“My biggest piece of advice for you is to join a moms of multiples group; you are going to need the support.” Those were the words of wisdom that had been told to me over and over again by different twin moms I encountered, including my own aunt who also had twins. It made perfect sense and was not a difficult task. It involved me signing up for a twins mom group through meetup or Facebook, finding a time that worked, and then showing up with my three kids and, voila, twin mom friends for life. Why didn’t I just do it? It was a task that didn’t even involve getting dressed up or arranging for a babysitter and somehow I still didn’t do it. How was it possible that my biggest failure as a twin parent was that I had failed to make friends with other twin moms?
My journey to become a twin mom had not been an easy one. I had a high-risk twin pregnancy that included a deadly twin-to-twin transfusion diagnosis, an inpatient hospital bedrest stay, a placenta abruption, and then a 5-week NICU stay after my girls were born at 30 weeks. I had lived in Houston the majority of my life, I had friends from all walks of life, and my mom tribe that consisted of my mom friends I had made from when my older daughter was born. I was 26 years old and had just delivered my oldest daughter via C-section. As soon as I was cleared to resume my daily activities I set out to make mom friends. I signed up for Meetup and joined a local moms group in my neighborhood. I formed fast friendships with these women that shared my same timeline and were navigating the journey of motherhood.
We were all first-time moms, unraveling the mysteries of breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and baby-food making. We sipped on mimosas and snacked on manchego cheese and crackers at baby playdates. Over the next year or so, my new friends and I hung out daily. We went over to each other’s houses, grabbed coffee, lunch, or the occasional spa day. We talked about everything from our former jobs to marriage and sex, our new babies, and in-law drama. Our conversations were effortless and in some ways I felt closer to my mom friends than my other childless friends because they just got it. They were my Mommy Tribe.
It was only natural when my high-risk twin pregnancy worsened that they were the ones I could count on to bring me meals, visit me in the hospital, and take my older daughter on playdates. They were the ones that had been there for me before and during the chaotic twin pregnancy. I didn’t understand why I needed to make new twin mom friends. What made them unique? I had convinced myself that I had reached my friend “quota”. I was unable to meet or bring anyone else into my life. This mommy tribe that I’d formed such a close attachment to would stay together from the time our children were in diapers until they received their high school diplomas and setting off for college.
I was painstakingly wrong.
As soon as I had gotten the groove (more or less) of managing my two preemie infant twins and toddler that the dynamic of my mommy friendships started to change. When my friends invited me along on playdate or excursion, the monumental task of managing my three children under two years old seemed too overwhelming. I would politely decline and then afterward regret it. I would become upset while scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, seeing my friends with their singleton children navigating outings easily and effortlessly. Those nights I cried with how lonely I felt, despite having so many “friends.” In those moments of sadness, I would have longed for a twin mom friend who truly understood what I had on my plate. Someone that wouldn’t just mutter, “Sorry,” or “You have your hands full…” Someone that would offer advice, suggestions, or even help.
As the months went by my twins got a little older, and then at 14 months started preschool a few days a week. I found that I was using any free time to finish my book that I’d started writing when they were a few months old. It seemed like every moment I had free I was writing, editing, or reading. Between working and taking care of the kids, it hadn’t even left me with a lot of free time anymore.
How I Found My Mom Tribe in an Unexpected Place
It was at that time that I was asked by the children’s hospital where my girls had been born if I wanted to serve on the Parent Advisory Council for the NICU. The group of us, former NICU parents would meet once a month and advise on quality improvement initiatives occurring in the hospital. I hadn’t expected to form friendships with a group of strangers that all wanted to give back to the hospital. Once again, I was wrong. This amazing group of parents had, like me, experienced their own traumatic pregnancy, premature baby, and spent time in the NICU. It was through this group that the angst I was still suppressing was able to surface and dissipate. I now had a group of individuals who I could share my story with, vulnerably, and who really understood. We all cried together as we remembered those terrifying days in the NICU. There was no judgment or pity, just genuine understanding and care.
My twin pregnancy changed my life in a way I never could have predicted or imagined. I was lucky enough to, once again, find a tribe who, like before, just got it. There were parents whose babies had been discharged from the NICU many months after my girls, came home with medical equipment and nursing care, there was one family that lost one of their twin boys in the hospital after six months. Our mom tribe bonded like family because of our unique struggles and we can continue to support and encourage each other. Just recently I was at an event for the parent advisory council and I met a mom I really connected to immediately. We are about the same age, have a lot of the same interests and, to my delight… she’s a twin mom.
Crystal Duffy lives in Houston with her husband, three little girls, and a yappy little Yorkie. Her writing has appeared in Scary Mommy, Mamapeadia, Twins Magazine and she’s a contributing writer for Twiniversity. She’s the author of her memoir, Twin to Twin, which details her high-risk twin pregnancy. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.