By: Aimee Tafreshi
The fact that I am writing this blog is a miracle in itself. I cannot make any guarantees about proper grammar or a logical progression of thoughts. You see, my husband and I welcomed twins approximately five weeks ago. We were not “trying” for twins, and we did not avail ourselves of the latest medical technology seeking out two bundles of joy. But Mother Nature laughed, thought “I’ll show them,” and here we are with a boy and a girl.
We had a “pleasant” enough hospital experience. We were lucky to be at an excellent medical facility with great nurses and doctors. The nurse anesthetist deserved a gold medal as she seemed to be the face and main brains of the anesthesiology portion, and she also played DJ and took excellent photos post-delivery. I was so excited when she told me that she would play music in the OR, I immediately began thinking of songs for an impromptu playlist before being wheeled in for my c-section. “Sucker for Pain,” Ludacris and Snoop Dog with a touch of the Texas Fight Song seemed like a great soundtrack to welcome these babies into the world. The rap started blasting, and a member of the medical team said, “It’s like we’re in the club.” We were off to a promising start.
And then the spinal block wasn’t quite working one hundred percent, and my blood pressure started tanking. I then threw up on the operating room table. They were ready to put me under general anesthesia, a plan I initially welcomed, but then a part of me thought, I don’t want to miss this, no matter how miserable I feel. They injected some more drugs and voila, my blood pressure stabilized, and the doctor proceeded. He finished sewing me up with some chill Jimmy Buffett playing, his choice, which I appreciated.
I felt like I was on that table forever. My mom paced in the hallway wondering what was taking so long. At 2:33 p.m., we welcomed a beautiful baby girl with a healthy set of lungs, a feisty 5 pounds, 7 ounces bundle of attitude, whom we named Marin Elise. One minute later, we met Rhett Wortham, her younger but larger brother, weighing in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. I always suspected that Rhett was siphoning all of the food in utero, leaving his sister crumbs. No wonder she seems so angry now and screams incessantly until fed.
I don’t remember too much from the recovery room, other than telling the nurse that I was so happy to be here. “Why?” she asked, clearly confused by my comment. “Because I’m no longer on that operating table,” I replied. They brought the babies in, none of them requiring any NICU time, and Marin latched on right away. Rhett seemed confused but would learn how to nurse with the help of a lactation consultant who was a baby whisperer of sorts. Unlike past lactation consultants at other hospitals, she wasn’t the kind to pressure you to exclusively breastfeed. “Tandem breastfeeding twins by yourself will be very hard,” she said, “especially with other children at home.” Another nurse told me, “Fed is best.” I appreciated them planting these seeds of wisdom in my head, so I would later not be so hard on myself if I couldn’t live up to my own expectations of how feeding twins should go.
Recovery in the hospital was painful, as is typical with a c-section and tubal ligation. I felt massive pain, vomited many times and could barely walk without crying or hunching over in agony. They let me stay an extra night and even offered more time, but by day five, we were ready to split, as ready as new parents can be. On the day of our hospital departure, we loaded the twins into their new baby carriers and tried to take a photo together as they bawled their eyes out.
We were able to get settled in at home before our other three children traveled back from their summer trip to Alaska with my mother- and sister-in-law. It’s hard to predict how siblings will react to a new baby (or babies), but our kiddos were at least excited to meet them. Our daughter was ecstatic to finally get a sister, although she mistakenly believed Marin might be ready to play with toys right away. I explained that babies are a little boring at first; they basically eat, poop and sleep.
There has been an adjustment period for the kids and us parents. My husband had to take over school duties, such as attending the new school year “meet and greets” with the teachers and taking the kids to the bus stop in the mornings. I have felt some guilt about missing out, but then I thought how neat it was that my husband was able to participate in some events that he had missed in the past due to work. We have been fortunate with help from family members and neighbors for rides to activities and hot meals. Eventually we will be on our own, but hopefully by then we will be ready.
Life with newborn twins is not for the faint of heart. We have had our share of hiccups and off-color jokes at 2 a.m. We may have referenced North Korean prison camps and crack houses. (Don’t ask.) We have felt like mistreated livestock kept just enough alive to pass muster before the inevitable slaughter, popping Advil like bovine antibiotics and growth hormones. About two weeks after first meeting the twins, my youngest son looked lovingly at Marin, and sweetly asked, “What is her name again?” Ahh, the pitfalls of a large family. I guess he can simply refer to her as “Twin A.” Just yesterday, I looked at my baby girl and said, “Well that’s a funny face Marilyn.” I then realized I had called her by the wrong name and prayed no one had heard me. In my defense, an HGTV show taking place in Maryland played in the background.
When the day begins to spiral out of control, we have developed different coping strategies. I started watching Outdaughtered on TLC, a show featuring a couple with the only all girl quintuplets in the country. If anyone can make me feel better about having twins, it’s a family that is dealing with five two-year-olds. Plus I have learned some helpful strategies from watching them, and the fact that the parents are still alive and sane is reassuring. We are also thinking of buying stock in Nespresso and Blue Bell Ice Cream, given our massive consumption of their products. I couldn’t survive at this point without a large stockpile of caffeine and refined sugar. Looking for more natural remedies, my mom gifted me a lavender stress ball, which I often squeeze and vigorously inhale like my life depended on it.
My husband made the helpful suggestion a few weeks ago that when our older children act unruly, we should play a song to redirect them and release some tension. I started brainstorming and chimed in, “Oh yeah, we can find some Native American tribal music, grab hands, and run in and out of a circle,” envisioning a kind of spiritual coming together. My other half looked at me amused and said he was thinking more along the lines of Lady Gaga. Regardless I’ve already found a song with a great tribal beat. Sometimes you need to reach out to the universe or a higher power for guidance.
When my husband and I used to hear of someone having twins, we used to caustically remark, “How terrible! Can you imagine?!” Then twins happened to us. It’s called karma. I can confidently say that caring for twins is the hardest thing either of us have ever done. It’s harder than law school, studying for a bar exam, taking a bar exam, practicing law or going on a submarine deployment. I don’t know what would be harder. Oh yes I do—triplets. In a recent nightmare, I dreamed I was tending to three babies, running around the house, trying to stop the crying. The next day I remembered this dream and felt gratitude that there were only two of them. We think it will get easier once they turn three. Until then, I will live vicariously through the Beachfront Bargain hunters on TV and dream of a kids’ club on a cruise. And I will try to pause during the chaos, breathe in their baby smells and memorize their funny expressions before they sprout up into independent big kids.
Aimee Tafreshi is a mom of five, freelance writer and attorney who also contributes to Nameberry.com.