Were you as shocked as I was when you heard the doctor say “twins” as you looked at the scan? I thought my baby had two heads. Turns out, there were two babies in there, each with a head all their own.
You’ll never forget that moment, though — the surprised joy and the overwhelming fear of it all. The truth is, you might forget a lot about what it first felt like having twins — especially in the first two years — but you won’t forget the very first moment, of meeting them both.
I should probably warn you now that people will say all kinds of hopelessly ridiculous things to you about having twins. Like them being “2-for-the-price-of-1.” As if double the morning sickness, double the diapers, double the stretch marks, and double the university educations are some kind of deal.
Just smile. You know better already; even though you have just given birth.
You know that “2-for-1” really means surviving on less sleep, becoming a contortionist so you can breastfeed, and developing mad bottle washing skills so you can keep things clean. You know it means one baby crying while you soothe the other, and then that one crying the instant you set it down to soothe the first. Which means that you also know about the bulging biceps mothers of twins develop as they lug around two babies, two car seats, and a diaper bag the size of a duffel bag.
Eventually, these two babies will morph into toddlers who will run around in opposite directions, develop opposite tastes in food, rarely nap at the same time, and put mashed potatoes in each other’s hair. That’s just to say that 2-for-1 also means double the hilarity, double the terror, double the laughter, and double the opportunity to enjoy the wild ups and downs of parenting.
Which you will do; and you will enjoy it. Sure, maybe not right now. Maybe not while the c-section scar still heals. Maybe not while your breasts are still saggy like drooping socks filled occasionally with lumps of coal. Maybe not when both kids have sky-rocketing diarrhea or when you haven’t slept more than 45 minutes straight for weeks on end.
But I promise, one day, you will enjoy this.
You’ll love watching them interact. One scrapes her knee and the other retrieves the comforting blankie. One gets a shot and the other one starts to cry. At school, one carries both backpacks and the other manages the social scene. (They’ll work out this kind of deal on their own.) Much later, but before you know it, one of them — especially if they are boy/girl twins — will offer insight into the other’s bizarrely fascinating group of teenage friends.
They might not develop that “twin language” people will ask you about. They might not want to dress alike, or they might wear matching outfits until college (which, by the way, start saving for now). They might be best friends or they might be ambivalent about each other; or they might simply get along well — neither besties nor frenemies.
But I can tell you this for sure: They won’t fit any twin mold; so don’t try to force them into one.
There isn’t a good vs. bad, outgoing vs. shy, or athletic vs. musical dichotomy going on here. Sure, they shared a womb for nine months; but now they are individuals. Be wary of people who ask you to play them off one another, or put labels to each of them.
Above all, know this: You’re doing a great job.
I know you don’t feel like it right now, but you are. You are too exhausted to be aware of how much more than that you love these babies. You are too exhausted to recognize what a warrior you are — that every mother is a warrior. There is so much more I could tell you about having twins, but I know you can only keep your eyes open for short spans of time right now. So go, feed that baby and change the other one.
Sleep when you can and eat plenty of cookies — you’ve earned it.