Love, Marriage, and 3 Baby Carriages: Marriage After Multiples

love and marriage

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes twins in a baby carriage. Then what?

Then you get surprise pregnant again five months later. It makes for a great story; but it also happens to be my life.

As I was wheeled out of the hospital after having twins, I had a glazed-over look in my eyes which I am sure nurses see every time they release a mother into the wild world with a tiny human they have no clue what to do with. My glaze was also a deep, quiet sadness as I was leaving the hospital with empty arms. My identical twin boys, born at 35 weeks via emergency c-section, were in the NICU for monitoring exactly 6.7 miles away from me. The drive home was silent of words but full of deep sighs, streaming hot tears and my husband’s strong hand of comfort on my leg. That moment, our marriage shifted forever for me. A new phase had begun, we were parents now. Parents full of sorrow and joy all wrapped up. Our new life has begun.

love and marriageBefore we talk about the glory and the dirtiness parenting multiples brings to your marriage, let me give some background. Though Paul and I have dated since we were fifteen, June 7th this year marks our eleven year wedding anniversary. It has been eleven long years since I wore a size 6, since my husband cried in front of hundreds of people, since we promised to love and learn with each other all the days of our life. We had no clue what was on the road ahead of us — only that we would be together.

We have since faced two home purchases, a puppy, living with in-laws, seven years of infertility, two IVFs, a graduate degree while pregnant with twins, weeks of bed rest, an emergency c-section, gall bladder removal eight weeks later, another pregnancy five months after having twins, and all those other in’s and out’s of every day I can hardly remember now.

I get it. Life gets very messy, especially with two or three babies on your beautiful hips. Let’s not talk about the higher divorce rate of parents of multiples. Let’s not talk about the pure, burdensome stress it brings to the very soul of your being to physically care for so many at once. Let’s instead talk about how strong you are, momma. Let’s talk about what you have been through, what a warrior you are, and where your marriage is today. Let’s talk about life after multiples and how to carry on, how to grow, and how to be better for yourself, your spouse, and your kiddos.

love and marriageMarriage is so much like parenting, isn’t it? It is this messy, glorious commitment that stretches you farther than you think you can grow and then some more. It is love so deep and wide you cannot always wrap your head around it and it frankly makes you crazy on some days. As parents of multiples, the workload is so burdensome that some days it is difficult to see your spouse as your lover and not your co-worker. I struggled with that mightily the first year or so and still do on occasion. I need to work hard to bring my brain from mom-mode to wife-mode on some days. Here are a few ways to start:

Early bedtimes

Put those babes to bed early. Our boys (ages 3, 3 and 2) are in bed by 7-7:30 every night. Their brains need sleep and ours need to decompress. I get a few chores done, prepare for the next day, relax a little, and have a few moments of conversation with my husband if he is home. These moments connect us as friends and spouses, not as co-workers. On Fridays, we skip chores and do a date in or sometimes a date out. (Because finding a sitter for three toddlers is tough, people!)

Be intimate anyway

After an exhausting day without even getting to sit down on some days, this is literally 11,000 miles away from my mind. I get it. Give in on occasion instead of succumbing to your list of things to do. It is a stress reliever and equalizer. This sort of unspoken language is sometimes the quickest way to reconnect and get back on a level playing field with your spouse. Trust me, try it and you can thank me later.

Speak the right language

If you are fighting because he did not do the dishes but you are truly upset because you feel he does not value your time, say what the deeper issue is — not the surface one. It takes practice, but get in touch with what the real issue is and attack the issue, not each other. Try going here to find out how to speak your spouse’s love language and how he can speak yours. It is free, only takes a few minutes, and has changed our marriage.

Don’t keep score

Divide up tasks for the week of who does what to manage your household. Sometimes it may feel like your load is heavier. If so, ask for help — don’t just grumble then explode on him later for something unrelated. Having multiples means so much more physical labor in parenting. Divide and conquer.

Take time alone

When you feel like you are on empty and cannot read one more kids book, play race cars one more time, or change one more stinky diaper…but you keep going. Then when your husband gets home you unload your inner scream on him while handing him babies. Some days you just need to feel like yourself, like the girl in that white dress. Carve out five minutes to read an article online, to do some crunches, to enjoy cup of hot coffee, take a shower, or call a friend. Do one thing every day that makes you feel happy and yourself — not just “momma”. He should do the same.

Say thank you

If your husband takes out the trash, if he gives the kids a bath, if he breaks up a fight, say thank you. Even if he is driving you crazier than the kids are that day (which happens here often) let him know you notice what he does and appreciate him. Before you know it, he will start doing more and saying thank you as well. The cycle of gratefulness creates a more positive atmosphere for everyone.

Laugh

That is it. Laugh at yourselves. Lighten up. Make a choice to let the small things go and enjoy each other. Enjoy the journey.

Marriage is a brilliant, joyful gift to you, your spouse, and your children. In the day-to-day it is far too easy to miss it. It is far too easy to take for granted the teamwork, the beauty, the valleys that have shaped you and the growth available to you for the future. Get trusted guidance from a professional if you need it — we all should, troubles or not. Marriage is worth it. Eleven years in and my heart still smiles when I see his face, when I feel his hand rest on my leg, when I catch him hugging on our boys. I know he is smiling now as he reads number two on my list above. Give some of these a shot today, dear friend, because your marriage can and does get better after multiples.

rachel bowmanHi, I’m Rachel. I am a mom to identical twin toddlers and a surprise baby fourteen months later. I am all sorts of tired, silly, and caffeinated all at once. I am an infertility and IVF survivor, pastor’s wife, insurance agent, cupcake baker, chocolate lover and writer of wordsWaitingforbedtime.com is my motherhood therapy where I share my tales of chaos, learn from my many mistakes and hopefully encourage you that you are not alone while you wait for bedtime. You can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/waitingforbedtime.