We’ve all seen the headlines. “Beyoncé and Jay-Z hire three nannies for each twin and have two nannies for their 5-year-old, at 100k a year each.”
Good for you, Bey. Really, though, that’s great that they can afford to do that. I have no clue what a celebrity’s life is like, but I’m aware it’s most likely very busy and you always have to look and feel your best if you’re someone like Beyoncé. I’m also aware that the vast majority of parents of multiples can’t afford such luxury, me being one of them. Some of us have families in town that come help everyday, some can afford a nighttime sitter for their newborns so they can get some rest. Some of us don’t have family in town, or let alone in the same state, so we do it all alone. We all do what we have to do to take care of our babies. But what about when it comes to taking care of ourselves when we literally do it all, 24/7, with very little to no help at all?
That’s an excellent start to getting it down. Breathe and remember that this too shall pass. You quickly learn and respect your limitations. I’ve always known I am not a night person, while my husband is definitely not a morning person. Our remedy for that was coming up with a sleep schedule where he’d stay up until 3 am and I’d take over from then on, going to bed by 7 pm. We never really got to sleep together until recently, but we made it and it kept us sane. You also need to forgive yourself for your flaws, whether it’s your temper that gets the best of you or if sleep deprivation has you wishing you were so ill you couldn’t get out of bed. Bad moments don’t make bad mamas. Repeat that to yourself a couple of times. I know I did.
Bitterness is normal
Becoming bitter towards the overall situation is also normal. Remember those friends who, while you were pregnant, vowed to come help you when the babies arrived? Or those friends who always vowed to babysit for free while you nap or go shopping or go out for a much needed date night? I completely understand that it’s nobody’s obligation to come help whatsoever and that everyone works, possibly has kids of their own, and has their own things to take care of. But it is only natural to get irritated when those same folks don’t answer calls or texts when you do need a favor. The thought process is, “Why put it in a soon-to-be-mother-of-twin’s mind that she’ll have a cushion for her trust fall when those voluntary promises of help really never meant much?” And then what happens when your husband or wife goes back to work, and it’s just you juggling two babies while trying to feed yourself and take care of your dog?
You just do it
You become the sleepless, zombie-like new parents who don’t do anything except feed, burp, soothe, repeat for days on end. Those first 4 months were awful. I am very thankful for my parents, who took two weeks off their busy lives to fly from Texas to New York state and help us with everything. My mom took over the night shift for a few days so I could sleep and pump and take care of myself. I’m very thankful for the times my in-laws, who live a couple of hours away, could make it to us and took care of them for a few hours so Rick and I could nap and spend some time together. I’m thankful for my sister, who has an insanely busy life in Tennessee, for coming up for a few days and helping me get groceries and have some much needed sister time. My best friends who live in Ohio and Texas came up for days as week and were an excellent extra pair of hands to help out. My local friends who have their own shenanigans to take care of and could only step in once or twice, thank you. It was hard to get on with it once the help left, but I had to put on my mom pants and deal with it.
All the feelings
The hardest thing about doing it alone is not being able to control how you feel. Anger, bitterness, feeling of abandonment and loneliness, craving sleep, and even being irritated with your babies. And that’s perfectly normal. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you have multiple newborns; you won’t look as good as Beyoncé did in her one month pictures. I was still swollen from my pregnancy weight (hello, extra 75 lbs), huge bags under my eyes, and tons of adult acne. It’s okay to cry on your partner’s shoulder when they come home from work, about how tired and hungry you are, and how the babies wouldn’t stop crying, and now you have their bouncy seats’ music stuck in your head because that’s the only thing that worked in soothing them. It’s ok to be frustrated about “wasting” precious diapers on blowouts, ruining cute outfits, and having your shirt ruined by spit up and drooling. It’s all part of it, and you’ll appreciate it when it stops.
The biggest thing I learned from our experience is that you’ll surprise yourself with what you can do. I personally did a lot of growing up during those first 4 months. First, I learned that even though mine and my husband’s lives are 100% about us and how we were tired and needed a break, everybody else’s lives don’t have anything to do with mine. Obligations to themselves and their families come first to them, just like mine do to me. Secondly, I learned a lot about myself. I learned about how I function as a human being and what helped me get through the sleeplessness, the insane mood swings, and the overwhelming feeling that caused me so much anxiety. And lastly, I realized that being a mom is much more than just having cute babies. It’s about self-sacrifice, inner growth, and making a bond with your little ones. One of the reasons I am now absolutely happy my husband and I have had to take care of our girls by ourselves is the amazing bond we have with them. The immediate smile when either of us enters the room. The understanding that we’re mommy and daddy, and that our steady feeding and bedtime schedules work as well as they do. It’s honestly the best feeling in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, it was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do so far (our girls are only 7 months old). But it is so worth it in the long run. And though you feel it’s an endless phase, it does end. As cliche as it sounds, enjoy this time, take this opportunity to learn even more about yourself, your partner, and your babies. Soon, they’ll be 16 and rebelling.
Camila Servello is a mother of identical twin girls, human to a pup, wife to an amazing man, Brazil native, airline employee who loves her job. I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve found the perfect reason to do so – my crazy, perfectly flawed life. Honesty is key when it comes to handling all the curveballs life throws at us, so don’t expect any less from me. You can read more on her blog Confessions of a Working Mom of Twins.