traveled on planes with me, they have slept in hotel rooms with me sharing the late night duties, they have gracefully accepted my worries and anxieties when I tell them for the umpteenth time that the babies can’t have blankets in their cribs or cant get water in their ears.
And a special note to my twin moms; to anyone who questions how you can still be overwhelmed or maxed out with so much help, or to anyone who comments on how much help you have, let me say this – two babies at the same time with full time help is still more work than to manage one baby with no help. One plus one doesn’t equal two – it equals three – and when you have additional children as I do in my case – it equals five. A twin mom once told me “no twin no opinion,” and trust me when I say your world becoming bigger than you means that you are superwoman for managing it all.